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There is so much to tell, my dears, and I hardly know where to start.  Though a big, dramatic picture is probably a good way to get going, don’t you think?  This, by the way, is AJ, one of my favorite cousins.  We have a big pack of girl cousins on my mom’s side, several of whom are intimidatingly Normal.  You know, the kind of people who are always blond and tanned and marry their high school sweethearts.  AJ, despite having some blond tendencies herself (God bless our German ancestors), embraced quirkiness at a young age.  She combines it with a sweet down-to-earth quality that makes me enjoy her very much even if I don’t see her very often.

I took this picture of her Monday when we were Light Walking for the Cincinnati Opera.  They need people to come stand on stage so that they can test out lighting schemes, and if you help, you get free tickets to the Full Dress Rehearsal.  The Duchess, who has the sharpest nose for a bargain I’ve ever encountered, found out about this, and has been taking advantage of it ever since.  Usually I’m at work during the time when they need people, but this Monday was a holiday, and I was able to take part.  AJ, The Duchess, and I left my Aunt & Uncle’s lake house early to get back to Cincinnati in time.  When we got to Music Hall we went around to the stage door, where we were met by a young woman who led us onto the stage, and had us exchange places with the three people who had been Light Walking before us.  The Duchess and I were near the front of the stage, and AJ was positioned up at the top of the set in the back.  We chatted with each other, and I snapped pictures while they ran various lighting schemes.

It’s a bit harder to see this one, but they had the most beautiful sunrise/sunset effects.  After about a half an hour of standing around, they told us that we were done.  The young woman came to collect us again, handed us envelopes with our tickets for that night’s performance, and we made our way back out.  We had dinner at an upscale imitation of an Irish pub, and then wandered about the posher areas of Over The Rhine (I figured out where the street fair I’m working next Sunday will be), and headed back to Music Hall to watch the Dress Rehearsal of Otello.  And it was wonderful.  Desdemona in particular moved me to tears at least twice.  I love opera so much – it always leaves my heart full of so much beauty.  It was a lovely end to a lovely weekend.

The weekend started, of course, with my cousin’s wedding.  I don’t know this cousin very well (that whole Intimidatingly Normal thing tends to make me rather shy – something unusual for me), but I like her family a lot.  Her wedding was lovely, and the reception was fun.  My family loves to dance, so we were all happy when the DJ started.  I love dancing with my siblings – we all just kinda throw ourselves into it, and it’s great.  When the reception was over, the girl cousins headed over to Mr. T’s house for a sleep-over, and then the next day, caravaned down to Kentucky to meet up with the aunts & uncles from my Mom’s side of the family at the lake house.  It was rather an impressive house – big and furnished with every comfort my aunt & uncle could think of.  After dinner a lot of the cousins put on bathing suits and went for a swim in the lake as the sun set.  The lake was surrounded by hills, and as it got dark the neighbors started setting off fireworks.  Some of them were the really big, really beautiful, really illegal ones.  They exploded right over our heads as we floated in the water.  It was magic.

Unfortunately, once I got home real life started intruding again right away.  After the opera AJ, The Duchess and I headed back to Dayton, getting back a little before midnight.  I checked e-mail, and then got to sleep, totally bushed.  Then around 3am I was woken up by our neighbors down the street brawling outside.  There was a woman on the porch, and a man in a car on the street yelling at each other, and what sounded like two or three teenage girls giggling nervously every once in a while.  At one point it sounded like they were playing chicken with his car.  Threats of bodily violence were being thrown around, also the garbage cans that were out on the curb awaiting pickup.  The whole thing was fantastically unpleasant, particularly since they were just about right under my bedroom windows.  After a while of this I had enough, and called out my window asking them to please be a little quieter.  I got cussed out at length for my pains, in which they also let me know that they knew which car was mine.  At that point I decided to call the cops.  The dispatcher said that they would send someone around, but though I watched and waited, I never saw a cop car come.  Finally, about 4am the man finally decided to leave, and sometime after that I got back to sleep.

This is the first time I’ve had to deal with something like this in our neighborhood.  There have been other kinds of unpleasantness, sure, but usually not people screaming about how they’re going to choke other people underneath your bedroom windows at 3am.  I don’t want to make any enemies (and, yes, I do park my car not too far from their house), but I’d like to be able to sleep at night.  I know that noise complaints aren’t exactly high on most urban cop’s list of priorities, but if I can’t call them, what else can I do?  The whole thing just bothers me, especially because there doesn’t seem to be any good solution.