When I was couch surfing at one of my brothers' apartment in Oakland, I learned a lesson in patience and suffering. My brother lived in a loft building within spitting distance of the rebuilt Highway 80, near the off-ramp for 880, I think. If you had the windows open, you were subjected to an aural assault of zooming cars, downshifting trucks, and struggling transmissions. A fine, black grit would drift in and settle on any still surface. This detritus of the road consisted of tire dust and engine exhaust. If the wind was right, this foul breeze would blend with the odors of the coffee roasting factory down the road and the vending machine pastry factory next adjacent to the former building in which I suffered. These strange mixtures warped my senses and I was unable to enjoy a cup of coffee while I rode the foam in Oakland nor have I eaten a vending pastry since.
All of the previous was minor compared to the upstairs neighbors. The floors of the lofts were hardwood, as it was a converted warehouse, and the heathen bastards residing in the apartment above were kind souls and take in every dog they saw abandoned on the highway. These dogs would bark and yowl, yip and growl, whine and howl all the live long day. These dogs would scrape and scramble across the hardwood floor in a pack and it was difficult to retain my Zen-like calm at being an unemployed college dropout. In addition to the noise, the new dogs to the pack would urinate on the floor or disrupt the collective water sources and liquids would percolate through the ceiling into my brother's unit. This was bad but it was not the worst for these neighbors had another bad habit.
The upstairs neighbors also liked to watch the TV at volumes one does not hear outside of assisted living facilities full of stubborn old biddies who don't want to turn on their hearing aids because the batteries will run down. I can recall a night, within a month of the premiere of The Two Towers, when I was watching The Fellowship of the Ring on television at the same time the neighbors were. I heard a strange echo and checked the speaker connections and settings. After checking everything, I realized that the echo was coming from upstairs. I wasn't hearing an echo of the TV and stereo output, I was hearing the echo of the the neighbor's system upstairs. I muted our television and was able to continue watching the movie with the sound muted and not miss any of the audio. My brother walked out of his room and asked me to turn it down during one of the commercials that was particularly loud. When I explained the situation, I recall him looking at the ceiling and saying, "oh, those assholes." This was not the worst.
One of the upstairs neighbors broke a leg shortly before The Dog deposited me in Oakland. The genius got the idea that rolling around his apartment in an office chair would be easier than limping around on crutches. I imagine that all the dogs would be more likely to stay away from a careening chair than a disabled guy hobbling around on sticks. Their hardwood floor and the eighteen foot ceiling in my brother's unit created a lovely acoustic effect that magnified the rumbling noise of the neighbor's office chair into an earthquake sensor affecting and insanity inducing clatter. If the man in the poem had hear such a clatter, he would have called the National Guard to complain about the tank division that had landed on his lawn. This was not the worst.
These upstairs neighbors were also artists. One of them worked with canvas, paints, and textures. The other worked with rocks, chainsaws, and power drills. I can not be certain, but I think he dropped a chunk of rock on his leg shortly before I slouched into town. Every morning at 9:15 am after his leg had healed enough to work, he would open the throttle on his chainsaw and get to work. He would hack and carve and make such a racket. The chunks of stone would slam onto the ceiling with a mighty thump. The drills would whine and scream. The dogs would bark and howl. I was never able to sleep through this clamorous creation process. Could I reasonably ask them to be quiet? This was his sole source of income as far as I knew, and despite my newfound propensity for art criticism, I also felt that as an unregistered and unpaid tenant of the building, my concerns were less likely to improve the situation as they were to improve my immediate need for a new residence. The situation could not have been less accommodating to sanity but I suffered through it and would bitch, moan, and complain as soon as I found a sympathetic ear. I hope that I was humorous in my retelling of the trials of Job but I doubt it.
These trials are now more than five years in the past. I have moved past and through the shattering cacophony into a mind of peace. I tell you all this now not as a warning to those that might move into that residence but as a warning to those visiting my current residence BECAUSE I THINK THESE FUCKERS MOVED IN UPSTAIRS! I woke this morning to a pounding, clattering, thumping such as I have not heard since the stonecarver in Oakland. This time it shall be different. This time I will not sit nor stand for the aural abuse. HAHAHAHA THIS TIME I HAVE A HAMMER, JACKASS! AND ALL OF MY PROBLEMS LOOK LIKE NAILS!