This was one of those weeks where in every class I had some sort of final project due, I was negotiating the lease for my new apartment, and trying to wrap up a graphic design project with a client. All at the same time. It was, in short, absolutely nuts in Dylan HQ this week. Perfect timing for complete disaster to strike!

On my bus ride home on Monday night, I pulled my laptop out of my backpack to find the screen saturated with water. A bottle had spilled in the backpack, potentially RUNING. MY. ENTIRE LIFE in a span of three minutes. I was instructed by some Computer Geek Experts to leave it to try for a whole entire week, and then hope to every god available that it would turn on again. Making this week laptopless, during a time I needed it most.

In other complaining news, I’ve been pretty broke lately…all right, all semester…and so my eating schedule has been jacked as I don’t have any food around the house. The morning after my water-spillage nightmare, which caused me so much panic I forgot dinner, I was in one of my nutritionless dazes. I grabbed a sandwich on my way to campus and ate it in a private corner. Zoning out, sandwich in hand, staring out the window into space, I tried to figure out why all of this calamity would happen to me, and why it would be happening in this week of workload insanity. I started to consider karma. Was the universe trying to (very brashly) deliver a message to me via wet laptop?

This pensive sandwich session was quickly becoming serious, when an idea hit me hard, and felt very much like truth. The reason my laptop was in peril was because I’ve been stealing too much lately. This is all part of a karmic reaction, the forces reminding me that I can’t get away with my shoplifting. I was like, Oooooh, this still sucks, but it really makes sense.

I used to never steal. Anything. Remembering how dumb the klepto girls from high school looked when they got caught at Nordstrom or Urban Outfitters trying to escape with skinny jeans or something, I was always turned off by the idea of shoplifting. But lately, everything has seemed so easy. I just didn’t have the cash to replenish my Chapstick and lotion from the drugstore the other day, so I slipped them into my bag. Walking off with a salad-bar box from the bougie grocery store was too easy when I needed lunch. What’s alarming to me is that at some point it stopped feeling wrong and started feeling normal. I would think, Why would I ever waste my money buying batteries again? They’re a necessity in life, I shouldn’t need to pay for them. If I could take something I needed, I would. It’s not what I think of as normal me behavior, but I’m sick of asking my mom for more cash, especially when I have two part-time jobs. But it seems so weak of me to be taking such small things. But at the same time…so effortless.

The whole computer incident suddenly seemed so clearly, inevitably linked to my recent lifting. Not like an iron fist from the universe coming down to say, “Shame on you, young lady!” but more of a reminder that that sort of stuff just won’t fly. And that disasters like this could become a lot more common if my habits get any worse.
My wet laptop reminded me about the value of my own material things. If I treat them so nonchalantly, which is the signal I send out when I choose not to pay for certain things, then nothing else I own must matter very much either.

On Thursday night I finally tried to reboot my computer. I almost had an anxiety attack as I watched the little white Apple flicker to life, but it did. The only evidence of damage is some glowy splotches on the screen, which just make my computer look like it’s in outer space, so that’s kind of cool, I guess.

And I’ve been getting better about keeping my stealing in check. I’ve been asking myself, What’s the difference between stealing a bottle of tea and stealing a new computer? Besides a couple thousand dollars and a different level of difficulty, the principle is still the same. I’m in college right now to learn how to make things, and the thought of someone stealing my product is pretty uncomfortable. It’s just the principle of it—it doesn’t matter what I’m stealing, it’s that I’m stealing at all. I’m ignoring the value of something that I obviously want to have, as if I’m entitled to ignore someone else’s labor. I can’t pretend anymore little things don’t count. Sure, $4 is smaller than $400, but it’s still a signal that I don’t care whose work, and time, and care went into making something. Which clearly is not correct; I do really care about my material things. My computer’s brink-of-death experience was a reminder that things were going too far.

Paying for anything sucks. I always feel like I’m broke. But playing this game with karma isn’t going to get me anywhere good. ♦