When I left San Francisco to move to Seattle, I was very happy to be leaving many small annoyances behind. I was sick of hearing noise from very close neighbors through thin walls. I was sick of ambulance and fire truck sirens, and the F streetcar rumbling by on Market Street. I hated the cigarette smoke wafting into my apartment from a chain-smoking neighbor. I hated the construction on the empty derelict building across the street, too. Public transport was overcrowded and inefficient on the daily. Everything was just getting so stale.

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It hit me yesterday that some of those very things I’d hoped to leave have followed me here to Seattle. I have a chain-smoking older woman who lives above me. This morning, I was sickened as the smoke floated into my bedroom through the open sliding glass door before 6am. Last night, my neighbor’s living room, which is right next to my bedroom wall, had loud sounds from the TV roaring past 11pm. There are no sirens or streetcars where I am now, and for that I am thankful. But to me, cigarette smoke and TV bass is worse…

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There is a building across the street as well, undergoing construction on its façade, which filed for permits after my offer on the condo had been accepted, but before closing, and their permits don’t expire til August 2017! Construction next door for over a year – another inconvenience I’d left in San Francisco, hoping to leave behind forever. And it just so happened to begin right when I was securing my home! Not in the disclosure papers, so the sneaky little bastards managed to get this through without informing me. Maybe I would have backed out of the purchase if I’d known these would crop up!

But having these annoyances creep back into my life after hoping to be rid of them has me pissed off. I did not sleep well last night, and I’m just that little bit of grumpy about it. I’m up in arms and ready to write a damning, shaming nastygram to the smoking neighbor in the elevator for all to see about how to be considerate, and about how I don’t go outside her window after eating all the beans and fart up a nasty storm, polluting her air.

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I’m trying to not act out and to just be cool, but it’s taking every ounce of strength I have this morning. Luckily, it’s Friday. My plans this weekend are to pick up a Zipcar, head over to Home Depot, and go ever further into debt as I select an accent wall paint color and painting supplies for my newly refinished sheet rock in the living room. I also will be enhancing my patio and indoor gardens by procuring some new plants, potting soil, and pots. These are fun little projects I enjoy, so I’m attempting to think about how great it’ll all look when it’s finished, and how I’ll pay off my credit cards in a couple of months and be back in the black again. Home ownership is not for the weary. There is always something to be done, and when one doesn’t have anyone else to whom to hand off the honey-do list, one ends up being the honey-do herself.

So I’ll try not to bite anyone’s head off today, or retaliate against inconsiderate neighbors, but I’m not making any promises.

“We boil at different degrees.” – Clint Eastwood

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Acclimating nicely

It’s been an eventful couple of weeks since you last heard from me, so much so that I haven’t prioritized updating my blog. Sometimes life just takes precedence.

The biggest news by far is that the acquisition of my condo closed on February 29, 2016, after a fair amount of escrow and lending agent drama. I’m no longer living in temporary accommodation in Capitol Hill, but rather in my new home in Lower Queen Anne. New neighborhood, more exploring. Then, there was drama with the lack of customer service from my moving company. However, I wrote a scathing Yelp review after leaving the moving company unreturned voicemails, and within half an hour after posting, I had movers calling me to schedule my delivery. Shocking. That’s all it took? While I never think a business should provide customer service as a primarily reactive response to reviews, the squeaky wheel clearly got the oil in this case. The customer service manager called me 3 times on the day my goods were delivered to try to get me to change the review. All I could think was:

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My bank accounts are empty, but my home is full. All that investing, saving, reallocating of my portfolio, and now I’ve reallocated to real estate in an active and growing market. It’s a new strategy for me, one of which I’m excited to enjoy the benefits. The primary motivator for getting this place was to make sure my kitty, Cheddar, could run up and down the halls, and have all the space he wanted to be a frisky kitten. This past weekend, I heard the pitter patter of the pads of his paws up and down the cork floor hallways and smiled to myself. Home. I had my first home cooked meal in 2 months over the weekend, and have purchased household necessities and groceries (yes, most of it was wine) for day-to-day life.

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I’m still lacking a lot of furniture, but that will all come with time. I did manage to prioritize acquiring outdoor furniture – namely two finished cedar Adirondack chairs and an outdoor dining table, chairs and bench set up, along with covers for all that beautiful wood furniture. Without covers, none of that investment stands a chance in all this rain we’ve been having.

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Nothing was broken in the move, except for something I dropped as I was putting away. My bad. The unpacking process is painful, as I wasn’t the most organized packer (so unlike me, I know.) Learning how to use my Jenn-Air touchpad stove was a feat in and of itself. I was hungover Sunday morning and trying to fry some breakfast sausage, to alleviate the pounding head I was suffering from mixing drinks while out with new friends the night before (rookie move, I know.) Eventually I had to take out the instruction manual and figured it out. It should be easier; this is the twenty-teens. We’re in the future and it should be idiot proof. *drops mic*

Work is still going well, as I’ve been thrown into the deep end on a multitude of projects. I’ve had check-ins with my boss and she thinks I’m picking things up quickly and wouldn’t change anything, so I’ll take that as positive feedback to keep doing what I’m doing. My days are long, arriving by around 6:30am, and leaving after 4:30pm, but that’s mostly by choice. I have time to work out when I want to, and if I’m not motivated, I don’t get too down on myself. It’s a lot different coming home to a 1352 square foot apartment and walking around unpacking, versus coming home to a 419 square foot apartment and planting myself on the couch, immobile. There are also hills in my neighborhood, including 5 stories of steps from one bus stop up to my street up a sharp embankment. But hey, that’s why I have a pseudo view. Here’s to having a fantastic ass within 3 months’ time?

Interactions with neighbors thus far leave much to be desired. So far, I’ve only met the girl next door very briefly (couldn’t remember her name now if you paid me), and another one down the hall who is apparently president of the HOA. I have some passive aggressive neighbor (probably the HOA president) who left me an unsigned note taped to my door when my movers left some boxes with my mailing address on them in the wrong spot near our garbage/recycling, and left the boxes back by my door (so they had time to go get scotch tape after or during dragging the boxes back). Thanks, Seattle. I’m used to having a middle class of scavengers in San Francisco who pick through garbage and achieve the role of a finer filter for recycling, to collect the cash value on cans and bottles, so I blame my privileged San Francisco existence. I also sighted the neighbor above me, an elderly woman, sucking on a cigarette as if her lungs depended on it. So there will likely be friction over cigarette smoke wafting into my condo in summer months. But I figure I’ll save that for when it’s relevant.

All said and done, I’m no longer in the state of flux I was coming to abhor. I’m not fully settled, but I’m getting there. I’m acclimating nicely. Passive aggressive neighbors aside. There’s wine for that – I made sure of it.

Won’t you be my neighbor

Growing up as a young whippersnapper in the suburbs, I had the pleasure of actually knowing my neighbors. As I may have alluded to in posts past, we even had block parties, and built a real sense of community.

In San Francisco, and even in Sydney, I didn’t really know my neighbors. In college, I lived in an apartment that got broken into once, and I began to trust neighbors even less. They weren’t friends. They simply just happened to pay rent and live nearby. It changed a little when I bought a flat with my ex back in 2008, and we got to know the owners of the flat above us. I also got to know the older man who lived next door on the ground floor, since he’d always be outside, chain-smoking his cigarettes, while I landscaped the backyard, painted, or drank my coffee on our deck. Some were annoyances who played thumpy bass, and they existed merely to serve as the subjects of my evil eye and scornful disdain.

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It’s a bit different in the building I live in now. Our fire alarm went off one random day this autumn, and many neighbors bonded while standing outside waiting for the fire department. Our lobby resembled Niagara Falls as the person who owned the apartment directly above it somehow didn’t realize their kitchen sink had overflowed and flooded through. I’d seen some of the people who have apartments on my floor in passing, and I even know some of their first names. One guy on my floor has the cutest cat, and he has a piano in what must be a broom closet, and he plays beautiful music for hours at a time. I say hi to those I meet while doing coin-operated laundry in the basement. In my 10-Q and 10-K posts, I’d mentioned the ongoing rivalry between the grinch who stole neighborly congeniality (the crotchety neighbor) and me. If you weren’t up to speed, the score was 1-1, and I’ve been curious and eager to see what round 3 would have in store.

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This afternoon, we both got off two different elevators at the same time, and I held the door open for her as we walked the same direction down the hall to our adjacent apartments. It was mildly awkward, but I was cordial.

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She invited me in to see her apartment, and so I entered. Besides having a cello, multiple guitars, and other string instruments, she had a middle seat of a van in her living room. Interesting seating option, I commented to her. Her apartment was full of clutter, though mostly organized. She kept the windows closed, and the apartment didn’t seem to get as much natural light as mine does.

In our talks, she expressed that she’s lost 11 people, friends and lovers, ever since 2009. That’s five years of death. I told her I could empathize. As you, dear reader, may have deduced from my explicit mention in many posts, I’ve had my fair share of loss of close loved ones in the past two years. She got to talking about her ex, and the break-up. Turns out crotchety neighbor is a lesbian, too!

I invited her into my apartment after she had done the same, quid pro quo, and all. I wanted to prove to her once and for all I don’t have a subwoofer against her apartment. She ceded that she had been confused when she thought I was being loud, as it was actually the people above her. She almost boasted that she had taken them to court before. A force to be reckoned with, that one.

Her kitchen was dirty; but hell, she indicated she’s been in the building, in the same apartment for 25 years. I’m sure if I lived somewhere for 25 years, I’d look like the Queen of the Hoarders, too. She, too, had seen a mouse in her apartment. We lamented over the sirens that wail down Market Street, and the streetcar that rattles down the tracks all the time except when you need to catch one. She told me she also had a scooter to get around town.

She asked me, hopefully, when she saw my apartment, if I played any musical instruments. I dashed her hopes with a hard no. She asked about the paintings on the wall my father did, and she asked about the huge piece I have by a local San Francisco artist. She asked about the photos I’d converted to canvas for a nominal fee – photos I took in Ibiza, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and Hawaii.

It’s funny. She started out writing me a nastygram about noise when I first moved in, and the tension between us had been palpable ever since. In six months, she never said hi, banged on the walls, and then finally worked up the nerve to knock on my door when she thought my bass was on high. I thought she was lonely, and it turns out she truly was. She said she didn’t have many more friends left. I told her, that she can always make new friends.

That is what we did today. The cello-playing, scooter-riding, lesbian and I are now friends. We agreed in the new year, we’d share a coffee or a drink to possibly build some neighborly goodwill. Now that we are on slightly better terms,

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‘Tis the season, indeed.