Alexandra Duncan

Science Fiction. Fantasy. Feminism.


Around the time I turned nine, I became obsessed with the book Harriet the Spy, in which the protagonist spends her days spying on people and recording their idiosyncrasies in a notebook. Harriet eventually ends up alienating all of her friends, but the lesson was lost on nine-year-old me. I thought spying on my neighbors and recording my observations was the greatest idea ever, and spent the good part of a year mimicking Harriet.

As time went by, my written observations transformed into more socially acceptable forms
of voyeurism: photography and fiction writing. Yet recently, I've discovered two new everyday mysteries that intrigue me.

Ever since our washing machine broke around New Year's, I've been taking our laundry over to the laundromat across the street. It's one of the nicest, sunniest laundromats I've ever been to, and it has fairly diverse clientele, so it's always good for people-watching. The mystery is the canaries. They live on top of the Coke machine by the front door. Buy why? Is it just part of the sunny atmosphere, or do they serve some utilitarian purpose? Is the laundromat in danger of becoming filled with carbon monoxide, like a mine shaft? Are they watch-canaries? Who do they belong to?

I know I could ask, but for now, I prefer my theories to a concrete answer. It makes my weekly trip to the laundromat so much more exciting.

Pipe organs, goats, and mysterious structures
As if he were not enough of an enigma already, our neighbor, who raises goats and runs "Our Creator School of Surviving Skills," has recently erected a mysterious structure on his property. We have yet to determine its purpose. It's a tower, approximately 25 feet tall, with open windows in the sides. One of our friends thought it might be a smokehouse, but the open windows suggest otherwise.

On occasion, our neighbor also plays a pipe organ secluded somewhere in the depths of his house. His bouts of musical expression always take place in the middle of the day and usually follow a meandering, improvisational line, rather than any recognizable melody. We can hear him playing from our kitchen window, but the music is never too loud.

Some of the other neighbors complain about him, but frankly, I prefer his goats and pipe organ improv to the electric reindeer and mechanized Christmas carols the family across the street subjected us to from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. every day from mid-December until New Year's Day this past year. They say good fences make good neighbors, and he has one hell of a fence.

Powered by Squarespace. Background image by Stocktrek Images.