Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Won't You Be My Neighbor

I have had a lot of neighbors in my life. Most have been decent and normal but like everything else in life, I've also had some pretty awful neighbors too.  In New Orleans, I had every variety of neighbor you can imagine. My “favorites” include:

·      The drug dealer—Nothing says neighbor of the year like the police pounding on your door at all hours asking questions about this moron. I have never figured out why my landlord put up with him.
·      The guy that looked like Riki Rachtman from Headbangers Ball—I had a huge crush on this guy. He was super nice too and fun to hang out with during hurricanes.
·      The guy that looked like Iggy Pop—Iggy and Riki lived in the same building so I always think of this apartment as the Rock N Roll Apartment. Iggy lived directly above me, listened to a lot of music I love (although louder than I would have liked) and fixed the pilot light on my water heater the day I moved in. He was a little intimidating but awesome.
·      The family that lived across from the cemetery—I lived a block away from a cemetery and this family lived right across the street. They were very nice but I always wondered if the little kids (they were around 5 or 6) had nightmares.

Even before Katrina, the neighbors I had tended to look out for one another. I was the only female in the building and the guys (Riki and Iggy primarily) made sure I made it to my apartment when I got home late and kept an eye on things when I was out of town. They were good eggs and I missed them all after the storm. Only one came back to the building.

When I moved to Virginia I didn’t get to know any of my neighbors. They fell into two categories:
1.     People I said hello to on the stairs or by the mailbox or in line at the shuttle. Conversation was limited to the weather, the lateness of the shuttle and maintenance in the complex.
2.     Annoying people. This included the bird people who moved in a few months before I left and the girl I call “bail bond girl.” She had skipped multiple court dates for writing bad checks and the bail bondsmen came by once to ask everyone in the building about. All I could tell him was that she had a much older boyfriend (like grandpa older).

California has been more like Virginia. In my last apartment, I didn’t really know anyone and considered most people pretty annoying. I had a lot of noisy and messy building neighbors. (Seriously, is it hard to clean up your mess in a shared laundry room?) My next-door neighbor was nice enough (she let me use her phone when I got locked out once) but she was a TMI kind of person. The first time we met, she told me way too much about her ex-girlfriend, their financial situation and her job. I was always a little overwhelmed by her in our rare exchanges (usually when the fire alarm went off) and we didn’t become neighbor friends.

My new building is quiet. I’ve only met one person officially (my next-door neighbor). We met the day I moved in but I haven’t seen her since. I’ve said hello to lots of others, held the door and elevator for people and had an awkward conversation about my Who Dat Nation t-shirt with a guy in the laundry room. I’m sure I’ll meet more of these folks as time passes (I’ve only been in the building 2 months). Here’s my favorite thing about this neighbors so far: they leave random things on a communal table in the foyer. I wish I was better at taking pictures every time someone leaves something but I’m never prepared. I’ve benefitted from this practice—someone left an unopened box of cat litter (the brand I buy). You can bet I took that. Cat litter is pricey and Pumpkin doesn’t have a job (being cute is not a profession).

Anyway, I did manage to take pictures of three of the oddest things I’ve seen on the table since I moved in. People have left a Costco size jar of snack mix, jeans, a holiday gift bag and magazines (thank for the Lady Gaga issue of Vanity Fair). None of those things seemed particularly odd. 
The bear-he started out by the trash in the garage. I couldn't help thinking there was a reason he was there.

Who doesn't love a boyfriend pillow? I haven't seen one of these since 1995.

This was today. And the ham is gone. So someone bought the canned ham, decided they didn't like it and someone else they decided they wanted to enjoy that. I'm just going to say gross.

Maybe this will be a regular post from the Island: what weird thing is on the table today?


  1. I read this as my upstairs neighbor (wanna-be 38-year-old hipster who is "studying" to be a DJ - his words, not mine) is repeatedly chasing his dog back and forth across his living room floor. Again, I know this is what he's doing because he's told me. He's trying to give his dog, who sports a jacket and shoes outside, some exercise. At least it's better than the weekend he had an, ahem, enthusiastic lady friend.

    1. So timely and I'm glad it's not just me! How does one "study" to be a DJ and why do animals have to get dressed up? I know it's cold there but do you think they like that? I hope it's not a large dog; that would be awful.

      I didn't mention my other neighbor who also has an "enthusiastic lady friend." I wish the walls in my apartment were thicker.