Well, I dropped the letter off on Obnoxious Neighbor's doorstep last night after midnight (because, despite what my experiences of the last couple of days illustrate, I'm a non-confrontational chickenshit) and so far this morning things have been relatively quiet. I can hear them up there, and once in a while there is a short burst of running from the kid, but there has been no kind of retaliation noise that I can tell. Perhaps my letter will help smooth things over, only time will tell.
There has been this weird, loud buzzing sound coming from the apartment of the guy who lives next door to me. Luckily, the wall we share is in my kitchen, so it hasn't bothered me terribly, but it's driven me a bit crazy just trying to identify it. It almost sounds like an old amp that has been plugged in before any music comes through it. In any case, I noticed that his front door was ajar this afternoon and I could hear the buzzing noise coming through it then, so I knocked in curiousity. This guy is a little scary, he's had some knockdown fights with other people in the building, and he is also a Board member, so I wanted to be careful of how I handled him. First I apologized for bothering him, but explained that I had noticed this loud buzzing noise coming through the wall into my apartment lately, maybe for the past week or so. I said that I thought it was perhaps coming from his apartment, but wasn't sure (even though I was sure), and just wanted to identify what it possibly could be -- not knowing was making me a little nuts. Anyway, he acted like he didn't know what I was talking about. I said, "I hear it right now, can you hear it?" and he just sort of ignored my question not admitting or denying that he heard it and then said something like, "maybe it's the lights or something" and then pretty much shut the door in my face. Of course he heard it, how could he not? I wasn't really angry about the noise, just curious. I noticed that he had some buckets of plaster and/or paint in the corner by his door, so perhaps he's doing some work on his apartment and had some kind of machine plugged in near the wall we share. Fine, I just don't know why he wouldn't mention it, I really don't feel as if I was being confrontational. If anything, I would have been happy to hear that it was going to be a temporary thing. Oh well, he's a strange one anyway. So, I came back to my apartment and back into the kitchen and could still hear the buzzing. I then put my ear to the wall to listen and shortly afterward I heard (someone) pull a plug and the noise stopped. So weird.
Neighbors Part II
I've mentioned before about my obnoxious upstairs neighbors who live in a studio apartment with a toddler with no rugs or floor coverings at all. Well, tonight things just escalated to an insane level because they apparently had guests over who brought another kid. So, starting around 8:00 PM, I received the full playground treatment -- complete with multiple kids running back & forth, stomping, jumping up & down, throwing things, banging things, dragging things, screaming, adults chasing them and yelling too -- I finally couldn't take it anymore and went running up there. I was so mad that my knees were literally buckling. Very loud and harsh words were exchanged, finally with my threatening to complain to the Co-Op board and the Management Company -- her screeching that I have to put up with it because it's a child (so I guess having a child entitles you to more rights than everyone else) and the husband yelling after me that the rules state that there can be noise until 10 PM. Not quite actually, there is such a law that states that one apartment dweller can not encroach on the "quiet enjoyment" of another's home. But anyway. I went downstairs and the noise continued, but I had at least vented so I finally started to calm down. I have now written a letter that I am going to slip under their door at some point. I really don't want to be at odds with these people. I just feel so alone and helpless. Especially with it being two (or three, if you count the kid) against one. Anyway, this is the letter I've written:
January 29, 2005
I wish to apologize for my harsh words and raised voice this evening, I found myself compelled to vent the frustration that I have been feeling for many months. I feel like the situation continues to worsen and I find myself alone in my apartment and feeling quite helpless. I do appreciate that you have taken some steps to ensure that the majority of the noise coming from your apartment happens during daylight hours, but I feel that you perhaps just do not realize what all the running, stomping screaming, rolling & dropping & dragging of hard objects across the bare floors sound like to me. When the child runs simply across the floor, it is as if someone is running across a drum over my head. When this continues back and forth incessantly it quite frankly becomes torturous to be stuck beneath. If you add to that the screaming, adults sometimes chasing, throwing of hard objects to the floor, jumping up & down, etc. you may start to understand why I reached the end of my rope this evening. Tonight the volume escalated to an insane level by adding another child (or children – I really don’t know how many were up there) to the mix. I feel that on my end I have made every effort I can to make sure that my own noise does not encroach on your lives. I watch TV/listen to music using headphones whenever possible and I never have guests over to visit. It is just frustrating and demoralizing to be trapped in two rooms beneath a lot of pounding from which there is absolutely no escape. I’ve said it a number of times, and will say it again, if you were moved to place adequate carpeting on your floors, much of this issue could be resolved. I’m sure there would still be some amount of sound, but it would hopefully be contained to more acceptable level. I have friends who live in apartments with children the age of your child who are successful in containing the noise of play in this manner.
With that all said, I really do not wish to make a war out of this. I really am a reasonable person, no matter what my emotions of this evening may have portrayed. Rather than throwing threats and complaints around and completely alienating each other, I would prefer to try and continue to work this through ourselves. This evening it truly sounded like there was a NFL Football game being played above my head – maybe you can see why I was driven to run up there, shaking knees and all.
Again, I apologize if I put a damper on your evening, and I hope we can continue to try and work our differences out in a friendly manner.
DS / Apartment 2A
I just don't want to end up in a war with neighbors, it's an ugly, ugly business, I don't need the stress and I really can't afford to move at the moment. Ahhhh, life in The Big City.
A colleague was visiting me in my cubicle this morning and he commented on how quiet it was back here because no one across from me appeared to be in yet. I went on to explain how it always seems to be one extreme or the other over here. Either it's silent (like it was then) or it's so ridiculously loud. The girl who sits in the cube beside me is SO LOUD, it's crazy. Loud, incessant giggling. ALL the time (I call her "The Giggler"). Loud talking. ALL the time. Yelling across the aisle to the guy who sits across from me and conducting entire conversations in this manner. Sometimes I get so frustrated that I have to put on headphones just to zone her out -- even then, it doesn't really entirely work. Anyway, I felt free to tell him all this because she's been on vacation for a while, presumably a trip back to India which always means weeks of time. And no one else in this area really gets in before 10 or 10:30. Well. Apparently she's back from vacation as of today. I've been treated to loud giggling and conversing most of the later morning. I just wonder if she was here sitting in her cubicle listening to my rant this morning. She's usually here by 9 (I don't always hear her right away because her colleagues aren't here that early). I'm such a social moron.
So this morning I am waiting at an intersection for the light to change so that I can cross. Light changes to red and of course Brainiac tries to blow through it and realizes he can't make it at the last second, so he stops full in the cross walk. Now I have to cross by walking around behind his (crappy-old-nova-or-whatever-with-after-market-really-badly-tinted-windows-and-stupid-looking-fin-thing-off-the-back) car. So as I cross behind the car, Brainiac backs up catching my arm with his stupid, crappy fin (can't remember what these are called, spoilers maybe?) I slam my hand on his trunk a couple of times and start screaming at him, "hey ASSHOLE! Do you even look behind you before backing up???!!! Idiot!" Brainiac just looks at me with this dull, stupid cow gaze. This is why I'm afraid to run in the streets in Queens. There are too many idiots like this one around.
For clarity, a Spinning Class consists of 3 basic positions. 1st: seated on the bike with hands together directly in front of you. 2nd: standing straight up, butt out of and hovering over saddle (supported entirely by quads and abs.), hands about shoulder-width apart on the handle bars in front of you. 3rd: squat position -- hands forward on the extended part of the handle bars, upper-body, low to the handle bars, your butt out of the saddle but supported by quads, abs and glutes.
I think last night was probably the most frustrating and annoying spinning class ever. First, Iris the Evil was fifteen minutes late and then, supposedly in an effort to make up for it, she tried to kill us. I think the most ridiculous aspect of her class last night was the exercise where she had us jumping from one position to another with no real rhythm or without any identifiable sequence. So we would be in 1st position and she would hold up 3 fingers and yell "3", and then before you were even fully in 3rd, she would yell "2!" and then "1!" all over and over and all in no real order. Not knowing what position was coming next and not even being able to remain in any given position for even a full beat was completely chaotic and pointless, if you ask me. It just led to frustration and anxiety. I couldn't maintain any kind of good form and I spent so much time just spazzing out on the bike that I wondered what I was even doing there. I mean, one of the reasons why I really like spinning is that it's a kick-ass workout, but it is also very simple. I was never the dance aerobics/jazzercise type -- I can't stand anything that involves complicated, coordinated moves like that. I used to take a spinning class at my old gym where the instructor really liked to do jumps. That was fine. We would jump from 1st position to 2nd position in a decreasing cadence. First to a count of 8, then 6, then 4, and then finally 1. But because you knew what position you were meant to be in and he counted it out in a very measured beat, it was doable. The beat of 1 was very much like posting to a trot on a horse (something that I have some experience with). This was just crazy -- we were all, all over the place. It was like she wanted to reinvent spinning. Spinning by Iris (The Evil). Then she did this sprinting exercise, which I grudgingly admit was a good workout, but it was so without focus and so frustrating because I just didn't know what she wanted half the time. We would be doing double-time in 1st position and then she would call for a breakaway in 3rd position (presumably a breakaway is meant to be faster than double-time) and then she would call for a "run" in 2nd position (presumably faster still). But then she would say, "1st position, but do NOT decrease any speed" (in other words stay at our running speed). Okay, but for how long??? So then she would call for "Breakaway in 3rd" and then "Run in 2nd" AGAIN, but we had already been running at full speed, so how are we supposed to speed up? And with no idea of how long we're supposed to be sprinting, or how many intervals are coming and the length of each interval -- I just had no idea of how to pace myself. I was limp at the end of that, I can tell you, but it was just so damn frustrating. If her class wasn't such a good workout in general, and didn't fit so well into my schedule, I truly would be considering dropping it. So annoying.
Yesterday, as I was coming through the vestibule of my apartment building, I noticed a woman standing there talking on her cell phone. When she saw me putting my key into the security door, she moved to piggy-back in behind me. I stopped and asked, "uh, do you live here?" she said, "yes. Do you?" and I answered, "yes. I have a key." She said, "well, I've lived here for 10 years". Gee. You'd think someone would have given her a key after 10 years.
This afternoon at work I got on an elevator to go downstairs. A woman from my floor came out into the elevator hall and jumped towards the elevator just as the doors were closing. I, being the closest one to the control console, in a panic flailed at the buttons that are marked by arrows either pointing in or out and in my flustered state hesitated too long before punching the correct button, thus allowing the doors to close pretty much in her face. So of course now it looks like I, A) allowed the doors to close on her without making any effort at all to hold them or, B) (worse) actually hit the "Close" button in an effort to make them close faster before she could get there.
Do you ever get the feeling that you're always being portrayed as the bad guy?
I have to laugh when, here in NYC we get a forecast for blizzard, and we get a lot of snow dumped on us (they're predicting around 20") that people freak out and all run to the grocery store to "stock up". I walked in this afternoon, saw the lines of people across the store, each person clutching stacks and stacks of packages of meat, like they expected to have to survive the entire Winter in a sod hut on the prairie or something, and turned around and walked right back out, forget that. I mean, the Chinese restaurant across the street from my apartment is still open, for chrissakes. The delivery guy is running out takeout on his little scooter. Sheesh.
Spinning class tonight and it was a really good, solid workout -- I really enjoy Thursday night's class. AND there wasn't even any beer involved this time. But the one thing that bugged me tonight (other than the guy who stole my usual bike -- I'll give him a break though because he was new)... there were four different guys in there wearing undershirt tee-shirts, in lieu of a real shirt. I mean, ewww. What's up with that??? Cheap asses. Kinda grossed me out. Maybe it's just me, but it just seemed wrong.
This morning when I booted up my computer at work, the Weather Bug said that the temperature was 26.2. Interesting. Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something -- of course it's hard to even consider a marathon when you can't even run 2 miles (at a 11 or 12 minute per mile pace) without having to walk some.
Things seem to be picking up at work again, a little too much maybe, but at least I am finished with all the year-end craziness and can get back to real project work. Today flew by and I feel like I got a lot done, some new or newish projects on the horizon and some older, ongoing projects have become active again. It's all good.
I managed to drag myself to Iris the Evil for spinning last night and, as much as I dreaded her class going in, I felt the better for it afterwards. Tonight I just came home and ran on the treadmill and then did the elliptical for a while. My eating habits of late have been so-so. I do pretty well during the week -- eat healthfully, stay away from sweets, manage to get in some amount of fish and vegetables, take my vitamins, drink a ton of water, etc. only to completely fall apart on the weekend. I think it's boredom and lonliness and depression, truth be told. At least I'm not hitting the bottle (or the six-pack, in my case) so I guess that's something. Well, and with the weekend eating... it's not as if I really binge. I'm not eating boxes of cookies or donuts or bags of potato chips, it's just the order of dumplings here, the side of fries there. But it adds up. I think if I can just motivate myself to workout on the weekends, then my eating habits will fall better in line.
In Spinning class last night, between the banter before class about the various "cruise factors" of the Chelsea NYSC locations, the beer with Ellen & Ken after class (btw, I think Ellen & I may have convinced Ken that he needs to apply to Queer Eye for a makeover right NOW) and the awesome, sweat-flinging exercise itself, I had to wonder to myself, 'why don't I do this everyday? It's... fun!' Well, granted, we did not have Iris the Evil (whom I am convinced is a dominatrix in her private life) for an instructor last night and I can't say that beer can be a reward every day. But it sure all was enjoyable last night. And I feel all smug and sore in just the right way today too.
Okay, not really, but this is something that a neighbor of mine in Manhattan used to say -- because when you own a pug, everyone wants to stop and talk to you. Last night I took Lola on a bit of a walk from Kew Gardens through Forest Hills and back again. We were back in Kew Gardens and on a residential street when I noticed a van slowing down next to me. Someone calls out, "Hey, I like your dog!" I respond, "Thanks" and keep on walking. And then he calls out, "I have one just like it here" and I look over and sure enough there are these two tough plumber-type guys with this pug leaning out of the window. It was freakishly similar to this scenario that happened to me about a month ago. So, of course I have to go over there to talk to them and hold Lola up to meet their dog (Hazy) -- I can see this now as a new ploy for abduction, stalking pug owners and catching them off guard on the guise of introducing pugs.
After leaving the Plumber Pug, I was walking through the main area of Kew Gardens through a bunch of commuters who had just gotten off the train. There was a woman walking up the street with whom I exchange "hellos" and chat with sometimes on the platform in the morning. Anyway, she saw Lola and practically fell on top of her -- "YOU have a PUG!!!" Well, yes, I do. I always wanted to be popular. If only I found out early in life that it only took owning the right kind of dog.
When reaching into my backpack around 5:40 this evening to check if I remembered to bring socks for Spinning Class, I realized that those bike shorts I had thrown into my bag during my mad rush to get out of the apartment this morning, weren't black shorts at all, but a black shirt. ARGH! And, no, I had not remembered to bring socks either. So I came home and ran on the treadmill (2 miles) and did the elliptical instead -- in some ways this was better anyway.
Ever have one of those days where just nothing seems to get done? I'm having one of those today. The day seems to stretch on endlessly, as my butt grows numb and I just can't seem to get anything accomplished -- stuck on a problem and unable to move on from it, gone are my pre-holiday days of productivity and enthusiasm. After a while, my whole life here seems to be in limbo. Hopefully tomorrow will be a bit better because I don't know if I can take another day of being trapped in my cube like like a veal (as Julia would say). Days like these make me want to quit my job and NYC and move to Colorado to become a horse groomer or something. ARGH!
So, I'm down in Penn Station and it is as crowded and as crazy as ever. And there is this blind guy with a white stick walking through the area, tapping his cane from side to side. Only, his cane is huge, like six feet long -- literally. So he is sweeping it in these huge arcs from right to left, left to right, only Penn Station is so crowded that people can't get out of the way of his stick -- he's hitting people from every angle. People are leaping over his cane women in skirts and heels, men in business suits, people with luggage, all jumping this way and that to avoid the large range of this white stick. And what to I do? Crack up, of course.
There is a bill in NY legislation right now that, if passed, will make it easier to own a pet in NYC. Owning a pet is one of the great joys in life and denying a person this right is, in my mind, just like denying a person the right to have a child. Currently, a building in NYC can deny a tenant pet ownership. If tenants have a pet, and it dies, they are in many cases banned of being able to adopt a new one. If you have an interest in pet ownership, in the welfare of animals and in basic human freedom to choose your life-style, I urge you to go to the ASPCA website and fill out this form letter. NYC Residents only. Thank you.
I am sick, sick, SICK and miserable and pissed off because this turn of events is totally interfering with my Fresh Start program. At least I managed to drag my carcass to work today. That's something, I guess.
There is just something so bleak and depressing about a Winter Monday morning after a long holiday weekend. Especially after a weekend where one has accomplished, basically, nothing at all. Oh well, it's a new week, month, year, time to shake off the holiday doldrums and start fresh, I say. Julia has announced that she and Joe have decided that they will come up to Utica and run the Boilermaker this year, so that means that I need to get cracking and get serious and consistent about running. Again. So, now I need to let the depression of December roll off, dig in, roll up my sleeves and get to work. Of course, it's going to be rough today because I was up late, late, late (like 4 AM late) reading this book that I just can't put down and now, not only am I exhausted, but I have a sore throat to boot. But whatever, I don't have to do much, I just have to do something, even if that just means getting on the elliptical for fifteen minutes. Time for a New Attitude. Dammit.