So I was raised Catholic. Confirmed and everything. When you go through confirmation, you're supposed to pick a patron saint. A lot of kids pick saints who share their first or middle names, so your confirmation name is the same. However, there is one unwritten but seemingly unbreakable rule, at least among secularly-schooled, CCD crowd: Girls don't pick patron saints with boys' names and vice versa.
I really wanted to pick St. Francis of Assisi (patron saint of animals) or St. Anthony (patron saint of lost things), but above all else, I was a 13-year-old girl who was REALLY excited about getting her braces off the day before. Standing out and being different and being the only girl with a boy saint? Not happening. So I picked St. Angela Merici. She believed in educating young girls and redistributed her wealth to the poor, which is frankly pretty feminist for a 15th century Italian chick. Anyway.
The thing is? I lose stuff. Always have, always will. Even when I was a baby, I lost stuff.
I had a Lovey, an omnipresent security blanket, (seen here being rescued from the wash line for me by my sister circa 1980) the remnants of which may or may not at this very moment be tucked into a nightstand right next to my bed. Just in case.
(Seen here on my way to my first day of preschool with Lovey, my bag, and Tommy the Tomcat, the first stray to find me, at my feet.)
Lovey went everywhere with me, and therefore, like all things I really want or need to have at a moment's notice, got lost. All the time.
No words can strike fear in my parents' hearts like the words: "I can't find Lovey!" Seriously, next time I'm home, I'm going to wait until my dad is drifting off to sleep in his chair, stand behind him, say those words, and see what happens. Just as an experiment! In the name of science!
Anyway, whenever something was lost, and this was often, my family would pray to St. Anthony: "Good St. Anthony, come around; something's lost and can't be found." For years, this worked like a charm for me. I said this prayer all the time. Things would turn up in the oddest places, places that had been checked numerous times.
Until 1999 or so, when I moved from communion-taking Catholic to communion-abstaining Lapsed Catholic. There are lot of reasons for this, but suffice it to say, the habitual plea for help to St. Anthony, by and large, went unheeded. I've been on my own searching for my keys since I deliberately began voting pro-choice.
So I've been really tired and overworked lately, even more so than usual. Work provides a phenomenal amount of gear that I schlep EVERYWHERE. I have- no joke- hundreds of gadgets and lenses and transmitters and things that go beep in the night- including a three-month-old $400 cell phone. (I didn't buy this, mind you, it was assigned to me. ) I have a deliberate system, a pocket for everything, a hook for keys, a spot for press IDs, etc., but when I get tired, I tend to throw everything in the bags and try to sort it all out later.
This? Is my personal recipe for DOOM.
The first thing that went missing was the $400 cell phone. I had it on opening night of Phantom, and it was on complete vibrate mode in my lap because I still was on call. The next morning, it was gone. Of course, I tore the house apart, dismantled the car, went back to the school, and called it incessantly, listening for telltale thrum of redemption. No luck. Now, the Nournal Jews replaces your first lost company-issued cell phone, an offer I took advantage of in my second year of employment there. The second lost phone is all on you, er, me. I so do not have $400 lying around right now.
Then, I lost a $100 transmitter card that plugs into my laptop and transmits photos and videos to the newsroom via cell phone signal. This is one of those things that has a specific place where it goes so it doesn't get lost. (Because I already lost one in 2005, but in my defense that was a CRAZY spot news scene where there 19 people were injured when the 12-person van they were crammed in hit a tractor trailer. I was the first press on the scene. They were actually triaging people with TAGS. Dude. Terrifying.)
Back to the present. In the midst of dismantling all my bags for the third time in five days (first two rounds for the cell phone, third for the transmitter card), I kind of lost it. It was downright Biblical. I wept. There may have been gnashing of teeth. (How DOES one gnash one's teeth?)
And then... in the middle of plundering my laptop bag, I realized I left a packet of snapshots of Joel and me as children at the office. I was scanning them for a wedding project, and I left them by the scanner. This envelope contained every original snapshot of Joel and his brother Brian, whom you may know passed away in 1998.*
I was driving back to the office, at 11:30 at night, no question.
In the car, crossing the Zappan Bee Tridge, St. Anthony and I had a long talk. All I wanted help finding was the pictures. I prayed. Hard. Don't laugh, but I may have used the words "prodigal Catholic daughter" in my prayer. I promised to give money to Catholic Charities. NOT the Catholic Priests Pediophilia Defense Fund, I told him, but a Catholic charity like the one that ran the after-school program I volunteered for in college.
I arrived at the office close to midnight. The envelope was still by the scanner. Thank God. I got home about 30 minutes later, and slowly started to repack my laptop bag, the contents of which were still all over the living room floor. As I was putting all my gadgets back in their proper places, my hand slid into a pocket that had been checked numerous times, and touched... metal. It was the $100 transmitter card.
Exhausted, I went to bed.
When I woke up a scant six hours later, I had a message on my personal cell phone. My $400 work cell phone- missing with a dead battery for six days- had been located at Nyack High School.
Yeah. Uh huh.
How does St. Anthony's fund for prevention of AIDS and other diseases in 47 schools spread around the slums of Nairobi sound? Sounds good to me, too. :)
*Super Fun Bonus: Courtesy of the scanner, I give you quite possibly the cutest picture ever taken of my future husband (on the right) and his brother.
Also? Joel is a robot.