32

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.

faith and fully mine (unofficially)

Nicolecita

Nicole Louise Cobb

Today, my mom told me what my birthday present is: She’s paying this month’s car payment, which is the last one. Once the bank processes everything and hands me the title, I’ll officially own a car outright for the first time since 2006. Because I am an idiot.

Long story short, I bought a car in 2006, traded it in a year later and then — when that car died in a long, hilarious chain of events when my life partially fell apart and I drove more than 8,000 miles over the course of 60 business days — I bought Nicole Louise Cobb. (Inexplicably, I neither explained what happened to my second brand-new car, Marian, nor formally introduced Nicole … also, some of my friends think Marian and Nicole are/were the same car.)

So, a little more than nine years later, I officially put that youthful indiscretion behind me and focus that money on continuing to make certain Nicolecita keeps rolling and looks that nice when I get her washed.

And some frivolous things. I mean, I fully intend to be responsible with this cash I have never seen the entire time I’ve been employed professionally, but I want some trifles and more ridiculous (if that’s even possible) trips before having to be responsible for a minor (or minors) for at least 18 years.

First order of business is a road trip to New York before summer’s over. We’re taking Nicole.

I bet at this point, you’re wondering about her name, if you don’t know the story. Nicolecita is a term of endearment. My car-naming scheme is that their namesakes are characters in the universe of every piece of fiction I’ve written. Nicole Cobb is a writer/photographer who HATES her middle name.

Nicolecita is the proper Spanish diminutive of Nicole. The rules get strange when things end in a vowel that isn’t o or a. And Nicole isn’t a typical Spanish name, if it’s one at all. I didn’t intend on calling her Nicolecita — it just happened.

the distance

In roughly 30 days, our new editor starts and Lee will start packing up. And some of his duties will definitely be mine until he gets settled … or permanently. I still don’t know which.

One of our new reporters will start the same day. Hopefully, we’ll at least have one more lined up, as we’ve down three at the moment.

One of our new copy editors will be about a month in. I sat next to him in Jacksonville. I don’t know how many times I need to reiterate that my life is a bad Charles Dickens novel.

If everything falls into place perfectly, my car, Nicole, will be paid off in enough time for me to blow that money I haven’t seen in the past six years on my brithiversary week.

Bill and Karen get married next weekend. A week from now, I’ll be drinking in Richmond with our mutual CNU friends and his Chester friends who have become my friends, just like old times. And then we’ll have the Great CNU Wedding. It’s about time: Bill said a few years ago that he never has to worry about anyone telling embarrassing college stories in front of Karen because she was there for all of them.

But I need to remember that, although we’ll be amongst friends, I cannot swear if I speak during the reception. I had a dirty mouth going into journalism and, in that field, swearing is a badge of honor. I’m typically mortified when I’m near anyone’s children. Or get into an animated conversation with my mother.

The second half of this year is going to be different in a good way. But everything feels so strange. It’s hard to believe that it’s been five years since my first full year in Chimborazo, that it’s about to be 11 years since I sat on a couch on Deep Creek Road in Newport News and decided to chronicle senior year in college, that the woman who is sleeping in the other room while I play the Cake discography and stay up at least 30 more minutes because I don’t need to be at work until 2 p.m. is the woman I met 13 years ago because I got lost.

This week, I spotted my first grey hair north of my eyeglasses.

I made a half-joke about 15 years ago on Wednesday, and it stopped being a joke when I realized 15 years ago was 16-going-on-17.

But it’s not a problem, because if you asked me exactly 13 years ago today where I saw myself in late April 2015, I would have said sitting on the couch I share with that woman I’d been dating all of two months.

Hooray for being right about the future at time.

go ask alice

When I was in ninth grade, our long-term substitute-turned permanent English teacher had a segment on poetry in which she required that we all memorize a poem. Some chose rap. Some chose pop. Some chose serious poetry.

I chose parody.

I still know bits and pieces. At one point, I could recite, but alas, not sing, “A-sitting on a Gate,” which is called “Ways and Means,” although the song’s name is “The Aged Aged Man” despite being called “Haddock’s Eyes.”

I want to memorize it again. I shouldn’t be that hard, since I know the lyrics to way too many songs as it is.

It probably would help if I knew the tune to “My Heart and Lute,” which is called “I give thee all, I can no more.”

I’ll tell thee everything I can:
There’s little to relate.
I saw an aged aged man,
A-sitting on a gate.
“Who are you, aged man?” I said,
“And how is it you live?”
And his answer trickled through my head,
Like water through a sieve.

He said “I look for butterflies
That sleep among the wheat:
I make them into mutton-pies,
And sell them in the street.
I sell them unto men,” he said,
“Who sail on stormy seas;
And that’s the way I get my bread –
A trifle, if you please.”

But I was thinking of a plan
To dye one’s whiskers green,
And always use so large a fan
That they could not be seen.
So, having no reply to give
To what the old man said,
I cried “Come, tell me how you live!”
And thumped him on the head.

His accents mild took up the tale:
He said “I go my ways,
And when I find a mountain-rill,
I set it in a blaze;
And thence they make a stuff they call
Rowlands’ Macassar-Oil –
Yet twopence-halfpenny is all
They give me for my toil.”

But I was thinking of a way
To feed oneself on batter,
And so go on from day to day
Getting a little fatter.
I shook him well from side to side,
Until his face was blue:
“Come, tell me how you live,” I cried,
“And what it is you do!”

He said “I hunt for haddocks’ eyes
Among the heather bright,
And work them into waistcoat-buttons
In the silent night.
And these I do not sell for gold
Or coin of silvery shine,
But for a copper halfpenny,
And that will purchase nine.

“I sometimes dig for buttered rolls,
Or set limed twigs for crabs:
I sometimes search the grassy knolls
For wheels of Hansom-cabs.
And that’s the way” (he gave a wink)
“By which I get my wealth–
And very gladly will I drink
Your Honour’s noble health.”

I heard him then, for I had just
Completed my design
To keep the Menai bridge from rust
By boiling it in wine.
I thanked him much for telling me
The way he got his wealth,
But chiefly for his wish that he
Might drink my noble health.

And now, if e’er by chance I put
My fingers into glue,
Or madly squeeze a right-hand foot
Into a left-hand shoe,

Or if I drop upon my toe
A very heavy weight,
I weep, for it reminds me so
Of that old man I used to know–
Whose look was mild, whose speech was slow
Whose hair was whiter than the snow,
Whose face was very like a crow,
With eyes, like cinders, all aglow,
Who seemed distracted with his woe,
Who rocked his body to and fro,
And muttered mumblingly and low,
As if his mouth were full of dough,
Who snorted like a buffalo–
That summer evening long ago,
A-sitting on a gate.

righteous fury makes me hungry

That line never gets old. It’s from 301/302, and was used literally. I’m using it metaphorically.

Additionally, I cannot tell you why I own this film. As in I was in the DVD section in Circuit City, read the back cover and decided that this movie was going home with me.

But I digress. I think digressing four sentences in is a record for me.

I have mentioned countless times over the years that my existence mainly is fueled by anger and spite. That hasn’t necessarily been the case for the past three years. Sure, some people have only heard me laugh at someone’s expense. Someone else commented that, until my wedding, it wasn’t known in some circles if I was capable of smiling. I completely spazzed when this happened recently.

But I didn’t have the constant simmering rage that has been a constant friend since times immortal.

Then two delightfully enraging things happened this afternoon in rapid succession. One of which was a challenge.

No one dares challenge me.

I’m currently smiling, because I’ve been quite cheesed off for about 10 hours now. I want to call it the real deal, but I’ll know for certain in the morning.

It’s the real deal.

Anyway, here’s a song I love now because I saved an album from going into a dumpster.

Don’t give in, 2000 Man.

improved user experience

There was a digital meeting at work today in which we talked about how to Internet better. Because, some 20-odd years later, there isn’t a newspaper in the United States of America that knows how to Internet better. If someone had figured out how to Internet better, everyone from the New York Times to the Dinwiddie Monitor would be Internetting correctly all over the place.

But that’s not the point of this entry.

During our intertubes meeting, we mentioned the need to add links to previous articles related to what we’re posting. I do this to on occasion here, but I don’t do it as much as I should, considering that, since we’re covering a decade of me now, nearly every entry is a reference to something I’ve said before.

So I pledge to you that I’ll link back more often. In fact, I went back to a recent Project 792 entry and did that.

(Going back and editing entries is something I’ve never stopped doing. I briefly mentioned here, for example, that these entries are raw pieces of work. Sometimes, when I go back into an entry, I see a horrid typo or missing information and fix it for my own edification. I know damn well no one’s reading that entry again eight years later. Well, I am, so that says something, I guess.)

So look at that: I’m doing the Internets and linking the links.

They even open in a new tab so you don’t lose your place, because I like tolerate you.

(not quite) 10 years of headers

Of course I feel compelled to do this when I need to go to sleep.

In the beginning, there was Green Flame. This image served as my blog’s very first background. It’s a long exposure of one of my fraternity brothers twirling a stick from our fire pit. It wasn’t the background for very long.

Also, this entry has very little to do with this photo. It’s mostly here for posterity.

This took a few tries because I didn't know what I was doing.

The crappiness of that digital camera turned this flame green.

This is what this is all about:

Hoping the road of life isn't a beltway

The image that spawned a title.

This is the viaduct. The viaduct that is the viaduct. I’ve told this story before: I was fascinated as a kid when I first saw Interstate 664 slant across 39th Street and Madison and Marshall avenues in the East End of Newport News. I once said I wanted a picture of it. One day, in 2004 or so, I finally did it. It wasn’t the best photo that was ever taken and I’ve lost the original.

Here’s the story of how that image evolved until it was ultimately retired.

When I did one of my first redesigns of what was once a Live Journal blog named Langley Park, I discovered that I could have a header image. Since I was about to make a photo of the I-664 viaduct a prominent part of my blog, I saw it prudent to change the name of my blog from The Springhouse (what was to be its new and final name) to the viaduct. It’s always lowercase. Always.

I made some weird variations of the above image because I got bored with a static photo. Then I discovered I could do some coding and make it an image map. That lead to this:

the font is called Fluoxetine

I’m surprised it’s in color because I have an affinity for greyscale.

The navigation was esoteric. I did not care.

  • Beyond the viaduct went to a variety of things. Mostly, it linked to my college newspaper.
  • Interstate 664 was home
  • Marshall Avenue went to the archives
  • 39th Street went to a list of blogs I followed (stylized Friends, real and imaginary)
  • Madison Avenue went to my profile

I barely explained it. I eventually added alt text to help.

A sliver of sunlight in the median took me to the content editor. Once I killed the traditional navigation bar, I took away the only way to update anything without going to my profile first. It took me a few days to realize that.

I almost want to bring that font back

There were some variations I rotated out, but it was mostly this image.

Next up: I greyscaled the photo, because I apparently hate color. I also added a subtitle: “hoping the road of life isn’t a beltway.” Translation: I hope wherever life takes me after college doesn’t involve living in Hampton (Roads) again. I have a love-hate relationship with the 757. Also, I considered remaining there to be a failure because it was the area I grew up in and there was so much world out there. I meant no offense to anyone who remained. Hell, I later decided that deciding to come back after seeing the world was acceptable.

483 of them were crap.

It’s a celebration!

I once again got bored with the image being the same (mostly), so I celebrated 500 entries. Look how fancy the non-Fluoxetine font is! I loved that Fluoxetine.

I started considering taking the photo again right about now.

Now with sepia!

Then I celebrated 600 entries with sepia.

At this point, I regretted losing the original image

I thought celebrating 700 was a bit much.

Then I refreshed the fonts. I did a poor job flattening the layers the first time, because I didn’t know what I was doing.

This was me trying to color-correct the sins from the first editing.

In Technicolor.

Then, upon realizing my blog’s color scheme was dark green, black and a grey image, I tried to fix the disasters I caused when I lost the original image. The only other thing I did to brighten up the blog itself was that I went from reverse type to yellow type. I had a drop cap for the first word as well. It looked terrible.

Long story.

Happy New Year.

In January 2006, I discovered one of the fonts I hated the most. So I added it to my header because I can be a masochist at times. If you can’t read the sub-subhead, it says “Ringing in the new year with a font too festive for its own good.”

Why I still clung to the subtitle, I don't know.

Radical!

After hating myself for long enough and going back to the color image, I redesigned my entire blog, which led to no more image map. Giant headers were out. A header that had some minor Photoshop surgery done was in. It was far too late to fix the image any further than this, in my opinion.

There's at least three text layers

Couldn’t leave it alone.

Then, out of boredom, I slowly started trying to get fancy. At this point, my interest in layout and design started coming to the forefront. Little did I know, designing newspaper pages was going to happen soon.

It took entirely too long to do this.

Roughly March 2009

In 2009, I moved to Richmond and I considered it to be a very important point in my life. It was. The house is the first one in which I rented a room in my new city. This change falling around the time of Year 5 also played a role in this header.

It doesn't seem like five years.

I missed my domain name anniversary.

A month later, I bought my domain and ditched the subhed. Then I celebrated five years and figured I needed to at least note that the viaduct definitely is my brand. I wanted viaduct.com, and I’m glad I wasn’t able to get it, in retrospect. I would be kicking myself to this very day if I didn’t own exit265c.com. The domain not being what the blog was called bothered me, though. Also, I fully intended to make that my email address. I currently don’t plan on it.

There was a squatter on the viaduct site when I wanted it. I didn’t want it bad enough to purchase it off some prospector. Currently, there’s nothing there because he or she gave up. I have no intention of ever taking it, since my online presence being EXIT 265C was established well before the viaduct.

I got restless for another reason after this header.

Once again, I decided I didn’t need to mark every milestone.

After marking Year 6, I figured there was enough distance between me and college/Hampton Roads to ditch this sorry image and mark a new era. I needed a new viaduct.

I wasn't satisfied with this one.

End of an era

This appeared in June 2011 and was promptly replaced by the same tracks from a different angle.

Now what?

Goodbye Fluoxetine.

After this, I changed to the current header, dropped the Official viaduct Font and this became a website named EXIT 265C.

I also sorta adopted a new subtitle: “home of the viaduct … and, possibly, the whopper.”

I have mixed feelings about the current header. That is very much not my exit and it’s not exactly a viaduct either. I essentially shot my own stock photo. Given the infrastructure-related title of the main blog and the site itself, I don’t think there’s any suitable image.

Whatever.

At least I’m not putting stupid words all over it all the time.