Simple Definition of hubbub

  • a loud mixture of sound or voices
  • a situation in which there is much noise, confusion, excitement, and activity

Origin of hubbub

  • perhaps of Irish origin; akin to Scottish Gaelic ub ub, interjection of contempt
  • First Known Use: 1555

Usually when the pace of life feels too fast I retreat, as much as I can, to quiet and solitude.  I want less stimulation, and seek to soothe my jangled nerves.  But there are times of great stress when I feel a need for people and bustle around me.  Today is such a day.

I sit in a favorite bakery, eating delicious and comforting food.  I’m too wound up to concentrate on my book, so instead I let myself drift and be distracted by the noises and sights surrounding me.  Beautiful displays of pastries…the scratched and scuffed wooden table I sit at with four other people, all engrossed in their own pursuits…sounds – a man and woman at one end of the table talk with animation.  From the rhythms and occasional bits of words I think they’re speaking in my own language, English, but it’s strangely hard to tell over the music.  No matter.  I enjoy the disjointed sounds today.

A man in a suit and tie sits diagonally across from me, reading a newspaper.  He’s already finished his sandwich and may have something left in his can of Blood Orange San Pellegrino.  I like that flavor, too.  The fourth person at my table, a young man, has already left, after looking at his smartphone, while I was writing about the others.  He had a to go bag, so I suppose he hadn’t planned to stay.

Today, at this moment, being here feels just right.  The happy hubbub and beautiful things do their job – distracting, lifting me out of myself and my consuming self-directed thoughts, reminding me of the fascinating and unpredictable plenitude of life all around me.


A tiny sign I made recently, which I’ve taped to an inconspicuous spot beneath my computer monitor at work:

breathe illustration

It’s all part of my new plan to be more relaxed and positive – to avoid knee-jerk negative responses and assumptions.  It does actually help some; amazing that I need to be reminded to breathe!


My husband, daughter and I lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico for several years.  For the last 2 years we rented a great house with a HUGE yard that was completely walled in and very private.  We loved it.  We did so much work on that place – when we moved in the yard was covered with waist-high dried sticks of weeds and a number of resident black widows.  It was horrible, but we could see it had great potential.  My husband dug endlessly, we planted, watered everything by hand with rainwater because there were drought restrictions, and before long we had beautiful gardens and chickens, and we spent a lot of happy time out there eating, gardening and playing.

Then 4 years ago I decided we needed to move back to Boston for work.  We found an apartment in a 2-family house with a small shared yard.  My husband built a garden box to grow vegetables in and I enjoyed the outcome but was never truly invested in it.  It just wasn’t the same.  I wallowed.

My daughter wanted to plant flowers all over the yard, just like we had in Santa Fe, but I couldn’t see the point.  I kept hoping we wouldn’t be there too long, and that we’d have a better place to plant in soon – somewhere we might stay a while.  You see a moral coming, don’t you?  You’re more alert than I was.

Thankfully, my daughter didn’t give up and we planted a bunch of bulbs, which I looked forward to as eagerly as she did.  But the real holdout was a rose bush.  We’d left two beautiful rose bushes 2,000 miles away and she wanted another one more than anything.  But again, I kept saying let’s wait.  For what exactly I can’t tell you – just a vague someplace better.

You’ll be glad to know that this past summer I finally came to my senses and said of course we can plant a rose bush.  And she was so happy, and we all love it.

This is the place I’ve least wanted to stay out of all the places we’ve lived, so naturally it’s the place we’ve been the longest.  I’ve been so resistant to putting down roots of all kinds, but I’ve come to believe that’s precisely what holds me back.