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afraid to walk in my apt - I'm the noisy neighbor

16 years ago

I bought my first apartment last March, in NYC. It's a coop. It's a beautiful huge apartment in a building of about 50 units, built in 1940 and overlooking a private garden. I'm an artist and wanted to paint at home, so that's why I got a large place -- to ultimately save money by not having to rent a separate studio space.

Shortly after I moved in, my downstairs neighbor started complaining about me. She banged on the ceiling several times. She came up to complain at 9:45 pm the very night I moved in because I was walking around with shoes on and didn't have rugs. I cried after she left because I had just made the biggest purchase of my life and it seemed like a bad sign.

It was a bad sign. Even though I started always taking shoes off when I got home and put down rugs with huge thick pads almost all over my apartment, she still complained. She wrote me a long letter, she banged on the ceiling. I went down to talk to her and she said that she has insomnia (not really my problem) and when she is awoken by my footsteps she can't go back to sleep . . .

I had already done everything I felt I could do -- the rugs and pads, taking shoes off. The final straw came when she left me a note telling me to go to bed at midnight and not get out of bed even if I couldn't sleep.

I snapped and sent a very firm letter to her describing all the things I had done to abate the noise and said that there is no curfew in this building!! and copied to all the coop board members and mgmt co. I heard that the mgmt co. sent her a letter telling her not to bother me anymore.

And she hasn't. Though I was away all summer and just got back so she didn't have much opportunity. But the problem is not exactly her banging on the ceiling or writing me notes-- it's the fact that every step I take in my apartment I feel self-conscious, like someone else lives in my apartment with me and is watching every move I make. I literally can't do anything without being conscious of how that is going to sound downstairs. The floors are old and creaky and you CAN hear things from upstairs. I hear my upstairs neighbors too. But I would never complain about them walking around, because what could they do besides levitate? And I don't want to make them self-conscious like I am.

One thing I originally thought was NICE about this apartment is that is overlooks a private garden and is quiet. In fact, kind of miraculous that in NYC (though not manhattan) I can be one block from a major busy shopping street, yet hear NO city noise in my apartment. The problem is that this makes ME the noisiest thing around.

So what can I do to put her out of my head? I have a list going of things I try to think of -- like 1. other people in my building think this woman is a complainer and crazy, and 2. she should be glad she doesn't live below someone with kids, or someone who is less considerate than me and stomps around in high heels and 3. this is NYC!! If she doesn't want to live in an apartment, then move to the country!

But nothing I do seems to help me. I am plagued by this. It also affects my work in that while I am painting I like to move around (quietly) from one paintings to the next so I do move around alot. But it is not stomping, it is just quietly moving from one place to another. Any suggestions?

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