The first thing that struck me as soon as I stripped off my winter coat and scarf was how uncharacteristically cold it was in my apartment. "I gotta text my landlord about this," I thought. But things seemed awry. A little too messy.
I looked for the source of the cold. I flicked on lights, walked by the living room windows, then into the "whimsy" room where I let my creativity fly. It's the room I use as an office when I'm not at my coworking space. And the window by the fire escape was gaping wide open. I immediately looked to the desk where I leave my laptop. My MacBook Pro was gone! So was my external hard drive! I noticed the bottom cabinet drawer was left open, its stored innards spewed out onto the rug.
Things were not where they were supposed to be. And the pieces that had made my apartment seem a little off quickly came together.
I'd been robbed.
Hundreds of hours of work were stolen from me in the mere 20 minutes it took that guy in the surveillance tape to swipe my place. Earlier that Sunday, I'd scrambled to get out the invitations to my show's launch party on February 24. I'm the creator, producer and host of "Cooking with Granny." It's a web series where in each 10-minute episode, a grandma from a different culture invites us into her kitchen to share a recipe and a story. And nine months after getting my project funded on Kickstarter, and two and a half years since its pilot on homemade kimchi, I was ready to release my series out from its Final Cut Pro folders and onto YouTube for everyone else to enjoy.
But now this. Of all the hardships my show had suffered -- the anguish of perfectionism, the learning curve of a nube entrepreneur dusting off her Microsoft Excel program, the unexpected challenges dealing with details like laser engravings and screenprintings for my Kickstarter rewards (wooden spoons and aprons) -- this curveball was thrown at me from furthest away. From way, way the fuck out there.
So, with only 24 days left on my calendar until my launch, I had to heal, process and rebuild. And in so doing, I picked up these hard lessons.
1. Don't let your guard down even in Pleasantville -- or in my case, Astoria, NY. Make sure your windows and doors are locked. Cut down on exposure to your apartment -- draw those curtains and blinds. Get renters insurance.
2. Keep your back-ups in a separate location from your original files. I had left my second external hard drive containing 99% of my "Cooking with Granny" footage with my new project partner, The Daily Meal. The Final Cut Pro files, however are hopelessly lost. And I'm now saving all my work to Dropbox and Google Drive.
3. Be adaptable. I was planning on having all my episodes shot and most of them edited and ready for the "Schedule Publish" button on YouTube, but nope. I was also editing a trailer, but now I'm fine with screening just the premiere episode. You can pare down perfect to good.
4. Plan a big event far, far in advance. You never know what will be thrown at you.
5. Surround yourself with those who support your passion. Friends and family help. So do your fans. From words of encouragement to offers to help with my launch, I've been grateful for the compassion. It has definitely softened the blow and kept me focused.
The burglary still haunts me with yet undiscovered losses. Just the other day, I realized I'd lost all the photos and graphics I'd been compiling for the comic book (a really cool Kickstarter reward, I must say). "Shiiiit," I groaned, and my heart sunk. My police report gets longer and longer -- camera, SD cards, jewelry, even my winter coat (a stinging insult on top of the injury). And when I put away some notes in my cabinet, I had to wipe down the black fingerprint dust from my own fingertips.
This burglary tested my mettle, but it only reinforced my confidence in "Cooking with Granny." After all, my show must go on.