May 6, 2014

Sleepless in Pennsylvania

Back in mid-March, I was so happy when I found my new apartment. It's clean, good sized and affordable, in the city but close to the suburbs, only a mile from my relatives, and it has an outstanding view. (I just might post some photos of that view.)

I should have known it was too good to be true. What do you do when you have neighbors who just won't stop partying?

The first Saturday in my new apartment, the people upstairs, whom I now refer to as Mr. and Mrs. Flaming Asshole, partied with some of their special friends until 3:30 a.m. A week later, it happened again, and at quarter to two, I got up and dressed and dragged myself upstairs, knocked on their door, and asked them politely if they could please keep it down.

The next day, Mrs. Flaming Asshole came down, banged on my door, and yelled at me -- at length, even -- for daring to complain about her. She'd lived here for five years, she told me, and had the right to make as much noise as she wanted whenever she liked, as if there is such a thing as apartment house tenant seniority. She told me loudly that she has her surroundsound speakers on the floor because that's where she wants them, and that my apartment should have stayed empty and I should have asked about my future neighbors before I moved in. (I did, and the building manager said the building was quiet.) Mrs. Flaming Asshole went on to say that she would complain to the building manager about me, and she did. The building manager thought someone complaining about the right to make noise at night was pretty funny.

You know what? It's not funny. Especially since the Flaming Assholes have escalated their partying to five nights a week. (Maybe it's spring fever.) When I moved here, finally free of my full time job, I had happy dreams of spending a lot of time writing and painting, as well as spending time with my family and friends. Instead, I'm spending a lot of time staggering around half asleep and feeling like shit, and taking a lot of naps. My cats are confused, too. They're accustomed to me waking up semi-cheerfully at 6:30 a.m. and feeding them, not swearing at them for waking me up.

I usually sleep like a rock and have intricate dreams about wandering through public buildings that are set up like mazes, so I've never dealt with serious sleep deprivation before. According to WebMD, sleep deprivation can cause all sorts of mean nasty ugly things, such as cognitive impairment and reduced quality of life. I can attest that both now apply to me. I wanted to be halfway through my Orange is the New Black season one reviews by now, but instead I've been postponing, hoping for a couple of full night's sleep in succession so that I can think again. WebMD also says that in the long term, chronic sleep deprivation can contribute to depression, heart attack and stroke. Very encouraging.

So what can I do?

Yes, I've complained to the building manager, verbally and in writing. That hasn't helped yet. I've thought seriously about curses, voodoo dolls and crossroad deals. (Okay, not that seriously.) (Okay, just a little bit seriously.) I've thought about moving again but dammit, I like this apartment, I signed a lease, and moving would be a financial blow to my careful budget, plus I just moved three thousand freaking miles! Moving is a lot of physical effort that I don't want to go through again just weeks after the last time. From things that the building manager and Mrs. Flaming Asshole have said, I suspect the previous tenant chose to move out and pay off his lease instead of dealing with the Assholes. Financially, I just don't have that choice.

There's always playing "The Ride of the Valkyries" at top volume at six in the morning, but that would disturb the other tenants in the building and I'm not the confrontational sort. Several times I've thought longingly of my long time boyfriend and former fiance John, who at times reminded me of Jack Bauer. He would have gone upstairs and intimidated the crap out of them, and they would have never partied after 10 pm again. Oh, well.

My only remaining option is to start calling the police when it gets bad, but what if it makes them furious? I've seen enough movies in which some little thing escalates into an armed conflict. In fact, I just saw the movie Homefront the other night where it happened to Jason Statham. I'm nowhere near as buff or well-armed as Jason Statham.

In fact, after I wrote the complaint letter, I kept expecting the Flaming Assholes, singularly or together, to bang on my front door and spew threats. Daniel and I kept the door locked that evening and decided to check through the peep hole if someone knocked, and not to answer the door if it was them.

Sure enough, there was a loud knock on the door. Daniel went and looked through the peep hole, and then he opened the door and spoke with someone. He came back into the living room and sat down, a huge grin on his face. I said, "Who was it?" And he said, "It was a nun." We laughed like loons. Apparently, the nun was looking for someone from her church and had the wrong building.

Maybe that was a sign. I hope so.

Update: June 10, 2014

Calling the cops twice did no good because they didn't issue citations. The building manager told us that the cops are very reluctant to cite because they're aware that two citations equal eviction. The last time I called the police, Saturday after midnight, the entire building was shaking, but it seems that isn't enough. The building manager is now treating me like I'm the problem, that I'm just too sensitive to noise. (Yeah, I'm really sensitive to drug parties taking place above my head from midnight until 3:30 in the morning. Silly me.)

So calling the police and complaining to management has done nothing, and it looks like it won't ever accomplish anything. Unless I pay the cost of breaking my lease, or pay for a lawyer to help me get out of the lease and then pay moving expenses, I'm trapped here until next March.

The only good thing about this situation is that I can watch television and write reviews any time. So I have decided to try to change my lifelong sleep schedule to coincide with those inconsiderate assholes upstairs. And then I can move out at the end of March. Possibly into an RV or travel trailer, which is what I wanted to do in the first place; I just didn't have the money. I might have it by next March.

Thanks for all of the comments, support and advice. I really, really appreciate it.

Update: December 16, 2014

It got somewhat quieter after I called the police twice, even though the people upstairs continued to party three or four times a week. I bought earplugs for sleeping and just put up with them constantly playing loud dance music nights and weekends. A month or so ago, I decided that holding hate in my heart for them was doing me no good, so every time I got angry, I tried to reverse it and wish them well. I meditated and sent them good thoughts, praying that they would find their heart's desire and that whatever that heart's desire was, it would lead them away from this particular apartment. I'm not religious, but it probably meets the definition of prayer.

I kept those good thoughts going in their direction for a couple of weeks. Yes, I'm not Mother Theresa and it didn't last and I eventually got angry again. But the thing is, two weeks of good wishes might have worked. This Saturday, early, we heard the pitter patter bing bang thump of people tramping around and boxes hitting the floor, and to my utter delight, they moved out. (Who moves out in the middle of December?) I felt euphoric all weekend. And now it's so wonderfully quiet.

Of course, we don't know who is going to move in now. Let's hope for the best.


17 comments:

Austin said...

Fight fire with fire. Thump loudly on the ceiling whenever they are asleep. Nonstop. Get something automated of you can. Heck, pound like a maniac of their door and run away. Don't stop until they get the point.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what the law says in PA, here in Spain is sadly way too permissive for this kind of thing.

I had the same kind of neighbours in the upper floor. Worse, their living room was over our bedroom, and they would party every saturday until 6AM, and then go to work at 6.30 (!!!). Friday and Saturday where the only nights I could sleep at large, so it was really hard on me to lose one of the only two nights I had to truly rest.

They didn't stop even when the police came, took some measures of them breaking about every municipal noise limit, and got fined 500 euros after two years of the fine bouncing through every municipal office in town.

In the end, I contacted some kind of Noise Victims group, and one of them was very frank. He told me: "with this kind of assholes, you only have two options: you either fight, literally (hire someone if you're not big), or you move".

I'm not the fighting kind of guy (morally AND phisically), so I moved. At the time, I felt remorse. In hindsight, best thing I ever did.

I wish those bastards the worst. I wish they got some neighbour that doesn't let them sleep EVER (and that magically doesn't affect any of the other neighbours).

But the important thing is: I can sleep now.

There are laws now in Spain that will throw that kind of people out of their own home for 1 month, 3, 6 if the reccur. But they're still in their infancy.

You never know how damned important your sleep is until someone denies it to you. Do whatever you must to recover your sleep. Sue them. Sue your manager if he lied to you. But recover your sleep.

Best of luck to you.

Suzanne said...

I am so sorry to hear you are going through this! Problems like this with neighbors are the worst. I nearly lost my mind one summer when my neighbor was younger and was fond of holding late night outdoor parties with karaoke machines. He also adopted two dogs that summer and decided it was a good idea to leave them outside in a small yard for 12 to 16 hours every day. They were hounds so they howled constantly. Like you, I thought I could reason with him one night when he had the karaoke machine going right outside my toddler's window at 3 a.m., but quickly realized that there was no reasoning with a drunk, self-centered bachelor. You can imagine some of the expletives that came my way that night.

Luckily, he has grown over the years and seems to have calmed down. He also realized that taking care of dogs when you are never home is impossible. I hope your situation gets better in a hurry!

sanyara said...

Establish when they get up in the morning at weekends & run powertools below their bedroom an hour earlier... superglue their locks while they're out.... put catcrap in their mail box... none of which will stop the noise, but each retaliating step might make you feel a little better.

Billie Doux said...

Thanks so much for the comments. I so appreciate the support and suggestions.

Here's a mini-update.

The Flaming Assholes got the word and are indeed quieter, although of course, who knows how long that will last. The building manager is now pretending that our earlier conversations never happened, and that the FAs are fine tenants, that I can't get out of my lease unless I pay a penalty, and that the cops probably won't consider the FAs to be noisy enough. In other words, she's doing a balancing act because it's her job, and hey, I get it. I'm just angry that I was told the building was quiet just so I would sign the lease, and that she knew it wasn't true. I was tricked.

We're ready for the next steps: police, lawyers, etc. Maybe it will be quiet for awhile. I'll post an update in a few weeks.

franni1 said...

In case they start up again, have a look at the remote control helicopter on https://stacksocial.com/ (my other half spotted it) - it fires missiles, might be with a bit of practice you could shoot out their speakers??

Seriously, how long are you locked into the lease for?

Billie Doux said...

The lease is for a year.

It's been quiet for four whole nights now, including Friday and Saturday nights. They've never missed partying on Friday and Saturday nights. Fingers crossed.

franni1 said...

Well, we have to hope that the building manager said enough to them to make them settle down, even if she is denying your conversation. Will cross fingers & light a candle!

Gavrielle said...

Great to know things are improving! Long may it continue.

Austin said...

What's the latest on this, Billie?

Billie Doux said...

It was quiet for about ten days after the letter. This past weekend, it started up again. The next time, I'm going to call the police. It's either that or move, and I'm just not willing to move.

Thanks for asking. :)

Austin said...

Ok, it's been one month exactly. What's the latest? Sorry I'm so fascinated. I had a horrible experience at an apartment where I had to call the cops 3 times when people outside were partying at 2 a.m. Finally I lost it one night and went outside and just let loose a torrent of the foulest language and the top of my lungs. I eventually moved lol.

Billie Doux said...

It did start up again, and I did call the police. And now it's quiet again. Until the next time.

Thanks for asking, Austin. I think things like this tend to go on for awhile before they're resolved.

Billie Doux said...

Update: June 10, 2014

Calling the cops twice did no good because they didn't issue citations. The building manager told us that the cops are very reluctant to cite because they're aware that two citations equal eviction. The last time I called the police, Saturday after midnight, the entire building was shaking, but it seems that isn't enough. The building manager is now treating me like I'm the problem, that I'm just too sensitive to noise. (Yeah, I'm really sensitive to drug parties taking place above my head from midnight until 3:30 in the morning. Silly me.)

So calling the police and complaining to management has done nothing, and it looks like it won't ever accomplish anything. Unless I pay the cost of breaking my lease, or pay for a lawyer to help me get out of the lease and then pay moving expenses, I'm trapped here until next March.

The only good thing about this situation is that I can watch television and write reviews any time. So I have decided to try to change my lifelong sleep schedule to coincide with those inconsiderate assholes upstairs. And then I can move out at the end of March. Possibly into an RV or travel trailer, which is what I wanted to do in the first place; I just didn't have the money. I might have it by next March.

Thanks for all of the comments, support and advice. I really, really appreciate it.

Remco said...

I would keep calling the police every time. They probably won't get evicted any time soon, but at least it gets your neighbors a reputation. And if at all possible, forge friendships with your building manager and the other neighbors, who must also have problems with them. Make your upstairs neighbors the problem, not yourself.

And then, when March comes and they are still a problem, just move out. It may not be fair, but at least you can sleep.

Billie Doux said...

Christmas came early this year. I just added an update to this post (see above) because my hideous neighbors moved out!

Natasha said...

In the past, I've tried all that forgiveness-stuff, being nice and wishing my enemy well, too. It almost gave me ulcers. Life's so much better since I endorse healthy, self-assertive aggression. And I'm a much better human being.


In case you ever encounter such lowlives such as your ex-neighbors again, I greatly recommend righteous, unapologetic rage in combination with a cool and calculating strategy. Teach them a lesson. Even when you move out, you did human evolution a favor.