If you share a porch with your neighbor, please don’t stand outside for five minutes and yell at your dog. Or your mother. Or into your cell phone.

If, in fact, your porch is connected to your neighbor’s bedroom window… Please don’t discuss your traffic tickets, or your public disasters, outside the privacy of your apartment. Please don’t play with the dog and whistle tunes for half an hour during your midnight smoke-break—your neighbor may, at that moment, be trying to fall asleep.

Please don’t shriek “FUCK!!” seven times as you slam the front door on your way to work, especially if it’s eight in the morning.

Please don’t fight loudly with your family members there on the porch, outside, where everyone (but particularly your horrified, sleep-deprived neighbor) can hear you.

And please don’t stand outside and talk about your neighbor during the day, especially if she works at home. Because chances are, she’s trying to take a nap and can hear every single word you say. To date, I would suspect that she knows too much about your life—far more personal information than you would ever volunteer face-to-face.

If you have been in the habit of doing any of these things… especially over the last ten months or so since your neighbor first moved in… consider this your official heads-up.

Save Your Dignity Now.

Rain Again

Today it’s pouring, and we’ve opened (almost) all the windows and turned on all the ceiling fans to get the cool air circulating and unstuffifying the apartment. It bothers me a little that I can’t do this in my bedroom, because I like my bedroom to feel open and airy. But I will put that on my Next Apartment Checklist, and we’ll take care of it the next time we move.

Here is my Next Apartment Checklist so far.

1. Windows looking over a drop, not a walkway. I would open the windows much more often.

2. Bigger, more cleanable, more open kitchen. The kitchen is small, which in itself isn’t awful. But it’s also very enclosed, which makes any insect or cleaning problem ten times worse. In addition to this, the large appliances don’t fit the spaces made for them, which means—this is disgusting—there is this incredibly, awful, awful buildup of grime and dirt and god knows what else in the tiny alleys. There are gaps between a quarter-inch and three quarters of an inch or so, filled, filled with this awful gross grime… because it’s impossible to clean it without removing the appliance. And I didn’t notice this when we moved in, heaven help me.

3. Either IN the corner apartment, or far away from the corner apartment. Being right next to the corner apartment means that we are privy to everything going on in our neighbor’s lives. It also means that they’re populating their porch with stuff, which means that all of their stuff, including their cigarettes and ashtray, are right outside my bedroom window. So… it’s effectively as if I don’t have a bedroom window. More than that, they smoke outside that window all the time, so I can’t really ever open it unless I’m going to sit there and monitor to make sure I can close it before someone lights up. This makes me really sad. And in addition to all this, because the neighbors have made the area outside my bedroom window their patio, with chairs… they talk outside my window. And I can hear everything they say, just as if they’re standing next to my bed. It’s very disarming. I don’t know what to do about it just yet, but I’m thinking.

4. This won’t be a deal breaker, but I want opposing windows. I want windows on more than just one side of the apartment, or even a balcony. I want to be able to promote air flow, especially on rainy days but even on hot days. It can get pretty stuffy in here.

Some of this I’m still hoping to do something about. We have never had a relationship with neighbors before—we’ve never really had neighbors before! I would really like to bake them cookies and explain to them about the noise. I don’t know that there’s really a way to deal with the rest, because I didn’t say anything as I watched the patio furniture get fruitful and multiply. But now, instead of a chair and an ashtray… it’s two chairs and an ashtray and some plants and a squirt bottle. And some old cigarettes.

I was feeling good about the rain when I started this post, but now I’m feeling sad and a little bit hopeless. And… my Next Apartment Checklist isn’t very concise. And we’re not going to move out at the end of this lease, which is in July.