Thursday, December 10, 2015

I was all right... for a while...

by Giselle Renarde

It was almost a decade ago that Filipino Roy Orbison moved into the apartment next door.

Cry-y-y-y-ing... over you...

My building had always been quiet before. As soon as this family moved in, every night was karaoke night. Microphone, massive speaker system. And, let me tell you, my neighbours are terrible singers.

Cry-y-y-y-ing... over you...

Crying was their favourite song. And SO LOUD the music came right through my wall. Dude's voice. In my space. Every night.

More Crying, more Crying, more Crying.

Everybody has those their own set of triggers. Loud music really does it for me. Some people can't stand traffic noise. I actually love it. I once had an apartment on a streetcar line, and every time a streetcar went by my medicine cabinet would rattle. I would feel the rumble through my floor, through my bed. I found it very soothing.

Other people's music--NO. Especially Roy Orbison. Especially karaoke.

I don't have anything against Roy Orbison. It's not like I hate his music. It's not like I even hate Crying. I don't. It's a very emotive song.

But here's the thing: I've mentioned many times that I grew up in an alcoholic household. My father is long dead, so I'll never really know why he drank, but I often think it had to do with his unlived life--the musician he was and never was.

My father told me he played in a band, when he was younger, with a musician who went on to become a Canadian rock icon. Sounds like total bullshit, right? I never believed it until my dad was mentioned by name in the guy's autobiography.

My dad's buddy went on to become a rock star while my dad landed an office job and a buttload of kids.

Dad drank to a schedule. Worked days, drank nights. Passed out on the couch during Entertainment Tonight. Sounds too perfect to be true, but I was there.

In the wee small hours of the morning, he woke up. And he turned on the stereo. And he brought out his guitar. And he sang.

We're not talking intimate serenade. We're talking cranking the volume to eleven and belting out--you guessed it--Roy Orbison.

Not ONLY Roy Orbison. Can you image? Mind you, truth is so often stranger than fiction. In fact, Elvis was my father's go-to guy. On Sunday afternoons, we'd watch Elvis movies on TV or on videos he'd checked out from the library. So, late at night (or, rather, early in the morning) he often played Elvis records and sang along. But Roy Orbison too. Crying was in the mix, but he particularly like Unchained Melody.

One of my sisters confronted him more than I did, I think. To tell you the truth, there are A LOT of gaps in my childhood memories. But I think it was mainly my sister who yelled at him and told him to stop singing and turn his music off because his children were trying to sleep.

I honestly have no memory of how he reacted to that. Not well, I imagine.

So fast-forward a couple decades and imagine my emotional state when Filipino Roy Orbison fills my apartment with his terrible rendition of Crying. Angry. Invaded. Total defeat.

But some stories have a happy ending.

As an adult, I didn't remain silent. I took action. I wrote to my property managers and they asked me to document what was happening and when. My building is NOT a party building, so they acted on it fast.

My neighbours and I have been living next to each other for nearly a decade, and I never hear a peep from them. See them in the hallway once in a while. The walls are concrete, so you really need to blast your music before it bleeds through. Could be that they're singing every night, unplugged, but as long as it isn't waking me up at 3 in the morning I don't care what they do.

No more karaoke machine.

No more Crying.

On a totally different topic, 2016 marks ten years as an author for me. I'm celebrating by giving stuff away--not only to readers, but to other writers. Established authors helped me so much when I started out, and they continue to help me to this day. At the moment, I've got premade ebook covers I'm giving away for free to authors and aspiring authors. The business side of writing can get expensive and I want to help people out in some small way. You can read more here:


  1. Holy cow, those author-title-picture combinations on the cover mockups are hilarious! I hope you had as much fun doing that as it appears. (:v>

  2. That's such a nice thing to be doing! (The book covers, not the Karaoke.) Looks like "Too Many Waterfalls" is gone already.

    Music may be even more powerful than scent for invoking emotional memories.

    1. Too Many Waterfalls was the first to go.

      Scent's probably stronger. I find the smell of beer extremely triggering. There was some kind of volunteer fair around here in the fall and they were holding it in a brewery, I guess to get young people interested? There's no way in hell I could go to a meeting in a brewery.

  3. What a story!

    Be glad you don't live in Asia. Karaoke is THE favorite entertainment. And for some reason, almost nobody can carry a tune!

    Off to ogle the book covers...

  4. Back in the 60's Momma X and I lived for a time in an apartment house. In moved a group of young people above us. Cool. But they played "Devil With the Blue Dress" pretty much constantly and I think their system 'went to eleven' as in the movie "Spinal tap". I started out liking the song but learned to hate it soon enough.

    1. I lived in an apartment house too! Oh that place was so tiny and I have such fond memories, except a big group of teenagers moved in downstairs and they would scream Yellow Submarine at the top of their lungs for HOURS.

  5. Glad you worked it out with the neighbors!

    Your covers are awesome! Jeremy is so right that your proposed titles are so great. If people don't claim them all, I want us to do a Grip anthology where we use one of the titles as is. Personally, I vote for, "She's Got a Knife" or "Bad Breakup Blues." :)

    1. If I had money, I would PAY someone to write a book called Bad Breakup Blues.

      Or I guess I could do it...