I didn’t have the opportunity to post over the weekend. And I’ll be in a city council meeting until 1 a.m. Tuesday, so there might not be a full recounting of the weekend until Tuesday night. I would do it now, but I’m a bit tired and want to take advantage of being able to sleep in a tiny bit. I normally would be able to sleep in a lot, but a new reporter starts Monday, and I told her to get there at 10:30 a.m.
Also, there is video footage of me on a slide, but I don’t have the capacity to upload my own photos here (because I so rarely do it). In theory, I could upload it to YouTube, it’s not that serious.
I’ve been on a Tribe kick since going to Queens. After The Roots, it’s my favorite hip-hop group. I remember where I was the first time I heard Award Tour when I was a kid. I used to know all the words to Scenario, and that started because I was not expecting to hear RAWR, RWAR LIKE A DUNGEON DRAGON come out of Busta Rhyme’s mouth. Remembering when my mom tried to rap along to Electric Relaxation, I guess in an attempt to prove that she still was hip, still makes me cringe. (But not as bad as when she used “Chiggity check yourself before you wreck yourself!” as a catchphrase.)
Anyway, so when Tribe broke up and Q-Tip released his first solo album, I got Amplified as soon as it came out.
When I got to Let’s Ride, I paused. I had heard that beat before. And it wasn’t because I had heard Joe Pass’ play Giant Steps.
When I was younger, I often would experience déjà vu. Anther one that really freaked me out was when I was in Model United Nations. I was sitting across from a kid with a distinctly odd-looking face, and I had had visions of sitting across from a kid in a suit with an odd-looking face for years.
But, when I was in my bedroom in 1999, I envisioned being in the back of a car in a large city while Let’s Ride played.
In early 2000, I attended the National Young Leader’s Conference. I learned a lot of things that week, one of which being that definitely did not want to be a politician. I wanted to be one of the people who brought them down. Another thing I learned was that Washington, D.C., was where my “This is a moment where I’ll hear this song” feeling came from.
I took the train there and got a ride from my brother-in-law’s brother to where I was staying. My departure time didn’t mesh up with him driving me back to Union Station, so I got a cab. Before the cab arrived, I had put Amplified in my portable CD player, as was the way in ye olde days. Let’s Ride is like 15 minutes into the album, and I had been more or less alternating between it and Things Fall Apart (I considered myself to be a backpacker at this point in my life, so I was having a little crisis about You Got Me blowing up), so I wasn’t planning on this matching with anything. I just decided that I wanted to start my trip home with Kamaal Fareed.
Somewhere along the trip, that moment that matched with the first time I heard the song happened.
I mention this because of three things. On my road trip to Kansas, Brandon brought up the night I had when I started earning the nickname Epic. My car was in Newport News. My last memory was in Norfolk. I woke up in my childhood bedroom. I no longer lived there and, thankfully, my mom and grandmother were not home that night. As absolutely no one I know has any idea what I did (I disappeared from a party, I can’t recall how or why I went to Norfolk and have no idea how I got back to the Peninsula), the conjecture is that I died and simply respawned. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, I’ve had many, many times that involve moments where I don’t understand how I did not die, so it’s plausible that I know all the save points and cheat codes.
The other reason why I bring this up is because I had a very brief déjà vu moment in the hotel room in New York. It doesn’t happen to me as much anymore, so it sticks out that I experienced something that I swore I experienced before.
Years ago, the subtitle to the viaduct was “hoping the road of life isn’t a beltway.” I was because I was starting to have a suspicion that things sometimes felt familiar because this is the Matrix and I’m starting to remember looping through this. I have another instance where a former coworker can tell you that I completely predicted the person in the lobby waiting for him.
“He’s going to have some weird, giant sore [on his waist] that he’s going to show you because he thinks the hospital screwed up,” I said.
When Fred came back up from the lobby, he started swearing at me because I set him up. I did no such thing. I just … knew.
Where the hell’s this when the Mega Millions is obscenely large?
The third reason why I brought this all up is because I love looking up the origin of song samples. It’s why I listen to such weird music. I heard that one passage in a song that was a part of the backbone of 2001 and, the next thing I know, I’m grooving on an entire album of 1970s Icelandic acid jazz.
For some reason, I never searched for where J Dilla got that guitar loop until the Tribe pilgrimage. This album is pretty frickin’ cool.
This is perhaps the first time in the 14-year history of the viaduct that I’ve actively censored something. It’s because a situation like this never happened before, so I never set a policy.
So, my policy is this: I’ll censor images, because you can easily hide swear words if you’re reading this in mixed company.
That said, here’s what happened today:
I woke up to take Missy for her morning walk. and when I got to the landing, I noticed an object roughly between my door and the neighbors. What is was didn’t register for a second. I said to myself, “Is that a package?” I shit you not.
It was a package, all right.
It was … well … a martial aid.
And by “marital aid,” I mean “big, black dildo with a suction cup.”
My guesses are that he was not properly secured in a bag and fell out, someone thought it would be funny to put him anywhere in the complex or both.
I also got a suggestion that the only and most logical explanation is that it’s fraternity rush season. I don’t think any undergrads live this far away from Grounds, but if you’ve followed my life for any length of time, you know that stranger things have happened.
It could be a variation of the vintage TVs being left on Henrico County doorsteps. I am not making this up, and I hope this link is stable for a very long time.
After texting the uncensored photo to a lot of my friends (sorry, not sorry), I punted it down to the next landing.
Needless to say, I haven’t been able to take anything seriously today.
As of 7 p.m., he was still out there. It was getting dark then. I hope his owner finds him and gets him out of the cold and damp.
The city renamed this road for him (and it intersects with another named for his wife) a few years ago. I noticed a few days ago that Google Maps never updated. I respected the Rev. Curtis West Harris Sr. too much to let this stand.
If you’re wondering, that street to the right is named for Winston Churchill. No, not that Winston Churchill. This one.
A few days ago, I saw this Washington Post analysis of homelessness and hunger among college students.
I scoffed. This is nothing new.
I knew at least one homeless college student. There were days when I was absolutely famished and didn’t want to ask my family for help because I was supposed to be an adult and doing this on my own, briefly had three jobs and, in theory I was guaranteed — up until my senior year, when my dorm was demolished there wasn’t enough housing and I could have been homeless if not for my fraternity brothers and I renting our unofficial official house — three meals a day from the dining halls.
This didn’t end after graduation. After a few months of only eating beans, getting the occasional Wendy’s sandwich, gorging myself on whatever baked goods showed up in the newsroom and willing my credit card bills (and gas prices) low enough for some meat, I asked my mom for food.
From 2006 to 2009, my mom bought me groceries. Occasionally, she still does. I also try to raid her freezer whenever I visit. It’s more of tradition at this point. Or she sees a killer deal through the connections she still has from the restaurant industry.
Typically, whatever she bought me was all the food I was going to get for about a month. On paper, I made enough to live. I got paid between $22,000 and $24,000 a year at my first paper. I don’t exactly remember, but I know I made less than $12 an hour and absolutely did not reach $25,000. My rent was about $600. I had utility bills and a car payment I wasn’t expecting to have. I had college-related debt to pay back. From the start, I would get my check stub and realize that the entire thing was spoken for. And then some. I had a bank at the time that gave everyone up to $500 to use, minus overdraft fees, after hitting zero. You had 30 days to get your account back into the black. I mastered having about $5 in on the 29th day and then jumping back down to -$480.
I was constantly tired. Journalism is not an 80-hour job. We pretend it is. I’ve never worked at a paper where people put down ever hour they worked. I don’t see how some people have a second job beyond reporting. I walked into every day of my first six years or so of journalism not knowing when I’d get home at the end of the day. Even when I had food to cook, I’ve come home too tired to cook it. I went a day or two without eating because I didn’t have time to eat or had no time to prepare anything. When I lived alone in Petersburg, I’ve passed out because of that on more than one occasion.
On one particular occasion in early 2007, it took me entirely too long to have time to cook the chicken I put in the fridge to thaw.
It definitely had started to spoil.
I was in no position to waste food.
Yes. That happened.
Despite heavily seasoning it and baking it until it nearly was burnt, I almost couldn’t bear to eat it. Luckily, I had some liquor, so I figured it would help kill the germs or help induce vomiting later.
I kept it down. I don’t know how, but I kept it down.
This still feels embarrassing, although a dozen years have passed. It’s because I went too long being too proud to ask for help. And then, when I asked for help, I was too ashamed to ask for more help.
You’re better off looking back at the time when you had to eat at a soup kitchen despite being in your chosen career than looking back at the time you cooked and ate rotten meat.
You won’t believe the problems I’ve had with my homes over the years!
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.
Hopewell: Somehow, this was the only place I’ve ever lived that did not have a mildly catastrophic problem.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
WHEN I WALKED to work from near the NewMarket Corp., I used to know if 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 crossed paths 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 of Third 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.
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.
(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.