Part of the Strategies class I teach is identifying each student’s ideal study habits.  And I often tell them that I am, apparently, the last person on earth who doesn’t mind silence.  In fact, I need silence to concentrate.  Everyone else, including my students, former coworkers, and even T, all want some kind of sound in the background at all times, be that TV, music, or just people.  I’m just not like that.  And I always blame my need for silence on my parents.

I was brought up in a household where you were expected to turn off anything that you weren’t actively listening to.  So the TV never stayed on in the background, and the TV and the radio were never on at the same time.  My parents would have the radio on in the background from time to time, but it wasn’t a constant presence by any means.  So I tend to not turn anything on if I am not paying attention to it.  I have recently gotten into the habit of leaving the TV on while I check my email and goof off on my computer, but as soon as I need to focus on something, like lesson planning, the TV turns off so that I can concentrate.  I know, I’m old.

Well, after spending a few weeks taking over 1,500 photos of the books in the collection I will be selling for the herp society, I have been mostly engaged for the last week or so in editing those very same photographs in Photoshop.  All I have to do is crop, remove the background, rotate, and save.  My boss tends to listen to Pandora when he is in the office, but since all four of us who work in the office are part-time, I often find myself working alone.  When I was photographing books, it was boring, but not a big deal to spend 8 hours alone in a quiet office.  But since I have started spending that time just sitting at a desk, I realize that, when my boss is out of the office, I miss the music.

I have been telling myself for years now that music has simply never been that important to me.  I have never had much of a music collection, and never needed music on when I was at home.  Most of my exposure to music was during road trips, or just listening to the radio in the car.  It was my time to sing along at the top of my lungs, and I could make a 12-hour trip fly by just by singing along to my CDs.  And then I discovered NPR.  And books on CD.  Now, I listen to public radio most of the time that I am in the car, and books for long trips.  And I really never listen to music anymore.

But my boss’s music tastes mirror mine pretty darned closely.  It was nice hearing a lot of my old favorites while I worked, and singing along softly to them while I cropped, removed the background, rotated and saved.  I realized that I did kinda miss music.  Maybe I was wrong, maybe I had been lying to myself about not being a music person.  So I started thinking about how I could listen to my music even when the boss wasn’t around.

It took me forever to fully transition from cassettes to CDs, and I have never made the switch to MP3s.  I don’t have an MP3 player, the only music I ever had on my computer was put there so that I could burn CDs, and I don’t have any music on my phone.  I don’t have iTunes or Pandora or any other music services.  It occurred to me that I could bring T’s old Ipod to work with me, but the effort involved in getting my old music off CDs and onto it just didn’t seem worth the effort.

And then I remembered podcasts can be streamed from your computer for free.  So now I am catching up on This American Life, and Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, and Radiolab when I am working alone.  And when the boss is there, I like to listen in on his music.  And sometimes I sing along, softly, so he won’t hear me.  But when I need to start posting these books to the website and writing descriptions for them, I’m pretty sure silence will descend again.  And I’m ok with that.

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