I’ve always been comforted by noise. It’s like my security blanket, or rather it became my security blanket when my parents chucked my real security blanket ala Mr. Mom when I was only four… Jerks. Since then, I pretty much have to have something on when doing pretty much anything: cooking, cleaning, sleeping. In fact, one of my favorite things is dozing off on the couch while a movie plays in the background. (Most likely wrapped in a blanket my parents will never get their hands on.)

Conversely, I get kind of freaked out when it’s too quiet. It feels like something bad is about to happen, or at least that’s how it goes down on the big screen. It’s dead quiet and then Michael Myers takes a kitchen knife to your temple. I’m no dummy. I especially get spooked whenever driving around the Chicago ‘burbs late at night. Everything seems to shut down once the sun disappears… It’s like they know. I remember once driving around town to find anything fast food to eat. Not even ten o’clock, it already was a ghost town. Nothing was open. I finally got desperate and shamefully headed over to Walgreens to buy whatever prepackaged garbage I could get my hands on. They were locking the doors as I parked.

Which is why I love LA. Twenty-four hour Walgreens. Twenty-four hour McDonald’s. Twenty-four hour everything. Should I suddenly need a two-pack of Sharpie pens or a large fry at 2a.m., I am secure in the knowledge that I won’t have to wait until morning to satisfy my desire. It’s awesome.

Also awesome is my neighborhood. I live off a somewhat major street, and while I’m probably breathing in more than my fair share of the already ridiculous amount of exhaust this city produces, I’m cool with it. Except for the occasional – okay, daily – screeching of tires that makes my heart stop every time, I like listening to the constant hum of cars passing my apartment all hours of the day. It’s calming.

Across the street from me is a fire station, and yes, they don’t care if it’s three in the afternoon or three in the morning; those sirens are screaming at least a dozen times a day. This doesn’t bother me either. In a weird way, knowing that I live a mere fifty feet from a dozen very capable (and might I add, very nice looking) firemen makes me feel safe.

However, the singing in my neighborhood is getting out of hand. Seriously. There’s barely an hour of the day when I’m not hearing someone singing something, and judging from what I’ve endured so far, we don’t have any American Idols living on my block. For one, I live next door to a church. I swear they have choir practice at least five times a week, which would lead you to believe that they might be pretty good, right? Practice makes perfect? No. They sound horrible. Actually, I’m surprised it doesn’t rain more in my neighborhood; as a child I was told that raindrops are the tears of angels. Believe me, if they can hear this singing, they are weeping. I also live two doors down from an ashram, and they just love getting their chant on as well, especially on weekends. I wouldn’t mind this so much if they would just switch it up every once in a while; it’s always the same chant. I mean, really, it’s like eating ice cream every night. I love me some ice cream, but I would eventually get sick of it if I had it every single night. What about cake? Or brownies? Or maybe no dessert at all every once in a while. Would that be so bad?

But the worst are my neighbors. Granted, they don’t all sing at the same time. Their concerts aren’t as loud or as long, but somehow it’s still worse. At least when there’s a group singing together, their terrible voices somewhat cancel each other out. When it’s somebody singing solo, you can’t not hear how bad he or she is. In particular, I have a neighbor who loves breaking out the power ballads just as I’m going to bed. I’d like to believe that he sings in the middle of the night because he thinks everyone else is unconscious, but I suspect he knows that his audience has nowhere else to go at that hour and will inevitably be captivated, or rather held captive, by his golden voice. His specialty is love songs from the 1970s.

Though I suppose it’s not all that bad. At least I’m not listening to gunfire or crying babies all day long, in which case I’d easily choose gunshots over screaming infants. Not to say that I’ve been able to take the high road and ignore all the wannabe Kelly Clarksons and Taylor Hicks. (By the way, what happened to that guy?) As a sign of protest, I’ve taken to shower singing. With my window open. Why? Because I’m no singer either, and I want everyone else to suffer the way I’ve been suffering. Sure, it’s petty, but I have confidence that my point will be heard sooner or later. When that time arrives, I will finally have back the peace and quiet that comes only from motorcycles revving, ambulances wailing and my movies blaring.

Image: fotographic1980 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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2 Responses to “The Sound Of Music”

Anna, this is hysterical! It reminds me of all the open window, apartment singing I’ve done in my time. I’ve had neighbors banging on floors/ceilings, I’ve had them politely come knock on my door, I’ve even had one couple in Dallas call the cops on me… twice! You’d think eventually I’d get the hint that not everyone wants to hear me sing.

August 10th, 2011

Hahaha! Two things: 1) I once lived with you and therefore have firsthand knowledge that you are in fact an amazing singer & not at all in the same category as the peeps I’ve been bashing, and 2) I really wish I could have seen the police show up to your place and scratch their hands, wondering how such a big voice could come out of such a little body. 😉

August 11th, 2011