Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What a Week

So, Monday afternoon (a week ago yesterday) I returned home after a good session working on my FALL OF ARTHUR paper on the laptop at the local Starbucks to find a window smashed, a door twisted out of shape, two other doors standing open, and the apartment burgled. My first thought was, is the thief or thieves still inside? My second was, what if the cats got out? With that in mind, I went inside and had a quick look-around: lots of stuff disturbed, some things missing, no sign of the cats or the intruders. So I called 911,* had another quick look inside, and then waited for the police.** The officer arrived within just a few minutes, and after a quick question we went through the townhouse room by room. I mentioned being worried about the cats, who might have been so spooked they bolted through the open doors and, being housecats, didn't know how to take care of themselves once they were outside. The policewoman said, 'well, there's one of them now'. And indeed it was: Feanor came out of wherever he was hiding, probably upon hearing my voice. I still didn't want him to get out, so I put him on the balcony on the other side of the sliding door as a temporary measure. Didn't find Hastur, but suspected she was probably well-hidden, given that she goes to ground whenever friends come over; turned out she was under the bed, so I put Feanor in with her, along with some food and water, on the other side of a secure door.

The officer dusted for fingerprints but said the intruder seems to have worn gloves. We lost a laptop, some binoculars, and a set of silverware still in its original presentation box, none of which we expect to see again. No large items were taken -- nothing that wd have taken two people to carry, or that wd have been conspicuous if someone had been seen carrying it. The officer concluded it was likely a single person with a backpack. I was tasked with writing up a report of everything that was missing, to be submitted by the police along with a case number: brand names and serial numbers are apparently a big help. After the officer left I tried comforting the cats a little, made a hasty start on the list, did a slightly more thorough look-through from room to room, and then went to get Janice.

And now, over a week later, we're still dealing with the aftermath, and will be for weeks to come: getting the broken window fixed, exploring options about making the downstairs more secure, replacing the damaged door, thinking of ways to prevent a recurrence. The folks at the Apple store told Janice how to remotely delete everything on her vanished laptop, which she's done (and just in time too; someone tried to access it the next day). Lots of passwords have been changed, just to be on the safe side.

The week's weirdness didn't stop there. Wednesday afternoon I spent babysitting for the daughter of a friend; we watched anime together (RANMA 1/2) and generally had a good time, but it did mean a hard drive home afterwards in the dark (my night-vision seems to have declined a few more notches since the last time I was up that way at night). Thursday I watched cats at the cat-room, filling in for someone else who'd taken my usual Wednesday shift the day before (thus having enabled me to do the babysitting); Friday we had one of our 'Work-at-John's day'. And through it all the cats were unusually sociable, staying with us and settling in whichever room we were in.

Saturday after a busy week we got together with friends and watched the last Japanese-made GODZILLA movie, which was simply bizarre, an attempt to throw in every monster they cd from every previous such movie, topped off with a soundtrack by Keith Emerson (of Emerson, Lake, & Palmer fame). Sunday we visited a friend in the hospital; first time I've ever visited a psychiatric ward, which was a strange experience (lots of rules and regulations, some of which you'd expect and others you wdn't). Yesterday and today things have been getting back on track: good progress on the Tolkien paper (which I need to wrap up by the end of the year) and in general things slipping out of on-edge, waiting-for-the-shoe-to-drop mode back into daily life. Monday evening we even had our usual D&D game (we were short a player so our characters ran away a lot).

And yet today, when I thought things really were back to normal they cut down my favorite trees in all of Kent. So there may still be more weirdness in the offing.

In the end, though, we only lost stuff: the only thing that's irreplaceable being the silverware, which had belonged to Janice's parents. The burglar cd have trashed the place, which he didn't. Various small things, of no particular value but irreplaceable because of the memories associated with them, were passed by, for which we're grateful.  Janice and I and the cats are all safe. And we've seen friends going through rough times that makes us realize we're still among the lucky ones. But it'll still be a long time before we altogether get over it.

--John R.
current reading: A HISTORY OF ANCIENT EGYPT and an unpublished dissertation on JRRT.

*I've since been instructed in no uncertain terms that I shd have done this in the opposite order, calling 911 first. Live and learn.

**having been burgled once before, back in my Marquette days, I know that there's a difference between a robbery, which involves a threat of violence, and a burglary, which is simply theft. There's nothing like being on the receiving end of a burglary to make one sympathize with Smaug's point of view.

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