This time it was more violent than the first time a year and a half ago. The front lock was forced with a screwdriver. My housemate/tenant who lives in the in-law's door kicked in. Her stuff all gone through and tossed around. Money missing, gold jewelry missing. She screamed when she saw it, she went ballistic. That was the worst thing.
In this neighborhood sixteen other serious crimes were committed on the same day--Martin Luther King Day--carjackings, house break-ins, armed robberies. It took the police six hours to get here. Six hours!!! When the one lone overworked exhausted cop finally got here close to midnight (I had called it in at 5:30 p.m., and made two follow-up calls,)he did not even dust for fingerprints. Why bother? Oakland has only one fingerprint tech, and basically if no one was murdered or raped (thank God, thank God,) then nothing will be done. There just isn't enough manpower. The criminals know this. Everyone knows it.
My room was rifled through--drawers, closet, underwear, vitamin pills, books, clothes, scattered and tossed on the floor in a big heap. They left my ex-husband's gold wedding ring which never fit him properly. They left a DVD player, and my passport and checkbooks and credit cards (why did they leave those things??) and they took my stereo and iPod. And of course, again, the laptop gone.
My laptop! My laptop! Please take money and jewelry and clothes, just leave the fucking laptop! You'll only get about fifty bucks for it on the street. It's a year and a half old which is like 50 in human years, and doesn't have any fancy bells and whistles. It just holds all my poems and plays and lesson plans and correspondance and first drafts and third drafts and the latest latest of everything I wrote.
And no, I didn't have back up.
Well, correction: I have backed up my most major stuff by sending it to myself, to my email address on yahoo, because yahoo keeps things forever. And I send things out to a dozen close people regularly, who can send stuff back to me. But not the most recent updates of revisions to my poetry manuscript--those I'll have to enter by hand. And not the educational things, the downloads of pictures, the little bits and pieces of information that are so crucial.
I am typing this on a laptop that my friend Tim's ex-wife passed along to him when she got a new computer. It's okay, it's fine, it works and I am very grateful. My friend Ellen went down to Radio Shack with me today and helped get the special cords and cables and whatnot needed to make this one talk to my printer and function. I can read my email again and respond to it. I can keep up with my work.
God, ten years ago I barely knew how to do email and now I can't live without it. Give me another year or two and I'll learn how to retrieve messages from my cell phone. I don't belong in this century! "If it were 1907 and my typewriter were stolen, I could get another one without having to go through all this techno-shit," I complained to Ellen. On the other hand if it were 1907 I'd probably be working in a sweatshop, huddled over a sewing machine twelve hours a day.
Okay, enough about my laptop. I'd also like to say that I finally had a date with my Little Sister last week and it went very well! We really like each other!! We are going to see Freedom Writers tonight! And I found another place to volunteer with traumatized kids in Oakland, which I would like to do. I am not going to let this break-in turn my energy around. There's too much work I want to do.
Later: okay, everyone run don't walk to see Freedom Writers. My Little Sister suggested it. I found myself in tears throughout the movie, and I'm not a crier. Yes, there are hokey parts, yes it's that same old white teacher saves the world for kids of color scenario, but it's real and the kids are so powerful. It made me proud to be a teacher. And it restored my faith that the solution is not just more police--though it wouldn't hurt Oakland to get more of a force together--but relevant education, love, and community.