Monday, August 12, 2013

Can’t Take the Heat (or Bright Lights) and Will Gladly Get Out of the Kitchen

I’ve never been afraid of the dark. Although the light doesn’t intimidate me either, I don’t perform optimally under too much fluorescence or sunshine. Late fall and all of winter are my favorite seasons.

From about early June through late September, I keep my windows open. My kitchen window faces an apartment in a building that’s next door to mine. No one currently lives there. The previous renters were public nuisances who viciously screamed at their kids, in between blasting Celine Dion’s greatest hits, at all hours. “Shut up,” I occasionally sing-songed out my window, late at night. “Tell your mother to shut up,” the chief screamer advised. One time she lectured that I should have said, “Please keep it down,” while someone in the background calmly barked out something more menacing, something vulgar. With my bathroom window open, I’ll be sitting on the toilet, daydreaming about turtleneck sweaters and blizzard warnings, and hear the sound of someone in a different next-door building pop a tab to open a can of pop. (I don’t care how long I’ve lived outside the Midwest, I won’t say “soda.”)

It shouldn’t be much longer before I get new neighbors, replacements for Celine’s loudest fans. From my lookout point, I can see that those who own the place are getting ready to show the unit. I’ve smelled the fresh coats of paint from my kitchen. And I can see how they sometimes leave the overhead lights on when they’re done working for the day – this is what might drive me back to drinking pop. (In my office, I’m the colleague who turns off lights in unoccupied areas, including bathrooms, and in occupied rooms where there’s enough natural light streaming in.) Oh, the fantasy of constructing a zip line, like Kevin’s in Home Alone which allowed him to fly between his treehouse and the main compound, so I could wriggle through the window and switch it all off.

I would also not just switch off but unplug the window air-conditioner the masters of that house think nothing of running when there’s no one around for a cool down.


  1. Coping with neighbors in NYC apartments can be brutal. My own building, which is basically a tenement building, has the usual paper-thin walls. The landlord specializes in finding very young tenants who are mobile and will probably depart before long (hence driving up the rent under the rent stabilization laws). What interests me about these young people (mostly male) is that they tend to think they are still in a college dorm, and they act accordingly with loud music blasting at any hour. Life is one long beer party. I like to think that one day when they are a little older and more mature, they themselves will be asking someone to "turn it down." Their damaged eardrums will be my sweet revenge.

  2. Ahhh....apartment life. Sometimes I miss being part of someone else's business without choosing to be.

    Do you know that I say soda and every time I do, someone says to me, "Oh. I thought you grew up here. Where are you from?"

  3. I know all about annoying neighbours. For some reason, our really small complex attracts people with the rowdiest kids. You can forget about sleeping in on a Sunday. I always secretly wish that it rains so that the little buggers stay indoors - mean but necessary for my sanity!