Monday, September 05, 2011

Back to Life ... Back to Reality

I would love to tell you that we came home from vacation and continued to relax on this three-day weekend that marks the end of the summer for most folks (here in the Bay Area it doesn't get warm until mid-September) across the country.

Alas, I'd be lying.

Friday night while sitting in the living room we heard loud voices. Looking around Alan saw a couple of people sitting in a car in front of our house. I don't know what they were doing there or why, but they were talking pretty loudly. We closed our windows and thought nothing more of it. Until shortly before 1:30 a.m. when I heard what I thought was someone breaking a window close to our house. I kept listening but didn't hear anything else. I woke Alan up and said, "did you hear that?" He kind of muttered something and then went back to sleep. Then a couple of minutes later I heard another loud bang simultaneously accompanied by a quick flash of light. The bang sounded like it was coming from right outside my bedroom window and the flash was bright enough that I saw it even with our shades drawn. I heard muffled voices immediately afterward, but nothing else. I kept listening, waiting for the inevitable sound of police sirens, but none ever came. I fell asleep pretty agitated and worried about how close it was to our house. I was pretty convinced it was gunshots, but the following morning there was an email thread between our neighbors - some said it was definitely gun shots, others said it was M-80s. It turns out there had been a brawl at the corner earlier in the evening and the police had come to investigate but nothing was done about it. We think those people hanging out in the car talking loudly were a holdover from that event.

Regardless of whether it was gunshots or M-80s, we continue to have problems with this same group of neighbors - these are the ones that brought the shoot-out to our neighborhood a handful of months ago, and were the primary participants of the brawl. They are known drug growers and dealers - this is why rival dealers keep targeting them. And yet the police do nothing about the problem. Last I checked being a known dealer was a criminal offense. Lord knows our jails are filled with people who smoke dope - how is dealing it not worth some jail time?

So yeah, I'm filled with a ton of anxiety. I hate living here. When we were in Canada I kept telling Alan that I really think we should move there (especially if an idiot like Bachmann or Perry takes the Presidency). Coming home to very real very thug behavior is a rude reminder of just how much I've grown to hate living in the city. We're not safe. While we were gone there was a series of vehicle break-ins and thefts. We were lucky (we also never leave anything in our cars to entice the scum). But will we always be lucky? When that shoot-out happened a couple of months ago, there were bullets flying in our neighborhood five minutes after Alan left to get his hair cut. What if he had scheduled his appointment for 15 minutes later and had been leaving at the same time as the drive-by that lodged bullets in a couple of buildings on our block? What if a stray bullet meant for one of those thugs goes through our window instead? It's happening left & right in other urban areas across the country. This is a far too common occurrence. Or, what if that M-80 lands on one of our neighbors' roofs and lights the place up? What if it lands on our roof? At least in that scenario we'd be able to get out of our house in time. A stray bullet to the head would be a little less easy to walk away from.

I know this sounds alarmist. It is. Because I am alarmed.

When we were in Tofino I had no trouble sleeping. I ate whatever I wanted and had very little GERD. I had one night where I had a racing heart and couldn't sleep and that was because I had made the mistake of thinking about what I needed to take care of when we got home. Add the stressors of every day life that we all have - by no means do I think my regular concerns are any different than yours or yours - to the anxiety I'm feeling about living in a drug war zone, and it's no wonder that I can't sleep and I'm constantly sick. I'm anxious and I'm terrified.

I'm done with Oakland.

As soon as we can, we're out. The mayor is a joke. The police can't protect us.