Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Day The Music Died

I like to think that learning is a lifelong sort of process. Sure, we all toss our mortarboards in the air with glee at the thought of leaving whatever institution of learning has held us captive for our student sentences. But, life is really all about gaining new knowledge, thereby becoming a better and wiser person with each passing moment. As an educator who spends the bulk of any given day imparting various bits of knowledge to young minds whether they want it or not, I have to say that I am a fan of the learning process. It pays the bills.

But I also think that, if someone else has gone ahead and figured something out, you don't really need to fumble through that whole pesky "trial and error" business. If you have a problem that needs solving, somewhere out there is a person who has clambered over that bump in the road and who would be glad to give you the pertinent details. There is no need to re-invent the wheel, people!

(And yes...anyone who reads this blog regularly could point out no fewer than 8000 examples of my completely ignoring the advice and life-lessons of others in order that I might screw it up for the general amusement of the blogging world. I am aware of this. But, I'm making a point, here. I need the set-up if it's going to work and your cooperation would be appreciated. Thanks for your willingness to play along.)

So, for those of you who may be suffering as I have with a downstairs neighbor who likes his music with a side of bass and who knows how to mount the speakers on the wall for full teeth rattling effect, I give you:

A Step By Step Guide To Beating The Beat!

Step 1: Determine that you have actually reached the end of your tether. Tether length varies from person to person and your results may vary. However, if you come home on a Friday afternoon to find that the music has reached "concert hall" levels and now consider a prison term to be a small price to pay for making it stop, you may be near the termination point of your tether. If you further think that solitary confinement would be a nice, quiet change of pace during said prison term then you may be long since past the point where you have an actual grasp on that tether.

Step 2: With the Tether Test complete, grab your keys (this is important because locking yourself out after what could be a nasty confrontation is nothing short of embarrassing and it is unlikely that your neighbor will let you use his phone to call a locksmith) then walk purposefully down the stairs. You will hear very, very loud music at this point and be able to discern actual lyrics. Don't allow yourself to be too entranced by this siren song. Your auditory processing ability has been dulled by months of only hearing the bass line. Press onward and knock on the offending individual's door.

Step 3: Assume your most wistful of expressions and plaintively ask if the knock respondent might consider doing you a favor. Your neighbor will, in turn, assume his most sheepish of expressions and say, "You need me to turn the music down, don't you?"

Step 4: This is important. Stress that you hate to ask and that you have great fears of being known amongst the building's residents as The Killer Of All Fun. Explain that today's musical interlude is causing your pictures to shake on the walls and that this seems a bit extreme. Restate how much you hate to bother him.

Step 5: Be open to his apologies. Reassure him that you do not wish to do him harm. (even though you have been having vivid fantasies that involve him being lashed to a sub-woofer while you blast elevator music and snap elastics at his face) Make a little joke about how you suddenly feel like the old lady neighbor who fears for her collection of ceramic kitties and commemorative plates as the walls shake. This is very disarming.

Step 6: When he asks if this has been a problem for you before, hesitate slightly. He must believe that you really, really really hate to take away his beloved tunes. In what might be considered a halting voice, state that, since his speakers are mounted on the wall (he will be surprised that you know this...) you are going to get the bass vibrations no matter what the volume of the music. Point out that you all live in this building and in somewhat close quarters. Note that one sometimes has to be tolerant of others' activities. Don't tell him to turn it down. Don't indicate that this has been an issues that has driven you nearly to the brink of madness. Act like you are willing to live with it if only he will forgive you for intruding upon his afternoon in such a fashion. No one can resist feeling guilty over disturbing such a tolerant neighbor.

Step 7: This is an important one. In fact, it might just be the most important step of all. Remember that anyone who has been blasting music in a somewhat poorly constructed condominium with no thought whatsoever for the fact that others might be able to hear it is someone who loves his music. He has put great thought and, most likely dollars, into this hobby. It is therefore in your best interest to compliment his sound system. Make sure that he knows that this was actually your first thought upon feeling the floor start to shake. Use words like, "impressive," and "sweet." Trust me. He will grin and thank you. Retaining at least an iota of coolness as you perform your Maiden Lady Who Lives Upstairs routine is good for the self esteem of both parties.

Step 8: This one is optional and may not be needed. Your individual circumstances may be very different but, in the interest of sharing this little life lesson for the benefit of all, I will include it. When he tells you that he was blasting the music because he was doing the dishes, do not, I repeat, do not, lose all sense of why you are there and just declare that he should leave that hussy with whom he is living in order that he might run away and marry you. First of all, he does not live with a hussy. She is actually a very lovely girl. Secondly, the fact that he does the dishes does not make up for his inability to understand the concept of volume control. Restrain yourself. You will thank me for this later.

Step 9: Also optional. However, if you happen to have been snacking on your favorite cheddar cheese flavored puff thingies, you might want to consider checking to see how much of the cheesy dust is on your face before you head down to begin this process. It's really up to you, but you might be surprised upon later inspection to see just how much of your snack is still clinging to your chin and lips. If you are not someone who cares about these things, please feel free to omit this step. I just thought I'd mention it, is all.


And there you go. That's all there is to it. It turns out that my former nemesis is not the insensitive, neighbor-hating, metal head that I thought he was. He was more than decent about the whole thing and extremely apologetic. The music was turned down to a tolerable level and there has been nary a peep from the lower levels today. I learned a great deal from risking a confrontation and am enjoying the benefits of my field trip to the first floor.

The peace and quiet has given me some time to fiddle with the Invisibility Shawl and to contemplate the life lessons it might have to offer. I realize that this doesn't look like a great deal of progress, but if you factor in the amount of time I've spent un-knitting this thing, I'm sure you will agree that this is a fairly impressive amount of knitting.



And if you don't agree, please don't tell me. I am finally starting to make some progress on this project and need to feel like I will someday have a finished thingie. I am fragile...
If you look closely, (or not so closely) you will easily see the errors that occurred as I tried to tink back and re-capture lost stitches. The are staying there. They represent a learning curve. I have come to realize that what I really needed to do was educate myself a bit on the behavior of laceweight yarn. You may have had a different experience, but I am finding it to be not so much like working with other yarns, even fingering weight. It is floaty and wispy and is easily led astray. And it turns out that yarnovers, knowing that they are not real stitches, have some issues with self esteem and will often try to hide themselves behind real stitches as if hanging with the cool kids will raise their own popularity. I am very, very glad that I set aside the bigger, scarier lace project in order that I might knit this pattern. It is certainly easier, more forgiving of mistakes and will happily lend itself to being a teaching tool while I grasp the finer points of working with the itty bitty yarns. I am also glad that I opted to learn these lessons with a better class of yarn. Susie's beautifully dyed fibers are holding up wonderfully to the amount of tinking that has had to happen. It has always been my practice to work with the lesser yarns until I've mastered a skill. There's another lesson learned. Good yarn makes for good knitting even if it is riddled with errors and probably deserves better than the likes of this Sheep and her sad skills.
Lifelong learning is a beautiful thing! I do hope that my little tutorial has been helpful. I know that learning on a Saturday is a hard thing to suffer through, but when a "teachable moment" presents itself you just gotta go with it.
I had a great deal of time to think about this stuff today, you see. It was nice and quiet and my truck was back in the shop. I like to think that I am learning some valuable lessons with regard to the importance of preventative maintenance.
Some lessons are painful. Even more painful that Lace Life Lessons...
SA

16 comments:

Julie said...

Cheese puff dust on your face?! OMG, I am just cracking up here. Oh, how I wish I were a fly on the wall of the condo complex of the Sheep :-)

I'm glad you had some peace and quiet this afternoon to learn the lessons of the lace.

Mia said...

I was laughing out loud by the time I got to step 5. Glad your field trip today turned out as well as mine.

... Note to self: need to get some cheesy puffs....

Donna Lee said...

Cheese puffs are my snack of choice as well. My clothes enjoy them as does the computer keyboard. I leave evidence of my adoration everywhere. I am glad you have had a peaceful resolution to the music problem. I didn't mind learning a lesson today although because I think I am incubating bronchitis (the tight chest and copious amounts of mucus might be a clue as well as an utter lack of anything resembling energy) I am afraid I may not retain it and have to relearn it.

Becka - The Knitting Wounded said...

Wonder if that would work on my neighbors? If they're "wrestling", probably not...

brenda said...

You're lucky that he's a considerate neighbor. Either that or he was a little scared of the Cheese Puff dust! The lace is looking great.

Anne said...

I, too, was laughing out loud by the time I got to the cheese puff dust. Good thing it was just your neighbor and not your students ...

here's hoping for some peace and quiet over the rest of the long weekend (and some cooler temperatures, for the sake of both of our wardrobes!).

Your shawl looks great, by the way. I can feel myself starting to get sucked into the whole lace knitting vortex.

trek said...

Wow. You have an unusual neighbor. Mostly the ones rude enough to blast their sound all over the rest of the world are also the ones voted most likely to slam the door in your face when you ask them to cease and desist.

mzmouze said...

Sheepie, you made me laugh out loud today. More than 30 years ago I had a downstairs neighbor who played only one song, from the crack of dawn until the wee hours of the morning. The song was Lynyrd Skynyrd's Sweet Home Alabama, and he played it loud enough that I could hear every thump and twang (shudder). I went downstairs and explained to him that the music was keeping my baby awake at night...he snarled one word at me: "Tough", slammed the door and turned the volume up. The torture lasted all summer, and there was nothing I could do because he was the building caretaker. I have been boycotting Kentucky Fried Chicken ever since they started using that song in their commercials. I'm glad that things worked out for you.

Beth said...

I thought the music man was probably thinking of you as the Hot Babe Who Lives Upstairs and not the Maiden Lady Who Lives Upstairs. But then I got to the cheese puff dust part and there went that thought! You are just way too funny!

Your lace is looking lovely! The yarn is beautiful and you have made a lot of progress. By the way, I've started doing a couple of creative knit two togethers and purl two togethers in my shawl. :)

Jeanne said...

He's unusual because he's considerate. I mean, think about it, he was doing the dishes, and he has a woman at home (do I sound sexist? Dear me!). That is a considerate man. (I'm glad you "won".)

Mzmouze, you had me laughing. Only one song? Oy!

kmkat said...

That is some serious lace knitting you got there. There was so much of it I had to scroll to see it all. Good work!

Carrie K said...

Let's just see how high the music levels go next weekend.

Your lace thingie is adorable and it looks great!

Anonymous said...

Oh you are good!
Karen
http://nothingbutknit.blog-city.com/

Eric & Tony said...

Congrats on your success with the loud one.

Knitting Linguist said...

Here's to Teachable Moments -- may they always go so well (barring, of course, the cheeze dust)! Thanks for laying out the steps for us (it's like a program!) :) The lace looks absolutely lovely -- a finished object is on its way.

Ronni said...

I love your life lessons. They're always so much fun.

That's a very pretty shawl! I think it looks lovely. So much so that I may have to get that book after all. I was trying to resist since I am way out of shelf space for knitting books. Maybe I can come up with a funtional way to do a double layer bookcase...