Now I couldn’t tell you when the Peace Palace was built, but I can tell you what they used to build it: paper. Sweet Jaysus the noise here. Of course there’s the hubub associated with any multi-inhabitant dwelling, however there’s no denying that soundproofing was not high on the construction checklist.

I’m doing my best to adapt and adjust, but it’s not easy. I knew coming from the silence of Semur would put me at a distinct disadvantage here in the ‘big city’ of 12,000 people, all of whom seem to live above or beside me. I’m learning to accept the 4 a.m. Niagara Falls that is my neighbour’s urine stream, but there’s one racket that rankles me to no end: les talons.

Yes, heels. You all know I’m an Amazon, so the concept of heels in general is lost on me. Why women are now choosing to teeter about on platform stilettos makes me seriously doubt our status as the smarter sex, but I digress. The issue here is the choice to stomp about in said shoes on hardwood floors at 6 in the morning. Who in their right brain would ever do that? My upstairs neighbour, that’s who.

She’s up at 6, the other neighbour is up until 2. Who knew how exhausting it is to live on 4 hours of sleep a night? I mean it’s fine for me. I’m not making life and death decisions these days, so having my head crash into a plate of food on a regular basis is entirely acceptable. But for the man who must work hard to maintain a certain wifestyle, this will not do at all.

So after three weeks of asking the question of whether we could get used to it or not, the answer is: Christ almighty woman, if you don’t take those shoes off I’m coming up there to start throwing them at your head. This is where living in a foreign country gets a bit tricky. One must be polite yet insistent so as to get what one wants while avoiding offending the people who control your sleep schedule. Fine in a language and a culture you know, in French and in Switzerland, could be dicey.

After 3 or 4 fruitless knocks on her door, we had to leave her a note, which in my mind was the worst way at it. It’s hard to be all smiley and Canadian in a bland letter. But desperate times and all that. We’ll see how it goes. My only fear is that she’ll be insulted and start running a chainsaw at dawn. Earplugs are my next strategy.

Anyway, we are trying to be considerate of our neighbours. We found these wireless headphones at the grocery store that allow red-headed men to watch Lord of the Rings at top volume without disturbing others. At first I thought this a bit of overkill, but I must say they work quite well. Every piece of dramatic dialogue (me) and every clang of swords (him), indeed every auditory nuance of the movie is delivered right to your ears in a silent room.

Genius idea, although I can’t even imagine how stupid we must look—two fools sitting on a couch staring straight ahead, wearing giant headphones. All that’s missing are the tin-foil helmets to ward off aliens reading our thoughts.

 

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