Turn it Down!

By Sandra Sylvester | Jan 10, 2014

Knox County — This blog is a grudge fest. Blame it on the fever I’ve had off and on this past week. I may be delusional at this point. So if you’re looking for lighter reading fare you might want to check on the old man who lives at the top of the granite towers on the bottom of Mechanic Street who writes a column for the Courier; or our friend, E.O., who writes a blog for the BDN.

This discourse is an attempt to explain the difference between sound and noise. We all have sounds around us every day. However, when those sounds become irritating to you we call that NOISE!

Listen up all you rap fans out there who run around with your pants down around your knees and your underwear sticking out for all to see. When you park in front of my apartment and turn up your despicable rap music (if you can call it music) and it spews out of 1000 lb. speakers mounted in the trunk of your car at who knows how many decibels, TURN IT DOWN. Better yet, TURN IT OFF. No one wants to hear that stuff.

I read a book by Michael Crichton called Timeline. Published in November 1999, it tells the story of a group of history students who travel to 14th Century France to rescue their professor. A scene in the book that really struck me was when this group was standing in an open field. The leader of the group asked the rest to listen for a minute. “What do you hear?” They stood quietly and listened and were suddenly amazed at what they heard, nothing. They heard a few sounds from nature, but otherwise than that there was no engine noise, no overhead airplane noise, no traffic noises made by combustion engine-run vehicles; simply nothing. Can you even imagine what that would be like?

With that scene in mind, jump forward to the present and my apartment in the city again. I would like to know what lame-brained engineer (had to be a man) set up all six heat pumps, count ‘em six, which service my section of this building, right outside my bedroom window. As these pumps also run for the AC in the summer, guess what? I have to learn to live with them when I’m trying to sleep.

I’m a person who likes quiet when they sleep. For the most part this building is quiet at night as far as people activity goes, but coping with the heat pumps is about to drive me crazy. I’ve tried ear plugs, cotton ball plugs, earphones hitched up to the radio and shear grit. On any given night I have a 50-50 chance of really getting to sleep. I have to be really tired not to hear anything.

During the day, however, I’m one of those people who like to have some kind of background noise on when I’m alone. They call that “white noise.” I especially like to have some music on while I’m working, especially writing. Right now I have the Sirius radio on the 50s channel. When they banned earphones at my last job I cried. The phones closed out the rest of the noise around me so that I could concentrate on the job at hand. I’m not sure I did such a great job after that. Good thing I retired before they noticed.

There are times when I’m stressed about something that I long for those sounds I enjoy the most. Probably many of these are on your list too: the purring of a cat as they sleep by your pillow (no, Butchie won’t do that); a baby’s laughter; music from my past; the sound of wind through the trees by the Maine shore; the sound of waves, especially at high tide, as they break upon the shore when you are sleeping at night in a cottage down in Spruce Head; and the sound of rain on a skylight or on the roof of an open beam cottage, especially in Spruce Head.

The only thing I can hope for at this point is a final resting place for this old head in my own home once again in a quiet restful setting. I can dream, can’t I (that is if I can get to sleep).

Thanks for listening.

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