Inner Minds

This was very much of an inside-type of weekend. In the mid-90s, we had no interest in frying on the beach or inhaling liquid air on a hike up a mountain. It was fine. During the day, we finished our basement renovation, and in the evening, we went out with special ed parents and kids. (Our kids don’t have college or friends or jobs, so the parents have begun organizing evening family get-togethers. It’s super nice.)

Our basement renovation was actually a huge job that has taken a month. We ripped out tons of old drywall and the framing for an old wine cellar. I paid Jonah and Ian to do most of it. Ian got $20 per hour to pull nails out of the ceiling. Our garage is now full with about 30 contractor bags of crap. We are sneaking them into our regular garbage about one or two bags at a time. Our garage should be cleared out by Halloween.

Impatient to get the job done with this weekend, Steve and I joined Jonah in the basement and painted the wall with some moisture-lock paint. Steve started rolling on one side, Jonah on the other; they met in the middle like the workers on the transcontinental railroad. I was the paint brush girl, who did the corners and the poles.

Steve and I are actually decent house-painters; we have certainly had enough practice over the years. So, we can’t stomach paying over $1,000 for an easy job like painting a basement wall. I will definitely call in a professional to spray paint the vents and the exposed ceiling boards when we get around to that job, but anything that requires the use of roller and a paint brush is definitely in our wheelhouse.

Painting a room always gets a good conversation going. Maybe we’re all a little ADHD in this house, so a task that requires staying in one place for a couple of hours forces us to chill out, focus, and chat. Painting a room is our group therapy.

As he painted, Jonah was whistling, explaining that he following along to the music in his head. I said, “music in your head?” Jonah said that he has an endless soundtrack going on his brain all the time and that’s why he constantly listens to music on his headphones. Steve, who has a 1,000 songs on an old iPod, said that he also has music in his head all the time. Didn’t I listen to music or my inner voice all day, too?

Uh, no. My brain is entirely silent. No music, no internal monologue. It’s very quiet upstairs. Just lots of pictures. About 20 percent of people have an inner voice, but 75 percent of the people in my house have the inner voice and the constant music track.

Ian said that he also has that inner narrator in his head, which is surprising, considering his early struggles with language. The music in his head, however, is problematic. While Steve and Jonah have a pleasant supermarket-level background music in their head keeping them company throughout the day, Ian’s OCD controls the music in his head. He gets compulsive about listening to music on his iPhone in certain orders and has issues with Struck Song Syndrome – another form of musical obsession. His therapists are helping him with all that.

We’re all a little autistic. Autism is really an intensification of normal human quirks. Jonah and Steve’s benign musical brain becomes a disability that requires medication and therapy in Ian.

My autistic-levels of organization came into play on Sunday, after the paint dried. I organized a couple thousand books on twenty bookshelves for my Etsy shop. We’re still sorting through some old boxes of crap — old baby toys, tax forms from 1997, and notes from grad school classes. I am going to call in an electrician to put in better lighting. But this project is nearly done.

5 thoughts on “Inner Minds

  1. The brain is a shockingly amazing place, to both good and ill. The earworm article led me to clomipramine and the mechanistically complicated action of pharmacological interventions on behavior.

    Glad your basement renovation is coming along and look forward to the book workspace to come.


  2. Gosh – I’d find a constant sound-track to my life super-annoying!

    I do ‘self-talk’ – the inner monologue described above – almost sub-vocalization – (sometimes it slips over into vocalization – and people ask what I’m muttering about!). I have ongoing work on *not* self-destructively self-talking – we’re always harder on ourselves than anyone else around us.

    I do have random cues trigger a musical ‘flash-back’ (e.g. yesterday, someone said something about ‘where the wind goes’ (we’re having major winter storms here), and I had Bohemian Rhapsody running through my brain.


  3. It never occurred to me that everyone didn’t have an internal voice until I read something about it in the news a few years ago.


    1. Just discussed this with Mr 14. He claims not to have an internal voice or an inner sound track. And sounded entirely bewildered that anyone did!


  4. I don’t have exactly an inner voice or inner soundtrack but an amalgam of everything in my head all at once. I usually have some music playing in my head (right now: “All I Really Want to Do Is Have Some Fun” by Sheryl Crow), and often a lot of conversations I’m anticipating, or trying to think of NYT Spelling Bee words, or thinking about ways to stop coughing (I ‘m getting over a bad sinus infection right now – not covid).

    But unlike Jonah, even though I always have a song in my head, I don’t love listening to music on headphones or to podcasts.


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