16 November 2010


I was getting some momentum yesterday before the break in, but that seems to be shot. We spent the night cleaning up: forensics came and took prints, but that was more or less a waste of time: the asshole was wearing gloves and, from what it looks like, probably not especially in his right mind. I taped up the window best I could and got most of the mud out of the carpet, but until the window is fixed, I still feel a bit exposed. But it's stupid: the one thing I have learned from this is that you lock your doors, lock your windows, yes, but if someone wants to come into your house, they will. It's that simple. And to think you can somehow get safer or do more than be cautious and somehow insulate yourself from this... you can't. It will happen given the right circumstances.

In the US, we have this sense that we can be independent and protect ourselves, make our own fate. I appreciate that in a lot of ways, even though it is ultimately just an illusion. I don't like the sense that I get here in England that you get broken into, they can't catch the criminal, and that's just the way it is. I want to believe that I'm safe, even if I'm not. 'I have a terrible need for religion,' van Gogh said. Yes, me too: I want to believe in safety, that I can protect my family.

I wrote a short story about this when I was an undergraduate about a guy who goes out and buys a gun after his wife is mugged. It was all about how exposed we all are and how the things we do to protect ourselves only end up making us more distant. It was a distinctly American short story.

I was trying to use gender neutral terms to talk about 'the burglar' but from the size of the boot prints, I think we can say 'he' without any problem. The burglar. I'm so curious about him: what was he looking for? What does he need money for? Why our house?

I'm not angry with you, burglar. I mean, I am, but I'm more curious than angry. Why did you go through the medicine? Didn't you see the lock box? Do you think about me cleaning up after you? Do you wonder about the people whose stuff your dumping on the ground? My wife, my daughters, and you have opened my wardrobe drawer. It's strangely intimate, don't you think? Or do you never think about that? You trespassed every social rule that I can imagine: perhaps I'm just jealous. You do what you want. Or do you leave terrified that you'll be caught? I imagine you do. I imagine that all of this is stressful for you.

Perhaps in a different world, in a different context, I would have just given you money. I would have felt sympathy for you instead of imagining that I, like Batman, would catch you and make you regret having ever set foot in my house. Don't worry: that version of me only exists in my mind. I'm not Batman. I'm a student, sitting at my desk, terrified as I call the police. I waited for my wife to appear below my building and wondered, Has my luck finally run out?

I will be fine, burglar, don't worry about me. You probably won't be though. And I'm sorry for that; I wish it was different.

Leave it to me to over analyse even this. I had to walk to work this morning because I left my bike last night in the rush to get out. I thought to myself, This gives me something to write about. What other times have I been stolen from? I haven't, I don't think. Technically, I still haven't.

As we waited for the police yesterday, I said outloud what I had been thinking since Yoko called: This wouldn't happen in Japan. It's just an observation. You're much more likely to kill yourself in Japan than be killed by someone else. This wouldn't happen in Japan, and I have brought this entry back to where I began, the illusion of security. Of course this would happen in Japan. There is nowhere you can stand behind a thick enough door, at least not at my pay grade. So best to clean up the boot marks, lock the doors, and carry on. I have the best worst luck of anyone I know.