Trapped

Remember when I wrote not very long ago about fighting my urges to research new places to live for one reason or another?

It’s a peaceful, quiet Friday evening. While most people go out to do something social on a Friday night, I have always veered towards home after work or school. Perhaps in my younger years, I had a handful of evenings where I went out after work and added to the stimulation of a long week.

But ninety-nine times out of a hundred (nine times out of ten didn’t really seem to convey the proper percentage), I head to my home after forty-five hours of time spent in the office, longing for solitude, quiet, and relaxation.

I crave unwinding on my own couch with the knowledge that I don’t have to set the alarm for the next day. Out of everything I may do at home–hold a conversation, sit and stare out the window, get on my computer, stream something on Netflix, read a book–it’s the SILENCE I need the most. One of the big reasons we chose to live where we do is it is a lovely apartment community that supports quiet. Our apartment faces a pond (retention basin), with fish and geese and ducks and other flora and fauna. It is still.

Basin_Zoe Says

Feel the stillness?

My partying neighbors, whose energy for seamy nightlife activities knows no bounds, are the perfect Achilles heel to my introverted plans. I think they have some kind of radar that alerts them as to when I need to relax the most, unless their urges to party just neatly coincide with my desire to relax each weekend, which is likely the case.

Drinking and smoking don’t really make any noise, though. If all these people did was have a quiet cigarette or two with a brandy, we’d have no problems. Perhaps we’d even feel like giving them a friendly wave.

But no; what makes noise are drunken belligerent fools who listen to really terrible (bass-y) music every…single…weekend evening, preceding and during the imbibing of God only knows what substances, whilst also whooping. (How I Met Your Mother fans–I have a “woo” girl living right next door to me! Except she’s in her mid-thirties and it’s called “alcoholism!”)

What makes it worse is that the music is not only turned up to an unreasonable volume for living in a shared-walls community, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they have their stereo system set up near the back wall of their apartment, which contains the utility closet, which abuts our utility closet on the back wall of our apartment, and is not well insulated and thus emits noise quite well. The folding metal door on the utility closet doesn’t help.

Apartments

Based solely on my imagination, because it’s hard for me to fathom how loud they’d have to play the music if the stereo wasn’t right next to the shared wall.

At first I thought it was all the husband’s fault. He seemed like an easy target to blame. He chain smokes outside on the patio (our patios are adjacent to one another) and he’s a tight-lipped, unpleasant sort of fellow. Loves his cell phone and his minivan. (Red flag, anyone?)

Their habits have been pretty predictable up until lately. Usually it’s dead silent up until nine or ten o’clock at night and then…cue the stereo and some honky tonk or other terrible genre of songs. I did say it was bad, didn’t I?

The week before last, the wife was gone for an entire week. Not a single note emitted from their apartment from Monday to Friday. I wondered if God had granted me the gift of going deaf at will; perhaps someone had died; did they suddenly develop a collective conscience?

We got our answer when the wife returned home on Friday and the musical habits returned with her. I was seriously stunned. I had made a serious and sexist judgment call, believing that the surly husband and his musical whims were the bane of my existence, when the whole time it was the wife.

Perhaps you’re asking yourself if I have talked to them about the music. Yes. I confronted the banshee herself one early morning before work, when she was still bleary-eyed and hungover. She even told me they would try to “watch it” around ten o’clock with regard to the music, when the complex’s “quiet hours” start. That lasted about a week.

Perhaps you are wondering if we’ve had to call the police. Yep. Did it work? No. In fact, they rebelled by playing the music louder and screaming at us through the walls. Classy all the way.

Maybe you’re wondering if management has stepped in. Yes! They have been banned from renewing a lease and are on warning about their violations of Quiet Hours and the section of the lease regarding use of premises. We still have to live next to them until they leave, however.

As I mentioned in the other post, Mr. and Mrs. Shithead are moving between now and the end of July. Their actual move date is a mystery but we find ourselves praying we’ll come home to a moving truck every single day at this point. (We were given the false hope that they would “go out of town on weekends” until their lease was up. So far, it has yet to happen and I think that was just a whimsical lie Mrs. S. thought would sound good when talking to the manager.)

Here are the strategies we utilize while we wait for the hours and minutes on the clock to painstakingly pass until our fun-loving partiers alcoholics vacate the premises:

  • Retire upstairs in the nine o’clock hour every night (unless by some miracle the music isn’t on.)
  • Turn the Blizzard fan in our room to high, drowning out most of the noise that inevitably emanates from downstairs.
  • Put on noise-canceling headphones when doing anything quiet, like reading, checking email, or attempting to fall asleep.
  • Sit in the upstairs computer room, which is unattached to any part of their apartment, with the door shut and quiet music on, and blog to get my mind off the anxiety that wells up inside of me every second of every minute that they play their vile cacophony downstairs, and wait for them to pass out.
  • Put on headphones and listen to guided meditation; take deep breaths.
  • All of the above.

I guess you figured out which one I’m doing now. The problem tonight is, they opted for Music Hour(s) far earlier than usual. We hadn’t even figured out our dinner plans yet. What all of those options above have in common is that they all involve our being trapped in our own apartment – the place that is supposed to be our (QUIET) sanctuary.

I wouldn’t allow myself to even look at my comfy couch–I just made a beeline for the upstairs. While my dude decided on an evening nap (with fan on!), I chose to hole up in the computer room, staring out at the peaceful scene beyond my windows, making me envious with the knowledge that it would be quieter if I camped out in a tent with the geese and insects around me than if I slept in my own comfortable bed with two human beings one wall away.

And with that….

It’s time for a late supper. It means I have to brave going downstairs and leave my safe little space in front of the computer.

Here goes nothing.

Advertisements

Sixteen

Earlier this month, I turned 32.

I’m still kind of coping with the number. I don’t FEEL 32. Thirty-two year-olds are supposed to have a few things figured out, aren’t they?

Sixteen years ago, I turned 16 and the only thing I could eat, sleep, and breathe was taking my driver’s test. Since the age of nine, I counted down the years until I could drive. I just knew at that young an age that I was destined to love driving.

Obtaining my driver’s license was one of the biggest thrills of my entire existence, no exaggeration. Getting that little laminated card sent to me in the mail felt like a bucket of freedom pouring all over me. No more would I have to solely rely on anyone else to pick me up and take me places. I could just get there myself and derive every drop of pleasure from driving.

Some people hate driving. My best friend is one of them. She still can’t drive and until some life event forces her to have to get a license, she will remain a chauffeured passenger. While I may not understand it, I am fully supportive of her if that makes her happy. (And I think we’re all a little safer with those who can’t stand driving not being on the road.)

The sensation of driving is a therapeutic one for me with the road under my tires and the steering wheel in my hands. Driving also satisfies my intense need to control. I fully admit I am a control freak. I don’t like to think of it as negative but there are several people who have told me – Kevin included – that I am bossy. I don’t have an answer for that except for a shrug and a, “Yeah, so?” I’m also one of those people who thinks my ideas and the way I do them are ideal.

You might think I’d be a manager of some kind by now but I’m not. Not even close. Despite my being utterly confident in carrying things out a certain way (and usually being disappointed when others don’t hold themselves up to the same high standards of execution), I am extremely non-confrontational. Having a subordinate or a team of them would be an incredible challenge for me. Though, having had some less-than-terrific superiors in my work history, I can say I would sincerely strive to avoid doing the things that have really aggravated me or been my own undoing. It has never ceased to astound me who makes it to a managerial level–anywhere. It could be Pizza Hut. When I run into inefficiency or sheer incompetence, I think, how am I not at the top again? But I don’t make it my life’s mission to choose a different path that might get me there. I stay put. I ruminate. I dwell on the what-ifs.

That’s the bite of irony, there. I feel mostly out of control when it comes to my situation in life, so I clamp down to control what I can. I’m not in the career I thought I’d be in by the age of 32, I’m not yet married, I don’t own my own home, I don’t have children, and for the most part, I feel very in limbo. (I do have a steady rock of a partner for whom I am grateful every single day. So I appease my litany of complaints with that solace.)

The number one thing I struggle with is self-discipline.

Mostly, that applies to exercise and other self-care choices. When I was much younger, maybe 12 or so, I thought to myself, “When I’m older and on my own [say, 25], I’m really going to have it all figured out. I’m going to be successful and physically fit because I’ll be making ALL my own decisions and doing what I want when I want.”

If only! I think back to that long ago thought and wish I could hug my younger self. I so wish it were that easy.

I am an absolute perfectionist and if I can’t have exactly what I want, when and how I want it, I give up quite easily (or take no action). My modus operandi is that something just won’t happen if it can’t be done in a manner matching whatever idea of perfection I’ve dreamed up in my mind.

A perfect example of this is with our vacuum cleaner.

When Kevin and I began our cohabitation adventure, he brought to the household a vacuum cleaner – one he had thoroughly researched that would really clean up pet hair. While we were still living in New York City, I determined that I hated this vacuum. It smelled bad when you turned it on (which was half the reason I hated it) it clogged easily, and the pet attachment only feebly worked.

Due to our budget constraints, this thing had to stick with us for a while longer. Fast forward to 2012 when I received my tax refund. I made an impulse decision that this would be The Year of the Vacuum and I could fulfill a fantasy of mine and purchase a Dyson.

I know, what is this, the 1950s, where the little wife dreams of her shiny new appliance?

Nonetheless, with nothing short of pure jubilance, I took myself to a local store and purchased a Dyson Animal. Let me tell you, this thing has seriously changed how I view vacuuming. Whereas before I avoided vacuuming at all costs, I have pulled this thing out again and again and again because it works just as it should. I have never in my life enjoyed vacuuming but since I can see everything being lifted away with ease, it actually takes away the blood, sweat, and tears I previously associated with this chore. I triumphantly proved to myself that if I only had the perfect tool, the one thing I really wanted, then all would be well and I would be motivated to do something I had formerly hated. I don’t jump out of bed every day and want to vacuum, but considering I do it without having to have a pep talk AND it’s done much more regularly, I consider this an incredible achievement.

I sincerely wish this were the case with all things. I think that’s why infomercials which tout that this ONE piece of exercise equipment will change your life are so successful. It’s so easy to buy into that fantasy! I have fallen for it, as have millions of others. I have owned (and loved) a Gazelle, that non-treadmill piece of equipment that that Tony Little guy is advertising incessantly. It’s actually pretty fun but it is not a miracle machine. Then again, nothing is.

I continue to struggle with my perfectionism, trying to just relax and let things be. It is the hardest thing for me to do. Because I can’t control situations, how other people react, or even the results I get if I put effort into something (read: exercise/weight loss), I struggle every day to not become completely immobile. In one of the thousands of episodes of The Simpsons, Homer says to Lisa, “The lesson is….never try.” I can so relate, since I have gravitated towards taking the easier path more often than not.

At the same time that I have all this self-awareness about this issue, overcoming these innate urges takes the same force of will that a 500-pound man would need to climb Mount Everest with no experience. I don’t want to be the fat guy choking for air on the side of the mountain. I’d rather stay put on the ground, safe and sound, where I can complain in pure comfort.

And then the question I have to ask myself is, where does that get me? Answer: directly to where I don’t want to be.

Sixteen years ago I was a junior in high school. I hadn’t even thought about what a college career would look like or where I’d apply, much less seriously considered what I would do for a living. (I also thought I’d be married by the age of 25. Hahahahaha.)

I look back and wonder where the second set of sixteen years went. The difference is, I didn’t begin in infancy to get to where I am now. I was a young adult and now I am a fully-fledged adult who is still trying to figure out the same things. I suppose we all are, on some level.

Sixteen years from now I will be 48. Talk about scary. It’s not just a little different, it’s a completely new era of life I will be experiencing. While I am striving to enjoy the small moments, the seconds, the minutes, the hours, the days, the weeks, the months, each year as it comes….they will add up into another sixteen years, where I will look back and wonder how I got from here to there, whatever “there” looks like. I will find this post and instead of mourning the choices I did not make due to some paralyzing sense of perfection, I hope I will celebrate the risks I ended up taking instead.

Deep breath and……Ready. Set. Go.