Sunday, November 13, 2011

How Newtzilla Save My Sanity

This is the fourth place we've lived in 3.5 years of marriage. We appear to be doomed to live next door to screaming people. The first ones were a domestically violent teenage boy and his mother.

The second was a lady with at least five kids in a 700 square foot house, who basically shrieked profanity at the lot of them constantly. She had a boyfriend who appeared to be 17, and possibly sold drugs given the number of people who would walk up to her door at 3am, speak with her briefly, and then leave. At our third house we lived next to a group home for disabled teenagers. Now we live next to a family with preschooler and a toddler, who basically scream nonstop all day, every day.

They scream when they run around outside. They scream when they fight with each other. They scream when they have to do something they don't want to do. They scream when they are excited. They appear to play games that consist entirely of taking turns shrieking like they are being murdered. Our neighborhood is pretty packed, and my home office window opens approximately 15' from their house. We don't have air conditioning in most of the house, and so basically I had no way to escape from the sound. Mind you, I did daycare for years and the sound of kids playing doesn't really phase me unless it's continuous high-pitched shrieking. One day, after six hours of continuous high-pitched shrieking, I snapped.

I was going to call Child Services on them. I was going to file a noise complaint. I was going to start screaming profanity every time they started screaming. I was utterly filled with impotent rage at the parents for viewing the screaming as "kids being kids." Just going over and talking to them was not really an option, we don't speak the same language. It would also leave me vulnerable to retribution if I ever take legal action, and I don't want to risk starting a feud with neighbors who think screaming=playing and would take offense to "Please ask your children to stop playing, their playing bothers me." Fortunately for the neighbors, they took a week-long vacation right after the Scream-a-Thon. By the time they returned, I had acquired Newtzilla.

I got Newtzilla on Craigslist. The kid who gave her to me said she was probably a Chinese firebelly newt. I was expecting to receive an animal the size of my pinky.

Newtzilla is a 9" paddletail newt, in a genus that typically tops out at 7" or so. I am utterly in awe of this animal. Unfortunately it's a bit hard to find people who appreciate her.

Half the time I get "What's a newt?" in response. Even though she is under-appreciated, Her Newtliness has proved to be a major asset to our household. She likes to have running water with a decent current, and her tank needs to stay nice and cold so I keep a fan blowing on it at all times. This provides a enough white noise to cover most of the shrieking, so I am no longer poised on the brink of madness.

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