2024 Reading Challenge

2024 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 1 book toward her goal of 285 books.

2023 Reading Challenge

2023 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 5 books toward her goal of 265 books.

Whistle While You Work or The Importance of Background Music

So my sister has come to visit for Easter (hi Mamy!), and she brought me a new copy of a CD mix she had burned for me years ago as well as some new music to listen to, and that got me to thinking about music and when I listen to it…

I have always been a person who has enjoyed silence – do not think I am one of those people who cannot sit still in the quiet, because I am not.  I heart quiet.  Seriously.  When I am reading, when I am thinking, when I am working, when I am just sitting about.  Quiet is a great and glorious thing, and was long one of the best benefits of being a Single Girl Who Lived Alone.  The vast majority of my friends have long been married and/or with children.  And none of them had quiet.  Ever.  So my ability to have The Quiet Time was not only a direct source of pleasure to me, but also a bit of a “teehee – I have it, you don’t” indirect pleasure as well.  That is a teensy bit Schadenfreude-ish I know, but still true – don’t judge me until you’ve enjoyed the miracle of The Quiet Time yourself…

But I have also always been a person who enjoyed music – both in the foreground and in the background.  I listened to music while working, eating, sleeping, reading, relaxing, stressing out, thinking, studying, working out (on those rare occasions when I actually DID work out, that is), driving, traveling via plane/train/boat/public transport/any other conveyance.  I liked different types of music at different times and during different activities.  One day I would listen to Mozart while working, the next to Barenaked Ladies; one day I would fall asleep listening to Aimee Mann, the next to classic Sinatra.

I have always enjoyed pretty much all genres of music and a slew of artists – my listening tastes have long been as eclectic as my reading tastes.  I sought out recommendations of new artists and albums from my friends, poked around on iTunes and Amazon.com for new artists, listened to XM Radio to find new songs to download.  But as my sister handed me the CDs she had burned for me, I realized that they were the only new things I’d gotten in some time, and wondered why.  As I thought about it, I realized that I had not been seeking out a lot of new music because I was not listening to a lot of music, period.

Never one to let a change in my own behavior go un-remarked upon (teehee), I tried to figure out why.  And I think I have figured some of it out.  I do not drive to and from work anymore.  I no longer sit in an office where the phone rings, other people walk in/out, or I have to stop what I’m doing on a regular basis to deal with other people’s crises.  I no longer sit in an office that I don’t like, in a building that I don’t like, in a job that I don’t like.  I do not travel for business anymore, be it on planes, trains or in automobiles.  I work when I want, in the room/location I want, at the job I want.  So I don’t have time to kill or need distractions during the vast majority of my day anymore.  And music was always a great way to make dull things more interesting and/or pass the time away…

I also do not read as much as I used to these days, or have as much time alone in my house with only my own head for company (hooray!) – two other times when I used to listen to a lot of background music.  I have mused on the reading thing before – check out “On Challenges and Obstacles” if you are interested in my thoughts on this particular topic.  As for the alone-in-my-head thing, well, let’s just say that I have long been a thinker and a muser and occasionally an obsesser and that these things were usually accompanied by some sort of soundtrack, typically to put words to the feelings, fears, or neuroses rattling around in my head.  While I still think, muse (and, admittedly, occasionally obsess – teehee), these things are a lot – A LOT – less emotionally overwrought and/or draining these days due to the extraordinarily happy state of affairs in JillElizabeth-land.  As a result, I have not needed music as a form of emotional/psychological expression in quite the same way – and all I can say on that point is Hooray.

I still do work, of course – all this fabulous writing does not magically appear on the page in an instant, either through an I Dream of Jeannie ponytail flick or as a result of my wishing really really hard (although seriously – how cool would it be if it did?!).  But perhaps because laptops make it possible to work anywhere, I find that I am not often sitting in one place consistently to listen to music.  (And yes, I know my laptop HAS music on it, but I’m often in a public or semi-public place when I write bloggish stuff now, so out-loud listening is not really possible and I never seem to have headphones with me…)  I have a bee-you-tee-full office with a gorgeous and custom-built desk (thank you Uncle Mike!) and I sit there to Write Fiction (i.e., I do my non-blog, “real” writing there, sitting at a desk, surrounded by many many books and reference materials and assorted Things I Love).  That room would fit the bill as a space to consistently work/listen.  However, while it has a CD system in it, said system is still in the box (teehee) and has never been unpacked let alone set up.

So it would seem that I find myself working without background music these days.  Or do I?  Perhaps I do not have David Gray or George Winston providing a background to my work these days.  I do, however, have the rhythmic percussion of keyboard keys (I type freakishly fast) and the bass-ish tap-tap-tapping of my finger against the laptop when the words just won’t come; I have the vocal stylings of strangers in coffee shops and the kids asking questions about homework or video games or what we are doing this weekend.  And occasionally I hear a bit of whistling.  You know, while I work.  🙂


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