Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I was visiting friends in Louisville this past weekend and rediscovered something I hadn't realized I'd forgotten: what it's like to sleep in complete silence. The bedroom I was in faced the back of the house and opened onto a neighborhood that is quiet at night. Even the iguana in the room was silent. (This isn't metaphoric or an attempt at surrealism. My friends' son has a pet iguana.)

The contrast to my usual sleeping arrangement was obvious my first night home. Every piece of street noise, every passersby's conversation, was enough to jolt me awake and miss the quiet of Louisville. I once saw a report on 60 Minutes about sleep deprivation and how noise, even if it doesn't wake you up, can keep you from entering deep restful slumber. No wonder New Yorkers are so cranky.

Last night, I felt sleepy around ten o'clock and thought it would be nice to get a full eight hours rest. Not long after I lay down, I heard drums playing; obviously a rhythm track from some passing car. I waited for the sound to fade as the car pulled away...but it didn't. Assuming someone was parked in the street and playing their radio loud, I looked to see if I could determine which car it was. No luck. But a moment or two later, the drums stopped. Great.

Except then they started again. This time it was obvious that it wasn't a recording but someone was playing live. Naively I kept expecting them to stop, even while waiting on hold for almost ten minutes to register a noise complaint with the police. I gave up on the noise complaint and went outside to see if I could get a sense of the situation. The drumming was coming from the erroneously name Ascenzi Square, which is in fact a triangle situated between two streets across from my apartment.

I expected the source of the noise to be some surly drunk hipster having an impromptu jam session, so imagine my surprise when I saw that the cause was in fact a drum circle made up of eight girls in their early twenties. "Uh...I'm sorry to ask, but can you guys perhaps do that somewhere else? I have to get up early tomorrow." There might have been a quiet "sorry" but none of them argued with me, so I thanked them and left.

"What do you have to get up early for?" one of them asked as I walked away.

"Work - sad, but true."

"I have to get up tomorrow at 7:00" another said.

"Well, it's not a contest, but I get up at 6:00."

After that, no more drumming (thanks ladies!) though it took another hour and an episode of Glee to make me feel drowsy enough to sleep.


Iva said...

I never fail to be amazed at how oblivious we are in this world (and, I suppose, especially in large cities) to the needs of other people. Why? Why can we never think, "Oh, it is night time...people sleep at night, therefore, a little quiet, a little restraint on my part, would be a kindness and a courtesy." The yahoos who leave the bars and go to their cars in the Parkade next to my apartment just MUST blow the auto horns incessantly are a fine example. It is after 2 AM, folks, people generally are asleep or trying to sleep. Why MUST you blow your horns? Why MUST you have a drum circle at night? OH, I forgot! You are the only one who counts and what you want to do at any given time is paramount! How silly of me not to recognize that.

Erin said...

I think the key here is . . . "in their early twenties." When you're in your ealry twenties, you can play drums till 2am, then get up at 6am for work. When you're in your thirties and fourties, you need your sleep. If I'm not in bed by 11pm max, I'm a wreck at work the next day--it doesn't matter if I went out or if I have a book I can't stop reading.

Also: Who suddenly thinks, "Hey! Let's have a drum circle in the middle of a square!" Only in Williamsburg.

Joseph B. said...

My parents live in a bustling downtown area and growing up, the traffic was a lull to sleep I suppose. Now, I expect nothing less than my suburban quiet. When I go home, I toss and turn all night.

Bob Fingerman said...

In deference to your mom I'll eschew the language I'd usually use and just say if you're involved in a drum circle you are...

No, I can't think of anything civil and clean that works.