Things & Other Things

Life continues to ramble on as I wait for the onslaught of doctor’s appointments scheduled in early September. I find myself crying at odd times- the day after I have my first session with a new therapist specializing in grief and infertility or in the office of my acupuncturist that I hadn’t visited since the week I found I out I was pregnant. And not so odd times- when a favorite song plays and my voice catches as I sing along, hugging old friends that I miss terribly, watching moms with their babies, thinking about how far along I’d be if. . .

We took a quick trip to California for a cousin’s wedding where I got to see, hug, and laugh with extended family, visit the ocean, drive across the Bay Bridge eight times, and see some of my oldest & dearest friends (albeit too briefly). It was a nice distraction.

My August is busy, busy, busy. First the California trip then this weekend, Portland to celebrate Jenny Two Times’ 40th birthday, then back to Seattle to ready our house for Mr. Darcy’s 40th birthday gathering on the 24th, then to the Washington coast for some, hopefully, quiet and disconnection from all the busy. I’ve decided I will rest in September though I’m sure the Universe hears that and laughs, readying a plan to thwart my best intentions.

So many of you have asked about the karaoke terrorists and I have been meaning to update you but part of me worried I would jinx it. We had sent a second letter to their landlord with some strong wording that basically hinted at forthcoming legal action if we didn’t hear from her and she finally called. She seemed reasonable and took our complaints seriously. She told us she intended to speak to them directly and that if they didn’t knock it off, she would not renew their lease in November. We also learned she has six people on the lease over there. SIX! Uh lady, that’s your first problem. All of them are under 30 too. And, when she spoke to them after our first letter they told her we were complaining because we hate Vietnamese people. No, but we do hate your raucous parties, blaring music, and complete disregard for your neighbors.

After our phone chat, we noticed a decline in gatherings and noise. There has been zero karaoke that we can hear and when they do have people over, it’s a lot smaller and less rowdy. Sometimes on Fridays and Saturdays it appears that no one is even home! Guess they found somewhere else to party which is fine by us. After months of enduring their nonsense, the peace and quiet is welcomed. Hallelujah!

Karaoke Terrorists: Episode 3

When last we left you, we had a face-to-face confrontation with the Terrorist neighbors. That was back in April. After that, we went full throttle into calling our Community Officer and writing to the landlord. And while the noise is somewhat lessened, it’s still a weekly thing. And we’re talking “lessened” as in our house no longer vibrates every time they karaoke, but yes, they are still karaoking. On top of that, since the weather has finally turned nice, they have taken to blaring Vietnamese pop music from the house sound system to the backyard while 10-30 of them gather every weekend to smoke and drink and be complete inconsiderate assholes. They have a car port behind their house which means their cars are all surrounding them as they hang out- sometimes 6-8 cars clog the driveway and the backyard as they sit around a makeshift table and grill, toasting with beer after beer, one upping each other in the volume department.

Are we supposed to be grateful that the noise isn’t AS bad? Because, fuck that shit. It’s still a nuisance, persistent, and rude. We cannot hang out in our own backyard if they are out there- the sheer volume of their conversation is enough to drive us away but then they add the music, OHMYGOD THE MUSIC IS SO BAD. I can’t even. Yesterday I stood outside my back door and filmed this 22 second clip of it:

Yesterday’s party started around noon and went past 8pm. We finally retreated to the basement living room to eat our dinner and watch TV so we could drown out the noise. Upstairs is the worst when they are partying and then our bedroom- even in the basement we can hear it because our bedroom window looks out onto their driveway and living room window. We called the cops around 7 when they started doing a sing along in the backyard. Someone pulled out an acoustic and they were kumbaya-ing in Vietnamese. A little bit later they cranked the karaoke sound system up because WHY NOT?

When we call the cops before 10pm, the dispatcher reminds us that the noise ordinance doesn’t go into effect until 10 but our Community Officer told us to call regardless. The cops will only come out if they aren’t busy. The last two times we’ve called, we didn’t speak to cops so we’re not certain they came by but the noise level lessened. Because they have turned down the bass, the noise level might not be as bad for other neighbors as it is for us now. There is no one sharing their yard from the back (the house is vacant) and we haven’t met the neighbors on the other side.

Maybe you’re tired of hearing me complain about these guys but can you blame me for venting? Would you want to come over and hang out in our backyard for a cook out when that was happening next door? I’d be embarrassed to have anyone over! We were considering getting a new fence put in but with them as our neighbors, why pour the money into it when we can’t go out into our own yard and enjoy it?

I’m calling our Community Officer again, talking to a lawyer friend about drafting a strongly worded letter, and writing again to the landlord but this time sending the first letter and the new letter certified mail to ensure it’s getting to her. I’m sick of feeling stressed out in my own house because of these inconsiderate dickheads.


The Karaoke Neighbors: Episode 2

I tried the nice approach. We have called in noise complaints three times in three weeks and police have come out to shut the party down. We’ve tried enduring it, turning up the TV, shoving earplugs deeper in my ears. The neighbors insist on loud karaoke parties weekly, sometimes 2-3 times a week. Friday night, I was home alone and their party started up around 8 and was still going on past 11:30 when I attempted to fall asleep, rocked by the vibrations of their bass. By Saturday morning, I was pretty much a wreck. Having endured The Music Man for five years while managing the apartment, I have some sort of PTSD when it comes to this shit. I broke down crying to Mr. Darcy. I feel so stressed out living in our house! How messed up is that? That these fuckers should impact my enjoyment of our home to this degree?

So then it’s Sunday and my family is over for Easter dinner. It’s a beautiful, sunny day so we dined outside as did our neighbors and their mounting crew of people. As we sat there eating, more and more cars drove up the driveway and their chatter increased. I became very tense, worried that what would follow would inevitably be how they celebrate every holiday and every damn day, really. More karaoke.

It was about 8pm when we started to feel the vibrations. We’re sitting on our couch, clear across the house, and can feel it. We talked about what to do, tried to watch some more of the show, but then Mr. Darcy was like, “I’m going to go over there.” So of course I said I’d go too even though the thought of it made me want to throw up. As we walked across our lawn, I had to stop to take a deep breath. As ballsy as I might be, I loathe confrontations like this. I just want to be nice and have everyone get along. I don’t want to have to negotiate with karaoke terrorists.

We knocked on the door multiple times which turned to pounding on it because their music was so loud they couldn’t hear us. I knocked so hard my knuckles hurt. A guy opened the door and I think I said something like, “Your music is too loud.” He kind of shook his head but appeared drunk and I’d never seen this guy before so I said, “I want to talk to John. Where is John?” He wouldn’t get John and meanwhile the karaoke singer just kept going even though she could see us standing there at the door. I broke my own rule and swore during a confrontation saying “I’m sick of this shit.” I try not to do that because it always escalates the situation. The drunk guy blearily said something like, “This is my house blah blah blah.” I’m like, “This is YOUR house? Where is John?” He tried to shut the door in my face and that’s when shit got real and I don’t totally recall everything I said because I was SICK OF THIS SHIT. Mr. Darcy said I kind of lost it. Yep, I did.

I smacked that damn door open and said loudly, “I WANT TO TALK TO JOHN!” Over and over until John appeared. I was going nowhere. I had reached my limit of nice and it’s not pretty when I cross over. There’s a reason people think I’m east coast. Meanwhile, Mr. Darcy is standing behind me ready to punch that little drunk dude as he was getting in my face. John finally came to the door and came outside to talk to us. Darcy introduced himself and we attempted to reason with him. We tried to be nice. We want to be neighborly but when we can feel the bass from our couch clear across our house, it’s not cool. At one point I almost started crying, lamenting how I didn’t move to the suburbs for this after enduring the apartment managing for years. I don’t know you guys, I was kind of breaking down under all the stress. Meanwhile. some chick kept opening the door while we were talking to John to yell in Vietnamese. He’d wave her off, she’d shut the door, then a few seconds later, she’d do it again. These people are crazy, man. Mr. Darcy made sure to repeat to John: You understand that we are giving you this chance to make this right? That we need the volume and bass turned down? He said yes and honestly, when we got back home, we couldn’t hear it.

As we were walking back to our house, our across the street neighbors arrived home and hollered over, “Good! I’m glad you went and talked to them. I’ve had to go over there in my pajamas it’s so loud!” So we walked over to them to meet them and talk about how crazy these karaoke people are. It helped to know we’re not the only ones suffering and that if it came to it, we’d have more neighbors on our side to get these assholes evicted. We also learned that the woman who used to live in our house before it was purchased at auction and flipped, had a son who murdered someone. The neighbor showed us an iPhone video he shot of the SWAT team surrounding the house, looking for the suspect. The woman/mother was the only one home and they tore her house apart. Holy shit! I hope us living here can bring some joy to what was obviously a very sad house. If only we can get these karaoke neighbors to cooperate or leave.

From now on, we’re not negotiating with the terrorists. We’ve got the police noise complaint number memorized and will use it. We’ve looked into the tax records with the help of our realtor friend but it only shows the address next door for the landlords. I’ve got a few other friends with sneaky connections who are investigating the landlords. I am determined to locate them and inform them of the situation. The across the street neighbor said the lady who owns it is very nice and had mentioned she might open the house up to a section 8 renter so I’m also going to call that office. This is a neighborhood of families and retirees. These people are in the wrong damn neighborhood and they’ve pushed me past my breaking point.

The Karaoke Neighbors, Episode 1

Last night when I got home close to 7pm, their music was so loud I could hear it as I came through the back gate from my car. I got inside, shut the door, and could still feel the bass vibrating the house. This was the second night in row that I could physically feel their music from clear across my house. The night prior I had to turn my tv volume way up just to drown it out and I could still FEEL it as I sat on my couch. I’m on day five of a nasty head cold, three weeks out from my biggest fundraiser of the year, and a week before my period- it doesn’t take a mathematician to know that adds up to one very cranky, short-fused Sizzle.

I didn’t even take off my jacket but instead feed the cats then walked out the front door, across our lawn, around the side of our house and a massive tree to cross their driveway and knock on their door. I rapped on the screen door a few times with no response. I rang the doorbell but couldn’t hear if it works over the music. I pulled open the screen door to knock louder on their actual door that is adorned with a white wreath with blue ribbon. I knocked again. I must have knocked five different times before someone turned on the porch light and opened the door.

“Hi I am your neighbor!” I somewhat yelled to the short Asian man who answered the door, hoping to be heard over the blaring song.

“Uh. . . which one?” He looks from left to right, suspiciously.

I point to our house on the right. “That one. I just wanted to . . .”

He interrupts me with, “We are just testing our new system! We won’t have it on all night.” No one has turned the music down so we are talking loudly at one another, him inside the house, me on the porch. From my vantage point I can see it’s dimly lit in the living room- most of it from the television and this disco ball-like light that twirls bright green patterns on the ceiling. There are multi-colored holiday lights strung around the front living room window.

“Oh well okay I just wanted to introduce myself. We’re new to the neighborhood too- my husband and I. Did you just buy this house?” I am very friendly, not wanting to come off as rude even though my immediate reaction to anything all week was capital B for Bitchy. Not wanting to get into it with them when Mr. Darcy was working late and wouldn’t be home for hours and I hadn’t thought to text him I was going over there before I arrived at their doorstep.

A petite woman appears in the room and I wave at her and smile. The man, apparently realizing I am not there to yell at them, ushers me in. “Please, come in. My name is John. We rent this place.” He points to the woman, “This is Sandra.” I shake both their hands. Then another woman appears and I wave to her. They introduce her as another roommate who does not speak much English. Sandra asks, “Do you like Vietnamese food?” I shake my head agreeably, saying yes as I look around the room. She smiles and disappears into another room.

“Wow, you’ve really got this place set up! You guys really like to karaoke?” I exclaimed as I took in the room- the massive television where a handsome young Asian man was signing his heart out, the words of his song running along the bottom of the screen in a language I don’t know. I think to myself- we’re so screwed.

“Ohhh yes! We have people over but we try not to have it go too late. Sometimes we go karaoke then come over here to karaoke more.” He talks fast with an accent. He’s compact, shorter than me but I’m wearing heeled boots so I’m probably standing about 5’5″.

“Where do you go karaoke? It’s almost like you could set up your own karaoke bar here.” I smile but am thinking ‘holy crap please don’t set up your own karaoke bar next door to my house anymore than you already have’.

“We go to the International District- lots of places. We try not to be too loud.” I take that as my opening, “Sometimes we can hear your music clear across our house into our living room. It’s not always the volume but more often the bass level. It vibrates. It’s not that it’s often going on too late but rather that it’s so persistent.” I hope that he’s getting what I am saying.

“Oh yes, yes. Do you like to sing? You and your husband should come over, sing with us!” He’s enthusiastic, like us coming over solves any problem there might be with the exceptionally loud volume and vibrating bass. I laugh and say, “Yes I love to sing. My husband, not so much.”

“Do you like to drink?” he asks eagerly. “Well, we are Irish, so YES! Do you guys like to?” thinking we have found our common language in alcohol. “Yes! We do!” All of a sudden I am picturing us two pale Irish folks in that room, towering above the avid karaokers, a lavish spread of Vietnamese food on the table, and the music endlessly blaring as we get sufficiently drunk to stand it.

Sandra reappears with a baggie full of something hot. They shove it into my hands as a peace-offering and I make my way to the door with thanks and promise to drop off some homemade kahlua to them. “It was nice to meet you. It’s good to know your neighbors.” They smile, nod, wave and shut the door.

And that’s how I came to meet our neighbors with an invitation to karaoke and a bag of mysterious, gelatinous Vietnamese food. But hey, after that they turned their music off.

Being Neighborly

A few months ago the vacant house next to us became occupied. So far I’ve only seen their feet out of our basement window and heard them singing. Yes, singing. As in karaoke at top volume. It’s so loud in fact, we can hear it from our living room. Which, for perspective, is at the other end of the house from where their house sits adjacent to ours.

That’s some serious karaoke volume.

At first we just thought they were partying. I mean, it was the holidays and so it made sense for people to have festive gatherings with possibly loud music. But then on Christmas Eve, Mr. Darcy and I snuck over to the edge of our lawn and looked. We could see into their living room window through a sheer curtain. There were holiday lights strung around and the glass was steamed up from the body heat inside. It was between songs and it was clear when someone got on the mic that this wasn’t just the radio we’d been hearing but bona-fide karaoke.

Karaoke in another language so that none of the songs are familiar to us. Does that make this a worse torture or easier?

So it’s now nearing the end of January and still, the random karaokeing continues. Like Friday when I worked from home. The male neighbor was at it around 2 in the afternoon, seemingly all by himself. I filmed this short video of it. This is me standing outside our bedroom window facing their living room (where the karaoke magic happens). (Sorry about videotaping it the wrong way.) (He is performing a rare English song, still unrecognizable to me.)

You guys? They are awful singers. Regardless of the fact that most of the time they are singing in a language I don’t know, they are all tone-deaf. They are like the people who audition for American Idol and suck so hard but swear that people have been telling them their entire lives they are good singers. No. YOU ARE NOT A GOOD SINGER. Maybe get a new hobby.

And why so much karaoke? Are they professionals? Is there a karaoke circuit I don’t know about where people compete for money? Are they planning on starting their own karaoke nightclub and host parties in their house as some sort of pyramid scheme to fund it? WHAT IS GOING ON AND WHY IS IT HAPPENING NEXT DOOR?

Those who follow me on Twitter (and even on Facebook) have heard me lament about this situation already. Whyyyyyyyy karaoke of all things at top volume? Didn’t we leave our urban apartment for this tranquil suburbia to escape such nonsense? Didn’t we suffer enough at the hands of The Music Man back at our old building?

I have written a letter, one in which I hope is taken in a neighborly way, explaining that we can hear their karaokeing from across the entirety of our house and especially in our bedroom where it is often very hard for us to fall asleep. I really just want them to know that it’s bothersome. Because here I am hoping that them knowing it’s a nuisance would mean they would have the good sense and manners to turn down the volume. I always want to believe people will be good and considerate. I’m probably setting myself up for an epic let down, aren’t I?

People have suggested all sorts of tactics in retaliation but since we own this house and have no plans on moving, I think we might want to try a nice approach first before calling the cops on a noise complaint or something. If the letter doesn’t work, then I’m ready to invite you all over so we can go knock on their door en mass with our karaoke song slips in hand. “Hey! We heard there was a karaoke party happening and we’re ready for our turn.”

Who’s in?