Benny and his friend Griffin at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pick Your Problems

Well, the honeymoon's over.

I've been drifting along in my dreamy idyll, working 9-10 hours in the newsroom on Tuesday and Wednesday, and puttering at home the other three days. I've been sleeping better and eating better and enjoying in-depth conversations about Benny's Squirrel Wars while walking him to school.

Ah, but obviously I was tempting the gods, or perhaps nature, which abhors a vacuum. So last weekend a swarm of subterranean termites, driven out of their nest underground by the rain and their own base desires, started coming out of the ceiling lamp. Ron and I beat them back with a vacuum cleaner and a roll of packing tape, and we haven't seen them in a over a week. On Monday the landlords (who I must admit have been very responsive and helpful about this) are sending their structural guy on his third or fourth visit, this time with maintenance guys, and they will do a final treatment.

But the whole thing was enough to freak me out, and on Monday I launched an apartment hunt, with two apartment viewings on Tuesday and two on Thursday. I stayed home from work on Tuesday to meet the landlord's structural guy for the first time.

But then, just to make a party of it, on Tuesday I discovered that my credit card information had been stolen. There I was, sitting at the dining room table (which had been moved away from the Buggy Lamp and now was pushed in front of the sofa) staring at two online purchases from DSW I didn't make. Now I love DSW as much as the next woman, but I'd successfully resisted the temptation to snap up a half-dozen pairs of sandals to celebrate Daylight Savings Time and I resented someone doing it for me.

So there I was, facing bug infestation and credit theft -- all I needed was a nice earthquake to finish me off. You know you're having a bad Tuesday when it's a toss-up whether the exterminator or the cop will show up at the apartment first. The cop arrived around 3 (the landlord's termite guy wouldn't be able to come until Wednesday) and took information on the credit card theft for a police report. Our credit union said it didn't need one to fix the unauthorized charges, but I wasn't taking any chances. I'd heard enough bank horror stories -- what's to stop them from saying, "Oh, we only waive the police report on Mondays and Wednesdays and only if you have at least $20,000 in total balances ..." Even credit unions can develop banklike qualities when under strain.

Anyway, so I spent Tuesday on the phone, clicking and calling and pressing pound and sitting on hold and giving the last four digits of my SSN, or Ron's SSN or Callisto's SSN or Benny's maiden name or whatever. I put security alerts on our credit reports and changed the credit card number on our iTunes and Netflix and other sites after looking up all their myriad passwords.

By Thursday night I was collapsed on the sofa, feeling cranky, stressed, overwhelmed and anxious. Sounds familiar, no? Benny was neglected, Ron and I were bickering. Remember those days? Well, they were back again. Only now it was my personal life tying me in knots, not my work life. I didn't think this was much progress.

But then I thought: Hey, pick your poison — assembling judging books or fighting critters? Making groveling phone calls for award nominations or battling identity theft? Looking for lawyers or looking for apartments? All said and done, I think I'd rather face my current problems than manage one more Green Business or Real Deals, or Corporate Counsel or Chief Idiot Officer Awards.

I mean, this week's problems are real-life issues. These are problems people can understand. When I cry: "I had to cold-call 100 companies and beg them to nominate their in-house counsel for the diversity category!" the honest response would likely be "What the Fuck?" I cry "I had to call DSW Shoes and tell them I didn't buy gift cards for someone in Loveland, Colo.!" people understand.

People know what a credit report is; they don't know what a nomination spreadsheet is. People know what a bug is; they don't know what a Community Champion is. I was pretty mad this week, but at least I did't feel like a total loser stressing out over the number of solar panel companies in my FileMaker Pro document.

So maybe this was progress after all.

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