Tuesday, August 31, 2010

These walls are too thin

When I first moved to Chicago from a small town, I thought about how amazing it would be to live in a big city where everyone didn't know everyone else's business. The idea of starting over in a new place and meeting new people I hadn't known since I was five thrilled me.

But I soon came to learn that just because you don't know everyone, you still come to learn a lot about their business just by living in close vicinity to them. In the building where I live now, I know that the guy who lives next door to me apparently microwaves everything he eats and drinks because I hear the "beep-beep-beep" of his microwave at least six times a day.

The two girls who live on the other side of me are chain smokers, and their smoke seeps into my apartment on a regular basis. They also get a lot of late-night visitors, because their buzzer sometimes wakes me up at 1 A.M. Apparently at least one of their boyfriends thinks it's okay to lean on the buzzer for several seconds at a time, and if they don't answer right away he'll start yelling at them from the street.

Although we're supposed to put the trash that doesn't fit in the trash chute in the dumpster downstairs, the guy who lives down the hall is strong enough to go running every day but can't be bothered to take a three minute walk to the dumpster, so he leaves his beer bottles and large trash bags in the tiny room with the trash chute.

The girl who lives above me once tried to unlock the door to my apartment, because she thought it was her apartment. (I thought someone was breaking in, so of course I had the bright idea to open the door to see what was going on.) She also watches TV or listens to the radio about seven hours a day, and I used to be able to hear every lyric that was sung (by both her and the musicians) and every piece of dialogue from her TV shows. I say used to because after my polite request to her that she turn the volume down didn't work, I finally complained to the super. Now I just hear the muffled sound of her TV and radio for three hours a day, except when her boyfriend comes over, in which case they turn on the volume really loud to mask what they're doing. And unfortunately, sometimes the volume of the TV isn't loud enough to mask what they're doing, if you catch my drift.

I'm sure that my neighbors know plenty about my annoying habits, too. I have the musical tastes of a 13-year old girl (though it's been many years since I was 13), because at least six of the songs on my Top 25 Most Played list on my iPod are from Britney Spears' albums. I usually listen to the music on my headphones so as not to disturb my neighbors, but the chain smokers next door can probably hear me singing along to the songs anyway. I think they might be scared of me, anyway, not just because of my love of Britney's music but because I got so frustrated with all the smoke coming from their apartment and from the people smoking in the doorway outside that I started yelling, "I HATE SMOKE! I CAN'T BREATHE I CAN'T BREATHE I CAN'T BREATHE!" And of course, I made sure to yell it through the wall so they could hear me.

I also know that at least three or four of the girls on my floor get drunk on a regular basis, because they stumble in after one A.M. several nights a week, fall on the floor, laugh about it really loudly in the hallway, and then open the doors to their apartments, where they proceed to fall down in there as well.

I also know all about one of my neighbors' marriage, because I was in the laundry room with her once. She proceeded to tell me all the details of her divorce within five minutes of meeting me, following me up the stairs as I dropped socks in my attempt to get away from her.

But you know what I don't know about my neighbors? Their names.


  1. The smoke kills me. And one of our neighbors is a hoarder and we find cockroaches in our apartment semi-regularly. Because we complained about this, our management company is sending over an exterminator later this week and everyone in the building is blaming us for the inconvenience of having to move everything out of closets and drawers.

    So, what I'm saying here is: I feel you, sister.

  2. Omigosh another hilarious true life post from you. I swear I would read an entire book just about your daily life. I ate up every sentence of this. The vision of you rushing up the stairs dropping socks has me LOLing. I've never lived in an apt building. Can you please write a book about yours? Thank you. I'll buy the first copy.

  3. Ugh that's too close to my life here in this small apartment. My boyfriend, however, loves to chin wag with just about everyone and knows there names. And he'll say, Oh I was just talking to John and I'm like, who? My neighbor? No. Why would I talk to them? You're weird.

    Anywho, I love when my apartment fills with cigarette smoke or better yet, the smell of weed. And then I can go to work and people look at me sorta funny because I smell like I've been getting high at home.

  4. Hi, NGS,
    That sucks about having roaches at your place because of your neighbor. If only we could get our neighbors to stop doing stuff like that, you know? Because it affects everyone.

    Hi KarenG,
    Thank you! That's very nice of you to say. I have thought about writing a memoir; I want to write fiction but the good thing about writing memoir is that I'd already have ideas on what to write.

    Hi Hannah,
    I don't really talk to my neighbors either, because then I might call them out on their smoking or their habit of leaving trash lying around.
    Gee, the weed thing would suck. Is it possible to call the police on them?

  5. Yuck. Neighbors really can suck.

  6. it is possible but I've already called the cops on my neighbors below me twice, I don't want to end up with a dead rat on my doorstep.

  7. You have my utmost sympathy. Smokers right next door to you? Incessant TV/radio noises 7 hours a day? Being woken up at 1 AM due to the buzzer? That't the problem w/ apt. buildings -- they're not ever quiet. Hope you find a quieter place soon.

  8. Hi Sadako,
    I know! It's too bad I don't have any cute guy neighbors. Then I might be more tolerant. :)

    Hi Hannah,
    Gee, that would be scary. It's too bad that calling the cops hasn't been enough to stop your neighbors.

    Hi notesfromnadir,
    I've lived in apartment buildings for years. All those reasons are why I dream of having my own house someday. Then I wouldn't have to know so much about my neighbors.

  9. I'd hate smelling cigarette smoke too. But I think you handled the situation well....

    I know - it's so funny that you don't know your neighbor's names, but somehow you encroach on one another's personal spaces - especially with sound.

    I live a block from a bar, so I hear stumbling, loud drunks around 2:00 am. And I've been privileged to all sorts of fights, snippets of conversation, and police visits through my window.

  10. I SO relate to this! I know almost everything about my neighbours but their names. And the smoke! The SMOKE! One of them BBQs in the garden outside and the smoke drifts up and into our lounge. Argh!

  11. Hi Theresa,
    People do get louder when they're drunk, don't they? The police have been called to my neighborhood on several occasions. I've woken up to see flashing lights on more than one occasion, which initially made me think I was being abducted by aliens.

    Hi Talli,
    The smoke drives me crazy. I've tried candles, air purifiers, and air fresheners. Nothing seems to get rid of the smell completely.