The Fallback Plan for Nightmarish Neighbors
The Fallback Plan is a weekly column, offering advice to those undergoing a second adolescence, written by Leigh Stein, author of The Fallback Plan, newly released from Melville House. For an illustrated fallback plan of your own, write to Leighstein@thefastertimes.com
Dear Leigh Stein,
I have other problems, but the problem I’m writing you with today is this: I hate my neighbor. For 6 years I have lived abover her. She blasts (BLASTS) her TV all day and all night as well as keeps radios going in other rooms of her apartment at the same time. She plays a radio stationed at her front door to, what, keep bad spirits away? I believe she gets high on noise. She lives alone. She is surly and has been taken to court by 1) other neighbors for harassment 2) the condo association for not paying common charges. Unfortunately, I own my apartment and can’t sell it because of the wretched housing market. Unfortunately, I own my apartment and must pay not only my own but her common charges. Our maintenence fees keep going up because she never intended to pay the fees and now owes more than $30,000 in back payments. She doesn’t answer the door when the police come to try to make her turn down her noise. She is broke and can’t pay the fines that keep mounting against her. She ain’t going anywhere. My 3 year old daughter hears her thumping and raging in the night every night. I’m feeling murderous. Help.
Stuck in Jersey City
I see two ways this could go: revenge or resignation.
If you choose revenge, I would suggest getting your three-year-old involved, collecting small bugs that can be released under the door of your nemesis. You could also cover your daughter’s hands in red finger paint, and allow her to stamp her tiny paws all over the neighbor’s door in the dead of night. Basically be a nuisance, and when her radio shatters your life, take comfort in the fact that you are getting her back.
If you choose resignation, take comfort in the fact that, unlike her, you’re not going deaf. Spend more time outdoors. (Even in New Jersey, spring will come eventually.) Go all out Emily Dickinson on her ass, and lower baskets of cookies out of your window to hers. When she blares her TV, tell your daughter that the sad lady is at it again, and make up a song about it. Sad lady, sad lady, what do you see? Slip paper cranes of peace under her door.
Whatever you do, know that you are setting an example for your daughter on how to deal with crazy people. Either she will grow up to be a bitchin’ killer like Saoirse Ronan in the film Hanna, or a saintly beauty like Lady Sybil Crawley on Downton Abbey, who’s been on my mind a lot lately because I just lost two weekends of my life to this show.
Best of luck,
Illustration by Grace Do
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