Gotta love apartment life…
Stop, Hey, What’s That Sound
As many of you may remember, I live in a patio level condo. You might also remember, that the neighbors from hell recently moved in above me. It’s been one long noise-fest ever since. Is noise stress a thing? If not, it should be a thing. Because I’m here to tell you, constant noise can make you crazy. Oh sure, the argument could be made that I was crazy before they moved in, but still. Noise stress is definitely a thing.
Fast forward to this weekend. I was napping today, as one is wont to do when one is tired with a migraine. Alas, I awoke from my nap… and not in a comforting way by the relaxing crash of ocean waves against the shore or the rustling of a gentle breeze through a bedroom window that opens on a lovely white sand view… no, truth be told, that was the dream from which I awoke, worse luck. Instead, I was wrestled violently from my slumber by the upstairs neighbors having loud afternoon sex from a bed that is clearly in desperate need of some WD-40 (in volume quantities from the sounds of it) and while we’re at it, let’s just throw some padding between the headboard and the wall, shall we… as their youngest – who, along with the rest of the crew, had no doubt been shown the door for the momentous occasion – stood outside, feet planted inches from my bedroom window, face turned upwards, screaming “mooooommmmmm” over and over and over and over again at the top of his lungs. His volume capability was really quite impressive. He beat The Wailing Child hands down, and that’s saying something. And all I could think of in that moment was, “for the love of all that’s holy, let them be using protection.”
And how was YOUR day?
I think my neighbors took their online training course.
As I was listening to my upstairs neighbor vacuum at midnight last night… as they are wont to do, with a random chorus or two of what I hope was the husband yelling at a video game, and not his kid or dog, I got to thinking of other, similarly considerate neighbors.
In my old condo, I had a neighbor on the lower level, let’s call her Barbara. Barbara enjoys Frasier, The Nanny, and Fox News. I know this because she kept her television volume high enough that I could easily follow along with the episodes (I, too, am a fan of Frasier and The Nanny, though Fox News not so much).
Besides listening to her t.v. at decibels worthy of a Motörhead concert, Barbara liked to putter around the common area outside her sliding glass door, making it her own. She planted flowers and watered the trees and bushes and put out bird feeders. She was also known to feed the squirrels, and would walk around, tossing bread and bird seed on the ground. It was quite reminiscent of my grandmother feeding chickens. I want this image to be clear in your head, folks… an elderly woman delighting in her flowery surroundings, creating an oasis of sorts for birds and squirrels and wildlife in our humble cul-de-sac. It was an admirable pursuit, I will say.
Well, wouldn’t you know it, but a few birds decided to call our little apartment complex home. No doubt feeling welcomed by the aforementioned oasis. In fact, two opted to build a nest on my balcony. I didn’t mind. I like birds.
Barbara, to put it mildly, lost her shit. She accosted me one afternoon as I came home late from work to order the removal of said nest. She claimed they were making a mess on her patio. She. Wanted. Them. Gone. She has eczema, I’ll have you know – and whether she actually does or not, I don’t know, but I do know that she was verrry vocal about it, shouting her diagnosis at me at least four times.
I calmly (I know, right!? Me!) explained that I would check it out and if there were no occupants of the egg or newly hatched variety, I’d be happy to remove it from her life immediately. But if there were eggs or chicks, then I would wait until the chicks had flown the coop, as it were. And while I hadn’t observed the mess she claimed existed, I assured her that I would keep the area clean of any debris.
This wasn’t good enough and I was advised, once again, and quite vehemently, that she has eczema and a few twigs had fallen onto her patio and she was going to call the health department on me because two wild birds hadn’t stayed in the trees where they damn well belonged.
She kept me standing there for over a half hour, ranting about this nest and the imminent summoning of the health department brigade.
Once I climbed up into the rafters of the balcony to take a peek, I realized that the birds had already abandoned it for better, and likely more solitary, living elsewhere, making Barbara’s hearty warnings against my hearth and home a hollow threat.
But say they had set up shop… would my concern for these birds be misplaced? Would my refusal to murder this house wren family make me the bad neighbor?
I’ll admit, being jumped as soon as I exited my car after a long day didn’t exactly elicit any sympathy for Barbara’s plight. Another, less autocratic, tactic on her part may have garnered more of the response she was seeking. Though really, if I’m being honest, I doubt it. I still wouldn’t have removed the nest until I was sure that there were no chicks in it, no matter who asked. The fact that she wasn’t asking, but ordering, is a moot point.
To this day, I don’t understand her mindset though… why work so hard every day to bring the birds down with food, water, and pleasantries, and then be shocked when they want to make a home?
Hi, We’re the New People in the Building
Don’t let this face fool you.
This cat is an asshole. She derives some sort of feline pleasure from occasionally tormenting our dog Petra … she will threaten her by not allowing her to pass by or walk through a door or she will latch on to the back of Petra’s neck or nip her ears. It’s not something I condone or allow, but I don’t always catch it before it happens. When it does happen … everyone, but everyone, knows. Because Petra screams at the top of her little Chihuahua lungs just as if someone were trying to murder her. Now you might say, of course she does! I would too! But the thing is, Shaylee doesn’t always actually make contact, and when she does, it’s not as horrific as it sounds. Shaylee’s intent is not to hurt so much as to amuse herself. Remember, I did say she was an asshole.
The key thing here to keep in mind is, Shaylee doesn’t always make contact. Sometimes she just gives Petra the ol’ cat stink-eye. However, if she’s stalking Petra and Petra knows it, Petra will scream, figuring the best offense is a good defense, I guess. Scare ‘em off with crazy.
This sibling intimidation hasn’t happened in a while and I can only assume that rather than the fulfillment of my hope for a peaceful, harmonious familial unit, it was instead simply because Shaylee was a little rattled after the move to the condo we now call home. (I will digress here a moment just to mention that unlike the noise dampening construction you might expect in privately owned condos, ours is more like your standard apartment building … we’re all well aware of what everyone else in the building is doing at any point in time.)
At any rate, round about midnight last night, I’m pretty sure the neighbors think I killed my dog.
Welcome to the neighborhood.
So, my neighbor was out running this evening with his two elderly yapper dogs — who, it should be noted, like to bark at my dogs while they sit on the back of the couch surveying their kingdom (hey, no need to tell them it’s not their kingdom, I just humor them) through the window of their castle, and who in turn set forth a wild, shrill chorus in response to the impertinent interlopers. Yeah. Such fun.
At any rate, my neighbor was jogging past as he is wont to do and stopped to chat while I exited my car, as he is also wont to do — and which is almost always met with dread on my part, because really, I just want to get into my house and away from overly perky neighbors — and on this particular evening, he asked, after a smattering of chit-chat, “so, do you ever run?” somehow implying that our neighborhood was great for this overly sweaty exercise regimen that I have absolutely no interest in doing. I pondered how to answer this question as I quickly calculated the time it would take to continue this unwanted conversation if I were to answer in detail about the lack of a fitness program in my life versus the desired result of never having another similar conversation should I just provide a terse, “you’ve got to be kidding,” kind of response. All the while, in my head, I was thinking, why yes, yes I do run. Out of patience. Out of vodka. Out of fucks. Out of money. And sadly, out of cheesecake. What came out of my mouth, however, was “no, actually no, running is not my thing.” My mother would be so proud. Of my nice response. Not my lazy lifestyle.
And with that, I escaped into my house — not quite on the run — which is all I wanted to do in the first place.
What did she say!?
The weather here the past few days has been really nice – breezy and downright cool. So I’ve had all of the windows open in my house to enjoy 1) a lower electric bill, 2) airing out the house with the pleasant aroma of summer, and 3) the sounds of birds (even though the lovely birdsong is accompanied occasionally by the yodeling dogs next door…which by the way, I can’t even walk past my bedroom window because they see me and start barking – it’s really annoying. But I digress.)
It has recently occurred to me that with the windows open, my hapless neighbors are summarily thrust into the freak show that is our everyday life and all I can think as I walk through various parts of the house, randomly yelling “stop licking my legs!” is that I hope they imagine me simply demented. I mean, it could be worse.
I have an old neighbor who happens to own a rooster. Traditional pets are dogs and cats and hamsters, even horses, but this elderly lady has taken in a rooster that her son left at her house. To each their own, right? It’s not like my house is in a bustling metropolis filled with skyscrapers and taxi cabs. We’re in a regular neighborhood but it’s still sort of out in the sticks so it’s not terribly shocking that you look over and, hey, there’s a rooster. Why have a rooster for a pet? I don’t know. It’s not a terribly exciting animal. He doesn’t fetch or do tricks or anything like that. He just sort of runs around the yard aimlessly for hours on end. No big whoop. But she apparently likes roosters and has a rooster so there you go.
But leave it to the ignorance of others to ruin such a benign, harmless thing such as owning a damn rooster. For some unknown reason, another neighbor recently formed a vendetta against the rooster and decided that it had to go. So she (the neighbor, mind you, not the rooster’s owner) took it upon herself to put up an ad on this online bulletin board to find a new home for the rooster. The ad is actually pretty admirable. She wants the rooster to be placed on a farm or someplace with ample room to run, which is very sweet, except for that one glaring fact that she has absolutely no right to be doing this. Imagine if someone decided to throw a garage sale to get rid of some old, outdated furniture in the living room. She puts up flyers everywhere and tells people it’ll be Saturday, 9am-4pm – but on the flyer, she puts down YOUR address. Why? Because she didn’t like the color of your couch and thinks it really ought to go. There’s something intensely wrong about that, don’t you think?
nutcase woman puts the ad up and in no time at all had a couple of people respond that they’re interested in this amazing, beautiful rooster…and even more networking on her behalf. Enter the next round of pointless drama: Someone else on Facebook (where the bulletin board resides) sees the ad and recognizes the rooster! Yeah. That’s right. She knows the rooster.
She posted, “Heeyyy…that’s [rooster’s name withheld to protect the identity of said rooster], I know him. He belongs to [elderly neighbor’s name withheld as well]. Why are YOU [crazy woman who doesn’t own the rooster] giving him away???” And the crazy woman said, “Well, he was just loose and running around and some other neighbor [who might or might not exist] said she was afraid of him, blah blah blah and he looked homeless.”
Side note: I did some digging, because this story fascinates me to no end, and it turns out this crazy lady neighbor is just some local busy body — and I’m already skeptical of her story. Why you ask? Well, the rooster (a very lovey-dovey rooster by the way, not the ferocious man-eating beast he’s been made out to be) never leaves the old woman’s yard. Now maybe he escaped one day. I guess that’s in the realm of possibility, but I’ve never seen him outside of the yard and he lives just two doors down from me. Regardless, this random woman sticks her beak in his business and declares herself judge and jury for the fate of a bird that’s not even hers!? I don’t think so. She even had the audacity to go so far as to ask for advice (on the bulletin board) on how to trap a rooster so she could abscond with it and pass it off to someone else…before being called out as a birdnapper that is.
All I have to say is the nerve of this woman! Who does she think she is? Is she anti-rooster? A roosterist? I highly doubt the same thing would happen if she found a dog hanging out in his own yard. You see a dog minding his business in his yard, you don’t just up and immediately try to sell it online. I mean, maybe this particular woman would. But I’m just saying that maybe the type of animal is the reason why she did what she did. Although really, it’s not like having a rooster is that odd around here. We’re in the country — we’re completely surrounded by farms. People own goats instead of lawn mowers, for god’s sake. Seeing poultry should not come as a shock.
Not like the type of animal should matter anyways. The point is that people don’t have the right to give away someone else’s stuff. I think most of us understand this, yet somehow this basic principle of possession has escaped this woman. It’s just another prime example of how selfish and self-centered some people can be. And now there are roosters involved. If roosters are no longer safe, what chance does the world have?
The Wailing Child
My neighbor has a daughter that’s roughly somewhere between three and five years old. Honestly, I’m not a good judge of age so I’m going to stop at that pretty wide estimate. She’s small, much like a kid around that age should be, but this girl has got a set of PIPES on her. Holy heaven she can wail like a banshee.
The other day the weather was so nice I decided to enjoy the breeze so I popped my windows open to catch some of the nice aromas of the surrounding wilderness. Piercing through the serenity of the great outdoors came this unnaturally loud bellow. It was the little girl, just letting loose everything in her superhuman lungs. She was standing maybe five feet from my bedroom window (where I was trying to relax) yodeling away. If she would have told me she was trying to communicate with life on another planet I would’ve found her volume level perfectly acceptable and understandable.
The real reason she was letting out this blood curdling shriek? She was calling—nay, screaming—for her friend who lived all of two doors down. Let me step back for a second and explain that prior to the aforementioned assault on the senses, these two girls had had a loud conversation (also right next to my bedroom window) that centered round the one girl having to go home for dinner and that she’d be back later. The wailing child (aptly named) was apparently not thrilled with this plan. So. She waited all of five minutes to start the kind of howling that would make any banshee proud.
Maybe she wasn’t allowed to leave her yard alone, hence my guess at her young age. Maybe she was super lazy and didn’t want to walk the twenty seconds it would take to reach her friend’s front door and knock on it. Who knows? All I know is that after a half hour she had gifted me a fresh migraine and frayed nerves from all the yelling she did.
She was screaming so loud I couldn’t even tell what she was saying. Her volume was so high that the message couldn’t get through the deafening barrage of sound. I made out her friend’s name but that was it. Besides that, it was all gibberish. Extremely loud gibberish.
And there I am in my house, dumbfounded that she’s able to continue on like a raving lunatic for sooo long. Where the hell were her parents? I know I’ve written a few times about people who have questioned my parenting methods. Allow me to turn the tables and tell you all that I certainly think her parents could use a little tune up in the personal decency department. I would never have allowed my kids to stand out there and just randomly scream like that. It’s not exactly what I would call neighborly behavior.
When I got pregnant (both times) everyone told me “oh this will finally make you realize how great kids are.” Yeah, my kids. They’re awesome. Other people’s kids? Not so much. They still haven’t rubbed off on me quite yet and probably never will if they keep on trying to raise the dead outside my window. Remember kids: Silence is golden.
Altruism…maybe, maybe not
Ever since that horrible day in American history known as 9/11 there has been a noticeable and dramatic increase in the government asking the public to keep their eyes on their neighbors. Homeland Security and related agencies – transportation authorities, hospitality services, etc. – have been drilling into our heads over and over if you see something that doesn’t look right, make a call. Let someone know about that bag that’s been left behind. Call someone over about the ticking you hear in a nearby backpack. And that’s all well and good. The idea that we’re all looking out for each other is rather comforting.
But when does it go too far? When does a genuine concern over something you witness turn into a subconscious desire to bring someone else down? Turning in drug dealers is great. If you notice that supposedly “abandoned” house at the end of the block getting visitors in and out at all hours of the night, please call the cops and see if they can find out what the blackout curtains are for. That’s fine by me, but this is a slippery slope that some people are just all too willing to slide down. It seems that some people feel it’s their civic duty to keep an eye and thumb on everything going down in their neighborhood. Those are the ones who slid alllll the way down that slippery slope and gleefully landed in the sludge at the bottom.
Stalking someone simply because they have on a hoodie or calling the police or the local HOA because someone has parked their car on their own grass? (worth repeating…on their own grass). Not exactly what I would call looking out for the safety of the neighborhood. That’s just being a jerk. More examples? A hawk-eyed neighbor sees a mother having a simple birthday party for her kids in her backyard (paper plates, Dixie cups, a sparse amount of balloons, white paper napkins, home-made Duncan Hines cake) and reports her because they think that’s a misappropriation of her food stamp funds. Oh come on, they can’t use the food stamps to have fun people!!
Or someone sees the kids and Mom at a cheap matinée show and that must mean they’re living the high life and can obviously make some cuts to truly earn those government funds. Never mind that the mom might be working two jobs. Never mind the budgeting she does every evening in the hopes of finding an extra dollar here and there. Never mind that she might not have bought a new pair of shoes from Payless for herself in over two years. I figure if you can’t see into her home life, it’s best to reserve judgment and just let her be happy the few moments that she can. If she were chartering jets for the kids to go to school or is a regular at the Apple store buying stacks of iPads, maybe you should pick up the phone. But giving her kids a carton of Neapolitan ice cream isn’t what I would call an offensive use of money.
Then there are the people who receive disability or SSI benefits from the government. Some healthy individuals out there actually think that to be sick you must always look sick too. The symptoms of MS or PTSD or Lupus or Cancer (to name a few) can often be masked, but they’re real and viable and crippling afflictions. Yet without a visible limp or missing limb they are deemed unworthy of receiving assistance thereby filling some people with this uncontrollable need to call someone, anyone, to make sure that this atrocity is immediately halted.
It’s bad enough when strangers report other strangers out of anger or jealousy, but it happens amongst friends and neighbors too. It’s as if one person claiming they need financial help and the judgment by their “friend” that they don’t is an insult that can only be corrected by turning them in. The “friend” sneaks around taking pictures of the afflicted neighbor not hobbling down the sidewalk, or lifting a grocery bag that looks heavy. Notes are taken and an unofficial record of their activity is compiled through the help of some nifty new binoculars…all in the effort of making a strong claim that their side of the story is the correct one and the neighbor should cease receiving help immediately. All I can think of is “wouldn’t their time be better spent elsewhere??” I mean if they truly want to make the world a better place, couldn’t they use that energy to volunteer at a shelter or a community “clean-up” or I don’t know….actually helping their less fortunate neighbors?
I realize that welfare and disability fraud are unfair acts that ultimately cost all of the taxpayers (personally I think the hand-outs corporations get are a lot worse). And I know there are those who abuse the system. However, I question the motives of people who look for a reason to turn someone in and then claim they’re just doing their civic duty. Especially when it’s a neighbor or worse yet, someone you previously called friend. Is this altruism in action? Not likely. More like spite. Spite because for some reason they don’t like seeing a person receiving the assistance. Spite because as the unofficial neighborhood protector they feel like nothing should happen unless it’s approved by them. And when it comes to community affairs (like parking your car in your own yard or painting your house a certain color), what purpose could there be to turn this person in? Certainly not altruistic.