Friday, January 30, 2009


My Apartment should be called Hotel Distraction. Here I am, approaching 30 and graduation from the University I knew I couldn’t avoid forever. By way of weakness, both for women and for dogs, I took on the responsibility of a puppy about ten years ago. Here he is now, in his twilight, dragging around his giant and arthritic feet, groaning every time he lies down, and still addicted to chasing the tennis ball. There will be stretches, sometimes weeks on end where neither of us own a tennis ball. But the field we visit – and have lived, and even grow up next to – somehow, provides tennis balls for our enjoyment.

Recently, I had a quiet moment at night in this field. I had both my own dog and my roommate’s dog, Lex, and they were off exploring the general parameters of the grass area. I sat down and looked over the Mill creek valley and all of the church spires and train-tracks and twinkles of street lights throughout the rolling hills of the West Side.

I listened to the hum of the traffic of I-75 and the eerie squeals from the breaks grinding against the rails, far off in the distant train-yard. This sound is wonderful at night. The notes sing out clearly and die out gradually. It’s a soft piercing that only occasionally is consciously registered, and when is, provides the listener with a sense of ethereal satisfaction. It’s the sound of a woeful, yet entirely sweet instrument. It has pain and it would like – but never insists – that you to feel it too.

That night wasn’t very cold and I felt very appreciative to be alive. I started to think that maybe time forgot to elapse a minute or two and that it was a good opportunity to thank whatever’s responsible for such a thing. But my serene meditation was broken by a bark from my dog off into the night. Mojo isn’t much of a barker; you can expect to hear one if there’s a knock at the door or if he’s convinced that a person is trying to eat his toys, but otherwise, he communicates through growls, howls, snorts and whines. He’s a helluva dog.

I wandered over to the fence where the field meets the woods and there he was digging at the soil near the fence. It was dark, but I could make out a light-colored sphere just beyond the fence. There it sat, laughing at my dog and reveled in its safety. Mojo became incensed at such a mockery and was determined to kill it slow and methodically by chasing it to death, but he needed my help to exact his revenge. It took a while for me to pull it out from under the chain-link fence, and Mojo squirmed and moaned while I tried. Once apprehended and chewed on vigorously for a minute or two, we threw it around the field for a while; Mojo can track it with his ears at night. All this time, Lex aimlessly meandered around the field, oblivious to what the two of us were doing.

Recently I read that once a tennis ball loses its bounce, a night in the oven with just the pilot on will restore it back to playing condition. I brought the ball home with us to find out.

It turns out, I should have left the ball in the oven for good. Mojo has lost his mind since that little, fuzzy green thing has entered the house. He sets it in my lap and I absent-mindedly throw it and he brings it back and sets it in my lap and I brush it off and yell at him and he sets it in my lap and I get mad and bean him in the head with it and yell at him some more and he sets it in my lap, and so on. As I write this, he gazes up at me trying on his most pathetic facial expression and when I meet his stare, he glances at the ball as to indicate what’s on his mind. I won’t indulge him with my attention but now the ball is in my lap again. Dammit.

My neighbors are far worse than my dog; I love my dog. I’m wedged between two apartments that seem like nothing more than giant speaker boxes. The one upstairs is the absolute worst. Here is a man in his thirties, who is a rave disc jockey! Rave music was made for 16-year-old girls who experimented with MDMA in 1995. It was a failed marriage of trendy music and drugs and it should have died once America decided that maybe glow-sticks and pacifiers and enormous pants were stupid after all. Yet this man above is a true veteran of the “scene” and has apparently found some meaning of his existence in the constant, nerve-racking thumps which pound through his floorboards and Dave’s ceiling. I loathe this individual for this reason alone.

The man underneath is far more reasonable in the frequency of his jam sessions. He tends to be respectful of the hour and rarely plays his music for long stretches. But the audio system he owns is one of great amplifying power, and the music played through it has shaken objects on the tables and desks of our apartments. It stirs the dogs and they look up at us with mild concern. You can feel it in your feet. It’s unsettling.

There are times when I feel that the downstairs apartment competes with the upstairs apartment, each thinking it is the middle apartment that rivals their volume.

--- B. Clifton Burke


  • At 10:32 AM , Blogger Justin Patrick Moore said...

    Excellent work there Mr. Grosky from the province of Ming. At a point I thought your dog had actually found a Will O' Wisp rather than a tennis ball. My condolences about the ravester. As a fan of electronic music, I hate to admit, that the four to the floor, ecstasy bass thump crap, is also made electronically.

  • At 3:11 PM , Blogger dave said...

    That upstairs neighbor sure sounds annoying. Nice image of the park in the evening. I personally think the press box couch is the prime allegorical expression of the apartment. Smells like dog...

  • At 1:10 PM , Anonymous professornutbudder said...

    That damn weakness for women! I have it too, and it has led to nothing but misery, except for the one bright light in my life, Lucas. I feel Mojo exudes some of that same light to you Ming. So, women must not be evil after all(just the ones I hook up with!!!!).

  • At 11:11 AM , Blogger Noon said...



    (Door Opens)


    (Beasts backing away)



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