We’ve had our home broken into twice now, once in Kansas and once in California, so I feel like kind of an expert at getting burglarized. For the record: Seriously? It sucks. The first time was in the middle of the night during a thunderstorm. We were home, sleeping, with twin babies in the next bedroom. It was a much worse feeling that time, being home when it happened and thinking “what if” when we woke the next morning to an open back door, footprints outside the kids’ window, and mud sludged across our living room rug. The second time was recently, on a bright, sunny morning, after I took my youngest to her first day of pre-school and went to a yoga class to celebrate my new freedom. I was literally taking a moment of silence, asking that all beings everywhere know peace and compassion, while some stranger was ransacking my home.
Each time it happened, the perp came in through the back door. I’ve found that there are two ways people react to this information: those who ask “Was the door locked?” and those who realize this is the last fucking question you want to answer right now. We used to believe that not locking the door made some sort of vague statements about how we don’t live in fear, and trust in the goodness of mankind, and weren’t attached to our possessions. But after being robbed TWICE, now when I get home, I patiently unlock the locked door, wonder if anyone has been there, confirm that the TV is still in front of the couch and openly admit that 1) I live in fear, 2) I don’t trust anyone, and 3) I like my shit.
If you happen to know anyone who has a habit of burglarizing houses in order to make ends meet, will you kindly pass the word that some of us would prefer skipping over the trauma and just writing a check? If given the choice, I would rather just pay the monetary value of my new laptop that had 10,000 words of a novel on it (no, I didn’t back it up), more than what my husband paid for my wedding ring eight years ago, and even add a bonus not to have the contents of my recently-organized closet thrown all over the floor.
So, here is a list I’ve come up with to better prepare myself and our home for the next time it happens:
We can’t afford real ninjas right now, but I think these guys will do the trick. Just look what one of them did to the little mermaids who tried to sneak in:
2) Organization. It really saves intruders from having to go through all your wedding memorabilia and family pictures if you keep your cash on the counter in an envelope clearly labeled “CASH.”
3) Guard Cat.
We had an 80-pound dog that was bred for hunting who slept through the entire first burglary, so this time, we immediately went out and got a cat. She may look sweet, but she’s never without her plastic arrows and eats BEES for breakfast without flinching. (Well, she flinches a little, but, I mean, they’re bees. Have you even been stung by a bee? That shit hurts.)
4) Legal Drugs. Keep anti-anxiety meds in an old Flintstone Vitamin container. Thieves looking for pharmaceuticals will leave your Xanax, which you will need promptly after you realize you’ve been robbed. Just make sure your kids know you’ve switched them to Trader Joe’s brand.
5) Message. Nothing says “you’re not welcome here” like fresh flowers, soft lighting, and even a bottle of wine, should a criminal need to take the edge off his mission.
6) Community. Because it’s really embarrassing to meet new neighbors in the following circumstances: 1) Having one of them find you hysterical in the driveway, trying to decided if burglary counts as an emergency or if you are going to be bothering the 911-people, should you call, or 2) Accusing another, who just moved in down the street and happened to be unloading his electronics that morning, of stealing your stuff.
7) Trickery. To really throw off intruders, leave booby-traps like tap shoes filled with cherry tomatoes all over the house. They won’t know whether they’re coming or going. Get the kids involved in this one. After all, they don’t want to lose another Wii.
All sarcasm aside, after I’d had a Xanax and a margarita, it occurred to me that as long as people like me lived with the luxuries and comfort we take for granted, there will probably be others living in need and desperation. The world is filled with the haves and have-nots. It is never okay to violate someone’s privacy like this, but I’ve come to a place of forgiveness and letting go. The compassion I was seeking in yoga that morning left me for a while, but it’s working its way back. And, yes, I’m re-writing the damn novel AND backing it up.
P.S. Sorry about the extra cursing this time. If you think it’s bad, you should see the password on my replacement laptop.