Peter and I usually live an interesting life, but we try to keep it mellow just before Comic-Con, our big annual event, because there’s plenty of drama already with readying the latest version of ComicBase, making sure everything’s in place for the show, and packing everything up. Well, this year, Fate did not agree with us on this plan. I can’t even talk about all that happened: this is only a picture of the most dramatic, a narrative too eventful for even a playwright.
It really started on June 19th, when I called Tamara, the Ukrainian woman to whom I’ve been bringing library books (and who has been giving my children cookies), for years. She didn’t answer, which made me worried, because the last time that happened, she disappeared into the hospital with complications from a stroke for 4 months. I renewed her books, and kept trying, to no avail. Finally, after a week with no word, I looked up a Muscovite who lived in the same community she does. He told me she’d fallen ill and gone into a nursing home, and gave me her number there. But when I called, she didn’t remember me or Kelly at all, and was terribly apologetic about it. It was hard to find myself erased from someone else’s memory.
Then on June 30th, I opened the door to find a DHL delivery man holding a big package from England for me. I was surprised because I hadn’t ordered anything from there, but at this time of year, Peter has to get all sorts of last-minute things for the show. I called him to ask him about it, and he said he hadn’t ordered anything either. So I slit open the invoice on the top and say that I’d apparently ordered a $1000 laptop from a shop in London and paid for it with my Paypal account. Well, the real me hadn’t, but someone had got ahold of my password and had! Immediately, our household went to technological Defcon 1. I contacted eBay, which took some information from me, and quickly ascertained (I assume by looking at the IP address of the transmission) that it was clearly fraud. They gave me the phone number for Paypal, which only put me through to a drone who insisted I fill out a complaint online anyway. I have no money in my checking account, so the charge went to my credit card. I called my credit card company, and they marked it as an unauthorized charge, and just for safety’s sake, cancelled my card. In between, I also emailed (and then phoned) the shop in London and told them to take it back!
And then, from another computer with a newly-installed system, I proceeded to change all my passwords, each differing and incomprehensible, as first my regular system was checked out for worms, trojans, and keysniffers in particular. It was clean, and I tend to be leery of possible phishing scams (which was why I ignored the eBay emails telling me I’d won a laptop I hadn’t ordered), so possibly another site was hacked on which I was foolishly (but no longer) using the same password. Anyway, better safe than sorry, so we blasted away my old system and replaced it with Vista, set to complain anytime anyone wants to install anything.
In retrospect, I was fairly lucky. As far as I can tell (so far) nothing else was compromised. The hacker forgot to change my address to his/hers, so the stolen goods just took a cross-Atlantic tour, so to speak. The guy in London was stoically British about the mess, even though he was victimized worse in a way, and made arrangements to get his stuff back safely, complete with tracking numbers and insurance we could both trust. Paypal freaked me out when they sent me a form letter saying it wasn’t their problem, because my password was used, no matter it wasn’t me who used it. However, everyone else was able to figure out it was fraud–as would Paypal, if they could’ve been bothered to look at their own traffic logs.
So, next in our tour of excitement: in early July, Peter got a call from a production company, which wanted to borrow our Comic-Con booth for a movie they’re making in which they want to create a Comic-Con set: and our big funky Atomic Avenue balloon would fit right in. Yes, it’s a real movie, I just don’t know if I can mention it online (but you know I will later). Oh, and by the way, if we wanted to go out to the set in Albuquerque, we could staff our own booth and thus be extras in the movie. Now what self-respecting comic book geek could resist the opportunity to be in a movie pretending to be at Comic-Con?
Amid this, I was already getting worried about money. I spent all the money I earned from my writing gig earlier this year, and I was beginning to worry about pending expenses, what with the possibility of going to Albuquerque, plus a trip to Australia, and a possible opportunity for Neil coming up that’s muy cool, but not cheap. And then, I got an invitation to do more work for the same company I worked for earlier this year! This time, it may even involve travel to exotic places like the Mid-Atlantic States, and getting to dress up for business meetings! I’m still hoping it’ll coalesce properly, but Peter and I are pretty thrilled–and I liked the work I was doing, so I’m happy to be back doing more of it.
As a final bumper towards Comic-Con, early Friday morning, I woke up sick with an epic stomach flu. Catching a viral bug is no surprise for me and Kelly: she has a social life that could exhaust a campaigning politician, with her sleepovers, parties, vacation schools, storytimes, park days, and field trips. Normally, I can stumble through an ordinary flu or cold, but this one was bad: I was in pain, exhausted, feverish, and apathetic; and after 24 hours, Kelly got her own version of the same thing. Today, the pain is gone, so I’m just fevery, but my poor husband (expected to pack and drive off in a van to San Diego in less than 36 hours) is down and out with the same thing. Stay tuned…