Christmastime in the Emerald City

{June 12, 2007}   Why My Downstairs Neighbour Can Go Fuck Herself

So I live in the Annex, in one of these quad-plex like apartment buildings. Small, well-lit, cheap, cute. Built in the 20’s, revamped in the 60’s. I leave my door unlocked, much to the shock of a good majority of visitors. It’s safe, it’s quiet, it’s perfect. I adore my apartment.

 I do not adore my downstairs neighbour, Jane. My downstairs neighbour Jane can go fuck herself to the tune of Frank Sinatra, or whatever I happen to be playing during what the city deems to be reasonable hours. And it would be preferrable if she used her obnoxious bike in some obscene manner.

My trouble with Jane started last fall, when she casually asked about the presence of any cats, perhaps, one particular Friday as we crossed paths at the bottom of the stairs. Yes, I said, I have two kittens. I expected a smile, having recalled overhearing the other downstairs girl, Jennifer, apologizing for letting her cat wander into the stairwell; the ensuing pleasantries gave a general indication that Jane was in fact fond of this cat. If nothing else, I had thought of an “oh, how sweet” or “how old are they?” or some other type of nicety. Instead I got a cold “yes, I can hear them sometimes.”

“Uh-huh,” came my reply. “Well, they are kittens. They can be rambunctious at times.” Lovely, I thought. Not only is my downstairs neighbour starting off on an unpleasant note, but this quaint (yet apparently antique) structure allows my neighbour to hear anything above a whisper. I’ll just bet she can hear me belching in front of the telly after a beer or two.

Now, Jane probably got along fantastically with the previous tenant. Her name was Lisa, a coworker of my mother’s, and quiet as a mouse. She moved out because she got married. As such, I’m certain she didn’t spend much time at the apartment; it’s hardly big enough for two. So, in moves someone who actually has a life and friends within her home, and I become the unsavoury neighbour.

Add to this my charitable nature, and we have a real problem. I had a friend living with me, you see, for what was supposed to be a few months until we saved for a bigger place, and what turned into five months until his inability to find a job became clear. This was Terry. Terry was fun, Terry was nocturnal, Terry was noisy. Jane hated Terry; Terry hated Jane. Terry wanted to cut the brakes of Jane’s bike before he moved out.

I should have let him.

Terry was noisy even for me. But when Jane came pounding up the stairs one evening, yelling for ‘that fucking idiot upstairs to turn down that goddamned music’ because she was trying to sleep, she fell out of any favour she may have had to begin with. Firstly, don’t be passive-aggressive – knock on my door without waking the rest of the building. Secondly, I’m fairly sure by-laws were on our side. It wasn’t exactly midnight. Thirdly, tact: “Listen guys, I know you probably stay up late, but I’m going to bed right now, and I’d really rather not have to hear your music this late. Can you turn it down please, and keep your neighbours in mind?” Even said with the hautiest of disdain, this would have been completely acceptable, and grounds for profuse apologies on my part. Instead, I flung open the door, having already asked Terry to turn it down because I knew it was too loud, and announced “It’s already turned down, isn’t it?”

Naturally, the receipt for the following month’s rent included a note from my very polite and tactful landlord to please consider my neighbours, as he had received some noise complaints. “I want to make everybody happy,” it said, in it’s broken English way. How sweet is that?

Well, Terry departed a few weeks ago, having decided that Toronto is too full of itself for his taste. In his absence, I myself am far quieter. Yet, I am also productive. I am going to put up shelving, and I am going to paint and redecorate. And with such a narrow staircase, I am likely to bump into the wall adjacent to Jane’s bedroom with the six foot long strip of moulding or whatever else I’ve just purchased. Shouldn’t be a problem at 2 pm on a Saturday afternoon. Hammering is irritating, fantastically irritating, yes. But it has to be done on occasion. I chose Saturday afternoon for that occasion. Most, I think, would agree. Apparently not Jane, who seems to think I need to consult her before dropping a pin, never mind the remote control.

Another episode occured just a few nights ago. I have another friend, far less intrusive, who is in the middle of moving: out of old place, new place not yet ready, and not wanting to spend every single night in her boyfriends bachelor. She gave me her old bed frame – she is allowed to stay over as often as she wishes. However, she forgot her keys one evening, and our quaint building does not have working doorbells. Shouldn’t be a problem, I said. Simply call up from downstairs, I’ll leave the window open. Christ, we live in the Annex – even Jane should know that with the windows open, a flood of other peoples conversations will pour in. It’s a fantastic intersection for scenesters.

Well, Jane heard my friend before I did. And instead of perhaps going downstairs to open the door, or coming upstairs to knock on my door and (even rudely!)  inform me that someone was calling my name incessantly outside, she simply slammed her window shut, sending the pigeons off in front of everybody’s window in a flurry. The friend informed me that all of Jane’s lights were off at the time – she must have woken her.

This was at nine-thirty in the evening. Nine-thirty. At this point, even if she had confronted me directly – politely, rudely, whatever fashion she could surmise – I would have had zero sympathy. I do not care if you have to get up at five in the morning; you cannot expect others around you to adhere to your schedule.

The lingering problem is that she doesn’t confront me. Neither a knock nor a note has found it’s way to my door. She resorts, instead, to passive aggressive outlets that serve no purpose other than perhaps making her feel better, or more likely fueling her own rage against the world at large. She likes to thump on the ceiling, which bothers me not (in fact, it simply makes one of my three rabbits thump right back – and they love to play games). And she slams her doors, my God does she slam them. To what end? To announce her petulant comings and goings to those who could care less? What does she hope to solve? As for myself, I will let her stew. Neither a knock nor a note fall upon her door, for I have no complaint that either would solve. She may thump, she may slam to her hearts content. If a noise complaint should arise, well, one has the city by-laws and her unreasonable hours to speak of…

Should she perhaps grow a spine one of these mornings, I would have this to say: We live in an apartment building. We live in an old apartment building. Neighbours are going to hear each other; it’s an irrevocable fact of life, more inescapable than taxes. I hear Jane in her daily muddlings; her poor taste in light jazz, the thunk of her toilet lid, the grinding of her breakfast blender. In return, I expect she will hear my Frank Sinatra, my Alexisonfire, my cats and my rabbits, my hammering. During reasonable hours, of course. (And in that regard, we are not at camp or in jail – there is no ‘lights out’ at nine-thirty.)

If one does not wish to hear the daily lives of others, one should buy a house. And certainly not in the Annex for that matter. This is what the suburbs are for. Oh, but then the suburbs are not so friendly to bikers and other generally self-contained types. If you cannot afford a house in a quiet neighbourhood, far be it for you to take it out on me.

In closing: you live downtown, Jane; you may suffer my noise.


[…] hazardous even when not carrying furniture single handedly. If you look carefully, you will see my downstairs cunt of a neighbour has a lovely little welcome mat. It’s narrow end is almost half the width of the staircase. […]

[…] enough to renovate it so I can live in a pretty place for the next decade until I can buy a house. I don’t love my neighbours. At first it was just Jane, in number one. She has filed noise complaints because I play music at […]

John says:

Maybe you should go fuck yourself you dirty english whore.

Wow, random? Who asked you for your opinion on my fucking blog? And English? Well, I speak it, like most of the world, but what does that have to do with anything? Are you french or something? Cause I am too. Oh, wait, are you that guy that I think she has over once in a while when I hear them arguing until all hours of the night? Anyways, it’s my fucking blog so I’ll swear as much as I motherfucking like, and until you live above a whore-faced cow like Jane, you can take my fantastic detachable shower head and use it to fuck yourself as often as I do.

Laura says:

Oh god, do I ever feel for you. I found your blog entry while I was doing a search on how people typically deal with asshat neighbours. I guess after reading, it made me feel pretty lucky that all I have to really deal with is the incredibly unnecessary slamming of doors at any given time of day. 😛

I hope you found (or will find) some kind of break from all that crap.

Thanks Laura! What I’ve done is placed all my rabbits in what used to be my bedroom, and is now the designated rabbit room. So when she makes noise, they start thumping on the floors! MAHAHAHAHAHA! Right over her bed at 4am bitch! MAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

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