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Archive for May, 2010

I happened to be picking up a prescription in the early evening, apparently when the citizens of Sandy and environs all send in their refills simultaneously. Six pharmacy workers, all too busy to come to the checkout counter. So I stood patiently behind two other customers, and a small line formed behind me. Then the voice got in line.

“I’m like so bugged at her, she’s just wasting our time and doesn’t get it. And so we’ve been dealing with this all week and just can’t get it working right, but like it’s never her fault.”

It’s an impeccable Valley Girl whine, what we in Utah call the “oh-my-heck” dialect.

“So finally I get to the point where we can get some work done, because we are so in trouble if it doesn’t get worked out soon, and we just go over and over it. And like I finally asked her, ‘So can you do the matching program on your own?’ and she’s like ‘no, no way, I just don’t get it.'”

Hm. Sounds like a retail employee venting on her phone about a long day with the cash register and some sales promotion. I glance back and am surprised that it’s her boyfriend who’s silently listening.

“I’m like, oh my gosh, how can she stand up at the white board in front of everybody and go on about how she’s all over the program, making it sound so good, and then it comes down to it and she’s like ‘I don’t get it.’ So I’m going to have to take care of it?”

Really, I’m not at all interested, but she has a voice that not only carries but fills all available space within a 30-yard radius, and it’s not even a loud voice. It’s … insistent. I lean against the counter and consider twiddling my thumbs or maybe drumming my fingertips loudly.

“I’ve had it with her, but you know I can code it, I can debug it better than any of those muthas. I’m just gonna have to go in and clean it all up. We have to get it into beta.”

Of all the things I might have expected, that was not one of them. The pharmacist turns to help me, and I lose track of the geek girl and her silent boyfriend.

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Since my first Walkman in the early ’80s, I’ve tended to carry music around with me, listen in the car while driving, listen while walking or jogging, listen while at work. I’ve driven my family crazy with music playing, especially because once the music’s on, I don’t listen to them as attentively.

Some calm music can carry me along in a reflective sort of way. That’s usually how I like to unwind: a quiet walk with equally quiet music.

[from Emile Bremmer's Flickr set]

In the last couple of years I’ve tried meditation as a spiritual and health practice, but I’ve been frustrated with the shift from busy mind to quiet mind. It’s not an easy change to make, especially in a culture where sounds, images, and words are constantly in motion around us on television, billboards, radio, and any retail experience.

In the last month or two, I’ve spontaneously turned off the music. I drive to work in silence (interrupted only by my cajoling stupid drivers). I leave the radio off. I limit the iPod to maybe an hour at lunch, at the most. I didn’t consciously try this, but I’ve found a quiet mind anyway. Now, music is a choice, not a continuous background in life. And I’m loving the quiet.

[M.Shirani Flickr set]

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