california (and nevada and arizona) dreamin’

Since I last left you, I saw a friend become a naturalized citizen and our vacation has fully come into view. Beyond that, I’ve just had a cycle of dog poop, cook, work, dog poop, sleep that I can’t wait to break for a few days.

I have a terrible case of senioritis. I hate that it comes with three solid days of extra duties at work.

All I can think about is driving to the Hoover Dam and a Grand Canyon overlook, spending an open-ended six or so hours in Los Angeles and seeing what else there is to do in Las Vegas beyond gamble.

And having a change of venue to write.

And celebrating my birthday and my anniversary.

And how this very well could be our last great trip before we leave the 18-34 demographic.

This will be my 18th epic trip since keeping track in 2004 and my first one to states I haven’t driven from Virginia. This is a big step for me. As I said last year, I have nothing against flying — I just love driving that much.

So, of course there will be driving. I’m mostly pumped about renting a car and going to Arizona and then heading to L.A. because I’ve heard so much about how I’d probably hate it because, in general, people allegedly are New York people or L.A. people and rarely both. I have absolutely no idea what we’re going to do there. I don’t have anything I want to see in that city except the Pacific and maybe the Watts Tower, and I’ll be utterly shocked if Renée doesn’t want to go to Rodeo Drive. I have vague plans to meet one of my fraternity brothers and get food. My goal is to arrive no later than 2 p.m. on whatever day we go there and leave no later than 9 p.m.

We played Miami (and our spontaneous trip to Key West) loose, and I enjoyed it that way. I hope to replicate that.

The only thing I’m not looking forward to is the heat. The current extended forecast has it being no cooler than 112 in Vegas the entire time, the mid 90s along the Colorado River and 90 in L.A.

the voyage of bill’s birthday present

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The things this box has seen ….

I don’t remember what I got my best friend for his birthday.

I mean, I think I know what I got him, but I can’t remember if that’s what I got him.

Back in March, I bought Bill a card and a birthday gift and got it wrapped. I asked them to add glitter, but they didn’t have glitter. It fit perfectly in a Priority Mail box someone abandoned at the post office. I sent it early, since it was going to Hawaii.

Once upon a time, when I asked Bill for his address, he gave me one for regular correspondence and another for packages. I saved it so I never had to ask him again.

When I followed the tracking and told him it had arrived, he couldn’t find it. I then verified the address and learned that he forgot to tell me it was a box at a UPS store and he no longer had it.

I called the UPS store and they told me they mistakenly accepted the package and Bill could come pick it up. Bill was told he couldn’t pick it up. I figured they’d send it back to me one day or they’d eventually let Bill have it, since they signed for it by mistake and I called the day they received it and I was told he could still come get it.

I heard nothing further from Bill about it, so I was a little surprised when I got a package notification Thursday and I got that mangled hunk of cardboard.

“It wouldn’t be proper for us to not have an adventure, even if it’s in the mail,” Bill said.

“I wonder what it has seen in three months,” I replied.

“Clearly, someone banged a hooker on it.”

I have Bill parents’ number, because, although we met in college, at times it seems like we grew up together. In a way, we did. Also, if my dad remained in the Army and moved to the Tri-Cities, Bill and I would have gone to high school together. I have these weird points in my life where there are people I still would have met if my things turned out differently. It used to freak me out, but now I just go with how Dickensian it is.

But I digress.

I plan on calling them next Thursday, driving down to Chester on whatever day is good for us and leaving it for the next time he goes home.

“Burn the edges or something before you give it to him,” I plan on saying. “That’s all it’s missing.”

Happy (belated) birthday, my Billybuns. I’m glad I didn’t follow through with trying to send a sixer of Legend.

an average male bald eagle carrying a four-pound bag of sugar

Six months ago, I weighed in at 195.4 pounds. That was after I came in higher at a doctor’s appointment and began making adjustments a few weeks before because walking up the hill to my barber was strenuous and I felt like I was going to die when I walked with a friend all of one mile.

Last month, I did a four-mile loop like nothing, I try to pedal for at least half an hour on the exercise bike and now I’m down 15 pounds, five of which were shed in the past 31 days.

In short, I’m down since January the equivalent of an average male bald eagle carrying a four-pound bag of sugar.

I’m 180.2 pounds as of this morning.

I hit a plateau after losing the first 10 pounds. It was annoying, but I resigned myself because I said I wasn’t going to do anything I wouldn’t normally do (other than adjusting my meals) in the course of trying to lose weight.

I used to bike a lot, and I’ve said I would walk/bike to work if I didn’t have to go through Shockoe Bottom at night and I didn’t nearly rip my face off the last time I rode a bike back in 2009. (Seriously, I really screwed up my face in 2009, if you didn’t know me back then. The doctors were surprised by how well I recovered. In the days following the crash, I was given information about plastic surgery.)

That said, I’m toying with cycling 30 minutes a day five days a week to mimic what would happen if I didn’t have an aversion to riding a real bike or the trip to work didn’t involve going down nearly 50 feet and climbing up about 190 feet.

I’m five pounds off of where my doctor at least wants me to be and 20 pounds off my January goal for June, which probably was completely unrealistic without really working out. And, again, I don’t want to really work out, because if I ever say “screw the gym,” I’d be back where we started.

Well, the celebration’s over. It’s time to keep moving.

we’re all pregnant with doug wilder’s baby

I hate that I came to Richmond at the end of an era.

A few hours ago, I went to a tribute to the 400-pound Queen of Richmond, Dirtwoman.

My first Hamaganza was in 2007. Before Pat Kane finished describing it to me, I was already sold on going. Who wouldn’t want to see a burlesque/drag/comedy/charity show involving not only the city officials but also someone who has been arrested for solicitation in an infamous event and also always makes at least one joke about being former Gov. and Mayor Doug Wilder’s lover?

It wasn’t my first experience with Weird Richmond. Through Bill and Craig, I went to shows at what is now Strange Matter. Over the years, I also drank at Empire, Roxy, Wonderland, Fallout, Third Street Diner, Bogart’s and Mojo’s. I’ve been to drag shows and brunches, the Sex Worker’s Art Show, Poe’s Pub, Baja, Fieldens. I’ve seen things on fire on Hell Block; I’ve purchased beer to gain admission to parties in the Fan District thrown by people I didn’t know; I’ve seen luchadores fight in a kitchen.

It’s why I fell in love with this city.

I loved that among the howling masses in sleeveless tees and bullet belts, there I was in a blazer and a Homburg, and it all seemed normal.

But now the streets are cleaner, Empire now is a fancy Mexican fusion restaurant, Hell Block isn’t really known as Hell Block, there aren’t trans prostitutes at Allen and Broad, Bogart’s moved and closed, lunches tend to start at $10 and often don’t come with entertainment.

In a way, I feel like a different sort of gentrification is happening and weirdos like me are a dying breed.

Let’s face it: my shtick is that I don’t look like the kind of person you’d think would know all the words to several Mars Volta and Death Cab for Cutie songs, love a dirty bar and feel at home with people at and beyond the limits of the mainstream.

I wonder what will happen once Dirtwoman guides her hoverounds into the great hereafter. There still will be a Weird Richmond, but it won’t be stinky, sticky PBR-soaked Richmond. But there still will be pockets of it. There still are people around.

I wonder if this is how people feel about New York nowadays.

I hate that I came to Richmond at the end of an era. But at least I got to experience the era.

lifestyler 2000

Momentarily confuses Rosanna with Joanna; gets Black Card revoked.

185.8

I should have weighed in last week. It was better.

I had a few days of eating poorly because I did something awesome.

I saw Prince’s first real band, The Revolution, on Thursday. It screwed up my sleep schedule and my eating and I don’t regret a single second of it.

When I saw that they were touring again to honor Prince, I literally dropped everything and took the day off. I’m not even using literally figuratively, as people are wont to do these days. It came across the AP wire while I was on celebrity news duty. I got up, told my technical supervisor (I don’t have a real boss. It’s kinda weird.) I was not working that day, walked back to my desk, asked my fraternity brother Butler if he was down with going with me and ordered tickets after he said yes.

And then my other brother Brandon said he was in, too.

It was awesome.

I was hoarse.

Then I went to karaoke and sang Super Freak and then Body and Soul by Anita Baker.

There is video. I don’t know where.  Body and Soul was one of songs I’ve always wanted to do at karaoke, but it’s rarely on karaoke lists. I really want to do a song by The National or Death Cab for Cutie. There was a Death Cab song, but it was Grapevine Fires. I like that song, but it doesn’t have a bass line at all, and it always bothered me. It’s the one song I definitely don’t like on Narrow Stairs. Once I have the video, I will share it. I think I paid for video.

But I digress.

But wait: I don’t digress. Rosanna and Grapevine Fires both share a drumming that hearkens to the Purdie Shuffle.

But, anyway, I also bought an exercise bike over the weekend. It was one Craig had in his living room for a while. He’s moving to Maryland, and I offered to take it off his hands. The model is the title of this entry.

I had planned for years to buy and exercise bike. I’m still not ready to get on a real bike again. I think I’ll wait a full 10 years.

But I’m working this into my at least 5-mile regimen. I plan on pedaling at least 30 minutes at least every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Today doesn’t count. I have stuff to do that I planned before buying the bike.

I used to be an endurance bike rider. I would do 20 miles like nothing. There was no time frame; it was just we’re going to Yorktown and back with a gallon jug of water in the backpack. I miss it. But I spent my entire childhood biking in a place without real hills. I wasn’t ready for Richmond. Although I say I might be in 2019, I don’t know if I am. My wreck in 2009 was my second real crash in probably more than 20 years of riding a bike at the time and the first time I had to go to a hospital about it.

(I seriously broke my arm in but played it off in like seventh grade. It healed correctly, thankfully, but I broke my frickin’ arm and pretended that I didn’t. For a while, I called it my “chicken wing” because I couldn’t hold it out straight unless the situation necessitated it. I seriously gambled my ability to have full use of my right arm over telling my parents that I attempted a stunt and failed.)

But I think throwing this in the mix will help break this plateau. Regardless of it being a plateau, I’ve tightened my belt and I look better in shirts. My doctor wants me to be no more than 170 and gave me until November.

Challenge accepted.

because i’m too tired to go to bed

There was  a long period when I didn’t go to the doctor. When I fell off my bicycle back in 2009 and my insurance company didn’t cover it partially because of a mistake on my part, I didn’t have insurance for the next 2½ years and then didn’t go to a doctor again until 2016 because I had fallen out of the habit.

Yesterday, other than being my mom’s first visit to Richmond since I moved into my new place (that I wish I didn’t have to move out of in April 2018, but my dog seriously needs a yard), was my third checkup since December. My new doctor wanted to get a baseline of my vitals because it had been so long. And because I was fat.

She commended me for my weight loss so far. Although I have been laden with various layers of winter clothing each time I was on the scale at her office, I’ve lost more weight by her measure, but I weigh more than what my scale says. She wants me to lose 10 more pounds — to which I said something along the lines of I will once I come there when it’s above 52 degrees.

She gave me six months.

If I’m in the lower 170s with clothes on by October, I only need to see her once a year.

She’s giving me six months to get within 10 pounds of my goal for June.

Doable.

I dug out the belts I had to abandon two years ago because I outgrew them. The last notch on my fat belt is equivalent to the first notch on my skinny belts.

Now I’m really considering actually exerting myself.

{If anyone wants to encourage me in exerting myself [as long as it doesn’t involve running (at the moment)], I’m available most mornings between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.}

I had been waiting a long time to use the hierarchy of parenthesis.

success

I’m on the last notch of the belt I bought because I was too fat for my old belt.

Officially made it on Friday

Additionally, I wore the European large shirt I’ve been largely avoiding since buying it without trying it on.

My gut has reached the point where you can’t tell it exists if my shirt isn’t tucked in.

But, per the scale, I haven’t lost any weight. I’m assuming the fat has left my midsection and has become muscle elsewhere. I mean, I walk at least five miles each day and average 20 flights of stairs.

I’m almost at shirtless confidence. If I stay 180-something with a flat stomach, I’ll take it. I don’t need abs. And abs were not a goal, especially since this is all me not exerting myself more than normal.

But now I contemplate the gym …

up on the roof

Aside: The new Jamiroquai album is my album of the spring. And probably a good chunk of the summer.

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I would have taken a better photo, but I was in a rush.

Not long after we moved into a new place, I explored the building. The second time I went up a flight of stairs, that time to get all my steps in for the day, I discovered that maintenance didn’t closed a normally locked door all the way.

So I went in.

I wound up on a portion of the roof, but the access door I found didn’t open to much and didn’t lead me to a place with a great view. I also didn’t want to do a lot of exploring because we have real security here and I didn’t feel like explaining how/why I was somewhere I clearly wasn’t supposed to be.

I forgot I took this photo (and two more that give away exactly where I live a bit more, so I’m not posting those). When I came across it a few days ago, it reminded me of a story.

 

In the 2002-2003 school year, I lived in James River Hall at CNU. If one stands in a certain spot next to the original residence hall at CNU, Santoro, and stare at James River Hall, you get one of last two views of how the campus looked back when I was a student. It makes me sad.

But I digress.

JR is a four-story building, but the elevator goes up to five. Nearly everyone I talked to in the building mentioned how they pressed 5 to discover that nothing happened. It aggravated us. It clearly was a four-story building. Where did 5 go? It had to go somewhere, because why else would it be there?

One day, I was in an English class in Ratcliffe Hall, which once housed the English department. And political science. And facilities for our field sports. It was a weird place.

But, as I was saying, I was in class, and right before it started, my future fraternity brother Dorian ran into the room and yelled, “The 5 in James River works!”

The only thing that could have piqued so many college students’ interest would have been someone announcing that there were kegs somewhere.

Someone asked him what was there. He said he didn’t know because he wanted to tell people first. A group of us decided to go straight there after class.

We packed into the elevator and — yes — the 5 illuminated when pressed and we started heading up.

When we got to the fourth floor, the doors opened, and a woman was confused when none of us made a move to exit.

“Are … you going down?” she asked.

“No,” Dorian replied. “We’re going up.”

She stood there as we didn’t budge and the doors closed.

A few minutes later, we were on the fifth floor. It was just a mechanical area. When we turned around, we couldn’t find a button to recall the elevator. There was a staircase, though.

“Hey!” another woman yelled as we popped out of a seemingly decorative wood panel in the wall across from her open room door.

“Just materializing out of a wall was more exciting that what was up there,” someone said.

And that is why I go down every hallway and try every door that isn’t someone’s apartment in every building I live in.