Lunch With Sounds

Probably has something to do with this noisy apartment...

Probably has something to do with this noisy apartment…

The assignment is to sit for ten minutes while eating breakfast and to listen to the sounds that you never pay attention to.

The assignment wasn’t actually assigned to me personally, but rather to the students taking the class that I am assisting on at the moment. One of the advantages to being a student assistant is getting to take classes for a second time: the first time around is always such a whirlwind that it is difficult for much of the information to sink in- taking the class a second time does mean re-learning a lot of basics, but then again it also means giving each topic a second try. Practice, after all, is what makes perfect.

So even though it’s not my assignment, per se, I didn’t see any reason not to do it. It is lunch now, not breakfast, so the neighbors are out and I can hear a kid whining in the next courtyard over. There’s no words, just generalized angst and a muffled staccato of a frustrated mother. Now it is wails. The wails have infected a second kid. All the wails are moving off into the distance. Now Dad is getting involved. A door slams.

The stove is on. I can hear the hiss of the gas and the faint fluttering of boiling water. There is an occasional spit as water drips down the side of the pot into the flames. The fridge is on. The sound is made up of a low cycling murmur and a two-note tone somewhere in a midrange scale: I don’t know my musical notes well enough to describe the key. It shuts off with a click and a fast decay.  Somewhere inside the refrigerator itself there is a gurgling of draining water. The coffee maker is on: it’s not percolating but the hotplate is on keeping the carafe warm. It makes a low knocking noise- even like the ticking of a clock but softer and more muffled. Ever so often it ticks to remind me that it is on.

The cats are hanging out by their scratching tower. One of them is cleaning himself doing a good job on the claws and the pads of his toes. The other is eating with lip-smacking relish. It’s her first day back on wet food in almost a month and the novelty makes it delicious.

Upstairs someone crosses the room and their footsteps thunder across the ceiling. A kid jumps off a surface with a thwud and then grown-up footsteps cross the room at a measured pace. It’s the same noise that I hear whenever there is an earthquake. The first few earthquakes I experienced in town I initially attributed to the upstairs neighbors being especially heavy-footed until I realized I could feel the ground moving.

There is a distant susurration of traffic that comes and goes like the tide depending on the stoplights at either end of the block. Overhead is the sound of an airplane on it’s approach to the airport: we live under the approach to LAX and at night the planes can be seen lined up in the sky overhead. It is not generally very obtrusive. Right now the footsteps are drowning it out. Water runs through the pipes in the wall.

And this is what I consider quiet.


~ by Gwydhar Gebien on January 14, 2015.

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