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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I Love Music. I Just Never Listen To It, Is All...


I love music.

All kinds of music. Taylor Swift and The Violent Femmes. Streetlight Manifesto and Barenaked Ladies. Pearl Jam and The Pogues. The Grateful Dead and the Dixie Chicks. Broadway Tunes and The Ramones. Pat Metheny and Barry Manilow and Pink and Arianna Grande and Mika and Pentatonix and Taj Mahal and the entire soundtrack from Pitch Perfect. I love all sorts of stuff.

And I sing. I sing loud and with great gusto and I love, love, love to sing.

But if you looked at my iPod, or the music file on my iPhone right now, you wouldn't see much. 99% of what's there is there because my daughter and I share and iTunes account, and she's downloaded it to her phone.

You see, I don't listen to music much, when I'm by myself. If my kids are in the car, the radio or the iPod is on, and we're all singing and grooving.

But if it's just me....silence.

When I write....silence.


When I work out....well, I actually like music when I work out, but I was cursed with abnormally small ear canals and earbuds - all of them - make my ears hurt and I can't get the hang of keeping headphones in while I work out. So I just listen to whatever the gym is playing anyway.

As for the writing thing...

I've tried. I really, really have. Some authors publish soundtracks for their fans, music that inspired a particular chapter or scene. Me? I can't do it. I can't work with music on. My singing heart takes over and I'm belting it out and entirely lose my train of thought, over and over. Music derails me, because I can't subjugate it. I can't put it in the background. It takes over, and I lose whatever it is I'm trying to focus on.

And that brings me to the car, and the silence of those four doors and metal walls. My own personal quiet box, like a big helping of cotton to stuff in my ears. My thinking place.

You see, I work a job of constant interruption - it's the nature of what I do. I talk to and am talked to all day long. The phone rings, the email alerts pop up, the people poke their heads around the corner of my cube, the hands reach out to stop me as I walk by or down the hallway. It never stops, and it's rarely quiet.

Then I get home, and my teenager fills me in on all the drama swirling in middle school, while her autistic brother repeats himself on an endless loop, with volume control set at eleven.

Somewhere between work and home, I have forty-five minutes that can be pure, golden silence, if I choose, and I do. I sink into it, I wallow in it. I recharge and often, it invigorates me and stirs my imagination.

I've written whole books in that silence. Characters have shared tons of dialogue, with all parts spoken and played by yours truly. I've brainstormed plot twists and had long, in-depth conversations with the ex that he would never have with me in real life, and I feel better after I do.

I have a real fear that I'm going to go on a first date with some guy who's really, really into music and has a music file that's epic in its proportions and a collage on his wall of all his concert ticket stubs, and he's going to ask to see my playlists and I'm going to try to explain all of this to him and fail, miserably.

How can I love music, and rarely listen to it?

I don't know. But I do. I really, honestly do.


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