Tuesday

I am languishing in my sickbed, riddled with plague and reading about all this Tumblr stuff.

Maybe not plague. A cold.

I know that the ringing in my ears is louder when I’m sick, but it’s coupled with the sound of the water moving through the radiators and hot water pipes – a similar sound to the one I hear in my ears – which makes it all worse somehow. No amount of earplug-wearing will help when it’s a noise already in my head.

Coincidentally, I’m also reading about how places like restaurants are really loud. I’m constantly thinking about how loud places are and how it seems like everywhere has gotten louder but can’t really decided whether they really have become louder or I just notice more now that I try to avoid loud noises. Probably both.

Restaurants are so loud because architects don’t design them to be quiet. Much of this shift in design boils down to changing conceptions of what makes a space seem upscale or luxurious, as well as evolving trends in food service. Right now, high-end surfaces connote luxury, such as the slate and wood of restaurants including The Osprey in Brooklyn or Atomix in Manhattan.

This trend is not limited to New York. According to Architectural Digestmid-century modern and minimalism are both here to stay. That means sparse, modern decor; high, exposed ceilings; and almost no soft goods, such as curtains, upholstery, or carpets. These design features are a feast for the eyes, but a nightmare for the ears. No soft goods and tall ceilings mean nothing is absorbing sound energy, and a room full of hard surfaces serves as a big sonic mirror, reflecting sound around the room.The result is a loud space that renders speech unintelligible. Now that it’s so commonplace, the din of a loud restaurant is unavoidable. That’s bad for your health—and worse for the staff who works there. But it also degrades the thing that eating out is meant to culture: a shared social experience that rejuvenates, rather than harms, its participants.
And the Underground is SO loud. I mostly travel on the Northern line when I use the tube and the TRAINS are SO LOUD. If you want to talk to someone, you’d have to shout (on the other hand what are you doing, breaking the unwritten rule of not speaking on the tube). I always wonder about how loud people must have the volume for whatever they are listening to on their headphones. I think about how that kind of volume from headphones on my own ears would probably be worse for my tinnitus than the sound of the trains the music would be drowning out. At least I can wear earplugs on the train.