Dear Upstairs Neighbors

A simple plea for my upstairs neighbors.

Dear Upstairs Neighbors,

I know that you, up there, can’t hear me, down here. You, on the third floor of a three story apartment building, know little of the noises and vibrations that those below experience on a regular basis. I often find myself wondering if you rearrange your furniture on a daily basis or if you adopted a herd of baby elephants. Either are plausible.

You see, I dealt with the loud slamming of the apartment building door below my bedroom. It took me six months, but I managed to work up the courage to send an email to property management. It was a big day for me, and no one in this building had the common courtesy to say thank you or slip a bar of dark chocolate under the door with a sticky note attached to it that said “You saved my life.”

Now, look, I said I was sorry the day after when you had that party when your friends from Montreal visited, who you said you hadn’t seen in years, and I walked up to your apartment in my sweatpants and ratty t-shirt and said, “It’s too loud” and then proceeded to exclusively use my hands to answer all of your questions. As I laid in bed, heart racing and unable to fall back asleep, I worried I gave your friends from Montreal a bad impression of the people of Portland.

I felt even worse when I was awoken in the middle of the night by loud music and hard-bottomed shoes a couple of weeks later. Remember when I walked upstairs, knocked on your door four times, and was greeted by you both wearing your wedding attire? “We meant to invite you,” you said. “Well, you’re welcome to come in and have a drink,” you said. I politely declined for two reasons: 1. I am wearing sweatpants and an oversized white t-shirt I bought for my cousin’s wedding and refuse to wear anywhere other than bed and 2. I don’t drink. As I sat awake in bed for the second time that month, I appreciated the drink offer and felt like I had ruined your wedding after-party.

And look, I get it, couples have sex right? That’s pretty normal human couple behavior. But when you wake up at 2 P.M. in the afternoon and proceed to moan, groan, and keep your bed close enough to the wall so that with every thrust I feel the wall shake while I am trying to write in the office (a.k.a. my bedroom closet), my patience wears thin.

I know what you’re thinking. I can tell by the sounds of your footsteps. “Brett, you work at home all day. You need to get out and experience the world. Get some perspective on what matters.” Well, let me tell you, you are 100% right.

All I ask, no, all I plea is that you treat your home like a library, adopt the same sleep schedule as me, and, for the love of god, move your bed six inches away from the wall.

Your Downstairs Neighbor

P.S. If you know anyone looking to sell their house, I’m in the market.

NaNoWriMo 2016, Three Weeks In

Thoughts and feelings on how NaNoWriMo 2016 is going three weeks in.

Right now, as I write this, my NaNoWriMo 2016 novel sits on my hard drive at 45,061 words long. I can see the finish line. At my current pace, 50,000 is only a few days away. It has been going well.

I intended to participate in NaNoWriMo 2015, but it took place the month I moved to Portland, which was a busier month than I expected. In September, I made a commitment to myself to participate this year. I wrote a few short stories in October to prepare myself. In the middle of October, when I was eating lunch one day, I came across the idea that I wanted to use as the base of the novel. I captured the idea and then ignored it for the rest of October. I didn’t want to overthink the idea before I could start writing.

On the first of November I started the novel, and I have exceeded the daily word count goal of 1,667 words every day. Getting out ahead of the daily word count goal relieved the pressure of having to catch up after falling behind. For the most part, I have been writing first thing in the morning before starting any other work. Getting the writing done freed up my thoughts for the rest of the day.

A great joy of writing the novel without having the plot outlined are the surprises that I came across. Ideas would come to mind, and I would follow the path they brought me down. Most of the time, the paths I went down progressed the plot in ways that I enjoyed. Other times I had to turn around take a different path. At first, turning around and taking a different path felt like I made a mistake, but as that continued to happened I realized that it was not a mistake but a discovery. I learned more about the characters, the setting, and the plot which helped tell the story.

I have one chapter and the epilogue left to write, and then the first draft of the novel will be done. I’m looking forward to waking up tomorrow and getting a few pages closer to the end.

About Ideas

Thoughts on ideas and how one stumbles across them.

Two days ago I spent my free time—walking, doing the dishes, prepping food—trying my damnedest to conjure up an idea for a short film. The thought of “I want to make a short film one day” crept into my mind, but without a concept, I couldn’t visualize what it would look like.

I looked for an idea in the leaves on the sidewalk, the houses that lined the streets, and the minutiae around my apartment. Nothing. That same night, I brushed my teeth and stepped into the shower. In that instant an idea popped right into my head. It wasn’t a concept that would make sense as a short film, but it was an interesting and inspiring idea. An idea worth exploring.

That’s how ideas work: when you try to conjure one up, they’re elusive. When you least expect it, they show up out of nowhere. It’s a special feeling, and it’s exhilarating when one shows up.

An idea has no inherit value though. Ideas don’t get you very far. Ideas are sparks that need to be used to light larger flames that can burn for more than just an instant. Taking an idea and fleshing it out is a wonderful feeling, but for the times when all you want is a new idea, it’s best to think about anything but.