Sunday, March 26, 2006


Having lived in my current apartment for two and a half years now--the longest I have lived anywhere since my parent's home!--I have become accustomed to the particular soundscape of my neighborhood. At night I often hear police helicopters, cars zooming away from the valet parking of the Mexican restaurant on the corner, the rumble of partying on the Sunset Strip, and late at night the stumbling footsteps of drunken gay men returning home from the boulevard. The predominantly Russian residents of my building often have loud conversations in the courtyard that always sound angry to me. The male nurses for an elderly lady downstairs often sit outside having a cigarette and discussing Shakespeare (no joke), and the woman below me watches television most nights at a volume that is not overly loud, but loud enough to slightly vibrate my floor in this creaky building. In the building next door there is a woman I have never met, or even seen, but she carries on long conversations with her dog. She is from the south; the dog's name is Oliver.

These sounds are all rather comforting to me now. But there is one that I just cannot figure out. Sporadically, what sounds like an older man will cough loudly. That might seem innocuous, but it is a bizarre cough--very dry and hacking, and always just in a single burst. I wish I could transcribe it somehow, or record it, but I never know when it is coming. Just when I least expect it, a booming "hack!" will come careening in my window, and every time it happens I am startled.

Okay, enough procastination.

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