Thursday, October 22, 2009

Night Shift.

Classical music is making a comeback in my life, as it will on occasion. Working late at night means commercial radio is going to suck, and I dislike having a MP3 player plugged into me while I’m around traffic at night. Public radio will crank out the classical music at all times, so when I’m back at home I’m still in the mood for it.
Some of these tunes, if you can call them that, have been around for hundreds of years. They lack the driving beat of modern music and most of them lack lyrics. It’s an acquired taste, at least for the people I know, and most of the people I know do not like classical music at all. Modern music tends to towards factory produced music and all the songs have the same cookie cutter pattern to them. They are all about 3:30 long, they have repetitive lyrics, they’re easy to dance to and they have a good beat. By and large, most of it is garbage, even if it’s fun garbage, and I suspect that history will remember the music of the rock and roll era as mostly just that.
Equally certain is the umbrage that will be taken by younger people who are totally convinced their favorite group or groups or bleached blonde implanted starved looking half dressed lip syncing really has something to say to them about life. Were it not useless I would suggest they look at those who are delivering the message, and compare accomplishments against the message. Yet the love of celebrities will not end soon, or well.
Working late at night near an urban area means I get to see just how much other people cannot see at night. Powerful street lights blast megawatts worth of wasted light into the sky, killing any chance the stars might have of winking through. Each of those stars might contain some form of life we cannot imagine, and the chances of imagining that life if we cannot see the stars that provide light and heat for them. Billions of aliens are up there, perhaps, and perhaps at this very moment, one of them right now sees our sun, and wonders what we will be like if we ever meet. I wonder if this being writes, or if writing is something just we humans do, and if that being does not write, then what passes for creativity among their kind? I fear we will not travel to the stars if we cannot see them.
A side street we’re near holds a poor neighborhood that has a natural gas storage facility dead in the middle of it, along with railroad tracks leading to it. Trailers dot the road like trash tossed out of a car, and a lot of that is present also. This is a patch of land sandwiched in between two major roads, and the interstate, and I cannot help but wonder what sort of night sounds these people have. I’ve got frogs, horses, crickets, owls, coyotes, and the sound of three mutts snoring. We pass within a few hundred feet of these people at midnight, and I wonder how many babies we’ve awakened, how many workers are disturbed from their slumber, and how many people simply sleep through this sort of thing. Even in Hickory Head the sound of human beings is an omnipresent noise in some way. I have to go to the Okeefenokee to truly go to a place devoid of noise of any species. Only there is the acoustic world free from our constant barrage of extraneous sound.
After midnight, traffic begins to lessen, and the workers begin to slow down, too. Men move more slowly, think more slowly, and they react less quickly to danger. I see this in myself, no doubt, as my math skills decrease, my ability to discern objects in the dark begins to degrade, and my mind wanders muchly. ( If I write when I get home you should see the spelling errors this creates!) Human beings are critters of habit and by habit few of us wander the wee hours of the morning, much less work them. The last few hours of a shift is when I have to really question if productivity is really work the payroll spent in keeping everyone out here this late.
Exhaustion is not without merit. Strip away the body’s ability to function properly, and erode the mind’s ability to function as quickly, and you’ll wind up with some interesting thoughts running around, well, at least walking around your head. Plots for short stories and novels begin to sprout like the stubble on my face. The flashing lights and reflectiorization of the safety equipment begin to become fascinating. This is dangerous because the light also attract drunks, believe it or not. Drunks are much more likely to ram something with a lot of light than something less visible. Sober people, on the other hand, hit things without lights. Either way we’re targets, and even late at night we cannot forget it.

Bach is good for late night working. The man must have spent many a night composing to the wee hours, for it seems his music is more conducive to late night work than most others are. The very teeth of the wee hours, those hours before dawn is even thought of seriously, is a good time to crank up Bach. I wonder what this would sound like on one of those music systems in the young man’s cars where it goes thumping down the road. Bach with bass? I told you this time of night produced some weirdness, did I not? Lunch hour is nearly over, so I will leave you with this last thought. As you slept last night, and as we all sleep at anytime, someone out there is creating something. Music, writing, a road perhaps, but it never stops, ever, and when we’re awake, we ought to remember it is our turn to use our minds to create.

Take Care,


  1. I began piano at age five. They told me I had perfect pitch. I played and played, I loved it so. My Mother always told me that she knew what mood I was in by the music I played. Sometimes the music was in sheets in front of me, sometime not. I was a prodigy, until (dun, dun, dun!) recital time. Froze like a deer in the headlights. I still play when no one is around.

  2. In my head. Besides being a statue in recitals, I hated theory.

    1. I hated writing until I let go of the things I had always been taught and decided just to write. What you see here is what happened when I released my fears and just began to use a keyboard for what was inside of me. You should try it.