Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I'm just back from a trip to Manhattan with three friends. It was very relaxing – for five days we were out the door of our Times Square hotel by eight in morning, and home by two the next morning, 18 hours later.
Under the welcoming banners of Little Italy
In between: the Metropolitan Museum, the Neue Gallery, the Guggenheim, cheesecake at the Roxy deli, the NY Philharmonic (Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff); Angela Lansbury (!) in Blythe Spirit; afternoon tea at the Ritz on Central Park South; the magnificent NYPL; Little Italy; Bloomies; the Iridium jazz club; and, oh yes, Borders at Columbus Circle where (while I lurked behind a bookcase) my friends suggested that they reorder all my books. We ended the week with a late night show in the Lincoln Center theater: Woody Allen's new "Whatever Works." Not brilliant, we decided, but so much fun to see it in New York, where the audience claps when his name appears!
Art on the roof of the MET
We all bought shoes at Orva on Lex.
At one point as we waited to cross a busy street, one of my friends cupped her ears. It turned out she'd been bothered all week by the noise.
"What noise?" I asked.
She meant the soothing sounds of taxis; buses; industrial motors, generators, and fans; crowds of people; alarms. All music to my ears. As opposed to the quiet suburbs where silence is broken only by the occasional ear-splitting pickup truck stereo system.
What's noise and what's soothing background?
It goes back to childhood, I believe. My bedroom window growing up was about 3 feet from a bar/pizza parlor. I fell asleep to the sounds of the jukebox. Later, I had a nearly 2-hour commute to college in Boston (3 transfers on public transportation vehicles). For 4 years, I did my calculus homework on the famous MTA, often with one arm slung around a pole.
For me, noise provides stimulus to write and a reassuring background to sleep. If it's too quiet, I can't relax, neither to write nor to rest. Where is everyone? I wonder. Maybe I should get up and make sure everything's OK.
How many decibels does it take for you to feel comfortable?