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.

starting the year off with a bang 2: electric boogaloo

Relax yourself, girl, please settle down.

Absolute, throbbing, searing pain for which there is no succor. That is what I felt on New Year’s Day after I decided to walk off the mild discomfort I felt in my foot the day before. I slept on my stomach with my right foot at a funny angle while my dog slept on said foot for nearly the entire duration because she likes sleeping near my feet. I woke up to a swollen foot. I couldn’t put any weight on it. Moving it was the worst sensation I’ve ever had in my life, and I’ve had three invasive surgeries and fell off a bicycle face-first.

I have no idea how I would have operated a car, but my wife had to stop me from driving myself to urgent care while I was nearly rationalizing amputation. I thought about people who have chronic pain, get increasingly potent opioids and wind up being addicted a but still in pain as their tolerance rises. I’m not 100 percent certain I would not have turned down meth at this point.

If I can property brace or prepare for it, I can hide being excited or in pain. That came in handy when I am absolutely certain I broke my arm or elbow in elementary school doing something I was explicitly told not to do. I am lucky that 1) my parents did not notice and 2) I can fully extend my left arm. When I finally got seen at urgent care, I was asked where my pain was on a scale of 1-10, I said 8½. I’m sure no one believed me. But I was extremely close to wailing. I now know I will wail at 9, and 10 probably will cause me to unleash a torrent of expletives that would cause Rudy Ray Moore to rise from the dead to give me a round of applause.

I honestly was shocked when they said I hadn’t broken anything.

I was equally shocked that I wasn’t given any pain pills. Instead, I was given a corticosteroid for the inflammation and antibiotics because one of the side effect would be a weakening of my immune system. The swelling and pain went down to tolerable levels almost immediately, and I’ve gone from crutches to a cane to walking gingerly to nearly walking normally as of 2:25 a.m. Saturday.

I won’t be re-enacting the Now That We Found Love video anytime soon, though.

And I’m going to be move cognizant of where Missy is in the bed each night.

Have we really gone 28 years without discussing the dude dancing in the clear jumpsuit with just his draws on?

it’s been a long time; we shouldn’t of left you without a dope beat to step to

Enough is enough
PARTY'S HERE!
Yes, I wear this sweater regularly.

This is the face of a man who has not seen his friends since February because he keeps making excuses about why he can’t drive a whole hour to Richmond.

I’ve been a terrible friend. I keep making excuses as to why I can’t go to Richmond. Some of them are legit, though — up until August, didn’t normally have weekends off.

After that, I had no excuse.

I don’t want to go to a place so close and leave my wife to tend to the dog all day and night. We can’t to certain places together with Missy because she hates every living creature that isn’t a human. I can’t just go to Richmond and come back because part of the reason for going is to drink booze.

A few weeks ago, I relented. There was no excuse. I walked Missy that morning and said I would walk her the following night. And I genuinely missed my Richmond friends. I’m seriously not joking when I say I blame my dog. In a way, I understand how some of my friends with kids feel. But I went to Kansas for a few days last month and it’s not like I won’t enjoy multiple days with this face while Renée takes a solo trip.

She's nearly 13
LOOK AT THIS LOVABLE MUG.

So, I finally arrived in Richmond. It was glorious. We sang songs, swapped stories, reminisced and shared memes and crazy YouTube videos. It was exactly what I needed.

Why have I been away from this?

I vowed to not let so much time go by before I visit again. I already have plans to at the very least go back in February to see St. Paul and the Broken Bones again.

I said I was going to do a lot of things now that I have weekends (mostly) off and work mostly ends at a respectable hour. Being reminded over the course of two months of what that entails has been invigorating.

I miss you, friends. In 2019, I shall see you.

And, if you don’t have pets, I’ll bring my dog with me.

backwards

I can neither confirm not deny that I heard the non-orchestral version of this song while waiting for food and then downloaded Wax Tailor’s entire œuvre.

The first time I ever drove was when I was in elementary school. An extremely hungover Theresa ordered food from the seafood restaurant around the corner. It was simple enough: A left, a right, a right, a right a right, a right and the park. Only three instances of oncoming traffic, one of which at a traffic light. Technically not even out of our neighborhood. I made it down our street well. I stopped at the stop sign. I tried to turn left and careened into a ditch because I did not realize how far one needed to turn the wheel to make a car make a 90-degree turn. Years passed before I got behind the wheel again.

Fast forward to Maryland when I was an early teen. My brother-in-law at the time knew I was going to learn to drive soon and figured he would give me some pointers.

“Driving backward is hard,” he said (or something like that). “If you learn that first, going forward is easy.”

Well, he had an early 1980s two-door Oldsmobile Delta 88. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s 218 inches long. That’s comparable in size to the Chevrolet Suburban. I shit you not.

So, here I am — 14 years old — having my second driving experience ever wheeling a vehicle in one larger than a goddamned Chrysler Pacifica minivan backwards. But I did it. I was mortified, but I did it.

But I typically avoid going in reverse. Back into a space? No. Back down a  long driveway? Watch me lose my nerve and run off to the side. Get out of a tight space? Witness this 10,000-point turn to turn my car around first.

That all changed recently.

I’m chalking it up to how I learned to parallel park when I moved to Richmond. (If you don’t know how to fit a 190-inch car in a 200-inch space, you aren’t parking in that city.) I now park in a parking garage every day at work. Occasionally, parking there is pure garbage, and the best and only way to get into a spot is to back in. The alternative is to go up a level or two. I never take the elevator, but I’ll gripe about having to take the stairs all the way to the top, so I’ve started backing into spaces to make them work.

I have been backing in like a dream. I’ve even been backing in at home lately.

Once you go backwards with a 18-foot, two-door car, throwing anything else in reverse when you don’t overthink it is a piece of cake.

But don’t ask me to back down a long driveway just yet.

of a sofa and things

IMG_20181017_201725_01.jpg

Despite protestations from friends, I got the one that matched our dining room chairs.

I need to get back in the habit of posting more often.

So, I bought my first adult couch. It makes everything seem so weird now. I mean, we’ve had furniture before, but this makes it feel real. A friend donated our dining table and we bought chairs on a whim one day. The TV was a Christmas gift. Replacing the mattress didn’t feel like a milestone. But when the delivery men struggled to put this thing through my oddly shaped foyer, I said to myself, “Holy crap, I’m an adult.”

And then I inadvertently had caffeine that night and planned out all the other furniture I want to get.

It goes without saying that we are not moving out of this apartment anytime soon.

Anyway, we then had a staycation of sorts.

It wasn’t our intent. I need to burn 10 vacation days, and for some reason, we tried to plan out our vacation dates through texts and screwed up a little. I had plans to take my nephew on a college tour that Saturday and Renée thought she had an event to attend on Sunday. Instead, both things were canceled.

We got bored.

We drove to Washington, D.C.

The only thing we did there was let Missy out to pee on the National Mall.

The following day, we went to Winchester because, like me, Renée has a goal of seeing all of the regions of Virginia. I’ve been to 36 of the 38 current ones, and I’ll hit 37 next month. I’ll end this one day with Norton.

I’ll hit Covington because I intend on taking a road trip to Kansas to see my best friends, Mandy and Bill. Bill and Mandy’s husband, Mike, are stationed there, so I’m killing two birds with one stone. I’ve promised to visit both for years and never got around to it.

At the least, one of my fraternity brothers is going with me. I’m hoping for two. It’ll be Voyage XX, my 20th blog-worthy trip. I’ll hit 28 states. I’ll see the entire length of Interstate 64. I’ve been wanting to do that nearly my entire life.

I need to get around to getting my oil changed, brakes checked and making certain I won’t have a mechanical surprise in an exurb of Evansville, Illinois.

BUT,

Before we get to that, I’m seeing Death Cab for Cutie live tomorrow. I won’t wax poetic about it again.

ALSO,

I am officiating a wedding on Saturday. A friend’s officiant was unable to officiate, so I petitioned the courts one more time so I could do my second. I have about 1½ pages of things to say, because I am a good friend. I wind up editing it every time I look at it because it’s what I do. And because I’m a good friend.

A good friend who is coming to grips that, at some point he became an adult.

so long, sofa

So, I discovered that there’s a nearly six-minute version of the revamped Bob Newhart Show theme song, and it has been giving me life this week.

Especially in light of a death in my household.

20181004_014950

October 2015-October 2018

Our living room never grew up.

The living room at my first apartment in Richmond was a little tight, so a real couch would have been a bit much. Also, there was the whole question of getting it into the apartment.

Since I didn’t want to bother my friends with the whole “can you help me move my couch?” thing (again), we snagged this futon from Walmart one October night in 2015. It was comfy and had no real problems, so we never considered upgrading.

Well, once we got more space, I wanted an armchair, a new TV and a proper stand for it all, but there’s nothing truly wrong with what we have, so I never got around to it.

Well, now there’s something majorly wrong with the couch.

It was one of those things that you buy with the understanding that it’s going to fall apart in the stupidest way in a few years. I half-seriously said we had two moves before it broke.

We made it to two.

When I put it back together in March, I discovered that I was a little overzealous when I put it back together in the 2016 move, so the plywood that the screw went into came out with it when I disassembled it for the most recent move. Eventually, a brick partially supported the middle section.

And then some springs gave way on the left side.

And, tonight, total failure.

The two middle supports were the only things keeping the couch in one piece. The rear one failed, and I don’t have a second brick to prop it up. Additionally, it really needs more than two bricks to salvage it. So it shan’t be.

In the next 72 hours or so, I’m buying my first grownup couch (never mind the living room set I was given in 2006). I’m a little excited.

Except for the whole getting the couch into the apartment thing.

 

 

august

So, I didn’t write about what happened in August because too much happened in August, and I didn’t have time to catch my breath. I’m not even going to properly caption all the photos.

So, I left my old job and started my new one. I had to hit the ground running, and it’s been incredibly hectic, but I finally feel like my pay is equivalent to the amount of work I’m putting in, so it’s been great. I think things will work out very well.

Anyway, my first week culminated on the anniversary of Aug. 12 in Charlottesville.

Nothing truly violent happened this time around, but now there is an argument about how the police response was disproportionate  to compensate for the approach last year.

All I will say is that, from these pictures, I obviously was out there on the weekend because 1) it’s kinda my job and 2) I refuse to be afraid.

Anyway, while I was still trying to figure out things like where the bathrooms are, another week of work went down into the books, we set up some things, like having radio spots and then I took a trip with by brother Butler to the Danville area. We went to an event at Virginia International Raceway, but we got distracted by the AAF Tank Museum.

Butler works near a Lamborghini office, so we got VIP access. It was one of the most awesome things I’ve ever done in my entire life.

After this, I felt like I was kinda getting the swing of things at work. We had a lot of breaking news, though (as a matter of fact, I need to do real work either later today or all day tomorrow — and I definitely have to do something tonight), but it’s been great to mostly have my weekends back again and not have the pressures of daily deadlines constantly hanging over my head. I mean, I have deadlines, but now the idea is to get the best and most accurate story out instead of the first. This has taken a great load of stress off me over the weekends and allows me to do things like go to my mom’s house, fire up the grill and play with my dog in her backyard.

And now, here we are: Labor Day weekend. August feels like it went by in the blink of an eye. I’m excited about getting more settled in my role at my new journalism job, having a better work-life balance and feeling more like a member of the community.

Friday night, I was on the Downtown Mall. There has been so much strife and unrest in our country over the past few years, but seeing it full of life and hosting a rally for the University of Virginia the night before its drubbing of the University of Richmond reminded me of what could be. Of what we hope will be.

moving in

I would show pictures of my new desk, but there’s a banner emblazoned with our name on one side of my desk and the sign on the glass behind my desk casts a shadow on my desk. Even without the photos, you’ll be able to figure out where I work within five seconds of searching on Google, but I want you to earn it.

And, obviously, my long-running blog (14 years!) is not affiliated with my job.

Anyway, I have nearly two full weeks of work left at my old newsroom. I went to my new place yesterday, where I got some questions answered and had some discussion of short- and long-range plans.

Additionally, I got my parking pass and my key.

I packed up most of my desk on Saturday because I didn’t want to do it with a lot of people about and I’d failed to realize it was my penultimate Saturday shift. For the longest time, I only had one or two personal effects on my desk. As I got older, I realized that it was kinda weird that I didn’t have pictures or other pieces of flair on my desk. Especially since there was a stretch when the only trinket on my desk was a mug with a photo of a former mayor of Hopewell on it.

She has a rose in her teeth.

Long story.

Today, I put my few trinkets on my new desk. Only my coffee mug and cell charger are at my old desk. When I finished, I sat alone there for a few minutes and let it all sink in.

It’s almost time for a new adventure.

hi, everybody!

So, I disappeared for most of this month.

I meant to write about visiting cousins in North Carolina for the Fourth, but then I didn’t.

I’ve just been busy with getting set up at my new job, winding down my current one and trying to work out some other stuff because this has been a hectic first half of the year.

Like, hectic to the point where I want to fast forward to October.

Monday marks a big preliminary day at my new job and kicks off the final two weeks at my current one. I had to draft a biography for my official introduction, and I need a portrait shot for the day I start.

I think I’m about to become a minor public figure (again).

I mean, I’ll most likely be able to go to the grocery store without being approached by everyone, but people are going to look for me on Google. They’re going to find my two Twitter accounts. They’re going to find their way here.

I need to prepare myself to being the one people call and being a public face and all of that stuff again. I haven’t had to do that since 2011.

I’m not afraid of it, but it’s about to be all me again. I’m glad I have some time to let this all sink in. Luckily, I have a better idea of what I’m doing this time around because the stakes are higher.

No pressure.

let’s try a new change

For the first time since 2008 (and that technically doesn’t count), I have taking a new position in the same general area as the place I’m leaving. My commute will go to about one song to between one and three.

I’m working for another media outlet. It’s not a direct competitor, so it’s not a move based in Daniel Plainviewesque “I told you what I was going to do” like when I jumped from Petersburg to Hopewell.

I’ve spent six years with this company, nearly all of it with this paper. That is half of my career. I had fully intended to go the distance, but there is some uncertainty coming up and this opportunity arose in the midst of it. I’ve framed it as I would feel like an idiot if I didn’t at least try for the position and also if I managed to get it and turn it down. It was time to make another leap of faith.

My job is a lot like others I’ve had before — I think I only have to tweak one sentence in the “About Me” tab here. I’m excited about helping guide this publication into its next phase. I’m also excited this being a change not made of an overwhelming urge to leave where I am. It’s like the first time I left that newsroom. Although a lot of reporters (and editors) have come and gone there, it’s always felt like a family. It’s just time for me to leave home on my own terms.

My new place currently has a relationship with the old one, so it’s still not like I’m truly gone. What soon will be my former newsroom always will have a special place in my heart, much like The Hopewell News, may she rest in peace.

My biggest problem is that I really, really, really want to go by E. Devon Robinson on the things I write (this is a thing I did from middle school to 2008), but I don’t want anyone calling me Devon. No one’s ever called me by my middle name.