Tag: Neighbors

Can’t Get No Satisfaction (or “Dad, Skip This One”)

“Never go to bed angry.  Stay up and fight.”
– Phyllis Diller

I’m grouchy, I’m tired, and I’m going to overshare some more.  Brace yourselves.

You can always tell who is new to our apartment building.

If only...

The astute learn early that the walls are paper thin and everyone can hear everything that is going on next door (or above, or below), and most moderate their behavior accordingly.  The newlyweds learn quickly that the whole building may be treated to their sexcapades if they aren’t careful and move their bed away from the creakiest of the floorboards and try to somewhat muffle their, ah, enthusiasm.  Families learn to keep their fighting relatively civil, lest the whole building hear their business.  The Girls Next Door have learned that not everyone appreciates their impromptu dance parties – especially the couple beneath the with the new baby.

The obtuse take a while longer, to the amusement/annoyance of their neighbors.  My Lord and Lady Stompington never learned, and their departure is regretted by no one.  While my Lord and Lady Beepington’s peculiar conjugal habits became legendary through the complex.

But because the frequency of tenant turnover is so high (we’ve been there nearly three years and we’re ancient by lease standards), no one stays for long.  The Beepingtons were replaced just a week ago by a newlywed couple who, I suspect, are going to take a while to learn the ropes.

Sunday night Margot was out of town visiting her fiance and I was still doing battle with the never ending cold, so I’d turned in blissfully early.  Only to be woken up by the new neighbors going to bed.  Angry.

It was 1:30am, and apparently the perfect time for a fight.  And lucky me, I got to listen to it as it got more and more heated.  They slammed closet doors and banged dresser drawers as they traded accusations.  Not really knowing them, I assumed that reason would reassert itself, they would realize the time and that their altercation was probably at a decibel displeasing to most and leave it till morning.  I was wrong.

Half an hour into it my inner monolog had been hijacked by the feuding couple and I found myself thinking things like, “Be fair, that’s not what he said at all!” and  “Leave her mother out of it,” and “Now now, she has a valid point.”   After about ten minutes of that, though, I’d crammed a pillow over my face and was sending hate-filled thoughts through the ceiling and contemplating the ups and downs of charging upstairs an banging on their door with demands that they shut up.

Really, propriety? NOW?!

Believe it or not, I have a very well developed sense of propriety – kept in a functioning state mostly for the malicious glee of doing exactly the opposite of what it tells me to do.  But unfortunately this is the time it chose to assert itself.
“C.,” it said forcibly, “as aggravating as this is, there is nothing in my playbook for this scenario.  If they were flinging artichoke hearts at you across the table at a really good dinner party I might have something for you.  But 2am shouting matches on the part of perfectly nice but socially unobservant neighbors is, surprisingly, a new one.”
I was going to have to wait it out.

At about 2:30am, the conversation turned weepy with many protestations of change and improvement in the two parties’ attitudes and behaviors. ” Bully for you,” I sighed, and hoped that such talk meant an end to hostilities.

It did.

After a couple of minutes of lovely silence, however the sounds of, ah, vigorous amorous activities began.  “Sex isn’t going to solve your problems, kids,” I thought nastily and dragged my blankets over my head.

I hear you asking, “Why didn’t you just go sleep on the sofa, you complaining idiot?”  Two reasons.  First of all there was the principle of the thing: I was not going to be forced from my bed simply because they were using their for acrobatics.  Second, and more importantly, another of the fun features of our building is that in addition to thin walls, all of the heating and cooling elements are connected.  Through which sound carries.  The acoustics of the living room being what they are, things were actually louder out there.

The show ran for an encore last night, at about the same hours.  So now I’m horribly tired and more grouchy about J.-being-in-London-enforced-celibacy than usual.  Never say I don’t tell you everything, kittens.

Upsetting the Natural Order

“A good neighbor is a fellow who smiles at you over the back fence, but doesn’t climb over it.”
– Arthur Baer

The building that contains my flat is typical student digs: old, in less than mediocre shape, and seldom improved or upgraded in any way (see my 30 year old furnace).  But it sets itself apart in one way: the landlord prefers to rent to young married couples and the occasional small family.  His logic, not entirely unjustified, is that couples and families are more likely to treat the place as a home rather than some dump you rent for a couple of semesters before moving on and mostly likely leaving a substantial amount of damage behind.

As a result, a sort of culture has sprung up in our building.  People are largely quiet, go to bed early, take pains not to annoy one another.  Many of us are done with school, finishing up internships, or generally in the transitional stage that comes after university when one gets a Real Job, but is still laughably poor.  There are rare cases like My Lord and Lady Stompington, but when they rear their heads, people in the building are likely to mention such behavior to the managers, who in turn mention it to the perpetrators, who in turn usually manage to shape up.  It’s a watered down version of Suburbia, everyone plays by the rules.

That is, they did, until the landlords decided to take a risk and let the flat next door to mine to four younger girls still at university.  Our tranquility is shattered.

The other night I’d turned in and just barely shut my eyes when suddenly I heard one of them start to tune her violin and then practice scales for 45 minutes.  Luckily the couple beneath them just had a baby and was able to invoke the Wrath of Mothers and the performance hasn’t been repeated at night.

Where I used be able to wind down at 10pm, that is the hour they they are just livening up. They crank up their music and have the occasional impromptu dance party.  The opera (at reasonable levels), Edith Piaf, and Ella Fitzgerald, and plenty of indie rock I don’t object to in the slightest – but for the lateness of the hour.  The Miley Cyrus, on the other, I object to strenuously, particularly because of the lateness of the hour.  No one needs to listen to that at 11pm (or indeed ever) with the stereo cranked up.

Don’t they realize that the rest of us are old and boring?!

Presenting My Lord and Lady…Beepington?

“Beep beep!
– Roadrunner

My Lord and Lady Stompington are long gone, but the creaky floors above us remain.  Our newer neighbors, whom we have never actually met have their own quirks (including loud, ahem, conjugal activity.  And even more inexplicably, always vacuuming directly after said activity.  We still haven’t figured that one out) but by and large we prefer them to the clay-footed, bowling ball dropping, riverdancing jerks who went before.  But yesterday they almost lost their Small Dog Family stamp of approval.

While J. worked on finals, projects, etc. yesterday, I was busy being a phenomenal wife.  I cleaned the whole flat and did two loads of laundry… and nearly went completely round the twist before noon.


Because the smoke alarm in the flat above us apparently needed its battery changed, it beeped precisely every thirty seconds.  All day long.  For the first hour or so I tried vainly to locate it, pressing my ears to the walls and moving incrementally about the apartment with me head cocked to the ceiling.  The second hour I paced in circles fuming and pondered angrily as to why the neighbors didn’t shut the blasted thing off.  The third hour I lay on the couch, waiting to switch out laundry loads, and glared upwards.  It didn’t shut off until nearly 9pm at night.  You may imagine my wrecked mental state at the time.

Coming and Going

“Oh dear.  Hennessy and Vodka?  What sort of operation are we running here?”
“Clearly a P.A.R.T.Y.”
– C. and Sav

From "The Capital L" - see Read Me for more details. She's cute, nyet?

The ever fabulous Savvy alerted me to the fact that I too have neglected to mention Daae’s replacement!  (Click link to meet our new friend)  Sav christened her Vodka, which is perfectly appropriate.  Although how so many liquor nicknames are sneaking into our lives is a bit beyond me…ahem…

In happier news, it would seem my Lord and Lady Stompington may have moved out!  Building gossip suggests it, and the unnatural quiet we’ve been enjoying seconds the idea, but it has not been positively confirmed yet.  Fingers crossed, all.  Good fortune and goodbye!

Also, Sav and her husband CK may be moving into our building.  Which would be lovely!  When Venice basely abandons me, it would be nice to have someone I know and like in easy cup-of-sugar borrowing distance.

Not Just a River in Egypt

“No one loves the messenger who brings bad news.”
– Sophocles

If I do not acknowledge the inevitable...

I’ve been in denial about an upcoming Tragic Event.  This year as America celebrates its independence with exploding things and overeating, I’ll be not-celebrating my forced independence…from Venice.  Val is done with his degree and they are moving to Kentucky on July 4th.  This has been a long time coming, but of course I’ve stuck my metaphoric fingers in my ears and ignored the impending catastrophe.

Last weekend they flew out to Kentucky to scope out the area for his potential job, their potential home, and potential lives.  Last night, coming home from work I saw him at their flat door and asked how the trip went.  Really well, apparently, because he’s got the job and plans are now in motion.
“I am honestly thrilled for you guys, but you do realize I’m never going to forgive you for taking her away,” I said despondently.
“If it wasn’t for me you’d never have even met!” he reasoned.

Which is true.  We used to live in the same apartment complex a few years ago and I got to be friends with him and his flatmates.  One day he said, “I think you should meet my girlfriend.  You two would get along really well.”  The rest is well documented history.

The Val giveth and the Val taketh away.

Peregrine is in D.C., Scarlett is in New York, Angel is in the city, Margot (who just got back from New Zealand) is probably going to head north at some point in the near future.  And I’m feeling supremely stuck and left behind.  I’m trying really hard to keep perspective.  J. and I will be moving back East in a couple of years and Venice (and most of others listed) are already on speed-dial…but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t devastated.

An Upstairs, Downstairs Drama

“It is folly to punish your neighbor by fire when you live next door.”
– Publilius Syrus

Those of you who remember this little fiend, will be happy to know that he has departed for grimmer and more diabolic realms.  Alternatively, you will be saddened to know that he has been replaced with something far, far worse:

Our new upstairs neighbors. 

Artist's rendering of the neighbor's parties.

Not only do they fight, constantly, at the top of their lungs, specifically at ridiculous hours of the the night, but they are also completely incapable of walking.  No, no.  They stomp.  Which makes our ceiling shake.  And they throw parties with loud friends in which they, as far as we can tell, practice riverdancing.  Or dropping bowling balls.   

The other night, when we were watching a movie, we heard the door above us slam and moments later the light fixture started rattling around.
“Ah good,” J. said, “Lord and Lady Stompington are home.”
Obviously all this PBS watching is starting to rub off on him!

Something is Rotten in the Flat of C.

“Open sesame.”
– 1001 Arabian Nights

I went home with J. for lunch and as we walked in the door, we were met with an overwhelming smell that neither of us could identify.  We sniffed dubiously around trying to solve the mystery.  We dumped all the bins, lit candles and opened windows to clear the air, but it wasn’t until J. wandered into another room and got a fresh whiff that he exclaimed, “Sesame oil!  But…why…how?”

Any ideas?

The Tale of the Demon Baby


“You know those shows?  The one where the foreign nanny comes to fix the broken, angry kids and they all scream a certain way?  That’s what the kid sounds like.”

In the flat in between mine and Venice’s dwells a couple.  About a year ago, this seemingly normal couple spawned and the wife was brought to bed of an apparently fine boy.  However as the weeks went by, it became increasingly obvious to all (except the parents) that there was something wrong…

This evil baby communicates in a charming fake British accent...
This evil baby communicates in an understandable, if fake British accent...

To boil down months of annoyance and sleepless nights to a single sentence, the child is a Screamer.  And he has somehow mastered the dark art of knowing exactly when a neighbor is nodding off.  Or when it’s 3a.m.  Or when you’re carrying something easily breakable and likely to be dropped at the sound of a sudden shriek.  Or if it senses smiles and happiness, which the Creature cannot abide.

As rotten luck would have it his bedroom abuts Venice and Val’s, but they aren’t the only victims to this child’s nightly symphonies.  Our building is made of three rows of  four flats…and everyone one of us can hear the baby.  And we have no idea what his parents are doing because he screams for hours at a time and it sounds like no one picks him up or anything, he just lies in his bed and makes his misery heard.  I myself have rarely glimpsed Demon Baby out in daylight, just a couple of times while his parents were putting him (screaming) into his car seat.  J. says that he’s seen them walking around the neighborhood and the kid, when not screaming, sill has a perma-scowl.  It apparently hates the world. 

...this baby communicates through sheer rage.
...this baby communicates through sheer rage.

A couple of tenets have casually mentioned it to our landlords, but most of us are keeping mum.  Partly because it’s a delicate business making one’s frustrations with one’s neighbors known…and partly because our landlord and his wife are themselves expecting their first child any second now and no one wants to fill the soon-to-be mother with horrible worries.  Even though she herself has expressed concern that she will give birth to Demon Baby 2.0.  Pray for us all.