Tuesday, October 4, 2016

WTF Is She Doing Up There?

My sleep-cycle is both regular and irregular.  It’s regular in that it tends to be pretty consistent.  I go to bed early and get up late. 
It’s irregular because I usually wake up at about 3 AM and read for an hour or more, and then lie there cogitating on various things.

I live in a rooming-house/apartment building, and I live on the first floor.  My upstairs neighbor is “a woman of a certain age” who very nosy and very noisy.  I find nosy people deeply offensive.  Curious people are fine.  Nosy people are an excrescence on the landscape.

My upstairs neighbor is also loud, but that’s a different thing from noisy.  Sometimes one has to do things that are loud, like firing a cannon.  Now, there’s no way to fire a cannon without being loud.  So as long as it isn’t being fired at me or my dog, I’m mostly OK with that.  Of course there are people who like being loud for the sake of being loud, or who are feckless idiots who don’t even know they’re being loud.

Noisy is something else.  It suggests a lack of concern for avoiding unnecessary noise that could be annoying to others.  Sometimes it even indicates a positive joy in annoying others.  I don’t know if my neighbor falls into that category, but I suspect that she does.  The main source of this suspicion centers on her answer to a question I asked her one time.  It’s one of those questions that the answer to which is useful for assessing the character of the person to whom they are put.  The question is:  

Which would you rather be – right or happy?

Now, although it is certainly possible that some of them are lying, nearly everyone I have ever asked that question of has said “happy.”  It’s the sensible, ethical and reassuring answer to the question.  
Anyone who answers “right” is probably going to vote for Donald Trump.  (May he rot in Hell.)  In any case, they are not someone I would loan my car to, or want to have standing behind me much.

So my neighbor is noisy, has a suspected deficiency of character, and is also (evidently) an insomniac.

The Japanese used to use a system of describing the time of day or night which divided the day into twelve segments, each distinguished by the name of an animal in the Asian Zodiac.  It worked like this:

Now, it occurred to me this morning at 3AM as I lay quietly in my bed reading, that the noises emanating from directly above me had a very specific quality.  They sounded as if some large, ungainly creature like a manatee or a tapir was rooting about in the area under my neighbor’s computer desk.  The noise consisted soft scrapings, rustlings, and bumping which caused me to picture a massive creature foraging for acorns or something in the forest duff beneath the printer-stand.  

I was experiencing this set of sounds characteristic of the “Hour of the Tapir.” 

I don’t know if you know anything about Tapirs.  I know a little.  They are distantly related to horses – something about the number and arrangement of their toes – so I am not entirely ill-disposed to them.  But.  They are also related to the rhinoceros, which, however sympathetic you may be to them because of their dwindling numbers, you must admit that they can be very disagreeable indeed when encountered in their natural habitat.

Tapirs are dangerous.  They savage people  As was recounted on a Scientific American website, “There are two responses that people might give to this news. (that tapirs are dangerous) One is… OMG, you mean tapirs are dangerous? In which case, the answer is: yes, they’re big (150-250 kg), strong, rhino-like animals with dangerous teeth and a renowned unpredictability which makes them especially dangerous. The second response is… duh, of course tapirs are dangerous: they’re big, strong rhino-like animals with dangerous teeth and a renowned unpredictability which makes them especially dangerous. Did I mention that they’re dangerous?”


So, here’s my neighbor, rooting around under her desk, scraping and shuffling in “The Hour of the Tapir.”  Lucky me…

As I lay there, attempting to read a scholarly treatise on peasant uprisings in Japan, (I was too!), It came to me that I must append other animal titles to the remaining eleven of the solar divisions of my noisy neighbor’s day (and night).  

So I have, and here they are.

My neighbor commences her day by trotting around her apartment in slippers that may be pink and fuzzy, but are obviously equipped with solid oak soles which make quite a racket on her bare, wood floors.  Clackity-clack-clack.  Hence, the Hour of the Llama.

She evidently experiences gravity surges as the day wears on, as her footfalls become heavier, and take on a sound that would be made by a rather heftier creature.  On with the Hour of the Rhino.

The next six hours are apparently devoted to exercising her lungs, as she puts her phone on speaker mode. (Whether she is inside her rooms or wallowing in the claw-foot tub in the great, echoing cavern of the communal bathroom next door.)

It starts as mildly irritating quacking, but as the sun nears the meridian it rises to a crescendo of honking and shrieking like a goose or a cockatoo, respectively.  Hence the avian triumvirate of the Hours of the Duck, Goose and Parrot.

During the hour of the Anklyosaurus she gets down to the heavy lifting, shoving and dragging things about for the day.  Vacuuming is accomplished with seeming savage fury.  All hail the Hour of the Anklyosaurus - scrape, crash, boom, bang!

The Hour of the Snake is quieter.  There are echoes of the Hour of the Duck and Goose, and sometimes a strange, sibilant sound that might be produced by a serial killer dragging about the mangled and oriental rug-lapped corpse of his latest victim.  Who knows what that is?  Hence the somewhat sinister Hour of the Snake.

Shortly after dark she gets her second wind and does a sort of encore of the Parrot.  It is the Hour of the Cockatoo.  (Or should we call it the Talk-atoo?)

Which brings us back to the Hour of the Tapir - the time of mysterious snufflings and scrapings, which segues into some of the stranger time periods.  

The Squirrel is a creature of erratic bursts of activity - burrowings, skitterings and gnawing.  This blends into the Flying Squirrel, which seems to be the time of night to rummage through the recycling, drag boxes about, and sort (and spill) arcane collections of small objects like plastic boxes full of lawn irrigation system parts, or socks full of marbles that somehow escape.

This, in turn, segues into the Squirrel Monkey period.  This is time that things get dropped or lobbed.  Across the room?  Off the bed?  Things that could be shoes, hairbrushes, a can of baked beans?  I have no idea, but fortunately I am a sound sleeper and usually miss this bit.  

So there you have it.  The march of the hours living beneath my neighbor.  Fortunately she does go away a lot, so it isn't constant, but that does make the racket when she's home contrast unfavorably with the peace when she's away. 
And now for something not entirely different:

Watch it HERE

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