Friday, December 4, 2009

Facing Fears, Feeling Good

Many of you know that I faced a huge fear in my life recently by coming out to my dad. Yesterday I faced another fear by writing a note to my upstairs neighbor.

That story starts like this. After 12 years of living in an apartment that I loved, above a bar and with a roommate that I didn't, I decided it was time to live on my own. I hated the whole process of finding a new apartment. I think part of it was that I was looking at new places on my own with no one to bounce ideas off of. I also was resisting the move because I really didn't want to give up the apartment even though I needed to in order to grow. So, I looked at several apartments, through several different brokers, in neighborhoods where I just didn't want to live. Finally I decided to go with a new broker. She listened to what I wanted and it seemed like a good marriage of client and broker. The person who showed us the apartment told me it was quiet. She said that I should have no problem relaxing with a book on a Saturday night and be free of disturbances. That sounded like heaven compared to the bar I'd been living above. I actually took that first apartment I was shown. It was so cute. Exposed brick. Newly renovated bathroom. After putting down a deposit, my broker told me that nothing else on her list for the day was as nice and happy feeling as this place. I began to freak out shortly after when I thought of condensing all of my furniture and belongings from my bedroom, living room, kitchen, and bathroom into a studio with a bathroom. I bit the bullet and bought a Murphy Bed to help save space. A friend layed out the space on graph paper so that I could lay out the room for the best use of space.

The move happened and the first thing I realized was that the real estate broker who showed me and my broker the apartment had lied. It wasn't quiet at all. I could hear music from other apartments. Sometimes so loud that I could understand the lyrics. I could hear the muffled sounds of televisions all around me. Most tenants in the building slam their doors. That is completely disturbing. Worst of all, the floors are terrible. I can hear every move that my next door neighbor makes, my upstairs neighbor makes and his neighbor makes. How is anyone supposed to be able to relax with that? I first wanted to move out then decided to give it a chance and stay. I began calling the building manager regarding the noise in specific regard to my upstairs neighbor and his hard soled shoes on the hard wood floor waking me up most mornings even with ear plugs in my ears. She said that she could help make sure he would get a rug as our leases say 80-90% of the floor has to be covered. I've been fighting this battle since August and it's now December. There is still no rug. She doesn't even return my calls. I don't know that she has done or is doing anything to help me.

So as much as I was freaking out about calling my dad to tell him I was gay, I freaked out yesterday when I started to write a note to my neighbor. I started the note. Put the pen and paper down and started to leave the apartment. I put down my bag and took off my coat and resumed writing the note. I told myself that I had to do it. I had to help myself. I made sure the tone of the note was nice instead of nasty and just told him what was going on and how I felt about the building in general. You know, notes can be hard to interpret, just like a text. You gotta get the tone right.

I was nervous all day that he might react badly. I kept trying to put the positive energy into the universe regarding my note. As I headed home that night, knowing he would have read the note by now, I kept hoping that the positive thoughts would out way the negative thoughts. There was nothing on my door from him so I relaxed and went to bed.

When I opened my door this morning, I found a post it from him. His name is Chris and he was very apologetic. He understood my noise issues as he too has them from neighbors and the hallway. He said he would do his best to keep it down*. He was sorry for any inconvenience he has caused me. I was so relieved that I had taken a step to help myself and thankful for facing that fear.

Of course this reminds me of an email from the real estate broker saying that no one had ever complained of noise issues. Interesting considering that my next door neighbor thinks it's noisy. My upstairs neighbor thinks it's noisy. I think it's noisy. And the girl at the top of the stairs told me on the day I moved in that she had already had noise complaints against her from someone. Liar or uninformed broker? Hmm!

That leads me to another fear faced tonight. I was at karaoke and it was a themed night. Something like, "break up songs," or "givin' it back to my ex." Something like that. I started by singing Taylor Swift's "Picture To Burn." Seemed like the perfect "ex" song to me. What I really wanted to sing was Effie's Act 1 finale song from Dreamgirls, "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going." It's a big song, sung by a black woman after she's been wronged by her man. In case you aren't aware, I am a white man. Thankfully, I'm gay so that gives me a bit of leeway in singing the song. I knew from singing along to the cast album that it was in my key. I just didn't know if I could put myself on that stage and sing that song in public. I kind of thought people would laugh, or roll their eyes, or wonder what I thought I was doing. However, I felt supported tonight and in a good place and decided to just do it. If I failed, I failed. If they laughed, they laughed. You know. I rocked it. It was exactly how I thought it would be. Every note was there. I hit them all. I was so proud of myself. I met my own challenge. My friends were proud of me too.

I've taken a couple of steps, facing fears, over the past two days and it feels good. If we ask for what we want, without demanding it, we can get our wish. If we just believe in ourselves we can do whatever we want.

(*As I'm proofing this blog entry at 3 a.m., my upstairs neighbor and two of his friends enter the building. They are so loud, I can hear them from the street. The volume does not change as they start ascending the stairs. All the people in this building are trying to sleep and they are clueless, obnoxious idiots. I did hear the neighbor shush them, but it didn't matter. When they reached his apartment it was like a herd of elephants up there. Not a care or concern for anyone else. You would think that after his kind note of apology he would be a little more aware of 3 a.m. noise levels, obnoxious friends or not.)