Please Turn Off the Noise

I thought sound-blocking headphones were just for professionals, until I came to college.

I also thought that people who own sound-blocking headphones, who are not professionals, are silly.

To these elusive, expensive, silence-bringing angels of technology: I am so sorry. I was so wrong.

How frustrating it is to be so sensitive to any noise when I am trying to work! I can’t get anything done, particularly anything which involves reading and writing, when any kind of talking is happening. Look, I know this isn’t tearing your understanding of reality– noise distracts everyone. However, most people seem to be able to work through it to some degree, whereas I have absolutely no tolerance for any kind of speaking when I need to work.

At this very moment, I am pumping instrumental music from YouTube through my headphones in an attempt to block my roommate, her boyfriend, and their television while I desperately claw at this Russian essay. (I tried listening to Russian music, but even words I don’t quite understand are too distracting.) And you know what? I’m angry at my roommate. Of course there is no reason to be angry with my roommate, who does nothing wrong by talking and watching TV. I absolutely do not want to be mad at her. However, this frustration is making me very, very agitated.

I think I will look into buying those silly, blessed noise-blocking headphones.

Can you imagine the peace, the quiet, the concentration? I COULD CRY.

affectionately yours,

If you’re going to do something,

, do it effectively.

I don’t believe that buying products with the least amount of packaging does much good.

My refusing birth control pills to prevent poisoning water with estrogen also has little effect.

There are countless examples of good things that everyone tries to do, but in vain.

BUT it is only hopeless if you keep the deeds to yourself! The way to make an impact that extends beyond your tiny self is simply to talk about what you’re doing. Openness allows other people to consider your choices– cloth pads and diapers, cycling instead of driving, good parenting, etc.– and perhaps you can influence them to do the same.

Hence, my big mouth and my blog. (:

I do hope you read. And maybe we can combine our efforts to actually accomplish something!


When you stare at a word like you’ve never seen it before.

I have a hypothesis for this phenomenon!

I don’t doubt that every literate person has experienced this before: You encounter a familiar word while reading or, more often, writing. You pause. You stare at the word because something about it looks wrong. Maybe you seek a second opinion: Does this word look weird? You might even consult a dictionary.

Afterward, you feel silly because the word was “tool” or “pony”, something you’ve been spelling since your earliest memory!

I suspect the cause of this is the way in which people learn to read. Maybe you’ve seen a chain letter or article about this phenomenon, that people can easily understand words that are written with their middle letters jumbled. (If not, go read about it!)

This makes me wonder: if the first and last letters of a word are often the most important to understanding it, maybe people learn words by remembering the first and last letters and not do not pay attention to what is sandwiched between.

Another more general possibility is that people simply memorize the shapes of many words. (I know that is a fault of mine as a Russian student!)

The consequences of this? When people actually take a good look at a word they’ve known for years, they suddenly see all of the letters and find it either does not match the picture they had in their brains, or just sharpens it. Either way, they have to pause and reconcile this new understanding of the word with the old images or patterns in their brains.

I would like to read more about this, because surely I am no genius, and I doubt I am the first to consider this idea. (: If you, pretty reader, have any ideas or can suggest any further reading, please comment.

I’ll update if I learn anything new,
-caprice cake