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Friday, March 18, 2011

Duplex Life

I've lived in a third story apartment for some time, I have become unaccustomed to the ways of neighborhood living.  The walls in our old apartment complex were very thick, and we could rarely hear what the other occupants were doing.  We assumed that they, in turn, could not hear what we were doing, as we'd never received any complaints.  We lived in our own little private bubble in the midst of many other little bubbles.  It was bubble wrap living.  It was nice, quite, but mildly inconvenient to climb three flights of stairs with two dogs/groceries/bubble neighbors hanging out on the stairs.  We grew weary of bubble wrap life.  We decided to pop out of our little bubble and move on. 

Now we've moved into a duplex.

A duplex seemed a wise choice for us.  There's the feeling of security I thought I would get from knowing that, though JMan will often be at work until 3:30 in the morning, there would be people on the other side on the wall of every room; people who would be more than happy to come to my immediate aide should any issues arise.  There was also the increased sense of independence- I wouldn’t have people living on all side of me anymore, and that is okay.  But should I need them, there are neighbors within earshot.  Everybody wins.  It's the safety of an apartment without all the stairs.

Having now lived in this new place for a couple of months, I'm finding that duplex life is not all that I thought it would be.  The neighbors on the other side of every wall of every room don't seem to like us very much at all.  They run into their side of the domicile any time we see them, trying desperately not to make eye contact.  I feel fairly certain that, upon hearing my gruesome murder through their every wall, they would sigh, wait for the noise to stop, and go about their business.  The neighbors in the surrounding homes can't stand us either, because our dogs think that the chain link fences that separate the properties do not exist or are somehow invalid.  Therefore, all visible land belongs to the dogs.  Consequently, when the occupants of these residences dare to just *be* in their own backyard, they are met with a barrage of barking, growling, huffing, and lunging.  The whole thing probably seems very scary, even though Jman has told them all that if they'd just interact with the dogs they'll stop barking.  I don't think, however, that "Frig you and your frigging dogs*" is what he had in mind, and as of now, that's all I've heard them say.

I've decided that duplex life is going to be my equivalent of thug life, only without the tattoos and strategically colored bandanas.  I will learn from the experience, grow tougher and stronger, and will emerge from the cul de sac with all the grit and savvy of a genuine hustler**.  Here, then, is:

Current Kim:  Hi there, neighbor-person!  So nice to know that you're so near me.  I'd like to get along with you and maybe we could do a joint bar-b-que some time!  Hugs!
Duplex Life:  I'ma bar-b-que your face, motha effer!  Don't you step to me, son, cuz I’ll cut you so deep you’ll look like Siamese twins.  Yeah, you better run!

CK:  Hi there, neighbor who lives on the other side of the fence!  I can see you clearly through the chain link and am smiling at you and being pleasant.
DL:  Keep looking at me.  I dare ya.  I'ma turn this wine bottle into a molotov cocktail and shove it down your throat.  Word.

CK:  I'm so sorry about my dogs.  They're little rascals, ain't they?  Don't worry- they won't harm you.  They're just curious baby pups.
DL:  I'ma sick my dogs on your ass to retreive what's left of my wine bottle!  I pity the fool who messes with my hounds of hell!  Yo mama!!!***

The end.

*Frig = I'm jealous of your yard
**To be pronounced 'huss-lah, fool.
***Yes, I realize I got more than a bit blakploitation/racist/Mr. T ins there.  Don't be hatin.  That's how Duplex Kim rolls.  Livin' Duplex K like e-va-ry day...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Keeping it simple in the new year

I have long been opposed to New Year's resolutions.  The whole thing seems pretty asinine to me.  If there's something that I need to change about myself, I'm probably well aware of it and have decided either to do nothing and deal with it or to change it when I'm darn good and ready.  It's not up to a holiday to decide when I will and will not embark on some kind of new life path.  Days don't get to tell me what to do.  Unless they're Fridays.  Fridays tell me to get very very drunk.
Last year, however, I decided that maybe I was wrong and everybody else, contrary to my well-voiced rantings over many years, might be onto something.  After all, other people had pretty good things going for them, and maybe it was time for me to step a little further out of the left of center category and into the almost normal zone.  Mostly, I decided it was time that I start being nice to people the way most people are nice to people.  I thought that this would be a good step toward adulthood for me.
When you make a personal decision to change your outward behavior, it ends up feeling exactly like acting and, in some cases, lying.  I mean, it wasn't as if I'd had some Dickensian catharsis that was driving my newfound desire to do good; I'd simply noticed that it was something I wasn't doing and others were.  Plus, I was finding that my complete disdain for most people was spiraling out of control, and that it was quite possibly fueled by my uninhibited ability to unleash the searing stinky lava that is KimHate right into their poor unsuspecting faces.  Like a hotrod of rudeness I was able to go from zero to scathing in 2.3 seconds.  This usually resulted in the following:

Me: Hi there, coworker!  How are you doing today?
Coworker: Oh, I'm good, good.  Did you go out for lunch?
Me, now scowling: No.  Of course I didn't.  When do I EVER leave for lunch?!  I *ALWAYS* stay right here.
Coworker, expressing nervous concern: Oh, maybe you should go somewhere sometimes.  It's a nice day out there.
Me, now spitting words through clenched teeth and brandishing my fingernails like tiger claws: OF COURSE IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY OUTSIDE!!!!  IT'S EFFING SPRINGTIME YOU MISERABLE DOUGHHEAD!!!!

At this point, the coworker generally ran screaming from the vicinity.

Under my new guise of niceness, however, interactions were no more pleasant, if not certainly more unbearably awkward.

Me, grinning like a stoned idiot in a high-pitched voice that is a few decibels too loud: Hi there, you awesome person you!  How's things?  Are they good?  They’d better be good!  Yayayayayay!
Coworker, who is all at once very uneasy: I'm...yeah, I guess I'm...doing...well...How're you, Kim?
Me, in a voice that only Care Bears could stomach: Oh, I'm super-fantastic-okelly-doo!  It sure is a lovely day out there!  Don't you just love butterflies?
Coworker, who is inching away: Bu...butterflies are nice.  Are you feeling well?
Me, now sickened by my own behavior and feeling the need to lay down:  No...not really, no...

I made it about a month before scrapping the niceness project entirely and going back to chewing peoples' faces off.  All was right with the world, and my coworkers actually seemed relieved to see me revert to my old ways. 
I've decided to try again this year.  Not as part of some crappy resolution.  Not because I feel sorry for the people I'm mean to most of the time.  I'm doing it to prove I can.  I have adopted three rules in order to help facilitate the change this time.

1.  Try to think about things that make me happy.  If I run around thinking about the Goo Goo Dolls and paper cuts and some kind of Kardashian*, I'm more likely to be unpleasant.  Rather, I need to focus on floppy pup ears and sweet rolls and new designer dresses.   Oh, and pickles.  It's impossible to be angry when thinking of pickles.

2.  Wait 5 seconds before responding to things that upset me.  Sometimes, I'm rattled by things that shouldn't be rattlers, and I realize this only after unjustly removing someone’s head with my teeth.  By adhering to this new take on the five second rule, I'll be better equipped to delineate the awful from the not really so terrible.

3.  Sleep.  A tired Kim is a grumpy Kim.  And a grumpy Kim is a homicidal Kim.

By following these three simple rules, it is my goal to get through 2011 without emotionally scarring or physically dismembering anyone.  Wish me and my coworkers luck.

*Contrary to what you might think, these are all terrible, terrible things.