August 20, 2009 at 3:21 pm | Posted in me | Leave a comment

Once upon a time, I read a manga about the interaction and relationship between a high school boy who quit long jumping and the daughter of the school’s athletics coach, who was a closet long jumping athlete.  Not that this is about long jump.  But the female protagonist was a very introverted character, never going out without her pair of headphones.  In the rare occasion that she would lose her headphones, she would become very shy and afraid.  Maybe someone can remind me what the name of the manga is later.  Maybe it was called “Jump!”.

I was briefly reminded of that character when I bought my first pair of high quality headphones.  It was a pair of Audio Technica SJ5s. (Not recommended, one earpiece died after 3 months of use.  Get AKGs or Sennheisers.  Or Bose.  Apparently they have 1 year transferable ownership warranty.)  Suddenly, I could be listening to music at low volume, and completely fail to hear anything outside, even if my mum was standing right next to be talking.  When I went out, the general hustle and bustle, noise of Hong Kong was subdued, and life simplified to the sound of my music player and the occasional rhythmic thump of my headphone cords against my clothes.  I paid extra attention when crossing roads.  Otherwise, it was an interesting to experience Hong Kong as a silent film, accompanied by the tune of whatever what playing on my music player – Metal, Aria soundtrack, rock, amongst others.

During the period after my headphones broke down, I went back to my regular AKG earpieces.  Then I got my hands on the Chinese Sennheisers, lodged much more deeply into my canal than regular earphones.  More silence and a slightly more regular thumping as the sound of the cord rubbing against my clothing amplified deep into my ear like a stethoscope.  My regular mp3 player volume dropped even lower.  In a sort of way, I did become more introverted towards society when I had the earphones on.  In addition to ignoring advertisements by default, I could now ignore all people handing out flyers, asking for charitable donations, telling me I needed a gym membership or trying to catch my attention for the purposes of making me spend money.  Blissful ignorance.

However, there was one major downside to the soundproof shell.  As a typical male I am fully incapable of strenuous multitasking, thus leading to the unfortunate outcome that my brain is fully focused on watching the surroundings, walking and listening to music.  No space is left for cogitation, or exercising of creativity.  My brain has its work cut out trying to walk, follow the road and listen at the same time.  Most plotlines for my comic strip however, come from flashes of inspiration after observing surroundings and other people.  Listening to music while dodging rubbish on the street must just be a task, but if I wasn’t so focused on listening to music I might notice more interesting pieces of trash lying around that would trigger one of my “what if?” thoughts.  Music with lyrics tends to distract me more than those without.  Classical music is fine though, because I can’t sing along with most of my classical music.  Same goes for my Sketchbook Full Colours and Aria original sound tracks.  Unfortunately, classical music is unviable for portable music, because it has a far larger range of volume, and by the time you turn up the volume loud enough to hear the soft parts over the background noise, your ears will be in for a surprise when the loud parts come along.  Nevertheless, I always have a piece or two in case I need something to fall asleep to.

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