Monday, January 13, 2014

The Evolution of Noise (or, Growing the Hell Up)

I remember vividly how, as a freshman in high school, I felt completely awestruck the first time I walked into a school pep rally. It was so… raucous—but, you know—in a good way. An entire high school shouting chants and fight-songs in unison. An entire high school stomping the bleachers until the building rocked. It was beautiful; it stirred me.

And later, the first time I went to a dance club—one of those “teen night” things (I can’t believe my mom let me go! My dad called it a “meat market.”) As I approached the line out front in the parking lot, I heard and felt the bass thumping from inside the huge building. Yes, I was one of those stupid girls who started dancing in line outside. I couldn’t even wait to get to the dance floor.
In college, I was a regular at house-parties and night-clubs. The more people the better.
…The louder the better.
In the car, I liked my music loud.
The deafening roar of a roller-coaster? Give it to me. Marti Gras? Beads to my ears. Crowds, chaos, mayhem… they fed my soul.
For me, noise was synonymous with life, movement, action. It meant something exciting was happening.
And then I had kids.
When you have a new baby, silence suddenly becomes like gold; precious and hard to come by.
Back then, we lived on a busy road (first-time home-buyer’s mistake—don’t do it!) and lo and behold, right around the time I gave birth to Lucas, the county decided to widen the road. For a year, I lived with ground-shaking digging and hammering right outside my front door. They even took part of our front yard, and there was not a damn thing we could do about it.
On top of that, we had a high-anxiety dog who would bark at a speck of dust floating through the air or a leaf landing on someone’s deck three houses down. And our neighbors, the ones who lived on the side of the house where my infant son’s bedroom window was located, decided that us having a baby was a perfect excuse to add a garage onto their house.
And of course, Lucas himself was loud. (Lord knows he still is.) He cried soooo freaking much. I can remember lying down on the bed next to him as he cried, crying right along with him.
I remember how desperately I wanted a little… silence.
Now I have two kids, plus a bevy of neighborhood children who streak back and forth through our yard wailing with shrieks of glee. It’s always at least a little bit loud around here.
One of my neighbors regularly allows all of the neighborhood kids in her house. She—obviously—is weird.
I don’t know how she does it day after day! I couldn’t. I mean, of course there’s the noise factor, but I’m also bothered by the handprints and general upheaval of things. I suppose I should be more hospitable and accommodating, but… dude, I just can’t.
My husband still doesn’t seem to mind noise. On the weekends, the first thing he does in the morning is turn on the news and crank up the volume. I never watch TV unless it’s because my four-year-old is watching it. And we keep the volume low. Later in the day, my husband blares music to accompany whatever it is that we’re doing. In the car, he blasts the radio.
He likes UB40, you guys.
But I am over the noise. I hate it. I don’t like that when the TV or music is blaring, if you want to talk, you have to shout. And if you want to hear anyone, you have to do that head-tilty thingy to point your ear-hole at the person’s mouth and shout “WHAT?” and the person has to repeat themselves five times and practically scream at you. And then everyone’s bitchy from all the repeating and not-hearing.  
It doesn’t help that my husband’s partially deaf in one ear and can’t hear anything I say anyway. If there’s background noise (or big giant center-stage noise), I might as well not be there at all.
And really, the kids, our daily lives, the general running of a household… things are noisy enough without adding anything extra. So… yeah. I’m kinda over it.
I suppose, after I had a baby, the appeal of noise died along with my desire to wear hooker-shoes, false eyelashes, and glitter. (It was 1998, okay?)
So when my husband cranks up the noise, I try to calmly explain to him how much it bothers me. I think he thinks I’m being controlling or bitchy or something, which I guess is sort of the truth. But honestly the feeling I get when the noise level is past a certain decibel is something akin to rage, and I can’t just deep-cleaning-breath it away. The kids can be playing innocently, not hurting a thing, but just loud, oh, so incredibly LOUD, and I want to tell them to shut the hell up. Sometimes I go to my bathroom and pretend to poop just to escape the roaring din that so frequently is my household.
I recently went out on the town for a “girls’ night out” with a friend of mine, hitting up a few bars and a club or two. As the evening progressed, I must’ve said about ten different times, “Why do they have to have the music so fucking loud in here??” And I went home with a headache.
When I was twenty, if you had told me that one day I would be annoyed by loud music, I would’ve rolled my eyes and said “whateverrrrr.”
I really think becoming a mom is what changed me. When something taken for granted becomes a precious commodity, it can shift one’s perception of things.
That, or… I just grew the hell up.
What’s your tolerance for noise? Are there different kinds of noise that drive you crazier than others?

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  1. I have to agree to a certain extent. I can handle kid noise much more than the hubby though. We like to listen to music in the house when we're cooking or cleaning, but I still have to be able to hear what someone is saying to me. I do still love a good concert, but I think I would break something (or someone) if I had to go to a club. Funny, considering how we spent most of our time in college. lol

    1. I still get it in my head that it would be fun to go clubbing and relive my glory days... then I get there and I'm like "WHYOHGODWHYAMIHERE"

      Hey I just realized this post totally fits in with the title of YOUR blog! haha

  2. Silence is golden! I used to hate being alone, now it's like heaven!

    1. Me too! When I was in college I couldn't stand to be alone in my dorm room - I always sought out people. Even for studying, I always wanted to be in a group. Now I have to really think hard whether or not I want to go places because I'm not sure if I can deal with people. lol

  3. My husband is the same way when it comes to the volume on the t.v. or if we listen to music on the stereo. It drives me nuts when I'm trying to get my youngest child to bed, and the t.v. is so loud that I can hear what people are saying on it! I have to restrain myself from opening the door and yelling profanities...and the music-yes I like my music kind of loud when we are all listening together, but he plays it soooo loud, and then tries to have a conversation with me...we might as well learn sign language so we can talk to each other during these times, lol. Also, I'm a hardcore introvert, so I need quiet time everyday just to keep from going into rage mode. :)

    1. I really think it has a lot to do with the baby-stage. We know how precious and fleeting those moments of baby-sleep are (our ONLY break) so we cherish the silence that allows that sleep to happen. Unless they're stay-at-home dads, the guys just don't get that.

  4. I can't do the loud noise, often I lose it when my husband decides to listen to his music. He likes old gangster rap (oh my lord I loathe it with such passion).
    He also happens to be a stereo lover, has to in his own words "have my shit dialed in." Someone randomly gave him 2 brand new surround sound systems because they were going to throw them out anyway. As soon as I saw them my murderous instincts kicked in lol. I need quiet, I often jump in the shower just to get away with my thoughts. my daughter always needs something, for example, the blanket that's on the floor right next to her. Sometimes its the light turned off, she has this whiny cry too. lmao, not that you want to know but I'm typing this while in the bathroom and my daughter is on the other side of the door asking me to bring her toy tricycle outside. My hubby is in the livingroom yelling "babe, what are you doing?" I kid you not. I just want quiet.

    I used to blast my stereo when I was younger listening to pantera, guns n roses, slayer, rammstein and the like. Nowadays I usually listen to Dora the explorer in as low a volume as I can get away with. Remember how I said my husband loves speakers? He gave our almost 4 yro a subwoofer for her bedroom and a PlayStation2, complete with the game scarface! Which they like to blast on high. If you've never played the game, its just as loud and full of profanity as the movie if not worst. I am not a over protective parent so the game content doesn't bother me, its the noise.

  5. So, I'm hitting "publish" and the phone rings, its my husband "what are you doing?"

    "I'm in the bathroom."

    "Yeah, but what are you doing?"

    "I'm pooping!"

    "Ok, enjoy yourself." (Click)

    Lmao I can't get any quiet or alone time.

    1. Tell him your poop has stage fright and won't come out unless everyone leaves you the hell alone.


  6. OMG! I feel like you just wrote about me. My husband and I were the party throwing people back in the day and we always had loud and noisy people at our house. These days, with two kids, I feel like I am the neighborhood noise patrol. Last night our neighbor's dog was barking at 9:30 and I was threatening my husband with death if he didn't get the darn dog to shut the eff up!

    1. Oh that's a whole other post entirely... assholes who leave their dogs out barking for hours at a time. Honestly, DO THEY NOT HEAR IT??

  7. Okay, we're the same. My husband describes me as "overly sensitive to noise." He likes the music loud in the car when we're out without the kids, and I can barely stand it on at all. And then . . . he wants to talk over the music. I'm like, "we can talk or listen to the music. Not both!" I honestly can't take all the sound! I can't even stand hearing someone eat popcorn at movies. It's like a curse in my ears!

    1. I don't really notice the sound of people eating popcorn... but the sound of my husband eating a cup of yogurt (scrape scrape scrape SLURP) just about sends me over the edge.