You may not want to read this post. Fair warning.
I wrote the paragraph below early this morning and returned to bed because I was too tired to stay awake.
I was thinking recently about the Wisconsin governor using the state’s money problems as an excuse to break the unions there. I suspect my state’s governor has similar intentions, though his focus seems to be on breaking teachers and K-college education. (He’s got his degree and his children don’t have to worry about getting their educations, so why not hit where we’re already weakest?) Our city council is locked in a, ‘Let’s see who can be more stubborn’ battle with our firefighters who don’t want to give up any of their perks, like city council members and other city employees have. And, of course, there is the national problem of our potentially-failing government due to overspending—initiated by wars, non-regulation of stock market manipulators, and bailing out corrupt financial institutions. The flagrant egos of politicians and CEOs—their focus on their own standings and wealth—is making a whole lot of Americans feel sick. I pray the rift between the political parties does not break our country in two.
When I woke up, I realized the reason all of the above is bothering me is that I’m locked in my own stubborn battles with neighbors. We’ve lived in these apartments for almost four years and I’ve worked at peacemaking for much of the time. One neighbor, the leader of the gang of girls who threatened my teen daughter for our first eight months here (and spit at me from her balcony when she saw me) keeps parking in our assigned parking space. Last week, I was outside when she came down the stairs and I asked her not to park in our space. “Oh, I’m sorry,” she said, because I was speaking with a young maintenance man (who I wish with all my heart could go to college, instead). That night she and her friends sat on the stairs and banged, on and off, the outdoor wall of our living room (with pans, I think). She has vandalized our car and a rental car I had when ours was in the shop, so I know better than to get into it with her. Things just keep escalating—which is what has happened with me and our young upstairs neighbors.
For me, it’s mostly about the loud music. One of the girls, no matter how many times I went up and asked them to turn the music down, would turn it down for a couple minutes, and then back up it would go. The last time I went up before I complained at the office, I heard them laughing and one said, “What does she think SHE can do?”
About a week ago, when it was really loud, I went to the office and asked one of them to come back to my apartment with me to hear the music. They sent the head of maintenance, who apparently gave the neighbors a ‘one more time eviction notice.’ They’ve only had the music up a few times since then, but they spend time every day jumping off the furniture, running, screaming and so on. In addition to their poodle, they got another dog, a pit bull, who barks terribly at people and pets who walks past our balconies.
Another neighbor, who lives on the third floor above our apartment, has two pit bulls and a terrier. They have barked at Max before, but she always takes them in another direction. The other night we came around a corner at the same time, facing each other. The terrier went crazy mad, barking at Max. When Max growled at the terrier, the two pit bulls lunged toward us. She pulled on the leashes and I pulled on Max’s leash, but they just moved closer together. “Oh, my God!” I shouted when they were only a couple feet apart. She yelled over the noise, “Oh, grow up!” and yanked hard and turned to take them back to their apartment. Grow up?
An older woman has two Cocker Spaniels who, from behind their enclosed balcony or across the green, lunge and growl at Max like they want to kill him. Yesterday they were nearby when we were walking back from the mail center. She held their leashes but just stood and watched as they foamed at the mouth over Max. Max lunged back, barking and I had to drag him away. Another older woman across the way from us, weather permitting, sits on her second story balcony and rather than enjoy the view of the mountains straight ahead, she turns her chair to face our sliding door and stares in our direction. When I see or sense her out there, I turn the vertical blinds in the other direction.
I don’t know what to do about all this. I’ve tried to talk with the gang-leader girl, but she told me to stay away from her. I think I can relate to what is happening in Washington, D.C., our state and our city. Everyone feels justified and can’t or won’t communicate. When my daughter graduates from high school in June, I think I’m going to move.