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Thursday March 04, 2004, 01:39

A momentary relief from the daily din that plagues those who live in Manhattan. The sky is beginning to cloud over in preparation for the rains that are promised, but have not yet proven to be a real threat and have, in turn, brought a sort of calm to the street below. At midnight I peered my head out the window and heard nothing but the building rumble of the neighborhood, which is something akin to silence around these parts. No nighttime deliveries marred the air, no taxi drivers leaning on their horns or emergency vehicles ripping down the street, sirens blaring. Just the hum of the city which I often long to leave, but know that I can't. Not now at least.

The light in my neighbor's apartment is on, but she has shut off her television (as have I) so I can't feel my wall rumbling any more. She has taken to playing the television or her radio loudly enough that the entire living room takes on the persona of a bass drum, a sort of sustained rumbling that can not be articulated specifically but exists nevertheless (though I have not had the opportunity to determine which medium it is that is contributing to to ongoing degradation of my psyche). This generally lasts for several hours throughout the day and though I have tried to be as neighborly, yet firm, as possible, repeated ringings of her doorbell have left me standing out in the hall listening to her radio/television through her door and no closer to any sort of amicable resolution. I will probably snap at some point in the next couple of months, but by that point maybe she'll develop an interest in silent movies.

That said, my neighbor's apartment is an absolute mess. Though mine is not going to win any Good Housekeeping awards for tidiness (and for all of the Hold Everything, Ikea and Container Store catalogs on the coffee table, I am no closer to finding a cohesive storage solution than I was when I first moved in here), every visible surface in her apartment is covered in precarious stacks of paper. The blinds in the windows remain closed but open in that way that you have to look out through your blinds to see the city outside. And yet the blinds themselves are as tattered and ancient as the furniture that I can see, half broken and hanging down at an angle. I have never seen the layout of the rooms from the inside, but from peering around and into her living room, I can only assume that she sleeps in there, in her housecoat, on a pile of newspapers from a decade ago, eating ice cream and watching daytime tv while her cat claws at the window, trying to get away.

There is something funny in the air tonight. As a portion of the population gears up for a pro-gay marriage demonstration tomorrow morning at city hall, the night looms heavy over everything, threatening with the weather and reminding everyone that, no matter how important anything seems, ever, we're still just little people in a big, big world. Nobody is out on the streets, taking this warning to heart it seems. The sky (the one with the clouds) has turned white in the image of the city lights below.

I am doing my part to further this cosmic weirdness (further solidified in my mind with the realization that we're a day or so shy of a full moon, which is pretty much a full moon to me and therefore capable of wreaking all sorts of havoc on an otherwise unstable population of people such as New Yorkers) by beginning something of an exercise regime in which I wake up in the morning, don my cycling garb and head out to the bike path that runs the circumference of this island. If I had a commute to work, I would perhaps cycle to work, changing upon my arrival, and if I am successful in obtaining full-time work somewhere, I might just do this, but in lieu of any signed contracts I am forced to rely on self-discipline to get me out and exercising, which, in turn, has proven to be particularly pleasant in terms of overall physical and mental well-being.

I've just had to take more naps as a result.

Naps themselves are not inherently bad. Waking on a Wednesday afternoon after a half-hour power nap and feeling the warm, decidedly un-winter air blowing through the open window and the hearing the top of the hour news report is as effective a killer of the winter blues as any yoga class (I would imagine). But let us not forget that it is not interesting at all to sleep away an entire day, missing all that could and would come about when one is just awake and aware enough to enjoy it.

That said, I sometimes wish that my neighbor would discover the thrill of the afternoon siesta and leave the noisemaking to the city outside.

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