Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Tunnel Hill 100 or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Embrace the Suck

Last Sunday, I did this to my ankle. Yes, it hurt.

This was a week before I was supposed to run Tunnel Hill. My shot at redemption, so to speak, after DNFing at Bryce earlier in the year. I wanted a belt buckle for finishing the 100 mile distance. I wanted to be able to wear it with pride. It's really the only physical possession I'd wanted for over a year. My life, somehow, felt empty without one - this object that I'd never had but I felt I needed. "Well, I guess I'll be 0-for-2," I thought. Through a bit of good luck and some aggressive rehabilitation in the next five days, my ankle healed up enough for me to drive up to Vienna, Illinois, and toe the line. "At worst," I thought, "I don't finish the race." Although that was never really an option for me. My sister, Jessica, originally had tentative plans to come down from Michigan to meet me here but it just didn't work out with her schedule so I went (mostly) solo.

I woke up at 4am on Saturday morning at the scenic Super 8 motel in nearby Anna, Illinois. I got a full 8 hours of sleep which is unusual for me because I usually don't get 8 hours of sleep anywhere, let alone the night before a race. I went to the bathroom several times, put on my kit (including my Dumbasses with Shoes shirt -- cotton ones available now for $15), and double checked my drop bags.


I made my way to the starting line and met up with Steve "The Dude" Novicki, Erin, Theresa, Michelle, and Ramon. I had met a few of these guys at races previously and they all know my sister so I just kind of tagged along with them for a bit. The Dude was racing the hundo as well so we sort of informally agreed to stick together for as long as we could. Here we are at the starting line full of hope and promise but before the day turned into a sufferfest... much like the first Chronicles of Narnia movie!

Look at how big my feet look! Life is hard when you're a hobbit. "Oh, let's send you on this dumbass quest and give you really unwieldy feet with which to do it! You think the wide base is going to give you a competitive advantage? You're about to find out you're a total idiot. Not a partial one. A total one." That's two high-fantasy references in the last two paragraphs. Don't worry, Sue still thinks I'm wonderful and lovable.

The Dude and I stuck together for the first 25 miles. It went really well. We met up with his crew a number of times. They kept jamming things in my mouth which normally I am NOT into but these were peanut butter and jelly sandwiches so I was FOR SURE into it. Off we went for our second 25 miles. A few miles in, I noticed that The Dude and I were at different paces and we decided to split up for the time being. I rolled into the aid station at mile 36 and his crew which I had been utilizing until then asked "Where's Steve?" I told them "Uh... that way?" as I pointed back down the trail and then reassured them that I wasn't a total turd and that he told me to go run my own race. Here's a picture of me and The Dude still having fun.

I got back to the start/finish line at mile 50 in just a little over 12 hours. My feet felt pretty rough at this point in time, so off came the shoes and out came the blister kit. I can almost safely say that I will not be the cause of a blood zombie lycan outbreak thingy in Southern Illinois as a result of my amateur attempts of trying to fix my feet in the dark by myself. I put my socks and shoes back on and thought, "I've got 18 hours to finish this thing... That's like two 9-hour marathons! I can totally do this!"

I went out for my third 25 mile stretch. It had been dark for a little over two hours by now. All I heard were the crushing of leaves under my feet, the grinding of limestone rocks under those leaves, and the occasional owl. It was cold. It was dark. It got depressing. Real depressing. Like listening-to-an-Evanescence-record-album-in-your-room-by-yourself depressing. Or like Kelly-dumps-Zack-before-the-prom-for-the-college-guy-Jeff depressing. I saw the reflection of several deers' eyes in the woods and had to convince myself that there aren't mountain lions in Illinois (there aren't). I thought I saw a giant once but it turned out it was a STOP sign. I saw a woman named Mel wander off into the woods for a bit. How do I know her name was Mel? Because her pacers let her go off for a few seconds, laughed, and then asked "Hey, Mel. What are you doing in the woods? Why don'tcha come back to the trail?" I listen. I'm attentive. I'm Grade-A boyfriend material.

I got back to the start/finish line with exactly 10 hours left on the clock. "Dude! I can totally run a 10 hour marathon!" That's like two and a half miles per hour! That's the slow speed setting on a Power Wheels car!" How do I know that? Again... I am FULL of useless information. My right leg had started to really hurt by this point in time. A combination of the sprained ankle and my knee compensating for it by changing my stride really started to hurt. I slid my knee compression sleeve on and made the decision that while this may help me for the rest of the race, it's really going to hurt for the next few days afterwards... but that's a problem for Future Peanut. Off I hiked into hour number nine of total darkness with nothing but my headlamp, some food, and my dulcet voice singing "Edelweiss" from The Sound of Music. Listen. I know I'm weird.

On I trudged up Tunnel Hill one last time. I kept waiting for the sun to rise: every aid station, every mile, every tree, every step. I knew that if I could just get to daylight, I was going to finish this thing. My right leg was angry with me. I passed through the Tunnel at mile 86. I knew I only had to go two more miles before the turn around to head home. I finished walking the hill and got to the turn-around.

Mile 90. The sun was rising behind the overcast skies. I wasn't afraid of STOP sign giants any longer and Mel probably wouldn't be making her way into the woods anymore that day. Back down the hill I went. My right leg was screaming at me. I asked a volunteer at an aid station if I was allowed to pick up a walking stick from the side of the trail (I'll be damned if I was going to get disqualified this late into the race). She told me that, yes, hiking sticks and trekking poles were legal. I picked one up and continued my tromp. I felt the dreaded Cutoff Monster catching up to me with each step. "Step" - that's a generous word to use at this point in the race. I started frantically checking my watch every ten minutes. I puked three times -- all the same concoction of Gu gels, bananas, and soup. I hurt.

Mile 97.2. I was off the hill at the last aid station. The volunteer there said "We don't have much left." I'm not sure if she meant food or time but I didn't care. I just forced a half smile, gave her a wave, and a breathy "Thank you" as I plodded on. "I'm three miles from home," I said to myself. Those same leaves crunching under my feet. Those same limestone rocks grinding beneath those leaves. Those same deer were still out there somewhere, too. I was getting passed by competitors who had run a much smarter race than I did. I didn't care. I just wanted to finish.

I came across the last bend. For the first time since the afternoon before, the clouds parted just a bit and I could see just a few rays of sunshine streaming down on the Illinois farmland around me. I could see the clock counting up. I could hear the 50 or so people at the finish line start cheering for me. I threw away my hiking stick which had served me well for the past several hours and genuinely thanked it for its service. I was going to finish. 28:54:47. 28:54:48. 28:54:49. 28:54:50. 28:54:51. 28:54:52. And, just like that, in a completely random and non-descript time, I was done. No one is going to write any articles about me. Eric Schranz isn't going to call me up and invite me to be on UltraRunner Podcast (especially with Camille Herron's performance at the same race to talk about). I might get my name printed in my high school alumni newsletter. But that's about it. Not too many people really care about this niche sport. And I kind of like it that way.

I stood there in a daze for a second. Someone asked me if I wanted to sit down. I did. Someone else asked me if I wanted a beer. I definitely did. Then, a woman came up to me and said "What size finisher's jacket do you want? Oh... and also, here's your belt buckle." I had completely forgotten about it! This thing I thought I had wanted for so long had completely slipped my mind.


I cheered on the 24 people who finished behind me. There were more than a few teary eyes as these last runners crossed. There was no great awards ceremony. No real fanfare other than this growing contingent of cheerleaders waiting at this finish line in a small park in Southern Illinois rooting louder and louder for total strangers as they crossed the line. No camera crews - a couple of people had their phones out to record their friends or loved ones finishing. Just high fives and mutual respect.

Twenty-eight hours, fifty-four minutes, fifty-two seconds. The soreness still lingers three days later. My right leg feels better but not yet good enough to run on. I still don't think I've realized what this means to me. I get glimpses of it every once in a while - like someone walking behind you and slapping the back of your head - but it hasn't really sunk in yet.

I believe not everyone can do this. And I believe that anyone can do this.

I would like to thank several people for their assistance and belief in me. I'd write out the reasons why but I don't think I need to.
Sue Black, Jessica Bohn, Daniel Larkin, Newton Dominey, Andy Smith, Steve Novicki, Theresa Flores-Novicki, Michelle Soltys-Cox, Ramon Hernandez, Erinn Sullivan Hadley, Mom, Dad, Eric Bohn (yes, believe it or not!), Matt Melanson, Aaron Benson, Steve Durbin, and (of course) Pippin.

[Tags: Tunnel Hill 100, Tunnel Hill, Tunnel Hill Race Report, Race Report, Ultramarathon]


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Rope Lights, Eddie Vedder, and Why I'm bad (to occasionally mediocre) on dates

Nashville Councilwoman Tanaka Vercher recently introduced an ordinance to ban rope lights on several streets in Nashville. I wrote her an email today. Here it is.
 
 
Councilwoman Vercher,

I am writing this email to let you know that I disagree with your recent proposal to ban rope lights. This is stupid idea and debating it right now is a waste of time and money.

I'm curious if you have any factual data that supports your claims that rope lights are dangerous. [I googled it and *SPOILER ALERT* I came up with nothing.] I have some in my house and they are both awesome and safe. I've got a string that lead down the steps from my kitchen and into the garage. The number of times they've kept me from falling down because I'm able to see has got to be at least 3 or 4. Maybe even higher than that. Also, my mom came to town to visit me once and said that they were "nice" and "they really helped her see". So, that's two people that they've helped be safe and not, you know, that thing you claim. Also, I have them in my music room. They really add to the vibe when I'm playing along to Pearl Jam records from the mid-90s. I can't definitively say though that they've helped me with the ladies. "Oh, you've got 50 feet of rope lights in your music room? Maybe we should go get a beer sometime and then you can try to kiss me at the end of night (Is it a date? It's kind of a date. Sort of. Who knows). But I'll just turn my head to the side and you can kiss me on the cheek and I'll smile awkwardly as I get into my Honda Accord and drive home and then never return your texts." she'll say. I don't know how to properly punctuate that. Can you put parenthetical expressions in a quote? Sure. I just did. But look! Another issue of rope lights helping people be safe. Think of all those women who HAVEN'T gone out with me because of the rope lights in my music room. I've saved a proverbial ton of women from an awkward evening and myself a lot of heartache. Safety everywhere!

Why is your proposed rope light ban only for Arterial and Collector streets? I had to look up what both of those things meant but I don't understand how the street size makes a difference. I mean, it's not a good street related rule like you shouldn't drive 100 miles per hour down Nolensville Pike. That one makes sense. An anti-rope light rule on Nolensville Pike doesn't make any sense. There are some really solid liquor stores who have signs that are illuminate by rope lights on that road. How would I know where they are otherwise? I probably won't. And that's a bummer because I really like beer. Are you trying to deprive me of beer? That's not very nice of you. First women won't go out with me because of the rope lights in my Eddie Vedder shrine room so I have to go buy beer by myself and drink it at home. Except now I won't be able to do that because I won't know where the awesome liquor stores are because you're trying to make them take down the rope lights. This just keeps getting worse and worse for me.

But wait! There's more!

Why does this ordinance (according to the story I read on Fox 17 today) not affect downtown Nashville? Don't you think those rope lights would be more of a distraction to the bachelorette parties and drunk Chicago Blackhawks fans who are "just here to have a good time, bro!" when they're driving down the wrong way on a one way street again while they're looking for a chill spot to 'just hang with the locals'. Like locals ever go downtown. Except for The Ryman. And sometimes Bridgestone. Why do the tourists get to enjoy rope lights and I don't?

I'm an avid runner. I wear lights when I'm out for run out on the streets. It makes me more visible to traffic. What if I were to wear a suit made out of rope lights? A company called Noxgear makes them and they look kind of awesome. Would that make me more safe or less safe? Would the police try to arrest me if I were running up Nolensville Pike wearing one of those? Do you think they could catch me if they tried to chase me? I'm pretty fast and I'd be able to see all around me with the light emitting from my rope light vest while they'd be running with just their flashlights jostling about. My money is on me instead of Officer MagLite.

I know this is starting to read like I'm an alcoholic runner who listens to grunge music and is bad with women and has a rope light obsession. I'm only two and a half of those things. Maybe I should make that my Bumble account bio. Might help. Hell, it certainly couldn't hurt.
In conclusion, this bill doesn't deserve our city council's time or energy. I ask that you withdraw this ordinance and focus on more important and pressing needs for Nashville: better sidewalks, better public transportation, and an improved greenway system. Those are the things that are going to continue to make Nashville awesome... Not ordinances about rope lights.

Shine on,

Stephen P Bohn
 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Councilman Withers

Councilman Withers,

I am writing to you today to express my extreme displeasure with your championing of the Historic Home Event Bill.

This is not an issue like the extreme noise often emanating from the Ascend Amphitheater. Introducing sound ordinances for a venue of that size and, well, sound is appropriate. Across the country, most outdoor amphitheaters near residences have similar ordinances. That I understand.

What I don't understand is the purpose of this bill. But we'll get to that in a minute.

In addition to my full-time job, I have worked for a local florist on-and-off for the past 7 years. I have set up and cleaned up hundreds of weddings since 2009 both at indoor and outdoor event spaces in the Nashville area. In my time doing that never once have I ever overheard a single complaint from any neighbor of any venue of the event being too loud or too raucous. Furthermore, I am an ordained minister and have officiated both indoor and outdoor weddings in both Nashville and out-of-state. At no event have I ever received any complaint of an event being too loud or too wild. I have also DJed several weddings, again, at both indoor and outdoor spaces, and (you can see where this is going) have never received a single complaint from a neighbor at any time about it being too loud.
There are several wonderful outdoor event spaces in Nashville. In addition to the historic homes, places like Cheekwood and The Cordelle provide amazing spaces for people to have what one would hope to be the best day of their lives. These outdoor event spaces are part of the charm of southern living and hundreds and hundreds of event planners, floral shop employees, caterers, DJs, wedding consultants, and several other occupations depend on these places to give their clients the day of their dreams. People travel from all over the country to spend money in this town driven by these outdoor events. And your bill wants to take that away from people.

I can't understand why you want to introduce this bill. Can you explain it to me? Do you have a laundry list of complaints from neighbors of these venues? Do you just not like these venues? What is your reasoning?

From what I can tell, the Board of Zoning Appeals has, on multiple occasions, ruled that the property is the entire property -- not just the inside of the home. For someone such as yourself who used to work the real estate industry, I would expect that you would understand this.

Councilman Withers, it seems to me that you are entering into a fight that you cannot win and probably shouldn't enter in the first place. One needs only to look as far as the hubris exhibited by Aerial Development in their recent Shelby Hills campaign to see that neighborhoods belong to all of the residents and not a select few.

I have copied my councilman (Jeremy Elrod) on this email and am imploring him to oppose your proposal. This is bad for business, bad for you Councilman Withers, bad for Nashville, and just plain mean.

Sincerely,

Stephen P Bohn

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Aerial Development has a wishbone where it's backbone oughtta be

If you have spent any time online in the past few days and you live in Nashville, you have probably seen this video from Aerial Development Group. Take a few minutes and watch it.
 
If you didn't watch it, it feels like the outtakes from a Mumford and Sons video. Maybe from the third single from their record. You know, the single that no one really cares about? That one.

I saw the above video on a friend's Facebook page a few days ago and wasn't sure if it was parody. Turns out that it isn't. It is, however, representative of everything that is wrong with "New Nashville" summed up in three minutes of everything I hate. Except for the part where people drink wine. Wine is pretty ok. 

As this video started making the rounds, the real parodies started rolling in. Good ones, like the one that my friend Casey made -- I'd post a link to it but he received a cease and desist letter from Aerial's lawyers and had to take it down. Of course, this just raised the level of awareness of the above video and led to Casey being featured on Channel 4 news yesterday (which can be viewed here) and an interview with The Tennessean. And, my, how the vitriol has poured in for Aerial.

This Nashville depicted in Aerial's video is not the Nashville that I know and love. I've lived here for a decade (yes, I am a dreaded 'transplant') and have lived in three different houses on the east side. When I bought my house two years ago, I looked at buying in East Nashville but it was largely out of my price range. Nothing but tall and skinnies as a far as the eye can see.

The Nashville I know and love are the artists, the creatives, the people that work 50 hours a week so that they can have a studio in their home. The people that bounce around in a van, driving from state to state for questionable at best return on their investment. The people that rebuilt this city on rock and roll five years ago. 

A perfunctory googling (hmm... didn't think that was a word but it appears that it is) of Aerial Development will lead you down a rabbit hole that has been carefully cultivated. You'll find pop music houses for the masses and designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator of out-of-state Nashville soap opera viewers. If you're lucky and haven't been banned from their social media pages (like I seem to have been), you'll find Ikea's wet dream full of Edison bulbs and oh so perfect shelving units fashioned from reclaimed barn wood.

Times change, neighborhoods change, and people change. But the best way to change time, neighborhoods, and people is to let a time, neighborhood, and person do it intrinsically. 

You can't will a culture into existence, Aerial. You can't sell a dream to people who are already living theirs. You can't shut people up with by banning them from your social media (some of us are pretty smart and can get the information other ways). You can't cry when the other guy hits back. And you can't have a wishbone where your backbone oughtta be.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Dear Councilman Glover

TL; DR: Councilman Steve Glover is threatening to withhold $28million for improvement projects for southeast Nashville if the plan that he supports to relocate the downtown jail is not passed by city council. Below is the letter that I wrote to him. He can be reached at steve.glover@nashville.gov if you are interested in contacting him.


Mr. Glover,

After reading the analysis of your plan for the relocation of the jail, I must let you know that I, as a resident, relatively new homeowner, and taxpayer of southeast Nashville, am very disappointed on a number of fronts. As an elected official, you work for the people that elected you. You do your best to serve the interests of the city at large at not just a part of it which is what you are doing here: namely the downtown area. You claim that the city would benefit greatly from the sale of the property of the current jail in downtown through not only the influx of cash from the sale itself but tax dollars as a long-term result. If the city were in dire straits financially, I might be inclined to agree. But the recent explosion of new buildings (both public and private) indicates otherwise.

You're still entitled to your opinion of where the jail should be (relocated or not) just as everyone else is. Your cavalier attitude toward not understanding "what all the ruckus is because there's already jails out here," is a shame. Just because a necessary evil already exists doesn't mean that it should be compounded. What grinds my gears, though, you threatening to block "funding for a new Cane Ridge Elementary School, a new community center in the Smith Springs area, a new Head Start facility and upgrades to Una Recreation park." (according to The Tennessean) if the plan to relocate the jail fails. You're threatening current residents by withholding a well-deserved community center. You're threatening current residents by withholding well-deserved upgrades to Una Rec Park. But more importantly than those, you're threatening children who certainly could benefit from a new Head Start facility and elementary school. If you were to ask anyone who lives in this community what they would rather invest in, I would wager that most of them would side with education and recreation as opposed to a correctional facility that would only seek to benefit future tax revenues of Downtown.

Southeast Nashville is a growing and rapidly developing area in our town. There's an awful lot to offer here: excellent food that, thankfully, the culinary country at large hasn't found out about yet; homes for those of us, like myself, who recently bought their first house can afford (all those new private 'tall-and-skinny' homes that are popping up in East Nashville just look terrible and cost way too much money); improving recreational options (my dog loves the new William Pitts dog park that's just a few miles away); and a whole host of other things.

You said it yourself: "At the risk of sounding rude, I don't see where it's going to hurt anything." Your shortsightedness into investing into the community in the interest of tax dollars makes you sound smug, arrogant, and totally unconcerned with the thousands of people who live and work in this part of town. And I don't care in the least if that makes me sound rude.

I'd suggest taking a long hard look at your plan and re-evaluate where your priorities lie, Mr. Glover, and maybe take a visit to the southeast side sometime. You'll find out that we've got lots of good things going on here and would like lots more to happen in the future. You're in a unique position to help make that happen and I hope that you leverage that opportunity.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Return of "The Somethingth (sort of) Annual Give Flowers to a Single Lady in Nashville" Giveaway

Of course I have a date for Valentine's Day. It's February 14th.

- Or -

It's Valentine's Day again. Crap. I forgot to get a girlfriend.

Whichever makes you happiest.

Well, so here we are at the end of January... Two and a half weeks until Valentine's Day. Ah, yes... You know the drill. When a man puts on his finest suit, combs his hair, and reserves the finest table and waiter at the most hallowed of restaurants: White Castle. Candies are purchased from the finest chocolatier in all the land (that's CVS, by the way), a beautiful young woman spritzes on perfume, and waits patiently for Johnny Hero to show up in his mid-sized sedan for a night of romance, intrigue, and possibly a semi-drunken makeout session. Or whatever it is people do. I'm not sure. I don't have a date for Valentine's Day and (Tinder miracles not withstanding) that probably isn't going to change. That's ok.

The best job I've ever had, and let's face at this point in the game unless someone is going to pay me to be a combination Indiana Jones / beer drinker / nature photographer / hot tub tester, that's probably as good as it's ever gonna get for me. Plus, you know, I'm on Tinder and The Cupe so you can imagine how well my dating life is going. I pretty much just sleep on a pile of money with my dog comfortably nestled at my feet in front of my television... And... Uh... Why am I on dating sites again? Oh, yeah. Love.

As a result of my casual employment at A Village of Flowers, I've been asked to deliver flowers for them again this upcoming Valentine's Day. This is where things get awesome for you. IF: - You are single. - You are a lady. - You live in the Nashville area.

Why? Because you can enter the "The Somethingth (sort of) Annual Give Flowers to a Single Lady in Nashville" Giveaway. It's not a contest. It's a giveaway. You don't have to go out on a date with me. You don't have to cook me dinner. You don't even have to wait for me in my mid-size sedan. Well, actually, you kinda do. I'll be delivering the flowers that evening so I guess you'd have to be available to get them. But really, that's it. Pretty simple. One 'lucky' lady in the Nashville area will get a delivery of flowers from me delivered to them by me wearing a sport coat owned by me in a car being financed by me on the evening of February 14th.

You can send me an email at stephenpbohn at gmail dot com if you're interested in the giveaway. Or leave a comment below.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Home Alone

On December 23rd, someone(s) broke into my house. I was at work when it happened. Work. That place I go to so I can afford my (admittedly) modest house. I walked in the backdoor like I always do and noticed some of my guitars sitting on my dining room table. No one else has a key to my house, I live alone, and I always leave my guitars hanging up in my music room. Especially on Tuesday. I was very confused but rationalized that a friend had come into my house and played my guitars. Then I noticed my TV was gone. And then I noticed the cold air blowing in through the hole in my room where my a window used to be. And suddenly nothing else mattered. I was so concerned about my dog. The stupid little fleabag shitmachine money pit was the only thing that mattered. Normally, when I walk in the door, she starts barking. She's a lab-mixed-with-some-other-stuff, so what would one expect? She was silent. I figured that whoever stole my TV and moved my guitars had just killed my dog.

I don't love many things. I don't love many people. I am becoming more and more reclusive as I get older. I am terrible at relationships and dating. I pick the wrong women to date. They sleep with me (sometimes) and then I don't hear from them again. One of them last fall said she slept with me because she felt "comfortable" with me. Suffice to say, I won't be talking to her again. But I do love my dog.

She just sat there quietly in her cage. I immediately let her out.

I called someone to board up my broken window. Of course you know where this is going.

I left town the next morning for Christmas. Everything was fine. The family got along well, which is unusual for my family. Everyone kept asking me how I was doing and I told them (and genuinely meant) that I was fine.

I walked in the door on Sunday afternoon after Christmas to a cold house. I left the heat off. I expected a cold house. The first thing I checked was the boarded up window. The board was still intact. Or so I thought. The boards didn't stop anyone from coming in again. My computer with years of pictures and videos? Gone. Some of my clothes? Gone. Every guitar in my house? Gone. That hurt. That hurt the most.

I called the police. I called friends. I sat on my kitchen floor and cried for half an hour. The police came and took inventory. My friends came and brought me whiskey. One friend even stayed the the night in my spare bedroom. I passed out on my bed but didn't really sleep. I moved every time I heard a noise.

I opened my eyes at two am to find that I was, indeed, still alive.

I bought items to help secure my house. Security cameras. Security system. Security system. None of these in and of themselves have brought back the security I used to feel.

I spoke with the Detective. I gave her a detailed list of every thing that was taken from me. Things that I had had for 20 years. The piece of shit Peavey Fury bass that I haven't played in ages but am still holding onto so that, if I ever find a woman that doesn't sleep with me just to sleep with me because I make her "comfortable" and that really does love me and we have a son or daughter, I can give it to them and tell them of the days when their dad used to be pretty cool and played music and that I wasn't always the guy who wore the five fingered toe shoes and khaki shorts. I spoke with my insurance company and provided the same list. I read that 13% of all burglarized goods are ever recovered. I resolved myself to the fact that everything was gone.

I took to the anonymity of reddit to vent. I just got a bunch of smartass responses. I should have known better. I took to instagram looking for sympathy and got it. I researched ways to cope with violent crimes.

A week later, I received a notice that the police had a lead on several of my guitars and I was asked to meet the detective working on my case at a pawn shop. You know... Where you have to provide ID, are videotape, and are photographed if you are trying to sell something. I walked into the first store, met with the detective who informed me that the clerk had just gone back into storage to see if two guitars that were pawned here were mine. He came out a few moments later with two of them. I said "Absolutely. Those are mine."

We found five more of my guitars that day. Pawned with three miles of my house. Pawned within half a mile of each other.

The detective asked me if I knew the name of the person who pawned my stuff. I didn't. All three clerks at all three shops told us the same thing: that the woman who pawned them was being told what to do by two men that were with her. I saw the photographs of the two men and didn't recognize either of them. Random, run of the mill, common fucking thieves.

I got my guitars back today. Well, all of them but one. It's a Gretsch Electromatic. Bright orange with a Bigsby tremolo and dice for the volume and tone knobs. If anyone in Nashville sees this floating around, let me know. But I just acquired it a few months ago and if there were one that I had to lose, it was that one. I had very little emotional attachment to it.

But what I can't get back, in addition to the years of pictures and videos, is that peace of mind I used to have when I locked my door at night or when I left for work. That naivety.

I sleep with an alarm system now. I sleep with the surveillance cameras running. And I sleep with night lights on in my house. I forget to eat meals or I'm just not hungry altogether. I forget to go shopping. I forget that this is a process and not something I can just turn off. I'm a man who likes straight lines and this is a series of colors instead.

Things can be replaced. I still have my dog. One day, I'll get back to where I started.

Arrest warrants have been issued. Maybe these guys will get their day in court. Maybe they'll float on through life. Maybe they'll be flipping burgers or bagging groceries or building front end modules for an auto company and going home at the end of the day and watching my big screen TV. I don't know what people like that do. That's because I am still getting up early in the morning and going to work so that I can afford my meager house and my mutt of a dog and trips of a lifetime.

It's hard to resist the urge to check my surveillance cameras every ten minutes. It's hard to resist checking the burglar alarm every time I check my email. It's hard to leave my dog out in the house because she eats my shoes. But that's where I am.

Through this, so far, I think I am becoming a gentler person. The only way out is up.

Thank you for listening. Goodnight.