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Posts tagged ‘stealing’

Drowning in Reality

So, we were robbed again.


Almost one year to the day our car was broken into and all of our luggage and bags were stolen, it happened again and it hit me really hard. We took a family bike ride. One of the first opportunities I’ve had to really participate in something physical in a while and it was wonderful. A full two hours of talking and riding together. My boys off roading while granny here tooted along with her oxygen watching their adventures to the rhythmic puff of my O2. When we finally arrived back at the car it was to the talk of ice cream and watching the second Harry Potter since we’d finished reading the book the night before.

As we came up on the car, getting off our bikes in the open dirt parking lot, I was struck with the fact that it appeared to be unlocked. Our car locks itself using an outside keypad but, since it has a history of acting up, I’d insisted Sean bring his set of keys lest we get locked out after our ride. The car being unlocked made no sense. We’d definitely locked it. We’d done a whole song and dance around locking it. Sean told me it was probably because he’d been close to the car when I’d tried to open it but it seemed weird to me.

IMG_443553413-2After Sean put the bikes on the rack – Loch and I passing the time racing each other (something I can’t do more than twice without gasping for breath but attempted anyway because I hate feeling like the “lazy” parent who doesn’t do anything fun) – we piled into the car to continue our lovely day. It was at that point I reached for my purse, the one I’d hidden in the back under the passenger seat like I always do. Out of site, out of mind and all that. When I couldn’t reach it I told Sean to stop the car and I hopped out to open the back door and grab it. When it wasn’t there I looked across under the driver’s seat thinking I must have just put it there by mistake and that’s when the panic set in. The next few moments consisted of the three of us tearing the car apart, hoping against hope I’d randomly put it somewhere different but really knowing, all along, it was gone.

The five minutes following were a Master Class in futility. We may as well have laid on the ground and had a tantrum. We ran around looking in random cars as if our stolen items would just be sitting on someone else’s seat. We frantically asked strangers if they’d seen anything. Sean even asked a guy to open his trunk. We called the restaurant we’d been to earlier in hopes I’d just lost my mind and left it there and, I made the incredibly classy move of screaming at a mostly empty parking lot, that “whoever took my purse is a TOTAL A*^H#@)!”

440798Just first rate immaturity epic fail parenting.

After the breakdown we got down to it and started making calls. The first officer I spoke to couldn’t have been less interested and decided our conversation was an appropriate time to correct my semantics. “If you weren’t there Ma’am it wasn’t a robbery, it was a theft.” Here’s the thing. I actually know that. I know that from the LAST TIME  our things were stolen! I understand I wasn’t held up by gunpoint but, come on, you can’t used the word “theft” as a verb and, quite frankly, after you’ve had your ID, credit cards, bank cards, smart phone, car keys, house keys, alarm fob, sunglasses, makeup, and medicine (among many other things – the purse itself for instance) taken, correcting my choice of verbiage was not particularly helpful. What he did recommend was that the police report could be filled out in a “timely manner” but that calling the banks and credit card companies should be done right away.

Taken 2 Red Carpet Premiere - 38th Deauville American Film FestivalThe first card I called to cancel already had a charge on it. 4 minutes prior someone had purchased $43.88 of gas at a station not 5 minutes away. Hearing this Sean turned into Liam Neison in Taken 7. He tore over to the station (promising not to get us in an accident) while I stayed on the phone with the bank reversing the purchase and canceling my other 3 cards. We pulled into the Chevron Dukes of Hazard style and Sean jumped out and started looking into all the cars. He then went inside to discover the thieves had just left. Turns out they were able to use our card (without the pin) because they had our zip code (from my ID) and that’s all gas stations require to confirm who you are. The most we got out of it was the pump number and based on the time and amount spent we can have the manager check the surveillance (when she’s working) to see if the cameras recorded a license plate or perpetrators on video.

As we drove from the service station to the police station it dawned on us that, not only did the thieves have my purse and wallet, they also had our home address with our house and car keys. Holy *&^%! They could be there right now cleaning it out! They could be driving away in Sean’s car! We couldn’t fill out a police report!! We had to get home!!! We peeled away from the police station the backup camera screaming. We couldn’t even be sure the ‘secure alarm’ report on Sean’s phone was accurate because my keys also included the alarm fob so all our potential house gutters had to do was press the button and safely turn it off. Bah!!!!!!

Over the next 4 hours we had every lock in our house changed ($250), set up an appointment with the alarm company to reset our codes for the missing fob ($277.70). Drove to the Ford dealership to reprogram Sean’s key and have my key replaced ($350), made an appointment to have Sean’s car keys reprogrammed and all the locks changed ($1600), talked to AT&T about what do do about the phone I’d had for less than 2 weeks but now needed to be completely replaced ($899) along with apple care ($100), attempted to navigate the DMV website for a replacement license (first available appointment: 3 months) and talked on the phone to our insurance company who were less than pleased that we were making yet another claim so soon after our last one. Oh, and Sean went back and filed the police report.

Having things stolen from you is a violation you’re never quite prepared for. If you’re someone who would never do such a thing, it hits you like a ton of bricks. You can’t wrap your head around it. How does someone just take something that isn’t theirs? How can you screw someone over like that? How do you carry that purse or wallet or wear those sunglasses? What goes through your mind when you find all those medications or a blood oximeter? Do you feel bad or do you just not care? This isn’t a Robin Hood situation. We weren’t ^%#@*s to someone and got what we deserved. There’s nothing noble or understandable about this. It’s just awful and, according to the police officer we did file the report with (a very nice man eating his sad squished PB&J out of the lunchbox he, obviously, brought from home to save money himself) this is something that happens ALL THE TIME.

This is just the tip of the problem (Bernie Sanders Facebook meme)

This is just the tip of the problem (Bernie Sanders Facebook meme)

I get it, people are struggling. The rich get richer and the rest of us are drowning. I understand it because I feel it. The cop eating his broken chips out of a Ziploc feels it. The manager of the service station who won’t be in for 2 days feels it. My family, with all our hours and hours of work and very little to show for it feels it. Something is wrong with our society and things are reaching a tipping point. I just read a great article in Elle about the hyper educated poor. About academics who are subsisting on food stamps despite the fact they have a PhD and jobs at universities. People are hurting and something has to give.

The thing is, our family’s has been running on fumes for long time and we’ve told ourselves time and again our hardships are almost over, that things are finally going to change. That we couldn’t work this hard for this long just to fail at the 10 yard line. As Linda Tirado, whose blog on her minimum-wage existence catapulted her into the national spotlight last year, wrote in her new book, Hand to Mouth: “Being poor while working hard is fucking crushing.”* Sean and I always figured you don’t swim 500 miles just to die a mile from shore. Yes, things were hard. Sure we’d been dealt some seriously tough cards but, it was all leading to something good right? The struggle, for all it’s pain, was there to make us stronger and better so when our ship finally did come in it would be that much more worth it… right? Darkest before the dawn? But yesterday, having those people just TAKE from us was too much for my little soul to handle.

When I’d finally dealt with all the logistics I could, I completely shut down. I internalized. I felt like someone flushed the toilet and my life was just going down the drain. What, really, was the point of fighting? We’d been doing it for so long. Maybe I was done. Look, we’re artists. We live an artist’s existence. That means 4 to 5 jobs between us, lean months that overshadow the fat, working till all hours of the night and waiting, waiting, waiting for our break to finally come. Compound that with the financial and emotional strain of being chronically and, technically, terminally ill while trying to raise our child in today’s “bigger is better” world and we’re at the end of our rope on a daily basis. Everything is strained. Our bank account, our marriage, our patience, our tolerance. I understand what drives people to steal. I just don’t understand how they do it.

After Loch had gone to bed I asked Sean if he thought we were cursed. He looked at me like I was crazy but I was really asking. Every day I get up and try and make it work. I push the fear and worry and realities aside and put on my positive face. I interact with the world. I try to help other people. I do my best to be a supportive wife and good mother. I wrote a book. I do this blog. I raise my child. I run the school’s fundraiser. I’m involved. I’m committed. I’m living every day the best I can but yesterday, yesterday, I just shut down. My fight left me. My positive mantras failed. I felt done and broken. I felt as if it was just one too many things. It felt like the straw.

I went to bed a zombie. Maybe the world had just become too shitty. Maybe we really were just going to drive our country to disaster or civil war or world annihilation. Maybe things wouldn’t work out. Maybe God really did hate me. How else do I explain all the bad luck? My conscious mind was aware of how many blessings I have. How many good things surround me but, it had been a heck of a week. A heck of a year. A heck of a decade and I was spent. I wondered aloud, to Sean’s horror I’m sure, if all the struggle and bad luck and pain and effort was all for nothing. Maybe it wasn’t going to work out. Maybe our lives were just f*^#ed and I should just accept it.

I woke up in the morning and lay there listening. Sean and Loch were getting ready for school (something I normally spearhead) and though I was grateful to Sean for being kind and letting me rest, it also made me feel numb, as if I had no purpose. I considered going back to sleep and pretending my life wasn’t happening but, despite the draw, the reality of checking out doesn’t really suit me. Real life, even with all it’s struggles, isn’t like that. It doesn’t matter how sh^%#y it gets, it goes on and it’s your choice to either deal or die. I didn’t fight my disease this hard just to roll because my purse was stolen. I considered the alternative. I just decided not to choose it.

kim-kardashian-33I may be infuriated with the expectant, entitled behavior of people who have no real struggles yet continue to complain. I may be inspired to punch the newsstands at the “issues” of the rich and famous. I might scream at my computer bitterly when I read about corporations getting tax refunds while the rest of us drown in reality. I may be livid with the illegal behavior of someone who chooses to break into my car and steal my life but I can’t give up. What’s the point of that?

My Dad told me how proud he was of how I’d “handled” the situation and I burst into tears. I felt like an imposter just like I do when people tell me I’m “brave” to deal with my disease. I don’t deserve the praise. Half the time I feel like I’m barely holding it together. But, I also resent having to live up to that kind of compliment. I didn’t handle it well. I snapped at my child and yelled at my husband. I allowed myself to feel dead inside and I’d teetered on the verge of throwing in the towel. I may not have cried. Perhaps I didn’t wallow in a “this is so unfair, why me” blah blah, but I’d thought terrible things. I’d shut down. I’d considered giving up. Every day is a struggle for us and this particular situation combined with everything else that’s currently on our plates just pushed me over the edge. I needed to have those feelings in order to move past them and being complimented for not having them felt grossly unfair. Compliment me for not wallowing, for moving on the next day, for getting on with it but don’t praise me for breezing past them, because I didn’t nor, should I have been expected to.

It-does-not-matter-how-many-times-you-getUltimately I’ll leave this post and move on. I’ll get new cards and new ID. I’ll replace my credit cards and change my online information. I’ll get a new bag, and new keys, and new codes. I’ll do all I need to in order to reset my life but, I felt the way I did yesterday for a reason. Having your purse stolen sucks but, it shouldn’t break you unless your life is already on the verge. I need to find a way to get my life to a place where terrible, frustrating, inconvenient things can happen and not be devastating.

Terrible, yes. Soul crushing, no.

The fight goes on. I’ll keep you posted.

xo leigh


* Elle magazine, December 2104 “School of Hard Knocks”.


Dear Loch,

All kids, whether they know it or not, need boundaries. Just as society needs rules and laws, you need to know what’s appropriate behavior and what’s not. Boundaries give us a sense of order that allow us the security to know where we stand. It’s also helpful to know what the consequences will be if we step out of line. Though you’ll discover these boundaries by osmosis living with us, I wanted you to know upfront what’s not ok and what it is you’ll get in s*&# for. I have yet to decide on the consequences. I have no real point of reference, as I didn’t really need them growing up. I was, as my friend Jeanette once told Granny and Granddad, “A parent’s wet dream”. That’s not to say I was a church mouse. I had a great time, but I was always honest about what I was doing and who I was doing it with. I followed the rules, did well in school, and didn’t do anything to disrespect the faith or trust my parents had in me.  Your father on the other hand was a delinquent-in-training until high school, so, you could go either way. Though we both agree that taking after me in this department is better for everybody…

From where I stand now, these are your perimeters. You will get in trouble for the following:

Mouthing off and generally being a brat. I expect you to be respectful and polite. You will speak to your father and me with courtesy no matter how much we’re bugging you. I’m not saying you can’t lash out, or ever say things you don’t mean. That’s bound to happen. I’m just saying, that kind of behavior is not acceptable and when, and if, it happens, I want you to know it’s not ok, and you will be expected to apologize. This rule applies to any authority figure (though I would advise you to avoid mouthing off to your peers too). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the world opens for people with manners. Have them, use them, and you’ll not only be liked and respected, you won’t have to hear me lecturing to you on your behavior. You and I have an ongoing conversation right now that goes something like this:

Me: What kind of boy do you want to be?

You: A nice boy.

Me: Not a…

You: Whiney boy.

Me: Or a…

You: Bratty boy.

Bratty is not ok. Bratty, expectant behavior is unacceptable. We, your family, plan to sacrifice a lot to give you all the opportunities we can. Acting like a spoiled, sullen, overindulged child will not be tolerated. Neither will being disrespectful of people or things.

Never destroy anything purposely or for kicks. People work hard for the things they have, and those things have value. Right now if you break something you have a tendency to say “We’ll just get a new one ok, Mommy?” and I have to explain that’s not always the case. You have to respect your things – and most definitely someone else’s – and it’s not as simple as just buying more. Help clean if you made a mess. Listen to the rules as they’re given. Take care of your stuff. Take care of other’s stuff. If a friend says don’t touch something, don’t touch it. If you break it, fix, or when you’re older, offer to pay for, it. Learn that there are consequences to your actions and work within those perimeters.

Bullying. Never be cruel or mean to anyone, ever. Remember the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I was bullied as a child and it was awful. I remember those days, and feelings clearly, even now. Don’t be part of someone’s bad memories.

Lying. It’s not necessary and not worth it. I love you. Dad loves you. Anything you say, think, or feel is ok. Don’t lie. Don’t feel you have to lie. The truth is always the better choice. Plus, you don’t get confused and caught up in your story. Whatever’s happened we’ll work through it. Just don’t lie about it. The truth always comes out in the end. Don’t mess with the trust we have in you. It’s not worth it. The only time lying is ok is when you do it by omission in order to spare someone’s feelings. This is what is commonly referred to as a “white lie”. “Do you like my dress?” She’s already wearing it and has no chance to change? You say “You look great” . Someone asks, “Did you like the show?” and it was 3 1/2 hours of pertenscious BS, you say, “Yeah, I can’t believe how cohesive the cast was…” or, “The sets were incredible.” or what they really want to hear, “You were amazing in it!” Pick something that is actually true and say that. Just never say something you don’t believe or won’t do. Be someone who’s word means something.

Stealing is unacceptable, and I hope you know that without my saying it. Granddad tells a story of the one and only time he stole. He took a comic book from the General Store, got home and felt so bad about stealing it, he couldn’t read it. He told his parents and had to go back to the store, return the comic and apologize to the shop owner. I can only imagine that feeling. I’m the kind of person that tells waiters they left things off my bill, or if I’ve been given the incorrect change in my favor. Your Dad will tell you a story of how he once got caught shoplifting a Playboy. He panicked and ran, but because he lived on a US Military base in Japan, everybody knew everybody and later that day the MP’s came to his house and took him in. He’ll tell you he was overwhelmed by embarrassment because of what he’d done – and what he’d stolen – but mostly he was scared. Scared of what they’d do, or what the repercussions would be. When all was said and done Grandpa took him home and he went straight to bed. The next morning he felt like he couldn’t leave his room. He was too ashamed. Finally Grandpa came upstairs and instead of grounding him or yelling, he simply said, “If you ever need anything, come to me first. We’ll see what we can do.” He proceeded to tell Dad he loved him and then sent him outside to be with his friends. Dad had learned his lesson, and Grandpa, in his infinite wisdom, didn’t feel the need to rub it in. Frankly, I’m not sure I’d be quite as forgiving, but the point is, you don’t take things that aren’t yours. Good people don’t do that. And you are a good person.

Cheating is tough. More and more kids do it every day. I never would have dreamed of cheating, but I was a goody goody and it was a different time. The thing about cheating, as cliche as it sounds, is you’re truly only cheating yourself. It’s the easy ride. If you don’t learn it, then you get nothing out of it. If you don’t do the work, you don’t deserve the grade, and you’ll only have to cheat again to keep up with what you don’t know. Cheating only leads to more cheating. This goes for sports, games and work too. There is nothing worse than being in a situation where you’re in over your head. If you got there by less than honest means, you don’t deserve to be there, and you know it. No matter how many accolades you get you’ll never feel worthy. It’ll breed insecurity and make you act even less authentic. You’ll eventually lose yourself completely to your own dishonesty. Just buckle down, make the effort and do the work. It takes more time and energy but trust me, it’s worth it.

Doing Drugs. Drugs are illegal. If you get caught with drugs it can screw up your life. If you do the wrong drug it can take your life. Take my advice from The Importance of Safety and really limit, if not avoid, drugs altogether. They are so prevalent for young people now. When I was in high school I knew a couple people who smoked pot, but that was it. I didn’t even try it till University and it made me either neurotic or starving. Both pretty harmless reactions but, you can definitely do too much. One summer I smoked pot pretty regularly as a source of recreation with a boyfriend. We had some very laid back, goofy fun, but by August I was both fatter and dumber. I literally found myself struggling to find the right word for things a LOT. I might not have been stupider, but I was definitely slower, and it was a bad feeling. I stopped right away and didn’t go back. Look, between you and me I think marijuana should be legal, both medicinally and recreationally. I think it is no worse for you than drinking, and if it was monitored and controlled by the government the way alcohol is, I think we’d have way less bogus arrests, court appearances and clogging of jails. Public funds could be allocated to something more serious and we could put more truly “bad guys” behind bars. But that’s just me. The other drugs out there I can’t really speak to, aside from saying don’t do them. Seriously. Don’t. Do. Them. Drugs made in a lab can kill you in a hot second, and nothing is ever as good as the initial high. You can chase that feeling for the rest of your life. Don’t waste your time. Find another vice. Jon W. Howson

I’m not going to get on you for drinking. I’m not saying do it, I’m just saying be responsible with your choices and respectful of your body and situation. But, if that’s what your friends are doing – providing you do it in moderation and a safe environment – you won’t be in trouble for it. Drinking can be fun, but it can also make you do really stupid things, and it can get you really sick. You don’t need booze to have fun. Truly. I hope you’ll learn to respect alcohol in our house so that it won’t be such a big deal when you do start drinking. Being Canadian, with a drinking age of 19 in Ontario and 18 in Quebec, drinking starts a lot earlier than in the US. I personally believe the US drinking age is too high. 21 seems crazy in today’s world. If you can go to war and vote for your leaders by 18, I think you should be able to have a glass of wine.  Most of my pals started drinking in Grade 7. I didn’t start until Grade 9 . In retrospect, both seem a bit young, but it was normal to us. That being said, it took me a while to understand how to properly handle it. Many of my peers weren’t as lucky, and found themselves with serious alcoholic tendencies by the time they were in University – Drinking only to get wasted. Drinking until they blacked out. Not knowing how to function socially without drinking. Turning into a different person when they drank – By my mid-20’s I had at least 3 friends in AA. Drinking can be a good time, but if you abuse it you can find yourself down a rabbit hole you can’t control, and your best possible solution is to stop drinking forever. I admire my friends that said, “no more” to their destructive behavior, but I can’t help but feel it’s kinda sad they can no longer enjoy a glass of bubbly on New Year’s Eve, or a cocktail in a bar. Seek to control your drinking lest it control you. I actually think the Europeans have it down. You must be 18 to buy spirits over 16.5% but adults can purchase for minors. Beer at 4.5-8% is fine before you’re 18. Alcohol is simply part of the culture, and I’m of the opinion that learning to drink earlier – in the safety of your home – allows you to better control and maintain yourself when you do turn 18, and can drink anything at any time. I believe when you make things taboo, and force people to do things in secret, it makes it worse. I think that’s why American kids tend to handle drinking so poorly. No one taught them differently, and when they turn 21 they just go crazy. I’m hoping to avoid that. We’ll just pretend our house is France. You don’t often see Parisian kids puking their guts out on the street. I told my parents when my friends started drinking, and then when I did. They chose not to punish me, but  to educate me on how to handle drinking with some sense of decorum. They also gave me taxi chits to get me home from parties and keep me safe. So, aside from a handful nights where I truly over indulged, and there were some blotto nights, for the most part I’ve had a healthy respect for alcohol my whole life. I also have seen what a drinking problem can do to a family and I have no interest in going there.

As a side note on drinking, you will not get out of things you’re expected to do if you are hung over. That is not a legitimate excuse. So if you have something to do the next day, keep that in mind the night before. I’m cool. I’m not that cool.

Finally, no drinking and driving ever. Ever. There is no flexibility on this. Not only can you be arrested and have it on your permanent record, it can KILL YOU, or someone else. Life is truly precious. You don’t F around with life.

Smoking is a big one for me. I know kids smoke and 5 years ago I would have advised you not to get into the habit because it’s expensive and gross and bad for your teeth and lungs. But now, having been diagnosed with a lung disease, and living with compromised lungs, I can’t be more adamant about this. Don’t smoke. Period. You’ve been born with perfect, healthy lungs and to f*@# them up deliberately is to spit on everything I’m dealing with. Having a lung disease is horrendous. Not being able to breathe properly, needing oxygen, not being able to walk up stairs or carry your own child, having to shower with the bathroom door open because the steam makes it too hard to take a deep breath, these are all things you don’t want. I didn’t get PH from smoking. My minimal social smoking – which I never really mastered or liked – was not the cause of my disease. But if I had been a smoker, my diagnosis and response to the disease would be way less rosy. Keep your lungs healthy and I’ll continue to pray that my disease isn’t genetic. Deal?

Being Lazy. I was at Subway the other day getting a sandwich and there was a teenage boy there with his Mom, Granny and sister. They waited in line while he sat like a blob at a table. I’d love to say he was saving seats for his family, but I can’t. There were plenty of tables. He sat there and deep sighed, put his head on the table, and generally acted like everything was just the biggest burden. Answering his family’s questions on type of cheese or bread he wanted was like a horror show for him. Groan, “Provolone!” Sigh. I was one step away from telling him to get his a#@ up and stop being such a tool. I’ve got no time for lazy dude. I’m not talking about sleeping in on the weekends, or bumming around at the cottage in the summer. I’m talking about just not bothering. Not making an effort. One of my biggest pet peeves with you right now is you say “I can’t” a lot. I don’t mind helping you, but most of the time when you say “I can’t”, you really mean, “I don’t want to” or “I won’t”. That’s annoying when your 4 but if you’re 14 or 24, it’s pathetic. You get out what you put in. Right now, you’re always so proud – and a little surprised I think – when you complete something without me. You fight it like hell – say putting away your toys, or getting dressed on your own – but when you finish, you look at me like hey….wow. I think that feeling follows you right through life. There’s pride in a job well done. Pleasure in a sense of completion. Get to the gym. Look for the better job. Do a better job. Work at your relationship or get a new girlfriend. A little more effort adds up to a lot more life. I’ll be all over you if you’re lazy. It’s so lame.

You know what else is lame? Being a Bad Sport. Being a bad loser or a bad winner. The guy who decides not to dress up for the costume party, or refuses to play the game everyone is playing. Play the game. Wear the costume. Put on the tie. Shake the winner’s hand. Buck up. Put a smile on your face and have a good time. Don’t be the putz that’s too cool or the a-hole who rubs his greatness in everyone’s face.

Not Asking. We’ll want you to always ask our permission. We’ll do this not to control your life, but so we can help you navigate it. You want to have a party? Ask. Want to stay out late? Ask. Want to go to someone’s house after school? Just ask. We want to know where you are. We want to know you’re safe. We want you to make smart decisions that won’t mess around with the bigger picture that maybe only we can see right now. We aren’t trying to jack up your fun. Don’t treat us like we are. Just ask.

Be cool. Don’t be a punk. Use your manners and your head when making decisions. Remember, you are building the person you want to be. Start with a good foundation. I want people to say, that Lochlan is a nice kid, let’s have him over again, or honor him with that award, or give him that promotion. A*^holes might sometimes get those things too, but trust me, people wished they didn’t.

I love you baby. Choose wisely.

xo me