New Arrivals

Came in this morning after a weekend at work to find a UPS delivery sticker on my post box. Since I’m off today, I actually went down to the local post office branch to pick it up: a pretty good-sized package from Granny Hanako and Grandpa Toshiaki which turned out to contain one of their hand-made bread box sized kamidana and all the trimmings. And by all the trimmings, I mean all the trimmings: not one but three mini-torii gates (I cannot even begin to tell you how many of them I’ve lost over the years), a shintai mirror about the size of a quarter and its own little carved wooden stand, one of granny’s hand-painted ofuda plaques, one of grandpa’s hand-painted ofuda plaques, a string of ceramic bells (shaped like horses naturally), and a little ceramic plate and bowl for offerings. Granny’s plaque was a hope for my happiness. Also a hope that I’d find someone and finally give her (more) grandchildren. No, seriously, my grandmother intercedes with the gods of my forefathers to help me score. There’s something vaguely disturbing about that. Grandpa’s plaque, by way of contrast, was a prayer for protection against evil. This was somewhat less disturbing because I think I live downstairs from the most evil dog in the universe and at this point I could use all the help I can get.

A bit of backstory: my neighborhood in Philadelphia, Northern Liberties, is one of those places that can charitably be described as “in the process of gentrification.” Back in the day — the day being the late 19th/early 20th century — it was a major center of industry for the city, all over factories and working-class housing, except for the far end, which was full of rich industrialists who lived close to the source of their livelihood. It got hit pretty hard, first by the Great Depression, and then by the mid-to-late 20th century manufacturing implosion and pretty soon the place was what could be described as a falling-down slum. Parts of it still are, though other parts are turning into grist for urban redevelopment — like the part I live in, for example. My apartment building, as I think I mentioned elsewhere, is actually an old turn-of-the-century factory converted into flats.

On the one hand, living in an old factory apartment is really freaking cool. I mean, I’ve personally had a crush on the idea since at least Highlander: the Series and Nick Knight, and you may stop that laughing right now, Rin, because I know all about your crush on Vancouver, you Canadian wannabe. On the other hand, there are certain aspects of living in an an old factory apartment that the media tends to gloss over such as, just to pick a random example, the noise. This building is not what you could call “adequately soundproofed.” Or, you know, soundproofed at all. I live on the third floor, in one of the corner flats looking out over the city, and I swear before all the gods that ever were, are, or will be, I hear every damn thing that goes on in the flats above mine, below mine, and next to mine. I can deal with the hormonal couple because, really, who hasn’t been hotly fresh in love and incapable of staying out of the bedroom or off any applicable horizontal surface at least once? I don’t mind the dude who seems to think that we all want to hear what he’s playing on his Wii or his X-Box or PlayStation 3 (he’s got all of ’em, and a gaming computer, too, I think he works in the industry, honestly) — I have been known to turn up the computer speakers pretty loud myself when I’m playing with Rin. But the dog. The dog. I cannot deal with the dog.

This animal is what an individual much more charitable than myself would call a “toy breed” but which I refer to as a psychotic yip dog from Hell. I have seen this demon-animal down in the patio area doing its business with its doting owner and I swear I saw the damned thing’s eyes glow with the furnace light of perdition as it smirked at me through the windows. Admittedly, this might have been lack of sleep playing tricks on me but, frankly, I doubt it. One of those dog breed websites insists that it’s an Affenpinscher and that they’re wonderfully energetic and fearless watchdogs and I’m telling you, I cannot walk into my apartment at any time, day or night, without setting off an insane frenzy of barking that will last. for. hours. Hours, people. When I come home in the middle of the day, it’s because I’ve just pulled an extra-long shift and the only thing I want to do is sleep. And, because of this devil-mutt and its horrific echoing yip-bark of damnation, that is generally what I do not get to do. I would seriously consider earplugs but would mean risking a miss on my alarm — which also sets the thing off.

So. I’m actually really hoping that Grandpa’s gift of evil repulsion will spread throughout this building and cure whatever ails that freaking dog before I have to do something rash. Like talk to my neighbor about it.


~ by Dr. Nate Harada on September 12, 2011.

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