22 July 2011

Funnyquote Friday

As I've mentioned, I'm the new layout editor for the Serious Ting, the Eastern Caribbean's Peace Corps Volunteer-prepared publication.  One of the common departments in every issue of the Ting is a welcome to all incoming PCVs, as per their starting class, (i.e. EC83 in this issue) as well as a farewell to all outgoing PCVs.  This time, our wise chief editor from Grenada decided to add a token bit to each outgoing PCV's profile, including a short message of advice from that PCV to the new class of incoming PCVs.  One EC80 from St. Vincent wrote, as his advice to other PCVs,

"Don't take too much advice from other PCVs."

Nice; I can't wait to see the smirks on people's faces when they read that.

Unilaterally preparing the layout for each article continues to go well enough.  All in all, I'll have laid out a dozen-and-a-half 1 to 2 page articles, two profile conglomerations of 50+ total profiles, the covers, and some special announcements and fillers.  I'm still on pace to be done by my deadline, the end of this month.  Even so, I'm starting to feel the fatigue of going through the same steps over and over again.  And even with 90% of the articles completed, the incoming and outgoing profiles represent an intimidating juggernaut of tedium that I do not relish toiling through.  The cover, on the other hand, is completed as well, but I can't in good conscience release the artwork to you, my readers, yet.  I'll wait until it has been definitively approved and printing has begun on the magazines, expected about a month from now.

In some unfortunate news, I went through a scary ordeal this week: my apartment was the site of an attempted burglary, shortly before dawn Tuesday morning.  Some person, whose gender, race, and identity I will likely never know, was attempting to take advantage of my (as since remedied) habits of leaving the porch light off during the night, leaving just one of the front windows open for a breeze, leaving my laptop out on the table in view of exterior windows, and declining to lock the deadbolt while inside, given it is a keyed entry from both sides.  I was not completely vulnerable - I had strong, unyielding burglar bars over the windows, a locked doorknob and hand bolt in the door frame.  However, the burglar's plan was apparently to bypass as many of these precautions as possible.  He (I'll refer to the burglar as a he, despite not being certain) got much of the way into his plan: (1) he first managed to remove the screen outside my center window, which was cracked open, and slide the window all the way open, (2) then he removed the screen on the window closest to my front door and reached inside through the open window, unlatching the lock on the closed window, and slid that window open, (3) and finally he proceeded to reach his arm into the living room, between the burglar bars, towards the front doorknob, in a clear attempt to unlock the door from the inside.  I was awakened by the sounds of muffled squeaks and creaks, what I initially mistook to be the sounds of yet another neighborhood cat being brutalized by some unseen, outdoor midnight assailant.  When the sound persisted, I sat up in bed and immediately noticed the shape of a man's head and torso cast in shadow onto an interior wall.  In one swift motion, my heart stopped and fell into by stomach, and I leaped out of bed, shouting loudly and as intimidatingly as I could muster, in an attempt to make my presence known.  For one long, daunting, hairy moment, the burglar, who was crouching and whose arm was the only thing I could make out in the dim light, hesitated; I'm still not certain why.  The most likely explanations are that either in that instant I managed to startle him almost as much as he startled me, or that, very simply, in his attempt to escape, he released the window he was holding up (which is unable to stay up on its own) and trapped his arm for a split second.  But in the heat of the moment, all I could think was, Oh dear, he's not running away.  This is bad.  But even as I took the time to formulate these thoughts, he was already out of the window, and taking off into the night.

For the next several minutes, I surveyed the scene, and took stock of my security firewalls, threats, blessings, and curses.  I wondered in passing why Bouncer, the neighbor's dog who lives upstairs, had not awakened to the sounds.  I noted that my landlord had recently been trying to replace the damaged security lamp on the front of my building, but hasn't been able to muster the Kittitian labor from his vantage point of Trenton, New Jersey.  I supposed that, had the burglar actually managed to reach far enough into the house, there was a small chance that he could have undone the locks and bolts and successfully entered.  I considered what kind of person, who was careful enough to try to not be noticed, would take all of these things in mind, but not that there was a person in the house at the time; did the burglar also carry with him something to defend himself with?  Would I have been in danger had he managed to actually break in?  These thoughts, coupled with the eminently pervasive feeling of being unsettled and anxious, caused me to lie sleeplessly in bed for the next couple hours, right up until dawn.  When I finally woke from some fitful R.E.M. sleep around 10:30, I called in the necessary reports to various Peace Corps officers, and they helped me through that tough first day.  My office's administrative assistant, a good friend to me, was even kind enough to visit me that morning; I can't express how relieving it was on my sense of safety to have another person in the apartment at that time.  After spending much of the night being terrified by every new shadow, or curtain movement, or dog bark, my nerves were frayed and my mind was highly, again, unsettled.  I would remain that way for the rest of the day, even through the evening when I went with my girlfriend to see Harry Potter at the theater.  The more I told myself that things were going to be okay, that I shouldn't worry, that I had taken the necessary precautions to ensure the strict unliklihood of this happening again, the more it became clear that I was far from being over the anxiety of it all.

Now, three days later, I am feeling much better.  I'm sleeping normally again, and I feel firmly ensconced in my little fortress of an apartment.  I have taken to leaving the porch light on all day and all night now (only useful at night, obviously, but hey, I'm not paying for the electricity), and sealing up all three façade windows whenever I'm not awake and in the apartment.  Additionally, I'm locking the doorknob, the hand bolt, and the deadbolt every night, and I found some plastic stubs that insert into the window screen frames that lock them in. 

Generally I would give you all of these updates at different points during the week, but given my busy schedule and my state of mind, this is the first opportunity I have had that I have been able and willing to post a log entry.  So, soldiering on...

I presented my six months' worth of work on the Client Profile Database to the National Skills on Thursday.  The meeting was hardly brief – when we started around 10:00, I was through with all of the points of interest by about 10:45.  But the meeting carried on until 11:45, with the gaping hour devoted to questions, clarifications, details, and other minutiae.  I'm well enough used to fielding questions like this for upwards of an hour; I guess I'm just out of practice.  I was pretty spent by the end of it.  And the unveiling of this massive ≈2MB database spreadsheet was not met with the enthusiasm that I expected; but everyone seemed comfortable enough in the idea of using it, anyway, which is the good news.  Just a few cosmetic changes remain, and in the meantime I busy myself with finding new ideas for projects.  I already have a few good ones – maybe I save them for another post.

Thanks for reading this drawn-out post, and wishes for a good weekend from the Caribbean!

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