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I'm a Victim.

When I was 16 I got yelled at in a parking lot by a stranger. I had exited my (mom's) car and was heading into the mall when this young mother type pushing a stroller stopped me and told me that she was sure I was young and busy but I needed to remember there were other people in the parking lot and to be mindful of my speed because at the rate I was going I could have hit a toddler. In retrospect, I want to tell her an in-the-way toddler would still get hit no matter the rate at which the car was traveling.

Anyway, her confrontation affected me in a very emotional and personal way and on the verge of tears, I called my friend Cedes (pronounced Say-deez) for support. It was later in the evening and I wasn't the type of kid who hung out at the mall. I was on some sort of destination trip and I was so upset. I had only had my license for a few months and this mom had told me I was a trained killer.

Cedes calmed me down and told me all mothers are uptight and the speed limit in malls is 10 mph. I was the type of kid that went the speed limit (seriously). I was a good kid, I doubt I was going any faster than the average person in that parking lot, and gee whiz, lady, I was 16 and I was already working two jobs and only getting to the mall right before it closed.

Once I was calmer I wanted to go find that lady and tell her some things. I wanted to tell her that I understood that she had supernatural mother concerns but that I was being responsible and that I wasn't acting like no one else existed. I wanted to tell her that stereotypes were bad and then tell her my life story. I wanted to tell her how hard I had worked to even get behind the wheel of a car. That I had gotten a job the minute I turned 16 so I could pay for a driver's ed course. That only after I had saved $300 could I even take the class and only then, months and years after everyone I knew, did I procure a driver's license. I wanted to tell her that I was borrowing my mom's car and I wouldn't be able to afford my own until I was 20 and living off student loans so I could go to college. I wanted her to understand ME, who I was! before judging. And apologize for making her (unfoundedly) nervous.

Fast forward to the present day.
[These posts about my neighbors may inform this post:
Why you should feel sorry for me
Crazyville, Population One]

This evening, one of the neighbor dad types (R--'s husband, J--) stopped by to talk to me about the party we had last night. You know, six people staying over late, maybe being a little loud. It wasn't a rager, but I could understand the physics of noise traveling.

I apologized profusely. I told him that I understood where he was coming from and that I would take physics into consideration in the future. I told him that it was helpful to know what was disruptive or how late disruptiveness was occurring so I could be more aware of what the problem was.

Because I DO get that. I don't want to be a bad neighbor. I DON'T want to ruin people's lives by interrupting their sleeping or preventing them from sleeping. I want to be a respectful person. I was to take responsibility for my actions and do my best to respect other people.

And I said ALL THOSE THINGS. I was sweet and apologetic and articulate and he just kept hammering (nicely) into me how serious of an offense this was (or threatened to be). He kept interrupting my apologies to make me feel worse. He told me how many people wake up at 4 in the morning to start their days. He told me that someone in our hood is sick. He told me that there are small children. He told me that his son could hear us even though he was playing music. It was that kind of excessiveness. I was apologetic. I told him it wouldn't happen again and just kept pushing it.

And honestly, the man was exaggerating.

I feel emotional about the situation. I feel exactly like I'm 16 again and a mom is telling me that I don't deserve to drive. I feel invalidated and guilty and so very, very, sorry. I feel regret. I feel the need to turn back time and muffliato our house.

But the infraction occurred at 10 at night. That is not that late. His son stopped by at 10 and said we were being too loud. We apologized and took appropriate measures to decrease our volume. I tried to get J-- to tell me that the noise persisted after that but he didn't say that. He had no idea.

And he didn't know exactly who it was that was sick. Which means he got that second hand. And I know who fed him that tidbit of information. Remember C--? I will bet money that C-- told him that A-- was sick. (C-- also once told me that J-- was a bad husband. And that L--, the diabetic who apparently wakes up at 4, was lazy. Oh, and A-- owes her a million favors she's never paid back.This party drama seems just the thing she could get her bonnet all twisted gossiping about.)

And there are no small children in our district. There are three high schoolers. One of the high schoolers has friends come parading through our yard several times a week.

There are plenty of things about living in such close quarters that are unpleasant to live with. For example, somebody in our district receives a ride at 7:10 a.m. every single morning (even the weekends). I know this because the ride pulls up in the alley at honks three times. THREE TIMES. I wake up every time and curse the honking system.

When people drive the busy street we're next to I can hear their music. If they've got the bass up high I can feel it in the shower. As quaint as it looks, we're not in the Hundred Acre Wood.

Waking up at 4 a.m. is an unfortunate course of life and I'll do what I can to respect that, but it's not my thing. It's not my job to pull the sun down when you want to go to bed early. There has to be a line somewhere.. what is expected and what is crossing the line. Noise from 9 - 10 p.m. in a neighboring house is hardly law-breaking.

When we moved in (in January) we were accepted with open arms. The neighbors were so happy to have some nice girls come. The people before us were hated--they had, after all, had illegal pets and painted the walls crazy colors!--and so the shoes were easy to fill because we weren't them.

But still being what these neighbors want isn't easy. When a new family moved in last month C-- told me she was worried because they looked like gang-bangers. Carolyn and I thought that was a weird statement to make; there were sunflower decorations on the front porch and what is a gang-banger, anyway? But I met them a few days later and it dawned on me that they had been judged on their ethnicity.

I don't want to make excuses. Hell, I don't need to make excuses. I've been having parties here regularly for six months and this is the first time we've drawn attention. (And I know this is the first time because passivity does not exist here.) Our windows are stuck open right now which means the sound is traveling like crazy. I tried to tell J-- this so he would understand why it was so loud and he thought I was just making an excuse. He told me it would be easy, that he or L-- could get them closed. I don't think that's true; every guy I know has felt the need to prove his manliness by trying to close the window and then marveling in the impossibility of it. They're stuck and we're only going to unstick them with a lot of sandpaper.

I just..

I want them to understand that I'm sorry.

And I want them to understand that just because we're young doesn't mean we're disrespectful. (J-- suggested that maybe we party at the beach because that's what he did when he was a kid.)

And just because we're young doesn't mean we're not perceptive of the crazy we're surrounded with.

I can choose to never party but that won't change the 7:10 tri-honks or the bass on the street or the singing cat lady when I'm taking an afternoon nap. Not partying isn't going to cure A--'s illness or L--'s diabetes. We're never going to be able to all be happy--we pay too little rent for that. And I wish everybody could just understand that.

I'm a good person.

And, apparently, really defensive.


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Could be genetic or enculturation - either way, I'm really sorry. :(

Just get those A/C units in and let those puppies hummmmmm away. "White" noise (no racism intended) will diffuse much of the noise. And A/C will mean your windows will be closed.

(Maybe he just wanted an invitation to the party?)

I will never understand people that get so crazy about little things like that. The way I look at it, if you're living within close proximity of other households, sometimes you're going to have to deal with a little bit of noise. I mean, it's not like you're hosting Lollapalooza on your front lawn. Or are you? If so, can I come?

Oh Abigail.

I so strongly relate to this feeling.

One time after I'd had my liscence for only a few months I was supposed to go pick up my 10 year old sister from a birthday party she was at. I wasn't sure where it was and had only hazy directions to the house. I thought I was very very late to pick her up as it was about 2:30 and the party ended at 2. I pulled onto the street going maybe a little fast, but I saw kids in the street up ahead so I slowed down until I was past them, and turned onto the side street where the house was. It was at the end of a cul-de-sac and I jumped out and ran up to the door. When I was let in, I saw that there were many other parents there and the party was not over yet, they were just finishing their cake. I awkwardly stood in a corner while people said "Oh, you're Margaret's daughter!" and tried to engage me in conversation. I have never met any of these people before. I didn't have much to say but I was polite and friendly. After a minute or two, someone starts knocking on the door, and the Dad of the house goes and answers it. There's a woman standing there and she says "Who owns that red van?" I stand up and say "Oh, is it in your way? Do you need me to move it?" And she says "No. How dare you drive so fast, you could have killed some one."

The party goes silent and my heart melts. I start stammering and the Dad says "Let's take this outside." So the angry mom, the Dad and I go outside and she lays into me. "You could have killed someone, I had to scream to get the kids out of the street. You can't drive like that on suburban streets, you have to obey the laws. I was so frightened... You think it's safe for your kids to go outside and play, and then..." She keeps putting her hand to her chest very dramatically and I feel so sublimely embarassed. I honestly don't think I went over 25. I apologised profusely, but I told her I think I was going the speed limit.

I didn't really know what to say. I was so embarrased to be yelled at this woman in front of my mother's friends, all these people thinking God-knows-what about me... and to have this woman tell me I almost killed some little kids, when I was being careful and looking carefully and making sure I was being safe.

Eventually she left, after a few more warnings and some mild hysterics, the Dad and I go silently inside.

None of the moms talk to me now, and I'm bright red and urging Laura to finish her cake so we can leave.

As Laura finishes, one of the moms sidles up to me conspiratorially and whispers; "Don't mind her, she's the neighborhood busy-body." I sort of nodded mutely, unwilling to meet her eyes, but I think it's one of the nicest things anyone's ever done for me.

I think if I had been 21 instead of 16, this woman would have called her a bitch.

Can you even imagine how many people The Borj has made feel that way? Probably hundreds in the course of her tenure in the neighborhood. We should have a support group. I saw her chewing out Guy with A Thousand Cars yesterday and I wanted to raise my fist in solidarity with him.

I would just like to affirm that this was about your neighbor, not about you.

Also, Lauren agrees with me.

So we beat him, 2-1.

Ohhh, I can't stand those types of people. It's like they have nothing better to do than to complain and then go on and on and on and it's all rather hyperbolic and really don't you just wish you could say "I GET IT! BUH-BYE!"?

Alas you're far more polite than I would have been. After the first apology I would have stared at him blankly then possibly shut the door in his face. Because I'm such a great neighbor.

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