I’ll readily admit that I’m not the smartest person in the world, but I know that acting in anger only leads to more anger, retaliation, and the next thing you know the Navy SEALs are sent in, when the whole situation could have been avoided with simple words.
After giving myself a day and a half to rage about the lolcat, (also, here) I came up with several revenge plans–which are much funner to plan than to enact, especially if you’ve got enough foresight to envision the consequences–then made a decision as to what I should do. And, when I’m trying to smooth things over, what I do usually involves baking.
Today, I made a batch of bread, and left one of the loaves on the lolcat’s doorstep, along with this letter:
Please accept this homemade whole wheat bread, and my apologies. I feel like there is an animosity between us that, as neighbors, we can ill afford. I am sorry that my dogs are noisy at times, but I want to make my position known.
I have spent most of my life battling severe emotional disorders—I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder at the age of ten, and my depression often manifests itself in the form of anxiety. I have spent a lifetime talking to therapists and trying to find the right combination of drugs that would get me, if not to normal, than at least to functional. Over the years I’ve learned that acting in the heat of emotion never results in the outcome desired, so I’ve allowed myself a couple of days to calm down, and collect my thoughts and feelings. I wish I was a brave enough person to explain all this in person, but I am not.
I share this with you not as an excuse, but as an explanation of how important Max and Lulu are. It’s been three years since they’ve come to live with me. In that time, I’ve been able to completely cease both psychotherapy and drug treatment—and it’s because of my dogs. On my very worst days, the days when I don’t want to get out of bed, I still have to, because Max and Lulu need me. They calm me down when I’m anxious. They cheer me up when I’m sad. They have quite literally saved my life—when I lost my job last year, I was suicidal, but I couldn’t abandon my dogs. The simple fact that before I could do anything to harm myself, I needed to provide for their care and welfare prevented me from doing anything rash.
Max and Lulu were adults when I acquired them. Their previous owners had done an excellent job with most of their training, but socialization was lacking. However, as the previous owners live on a side street in a quiet, rural town the fact that they would bark at passing vehicles or pedestrians wasn’t as big of a deal.
When they came to live with me three years ago, everything seen and heard outside the windows would set them off. Passing vehicles, people on foot, the roosters in the pen to the east, the trains, the birds…everything. I spent a lot of time teaching them to be apartment dogs, and have gotten them to the point where they only bark when they see, smell or hear another dog, when people are talking loudly outside, or when Lulu wants someone to come pay attention to her. And yes, I realize that that seems like a long list, but consider how much noisier they would be if they barked at every car that drove by, or every person going to check their mail.
I have tried to be a good neighbor when it came to Max and Lulu, and I honestly thought I was succeeding until a couple of weeks ago. I realize that living in a condo complex like Lakeridge comes with challenges, like hearing the neighbors dog’s bark, or crying babies, or loud music, for instance. I assumed that everybody else did too. I’m not really sure how to proceed at this point. On one hand, I’m angry at the idea of having to run the air conditioner when it’s in the 60s outside, because if I leave the glass door or windows open the dogs might bark and be annoying—I’m still looking for a job, and am on a very fixed income, and I don’t want to pay a cent more in utilities than I have to—but on the other hand, I don’t want you to be angry at me, or my dogs.
Likewise, keeping them contained isn’t an option. I know you didn’t believe me when I tried to explain this on Sunday, but being confined to the crate doesn’t stop the barking, rather, it intensifies it, and adds digging, growling and howling. The crate lives in my bedroom—directly above your bedroom. If the dogs are keeping you up at night, (and if they are, why don’t you tell me that, rather than the vague “annoying”?) restricting them to the crate would only make things worse. Furthermore, I don’t feel good about restricting their access to water at any time, especially as the weather warms up. You said that it’s not that hard. I say it’s not that easy.
Max and Lulu are my world, but I know to you they are only yappy little dogs. Imagine if someone was leaving vulgar notes on your door complaining about your sweet baby, and perhaps you can understand why this has upset me so much Please know that we are trying, and we are getting better. In the mean time, please be patent with us.
I tried to be gentle. I tried to show understanding and compassion, and above all, I used vowels. I also signed my name.
I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I hope that we can put this whole business behind us. I’m afraid that it won’t be that easy, though.
edit:The neighbor that I thought was the lolcat came to return the bread. She’s not the one who left the note. On the plus side, I have a new friend, and an ally in this whole issue. On the downside, I’m horribly embarrassed, and have no idea who the Lolcat actually is. So… now, I don’t know what to do.
One of my neighbors is a LOLcat.
Shocking, I know, but how else would you explain the note left on my door today?
We’ve got the cutesy handwriting and the purposeful misspellings (unless the author of this note honestly can’t spell “please”, “night” or “thanks”, in which case, she has bigger problems than a barking Lulu). The random swearing and the passive-aggressive nature has me confused, though. These weren’t qualities that I normally attributed to LOLcats.
If we were to look at option number two, I’d almost think that this was a Mormon schoolgirl who knows she’s not going to get in trouble for swearing at a stranger if she remains anonymous. I think she failed to take into account the fact that the random swearing and the misspelled words make me much less likely to take this seriously than if she had taken a respectful tone.
So, to my neighbor who doesn’t have the courage to face me herself:
I’m sorry about Lulu. I’ve been working on keeping her quiet for the past three years. It has gotten much better, I promise, although I do acknowledge that we have a long way to go yet.
I would like to keep her inside all day, but there are times when I can’t be home to take her for a walk before she needs to relieve herself. This is the reason I have the dog door onto my balcony, so she can go outside, in the little yard I had built for her, and not on my carpet.
Again, I apologize for her noisy behavior. We are working on it. I wish you had told me who you are so I can explain this to you in person, and not on my obscure blog that you probably aren’t going to read.
In today’s society, we seek to live insular lives. We draw back from our neighbors, our co-workers, from people we meet in the store on the street. This is in direct opposition of who we are as human beings. We’ve forgotten that humans evolved as social animals. We need other people. We need to be surrounded by friends and family for our physical and psychological well-being.
But the computer and the TV have become our village, our clan, our tribe. We crowd into cities, but we don’t know our neighbors. Those, like me, who live in connected habitation seek to insulate ourselves from those we share common walls with. We have gone mad.
As I write this, I’m listing to the sound of my next door neighbor’s clothes dryer. I can hear my downstairs neighbor’s baby crying. There is my across the hall neighbor puffing up the stairs carrying groceries and slamming his door. I hear the traffic on the street, and people walking up the sidewalk talking and laughing. I find these sounds comforting. Just because I live alone, doesn’t mean that I am alone.
I’ve grew up in a small town, in a single family house. When I moved to college, I wasn’t used to the noise that other people made, both in my apartment and from the neighboring walls. My first apartment was on a fairly busy street, and the sounds of the traffic drove me nuts. I didn’t like the lights from the parking lot that flashed in my bedroom window at night, or the sounds of giggling girls on their way to the community swimming pool. It took me years to get used to these sounds, but now, when I visit my parent’s house, I can’t sleep because everything is too quiet.
Still, I worry about the noise that comes from my house. When I can’t sleep at 2:30, I wonder about starting a load of laundry, but decide against it because I don’t want the noise to disturb my neighbors. I give in to the dogs barking at me because I’m not doing what they want me to do because I’m worried about the neighbors. I like hearing their noises, but I don’t want them to hear mine.
I don’t know if I can talk with any authority about building a community. I’ve live in my condo for three years now, and know the neighbors by sight, but not name. I know the family that lived downstairs and across the hall from me had a dog named Lady, and that their house was foreclosed on, but I don’t know what their names are. In fact, I know more of the dogs that live in my complex then I know people. My neighbors probably know me the same way,—they’ve heard me call Max and Lulu, but they don’t know my name. I’m shy and withdrawn enough that I’m not going to go introduce myself after 3 years.
So how do we change? How do we break out of these insulated little compartments that we call our lives? Is it even worth it?
I don’t have all, or even some of the answers. I’m not sure enough that I even want to change.