When it rains…

Bad things happen in threes.

When it rains, it pours.

If I didn’t have bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.

All of these cliches I can relate to, and each of them apply to my life in the past few months. And I have probably said them, or had them said to me, more than once recently.

Of course I attribute the start of this string to the whole apartment search debacle of a few months ago. Thankfully, that situation worked itself out well, but it wasn’t without its own set of ramifications. First, my car got booted… which isn’t really the fault of the neighborhood, just bad timing. Then my kitchen flooded after a torrential downpour. Then, on Thursday, I got burglarized.

I should probably state right here that not everything has been bad. There has also been some good– I do love my new place, and I’ve been dating a wonderful guy. But it just seems that for every good thing that happens, a bad thing has to come along to even the scales.

The week started off fine, but on Sunday, I had a very vivid nightmare that, had I read their signs at the time, might have helped me avoid the pain to follw. But hindsight being 20/20 (another overused cliche), there is really nothing I could have done anyway.

I dreamt I was at my Nana’s house, the house she moved out of in 1987. I was upstairs and my Dad was downstairs in the basement. I could hear a roaring sound from outside, so I opened the front door. I saw a jet airplane crashing down, heading for the house next door. When it hit, I felt nothing, but when I looked back outside I could see bodies laying on the ground. Nana’s house was fine. And then I woke up.

I tried to figure out the meaning of the dream, so I searched online for dream interpretations. Most of the similar dreams I found were interpreted to mean a foreshadowing of a traumatic experience– not harmful to me physically, but certainly emotionally.

I didn’t realize how true that prediction would end up being. I oughta change my profession to “dream whisperer” or something.

On Thursday, I left for work early in the morning, and left Andrew in bed. He started work later, and by now I felt comfortable with him at my place by himself. He doesn’t have a key, so I told him to lock the door before closing it and it’d be fine. Besides, I didn’t have a key for the bolt either, so that was what I did every day too.

While on my way home at 7:45pm, I texted Andrew to see how his day went and if there were any issues before he left. He said no, he left around 10am and all seemed fine. I grabbed my mail and walked around to the back door.

When I found it wide open, I knew something was very wrong. At first I thought maybe Andrew was there already, waiting for me… but that was impossible since he didn’t have a key. Then I thought he never left, but when he didn’t answer when I called his name, I knew that was out.

Then I noticed the cats were overly jumpy, and there were numerous pools of vomit on the floor.

And then I saw my bedroom. It was disheveled and ransacked. Someone had been in here. I knew where to go next.

I got to the living room and first noticed that the TV, DVD and stereo equipment were all still there.. but then I saw that my computer and flat screen monitor were gone. The keyboard was laying face down on the floor, and all the wires had been literally ripped from the back of the computer.

I called Andrew to tell him what I had found. He was just getting to Target, only a few blocks away from me. He assured me that he locked the door when he left, and I believed him. I just couldn’t figure out how they had gotten in.

I started looking around for other things that had been taken. The first I noticed was my camera bag. It had been either right next to the computer or on my oversized ottoman, across from the computer. Either way, it, and my camera and all three lenses, were gone.

I then went back to the bedroom, but first stopped in another spot, where I knew a very important family heirloom was kept. When I found it there, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. That was irreplaceable, and I was thankful I hadn’t kept it in a conspicuous place.

I looked through the bedroom, trying my best not to disturb anything. The only thing I could find missing were two decent-sized duffel bags, which had one valuable item– my Flip camera. They probably used them to carry things out of my apartment.

I called 911, then my Mom, and the my boss, telling him I probably wouldn’t be at work tomorrow and what happened. And then I sat and waited.

In the silence, waiting for the police, I started asking the usual questions: Why? Who did this? What did they want? And of course, Why me?
I started to feel vulnerable… violated… and very alone. And naturally, scared.

I knew I didn’t want to be alone, so when Andrew called back again and asked if wanted him there, I didn’t hesitate to say “yes.” When he arrived, the emotions I had not yet been able to feel suddenly flowed out. I felt insantly safe, and more secure.

The police arrived shortly after Andrew. There were two cops, both guys (and yes, they were attractive– I know you’ll ask) and they were both friendly and reassuring. I walked them through everything and they wrote up their information. The thing they, and I, couldn’t yet figure out was how they got in. They had to file it as an ‘unforced entry’ because they could see no signs saying otherwise.

After they left, I heated up some leftovers for Andrew and I, since we still hadn’t eaten. The cops said to expect an evidence technician to arrive later on to dust for fingerprints and take photos. I was living in a real-life crime scene. So while preparing dinner, I noticed some items had been knocked off my windowsill in the kitchen, and that the blinds looked askew. When I opened the blinds, I discovered how the theives got in. The screen had been lifted, and it wasn’t like that before.

The evidence technician arrived a few hours later. She was an older woman and she was, as Andrew said after she was done, a peach. She was all business, but she had great anecdotes about her life on the force, and what people expect from evidence techs thanks to TV vs. reality. She was truly fascinating.

I showed her what I had discovered about the kitchen window. She looked at the closed window, shone her flashlight at it, and said, “yep, this is it alright. Look at those BEAUTIFUL handprints!”

“Law and Order” here I come!

We also discovered my carving knife, which was in the dish drainer in front of that same window. I couldn’t figure out how someone could get in with that knife poking upward, in the way. She said, “Easy. They picked it up, dropped it in the sink, the put it back after they got in. She then dusted the knife for prints, and I could see prints on the dull side and on the tip. “These,” she said, pointing to the prints on the side, “are probably yours. But these,” she said, pointing to the ones on the tip, “are probably theirs.”

She lifted the prints, after taking many photos, then went to work on the window. She ruled out the desk and everything on it, because wood surfaces do not generally leave usable prints. Same for my dresser and the bedroom. But she got some good things anyway, so it was a job well-done. She then took my prints, to use against the ones she had lifted, and was on her way.

I called my insurance company and started a claim on my renters’ insurance. I never thought I’d actually use it, but boy am I glad I have it.

There is a lot more work ahead of me. I have to write lists of everything that was stolen, along with receipts and manual covers. I have a replacement policy, so I will get new stuff (minus a $500 deductible, howevweer that works) but eventually I’ll be back in business. And thankfully I backed up all my files, so getting back on track won’t be so difficult.

But I learned some valuable lessons, and the #1 lesson is that when you live in a garden apartment, you are highly susceptible to burglaries. So I need to take extra precautions. I have a lot more learning to do, I fear.

As the night finally drew to a close, I got in bed and held Andrew tight. I took a sleeping pill because I knew I’d never be able to sleep without it. While laying there I suddenly realized that, just a few hours earlier, strangers had been in there.. in my room.. my personal space. The feeling of violation returned. But then one of the cats jumped on the bed, and Andrew pulled me closer… and the thought went away.

I’ll be okay. Sometimes when it rains, it pours… but the rain dries up, and in its wake, flowers bloom.

And lessons can be learned.

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Resolution (Conclusion)

When last I left you, I had signed a lease for my new apartment, and things were looking up.  And for the most part, they kept looking up.  Minus a few setbacks, of course.  

But instead of rehashing all the drama step by step, I’ll just summarize and say that I am all moved in and settled.  I love my new apartment.  It’s spacious, clean, and there is actually more room here than I even guessed.  Of course, that has a lot to do with how much crap I purged before I moved — and believe me, I purged a LOT of crap.  

So how did I get to this point?  Here’s the summary….

1. My deal with the old apartment – The rental company kept my check and cashed it, even though I asked them not to, which set off a domino effect of problems.  It created a ton of stress for me, but it all got worked out in the end.  Especially since I had already signed a lease for my new apartment by then.  

2. Moving Day – I ended up hiring a U-Haul, and also hired two guys to help move, in addition to the wonderful help I received from four friends of mine.  I don’t know what would have done without them.  The day itself was as bad as it could possibly have been.  It was pouring rain almost all day long, and when I woke up in the morning that day (I barely slept as it was), I still didn’t know where to pick up my truck.  I called U-Haul at about 7:30 in the morning and they told me I had to pick it up at 7am and bring it back by 1pm.  HA.  Fat chance.  They didn’t see the mound of boxes I had stacked up and the number of furniture items I had.  

So I picked up the truck in the pouring rain and drove it back home.  One by one my friends arrived, and then the movers arrived.  I tell you, these guys were amazing.  They strapped so much stuff on their backs it made MY back hurt.  And they just kept going and going.  

At one point, my friend Bradley looked at me and said, “Rick, you really need to dump some of this stuff.”  I knew it, too.  And so I started throwing things away.  I didn’t even look inside boxes or crates– I just dumped it.  You see, in my family, we are, by nature, pack rats.  So it’s hard to part with stuff.  Well when push comes to shove, that trait goes out the window.  And in the end, I’m very glad that it did.  

I finally got all moved into my new place– save for a few more things left behind that I would pick up the next day.  Another friend called after everyone had gone home and asked if I needed help, so he came by and we set up my bedroom so I could sleep that night. And once we were done and had unloaded and unpacked a few more things, I had a bed to sleep on at last.  

I had one major casualty in the move: my sofa.  It would not fit in either door, no matter how hard we tried.  But it was pretty well destroyed anyway, (the cats had done their work on it over the years, both as a scratching post and, at one bad point in time, as a litter box!) so I was not exactly sad to see it go.  

3. The cats – My friend Rafael watched the cats for me while the move happened, so they didn’t have to be around for all the craziness.  When I took them back home, I wasn’t quite sure how they would react to the new surroundings, but they have absolutely LOVED it right from the start.  I think being away from their “things”  for so long made them very happy to be back, no matter where it was.  They are loving seeing new and exciting things out the windows, and finding new places to run and hide.  

So overall, the move went well, and I am very happy here.  I finally took some pictures the other day, and they are below.  From here, new adventures begin.  We’ll see where this all leads me.  Thanks for all of your support and encouragement through all of this — It was a really awful experience at the beginning, but it turned out to be a wonderful outcome in the end.

Bedroom from door

The Pink Bathroom - Sink

Kitchen - from hall

Living Room - From Entry

Dining Area

Living Room - Shelves

Living Room - Desk

Resurrection (Part 1)

I know what you’re thinking.

“I’m leaving!” “I’ll be seeing you.” “I’ll be around.” “Don’t miss me too much.” “Blah blah blah blah blah.”

Yeah, I know. I said it was forever. I said I was done, I was moving on, and I was through.

And I know I said I had a lot of things going on and I needed to cut things out to concentrate on things that mattered. I know, I said it.

Turns out, however, that this mattered too.

Truth be told, when I shut this blog down, I was entering a very dark period in my life. Ironically though, I didn’t even know it at the time.

In my last post, I said that I was moving, and I needed to concentrate on that whole process, as well as focus my energy on new tasks that had come before me. All of that was true, and is still true as of this writing. In fact, as of this moment I have still NOT moved.

I hope you have a few minutes.

My intention at the outset was to move in with a friend and share a two- or three-bedroom apartment. I wanted to cut expenses and possibly save some money for the first time in a very long time. When I wrote my goodbye here, that plan was pretty well-set, and things were looking pretty good.

But on March 1, that all changed.

Just a couple days before March 1, I had informed my landlord that I was moving a month early. My future roommate was already scoping out places, and we were set to start looking at them and getting things squared away. When I told her the situation, she was fine with it; knowing how difficult things had become for me at this location, and how I needed to start cutting back. Plus it would give her time to make whatever renovations needed to be made here (and there are plenty, believe me) in time for a new tenant to move in for May 1.

But when I woke up the morning of Saturday, March 1, I got an Email from my future roommate, telling me that he had to back out of the plan. He had recently experienced some changes in his life, and decided it was better for him to live on his own. He was sorry for putting me in a bad spot, but he had made his decision.

While I understood his reasons– he had told me what happened about a week prior to his Email, which I am not going to repeat here– to say it put me in a bad spot was grossly understated. I had a full-out panic attack. Here I was, a month before my move-out date… a month earlier than I had previously expected… and I had no roommate, no apartment, and nothing in the works. I was back at square one, and it was not a good feeling.

I called my landlord back and told her the situation, but she said she had made preparations to start reconditioning my unit, so she wanted to stay with April 1. I was stuck. I couldn’t stay any longer. I had to move.

(Part 2 tomorrow)

Some things to consider

One:

Chicago Tribune endorses Barack Obama for President- First Democratic candidate to receive endorsement in the paper’s history.

Two:

General Colin Powell endorses Barack Obama

Three:

As explained in Col. Powell’s endorsement, being a Muslim does not make someone un-American.  

Mother at grave of her son as described by Gen. Colin Powell

Four:

100,000 show up to see Obama in St. Louis