Shaking Us Up

Wow- hello! I never thought it would feel so good to see your faces after the past few weeks! I was beginning to think that my days of internet in my apartment were over...

In my life, it seems like every once in a while a random event happens that really shakes things up. Along those lines, here's a story:

Usually I head into work around 2-2:30pm (since I work evenings), but lately I've been going in 1-2 hours early to work on the gigantic "The Wizard Of Oz" set (opening April 21st). So on Wednesday, March 28th, at around 1:15pm, I packed up a lunch, closed the blinds, and headed off to work as usual. As I locked the door to our apartment, I saw two strangers talking in the stairwell of our hallway. I had never seen them before, and I looked one of them right in the eye and he said, "Hey, what's up?" to me. I replied, "Not much," and headed out to my car. And I had the thought, "I bet these guys are going to break into an apartment. And now that they just saw me leave, I wonder if they are going to break into my apartment."

Sometimes I hate being right.

Many people who know me know that I am pretty paranoid about things like this- I lock my car even in between trips to unload my groceries- and I have these kinds of thoughts all of the time. So I said to myself, "Ciara. You're being irrational. Those guys are probably visiting their friends' apartment or they could have just moved in". As I drove out of our complex, I saw a tan boat-like car parked by the lake (ie. not near any apartment) with no one in it and the right turn-signal on. I found that pretty odd, but again I talked myself out of thinking it was suspicious, especially our super-slow postman was just delivering our mail. I figured he would notice if someone loudly kicked in our door or ran out with piles of loot. So I went to work early as planned.

As I was leaving work several hours later, I checked my cellphone messages and saw that Demoree called. Instead of listening to the message, I just called her back, and she said that "everything is under control now" and I knew. I KNEW they had broken into our apartment. Just in case I was wrong, I still asked, "What do you mean?" and she said, "The police are here now"... And in an instant, I imagined every precious thing of mine gone. I have renters' insurance, so I wasn't worried about the money of replacing everything; I was worried about my sentiments, my memories, my life- or at least the objects that represent my life- being taken.

It was one of the longest 10-minute rides home of my life.

I got home to a policeman, a completely broken-down door, a maintenance man, roommates, boyfriends, and friend Alison. And after asking about 20 questions, I realized that we were really "lucky"- they only stole our laptops, some jewelry, a checkbook, and a mp3 player. Don't get me wrong; losing all of those things really sucks, but they could have taken so much more (like our cameras, electronics, stowed cash...) and thankfully Demoree and I had our hard drives semi-recently backed up. The police officer said that they probably saw the laptops through the open blinds (either that morning or some other day) and were just interested in stealing them. And apparently someone else in our building saw the same strangers I did and called the police, but it was too late to catch them. The maintenance man says he thinks this is the first break-in our apartment complex has ever had. Well, lucky us.

But seriously, we are lucky we weren't there when it happened.

I still haven't replaced any of my stolen stuff, but it'll get done eventually (like after I finish working on 2 huge productions at the high school). In the meantime, Karen just bought a new laptop yesterday (it's good she didn't get it before the break-in!) and that's what I am using to write this. We've also bought some curtains so it's a little harder to see into our living room from outside and got a new thick metal plate around our door lock. Looking around here, you'd think things have gotten more back to normal... Have they?

I had many mixed feelings and random thoughts following this whole incident:

1. Could I have prevented it? How do I know when to follow my anxious inklings and when to ignore them? Was this just a fluke? I mean, I can't live my entire life preventing every possible attack- I might end up too scared to leave home! But it's hard to fight off thoughts that I could have stopped them. Would it have made a difference if I went to work at the normal time? Would the thieves have waited?

2. Stealing things from strangers is just plain mean. Some of the Karen's jewelry was very sentimental to her and all it equals to those guys were dollar signs. Plus, they have stolen one of our most precious things- our feeling of safety. How long is it going to be before we let the sunlight into our living room while a laptop is in there? How long am I going to chain the apartment door when I take a shower when no one else is home? Should we consider moving somewhere else? It's just mean to take security from people. How could that guy look me in the eye and say hi knowing that he was going to screw me over? This world has enough things to be scared of- can't we at least feel safe in our homes?

3. I was very surprised at how much of my life is centered around having a computer and the internet. I remember times in my life before we had a personal computer; I remember clearly before I had the internet; I remember being without my computer when my hard drive was being rebuilt for 3 weeks. So how come I felt so inconvenienced and bored for the past 2 weeks not having a reliable computer around here (or at work)? Part of me thinks that computers make life more stressful, with the constant "pile" of emails to respond to, research to do, etc... but on the other hand, not having them makes life more stressful, too, without an easy way to look up directions, contact someone who's far away, etc... I suppose I still haven't found the balance after all of these years. And it's strange to feel as though I lost something so personal when it's just a machine... isn't it?

4. This thought is kind of ridiculous, but in between feeling unsafe in my apartment, I feel a little relief that we got our "break-in" out of the way. You know, lightning rarely strikes twice, right? Maybe that just goes to show how paranoid I really can get... or maybe it's the truth and the chances are slim that we'd get broken into twice at one apartment over 3 years...

What do you think?

Anyway, forgive me for the seriousness and the lack of pictures (no computer = no photos & no photoshop), but I thank you for reading this far (if you've made it this far!). Sometimes life is a little more serious. And I just wanted to share my recent bout with it with you.

Update (4/24):

Mike donated a picture of our door so you guys will still read my page:


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