Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Burbs

I used to like living in the city. Love, even, the hustle and bustle, the anonymity, the commotion. Even the sounds of traffic did not bother me.

Then we lived on Mildred Street. The width of one car, there was no room for parking and every sound bounced from one side of the street to the other. It was a cute little trinity, with just enough room for me, Dan and Mooshie.

But Shane and his girlfriend lived across the street. I wouldn’t have minded so much or cared at all about his existence if it wasn’t for his big fat motorcycle that he liked to park on the sidewalk in front of his house (and directly across from ours). It wasn’t the parking of the motorcycle that bothered me, as much as the starting of the engine at, say, 6 am. The noise was much like I would imagine the eruption of a volcano after having been dormant for 40 years, often yanking me out of sweet slumber or just plain old scaring the shit out of me.

Being the proactive person that I am, I asked nicely. I left notes. To no avail. Despite the fact that Shane was detested by at least every Mildred Street inhabitant (I’m sure the neighbors living on the surrounding streets hated him as well), the best he could do on a good day was to wheel his bike out to the corner and rev her up just feet away from our front door.

So we moved out to the burbs. I thought we would have a quiet little house on a peaceful little street. Dan even got a job around the corner at the high school I attended. He would walk to work and everything would be so lovely and olden dayish. And it was. Until the last 2 weeks of the summer of 2006, when the marching band began their daily practice in the parking lot around the corner.

Oh. My. God. Having bought our house in the spring, I had no inkling of what we were in for. Drums, xylophones, trombones, whistles – the whole bit. The director even thinks it’s appropriate to plug his ipod into loudspeakers so the kids can practice marching in time to what the music is supposed to sound like.

Now, for the last few weeks of summer, this noise goes on ALL DAY LONG. After school starts, they simply start just before dinnertime and do not stop until after 9 pm. It’s horrible. I did not buy this house for the opportunity to listen to overachieving teenagers bang on things (when I know for a fact that their parents won’t let them practice in their own houses) for hours at a time. I have tried complaining to the administration. I have left messages on the school’s answering machine (especially back when I had an infant in the house who I was desperately trying to sleep-train). Nothing has stopped these demons from drumming me out of countless hours of peace.

Now that I am lying here, trying to beat effing CANCER, I am thoroughly convinced that they are sent by the devil to try and deter my focus. They are trying to pile on the stress and raise my blood pressure with the incessant banging. Some days, I can’t tell the difference between the drums and the renovation workers throwing large chunks of trash into the dumpster of the driveway across the street. The sounds echo back and forth across the soccer fields and I can only imagine how much worse it must be for the people who live directly across from the high school. It just goes on and on.

I realize my husband works for the high school and we are residents of the township and by going public with my anti-band-practice plight I could be subjecting us to some serious neighborhood shunning. But people, don’t you see? My life depends on this. It’s 65 degrees outside and yet the windows in my room must be closed and the air conditioner blasting (on it’s loudest setting, I might add).


If it sounded like music, I might be able to tolerate it. I am a singer, a former piano (and flute) player, and a lover of all things musical. Hence, if what they were “playing” resembled more than a toddler banging on pots and pans (also a sound I am acutely familiar with), I imagine they might have my support. But people, it’s not even good. Not good at all.

You might be wondering about a compromise. Isn’t there some other place they could practice? Maybe, like, on the field where they actually perform? Yes, I wonder this as well. We would not be AS bothered if they simply moved their practice to a more logical location (and it’s not that much farther away). The racket would just be less dramatic.

But now, in the past 4 years, this “band” has kept my child from sleeping (for naps and at night, mind you), as well as kept me from relaxing and unwinding after numerous days of hard work with the youth of America. And we have come to the ultimate affront. They do not care about cancer.

Wyncote residents, stand with me. Grab your megaphone (or just steal theirs). Let's paint signs, storm the parking lot and kindly tell the "rhythm keeper" where to shove that freaking glockenspiel. I am juiced and will be happy to lead you all, just as soon as these throat sores clear up and I have enough mojo to stand for more than 3 minutes at a time.



  1. We used to live about 1/3 of a mile from the Merriwether Post Pavillion, a VERY popular megastar venue for summer concerts, and we went to PLENTY!!!! However, our County ordinances forced the venue to limit the # of concerts, the time span of each concert, and build a more "capturing" amphitheater.
    Check with your County office and see if there's a noise ordinance in your area - most have a decibel limit.
    There isn't anything worse than to have unwanted noise in your house (well, maybe snakes, but we'll deal with that when it happens). Good luck.

  2. One time, I commented to Dan that it was "cool" to hear the band in the parking lot as I left work. He shot me a fiery, demonic look that required no words.