Saturday, November 29, 2008

What Drives You Crazy?

The Scream
Edvard Munch
Oil, tempera, and pastel on cardboard
91 × 73.5 cm
National Gallery, Oslo

I love this painting. There are days when we all feel like this. Certain things drive us crazy, and we feel the scream slowly rising to the top. We contain it, of course, but silently, inside our heads, we are screaming. One thing that bothers me is noise. I cannot tolerate noise. Some noises are pleasant and have a music all their own, such as the sound of a lawnmower on a spring afternoon or the sound of children in a playground down the street. And for some strange reason, I love the sound of my clothes dryer or my dishwasher humming away in the background. But most noises are just unpleasant and annoying.

"A noisy noise annoys an oyster."

One of my co-workers drives me completely insane. I love her dearly, but there are days when I feel a scream rising in my throat, just like in the Edvard Munch painting. My co-worker wears her plastic access pass on a lanyard around her neck, and on it she also wears the key to her desk, which she locks at the end of the day. The problem is, my co-worker has a form of ADHD and she cannot sit still for more than a few minutes. She is constantly jumping up and running around the office with the key clacking against the hard plastic access pass.

Clack, clack, clack... run, run, run... clack, clack, clack...


Last Sunday Leslie and I went to the Boathouse Restaurant for lunch. We had a fabulous table next to the window overlooking the sailboats on English Bay (I snapped this picture from our table, and yes, we have palm trees in Vancouver...), the food was delicious, the company was wonderful. Leslie and I always find so much to chat about. The noise in the restaurant was indescribable. There was some awful 1980s music playing from a tinny stereo somewhere off in the distance. The music was indecipherable, loud, impossible to hear, and didn't fit the ambience of the restaurant at all. It was probably some cheesy remix that one of the servers had brought in from a homemade CD collection. I was dizzy by the time we left the restaurant.


Yesterday as I was coming home from work, I noticed everyone on the bus was talking on a cell phone. There were all different languages, English, Iranian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Punjabi, Spanish, and they were all using their "telephone voices". I could hardly wait to get home, close the door behind me, and put on some soft jazz. Today I have the dryer humming quietly in the background, the rain is pattering on my roof and on the trees outside, and it's wonderful. My ears are saying, "Thank you! Thank you!"

Am I neurotic? Probably. But, I would bet there are things that drive you crazy too. There aren't?


Firefly said...

I have to agree with you. I also think of that painting when I feel like that. The other picture in my head is that shot from the sceen in Home Alone where he also screams like that.
What drives me crazy? Well, where do I start. I tend to be very inpatient and can get all worked up quickly if things go too slowly for me. I also like some me time and when I try to have it I don't want people around. Its like an invation of my "Me World" and that makes me want to scream as well. And so on and so forth. Let me stop before I really get started.

Country Girl said...

I don't suffer from this as you do, but my husband does. And now, after reading your post, I totally sympathize with him.
I didn't totally sympathize with him before; it was only partial. (Ha!)
I'm glad my post inspired you to clean your place. I mean, I need all the inspiration I can get, so glad to be of help to someone else!
And thanks for the birthday song, Jo!!!

susie said...

I agree with the noise. I have to have quiet time or I really get cranky! And if there is too much noise when I'm talking on the phone, I can't hear.. Last night I got about 5 hours of quiet time. I painted and just relaxed. First time in a week, and I really needed it.

Charles Gramlich said...

extraneous noise bothers me pretty badly as well. I don't know why folks always have to have soundddddd. Maybe to mask their lack of thoughtssss.

Donnetta Lee said...

Josie: You know what's driving me nuts right now. It's those neighbors who are moving and want to stay at my house. I want to be a good deed doer, but I need just a tiny bit of predictability. They change their minds daily and I can't figure out how to spend my time as I never know when they'll be over here! Hubby tells me good deed doers don't complain. But after a week of this, sorry, I just can't help it!!

About the noise. Some do bother me. High pitched ringing or buzzing. But I do like a soft back ground sound. Used to have an indoor fountain in an open atrium in my house, and I loved the sound of the water. D

Russell said...

I often sit in complete silence and read or just think or work on something or other. I like the sound of silence (forgive me Simon and Garfunkel!).

But I will confess something that is rather strange. I always listen to the radio when I go to bed. I usually have on some mindless talk show or maybe a sports show of some sort.

Years ago I always listened to Larry King when he was on the radio (no cable TV show!) from about 11 p.m. until 4 a.m. He and his guests were so interesting I got into the habit of always listening to the radio when I crawled into bed.

However, most of the time I do enjoy the quiet. I enjoy it a lot.

Take care.

Cedar said...

See this is where it really pays to come from Jersey. I would have waited until I had my food, never before you get your food, and I would have said to my server...Yo, you want to kill that music or do you want to pass on getting a tip and hope I don't reach a snapping point and go postal up in here?

It works, try it once. It works in Seattle anyway. said...

Caption for The Scream:

"Those Newmarket, Ontario GO trains
blow their klaxons so loud, it's enough to drive you nuts!"

Munch, Munch!

KathyB. said...

I think of that painting now and then too. When I want to scream , but don't. I too think some of the most calming noises are the swish, swish, swishing of the dishwasher( maybe it sounds like womb noise)and if it is combined with the sound of rain on my skylights and a purring cat..well, who would need a tranquilizer with all that soothing noise?

Referring to your previous post, my goodness ! Are researchers running out of things to study, for goodness sake. Testing the air of passing poultry trucks? Let's just publish panic reports because we don't have enough to worry about for goodness sake. Where is sanity here ?Why..I just want to SCREAM, but silently .

the walking man said...

seeing as I was born crazy there isn't much left to make me crazy.

mrsnesbitt said...

Yes, the noise in restaurants despairs me too. My pal Maria and i stopped going in one, full of teenage mothers with screaming babies...ignored whilst mothers chatted amongst themselves.


Pauline said...

ah yes, the noise. my cottage (and surrounding woods and fields) are the quietest places I know and I retreat to them often. Work is bedlam - I spend my days with 30 second graders - so as soon as I am able, I head for solitude. Neurotic? I don't think so, just appreciative of a good "silence."

Hilary said...

The "telephone voice." Why do people speak so much louder into their cell phones than they would with their regular conversational voice? I dislike public cell phone use in most any situation. It seems invasive, intrusive and very annoying.

Give that co-worker a hug, or fix her collar for her, while swinging that key around to her back. Only recommended for when it's driving you totally nuts. ;)

Jo said...

Firefly, I get impatient sometimes as well. I also like to have some "me time", and I think everyone needs that in order to rejuvenate.

CountryGirl, often we are not able to sympathize with other people's idiosyncracies, so don't feel bad. :-)

Susie, oh, yes. I work in the noisiest office imagineable, and sometimes it drives me insane!

Charles, what a good point! Many people are afraid of their own company (or lack thereof... heh).

Donnetta, well, you know the say ... no good deed goes unpunished. I think we all mean well, but we are always happy when the good deed is finished. :-)

Russell, that's very interesting. I can see how the sound of voices would actually be very somnolent. I often fall asleep with the TV on; it lulls me to sleep.

Cedar, you know what I did? I sent an e-mail to the manager of the restaurant and I told him I would not be back unless they changed their horrible music. I got a very lengthy reply. "We will be taking action right away on getting our sound company in to look at speakers and such. Also the managers are going to sit down and agree on music for the different floors and time of day. Your email really excited all of us to make change!" Phew! We'll see...

Ivan, the Skytrain here in Vancouver is not so bad, noise wise, but traffic noise...!

Kathy, *heh*. Yes! And I agree about the dishwasher noise and the rain on the roof. Those are very soothing noises, aren't they? Well, good thing because we get LOTS of rain here in the Pacific Northwest, don't we?

Mark, well, me too!

Denise, oh goodness, don't even get me started on screaming babies. Why do people take them to restaurants if they know they're going to scream like that?

Pauline, you spend your day with second graders? Oh, goodness! I can understand retreating to the woods. The forest has its own special sound, doesn't it?

Hilary, I'm afraid if I get close enough to give her a hug, I may end up throttling her. I am always amazed at other people's insensitivities at how they are affecting the people around them.

VioletSky said...

I have a friend who is constantly cracking her knuckles - very methodically, first one hand, 1,2,3,4,5 digits, then the other hand 1,2,3,4,5 digits, then she moves on to her toes, again each digit individually. It pains me to be in the room when she does this - loo break.

Jo said...

VioletSky, hearing someone crack their knuckles actually makes me nauseous. I instantly want to throw up. I think that would probably stop her very quickly. *heh*

Leslie: said...

Sorry, I was too busy yesterday to read or comment on this. I was too busy enjoying the quiet of the rainforest in the afternoon and the soft strains of smooth jazz all evening! lol

Carla said...

Oh, you've touched a nerve with this post! I'm so with you when it comes to noise. I live a very quiet life. But I am very tolerant of what I consider to be the normal noises of living. I don't mind the sounds of lawn mowers or of children playing. And I do like music...I love the rock music of the 60s and 70s. But I don't force it on anyone else and I don't want them to force their music on me. When I lived in apartments, it drove me CRAZY when the neighbors cranked up their music. But my number one pet peeve is "boom cars!" I think those things could drive me to kill someone. Thank goodness, I don't own a gun!

meggie said...

I relate to this post so much is frightens me!!
The bliss, of quiet solitude!