Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Burgled, Balsiti, Break

So today marks the beginning of certain kinds of freedom, and more or less the end of other kinds of freedom.

How this was all supposed to go was that at some point today, I would find myself magically transformed. I would have a glow about me. I would be working on my novel while lithe women fed me cantaloupe.

"I do not really like cantaloupe," I would say to them, and they would start to cry, as they had only wanted to bring me happiness. We would finally settle on grapes.

Fantasies aside, I was greeted instead by the telltale evidence that my car was once again burgled, and my stereo gone. The detachable face plate which is designed to avert exactly such an outcome was still in my apartment. The inside of my car looked like the part of a detective movie where someone's apartment gets ransacked by thugs. Stuff was simply everywhere.

I was only two weeks shy of having lasted an entire year without someone yanking my stereo out of the dashboard in the night. In both instances, the work was performed with at least a moderate level of skill: they always seem to leave me the wiring harness intact.

And this time, they didn't even break a window. How utterly thoughtful of them.


I avoided going in to work today for as long as possible. I did this for two reasons. The obvious reason was because I really didn't want to go and have to do any work, but the real issue was the knowledge that going in meant packing up and going home and that going home from work today means that my commitment is over, and I am free to work on my novel as much as I choose.

Over the precipice I go. I should probably admit that I am terrified.

Technically speaking, I have no obligations of any kind lined up. I have nowhere to be, and nothing to do save for the things I choose for myself.

I hope the people I was working with will remember me for more than the last week or so, when a request to do something was often met with a petulant cry of "but I want to go work on my novel!"

Then I would begin crying.

It's the people I will miss, the social interaction and the exposure to other perspectives which make going to an office worthwhile (inasmuch as it is worthwhile). No more will I bounce a ball in GoodThomas' office, or cause him to hurl insults at me through various means. Two more skills, carefully honed but now of little use.

It seems that my primary tool of social interaction is to be this blog, for the time being. Please be kind and stop by often. I'm dying to talk to you. I promise I'll be nice.


I took a little time while at work today to ascend to the roof of the building. I had never been up there, and there's no guarantee I'll ever have another chance. Who knows if I will be asked to work on the delightful fireworks project next year? Besides, I had my camera with me.

I got a lot of shots of rust, which are up on the Flickr page, along with other shots from the rooftop. The things on the rooftop fell pretty neatly into three categories: rusted or otherwise decrepit things, small bones left behind by ravenous gulls, and bird shit.

I also met a strange, wild-eyed man who lived up on the roof, fighting for space and food with the gulls and pigeons who occupy most of the vents and structures up there. That's him at right, threatening to shut down the power to the building if we did not hand over any sandwiches we had with us.

We gave him our sandwiches, and he told us he was the Amazing Balsiti, once a famous escape artist. He had declared his intent to escape from the very roof on which we stood, but had not been equal to the challenge. He was determined to remain up there until he got it right.

"Well, when we get tired of being up here, we're going to go through that door right there and then down the stairs," I explained slowly, pointing to our point of egress.

He rolled first one eye and then the other, muttering "amateurs" under his breath.

Later, sated by the sandwiches and somewhat more relaxed, the Amazing Balsiti produced a tiny man (seemingly from nowhere) who danced on his hand, sang "Camptown Races" a few times and vanished once we had all joined in.


Suzan Abrams, email: suzanabrams@live.co.uk said...

Oh, Maht. It sounds like an acute time of change from circumstance (burglary) and choice. So sorry to read that they took away your music and it's that nasty feeling of invasion...
But good luck!
I know you'll rise above the tide no matter how high it gets.

Unknown said...

Change can be positive.....or at least that's what I keep telling myself :-)

Reading the Signs said...

Is that a true story about the wild man of the roof? I am a naive reader and believe everything. Anyway, he looks wonderful. You should have asked him if he would grant you three wishes as well as not shutting down the power.
The little man dancing on his hand - I believe that too.

Sorry to hear about the car. Can't think what it's like to have that happen so often.

SilverTiger said...

A nice adventure, one to remember and treasure.

I first thought that you could perhaps keep in touch with the wild-eyed man and learn from his evident wisdom. If the building isn't too high you could give him a basket on a string to let down to street level. You could deposit food and messages and he could repay with insightful comments.

But then I thought that even if this romantic plan were to succeed, it would end up becoming routine and boring. The charm of such encounters lies in their brevity, allowing imagination to take over from reality.

It certainly makes me wonder whether London's roofs are similarly tenanted and I will take my binoculars with me in future in the hope of confirming the possibility.

S. Kearney said...

Maht, seriously, you should have a column somewhere in some paper. This is brilliant reportage of daily life! :) I will certainly be popping in regularly, as always, for your deft surgeries on what's going on around you. Good luck with the new changes - earning, book, getting new car stereo.

Caroline said...

Sorry about the stereo ... the irony regarding the wings/stereo discussion is not lost.
A big step. No more saying that you're going to write after you've finished the working period. This is it now. You have to get on with it. Kind of grown up ... don't you think?

Squirmy Popple said...

I think it's awesome that you're going to be able to work on your novel full time. I'd love to sit around my house and write all day, but unfortunately I need money to eat and such.

Unknown said...

but maht . . . since you don't have to drive to work anymore - why do you need a stereo in your car?

write on.


Pants said...

What an interesting if perilous life you lead Maht.

Anonymous said...


Good luck on your new adventure. Last time somebody broke into my car (at work) they smashed the window and took not only the crappy cassette player (no CD), but the entire bottom part of the dashboard. I had to special order hardware from Subaru (1996 car)just to have something on which a stereo could be mounted. Oh, and it was Christmas Eve. Not that I don't sympathize, I do. For a while after that I used an Ipod in the car, 'cause it was my second stereo that year.

I don't work at that particular building anymore, but I sometimes visit the security guard, a Russian guy who I befriended when I came and went at odd hours. I talked to him last week and he told me he had his car stolen from that lot. This is the security guard--for that lot. How much would that suck, I wonder?

Big plans, big prizes for the short story contest, Maht?

Anonymous said...

Sorry about the car, Moon Staples, and very sad that you won't be here, to brighten our days. You were a great guy to have here, even though the ball bouncing could get annoying after about fifteen or twenty minutes.

And you keep saying that I was mean to you and that is not true, not true at all. Just remember, I have a little list on my desk.

So, did you sing "Camptown Races" too?

The Moon Topples said...

Susan: Thanks for your belief in my resiliency.

Liz: lol. I keep saying that as well.

RTS: After a while, one loses the shock and sense of violation, and it simply feels like a nuisance. I'm not sure that's a good thing. And, yes, all true. I asked about wishes, and even offered to use one of them to wish for his escape from the roof, but he scoffed at me. Apparently, he's only an illusionist.

Silver: We've made tentative plans to keep in touch via email. I, too, worry about the fantastic becoming routine. But then I also wonder if that wouldn't be better than the awful becoming routine.

Let me know what you find on the rooftops of London.

Shameless: I hereby name you as my agent in finding me a newspaper gig. Get cracking! Thanks for the luck.

Caroline: Yes, the remaining excuses have been excused, and I have nothing but my own demons to overcome. Maybe a bit too grown up, if I stop and think about it, but I guess I was going to have to grow up some time.

Katie: Money to eat?!? I may have overlooked a few details.

Ian: As I'm sure you know, if they made a stereo that was a cochlear implant, I would have one of those. Music is food for the brain, dear friend. Now stop making fun of me.

TSP: And to think: I do it all simply to amuse my Blogreaders!

Cavey: I have some nice tales of other break-ins that I shall share some time. I like the one about the security-guard, though. Very O Henry.

Details on the GBA(s)FC will be coming soon...

GT: Yes, and I shall miss you as well. We'll always have the blogosphere, I suppose. As for the rest, I think we both know what is true and what is not.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should replace the stereo in your car with the tiny man. I'm sure that he could make a comfortable home in your glove compartment. You may want to expand his repertoire beyond "Camptown Races". He may be receptive to other songs by Stephen Foster. You may even teach him to sing a Beatles tunes.

He can even suffice as an alarm system, biting any hand that may reach into the dashboard without permission.

By the way, I hope the Amazing Balsiti pulls the plug on the power so that I can go home. Not so that I can do anything noble like write a novel, but I could really go for some pancakes right about now. Maybe even a chocolate chip shortbread. Peace yo!

The Moon Topples said...

Tiny: I don't think I could take the tiny man away from the Amazing Balsiti. What if he had no one left?


*wanders off in search of pancakes*

Stray said...

Oh Maht! The bastards!

Leaving the kidnapping of your car stereo aside, wow, what a big day!

I work on my own now. At home. And yeah, it does get kind of lonely from time to time. You will find your cat becomes increasingly sentient. After a few months at home writing they are able to understand your every word. And have opinions and everything!

I am only slightly bigger than the mini person in the photo. Really.

Congratulation, my friend Maht, the writer,


The Moon Topples said...

Stray: I usually work from home, and actually referred to one of my cats as a "colleague" in a post showing my office back in January. So I think I know what you mean.

Do your friends smuggle you inside their jackets when they go to the movies? I think that'd be a lovely thing.

Stray said...

Oh - that would be a lovely thing Maht - a sort of snuggly form of smuggling?

I think I shall suggest it to them.

Yes, I have feline and canine colleague. Ruby has recently appointed herself as refuse disposal manager. And Ophelia is in charge of shredding important paperwork and restocking the floor with pens, usb drives and various cables.

They are diligent, I am not.


The Moon Topples said...

Stray: My colleagues are in charge of mid-day naps and self-licking.

I am responsible for everything else.

Anonymous said...

Mean Topples, I do know the truth and I have quotes and written affidavids.

Now is the time for both of us to get to our writing. I am glad that you are out of here (again). I can't wait to read more of your stuff.


Reading the Signs said...

I am still waiting to hear about the replacement ball-bouncer (sorry if that sounds rude, it's not my fault) in GT's office. Clearly there's a job to be done and someone must do it.

The Moon Topples said...

GT: I have quotes of my own, and the testimony of several reliable witnesses. They are reliable because I have paid them money.

RTS: For information about my replacement, perhaps you should seek the counsel of one of the better Thomases. As I no longer work there, I have no idea what they've done to find a replacement. I can tell you I did see some hopefuls bouncing things, but they were hardly up to the standards set by the previous occupant of the position.

Ces Adorio said...

Thanks for delurking at my blog and leaving me a nice comment. I must say this is a fine piece of writing as I read every word of it even though my eyes are dry as the desert from working all day and staring at the computer! I am captivated by your style. I am sorry about the stereo. I hate thieves of any kind and I hope that those who stole your stereo will suffer severe athlete's foot or rotten teeth.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


You've been sprung. You're a free man. Very sorry to hear that your stereo has also been liberated.

Everything has its price, and perhaps the latter is the price of the former, your freedom to own your days. I hope that your insurance will cover it, though, and that the extent of the graft you must pay to the elements will be the inconvenience of replacing it.

I could see the Amazing Balsiti becoming at least a tangential character in one of your many upcoming novels.

Soldier on, then. Write, write, WRITE!!!

The Moon Topples said...

Ces: Thanks for your kindness. I don't wish rotten teeth on anyone, though. Bad teeth are a terrible thing to have.

HinSF: Hmmm. I thought my toiling at the Dayworking was my price for this freedom. I shall look into whether I have incurred a penalty.

At the very least, I expect we have not seen the last of the Amazing Balsiti on this blog...

Anonymous said...


As of 19 April, 2007 I will be representing Mr. Chris Balsiti (AKA: The Amazing Balsiti, The Great Balsiti, The So-So Balsiti, The Eh... I've Seen That One Before Balsiti, The Dirty Hippie, The Possibly Festering Balsiti). Any use of Mr. Balsiti's likeness as well as any description of Mr. Balsiti's (including but not limited to: hair, clothing, hygiene, odor, appetite, affinity for pretentious 70's progressive rock) will require written approval... blah, blah, blah... legal stuff... standard boilerplate usage mubo-jumbo.

Mr. Balsiti and I look forward to hearing from you regarding any upcoming projects (i.e. books, screenplays, reality shows, etc.).

Also, do you know anyone who can help us with a line of lunch boxes and/or sandwich bag endorsements?


The Moon Topples said...

Dirk: Yes, I think a screenplay is in order. I'll show you the draft when it's done.