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Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween and Hallowed Silence

Our neighborhood celebrated Halloween last night (the 30th of October here in Japan) even though it was raining. Although Halloween parties and treats are becoming gradually more known here, a trick-or-treating venue is still relatively hard to come by. However, since we moved in to our current  neighborhood about 6 years ago, our neighbors have embraced trick-or-treating; well, some of them have. In order not to disturb the ones who haven't, we distribute a flyer featuring a jack-o-lantern to the neighbors who want to participate, and kids are told to only ring the doorbells of homes with the right picture on the door. It works. Fun was had last night by all who participated. And the others tolerated the noisy running around the street quite nicely.

Speaking of noise, later this week a relative is coming to stay with us. This relative is older and doesn't adjust very well to the idea of family-style living, so her visits are always a challenge. In particular, her need to have the television running 18 hours a day at top volume is a real problem for me (and for my children who have a hard time studying during her visits, or having friends in to play, or doing anything). I cannot work well when she visits, cannot write, and feel distressed a good portion of the time. We don't have a very big home (it's big for Japan but still not big enough that we have more than one tv, or that what one person does at full volume in one part of our home doesn't affect everyone no matter if in the same room or not). So we have announced that from this visit forward, she will have to limit her television-watching to when the children are not studying or entertaining friends (which won't salvage my days, but part of hosting a guest is putting up with crap, I suppose). This particular relative has never taken suggestions well, so we will have to see how she takes outright rules. Shall keep you posted.

Anyway, this got me thinking about silence and how I crave it. When my husband leaves for work and the kids for school, I turn off the tv (which had been on for the morning news) and I don't turn it or a radio or any music on until the family returns and turns that kind of stuff on for themselves. I do work for my clients in silence, I write in silence, I do housework in silence, and that's the way I like it. When I leave the house I put on my iPod and listen to podcasts rather than have to listen to whatever noise the city streets would impose on me. Silence is absolutely key to my sense of well-being. It's odd, considering I grew up as one of eight kids in a house constantly full of noise, or perhaps it's not odd, considering that.

Anyway, this week Tupelo Press editor Jeffrey Levine featured a post about sound on his blog, which is right in line with what I'm musing about these days. He quotes the line from poet Olena Kalytiak Davis's prize-winning book And Her Soul Out of Nothing, "the brain sits right next to the ears.”

This morning I have my blessed silence, after a weekend of kids and noise, and so I am signing off now to enjoy it and the fruitfulness it brings me.

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