When S**t Happens

It was bad enough my muse abandoned me a few months ago. Potential posts have been sitting incomplete in a draft folder waiting for a spark of inspiration to give them life.

… and now the bottom has fallen out completely.

It all started yesterday.

I’m in Portugal on a short vacation with Gilles. We arrived yesterday afternoon after an exhausting 13 hour journey – not counting the 5 hour time change. In other words I had gone 24 hours without sleeping.

We had been in Lisbon for only about an hour when it happened.

I forgot my backpack on the side of the road when we arrived at our rental apartment. Needless to say, by the time I noticed it was missing, the bag was gone.

The loss of that pack is devastating to me. It contained my laptop, both my cameras, the hard drive containing every photo I’ve ever taken, and assorted other technology.

I’ve been completely gutted by the loss. It was a moment of carelessness at a time when I was feeling brain-dead from exhaustion.

Although I *think* the bag was tagged with my contact information, I’m not certain but I do know for sure my backups are grossly old. If the bag is not recovered, the impact will be significant.

As is typical in our marriage, when one of us falls apart, the other manages to remain a calming influence in the emotional storm. Gilles has been amazing in holding me together … not a small undertaking.

I can now talk about it without crying. I know it’s just *stuff* and stuff is replaceable.

In the meantime I have just a phone … a device I don’t use a lot. Trying to create this post has been painful and now I understand the frustration so many of you have expressed with the WordPress editor.

This is really just a long way of telling you good-bye. I don’t know when I’ll be back but I do know it won’t be on a phone.

Photo by Gilles. Who would ever have thought we’d find a polar bear in Portugal? Just trying to prove I still have a sense of humour.

149 comments

  1. Oh my, this is not how one wants to start a vacation. I had a similar close call in Switzerland in 2013. I was so busy marveling at the mountains around us I left my camera bag sitting on a bench and only realized it after about 5 minutes of walking later. Oh I will never forget that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach…luckily the bag was still there where I ran back in a panic.
    We can tell ourselves it’s only material objects but it’s still a major downer all the same. I really hope you’re able to enjoy the rest of the trip and bravo to Gilles for keeping calm and holding you together.
    Big hugs 🙂

    Like

    • Thanks Norm. I think we’ve all had close calls like that one. Sadly, mine didn’t have a happy ending.

      While Portugal is lovely, this entire trip was one misadventure after another. Yesterday was our first day home and I’m glad to be here. I’m hoping the bad luck of this trip hasn’t followed us home. I guess arriving home safely in a snowstorm is something very major to be grateful for.

      Now I begin the long tedious task of trying to get myself back online. Mobile devices and WordPress don’t play well together.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh no!! I am so sorry to hear this Joanne. I’m glad that you’ve been able to maintain a sense of humor. Sending you hugs and hope that it’s recovered!

    Like

  3. oh noooo Joanne. I am sooooo sorry to hear this news. My gut hurts for you – seriously. Maybe some good soul will turn it in – I will keep my fingers crossed for you my friend. In the meantime, enjoy your trip – Portugal is wonderful. Your phone will take some pretty good photos :-). HUGS!!

    Like

  4. Joanne, I am so, so sorry to read this. I can totally imagine how gut-wrenching it must be to lose not only cameras and laptop, but your photos.

    I’m so glad that you are enjoying your trip — your resilience has always shone through your posts — and hopefully that moment of self-blame has passed. Kia Kaha.

    Like

    • Thanks so much Marian. So far that miracle is eluding me, but now I’ve been able to accept it and move on. Life is too short to get bogged down in stuff that you can’t go back and change.

      Like

  5. OMG. I’m so gutted for you. I hope by this point you have stopped blaming yourself, but maybe that’s too much to ask, but I hope you don’t. If this had happened to anyone else, I’m sure that is what you would have wanted. Sending more virtual hugs. xxoo

    Like

  6. Really sorry to hear this, Joanne. It shouldn’t happen it in any locale, but it’s unfortunate it was in Lisbon — I recently visited and it was great. I hope things work out and you’re able to salvage some great memories.

    PS. Casa Da India for my one food recommendation!

    Like

    • I’ve only ever heard great things about Portugal in general and Lisbon specifically … and she has lived up to her reputation 💕 Our visit here has been wonderful – give or take the backpack incident. Now we are preparing to leave for the Algarve.

      Like

  7. So, so sorry to hear about this. It wrenched my heart! About the photos. I was going though our real photos (I have boxes and boxes of them… i was debating about digitizing and it’s just mind-boggling) and realized how many photos I have of family & friends. Given the rash of fires in places I have friends, I actually thought “If they ever loose all their photos, I have a few to replace theirs”. That said, when you get home, reach out to friends & family. You never know what pictures might be in their folders or boxes! Hope the rest of the trip is more positively eventful.

    Like

    • Thanks Pat. There is a feeling of panic that initially comes with a loss like this, but eventually it is replaced with acceptance. I can’t really complain so much about the loss of stuff when we are ok and have the opportunity to continue with a great vacation 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh Joanne, what a shitty rotten luck way to begin a vacation! It can be so hard to rally when something like this happens🤨. Hoping you can find some enjoyment in the rest of your stay as Lisbon is such a beautiful city.

    We too, were a little confused about the polar bear in the square. Almost as much as the guy dressed up as a Chieftan? Wtf?…..

    Like

  9. I’m so sad to hear about the theft of all your creative tools, Joanne. Such a horrid way to start a vacation in a truly lovely city. Maybe some insurance will cover part of the recovery cost? Glad to read you are taking solace in pastais de nata. Portuguese white wine is a nice diversion, too. Hugs to you.

    Like

    • I’ve been enjoying plenty of both 🙂

      I had hoped for a happy ending to this story but I no longer believe it will happen. Sometimes the lessons we learn are rather rough but happily this one involved only stuff and not injury or harm.

      It’s funny but I feel like I’m redoing your anniversary trip from last month.. We had an amazing tuk-tuk driver yesterday and he really helped remove any lingering stink from our rocky start 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh, how awful. I’m so sorry. I do hope that someone does the right thing and is able to track you down and find a way to give it back to you. Try not think about this, and get into a better frame of mind with the vacation. In the end all “stuff” can be replaced, but memories remain forever. – Marty

    Like

    • So true, Marty! At this point I have no idea of how much I’ll be able to recover but the memories are forever. One of the advantages of being a blogger is that some of those memories are captured in our stories 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Teagan – sometimes our mistakes are big ones but at least this one was just stuff. Painful stuff, but stuff just the same.

      The good news is that we’ve been able to park this and have a great time in spite of it 🙂

      Like

  11. I’m so sorry for what you’ve lost. I understand somewhat, because in the last 2.5 yrs for whatever reason the hard drive on 2 new laptops died with all my data. I’m luckier because I do regularly save my data to an external drive, but still, even losing 1 month to 6 months of life tracked was a hard pill. I’m glad you’re able to pull a laugh in the midst of all that. Sending loads of wishes for a much improved trip for you. xo

    Like

  12. Oh dear. Stuff in this case is rather useful stuff that connects you to people and your environment, not shallow at all.
    And I love that bit about your husband keeping you sane. So true. Only one of us can lose it at a time. The other must hold it together.
    You certainly do have a good sense of humor and I LOVE the bear shot! Do try to have fun 🙂

    Like

    • I do have a backup but it’s not current. I’m hoping it’s not older than 6 months. Nor have I ever attempted a recovery from a backup. I’ve learned from a bad experience at work that a backup that can’t be read properly is useless.

      My laptop is password protected and I was able to remotely lock it with another password. No one is getting into it any time soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. So sorry, Joanne. So, so sorry. Thinking of it as just “stuff” doesn’t quite cut it, for it represents so much more. I’m really hoping for a miracle to happen while you continue to explore, and enjoy, Portugal, with your husband.

    Like

    • Thank you 🙂 I am managing to enjoy this trip. It’s taken on a different flavour now and if anything I’m even more appreciative. I’ve had huge support from family, friends, and the blogging community. You all ‘get’ it and appreciate the ‘trauma’.
      I do sincerely believe that today’s disaster is tomorrow’s great story. I will eventually laugh about this. I think 😏

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Man that sucks in a big way. Like really sucks. Hard to remember that it’s only stuff when those pictures are all so precious.
    I can relate a bit — work trip to Halifax. Took my brand new Mac Book Air. Bought a $100 lobster at the airport. In paying attention to the lobster I left my laptop on the plane. I tried to go back from the next flight but the airliner staff said they would make sure it came back. It didn’t. So lost the pictures and the two power points I had focused on creating on the way east. Expensive lobster ☹️.
    On the other hand I use my phone more often than any other device for word press and don’t have many issues at all.
    Enjoy Portugal — it’s awesome!!
    Take care and keep smiling.
    Bernie

    Like

    • Ugh! These lessons are hard ones to learn 🙁 I’m surprised however your laptop didn’t show up at the airline’s lost and found. I left a journal on a plane once and was able to recover it a few days later by making a trip to their lost and found storage area.
      THAT would have made an interesting blog post. The lost and found area of an airline is unbelievable- hundreds of just umbrellas!! The things people forget behind!

      Like

  15. Oh, Joanne. What a distressing thing to happen. It is only stuff, but it’s more than that too and you’re allowed to feel sad and angry. I’m glad you were able to smile today despite yesterdays disaster. When you feel sad, just look at Gilles and think about your son(s). I hope your goodbye is only temporary! Have a great vacation regardless.

    Like

  16. I don’t have words except that I am so sorry and hope that whoever picked up your backpack has a moment and realizes what a good thing it would be to give it back to its rightful owner. When we made our last trip, I decided to buy a low end iPad to take instead of my laptop. Listening to your experience, I’m glad I did that because someone could have lifted that iPad, and I wouldn’t have cared less. If someone takes my laptop, I’d have a nervous breakdown. Well, not really, but it would take a while to get over. I hope you have a marvelous visit and find some great gear sale when you get home. But, remember, we miss you when you’re gone too long. 🙂

    Like

  17. So very sorry!!! I can just imagine how your stomach must have been in knots with disappointment and we can beat ourselves up so bad! Hugs and praying for a miracle and your bag to be returned with everything in it!
    Cheers to your honey in being a stable force right now! Lean on him and I pray you have some amazing things happen to you this vacation!

    Like

  18. Sending good thoughts your way!
    🙏
    And not quite the same – but my husband accidentally wiped a hard drive of ours – about four years ago – with thousands of my photos (from art shows – teaching days – five science fairs that I hosted in the community – dozens of custom videos I made which sometimes were two days per video)
    And it took time – but I released it all – and it did change me for the better – kind of reminded me that all of what I have even now could be wiped out too – and I would have to be okay with it. It helped me really keep an open hand
    And actually just today I thought of one of true videos that was cleared – about five of them were super dear to me – like the one w-my son skateboarding as a little tween and our host student from Brazil – and I had such a peace.
    Anyhow – I know also with your loss this week there is financial loss from the gear….
    And not sure if you had insurance – my son2 just bought some for his gear because he had a backpack stole by a wild animal while camping in West Virginia – luckily he took out his camera and phone – but he lost hundreds of dollars worth of stuff and now carries insurance on gear.

    And love the sense of humor photo – saying a prayer that someone will turn in the stuff –
    Oh and I know what you mean about trying to post via phone for WP. Not at all ideal.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can relate to everything you said. First there is the shock and gut-wrenching panic but an acceptance does kind of kick in.
      Until I get home, I don’t know what kind of backups I have … hopefully not more than 6 months old … but I’ve also realized that the memories are still there. No lost equipment or accidental erasing can take them away 💕

      As for insurance, again I won’t know until I get home. I’m trying not to get my hopes up though. Sadly it’s a very big number. If we aren’t covered, it’s going to really hurt 😢

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for the reply! Love how you said nothing can erase the memories-
        I was thinking of you when I read an article from a researcher named Twenge – she does research mostly with millennials and social media related topics (like how many times they really look at their devices and Habits with social media) and one activity she had some participants do was to write down a positive significant recent event in their life that happened to them. They wrote with smiles and when done – she said – okay – now throw out the paper and you cannot tell anyone –
        Whoa. It was tough for most – because of the “social media sharing” culture – many of them have been sharing all of their life details – esp the big things – and she challenged them to not – can the keep this experience private?
        That was the overview of it all – but it reminded me of your recent loss where many of this images/vids will only be remembered in your mind – and that was how it was for a long time before this social media phase –
        Ok – so that part did not remind me of your recent loss (and sorry again – ugh) but it was the attachment and perspective kind of stuff – maybe more of what I felt – able to release and be okay at the end of the day

        Like

          • Well said! Read an article about digital natives vs. digital immigrants – and we are the latter –
            Also – was thinking about your loss again today and remembered when I lost gold earrings on the beach. They just evaporated into the sand! It was not just the value of them – they were also my very favorite earrings for everyday – hard to find such a perfect fit – and then I was without them for the rest of the trip (did get some cheap ones but still)
            Anyhow – we were all talking about how one of those beachcombers would like find my earrings (we searched for a while and even had a magnet to comb with- no luck)
            As we talked – someone said “maybe the person finding it needed them for bill money. Maybe they were down on their luck and this huge score is a highlight of their month! I was a little cynical at first – but then somehow I did find that perspective – I felt a release of things (cos stuff sure comes and goes) and it felt kind of intrinsically good to imagine someone valuing the score and maybe they really really needed it – and we are not wealthy – but we do fall in that first world category of the world’s well off – and it was just humbling and uplifting
            And I know your loss is way more money than my my favorite food earrings – and all the irreplaceable stuff on a hard drive – but maybe – just maybe the person who found it now has bill and good money (or not –
            Don’t mean to be cheesy)

            There is another idea that came to mind –
            Heard someone had their watch stolen – and later found out it was a model that had toxic parts with the metals – and the loss was a gift !
            What if your cameras had radiation leaks or something was off with the battery part that would have hurt you.
            Or…
            What if you still had the items and then got robbed for them on your trip and had a gun to your head.
            Okay – just hypotheticals –
            But everything happens for a reason – and I do believe that things “can work FOR good”
            Even the bad – wait – especially the sucky and bad!
            have seen it so many times

            Like

            • It’s interesting reading this comment now. All these points are thoughts that have been buzzing around my mind. It takes a bit of the sting out of the loss.

              However the thought that’s predominated is the one about things happening for a reason. This is something I deeply believe in. We are not normally inattentive, careless people, so this incident was a particularly hard slap. I believe the Universe was sending me a message. We don’t always understand what that message is, but I have to believe it was for a good reason.

              Liked by 1 person

  19. OMG – the nightmare of every writer and blogger, It’s no wonder you look ready to turn and punch the polar bear. I absolutely cannot use the iPhone for updating my blog. I’ve tried and failed so many times so I’m mighty impressed! I really hope the rest of your trip is so wonderful that this nightmare will be forgotten. And bless Gilles for being such an angel. You are a lucky woman.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Jan. I am very lucky in the grand scheme of things.

      Using my phone is the pits. This stupid post took me 3 hours of fighting with WP and I almost gave up and abandoned it. Then everyone would have been wondering why I disappeared without explanation.

      Once I get back home, I’m going to be pretty preoccupied. It’s going to take quite a while before things settle down again. I had hoped for the miraculous return of my bag, but I’ve had to face up to reality now.

      Like

  20. Why in the heck I liked this post is beyond me. I think that photo of you and Mr Bear made me smile. Crap, Joanne. I’m sorry about this. All your photos–that would gut me, too. Try to enjoy the rest of the trip. Gilles–such a good man. I’d be so beside myself, I’d probably punch him. You know…..stress relief.

    Like

    • Hahaha! My version of stress relief normally comes in the form of crying. Funny, I was just messaging with one of my sons and he brought up my cat Theo. He’s a stress pooper 😆

      For the most part I’ve been ok the past few days. I occasionally miss my good camera but I can’t complain really. I’m on vacation in a beautiful country. People are very nice and we’ve had more than a few laughs.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. I am so very sorry for your loss. It is significant! But you will survive this. Take what time you need. We’ll be here when you are able to come back. You are worth waiting for.

    Like

    • Awww – thanks. You literally brought tears to my eyes ❤️
      Once I get home I’m going to be quite distracted with Christmas stuff etc. Sorting out the loss and recovering what I can will take time. I’m guessing it will be at least January … sad but I’m starting to think of it as a clean start to the new year.

      Like

  22. Hi, Joanne – While I was reading this I was hoping for a posiitve ending — of your items magically returned. I have had a laptop stolen before (from my desk at work) and a camera stolen too (from the back of a rental car). Neither of these occurences happened at the same time — still I clearly remember the pain and frustration. Yes, it’s just stuff — but important stuff that contains vital information and personal memories. Sending you warm wishes for their return. I am impressed that you have kept your sense of humour — I don’t remember that part happening to me! 😀

    Like

    • Getting a good night’s sleep helped with my attitude adjustment significantly. Once I felt well-rested again, that feeling of shock and panic subsided.
      Having said that, I’m sure there will be plenty of profanity in my future when I have to go through the exercise of replacing this stuff and recovering whatever backups I might have. For now, those are problems that can wait.

      Like

  23. Oh, my, Jo, this truly sucks. It brings back memories when I returned to Cape Town with my 3 week old son. We went to see friends on the day after we returned and on arrival realised we’d left the baby travel case on the pavement with brand new baby clothes, my very much needed nipple cream and all the baby congratulations cards. I was devastated. I really hope you get your bag back, but more than that it doesn’t spoil Lisbon for you. A lovely city.

    Like

    • It really is a kick in the gut, isn’t it? … and you feel so stupid for that brief moment of inattentiveness 😕

      My hopes for getting my stuff back has evaporated now. The person who found it has made no attempt to contact me, nor have they reported the found backpack to the police. The world is full of good people but apparently one of them didn’t find my bag 😢

      However, yes, Lisbon is awesome. I may never be able to eat another Portuguese custard tart again. I’ve been forever ruined by having the quintessential tart here in Belém.

      Like

  24. I was going to say our muses were off together somewhere, but I think yours is definitely misbehaving. Mine is just lazy. I’m so very sorry for your loss of digital memory. I just got back from a 4 week trip with a 12 hour time difference and I didn’t bother with my lap top and/or camera. It’s a good thing too, because those travels were just exhausting without having to keep up with stuff. My blog will continue to suffer. However, Joanne, I have confidence that you will overcome this shitty occurrence. You are so creative and funny, and I can’t imagine you not overcoming this. I challenge you to carry on! Giles’ photo of you is adorable and, of course, blog worthy. Tracey

    Like

    • I do have to let the silly out once in a while … ok, often 🙃

      I don’t like travelling with my laptop, but downloading and tagging all my photos daily is so much easier than trying to reconstruct it all at the end of a vacation. I did that once and said never again.

      But being without cameras or laptop right now is rather liberating. There’s nothing I can do about the loss at this point so I might as well enjoy myself.

      Like

  25. NOOOO! Losing your cameras…I feel your pain! I hope the backpack and all its contents are miraculously returned to you, and if not some other wonderful thing happens and you get a new camera and laptop, and you have back up images at home on another drive!!

    In the meantime, I hope you can put it behind you and enjoy your time in Portugal! What an exciting place and at Christmas! Sending hugs and positive vibes through the miles and cyberspace to you my friend! xx

    Like

    • You hit the nail on the head! That was exactly what we had to focus on otherwise I would have been wallowing in a pity party. I just lost some stuff but otherwise we’re fine and life goes on.

      Glad to hear you got only a scare, however those can still rattle you pretty badly!

      Like

  26. I just can’t like this post! I feel so bad on your behalf – I pretty much go crazy when I lose a post (hell, even a paragraph) I am In the process of creating; not sure I would bounce back as quickly as you appear to have, Joanne.

    Big hugs to you, my friend – asking the universe for a miracle for you!!!!

    Deb

    Liked by 1 person

    • I too was hoping it was a good-hearted person who found it but when we went to the police station today to file the serial number of my laptop, hey were able to confirm that no one has turned in the bag. That was kind of my last hope 🙁
      Oh well, we move on now! There’s nothing more I can do.

      Like

  27. I’m so sorry this happened Joanne ☹️ I can’t even imagine what you must be going through. You have the right attitude though. They are just things.

    Like

    • Thanks so much for your email Joe. I appreciate you reaching out to me. We just left the police station and filed a report. Thankfully I was able to give them at least the serial # of my MacBook. No one has turned in my bag at this point.

      As you say, attitude is everything and since there is nothing I can do about it, it’s time to move on and just enjoy the vacation.

      Like

      • I’m sorry to hear you haven’t recovered your property yesterday Joanne. I would also contact Apple with your serial number and report the MacBook stolen. If you activated “Find my Mac” you will be able to lock the MacBook and possibly get a location of where it is. First find the vicinity through the GPS functions of your Mac and iPhone then report the location to the police and lock the computer as a last step.

        Like

        • Thanks Joe. With the exception on notifying Apple we took all those steps.

          I was surprised that the police were uninterested in knowing the location of one and only ping I got from the laptop.

          I have locked it and set it to notify me the next time it’s opened but it’s gone dark. I know it’s not because the battery is dead. It was fully charged.

          Like

  28. Oh Joanne! I can only imagine how gutted you must be. I hope there’s someone out there with a kind soul who found your pack. Please don’t stop writing. I always enjoy your posts! Looking forward to hearing all about the rest of your adventure!

    Like

    • Thanks Judy so much for your support 💕

      At first i felt really lost without my camera but in spite of it, I had a good first day here. The phone just isn’t a good solution for me. It’s too hard on my hands. It’s going to be a while before I’m back up and running.

      Take care and looking forward to seeing you when we get back 🙂

      Like

    • That’s my hope, Natalie, but I’m also realistic and not getting my hopes up too high. There’s not really much I can do about it right now so we’re carrying on and planning to have a good time in spite of it. I’ll worry about the details later.

      Like

    • Thanks so much for the kind prayers and hugs are always welcome 🙂

      Travel is fraught with risks but this is a first for me. We had 2 very rough landings coming into Paris and then Lisbon. As I said to Gilles, in the grand scheme of things, the lost bag is only an inconvenience. It’s still painful but perspective is everything.

      Like

    • I have faint hope of a happy ending to this story but anything is possible. For now I can only move on and enjoy this vacation. Dealing with the reality of the loss when I get home will have to wait.

      Like

  29. I’m so sad to read this. I understand how upset you are. It’s more than “Stuff.” A lot more. I’m crossing fingers that somehow the laptop is retrieved. And you get a new back pack. Or maybe a new laptop? Hope the rest of your trip is happy.

    Like

    • .. and a miracle is exactly what I’m hoping for, but I’m also realistic 😢
      I really appreciate the hugs. There is a world of comfort in a hug – even a virtual one.

      I was afraid my misery would contaminate this trip but I got over the fact I had only a phone. I’m adaptable 😉

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s