i like to think i’ve come leaps and bounds with “tolerance”. in fact i’ve learned all kinds of patience.
i’ve also become a raging insomniac for nearly a thousand different reasons. one is the fact of living on the bottom floor of a three family house. i used to have heinously anal downstairs neighbors and i also know how terrible that can be.

since i go to bed late, i’m fine with noise/bass/stomping until the 10-11 hour. then, since i’m starting to watch the clock and do the math of how little sleep i will get until it’s time to wake up for work…i start to get annoyed.

respect is another thing i appreciate about renting an apartment. so my annoyance picks up speed like a rock rolling downhill.

for years, i’ve dealt with the college kid mentality upstairs and knocked on their door maybe a total of ten times. every time i’ve been diplomatic and kind, and suppressed the mere bitterness of my routine, especially on the weekends when i’ve had to get up early for a second job.

and so…this week, battling a particularly bad case of chronic 3-4 hours night’s sleep; i came home early, ran some errands and hoped to quell the exhaustion. i’d even forgotten that the late night indian-music-dance-party-usa has been creeping toward and past midnight. i was folding laundry when the bass started at around 8pm. still, i watched tv, grit my teeth, and hoped they’d tucker themselves out early.

at 11pm i did something i haven’t done since summer…i knocked on their door. in the past, the guys have been very polite and apologetic and it’s been quite amicable. the boxes at the curb clued me in to the fact that there are new tenants in their apartment and i sensed female. the apparent absence of the friendlier of the roommates also gave me pause to be the downstairs-party-crashing-neighbor.

**back story – the only one i know of the original 4 that lived up there, who i still see around, was visibly uncomfortable when i’d sit on the deck and have a beer with his friends to hang out on a few occasions. usually he’d take glances out their back door and never joined us. last summer, after knee surgery, for about two weeks i endured the PATH during rush hour on crutches or a cane while i recovered. only mildly surprised that there were only but a rare few offers for a seat, i dealt with it and tried not to make it a statement on humanity. after all, i was testing my new knee and using the rides standing up as part of my physical therapy for balance. one night i was coming home from work with my friend Nikia who lives in my hood. she witnessed what I’d begun to take for granted, and got a little crazy and vocal. she lectured those sitting in front of us pretending not to see me struggling to stay upright, which then turned to her talking all sorts of shit to me angrily and loudly to keep the situation as uncomfortable as possible. somewhere in her rant i noticed one of those seated was my upstairs neighbor, the one who’d never joined me for a drink, never exchanged small talk at the mailbox…

some seats became available, and i wound up sitting next to him. he saw me, but refused to look at me. it was, for lack of a better word, pretty ridiculous. incidentally, i’d also had to ask him the night before to move his car so that i could get through and told him i felt bad to bother him, but that i’d just had surgery and could not pass (longer story involving physics, small spaces, doors that get blocked and thus block my way around the house to my separate entrance). oy vey, and then there is the issue of parking which i am far to drained to really go into (and beginning to bore myself). I don’t have a car. the house has 3 spots in the driveway. there are two legal units and the downstairs is divided into 2 illegal apartments. i live in one of those – the converted garage in fact. when i moved here, one of the upstairs apartments was occupied by friends who recruited me to fill the house with lots of goodness and fun in our first few post-college years. the landlord made it clear that each of the apartments got one spot and the rest was for us to work out. fair enough! let’s just say that the two times i’ve rented a car and parked in the driveway, mr. friendly/chivalrous/jerky had the nerve to knock on my door and ask me to move the car which had only a few hours before being returned. he’s also chased my friends off. i’ve made it clear to them that they are just lucky i don’t have a car, and to never, under any circumstance, whether a visitor or a rental car, ask me to give up a spot that is “first come first serve” for all who live here (and to be grateful that it is so infrequent that i use “my spot”).

and so, in pajamas and a bandanna, i stood knocking at their door. no answer. then the music got louder and some girls started yelling “no one’s home.” so i knocked harder, i knocked more. then the dancing and pounding of the floor intensified. now i was mad and i knew it would not be an early night.
then, i walked around the house (hearing a weekend-like party from the windows) and rang their front doorbell. again, “no one’s home”, this time in unison with giggling that followed.
i’d now reached a level of justified hostility.

so, the suburban girl did what i’m sure will start some very bad blood that will likely ruin many future evenings on manila avenue. i called the police. directed to the non-emergency line, i apologized profusely for bothering them for something trivial. i had a wonderful discussion with the dispatcher and so it was. they’d call me when they got here so i could let them in.

while i sat waiting and getting angrier as the noise above me intensified i also called my landlord. i apologized for calling the good doctor so late and explained that this has been going on for weeks and i haven’t had the opportunity to speak to them. i also told him that i’d tried to settle it and was laughed at with a refusal to answer the door. he assured me he’d try to “work it out.” and i know, these things work themselves out best with discussion, as they always have in the past with these neighbors…but, something has changed.

then the cops came. they’d heard the noise stop as soon as they walked to the door. they asked if there was fighting, etc…and as i was saying “they’re nice guys”, one of the less amicable boys opened the door. i walked away. if they wouldn’t talk to me, i’d let the cops talk to them. and i’m sure when they talk to my landlord they will shame me for making the 911 call.

now, i’m worked up and further away from sleep. and, though the noise is only minimally quieter, it’s nothing to really complain about and still nothing one can sleep through (mind you, i run three fans for the white noise). i already feel that the music through the ceiling which i can practically sing along to is purely for spite.

just as i submitted to accepting this address for some more time to come (after resolving to move out due to boredom, etc), i know that i’ve started a war with disrespectful, obnoxious people. and it’s not even summer yet.