Happy Thanksgiving! Said My Stalker, in Her Own Special Way

I was pretty sure I packed my deodorant for our Thanksgiving trip but I couldn't find it. I didn't find it in the obvious place, which was my toiletries bag. It wasn't packed among my clothes, nor in the bag in which I put my books and computer, nor in the bag with the bottles of booze, nor among my ski gear, nor with the extra towels and sheets I brought even though the house we rented had towels and sheets. And it certainly wasn't in the bag of recycling that I'd for some reason put in the back of the car instead of leaving in the garage.

After Thanksgiving I'd be going to the condo, and I remembered bringing a stick of deodorant there, so going a few days without during Thanksgiving didn't seem like much of a big deal. I figured when I got back home, I'd find the other stick sitting on the counter. I must have forgotten it.

Except when I got back home after that week at the condo, it wasn't there. I looked on the counter in the bathroom and in the drawer below the counter and in the cabinet below the sink and it wasn't in any of those places. "What the hell?" I said.

And then it hit me: it had to be my stalker. Of course she's bewitched with my scent. Of course she is.

I sighed, rolled my eyes, and went to the closet where I keep the extras.

She's getting trickier, though. A few days later, when I got back to the condo, I found the missing stick of deodorant in my toiletries bag, in a pocket that I never use. The only explanation--I repeat, the only explanation--is that she drove up to the condo, broke in, and stashed it there, knowing the effect it would have on my mind.

I wonder: next time I go to the apartment, the yacht, or the beach cabana, will I find my deodorant sticks missing from each as well? None of those places is even in this state. Shit, I'd have to call the captain on the sat-phone to be sure, but I don't think the yacht is even in the this country.

I guess I'll know next time I visit those places. She's a tricky one, my stalker. Not always the most subtle. But quite dedicated.

Speak of Raven and Raven Appears

Special Saturday Bonus Piece (You Lucky Bastards)

I was about to publish Thursday's Daily Refill. All that was left for me to do was assign it a category. I went to click on "Occult Mysteries," but it wasn't there in the list. "How odd," I thought. "I remember creating that one for Tuesday's piece, just two nights ago."

So I went to the list of all my posts to see if I had somehow posted Tuesday's piece in a different category completely--and it wasn't there at all. Neither was Wednesday's piece. I certainly remembered publishing both pieces, but neither seemed to exist.

Now, here's something you probably don't realize: right now, I publish every Refill twice: once on Daily Refills and once on the Free Refills homepage. My intention is to figure out how to make everything that gets published on Daily Refills show up automatically on the homepage as well, which I'm sure isn't hard to do, but so far I haven't taken the time to find the plug-in that will do it. So for now I'm still publishing in both places every day.

I went to the list of pieces on the homepage, and neither Tuesday's nor Wednesday's piece was there, either.

At which point I fell into a state in which I questioned my very grip on reality. I was sure that I had published the pieces. I remembered doing so. I keep the same pattern every day: I publish first on Daily Refills and then immediately on the homepage.

"Maybe," I thought, almost literally dizzy with confusion, "I only think I even wrote those pieces. Maybe it all was a dream." But no. I took a quick glance at Emacs, and there were the files for each, in exactly the state I remembered them.

I was pretty distressed. I don't miss publishing days. It just doesn't happen. Since I started daily publishing back in the spring, I haven't missed a day.

In a daze, I reposted Tuesday's and Wednesday's pieces. I checked later and they were still there. Last time I checked, they still are.

So what happened? Well, one thing I am sure of is that I didn't somehow fail to publish the pieces. I could imagine forgetting to click the "Publish" button--but not four times in a row. We can safely disregard that possibility.

So what does that leave? Some kind of server-side glitch? A hack into the website? Both are possible (and you can rest assured that I changed my passwords).

But I doubt that's what happened. For two weeks, I've written about the mysterious disappearances of possessions of mine. I've written about trickster gods and house spirits and their rambunctious play in the fields of our lives. So maybe, just maybe, they're just trying to confirm my initial hypotheses. "Those missing shirts?" they're saying. "Oh yeah, we have those. In the meantime, count your possessions closely, and make sure you keep backups of all your files."

Hello, Worms

When I began this discussion of the missing shirts, I didn't realize that the exploration would take two whole weeks. But once I started in on the topic, it became clear that, really, I'd been avoiding the full implications of the shirts' (and other items') disappearances. It's far easier to just believe that they're missing, that somehow I just lost them, even though that flies in the face of everything I know about my own behavior, all the ways that I am careful not to lose things, which honestly gets borderline obsessive.

I don't know why I'm surprised. If you open a big can of worms, it's kind of silly to exclaim, "Goodness! Look at all the worms!"

When I started, I guess I thought I was just writing about some missing shirts. Now I see that, really, I'm discussing mysteries of great metaphysical importance.

In the meantime, I can't find my riding tights. I brought them to Alaska to wear as an underlayer, and I remember unpacking them when I got home.

Hello, worms.

The Plot Thickens. It Also Emulsifies.

In my focus on the missing shirts, I have drawn too narrow a focus. The mystery runs deeper.

For example, I never mentioned the red stuff sack that I kept in my soccer bag. I used to put my jerseys in it so that I wouldn't have to root around in my bag to find them. I know I had that stuff sack back at the end of the spring season. When the fall season rolled around, I couldn't find it.

I also had a pair-of-shoe-sized vinyl carrying bag that came with a pair of cleats I bought a few years back. I used to put my shin guards and sleeves and socks in it. It, too, disappeared between the spring and fall seasons.

As with the shirts, the obvious, materialist answer is that I simply lost these items--I left them on the field or something. And I would accede to that possibility, were I not so completely OCD about never leaving anything behind. I always check again and again and again before I walk away.

At a certain point, the question becomes not just, "What forces are acting so sneakily to steal my things?" but also, "What are they hoping to accomplish?" Could it be that occult forces are trying to disconnect me from my very sense of the solidity of reality?

Consider: a couple of nights ago, Debby went into the downstairs bathroom to get a little lotion from the huge bottle she keeps in there. She was in there for a long time, then came out, lotionless and puzzled.

"I couldn't find it," she said.

There are no hidden places in that bathroom. If you can't find something, it's not there.

"You see?" I said. "And you thought those pieces about house spirits and trickster gods was just me messing around."