On Tuesday, one of our e-mail accounts got hacked. I found out first thing, while still in bed, when a friend phoned to tell me (these productive, early-rising friends of mine!) I was supposedly mugged and crying in London, in desperate need of dollars. Other friends soon weighed in, saying the note’s grammar was so bad, they knew it couldn’t be from me, a perverse sort of comfort. The whole thing was so pathetic it should have made me laugh, except the word “hacked” is pretty descriptive. All my old e-mails and contacts were wiped out, and eventually I had to call for tech support, and do that thing where someone takes remote control of the computer, and you sit watching the cursor do a ghostly flit around the screen. In the course of the day, I got three new passwords and a new distrust of this e-world I normally embrace.
The same day, my daughter who’s a social worker in Bushwick, New York, had her purse snatched. “Snatched”—funny how it and hacked share that short a, as in attacked, cracked, jacked and crapped. She was robbed in the very neighborhood where she works to help people find and keep jobs. If only that dastardly (and you know what rhymes with that) fellow had come to her office, he’d be employed and able to quit his life of crime. This sunny, resilient daughter (third child, who was expert at taking naps in the car seat, the grocery cart, on the rug) says she’s actually enjoying being cell—phone free for the time being. She got my hermit gene.
All this thinking about evil on the loose made me remember that this will be the first Halloween our neighborhood doesn’t have the Haunted House. It stood empty for fifty years, so you can imagine the stories about bones in the basement, mad women in the attic. Dashing up onto the front porch in the dark of night was a rite of passage for the little kids, and the teens…well, again, you can imagine. I never got it straight who the owner was or why he continued to pay the high local taxes on the place all those years, but something changed, because a month ago the city knocked it down. Now it’s a surprisingly large, city-owned lot, and the debate is on about what should happen to it. In deference to the Haunted House heritage, someone has suggested turning it into a neighborhood gathering place, called, what else, Spirit Park.