Friday, December 16, 2005

Racking it up

I'd been avoiding looking at my bank balance. Contrary to what “become a travel writer and live a glamorous life and get paid for it” websites would have you believe, I don’t get paid much. At all. And so I color comic books, or do copyediting. The latter pays pretty well, but the former pays only slightly better than cleaning the birdcage did when I was 6.

Finally, I had to look. I squinted so that the horror would not blind me.

Negative $240.


It’s been one thing after another since I arrived home. $85 to fix the self-defrost in the ‘fridge (FYI, Turbo, there IS water in a ‘fridge). A few hundred for leaky power steering things in Henry the Ford Taurus. $165 to Al for moving the relief valve on my hot water heater for the inspectors while I was in Africa. Taxes on the garage. $5.75 for the opening day matinee of King Kong.

The cupboards are bare.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, last night it was sleeting out so I parked the car in front of my house. It was cold and icy and I didn’t want to walk back from the garage.

This morning I was on a frantic end-of-day Marvel Masterworks coloring deadline and was screaming along through pages. My street is a 2-hour parking zone, but usually no one checks, so I left the car.

Finally, I went to move it.

The Boot. Henry the Ford Taurus was wearing The Boot.


Yancey rushed me up to the Parking Authority, where I paid $75 to remove The Boot and $42 for the corresponding ticket. Picked up a day parking permit, rushed home and got back to coloring.

Then the locksmith came and my neighbor Helen and I spent 20 minutes talking Medeco versus Mul-T-lock with a guy named Cosmo.

Cosmo was here as a result of yesterday’s horror story. Or not-horror, because actually I was pretty lucky.

I went to the supermaket in the afternoon. Came in to surprise a young fellow who was in my apartment building and knocking on my apartment door.

“Who are you looking for?”

“The Super,” he replied. “I saw the sign outside and I’m looking for an apartment to rent.”

“It’s for sale, not rent,” I told him. “There’s no Super. It’s a condo building.”

“Oh sorry.”

He went to leave and I stopped him. I gave him explicit instructions on how to get to Del Forno Real Estate.

“Are you in a car or on foot?” I asked him.

“Foot.” He made a face.

“Ah, you’ll want to walk over to Armagno then.”

I gave him directions to the closer realtor. He repeated them and left. I went into my apartment. Wait… no one else is home. How the hell did he get in?

And the sign outside clearly says “condo for sale.”

A realization started to dawn on me. I checked the front door locks. Intact. Checked the basement. All deadbolts were in place.

The outside door usually does not shut all the way. We need a new door-closer and have been lax about getting one. The inside door was still locked and there was no evidence of a break-in.

I emailed everyone in the building. No one had been home. No one had buzzed the guy in.

He must have picked the lock.

Helen and I met with Cosmo about changing the locks. Cosmo is putting in two unpickable locks and a “jimmy-bar.” $400. He showed us how to fix the door-closer--with a little WD-40. Took Helen 20 seconds.

Cosmo also showed us a tiny mark that I had not noticed. My pal the prospective renter had jimmied our front door.

I had an entire conversation and tried to be helpful to a burglar!

I’m not a religious person. And I try not to be superstitious. But part of me can’t help but believe there is some sort of scorecard somewhere, and that I’ve had my bad luck numbers for the year and that I’m due for a change.

But then I realized… I had been lucky. Had I gone to the post office after the supermarket, the burglar may have absconded with my laptop. Or worse, I could have surprised him in my place and gotten a sore head as a result.

Can someone tell me if bad luck comes in waves? If there are odds that mean I'll get some good luck soon?


Anonymous said...

You don't know me, but I'm a reader. I'm sending this comment to offer encouragement and to let you know your blog is read. I found out about it surving the net in search of stuff on Kampala. I spent 6 months there last year on a fellowship working at the Monitor. I have enjoyed seeing the reactions of another American woman traveling in the same parts.
More encouragement: I'm 15 years older than you and so can assure you life after 40 is still good and still full of adventure.
I'm a blogger too ( who has wrestled with the question of what to do after your home from Africa. I kind of let it lapse and then start in again. I'm in Bosnia now. Thanks for some great reading. Rosemary

Marie Javins said...

Rosemary, thanks for the encouragement. It's incredible how many "little" things have gone wrong since I've gotten home, which of course followed the "big" unmentionable thing in Murchison. I'm obviously at a semi-despairing loss at the moment, but readers have been kind enough to be encouraging instead of tuning out or telling me to quit whining.

I just read the latest entries on your blog and I had to laugh at all the people asking if you were a missionary. The same thing happened to me early on in Kampala. Us non-NGO, non-church, non-tourists running around are just not that common.

I couldn't find your email on your site but mine is my first initial, last name (Javins) at Yahoo. (How's that for avoiding the spam robots?)

I can't wait to go through your blog and read about your Monitor days. I am really impressed with the bravery of the people working there. They must know they will be crushed sooner or later but they are still printing news as it happens!

Anonymous said...

Luck comes and goes of its own accord. Trying to set odds on it is like counting stars. Sure you can do it but it's meaningless for any practical purpose (meaningless for the impractical ones too). Now counting your blessings (as my Grandmother taught me) is time well spent. And always be nice to burglars. When you have them at gunpoint. That is what you need to do Marie, take up shooting. He won't get your Uncle Ben. I am in a rambling mood now ain't I?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Jared - sometimes the universe is looking out for you! Don't queston - just be thankful.
I think alot of people relate to your musings, questions, anxiety, etc. of life the universe and everything....
Oh - in NM they all get married and/or have kids real young too and I get the perplexed look when I say I don't have kids whatever!
I think it's all about perspective - and you know like alot of folks have commented - I'm learning alot about the places you've traveled! Hang in there!