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Dissonance

Photo credit: Genessa Gutzait

For the last two days, I’ve woken up to the sounds of hammers, nail guns, and steel-toed boots in my ceiling. The roofers come early and go hard on the roof of my apartment building. I live on the top floor and can’t help but think as if their incessant pounding is a secret communication directly to me.

When I got home from work yesterday, after driving my boyfriend around in search of his wallet, my stress was through the roof—literally. They were still pounding away above my head, dropping piles of material and tools hard enough to rattle my walls, and I couldn’t help but feel as though they were being deliberately heavy handed. Sure, they had a job to do but did they really need to thunder around like that?

I sat down to work but couldn’t get anything done with them pounding away up there. Each blow was like a vibrating insult that ran from the back of my head down my spine. I persisted until I couldn’t take it anymore. After slamming down my book, I launched over to my bass amp, plugged in my computer, and began to blast Rage Against the Machine through 110 watts. The music drowned out the workers and, for a while, I lay down on my couch with my middle fingers raised to the ceiling.

Was I being an asshole, what would my neighbors think, was this better or worse than the constant pounding? I decided to leave the music on for a bit longer—after all, I was only trying to let out a bit of anger. It struck me then that, perhaps, all the workers were trying to do was let out a bit of aggression. Maybe they were being intentionally loud but maybe that’s what they need in that moment.

I’ve always wanted to explain why punk music is so dissonant, but I think Haruki Murakami explained it better than I ever can. “One heart is not connected to another through harmony alone. They are, instead, linked deeply through their wounds. Pain linked to pain, fragility to fragility.” Perhaps the builders and I were, if only for a moment, linked through a different kind of music.

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