Friday, September 17, 2010

Shh, quiet please...

by Christie Kelley

Is the world getting noisier or am I just getting old and have no patience for it anymore? I live in a suburb fifteen miles outside of Baltimore. I always thought the suburbs were supposed to be quieter than living in the city. I’m not so sure any more.

I’m ten miles away from the Baltimore airport so I usually see and hear planes passing overhead. After eleven years, I’m almost used to that sound. But it’s the other noises that are getting me lately. When the wind blows in the right direction, I get the lovely sound of trucks and motorcycles from the highway. Actually, I rarely hear the trucks but the motorcycles are constant on nice evenings.

Then there is the sound of chainsaws. I live in a neighborhood that is filled with old oak trees. So the sound of people having their trees either trimmed or cut down happens on a regular basis. And if there’s a storm, the next day is nothing but chainsaws.

The other night, my husband and I went out on the deck to sit in the hot tub. We couldn’t put on music because even the katydids were so loud we wouldn’t have been able to hear the music (no kidding, this is true). Even the bugs are getting louder!

So what set me off today? It’s a beautiful day here and I can actually open the windows in my office. It’s great, except for the noise of my neighbor’s jackhammer because he’s ripping up his sidewalk. Then there’s the sound of sirens. Five times I’ve heard sirens going up on the main road (it’s only 1pm). I can’t write with all the noises going on around me. I just wanted to open the windows to let the breeze in and hear the birds singing.

Now that I’m through venting (thank you for that), do you feel that the world is getting louder? Does noise bother you? How do you cope with the noise in your life? I received my author copies of Scandal of the Season, so I’m giving away a copy to one lucky person today. Just answer my questions or feel free to vent about something bugging you.

I’m also running a contest on my website for a chance to win a free copy of Scandal of the Season. Pop over to for the details.


Fedora said...

Hi, Christie! It really depends--if I'm reading or trying to concentrate on something, I really prefer quiet--I was never the kind of kid who could study with music or the TV on, for instance. But when I'm cleaning or by myself in the car, I love blasting music (and yes, sometimes singing along ;)) So there's that :)

Fedora said...

Oh, so yes, if I were sitting trying to write (not that I do! but the few times I've had to for school or something else), I'd much prefer a quiet environment. Depending on the birds or bugs, even they might annoy me! ;) Which would be a shame, to have to close the windows!

Deanna said...

I live in the heart of the city and I find the noise to be rather difficult to deal with though I'm starting to get used to it. There is always this underlying hum of traffic noise, particularly from the Sydney Harbour Bridge which is almost right next to us. Then there is the usual city noises - sirens, construction, car horns, etc. I used to say that I could never relax living in the city and needed to get away to the country to really relax (sounds very Regency, doesn't it?) but that seems to be getting better as I adjust. There's still the hum of the city noises on the mornings that I want to sleep in that's a pain.

Jane said...

Hi Christie,
Congrats on receiving your author copies. I live in the city and I'm pretty used to the noise, but it is annoying when the construction is going on all day. We also hear sirens at all times of the day and night. When I visit my cousin who lives in the suburbs, I can't sleep because it's too quiet. I need a little noise.

Congrats on the GR, Fedora.

Helen said...

Well done Fedora enjoy your day with him

Whoo Hoo Christie I love that cover and can't wait to read this one.
I have to agree that everything seems to be getting noiser or maybe that it is just that there are more cars on the road and more problems that need police to attend to sad. We live about 10 to 15 kilometers away from Eastern Creek racing track and when the cars are racing it can be very noisy and they have drags there on Friday nights sometimes and you really need to keep the doors and windows closed sometimes it is hard to think with all the noise going on and then of course I have days when my 5 grandchildren are here and the noise they make!! silence is golden when they all go home LOL. In summer here in Oz we have the noisiest cicardas and the the crickets start up they are the sounds of summer here LOL.

Must have been lovely getting those author copies

Have Fun

Kim in Baltimore said...

Aloha, Christie! We were practically neighbors outside Baltimore. Fort Meade was also on the flight path to BWI. But the airport was so convenient (vs Reagan or National).

I now live next to the Hickam flightline (next to the International Airport). I never hear commercial planes but I do hear the C5 engines roar at 4 am. Then the Navy's longshoreman's horn at 7 am. The F-22's rattle my windows shortly after lunch as they practice touch and goes.

Plus I have new housing being constructed behind me so I am surrounded by noise!

Luckily I don't have to drive on the H-1 freeway (Honolulu-Kapolei) that is clogged with traffic all day!

To escape from the noise, I walk along the Pearl Harbor Channel to watch the ships and subs come and go. I find these majestic machines calm the tension as they sail into the distant Pacific Ocean.

Kirsten said...

I like the quiet that's what I thought to get when I moved to a small town.

But unfortunately my neighbours are into loud music. At 8 in the morning they turn up the radio that's standing outside! and they leave it on full blast ALL DAY till midnight. Sometimes they go out or they go to bed and forget that the thing is STILL ON!

I've asked nicely and not so nicely if they can turn it down but they also appear to be somewhat deaf or forgetfull.

Besides them I can hear the train and the highway that's getting bussier so yes I would say that my world is getting louder.

So now I'm dreaming of a small house somewhere lonesome near a moutain. Where I can hear myself think and sit outside peacefully to read a romance.

Maureen said...

This past summer has been quieter than usual because we have has so little rain. I didn't realize how much noise came from people working on yards until we all ended up with brown grass. I think next year I won't mind the noise so much because I'll remember the alternative.

Unknown said...

Good one Fedora.

Hi Christie ... love the cover and the book sounds really good.

I like peace, I often sit outside on a nice day reading a book and it is so peaceful..... I also have the added option of taking the hearing aids out if it is too noisy LOL
I do think times are getting noisier and I agree with Helen about the drag races at Eastern Creek. I have been at Helen's when all the grandchildren are there and it is rather noisy.....

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

I think it is getting louder too Christie and my answer to that is headphones. If there is going to be noise that can't be avoided then I want to be my own noise.
In the office where I work I sit close to this huge machine that has something to do with IS and it roars, all day long. Across from me is customer service, and they talk all day long, it is there job but what a racket. They changed out cubies to where we only have half walls, if I raise my head I can see the ladies in the cubies around me. I hate it.

Susan Sey said...

You're speaking to my heart now, Christie! I'm a huge fan of silence. My husband leaves a trail of noise behind him--seems to requires multiple sources of input at all times. The other day I glanced down the stairs & found him on the couch with a football game on the TV and his laptop on his lap but actually working on the iPhone in his hand. And of course he works to music.

We can NOT share an office. Not unless once of us wears headphones.

So I get the whole longing for silence thing, I truly do. Especially with kids in the house. It's so rare for me to have quiet moments to just think my thoughts. When I do, I cherish it.

Hope you find some nice quiet spaces today!

Laurie G said...

I live on a lake so I get motorboats and the terribly loud jet skis from 10-4 everyday!!! Plus the lovely smell of gasoline. YUCK! The view is breathtakingly beautiful so I put up with the boat noise. I'm in the country so the vehicle traffic is minimal.

Last year we had a problem with people setting off firecrackers and fireworks almost every night. The sheriff had to be called out a few times. now it's only allowed around the 4th of July.

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Fedora, congrats on the GR!

What's funny is I came from a large family and noise was all around. I always studied out in the kitchen with the radio on. My husband can't understand why the kids study with music on because he always needed silence when studying.

I also used to love blasting music while cleaning and now if I have anything on it's the TV.

When I write I do need quiet.My brain can't handle the distraction of noise with characters talking in my head :)

Christie Kelley said...

Daz, I did a short term work assignment in NYC for a few weeks many years ago. So I totally get the underlying hum of the city. Here it's the hum of the jets heading to the airport. You kind of learn to tone it out but it's hard.

When I write, I think of how quiet it must have been (in the country, not London) back then. No cars, no jets, just birds, insects and animals. Sounds lovely to me!

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Jane, I wish I lived in the quiet suburbs. I used to when I lived in PA. That was eerily quiet at night.

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Helen, I have to laugh. As I write this what am I hearing? Sirens! No kidding!

We have those noisy cicadas too. But the katydids have been super loud this year. Maybe it's just that I haven't had a deck to sit out on for the last three years because of the remodel so I didn't hear them. Now that the weather's getting a little cooler, they are getting quieter. Instead, I'm hearing a sound I love...the geese heading back to the river at night. That's honking I love!

Christie Kelley said...

Kim, when you think of Hawaii, you think of peaceful calm. I guess that's not true everywhere.

I can do relate to the F-22s. Right before we left Virginia Beach, we lived near Oceana Naval Air Station and had the F-18s doing the touch and goes, rattling our windows. I really don't miss that.

We also have a neighbor who is doing pretty much what we did-- a large remodel (putting on an upstairs lever). So I really can't complain about their noise since we did the same.

Christie Kelley said...

Kirsten, when I was growing up we had neighbors like yours. Of course, I did grow to appreciate the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd from them.

The highway and road noise doesn't bother me until the motorcycles start or the sirens. I grew up in a small city so I'm used to car noise.

My husband keeps talking about retiring out in Western Maryland where it's quiet. It might not be a bad idea.

Christie Kelley said...

Maureen, yard noise is so obnoxious! I don't understand why they make quieter mowers and blowers.

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Barb, if all this noise continues, I'll be able to take out hearing aids too! Every now and then in the summer we get the drag races up on the main street but luckily it's not often.

Christie Kelley said...

Diane, I agree about the office noise. I hadn't thought about headphones. My problem is I love the sounds of the birds when I have my home office windows open.

And I hate half cubes. I used to work at a place that had them too. An open environment doesn't work at schools and it certainly doesn't work at an office.

Christie Kelley said...

LOL Susan, I couldn't share an office with my husband either! He works from home too and his office is across the hall from me. He normally works in quiet but he won't talk on the phone unless it's on speaker. Annoying!! I have to get up and close my door when he's having a conference call.

I don't think I'll have the quiet today. I'm expecting a call from the school nurse any minute now because my 13 yr wasn't feeling good when he left. I told him go to the nurse after his Algebra test if he wanted to come home. But at least my 18 yr old has orientation at his new job so I won't hear the screamo music coming from his room.

Christie Kelley said...

Laurie, I totally understand about the boating noise. We live within walking distance of a tidal river and once the nice weather hits, the boats are constant. Luckily, we're near the end of the river and have a no wake zone so they usually slow down before they get up here. Then again, I can't complain since we're one of those noisy boaters :)

Robin Bayne said...

I really came to appreciate quiet at the day job this week-- a service came out to clean the air ducts and suck 30 years of greasy grimey gopher guts out of them. That was seriously loud : )

Hellie Sinclair said...

OMG, a katydid got into my house last month, freaked me the hell out (I'm sorry but they look like space alien bugs), and when I tried to ignore it, it made such a damned racket, I finally had to catch it and toss it back outside. Those are the loudest damned bugs.

My two biggest noise pet peeves, no THREE:

1.) Noise during the movies. Mostly this at theaters when people don't turn off their damned phones, as if we don't notice; or whisper and chat during the movie. I don't like this behavior when I rented the movie either. I watched a movie with friends last Friday and they both had seen it, and they kept saying stuff like, "You'll love this part!" or "If you think this is exciting, NOBODY is what they seem in this movie." Excuse me, but you just gave the movie away. Half my enjoyment comes from ME figuring stuff out. Shut up! (Except I didn't want to have such a hissy fit about a MOVIE to my FRIENDS. So I'm ranting about it here.)

2.) The construction workers outside my office window. They've been working on the damned street for over a year now. I've heard nothing but jackhammers for like 14 months, and the smell of tar and dust is disgusting. Never mind the inconvenience they cause me trying to get into my building, or trying to get into the parking garage. (They love to park their trucks in the middle of the road we've been detoured to and CHAT to their co-workers. Get off the road! I'm late!) But all that jackhammering. Makes me insane.

3.) Next-door neighbor sex. I'm not against sex--I'm really not. I love it. But when my bedroom wall butts up to yours, and you insist on having sex at odd times of the night (waking me out of a sound sleep) and re-enacting When Harry Met Sally--I get a little cranky. Come on. Esp if you're shouting "I'm coming" repeatedly, it's ever so tempting to shout back, "I really wish you would already so we could all get some sleep."

I'm glad I don't live in the heart of the city. I couldn't stand having to hear sirens that often.

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Robin, so nice to see you pop in over here! 30 years of gunk in the ducts. Oh my, that would be loud and disgusting! I'm surprised they didn't do it over a weekend.

Christie Kelley said...

Ms Hellion, I'm so glad I'd swallowed the coffee in my mouth before reading the last of your pet peeves. I would have spewed coffee all over my laptop. LOL, that was too funny. Sorry, for your noisy neighbors.

I can relate to your first two peeves. My son is a talker at the movies. But it's questions. Do you think this will happen, mom? Why did he do that? etc, etc. Drives me a little nuts. I much prefer watching a movie at home so I don't get the noise from others.

And there is nothing worse than the smell of tar in my opinion. I hate that smell. It will make me feel physically sick if I get too much of it.

Hope you have a quiet day!

Janga said...

I live in the country, and except for the distant sound of trains and trucks and a neighbor's rooster that crows at odd hours, external noise is usually minimal. But on grand weekends, the noise level within the house is incredible--video games, TV, and music plus the screams and giggles of sometimes seven children 22 months to 10 years. I love them beyond measure, but I also crave that moment on Sunday evenings when the last car pulls out of the driveway and silence descends--for a few days at least.

Christie Kelley said...

Janga, I envy your quiet place. I can relate to the grand weekend. I have 23 nieces and nephews who now range in ages from 8-30 with the majority of them in the 20s. Years ago, when I would visit my mom's house for the holidays, the kids were younger and all at Nana's house, it was chaos.

Trish Milburn said...

I think you're right, Christie. The world is a much noisier place than it used to be. We live in the 'burbs too and there's always something going on noise-wise -- like the scraping and resurfacing of the main street nearby, though we're lucky and live on a short cul de sac, so at least we don't have the drive-through traffic. I think we'd have to move to the back of beyond to get free of the noise.

cheryl c said...

I was a kindergarten/first grade teacher for 30 years, so I had to learn to tolerate noise!

Pat Cochran said...

I also live in the suburbs, but
in Houston. My pet peeve is the neighbor behind us who is the
terror of the neighborhood. We
rarely see him during the week but
come the weekend! This person has
a prediliction for hispanic music
with a heavy bass line. All we hear
usually is the bass notes, maybe
it wouldn't be so bad if we could
hear the entire piece - NOT! Also
if it were a party, but usually it is just him! Our civic association
had a note in the newsletter that
indicated "the music" can be heard
2 blocks away! It's time for the
police to hit him with a fine!

Pat Cochran

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Trish, I'm not sure where I'd have to move to get a little more quiet. Maybe the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Christie Kelley said...

Pat, that definitely sounds like a noise level ordinance issue. Thankfully, we don't have any musical noise except from my husband's studio when he's teaching drums. But that room is pretty well sound proofed so you don't hear much. Sorry about the noisy neighbors.

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Cheryl, I'll put you are used to noise. I would think that you would truly appreciate quiet after 30 years as a teacher.

catslady said...

Oh, you hit on my number 1 pet peeve!! When we moved into our home over 30 years ago it was a nice dead end that we were told couldn't be opened up (it was) so our street turned into a raceway. We also moved into an older neighborhood with a lot of retired homeowners. They have lots and lots of time!!!! Their yards are their life. The neighbor next to my bedroom window takes turns with his lawn mower, weed wacker, leaf blower, hedge clippers, outside vaccuum and chainsaw. Then he starts all over again. I use to love the spring and fall but now it's summer and winter when I can close my windows. And oh yes, let's not forget the snow blower. And the screaming because of course they're both deaf and the loud polka music or talk radio - arrghhhh.

Christie Kelley said...

Oh, catslady, I feel your pain. I was so mad this past Easter because three of my neighbors were out mowing their lawns on Easter Sunday. I couldn't even sit out on my deck because of the noise. So again, why can't they make lawn equipment quieter. I just don't get it!

Anna Campbell said...

Christie, I live in a beautifully quiet part of the world and I just love it. At night I can hear the sea. During the day I can hear the birds. Oh, unless the neighbor is building a caravan in his front yard. I kid you not. Although luckily, he seems to have got bored with that lately. I used to live in inner city Sydney and the noise was constant. It was an old building and someone was always renovating so metal cutters and jackhammers were constant. Plus the area was going through major gentrification so there was huge building work everywhere. Sydney is built completely on rock so we'd get those horrible rock breaker hammers all day. Enough to drive a sensitive writer spare! So I definitely feel for you.

Minna said...

I always have some earplugs around!
It depends on the noise whether it bothers me or not. When I was living in town I was living almost next to a fire statio and I soon stopped noticing the sound of the fire engines, but I certainly heard them when they one day turned to my home street, because some idiot had managed to set his bed on fire early one morning. Of course the said idiots screaming woke me up first.

Christie Kelley said...

Oh Anna, I'd love to live where I could hear the sea. I can bring my laptop down to the river and hear the seagulls and geese but that's rather inconvenient. Some day...

Christie Kelley said...

LOL, Minna. Too funny about how the screaming woke you before the fire engines.

Louisa Cornell said...

Yay Fedora! Got the bird again!

Christie, I am SO glad I am not the only one! The older I get the louder the world seems to get.

I am lucky I live in the country in the middle of nowhere. I love the peace and quite, the birds singing, the wind in the trees. Most of the time it is wonderful.

However, during hunting season it can be a bit challenging to find that lovely solitude in nature zen. Especially as many of my neighbors are disturbing my solitude trying to shoot the nature! First day of hunting season sounds like a Bruce Willis movie around here. I have told my neighbors that any animal that comes onto my five acres is NOT eligible for anyone's dinner table and that if they shoot a deer and it manages to get onto my property to die it stays where it lays. Cut down on them shooting so close to my house. Funny thing is the influx of deer on my property during hunting season makes me think the deer aren't nearly as dumb as the hunters!

At work it is another story. Why is it parents think the rest of the world wants to hear their child scream or cry or pitch a fit all over Walmart for hours at a time. Multiply that by ALL of the parents who can shop in deaf oblivion while their kids recreate the soundtrack of Friday the 13th at 4 million decibels and it is little wonder I end up with a headache or a nervous twitch by the end of the day!

When I leave to go home I am assaulted in the parking lot by hip hop so loud it shakes the doors and windows of the cars from which it spills! Makes me want to cram my back seat with speakers, crank them up and blast Beethoven symphonies and Puccini operas until my little car vibrates out of the parking lot!

Pissenlit said...

Ick! Yes, the world is definitely getting louder. The only way I can think of to combat it is to beat it at its own game...with my mp3 player and either noise isolation in-ear-type ear buds or fancy shmancy noise-cancellation headphones. That way, I can control what I hear and I don't have to blast out my eardrums with the volume, trying to drown out the sounds around me.

Other random pet peeve: Misquotes.
I was watching the latest ep of Warehouse 13 the other day and H.G. Wells said, "Once more into the breach!" *TWITCH*

Christie Kelley said...

Louisa, I love that you won't let people hunt on your property. And the deer aren't dumb, they know :)

I don't know how anyone could let their screaming child continue on and on. I used to take my kids out into the car, put them in their car seats and tell them they were in time out for the screaming fit. Of course, that doesn't work until they are a little older and can understand.

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Pissenlit, I do need quiet when I write so I don't usually like music on. A little classical is okay but the volume has to be low.

Warehouse 13! I'm two episodes behind. I'm going to have to play them tonight! I love that show.

Pissenlit said...

Christie, sometimes when I don't want music, I put on some nature sounds like a thunderstorm. :)

Nancy said...

Fedora, congrats on the bird!

Christie, this is a great topic. I'm very noise-sensitive, but what mainly bothers me is other people's music. It hasn't been as bad this spring and summer as it sometimes is. I think people who live in the city should have some consideration and not play their music at a volume that makes any part of it audible past their own walls.

I've been known to come from the back of the house to the front to tell the boy there's no reason for the TV to be audible 30 feet away and through walls. You can't hear the bedroom TV in the living room. The reverse should be true.

Washing the car can be done without inflicting one's musical choices on the neighborhood. People did it for decades, and the car got just as clean. I can't focus with a bass rhythm going. I can sometimes write to music if it's mine and if it has no lyrics, but having someone else's music slamming in on me is just intrusive and annoying.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

You are SOOO right, Christie!

It is a LOT noisier than it used to be. I'm glad I'm not the only one who notices!

I watch a lot of movies from Netflix and the DH and I have noted a disturbing trend. The characters speak in very low tones then the background music comes on and nearly BLASTS us out of our seats! SO ANNOYING! One of us constantly has to fiddle with the volume. :-P

And Louisa, I don't know HOW you can work at WalMart day after day. My hat is off to you, dearest! I HATE going in there (even if it's only a mile from my house and the cheapest place to shop) because the noise level makes me twitch after just a few minutes. Between screaming (and running) kids and constant announcements on the PA I can't stand to be in there.

Plus do NOT get me started on those BOOM-BOOM speakers. They rattle the windows of my house when the car pulls up to the stop light over 100 yards away! I can't even imagine what it must be like INSIDE the car. Those people have to be deaf.

who also has her share of sirens roaring down her street, esp. on Friday and Saturday nights. :-(

Laurie Logan said...

I live in rural north central Maryland along what should be a peaceful and tranquil river. However, one neighbor has a rooster that crows at a various times during the day, we have lots of motorcyclists that like to ride along the river (Why is it that motorcycles don't have to have mufflers anyway?), and one of my neighbors has a thing for his power tools. Ugh!

My husband also loves TV and has to have it on constantly while he's home.

I have to have quiet when I sleep. If there is too much noise, I get auditory overload!

Christie Kelley said...

Nancy, I'm so glad it's not just me! Even tonight, I went to Chipotle and the woman behind me was literally shouting at the man in line with her. Not angry shouting. She was talking about school stuff.

Christie Kelley said...

AC, my dh and I have also noticed the same thing with movies. We have surround sound in our bedroom now we watch most of the movies up there because we can change the settings so we hear better. The first time I watched the new Sherlock Holmes movie, I felt like I missed over half the movie because of the sound issue.

Christie Kelley said...

Laurie, I'm trying to figure out where rural north central MD is :) Now, roosters I don't mind. But motorcycles drive me nuts!

Nancy said...

Christie, it's definitely not you. There are entire generations who have no concept of "inside voices." If someone's sitting three tables away from me, I should NOT hear their conversation. Even at the next table, unless the tables are unusually close, it shouldn't be too loud to tune out.

And let's don't even start on cell phones.

Cassondra said...

Woot Flchen1!

Good nab on the boid.

Cassondra said...


Yes, the world is absolutely getting louder.

I've been noticing that all drive through windows---the microphones they use to talk to you? They're SCREAMING LOUD now. This did not used to be so. And people keep their car radios so dang loud that I can't hear my own. Music on sidewalks outside stores, music in restaurants, music in malls--it's all LOUD.

Steve says it's because all the kids have gotten deaf from listening to their music so loud that an entire generation will have hearing loss and the whole world is adjusting to needing everything louder. I think he may be right.

I hate that.

Quiet is one of the few solaces I find. It's impossible for me to find peace with a lot of screaming noise around me. I live way out in the country for that reason, but even here, there's a ton of noise. There is nowhere to go now, for the ordinary person, where it is truly quiet. :0(

Cassondra said...

Louisa said:

Makes me want to cram my back seat with speakers, crank them up and blast Beethoven symphonies and Puccini operas until my little car vibrates out of the parking lot!

OMG! I am loving this visual! And LOL. And I needed a smile today. :0)

Cybercliper said...

I have to have quiet to survive. It seems the more noise around me the more anxious I get. I can handle natural noises like birds (you get used to this after a flippin' woodpecker pounds away on the chimney tin at 6 am rain or shine for over a year), insects, or wind with no problem but if I had to hear cars, airport or other man made noises I'd go mad - or move.

I've lived in the country most of my life and love it but I have had people say they couldn't sleep without the city noise, it was so quiet they were creeped out.

Pissenlit said...

Cybercliper - I've lived in the country most of my life and love it but I have had people say they couldn't sleep without the city noise, it was so quiet they were creeped out.

Ha! I've lived in the suburbs all my life and the first time I tried sleeping out in farm country, the crickets kept me up. I've since gotten over it. :D