Stolen Car, Stolen Life
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May 18, 2016 was not a good day.

Three bad things happened on this date: my car was stolen, all of my camera equipment was stolen (it was hidden in the car), and I had a klutzy accident that resulted in numerous, fairly serious injuries and a trip to the ER. Luckily the CT scan of my head and the seven X-rays I had on various body parts turned out fine, despite feeling as though I had been run over by a semi truck. I left the ER looking like I had been in bar brawl–with a fat split lip, a black eye, a ragged chipped front tooth, and a pair of broken glasses held flimsily together with glue. Classy.

My car was stolen from a residential side street in Northeast Minneapolis during a big, popular weekend event called “Art-A-Whirl.” That Saturday was the busiest night of the weekend, with throngs of people wandering around on the streets, checking out artwork and artists’ studios, listening to bands play for free, drinking beer at the several micro breweries in the Northeast neighborhoods. Earlier that morning, I photographed an unrelated bike event in South Minneapolis, and after I was done, I decided to head over to Northeast and see what was going on at “Art-A-Whirl.” What a big mistake that was.

“Bad things happen in threes,” people often say, and I hope this is true as my bad luck quota seems to have been met all in one ridiculous day. However, now I’m left to deal with the aftermath of slow-healing injuries, expensive medical appointments, expensive everything, despair at the thought of starting all over again with camera gear, and the isolation that comes with no longer having convenient and reliable transportation. For over a month I’ve felt stranded without a car, as I nursed my physical and emotional wounds basically alone and shut up in my suburban house.

Public transportation does exist in Minneapolis, but it’s very limited and unreliable and sometimes unsafe, such as the non-express route from Downtown to my house in the ‘burbs’. Getting around efficiently without a car (and without having a nervous breakdown) often feels impossible. For someone who suffers from RA and chronically painful and swollen feet and ankles, being carless is a bit like a prison sentence. I can’t just leave the house on foot and walk to the store or my favorite coffee shop.

During these immobile weeks of no car, I’ve often found myself unable to get the energy and motivation to figure out taking public transportation, and instead have stayed home feeling frustrated and depressed. The mere thought of walking blocks in the heat and humidity to bus stops or light rail stations on flaring feet and ankles seems like misery to me. I did a lot of that in NYC last summer and my body hated me for it and retaliated with one of the worst full-body flares I’ve had in 15 years.

Yet desperate to join humanity again, I have made a few attempts at using public transportation. The outcomes were not good, as I somehow managed to get lost in my own city multiple times. Embarrassing! Getting lost and feeling stupid about it is one thing, but additional unnecessary walking causes havoc on my joints and by the time I get to where I’m going, all I want to do is be back home lying on the couch with my feet up.

To the people (or person) who stole my car and my camera gear, I wish I could look them in the face and say, “You not only stole my form of transportation, but you stole and seriously compromised my mobility. You stole my independence and my ability to work and live my life normally.”

Thankfully, I have been slowly moving forward and getting back on track with things since this horrible night in May. My tooth is fixed, new glasses are ordered, my black eye is gone, my lip is healing, and my bruises have all but disappeared. Insurance would not pay anything for the stolen car, however, so I’m still trying to sort out getting a replacement.

Also wonderful, a local artists’ organization, Springboard for the Arts, has awarded me a small “emergency relief” grant to help pay for my dental bill and partially for new glasses. I can’t thank them enough for their kindness and assistance, and for helping to restore my faith in humanity. To the generous people at Springboard, and to everyone who has been supportive and helpful and kind towards me during all of this, I appreciate you more than you know.

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