Six years ago when I moved to the Monterey Peninsula to take a job as a teacher, the realtor asked me what my salary would be, showed me the seven houses I could afford in the entire area, all of them in Seaside, and told me to pick one.

This is the neighborhood where teachers, janitors and drug dealers live. My neighbor is a bus boy. I needed to buy, not rent, because I had two dogs at the time, and no one wanted to rent to me.

And now, six years later, it's Friday night. Party night. I fell asleep sitting at my computer around 8:30 pm, but was awakened by loud barking. Really loud, non-stop barking. My own dogs slept innocently on the couch. I walked out the front door in my socks and followed the sound. A small, illegal motor scooter, one of the ones that sound like mosquitos on steroids, came buzzing by me going the wrong way around our one-way street. A child rode his bicycle in the wake of the scooter, shouting encouragement laced with obscenities.

I found the source of the barking almost a block away. A brown pitbull leaning halfway out a second-story apartment window, barking his fool head off at the kids playing in the street nearby. The kids told me they didn't know who owned him, but his name was Tyson. Charming. I should mention here that I now have three pitbull mutts, each one a total sweetie, and I'm not generally scared of the breed, but Tyson was a serious brute.

Even though the dog was almost 20 feet from the ground, I wasn't convinced that he wouldn't jump, I was really nervous walking by, but I did, and rang the doorbell. No one home, naturally, but I could hear the dog running down the stairs to the front door. I had visions of the door opening, and the dog leaping out at me, but he was soon back in his window, barking again.

I gave up and walked home. No sooner had I closed the door; BOOM, the sound of fireworks. Yes, almost three weeks after July fourth they're still going off almost nightly. My own sweet pit bull, Mrs. Beasley, is terrified of fireworks and immediately went into a panic mode, pacing and trembling. I called the police, knowing Tyson-the-dog would stop barking just before they arrived, which he did, an hour or so later.

Chatted with the very nice policeman for a while, and got the latest gossip about Fat Kenny, the neighborhood drug dealer. He told me Kenny was finally in jail, which explains why his cadillac hasn't been around lately. Hoorray! But that still leaves the guy on the next block, the one in the wheelchair who sits out in the street waiting for customers. The cop knew him too, and said he'd been there for years, and in fact had been crippled as a result of dealing, but obvioudly hadn't had any big epiphanies, because he was still at it.

Did some work since I was now wide awake. Just now two shots rang out, and Mrs. Beasley, who's also afraid of gunshots, began pacing and trembling again, tail tucked, miserable.

Now it's 11 pm and that Tyson dog's barking again. Non-stop. Everyone says how much better this neighborhood is getting, and it is, but not fast enough so my dogs and I can enjoy a relaxing evening at home, after six years. Grrrrrrrr!