Why Fortuna?


Fortuna has been part of my e-mail address since I first ventured online in 1995. The inspiration for the choice happened about five years earlier, when I came home from work to find that my apartment had been burglarized for the second time. This time the back door had not been kicked off its hinges but opened with a key, taken from the smashed realtor's lock box at the base of the stairs. The scene inside was more disturbing than before, too. All the cabinets were open in the kitchen; in the bedroom, my belongings had been pulled from dresser drawers and strewn across the floor.

In the aftermath of the police visit, while my friend Kelley

and her sister helped straighten up, I pulled out a

recording of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana and cranked

up the volume for the opening chorus,

O Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi, which is one of my

favorite pieces of music:

"O fortuna, velut Luna statu variabilis, semper crescis aut descrescis..."
(O Fortune, like the moon ever changing, rising first, then declining...)

(A sound clip of the very recording I played is here.)

I played it again and again and again, as if to banish any evil spirits lingering from the invasion. Later, to commemorate the event, Kelley sent me a sketch of her cat masquerading as Mehitabel (as in Don Marquis' archy & mehitabel), serenading a second-story window with "O for tun-a!"

The card was still on my refrigerator door years (and two apartments) later when I went online. I took "fortuna" as my e-mail address, invoking the Roman goddess of fortuna and the power of that one chorus, which I haven't tired of hearing.