15 October 2011

Paper houses

This morning I opened my door to go to work and there was a woman in a bathrobe, slack-jawed and glassy-eyed, moaning wheezily outside my door.

My heart pounded as I thought "IT HAS BEGUN!!!" and I began to recite steps 1-10 of the zombie-survival guide in my mind like I'd done a hundred times before. The first moments of survival are critical as this is when most people get eaten. I reached for my serrated, sharpened shovel. Just breath. Let the training do the rest. Zombies are dangerous in numbers. One is manageable. I can do one.

False alarm. It turns out that she wasn't the undead or even one of the minor signs of the apocalypse. She gave all the signs of being a crazy zombie-person because she was wandering around, bathrobe-clad in a frizzled, angry rage listening at people's doors and trying to find the source of the thumping that had been keeping her up for two straight nights.

Urban living at its best

I must admit that I really enjoy these odd little non-sequitous peculiarities of urban living. It's like last week when a wheelchair-bound man was riding the skytrain in a gorilla suit, or when I saw a business man in a business suit walking backwards down the street with a briefcase for no apparent reason. Two weeks ago there was a guy riding the seabus with a a raccoon tail that I could've sworn I saw move all on its own.....

But I digress...

I live in a noisy building. That's not to say that the building itself makes noise;  any spoooky freeloading apparitions are the polite kind that keep their moaning to themselves and just occasionally steal one of your socks. No, I'm saying that the floors, walls and windows are extremely thin and so every whisper and conversation comes to you in hi-fi surround sound.

I know a lot of people that would simply move after finding this out. Break the lease, give up your damage deposit, bid a beautiful historic building goodbye and go find a crappy thick-walled concrete condo where you could be attacked by rabid hyenas alone in your apartment and nobody would hear it. I won't say it didn't cross my mind. We, in the western world love our peace and quiet.

I do admit to complaining a bit about it, but mostly because I like attention and sympathy. Secretly I kind of like the daytime bustle of the apartments next door. When I hear people cooking, cleaning, playing music, watching television, flushing the toilet or even copulating enthusiastically at 4pm with the windows open (that was not a hypothetical statement) it reminds me that I live among people.

My apartment is not a hermetic vacuum where society stops, and even when I'm sitting on my couch with the blinds drawn reading a book I'm connected to my world. If I want solitude I have a nice set of headphones and enough unaccompanied Bach to get me through my neighbours' thorough page-by-page study of the kama sutra, or possibly korean opera, I can't tell.

nosce te ipsum

My first week in the apartment I got a knock at my door from an irate neighbour who told me I had ruined her life with my unpacking and moving furniture around. I was devastated. Of course, I would later find out that the same neighbour was the owner of the howling dog that had kept me up for several nights that week so my sympathy would wane somewhat.

I did feel somewhat responsible I was causing anyone grief so I started being more aware of the noises I was making. I bought a rug for my living room and drapes for the windows.

Two days later I hadn't set foot in my living room in that long and was eating out for every meal in mortal fear of a clanging pot or a dropping fork. I realized I had found a way to live in an apartment without touching the floors. Talented, perhaps, but utterly ridiculous.

My lesson here: people in paper houses shouldn't complain loudly. Be respectful but do not change your pattern of living because you're worried about offending people.

That being said even I draw the line at random thumping at 2AM. My heart went out to this poor woman I mistook for the living dead in my hallway.

Well, at least I'm meeting my neighbours.

 Image courtesy of Pikola on wikimedia commons

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