Friday, August 7, 2009

Out in the busy world: observations from a cynic

I am in SoCal to visit my family and friends for a couple of weeks.  It is gorgeous and I am delighted to be here.  However...I'm having the usual adjustments to make.

  1. Noise.  OMG.  It never stops.  Whereas we used to be able to hear the ocean many years ago, now it's the freeway, car alarms, horns honking, or some sort of emergency vehicle or another.  There is a bar on the highway down below our house that has a live band every night and sounds for all the world like it's playing in my bedroom (did I mention one of those nights they also have Karoke?)  The neighbor owns a leaf blower and likes to use it (don't get me started on that right now).  The child two doors down is having a painful time trying to learn to play some sort of wind instrument.  The neighbors next door put a hot tub directly under my bedroom window and I don't want to tell you what I hear from there.  Did I mention I have a bag of ear plugs I now travel with?

  2. Cell phones.  People, PLEASE!!!!  Have some mercy.  I don't want to hear your phone calls, be it in the airport, the grocery store, or today, in the book store (which, to my way of thinking, should have the sanctity of a library).  Are you really that important?  And if you have one, and I've called you, if it's not a good time to talk, please don't answer it and then politely tell me how I'm interrupting something you're doing.  Just don't answer it!  I can suck it up and leave a message and wait for you to call me back.

  3. Pedestrians.  This used to be a sleepy little town, and suddenly it isn't.  It's now swarming with tourists who seem to have lost all common sense about personal safety...wandering into crosswalks, stepping out behind parked cars, meandering slowly down the middle of a lane in a parking lot like cattle on the slow prowl for more grazing.  I have a fantasy of pushing you with my bumper...

What are the trade offs?  (After visiting family and friends.) Great burritos for cheap.  Pei Wei, P.F. Chang's sort of junior restaurant, where you can get a divine chopped chicken oriental salad for a decent price.  Grocery stores with take out food, an awesome art store, bookstore, good coffee and a French bakery just down the street.  They're worth it, for a short period of time, but I'm sure grateful I can go hide when I've had my fill.  No wonder people are losing their minds and temperaments...they never have any quiet time to themselves.

I'm reading a book right now that has a quote that I love.  It about says it all for me.

This silence confirms my solitude.  The  more I am in it, the more I love it.  One day it will possess me entirely and no man will ever see me again.

(Thomas Merton,
Turning Toward the World)


robyn said...

I couldn't agree more! Esp. with the Merton...
PS. I think Lucy Grealy died several years ago - ultimately a very sad story of a life.

Martie said...

Yes...I forgot to add that I also read Truth and Beauty, Ann Patchett's story of her friendship with Lucy and the end of Lucy's life. A real tragedy, but I'm grateful for the gift of her story she left for us.

Monte McBride said...

At the risk of being trite, "Silence is Golden". Now that I think of it, I doubt that it is any longer trite".

RuthieJ said...

You know, where I live there's a lot of noise from highway and trucks in the nearby commercial businesses. And it's funny, but I get used to it after a while until I go somewhere that's quiet, and I realize how beautiful the silence is and how I crave it.
And don't even get me started on cell's bad enough that so many people seem to need to use one while driving, but I really hate it when people can't even put them away in a checkout line. I've been a cashier, and it's just plain rude (or has that become the norm now?)
well gosh Martie, now that I've gotten that off my chest, it's good to hear that you are finding some GOOD THINGS in the big city and enjoying your time with family and friends.

Martie said...

Ruthie: What I didn't mention is that the Amtrak is right at the bottom of the hill below my house. When I was a kid, the old Victorian style train station building (long since relocated and having its second life as a coffee house) was also down there. If you wanted to put someone on the train, you stood out there and flagged it down. Boy, those were the days.
My point is that the sound of the train is so deeply ingrained in my body that I rarely hear it, unless it interrupts a phone call...and I find it a comforting sound. So much for being selective on one's noises!