The smallest of Surlywood's three bedrooms has become, for lack of a better description, my office: it contains my desk, a couple of computers, another desk used solely for storage, a bookshelf that reaches nearly to the ceiling, and about a hundred and twenty thousand assorted pieces of paper, some of which I can locate on a moment's notice, others I may never see again even though they're technically well within reach. And in that room is a Teac GF-350 shelf system with a turntable and a CD recorder, a Cambridge SoundWorks Model 88 table radio with a CD player, and, if I ever find enough AC outlets (this room is awash in power strips), a pretty decent cassette deck. On the desktop computer, there are rather a lot of music files; in the next room, there's a wall full of LP records and a rack of 45s, plus various unsorted vinyl oddities and a couple boxes of tapes.
So what's playing right now?
And this is more the rule than the exception these days. While I have some sort of sound equipment practically everywhere the "big" stereo is in the living room; there's another Model 88 in the bedroom, along with a clock-radio that plays CDs; there's a JBL Harmony by my desk at work; Bose supplies the sound for the inside of my car; there's even a portable radio on top of the fridge as I get older, things seem to get quieter around here.
Since I don't generally refrain from cranking it up at work or while driving, it's got to have something to do with being at home. And after pondering it for more minutes than I'd like to admit, I'm thinking that it maybe is a reaction to all those years I spent in horrid flats with no discernible sound insulation, where my own audio gear was less electronic entertainment and more electronic countermeasure: at least it could drown out the tasteless hordes on the upper floors.
Now, of course, there are no upper floors: I share no walls, my ceiling is not someone else's floor (wee forest creatures possibly excepted, and they have no particular taste for hip-hop), and I don't need to blast things at bazillions of decibels late at night. I'm starting to think that quietness, something I could never hope for as an apartment-dweller, is something to be encouraged, occasionally even to be cherished.
And later, of course, I'll hop in the car, maybe peel back the sunroof, and pop in a CD. Never let it be said that I demanded too much consistency of myself.
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Copyright © 2006 by Charles G. Hill