family weekend

It’s weird how something that looks so unfamiliar feels so much like home.

There only are three buildings in this photo. Technically, two of them were there before I graduated, but they did not look like this.
This view and what’s directly behind me, Santoro and James River halls, are the only things that look they way it did in the 2004-2005 academic year.
At least Rita’s still is there.

Last month (which seems like a century ago), I went to CNU Family Weekend at Michael’s request. His sister was supposed to come with us, but she decided to hang out with friends after I bought tickets to the football game. Michael’s in the and he wanted us to see him perform.

He’s down there somewhere, Part One.
He’s down there somewhere, Part Two.

There were a few musical performances, so I only got to see him in person for about two whole minutes, but he knew we were there. We spent most of the day on campus, including visiting where we first met. The doors were locked, since it’s no longer an academic building, so we couldn’t go in. Additionally, exactly where we first met is now a server room. This was good enough.

Ratcliffe Hall.

Oh, since I haven’t posted any photos and such in a while, I haven’t cut my beard in more than a year, and I got a backup pair of glasses for when I don’t want to put in contacts/it isn’t advantageous to have contacts in. Of course the frames are orange. They’re also an Easter egg.

(Also behold how blind I am.)

Anyway, it felt so great and comfortable to walk around the campus. There was a brief moment when I forgot I wasn’t a student. (I had a work assignment due over the weekend and I tried to remember what class it was for.) As I said before, it makes me very happy that Michael is there. CNU wasn’t my first choice, but so many things in my life would not have happened if I didn’t not wind up in Santoro 202 in August 2001.

Despite the changes, the New Great Lawn does look pretty at night, though.

Go Captains.

i can’t think of a title that feels right

Monday afternoon, I did what I thought I’d never officially do. Or at least until I got out of journalism.

Until Monday, I only had two secrets left, and one of them wasn’t mine. My sister Theresa told me something when she effectively was on her deathbed, and that secret dies with me because I made a promise to her.

As for the other one, it only recently started gnawing at me. It was in part because it was the only thing left unsaid. I mean, if you’ve read this from the start, I’ve gone into great detail about discovering that the person who molested me when I was a child was serving a life term in a Florida prison (once my third secret), my college partying, getting food poisoning, my yearslong quest to win back the woman who is now my wife, being in such distress because of the conditions of my first journalism job that I had a minor mental heath crisis and then my really big mental health crisis in 2012.

Now that I’ve clumsily ripped off that bandage, it seems ridiculous in retrospect, especially for one of my reasons to leave it unsaid.

One of the reasons that I never officially told anyone that I was bisexual was because I knew I had to deal with the crap that came with being a Black journalist and I didn’t want to be the bisexual Black journalist. Unless I dated a dude and had to then constantly go through the whole spiel of “no, I’m not gay.”

I’ll wait while you all pause for a second and read that previous paragraph again.

OK.

Anyway, I’ve known ever since I went through puberty, so this is year 25. Until about 11th grade, I went through varying degrees of denial. I told a select few people in high school and then added it to the list of things I just would not talk about, like my political views, because of my choice of career.

And then I fell in love with a girl and decided it wasn’t really necessary to say anything because I wasn’t going to mess around with anyone else while I was dating her.

Here’s a good place to pull out an aside!

  • Bisexuals exist. There’s a B in LGBT+, and it doesn’t stand for bacon. Bisexual erasure is a major problem. I’ll get back to this further down, but that was a deciding factor for this announcement. I’m in a heteronormative relationship, and that does not mean that I was just going through a phase.
  • It doesn’t mean that I’m indecisive. As long as she puts up with this and all the other reasons I’m a weirdo, we’re in this for the long haul.
  • Bisexuality doesn’t mean you’re hypersexual. I don’t want to “experiment.” I don’t want a threesome, and I don’t want anyone on the side. Bi people are fully capable of finding the one person they want and sticking to them. I found someone, and I want to stick with her for as long as she’ll have me. All those Medium posts or whatever from people “mourning” a part of their identity that they “lost” once they entered into what outwardly looks like a monogamous straight relationship just miss being promiscuous just like all the other gay and straight people who have no business trying to give someone monogamy when they know they’re incapable of it.

And that more or less brings us back here. Because I was in a heteronormative relationship, it morphed into me not mentioning it unless a very pointed question was asked. Surprisingly, it rarely happened despite me having a purple velvet blazer, a shimmery grey blazer, a rose-print sweater and other interesting shirts and shoes over the years.

I erased myself, and it felt increasingly burdensome as bi people gained more exposure among media beyond the stereotypes that reinforced the erasure.

And Monday happened at the convergence of a story that isn’t mine to tell and Twitter being pretty heavy handed with Bi-Visibility Day. I should have had some discussion first and probably should have made a version of this post, but on my work Twitter, I said something along the lines of “If my wardrobe never tipped you off, guess what?” And then, on Facebook, I said I’m nearly 40 and no longer care about your opinion and then posted a GIF of Detective Rosa Diaz from the 100th episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Subtle.

Another contributing factor was that I think I missed the window of bringing this all up earlier. It took me a few years to see an LGBT reporter who was “the LGBT reporter.” But I was so deep into my whole I don’t need to say anything unless I get serious with a boy that I remained silent.

I got pretty close to not caring and blurting it out in the summer of 2011, but Tropical Storm Lee struck the Hopewell News and delayed my departure to North Carolina. My plan was to get a comfortable enough distance away from everyone so that I didn’t have to deal with any blow back. Because, you know, with the whole erasure thing, I didn’t know how anyone was going to react.

I was afraid then. I was afraid in the seconds leading up to me nearly being crass online about this. I’m still afraid. There’s a handful of people on Facebook I excluded. I’ve noticed that I’ve periodically checked my number of friends to see if it’s gone down. I’ve winced at incoming calls and texts from friends and family. I briefly thought one of my closest friends blocked my number. (I was told through his roommate’s phone that his cell was just out of commission.) I’m waiting for all of the assumptions that are going to come, along with me being the Black editor of a publication that literally just emblazoned “truth, community, equity” on shirts.

But, overall, I don’t feel any different. I mean, you know everything else. I don’t have Christmas lights I was waiting to wear after this. I already was being myself. I might be a bit more vocal about some LGBT+ issues and call out bisexual erasure like racism, but that’s about it.

Anyway, here’s the Wikipedia entry on bisexual erasure. If you want more scholarly works, there are footnotes at the end.

reverse chronological order, again

At this point, I seriously need to work backwards from this week and then resume posts in order. This is what I get for getting out of the habit of writing regularly.

So, he’s the current posting plan: This week, CNU Family weekend, vacation, my horrible trip to New York, the wedding I went to (I can’t remember the order of those two things right now), this upcoming weekend and the album posts with life mixed in.

updates

This song is my new jam. I don’t know why, but it just is. And I need that sequined jacket.

So … I have at least two things. The first is that I took nearly two straight weeks off from work and went on two mini-vacations and one long one. The other is that I went back to CNU for Family Weekend and saw my nephew in person for all of 30 seconds. I haven’t written about either yet because I want to include the photos I took and I haven’t gotten around to uploading them to my computer. That’s not a good excuse, but that’s where we are.

I’ve mentioned before that my job requires me to be in front of my computer a lot, and I’ve started not being in front of my computer when I go home. Yes, that has been the nature of my job since 2006, but I’m also trying to reestablish a work-life balance, so I often leave my computer alone when I get home. It’s been a little more than a year now, so I think I’m starting to figure out the proper balance and get back to writing for fun.

And I still need to finish that album voyage that I completed on Facebook.

And I just realized I still didn’t write about my New York trip and the wedding I went to. Over the past 15 years, I went from very, very good at this to very, very bad at this.

But, as I’ve been alluding to for quite some time now, my job has changed a lot recently, so I’m trying to see how this blog that people inevitably will find fits into this. I need to figure that out soon, because more than 30 days passing between posts is a bit ridiculous. And also having a four-story backlog.

I’ve also mentioned that I’m not writing this for anyone. As this is largely for myself, I feel that I really need to make these post because they are an extension of my memory. Recently, I’ve been very bad at names, so that is giving me another reason to want to get back to writing this stuff down while I remember it. I don’t know if this is temporary or worse. My memory has been a little weird ever since I got a concussion in high school. I often follow a routine in the mornings to make sure I don’t forget anything. I try to put things in the same spot every day. Last week, I either ran out of pepper or misplaced the shaker. One thing to know about me is that I don’t run out of pepper, so you have no idea how much that bothers me.

I haven’t had a checkup in about 18 months (other than blood work for life insurance) because I don’t feel like having someone tell me what I already know (I need to lose about 30 pounds). But I have the number of the PCP my new insurance picked for me sitting right next to me.

This is not where I expected this post to go.

Also, does WordPress not have spellcheck anymore? Sure, my browser has it, and I even say in my bio that I free write this, but I liked the extra layer.

post no. 2,293

I’ve managed to average one album a day in that cardboard box since Mother’s Day. I even have make-up listening sessions. That hasn’t translated to posting it here. In fact, a lot of things haven’t translated to posting here. I didn’t note my fifth anniversary and my present being lunch at Michie Tavern and going to Jefferson Vineyards. I didn’t note my 36th birthday. I also did not mention going to Fairfax County last weekend and the joy I had in seeing some fraternity brothers I probably haven’t seen in a decade or more.

There also was major work-related news.

There reasons are many. I need to start crafting a newsletter for work. We’re going to take our show on the road soon and have people tell us what they’d like to see in a publication. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t know what role this blog will play in this. Or if it should.

And then there’s the whole work-life balance thing. I’ve rediscovered that. When I’m off, I’m off. And since I spend all my work hours in front of a computer, I’ve been spending less of my free time at my personal computer (never mind that my TV watching has gone up). Last weekend, I spent a good 24 hours with friends and I did not once open the laptop I took with me. Sure, I looked at Facebook and a few sites on my phone, but those were incidental moments. On Sunday, I almost forgot my phone because I sat it down for so long.

I think I’m still working out that balance. I mean, spending my free time with my family, friends and Netflix is great, but I’ve returned to the chapter in my novel that is a sticking point and I now realize I was overthinking it. I’ve been shaping the backstory of one of my characters for 20 years, and the problem with that chapter is what I was trying to unpack eight years of history in a few paragraphs. I’m excited about working on it, but I just don’t want to be in front of a computer on my day off for that much time. I had planned out some days with no distractions other than walking my dog, but that wound up not going the way I had hoped.

I’ll figure this all out soon.

surprisingly close

A little more than a month ago, I learned how close I am to Charles Town, West Virginia. I mean, its two hours away, but it’s closer than my mom’s house. It makes sense, though, because I’m two hours from the end of Interstate 64 in West Virginia and two hours from Danville, and I’m about 50 miles north of the geographic center of Virginia.

But I digress.

I found out how close it was a month ago, and I’m just telling you now because I was absolutely terrible and blogging last month. I don’t know what happened exactly, beyond my ever-increasing need to go on vacation. I get 16 days this year, and I’ll be down to 13 after this coming weekend. I think I need to just go ahead and burn the other three next month or something because I’m only writing for work at this point, and that has never happened before.

Anyway, I went to West Virginia at the spur of the moment because I got invited to a fraternity brother’s bachelor party in the middle of it happening. The first day was a ski trip, and the second was a trip to the casino and horse track. I hadn’t see the groom in a while, so I did what the best man told me and theoretically crashed the event.

I took off at about nightfall because the ski resort didn’t have cell service and I didn’t hear any details about the trip until I was about to pass on it.

Although it was just two hours, it could have been faster. I had to take back roads all the way there. Usually, that’s fun, but I didn’t want to get there too late (although I knew we’d most likely be up half the night).

Boy, did we.

I don’t know what time it was when we finally went to bed. I could check, because both Google and my Fitbit know. (I let Google stalk me in part so that I can mostly prove that I was somewhere and it’s not like, with the right judge or unique set of skills, someone can’t find you if they really, really want to find you.) The next day was rough. We partied like we were back in undergrad, and I really, really can’t do that anymore. I soldiered on for a good part of the day, but I couldn’t take it any longer by about the time the University of Virginia-Purdue game was happening. (Yep, I’m that far behind on posts.) I headed back to the hotel to discover that I was inadvertently given a casino card instead of a room key.

Instead of napping, I bought an energy drink, put the game on the radio and headed for home. I got back in enough time to see the end of the game on TV. I was certain UVa’s run was going to end that night, and I’m glad it didn’t. I’ve become one of those people who roots for the team because I live there. But if they play VCU, I’m RVA all day.

Overall, the trip was great. I got to see four fraternity brothers, and I’ll see them again in July for the wedding. I also got to do something spontaneous again. Well, it wasn’t quite spontaneous, but it was with less than a week’s notice. Additionally, it was a part of my goal to see people more often. I typically have weekends off, so I have no excuse. We’ll be moving to our penultimate place before buying something later this year (I’ll explain when we get closer), so I hope to entertain, too.

To make a long story short, Charles Town isn’t terribly far away and, although I’m not really a gambler, I’d go again.

But I’d drink far, far less.

i should have started earlier

City Middle has been in my head for a good chunk of the week. I had a dream in which this song came on the radio while Karen was driving me somewhere. Karen was not amused because the timing was perfect in the dream: I had $500 in twenties and I was on a good mixture.

Most likely, it will be after midnight before this entry posts. I haven’t gone to bed yet, so I’m going to follow my rule of it’s not the next day until I go to bed. And ensuring that I have a post on Friday and Saturday indeed is going to be a little tricky. More on that later.

Anyway, it’s been a long day. I scheduled an oil change well before I knew what was going to happen today because, for some reason, I had some difficulty finding a place that could squeeze me in.

I barely got my car there on time because it was in a part of the Charlottesville area with a severe traffic problem because people decades ago decided to put a commercial and residential strip on the side of a mountain across the river from the rest of the urban area. That meant that I couldn’t attend an event in my own building. It’s something we’ll eventually get back to when we back to being fully staffed.

From there, I had to hitch a ride to do my weekly radio segment. For the past few months, we’ve been doing recaps of our news coverage on one of the local radio stations. I never had any intention to go into any sort of broadcast journalism, but here we are.

By the time that and lunch were over, my car was ready. But it was time to do my newsroom meeting and our larger staff meeting. And then there was another meeting I nearly forgot about during a time in which I’d hoped to go home for a bit because I’d been waiting for a piece of mail.

Instead, I picked up my car at about 5 p.m. and it took me 20 minutes to take what should have been a five-minute trip. I wasn’t ‘going to be bothered with going home at that point, although I technically had downtime, because then there was a school board meeting to cover at 6:30.

Have I mentioned that I can’t wait for us to be fully staffed again?

I intended to cook dinner tonight, but I was over today. I ordered a pizza from the front row of the school board meeting and got home around 9. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time I’ve been at work for about 10 hours this week.

I can’t wait for Monday to get here. Technically, we’ll be fully staffed again.

I’m celebrating by going to Raleigh this weekend to see Falyn. I’ve felt bad about not seeing her because I’ve seen her brother-in-law and her parents more than her in the past few years. I kept saying she was in Chapel Hill because that metro area has three prominent localities no more than 30 miles apart and I grew up in Hampton Roads, which has seven cities spread over an area the size of Rhode Island.

I was going to drive, but Renée wants to do something in Chapel Hill, because I kept saying Chapel Hill, and I get unnecessarily weird about having to readjust my seats and mirrors whenever someone drives my car. (I’m that way because the only time I was at fault in a two-vehicle collision was when my mirrors weren’t quite right after my mom drove Simone when I was about 19 and I rear-ended a truck while I was trying to fix them.)

oops

I could listen to this on repeat for hours.

I totally forgot to to update this for nearly a month, which is a shame because that defeats the purpose of this. I initially intended this to be an external memory. It’s been good to be able to look back to June 2007 and know with some degree of detail of what I did that month. (You can’t see what I did in June 2007 because I’ve cut off back entries from public view for myriad reasons.)

I mean, since I last posted, I went to Petersburg and Hopewell to mark 13 years in journalism. (The anniversary is Wednesday, and I’ll get to that in a second.) I also went to Lynchburg for no reason. My nephew got into CNU, I’m on a panel for an upcoming conference and my small newsroom is going to be slightly less small very soon. All of those should have been blog entries.

I’ve noticed that, since my workload dropped dramatically in August and I feel adequately compensated for the amount of work I do, I’ve done a lot less once I get home. I have laundry I have not yet put away. I watch more TV. I have books that have not been read.

I think I’ve gone a little bit overboard with experiencing free time because its been so long since I truly had it. I used to do things in my downtime when I didn’t have to spend every waking moment thinking about work. After six years of being unable to take trips or hang out with people while living up to an hour away from some of my closest friends, I just don’t know what to do with myself beyond not doing anything with myself.

What I’m proposing to myself is this: Including this weekend, which should include a trip to visit friends, I’m going to post something every day from March 13 to April 12. I’m hoping this gets me back into writing beyond work.

March 13, as I mentioned earlier starts my 13th year in professional journalism. March 13 marked when this blog went from being about a college student to one about a young adult with a career.

Someone recently asked me what I did in my free time, and I didn’t know what to say. My answer to what I did for a living and what I did in my free time used to be “I write.” I want to be able to say that again.

homeward bound

People Just Do Nothing secretly is favorite show.

I totally thought I recounted my trip to Maryland two weeks ago. To make a long story short, on Friday I got stuck in traffic, got caught in a small snowstorm and I had a hard time concentrating on doing work in a Starbucks when everything went down in Richmond the second I crossed the Potomac River. The following day, I went to Fairfax, where I hung out with three fraternity brothers. That Sunday, I got from there to Albemarle County in about 1:40, so there’s really no excuse for me not to visit people in NOVA more often or for them to come visit me. (And I know I’m really bad at going to Richmond, but I feel that it’s too close for me to crash overnight but too far for me to run down for a day and come back in the middle of the night.)

Now, on to this past week, which took some unexpected turns toward the end.

In honor of Black History Month, I named her Ida Bunny Wells.

On Wednesday, I pulled into the parking garage and spotted this little creature in a space near where I was going to park. I have a soft spot for stuffed animals — the one I received the day I was born is safely hidden in my mother’s house — so I decided to save it from being squished by a minivan.

I took it with me to work, snapped this photo of it and tweeted out that some kid’s lost bunny was safe and sound in my newsroom.

It went mini-viral.

Two days later, after prominent locals, regular folk and people from far-flung areas liked or retweeted it, a local TV station that had a slot open for a feel-good Friday story slid into my DMs to ask if I’d be willing to go on the air about the lost bunny.

I wanted to get this rabbit home, and my ulterior motive for this whole thing was to put the community in community journalism, so I agreed.

Aside: I’m sure we’re all will forget what DM stood for at some point in the distant future, and I can’t wait to look back at this fondly like posts from more than a decade ago that mentioned AIM.

They didn’t mention my job description, so I cropped out the channel. Because I’m petty.

So, a week that began with people being interviewed for a opening in my newsroom and also for summer internships concluded with me being an Area Man with a small-town story on the Six O’Clock news.

It made up for the cancellation of a civic engagement conference on Saturday due to a lack of interest. A part of it was to feature me as a part of a panel. I was looking forward to that. (It’s partially because I wanted to see if I could speak to a large group again without going into far too much detail about a double homicide. I did that once to a group of Virginia State University students about a decade ago. Needless to say, the offer to build a partnership there was never heard from again.

Anyway, although it partially was intended to be a way to get my publication noticed beyond my live tweets of municipal meetings, this segment showed that one of the local news editors really wants to get a kid reunited with a stuffed animal. That’s all that really matters. If a kid’s buddy goes missing, any adult worth a damn should pull out all the stops get it back to the kid. If we can’t at least do that as a community, we aren’t a community.

run-on sentences

If someone makes a biopic of me, and doesn’t mind the songs being anachronistic, I want this to be the music for 2002.

Last week, I spent my bonus day off (I’m now at three weeks and a day of vacation) on taking my nephew on a college tour at CNU. Earlier, my mom suggested that I just pick a random Saturday or something and give the tour myself. I didn’t register to her that in the roughly 13 years since I graduated, nearly every building that was there has been demolished.

I still got to embarrass him and his sister, though.

When we got to the admissions office, I yelled. The receptionist, Donna, still was there. She ran over and gave me a hug. And then Michael and Shonda got them, too. After we spent some time catching up, we started our tour.

The format completely changed. There’s now a video and a PowerPoint. The presenter even mentioned how the school is proud of how Trible wiped away effectively every vestige of the Japanese-themed architecture that dominated the campus due to a hefty donation from Canon during the college’s early days.

The tour only pointed out

  • the Freeman Center, our gym (which is now also the new home of Gaines Theater);
  • the Trible Library (somewhere in there is structural steel from the Capt. John Smith Library, and that’s the only thing that keeps me from being terminally angry about it);
  • York River Hall, the newest freshman-only dorm, if I’m not mistaken;
  • the Student Union, which opened right after I officially left but was still involved with The Captain’s Log and my fraternity, so it’s the only new building I know; and
  • Luter Hall, one of the academic buildings.

I was a little surprised by how short the actual tour part of the tour was was. In my day, we at least pointed to every building. Sure, they did point to Hiden-Hussey Commons, but said nothing about Santoro of James River, barely touched on East Campus, said nothing about Potomac River Hall and I guess it really makes sense to not bother with upperclassmen dorms on a freshman tour. But at least go inside New McMurran and Forbes. I also wanted to see that weird addition-not addition to James River Hall and the one spot on campus that still looks the way it did in the second half of my college career. (A tree and a sculpture were removed from the Santoro courtyard, so I can’t truly say that looks like it did in 2001.)

I got to see my former boss, Angela, before we left. We also spoke in animated tones in front of Michael and Shonda.

When we headed home, I did point out a few things.

I drove past Ratcliffe Hall, which is now an athletic center and server room. I first met Renée there in January 2002.

Finally, I wound my way through the Hidenwood neighborhood, making remarks about how I can’t believe I used to bike about two miles back and forth to class for a full semester because I didn’t want to buy a parking decal, and drove past my old fraternity house on Deep Creek Road.

The building renovations finally have been completed, and it looks decent. I wish I could have gone in.

If I were younger, I probably would have anyway.

Overall, it was great to be back. Michael is interested in band, and got a separate tour of the Ferg and met a staff member with the band department. I think he wants to go there. I’d jump to the opportunity to be there with him for Freshman Move-In.

Although so much had changed, CNU felt like home. I through about all the antics I had there, like allegedly putting soap in the geese fountain now next to the chapel and mattress jousting on the Great Lawn and the Slam ‘N’ Jam and the parties and the late nights at the paper and the friendships I made nearly 18 years ago that persist to this day. Christopher Newport University set me down the path I’m on, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I hope Michael eventually gets to say the same thing.