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Schadunfreed

My terrible, very bad neighbors across the hall–you know, the ones of the extremely audible, all-hours bongo-playing and door-slamming and key-losing? The ones who routinely had such terrible, very bad, and extremely audible sex, complete with terrible, very bad, and extremely audible fake orgasms, that I longed to bludgeon them with a copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves? Well, I am extremely pleased to report that those neighbors have left the building. First they broke up—very audibly, of course–and then he moved out, and then she finally moved out as well. As of now, their apartment remains empty, and my building is so still, so peaceful, so luxuriantly quiet that it’s as if I’m living in a mountain spa right in the middle of Williamsburg. I need a new word for the particular schadenfreude one feels upon outlasting terrible neighbors. Schadenfreudenizen? Schadunhausfraught? Oh, the future’s so bright my apartment’s gotta wear shadunshades.

In Subway Veritas

It was another day of dodging zombies who weren’t looking at anything but their smartphones. NYC contains so many sorts of people—so many people, period–that it requires a strict adherence to the social contract in order to remain livable. We don’t need to be nice here; we need to be reasonable. Stay to the right side of a busy sidewalk. Don’t cut in line. Look where you are going. Keep your private conversations private. Let people exit a subway car before you enter it. Throw your trash in a trash can. The zombies (I’d call them smartphonies but they’re just too dumb) do not heed these seemingly intuitive rules of conduct, which makes it hard not to treat them like zombies. And that’s too bad because this finely feathered city is always so much more pleasurable when we marvel over each other’s humanity. I try, this Mz. Manners always tries, but today was already trying: swampy, scratchy, red-tape-y, with a thin wire of metallic dread threading through everything. (I am still generally overcome.) By tonight’s subway ride, I felt an unspeakable tenderness for few who were sitting quietly with paper books or, better yet, their own thoughts. I won’t say what I felt for the slack-jawed manchild, legs spread so wide that he took up two seats by himself, who was playing a videogame on his Samsung Galaxy while a frail-looking older woman teetered in his direct field of vision. I really won’t say how I shamed him into giving up his seat for her. But I will say that casual unkindness hurts my heart so much.

Take a Bite Out of This Crazy Apple

Crossing Williamsburg’s Meeker Ave at Metropolitan last night, I looked around for a cop. There’s always one lurking at that corner since there’s so much precarious traffic pouring in from the Brooklyn Queens Expressway and the Williamsburg Bridge. Sure enough, I spotted a patrol car lurking beneath the underpass and stopped before walking against the light: The police have been super into handing out jaywalking tickets lately. Just then a cab came hurtling toward the intersection at approximately 800 mph, hooking an illegal left at the light and nearly swiping a bearded boy on a Vespa in the process. The “don’t walk” sign still lit, I sailed into the street, grinning at the cop as he pulled out past me, siren already wailing. Sorry, NYC’s Finest, but this isn’t Portland. The residents of this city will always give you bigger fish to fry than poky ole pedestrians.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy