Cursed! Cosmic malice on a small scale

A recurring theme on this blog is the exasperating ironies that threaten to make me superstitious in spite of my skeptical, logical mind. I have a well-established superstitious persecution complex — based on hard evidence — that I am cosmically cursed with an inability to nap undisturbed, and, moreover and more precisely, that I am rudely awoken about 10-15 minutes into naps with uncanny, impossible, infuriating frequency. I actually seem to believe this, in my heart of hearts.

Recently I experienced a double whammy: the nap delusion plus some outrageously improbable timing. To properly appreciate the deep weirdness of this, you need the backstory…

This incident has roots that go back years, starting with a gradual increase in the number of junk calls to our landline, many of them bafflingly pointless (dead line, or fax signals), and many of which interrupted naps about 10-15 minutes in. They became so numerous and annoying that I took to turning the ringer off all the time.1 Eventually I got fed up with this silly state of affairs, and demanded solutions from our provider. They insisted that there was nothing to do — they were bizarrely powerless to prevent the harassment, and the only option I had was to change the number. Reluctantly, I did so … only to quickly discover that the new number was just as polluted with junk calls! After about two months of that, I get fed up again and demanded another number, and the assurance that it would be a “fresh” one, and without any fees for the change. They consented and the new number was activated.

The junk calls stopped, for the first time in years.

I turned the ringer back on about three months ago. There has not been a single junk call to that number. (Hardly any legit ones, even.) Blissfully, I stopped even thinking about it.

You can see what’s coming, but there’s a nasty little twist.

One day a while after starting to trust the phone again, I needed a power nap desperately. I had slept about three hours the night before, due to a stressful incident. I was strung out. I took extra care to turn all my noisemakers off — defense against my paranoid fear of nap-interruption. I considered turning off the land line. I really considered it: I had one of those clear, conscious thoughts about it, as though talking to myself. Probably for the first time since the new number was activated, I thought the following tempting-fate thought about the junk calls:

Well, there hasn’t been a junk call in months, not once on that new number. Not even one. I’ll leave the ringer on.

Minutes later, I was drifting off fast, and the landline rang, of course, and woke me right the hell up. Minutes later. After months of (a) no junk calls and (b) not thinking about junk calls even once, I got a junk call a few minutes into a nap, minutes after thinking about it for the first time in months, and consciously deciding it was safe.

It is impossible not to detect cosmic malice here. Murphy dialed my number. Lucy pulled the football away. The power of my mind caused a junk phone call. Obviously.

Seriously, what’s a rational mind supposed to do with that? I actually can’t demystify the experience. All I can do is try to tolerate the weird combination emotional certainty and rational absurdity.


  1. Like many people these days, I’m rarely interested in real-time communication anyway. But I need the phone for outgoing business calls.