won't you be my neighbor?
Saturday, mar. 15, 2008 | 0 commentsOne more time, so I don't get sued, this column is re-printed here thanks to permission from MSN (who owns all this stuff now).
Won't you be my neighbor?by evany thomas
I live in a fairly rough area of town.
It's an interesting neighborhood in that it's right on the cusp of everything: gangland, druggie zone, and hooker scene all butt up against a mellow family existence. This mingling of mighty disparate groups creates a kind of exciting plate-techtonic effect, where everything's in a constant state of flux and you never know what's going to happen next.
My room faces right out on a busy street, and since I often work at home, I've become intimate with the amazing sights and sounds that cycle through during the average beautiful day in the neighborhood. Clanging garbage men, kids merrily taunting eachother on their way to school, rowdy skate rats grinding up the curb, not-afraid-to-announce-they-gotta-beef-with-the-world street flotsam and jetsam, jealous cat fighting dames ("he wouldn't WANT me if you coulda kept him SATISFIED!"), booming kicker-boxed and sub-woofered cars, the sirens of the city's finest, tinkling popsicle carts, hipsters heading home after last call, and traffic-traffic-TRAFFIC.
The first night was terrible. One car from Hades cruised up and down the street, modified mufflers sonic-booming holes in the universe, for about 3 hours. When that finally let up, a heartbroken drunk took over, keening beneath my window about the mistreatment he had received from a one "Lucille" (a woman who I just couldn't help think was probably much better off since "going solo"). He was SO LOUD that I coulda sworn that he was, if not actually inside my head, then at least sitting at the foot of my bed, screeching "WHYYYYYYYYY!"...4 AM came and went as I lay there wide awake watching the endless headlights sweep across my ceiling like a prison spot-light, mind depressedly churning over the painful idea of having to move again (I hate moving more than anything...taxes, nails on a chalk board, heatwaves, mosquitos, litterbox maintenance, and liver even).
However, on the second night I slept like a baby. I guess that's partly because I was so super nova tired from the previous night that I could have slept through a Sledge-O-Matic session with Gallagher. But it was also because I was actually getting used to all the nocturnal action. Soon the cars and the freaky people became kind of lulling, creating an oceanic white noise that I probably now can't sleep without.
I've grown to love all the noise and the people. They carry an intrinsic energy and excitement totally lacking in the 'burbs that I formatived in, something that's also missing in other "safer" neighborhoods of The City that I've lived in. That energy (whoa! I'm sounding a little hippy here...sorry!) is why I moved to the Big City in the first place. The trade off to all the I'm-so-alive "vibes" (sorry again!) is that I have to lead a slightly warier lifestyle. I take a cab now when I would have walked home in another part of town, and when I DO walk around, I'm permanently on yellow alert, sweeping my eyes from corner to corner looking for alarming people or activities.
And my car, always a beater, is now just shy of Mad Maxdom. Since my move to the happening 'hood, it's been keyed, hit-and-runned, my cute dice valve covers were lifted, and the stereo's been stolen (actually, stolen's too nice a word...my stereo was RIPPED from my car, popping off heater buttons and knobs and shredding half the dash in the process...and they didn't even leave a ham sandwich in the glove box, a special something the stereo thieves did for a friend of mine).
Living without a radio has proven to be quite life-changing. I do quite a bit of driving, and without tunes and NPR to distract me, I get a lot more thinking done (which, for a girl who's always thought too much, is probably not a good thing). I'm also a lot less in touch with current events. And I talk to myself all the time.
To counteract the ill-effects of life without a car radio, I've been tuning in elsewhere. Since I have lousy reception at home, and there's no radio at the office, my radio fix now comes over the internet. And the stuff I get there actually better than anything I was getting before (the Bay Area may have a lot to offer, but the radio stations really suck here). An online CD jukebox means I can listen to entire albums of some of my favorite bands, FREE. And I now get to listen to the LA morning radio show that I've been sorely missing.
All in all, it's been one of those "tisn't life funnyo" things, where a people-are-evil event (the removal of my beloved car stereo) has made way for something interesting and enriching (neato online radio).
Yup, that's me, making lemonade out of life's lemons.