My studio is in an old building in a historic downtown area. I mostly love this. We're near glorious Lake Superior.
The neighborhood has character, unlike the cinder block prison cell I worked in when I lived in Washington, DC.
I love this neighboring building.
The building that houses the studio is hooked up to a municipal steam line, which generates heat for much of Duluth's downtown. Steam heat is different than hot water heat that you might have in your house. Instead of circulating hot water through radiators or baseboards, it pushes superheated steam at high pressure through huge pipes. The result is a heating system that is much more efficient -- one small radiator can more than heat 1500 square feet.
The steam lines connect many of the buildings downtown with speakeasy tunnels, in which we've found several wine bottles circa 1930 with wine syrup still in the bottom.
Which brings mean to part one of the crazy making.
This radiator, the one our sheepy is standing on top of, is not far from my desk.
There is something very, very wrong with this radiator.
Someone from Candid Camera has planted Will Ferrell and Steve Carell in the basement, and given them strict instructions.
"Take these hammers and hit the radiator from the inside ALL DAY EVERY DAY. Alternate between loud and soft. Never clang or bang in a rhythm, just make sure it's very noticeable and distracting, and that everyone in the vicinity will be driven crazy by it."
People, the radiator makes SO MUCH NOISE ALL THE TIME. When I talk on the phone, people ask what that noise is in the background. A plumber came today to fix it. He left without doing anything except scratching his head and saying, "Huh." Who knows when he'll come back.
I'm sure this is all part of Candid Camera's plan.
Which brings me to part two of the crazy making.
When we moved in, the space next door to us was empty. Possibly because it was painted with neon, glow-in-the-dark, anatomically-correct alien butterflies.
About a year later (I've been in this studio for two years now, can you believe it?), a new business moved in next door.
The owner of the business is a nice person. His worth as a human being is not in question.
But I do not like this business. I do not like this business at all.
This business -- which again, is owned by a nice person -- is a kettlebell gym. Do you know what kettlebells are?
They are weighted balls with handles. You swing them. They are apparently for "working out."
In addition to using kettlebells, this gym uses free weights, medicine balls, monster truck tires, and weighted ropes attached to a wall.
When a class starts, which is about six times a day, people who are there to "work out" turn their stereo to a level a normal person would seek hearing protection for. The stereo, I've discovered, only plays heavy metal music, like Lamb of God, Megadeth, and someone else Boy Aaron told me and I can't remember and don't care to.
The participants -- who pay money to do this "working out" thing -- pick up the huge free weights, hoist them above their heads, and then dead drop them on the floor. These free weights weigh about 200 pounds, and the resulting boom is very similar to a small explosion. It shakes the walls and the floors to the farthest reaches of the studio.
They pick up a monster truck tire and hurl it to the floor. They throw weighted balls at the wall behind my desk. They roar and take off most of their clothes, including their shoes. They walk around our shared back hallway wearing nothing but bike shorts, stinky and dripping puddles onto the tile. After their workouts, they stretch outdoors on the brick sidewalks, laying on the ground with no shirts or shoes on, stretching their gluteus muscles.
I'm no "work out" expert, but stretching on frigid brick hardly seems like a wise thing after a workout in which you have built up adrenaline and testosterone to the extent that you willingly pick up 200 pound objects and throw them, full-force, at inanimate objects. But hey, I'm no "work out" expert.
So, this is what my office sounds like all day:
The radiator goes, clang................clangCLANGCLANGCLANG.........taptap..........hisssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssclang
And now, add in SCREAMINGMUSICTHATISNOTREALLYMUSICANDISJUSTPEOPLESCREAMINGINRAGE
And then, throw in regular EXPLOSIONS and EARTHQUAKES and
TENNIS GRUNTIIIIIIIING and you basically have what I listen to, all at the same time, for hours every day.
It's really unpleasant.
And crazy making.
I have asked this nice business owner to keep it down, and he will lower the volume of the Angry NonMusic slightly. But he says he can't muffle the sound of a truck tire being hurled.
I have asked the owner of the building to intervene on my behalf. I was here first. I am a nice, reliable tenant with a long term lease. He says he'll look into it.
I can't move to a new studio.
I suppose I could get some noise canceling headphones, but I do need to be able to hear the phone ring, and talk to people. And I worry about them getting wet or ruined by steam.
I do have a clause in my lease that says that I have the right to the "peaceable and quiet enjoyment of the premises." I've asked this nice business owner to put up some padding on the walls and floor to dampen the sound. He said he will look into it.
Tell me, am I being unreasonable here? I understand that a neighboring business will make some noise. We have music playing (at a normal volume), and we talk and come and go, etc. I don't expect them to be silent. But I also don't expect that my neighbors will do the equivalent of set off pipe bombs to a Rage Against the Machine soundtrack, either.
Is it too much to ask that my radiator not be possessed? Should I have the right to expect that we will not have stinky people wearing almost no clothing parading around, trying to use the bathroom that we clean and stock? (The gym has its own bathroom, but it has only one stall, the door doesn't lock, and they don't clean or replenish supplies like we do. And there is no changing room or showers for members, either.)
This is a fellow small business owner trying to make a living, and I don't want to deprive him of that. But... but... it's really just not good. At all.
So what's a Yarnista to do?