You won’t believe the problems I’ve had with my homes over the years!

  1. Petersburg: My HVAC unit crapped out in the middle of the summer while I was gone on a long weekend. It didn’t turn off for at least four days and spurted water onto my carpet. Additionally, the refrigerator crapped out and started leaking nasty brown water. It was never fully fixed when I moved out.
  2. Hopewell: Somehow, this was the only place I’ve ever lived that did not have a mildly catastrophic problem.
  3. Richmond, No. 1: Furnace ran out of oil due in part to spat between my two roommates. One felt that he shouldn’t have to chip in for heat since he all but used his room for storage while he lived abroad.
  4. Richmond, No. 2: The furnace died during a snowstorm. The components that needed to be fixed were on the roof. Lived next door to building owned by slumlord whose tenants once ran a gas-powered generator 24/7 on a wooden deck and wound up on the news. (Jacksonville, N.C., for six months while legally still living in Richmond: Local tap water smelled and tasted strongly of chemicals without a filter. The entire neighborhood was infested with palmetto bugs, as it is its natural habitat. Also briefly lived with a squatter.)
  5. Charlottesville, downstairs: Camel cricket infestation. Dryer malfunction led to brief mold problem. Hot water in the tub would not turn off. Occurred on a weekend, plumber did not come for at least three days. Upstairs tenants sang folk songs weekend mornings, including a full-on jam session one day.
  6. Charlottesville, upstairs: Entire ant colony moved into K-cup machine. Another moved into my rear passenger door. Sewage line completely failed. Roof leaked. Once got comically squirted with pressurized hose to toilet. Downstairs tenants were gamers who played at full volume at 3 a.m.
  7. Richmond, No. 3: New management wanted old tenants to leave. Clogged gutters led to the main entrance being nearly impossible to use during rainstorms. Roof leaked so badly that water cascaded from the third-floor apartment onto ours on the second floor.
  8. Richmond, No. 4: Washing machine would fill with water after completing the spin cycle. HVAC broke several times. Maintenance unclogged an upstairs drain, violently sending wastewater all over my kitchen.

Long story short: Plumbing hates me. Or at least water.

Third Street

AS I WALKED to work from near the NewMarket Corporation, I knew whether I was on time by where I saw Radio Raheem. If he was near the plasma donation center, weaving his way through the smokers either waiting for their rides or waiting for their turns, I was late. If we were closer to Main, I was good.

The man who amplified music from an unseen device disappeared a while ago, before the plasma center moved to a location closer to its clientele of do-gooders and $50-needers, before police shot an axe-wielding man at Third and Main.

I had seen the man hours earlier when was shirted and his hands were empty. As he crossed my path, I said “RVA all day,” to myself as I noticed his kilt in the early morning. I thought not of him again until the news reports and seeing his final smudge linger on the pavement for an unusually long period across from 3rd Street Diner.

“RVA all day,” I said again.

In my younger and drunker days, I often was a denizen of that former Confederate hospital, eating mounds of food of questionable quality on tables of questionable cleanliness, surrounded on those late nights with my fellow dregs of society who first tried to fill the void with alcohol and then pancakes. Or slices from the ostensibly Italian pizzeria as the bass pulsed from the gay bar a few doors down and the back gate of the Times-Dispatch rattled as the late shifts filtered out before the nearby blocks grew as still as the terminus near the Downtown Expressway or the blocks approaching and passing the convention center before the bifurcation into Fifth Street and a ramp from the interstate.

Or the portion lingering in a dying, cloven neighborhood, anchored by a church calling itself the Temple of God with the Last Day Message. And a cemetery.

memories lost

Something noteworthy happened over the weekend. If this were a few years ago, I probably would have written extensively about it. This time was different.

I have said numerous times that I’m not writing this for anyone but myself and this really is an extension of my memory. I don’t want to forget this weekend, but I feel that talking about it would do nothing but make it about me. In this instance it wasn’t just about me.

So, that’s that.

pneumatic bliss


(This is going to be a little long, and you know this because it started with “So.”)

Anyway, so I had a dream last night that was pretty routine. I have next to no suspension of disbelief in my dreams, so all my dreams are about nothing. If I fly in a dream, for example, I eventually tell myself I can’t fly and I wake up. If something absurd happens, I tell myself it defies logic and I wake up. Over the years, it has turned into having dreams about going to the grocery store, having a semi-normal day at work and stuff like that. I enjoy that because it means I sleep through the night.

In last night’s dream, it is 2018, when our lease ends, and we go on to buy a condo. It’s in a converted office building that had a Wells Fargo on the first floor. Because of the banking scandal, Wells Fargo had merged with another bank and shuttered some branches. My dreams have elaborate background information. I’m a writer. I always cook up background. It’s getting to the point that I fear that I’m going to have a dream that mimics reality to the point that it implants a false memory.

So, we bought the unit that was the Wells Fargo. A few days after we moved in, there was a street festival near the condo, and it’s annoying loud in the main living area. We retreated to the bedroom, in hopes that it isn’t as loud, and find out that it nearly is soundproof. While we’re in there, I inadvertently hit the buttons that controlled the bank’s drive through lines.

“Pull your car up,” I said to Renée.


“Just pull your car up.”

As she got her SUV, I found something to put in the pneumatic tube and ripped the drywall off the window. Whatever. It was our condo. I could get a professional make the window fully functional later.

“Wait for it,” I said.

Then I sent something over. It was sweet. So, so sweet.

I sang the praises of how I we could use the tubes, since they still work.

I then went outside. The festival was ending and I found a lost kid in a Wells Fargo van they left behind. That didn’t make sense, so I woke up.

But now I want a pneumatic tube.

I really,  really want a pneumatic tube.


You have to see this in person.


For the past three years, I occasionally become intrigued by a collection of food and drink photos in what apparently was an old break room in my newspaper building’s basement. When I first asked about them, I didn’t get a straight answer about their origin. My response after that was something along the lines of, “Well, it was the ’80s. I guess we can be thankful it doesn’t look like The Max.”

I haven’t thought about that room in a while, since we haven’t had a new reporter in a while. Typically, I make them walk around that giant building with me during their first week, because parts of it are weird and creepy and they barely know who I am.

A couple hours ago, I got an email from someone in San Francisco who was doing a reverse image search of these bananas.

This shit is bananas ...


An identical print is in his office, and he also was intrigued. So he wanted to know what I knew about them.

Now I’m intrigued all over again, since my response was “Um … kitsch?”

I really want the assortment of cheeses photo

One day, I will learn of your secrets.

I didn’t do a good job of cropping the color image. As I should have gone to bed 2½ hours ago, I really don’t care.

aaaand, we’re back

That was longer than intended.

A week ago, my vacation was just winding down. Earlier today, I wrapped up a quick trip to Richmond that nearly came by surprise because the past week went by pretty fast. I like it when work weeks do that.

So, stay tuned: The recount of vacation is coming in a few hours.

I didn’t take a lot of photos, but here’s one.



A decade ago, I dressed in a tux and developed a taste aversion for tequila (and, thankfully, not birthday cake).

Today, I’m up at 4:30 a.m. because I left work after midnight and decided I wanted to make fettuccine Alfredo.

I’m 32. I’m frickin’ 32.

I worked today because I used my floating holiday for my anniversary. We didn’t have anything spectacular planned because we both have grownup responsibilities this week. We’re saving the fun for our trip later this summer, a trip that isn’t our official honeymoon. I like how we have this informal agreement that all our trips thus far don’t count.

Our trip to Hawaii at some point next year probably will be our official honeymoon, despite plans to see Bill and Karen and, hopefully, two of Theresa’s children. I really hope I can see Shonda and Michael, but there are some logistics to work out, especially since they have jobs now. They’re growing up so fast.

As I said earlier, I worked today. Never mind that it’s almost dawn. It seems weird to call June 23 “yesterday” because I haven’t gone to bed yet. I’ve effectively stopped celebrating on the day unless it’s a weekend. I’m instead breaking it up into seeing an interesting concert at the Garage on Wednesday, fancy dinner on the Downtown Mall on Friday and then some drinks.

I originally had a point to this but I’m starting to fade. I have lost my train of thought.

Holy crap, I’m married and 32. Five years ago, I was in the Chimborazo house, fresh from a road trip with Bill and Karen and Bill and Karen hadn’t realized they were in love yet. September marks three years of working in Charlottesville. October marks three years of living in this house. It seems a lot closer than that.

Time really starts to go by fast.