Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Novocaine for the Soul...

"...before I sputter out." - The Eels

Today was not that great a day. It was one of those days where I felt trapped - trapped in this building, trapped in this city, trapped in this life. It happens to everyone (right?) but today it made it darned hard to get anything done. I'm afraid that these feelings have informed pretty much everything about today, including this blog post.

Sarah and I (well, mostly "I") have been talking about getting out of Toronto for quite some time, now. It's been years since I felt a kinship with the city I grew up in but every day I feel more and more out-of-step here. I imagine some of it is just me feeling my age and growing intolerance for things that bug me, but that's not all of it. And when we do go, there are several things I will never miss: the incivility, the traffic, the growing lack of shame and the horribly misplaced sense of entitlement. But there is one thing I will miss even less.

The noise.

We live in an area of town that, while not the suburbs, is not a high-traffic area. On top of that, we overlook a beautiful park system, a huge play area and ball diamond, and we do so from 20 storeys up. In the summer months that play area is alive with activity and it's great fun to watch from our balcony - especially on Canada Day (as this slightly blurry picture shows). And yet every day it seems a new bit of noise pollution is added to the mix and it's gotten to the point where there is not a moment of silence in my life at any point of any day. We need to keep various "white noise"-style machines going 24 hours a day; we've recently had to turn on a fan in our room and point it at the door (the fan would make us cold) because it's the only thing that will allow us to sleep through an intermittent buzzing that comes from the roof all day long. It happens about every 6-7 minutes, it only lasts 6-7 seconds, but it's quite loud and it sounds like a machine trying to start up and failing. Nobody in our building seems to be able to make it stop.

Regular readers of my Facebook page will also know about the children running up and down our halls (although this seems to have stopped this month) and the drum circle that took place in the park below us every dry day last summer and is threatening to begin again already. There are also a pair of children who get out of school each day and head for the park with their moms to do nothing but scream at each other at the top of their lungs. This is not just "kids being kids"; it's not even a case where they are just "squealing" with delight while playing. That is a delightful sound; this is not. These two hellions stand there and scream and scream and scream without really doing anything else. Sometimes only one is in the park, in which case that child will stand and scream at the other children until eventually everyone else gets fed up and leaves. What is wrong with these parents? I wasn't allowed to do this; neither were my kids nor the kids of any of my friends. It's incredibly thoughtless and it's dangerous: much like a car alarm that goes off all the time, if something ever was wrong with these kids (or really any kids in that park) nobody would care because we're all sick of the screaming.

Well, this week a new contributor to the noise pollution has signed up. In one of the facing apartments a few floors down (our building is in kind of a "curve" and this adds to the noise issues) a group of people - I have counted at least 6 different adults at various times - have taken to sitting outside on the balcony all day long and blasting their horrible music to the world. Would it make it better if the music were not horrible? No, it really wouldn't...but it's still really, really bad. They also like to sit there smoking, tapping their ashes over the railing (nice) and spitting off the balcony (really nice) and don't really seem to have anything else to do. This is the time of year when we like to have a window open for Addie (and for us) but the past couple of days I have either had to keep them all closed or put my iPod on while they are open so I don't go completely crazy while doing my work.

Who said "too late"? I will find you. Nobody likes a smartass.

Anyhow, it's all a bloody shame because when we first moved into this unit 7 years ago we were coming out of a terrible building and were thrilled at the view, the stairs (yes, inside our apartment there are stairs!), the location and, most of all, the quiet. Now, between the lights being stolen from the elevators, the potheads all around us, the noise levels continuing to climb, the constant issues with the water and - new today - the fantastic smell of paint thinner spewing down the hall from some unit or another (it's really, really vile), well...there are many times that we feel we might as well be living in a tenement. Considering what we pay for rent here, it's a ridiculous situation.

Well. Not my happiest blog post but certainly one of the more cathartic ones. If you've made it this far, here is your reward - a baby sloth holding a stuffed giraffe:

I feel better already.

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I've kept my comments open and moderation-free for many years, but I've been forced to now review them before they post due to the actions of one member of my family. I apologize for having to take this stance, but that's the way the world is headed, sad to say. Thank you for your understanding.

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