we’re home

No song with this entry. Sorry.

As you can see, there’s still some work to be done, but it’s livable. I’m about to go to bed here. Our landlords were doing some finishing touches as we’re moving in and there’s still some minor work left to do. There’s also still the issue of the rear addition that won’t solve all of the space issues but will allow what is supposed to be the pantry only serve as my home office until the pandemic is over.

This place already feels like home, and I can’t wait for the completion of the punch list items and we start figuring out what normal is here.

I didn’t bring my desk chair over yet. I definitely need it, and I hope it’s tall enough for this desk. A chair from the kitchen table is not tall enough.
We have stream at the edge of the property line may or may not be natural. I could find out, but I don’t feel like it.
Of course, Missy (whose birthday is today, May 3, wanted to get in.
This is at least the temporary home for Cecil. My calculations for the current space we have were only slightly off.
The back room isn’t huge, but I hope it solves some of our minor space woes.

It was good to have an exciting moment during this pandemic. I hope this house brings us years of happiness.

the ultimate penultimate

Hunger is strange; keeps happening to me

Penultimate is one of my favorite words. It’s just a highfalutin way of saying second to last. It’s like one of those things that, if you didn’t know exactly what the word was, you felt had to exist. So I try to use it every chance I get. But I’m also that weirdo who said “acrimonious” during a casual phone call yesterday. (Acrimonious was the right word. What was I supposed to say, bitter?)

Anyway, as the title states, this is the ultimate penultimate day in my apartment. Saturday is my last full Saturday in this apartment. It album version of this song, called Penultimo, has been in my head for all of these penultimate days. I’m down to packing everything except for the stuff I’ll need for the next seven days. Our lease actually is up on May 15, so we’ll probably grab some things over the course of the first full week in May, but Saturday night will mark the end nights in this apartment.

I tolerated living here for a very long time, but things got progressively worse. Again, there’s too much to list here. Never mind that I have unlimited space.

It’s been a while since I’ve been champing at the bit to get out of a place. I mean, my Petersburg apartment was probably the worst. My Manchester apartment wouldn’t have been the second worst but the new owners of the building made it awful so all of the tenants moved out. So, yeah, I don’t think I’ve been this ready to get out of a place since 2007.

I’m so ready to leave, I’ve already switched my address on everything (although I’ve read that doing it two weeks in advance is a good practice). This has come in handy because half of my cloth mask order got sent back for being “undeliverable.” Never mind that it was one order in two packages.

The justification for being shorn.

I had the second half resent to the new house instead of to my apartment. I’m just hoping it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle of putting the appliances back in and putting the finishing touches on the house because I don’t want to go over there to get it this weekend. Since I can’t take a week off to move like I intended, this probably is the final weekend where I’m not going between the two places until about the 15th.

After that, I hope it’s a long time before I’m counting down the days before I move.

this old house

Dan Shake brought me here.

Petersburg: 2006-2007. Hopewell 2007-2008. First place in Richmond: 2009. Chimborazo: 2009-2012 (excluding six months in North Carolina). First place in Charlottesville: 2012-2015. Third place in Richmond: 2015-2016. Fourth place in Richmond: 2016-2018. This dump: 2018-2020. I’ve never intended to spend such a short time in any of these places.

I began to fear for my safety in Petersburg. Hopewell turned into a bad situation. The first place in Richmond was understood to be temporary. When it came to Church Hill, all good things had to come to an end. In a different scenario, we eventually would have moved to another place in Charlottesville if we never went back to Richmond. We effectively got pushed out of our first apartment in Richmond by the building’s new owners. I was compelled to return to Charlottesville, so we waved goodbye to our dated, but fancy, apartment with a fancy address.

It’s gotten to the point that I have to describe what’s been wrong with this place in person. (Well, at this point, over the phone or in a Google Hangout.) If I wanted real booze yet, I’d have champagne on our first night.

Anyway, one thing that has come from all of this moving has been an obsession with packing. I start early. I look at schematics. I measure everything. For this move, I got a storage unit because I have some fraternity materials and, because our new place is about 300 square feet smaller than this apartment, I wasn’t sure some other things would fit. Especially since the house will be 400 feet smaller than this apartment when we move in.

I’m already making a short story long. The landlord is building an 100-square-foot addition to our house. We’re getting a discount during that period because we’ll be without a laundry room, half bath, closet and a small loft until perhaps the end of June

But for roughly the same price as this apartment, we’ll be back in city limits in a fully restored 100-year-old house. I got to take a look at the work so far and take some measurements. Below are some photos I took on Saturday. They’re a lot further along than the pictures show. After the final painting, all they have to do is install the ceiling and wall fixtures. Then the floor crew is coming in the week of the 20th and the appliances go back in once the floor is ready and the work shifts to the addition.

The measurements let me know that it will be a little cozy, but our stuff is going to fit. Our stuff will fit better when the back room is ready, but it’ll do for now. Photos with captions below.

I expect we’ll be there until we have a kid and it’s time for that kid to have a room of their own. (I presume a loft is no place for a toddler.) It’s a deep lot, though, so perhaps I will sell my mom’s house, finish my book, buy this house and add yet another addition to this aged edifice. All I know is that I’m reaching the point where I’m getting tired of moving.


I didn’t realize how much the built-in shelving and large closets at my old apartment affected my life.

Despite having a second bedroom, an office and an overlarge living room, there aren’t a lot of places for things to go. I have two boxes of stuff that I need near me that don’t have a home.

I plan on buying a desk to remedy that, because I don’t want the dining table to become my desk, as it was in Richmond. I haven’t had a desk one since I lived in Petersburg. The one I had didn’t survive the move to Hopewell in 2007, and I began typing in a prone position on my bed. I’ve been sitting and typing at coffee and dining tables like a normal human since 2012, with the exception of the two years of my first stint in Charlottesville. During that time, I used the bar between the kitchen and the living room as a standing desk. As I often had headphones on, it was dubbed “The D.J. Booth.”

We need to buy some other tables and cabinets, too. I’ll look at square footage, but I never think of closet space when I’m looking for places. Ample closet space leads to keeping stuff we don’t need, anyway. Today, I’m tossing a ton of plastic storage containers because I only use the largest ones for leftover vegetables. Long ago, I stopped carrying leftovers to work, and if we need containers, needing to find a home for them will cut down on having them for the sake of having them.

I am a little glad about having to buy storage for some of our things. Needing furniture and having the space for furniture without the place seeming cluttered surely will keep me rooted in one place for a while. Once it’s in here, I’m not moving all that crap.

i have a dining room

This is my new theme song.

As of a few hours ago, all of our belongings are in our new apartment in Albemarle County.

I go back to work tomorrow.

There is a work-related thing I need to do tonight.

I am so tired.

Almost everything remains in boxes, and I not only stopped labeling boxes at one point, I started putting things in boxes with no rhyme or reason.


Our apartment complex had a problem and the apartment we picked wasn’t available on our move-in day. After much consternation, we were given a larger apartment for less money. So far, the potential of this place has been amazing.

I’m sitting in my dining room right now. Sure, it’s a pass-through to the apartment-sized kitchen, but it’s a room where the table is supposed to go. One half of our living room is where living room furniture is going. The remainder is going to house my books and most likely a desk for me. I really want the dining room table to be just for food, unless I want a change of venue. There’s a second bedroom, so we don’t have to get out of here if and when we have a kid. I’ll have to buy a wardrobe, though, because that room essentially is my closet and the home of my fraternity chapter’s archives.

We also have a second bathroom and an office for Renée, who will be working for home.

There’s so much space. I can’t wait to put things where they’re supposed to be.

But I need to go back to work first.

And rest.


For the longest time — like until 2012 — I could fit everything I owned in my car with the exception of my bed.

I don’t like to collect things. Sure, I have a giant stack of books and cases of CDs and a now large plant that I’m certain is only alive through the grace of God, but that’s it. I only recently got pictures of family because I realized how weird it was that I didn’t have any.

I try to keep things to a minimum because I’ve been highly transient since moving out of my mom’s house officially. It’s typically not my fault: In general, I’m pushed out of a place by external factors.

My neighbors were loud in my first apartment, and the laundry room was heavily vandalized. I left with a full month left on my lease. I ate the difference.

I reached a point that I didn’t want to live in my first post-college house anymore because I yearned to get out of my first journalism job, and it became a manifestation of how trapped I felt. I made it about 1½ years.

I was desperate after that, and decided that living in Richmond would partially solve my problems. I took a room on a temporary basis. I’m glad it was temporary. We were incompatible. The same thing happened with my temporary place in North Carolina.

Then, five months after the first Richmond place, there was the Chimborazo house. In another universe. If not for the turmoil that was 2012, which included six months in North Carolina, I wouldn’t have left until Matt and Shaunelle decided to leave, I successfully got a job away from Hopewell or until a few months ago when The Hopewell News shut down.

We were in our Charlottesville house for three years. There were some problems that accompanied an older house. We were going to move out anyway, but things led us back to Richmond.

I was excited about moving back to Richmond, but everything changed. I didn’t fit back in. It’s been bookended by me working in Charlottesville. I’m not sad about leaving. It was a thing I left behind in 2012, and I should have known it wasn’t going to be my thing again. Our first place changed management and all but forced us out. We’re leaving our second place because Richmond no longer has anything for me.

Now we’re packing things. At some point, I got a lot more things. I think I’m tired of moving, but I haven’t yet gotten to where I’m going.

I’ve been saying this is the penultimate move until finally getting a house. I want to stick around in our next place until 2021. That was, and still is the goal, despite a little snag this week. In 2021, I’ll hit 15 years in journalism, nine of which with my current company. I want to celebrate with something. Maybe it will be with staying put for a little while longer.

I’m beginning to want permanent things — heavy, bulky things that somehow get in through the front door but seem impossible to get back out. I’m beginning to envy my mom spending more than 45 years in the same spot.

But I fear my thing, despite saying it isn’t, is constantly packing my few things.

i’m sorry

2018 has been rough so far. I drive up to three hours a day to commute to work. Walk my dog, make dinner and pretty much not have time for much else. I tend to not do much of anything when I have Saturdays off, sleep Sundays away and pack in everything I’ve deferred the rest of the week into Monday. I all but stopped watching TV. Until I got knocked on my butt earlier this week and had to take two days off, I could barely think straight sometimes. I’m surprised I got six entries in so far this year.

But we’re in the home stretch.

We found a place to live. We get the keys in less than 20 days. (Of course, we haven’t started packing.)

It wasn’t one of the places I mentioned a couple of entries ago.

I considered this place and promptly forgot about it. I think I had too many tabs open, inadvertently closed the one with this place and assumed I decided against it. When Renée brought it up while doing a search of her own, I realized I never looked at it.

It’s technically a one-bedroom apartment, but it comes with a den that has a window and a small closet, so it’s a bedroom that’s entirely too small for anyone over the age of, say, 10. For now, it’s going to be Renée’s office, some other storage and, if there’s room left over, a guest bed of some sort.

This place isn’t in the limits of a city, independent or otherwise, so it will be the first time in my life that I have not resided in a city. If you’re not familiar with Virginia’s jurisdictions, counties and cities are wholly separate. I used to mean counties were wholly rural jurisdictions and cities were Virginia’s urban areas that had enough resources to perform all the functions of a county and provide the additional services one expects in a city.

Although, for reasons I can’t fully articulate, not being a city-dweller seems really weird to me, I cannot wait. I cannot wait to be less than 10 minutes away from work. I can’t wait to get hours back into my days. I can’t wait to use those hours to write and finally hit spellcheck in Brown River Blues and then send it to my friends for them to critique. I cannot wait to be in a place I don’t intend to leave for a while.

I cannot wait for everything to be in place so I can sit at my desk at work and fully feel ready to finish what I started in September 2012.


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.

the search

Sorry, guys.

I’ve reached the point that my commute has chewed up so much of my time, I feel like sitting at my computer to do things like write is a waste of precious time.

I mean, I have personal business I’ve been deferring because I didn’t have time to deal with it. Boy, it was fun when I wrecked Nicole. I hung up on both my mom and the insurance company at points because I was also dealing with getting our Virginia Press Association award entries together on top of also not taking a day off work after being stranded at the Shannon Hill exit on Interstate 64.

I also need to ask someone a huge favor, but that person is out of town and I need to call a friend in general but I just don’t seem to have the time and I’ve noticed that I’ve been sleeping longer and longer, which is compressing my day even more.

But I’m not one to complain.


In about a month, we’ll be gearing up to move into our new digs. I was hoping for a two-bedroom place because I wanted to stay in one place for at least the next three years — when I hit 15 years in journalism — but this apartment search has been brutal. We’re down to three options, and if we need a second bedroom, we’ll figure that out when we figure it out.

Monday was a day off for me, so I went on a roughly four-hour voyage to look at a few properties. On Tuesday, if I can get to Charlottesville early enough, I’m looking at one more.

Here is what I hit Monday (ones with asterisks are viable options):

* The first place I saw was something on my bucket list: An apartment over a business. It’s a one-bedroom slightly smaller than our current place, but we can make it work. I’d have to take the leaf out of our dining table, I guess and we could put the desk in the bedroom and buy a wardrobe and some shelving. All but cable is included in the rent, and we wouldn’t have to pay pet rent because of Missy’s age. It works out to being about what we’re paying at our current place.  We also get one, maybe two, parking spaces.  I like it because of it being in the middle of things. It has a shared laundry room with the other two units and no dishwasher. I didn’t have a dishwasher for most of my life, and at least the coin laundry is literally across the hall.

The second place was kinda a dump. At least from the outside. I couldn’t see a unit because they were all full until March 2, at the earliest, and they clearly were keeping track with a legal pad. I politely took an application and threw it away later.

The third place was where I really wanted to live, per what I saw online. The property manager was a very nice lady and we talked for a while. Finally, she asked about income. When I told her, “Oh, no, that’s too much” was here response. The site said nothing about it being income restricted. Also, it was a lot for “affordable” housing. A lot. That’s why I had no idea. Also, instead of listing that it was income restricted on their site, they had a printout of other complexes to try. So I used it.

I couldn’t remember why I scratched off the fourth place during my initial search, so I went anyway. Missy weighs too much.

The fifth place was a little far off. I got to take some windy roads. It was great. That place, which was spectacular and absolutely perfect doesn’t have openings till May.

A got a call about another place I shot an email to because the online listing was lacking. No pets.

* I hit some more twisty roads and reached the sixth place. Perfect. Absolutely perfect in every way. We’d have vaulted ceilings, a balcony, a fireplace a wooded walking trail and a unit positioned in a way that we really wouldn’t have to close our blinds. It is available starting Wednesday. It is the only available unit. They apparently go fast.

* Tomorrow’s place seems like a sweet deal. It’s the closest one to work. It has all-inclusive rent. Maybe. It mentions a utility fee but does not say whether that is built into the posted price of the unit. The pet deposit is a little steep, but there is no pet rent. Even if the utility fee isn’t included in the base rent, it’s reasonable. But my spider-sense is tingling. Hopefully, I’ll find out of my wariness is unfounded.

I’m strongly leaning toward the first one. It hits all my likes. Although it’s not exposed on the inside, it’s brick and concrete block. It’s over a business in a central business district. I can walk to a lot of things. I’d be relatively closer to friends and brothers. I’ve sold myself on it and things will stay that way unless tomorrow’s place seriously blows me away.

Either way, this place will be the penultimate apartment. I’m shooting for it being the final. I eventually want to get a house, I want to use the money from selling my mom’s house to do it. That’s part of why we’ve been in apartments so far. But I don’t want to think about having to move nearly 50 years of crap out of that place just yet. I’m already too busy as it is.

it really comes together

Editor’s note: How my newspaper formats some articles has inspired a slight change here. I think I’m going to capitalize the first two or three words that start each post, and if there is a section break, boldface the first two or three after the break. Back when this blog was on LiveJournal, I coded it to have drop caps up until the final redesign there.


WE GET CHARGED for every hole we put in the walls, so at some point, there needs to be a trip to get more mounting strips. I don’t feel too bad about the artwork propped up against walls because I helped a friend move a year ago and he proudly announced that he just got around to putting art on the walls.

He got married after I did and actually got around to getting wedding photos printed, so he’s got me there, though. I have my favorites saved in three different places, so I don’t feel too bad about it. I also feel a little weird about having photos of myself in my home. I know what I look like; I don’t need reminders. I should get some made for my mom, though.

But, anyway, we’re as unpacked as were going to get for a while. We need to get a new media center to hide the wires behind the TV, another cabinet or two and I kinda want an armchair, despite us reaching the point that the great room is reaching capacity. I’m toying with the idea of getting a Christmas tree, and that would require at least moving the coat rack.

I’m happy with how things have come together, especially the proper dining table. I was worried about it fitting, but it slid in perfectly and probably would with the leaf in. My friend who gave it to us is putting the chairs that go with it in her new attic in the event that we ever want them. I would have taken them with me if we didn’t get four chairs last year and they didn’t somehow go well with the æsthetic of room overall.

As you can see, we’re pretty much rocking the black seating and electronics, brown wood, exposed brick combo.

Feel free to come visit soon. We either can try to reserve a hospitality room, or you can crash at our nap station.