days

Today is the first time I worked days since I was briefly a reporter again in September 2016. That ended a stretch of working days that lasted about a year. Before that, I came to work in Hopewell early every other day. I’m typically not a morning person, so not needing an alarm to wake up and getting home after 11 p.m. has been fine.

Until it stopped being fine.

At first, I though the extended period of my extreme commute made me hate nights. But we’ve been here two months now and I didn’t embrace it again. Being able to run errands and such when a lot of people are working wasn’t enough.

Leaving work with the sun still up felt wrong. Going home to cook dinner and eat it about when normal people eat dinner was weird. Being home from work and unwinding not meaning mostly gearing up for bed and not seeing my wife for a portion of that time is weird. And great.

I need to be at work within the half-hour period of when I normally wake up without an alarm, so adjusting my bedtime wasn’t exactly that hard.

Coupled with my short commute I might actually do normal things after work.

I could get used to this.

24

So … I’ve been pretty bad on this whole writing thing lately. I’ve estimated that the first step of my editing process, hitting F7 to get the easiest errors, will take 15 hours. I can’t bring myself to commit that much time to one task yet. I’m still decompressing to having a nearly three-hour commute for about five months. I’m basking in not exactly having to do anything for a few hours before work. I’m luxuriating in not having to cram all of my tasks into my weekends. I’m savoring getting home before my wife goes to bed.

I purchased gas a few hours ago. The last time I filled up the tank was in March. I think my longest trip since we moved to Albemarle County, not including a trip to Orange County for a dinner, was 11 miles. (And that was because I had forgotten a geographic quirk in Charlottesville and chose a road that took three miles to get within a half-mile of my point of origin.)

Anyway, I’ve been avoiding writing, editing and reading outside of work for a little while now. And it needs to stop. It’s been more than enough time for me to recuperate. It’s just that having lazy moments after being on the go so long has felt so great. I mean, I took work ethic to the extreme — I wrecked my car on the way home from work in January, did not make it home and still went to work the following day. I also nearly was in tears in early February because my longest extreme commute was really, really, really starting to get to me. But, if I’m still kinda sitting here, wasting time by the time my birthday rolls along I need swift kick in the ass. Ninety days to recoup is enough.

Notwithstanding decompression, I’m going to hit my 24th state before I turn 35. I count states visited when I get out of the car or venture beyond an airport. That’s the only way Rhode Island counts. And Mississippi. And Kentucky. And West Virginia. If you count sleeping in a state, I’ll only hit 18 (seventeen, if you don’t count passing out in a car in Kentucky). And my total is 21, if you count states in which I’ve driven. I drove my previous car, Nicole, in 17.

I’m a little excited about hitting 24 states. I’m certain I won’t have a direct flight to Nebraska, so I’m hoping the layover is in a state I’ve already visited; I don’t want to have an asterisk beside Illinois or something until I get around to getting beyond fare control. (I know the proper term is “airside,” but I like the rail nomenclature.)

Well, I’m more than excited.

Ever since I was at an age that “ever since I was a child” didn’t sound clichéd, I wanted to travel. I’ve always wanted to drive the entire length of Interstate 64. Of the primary freeways, I’ve done all of interstates 12, 66, 78, 83, 85 and 97, as well as the discontiguous pieces of 99. Of interstates 95 and 81, I only have New Hampshire and Maine (not including the future contiguous piece through New Jersey) and north of Scranton to go, respectively. I’m also proud to say that I have lived in the cities at both ends of U.S. 258.

My grandparents (and, to an extent, my parents) lived in a time when it wasn’t safe to travel. Hell, some people say today isn’t much safer. I refuse to be bound by fear. I love that I can say that it’s a shame that my favorite restaurant is in New York and my favorite bar is in Miami. And that I’ve eaten at the (in)famous Stinking Rose in Beverly Hills, taken a selfie at the edge of the Grand Canyon and had jambalaya in a spot for locals in New Orleans.

I refuse to be bound.

Do not allow yourself to be bound.

dcfc

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October, I need you so much closer.

As most of you know, I fell hard in the early 2000s for many subsets of indie rock. In a way, I think it was to be contrary, because nearly all of my friends at the time listened to hip-hop, r&b, and the flavor-of-the-week college rock songs

Early Arcade Fire spoke to me, and so did Blonde Redhead and Belle & Sebastian and Rilo Kiley.

And Death Cab for Cutie.

I have a 129-song playlist named “BEN GIBBARD.” I briefly didn’t like Zooey Deschanel because I felt Codes and Keys was too upbeat. Transatlanticism was my first, but Something About Airplanes is special to me. I know the words to nearly every song on Plans. I once wrote a half-page album review in a market that did not care at all about Death Cab. I did not care.

In October, I’ll hear some of my favorite songs live.

I normally don’t impulse-buy concert tickets. I usually don’t buy concert tickets in general. I’m fine with doing a lot of things by myself, but I like sharing concerts with people. But the people who love the bands I love don’t really live near me anymore. I hope the person I’m seeing Death Cab with is prepared for me losing it during the bridge of Tiny Vessels or shouting the lyrics to Fake Frowns.

I have a list of songs I want to hear. If they do Stability (not Stable Song) for some crazy reason, I’ll explode. I’ll settle for Different Names for the Same Thing.

For some crazy reason, I really want to hear Information Travels Faster live.

But I don’t care what they play, because I’m going to be there.

Only 166 days to go.

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.

But

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.

things

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.

chapter eternal

I just got in from Northern Virginia, by way of Charlottesville.

Pete’s father died.

If you haven’t been reading this blog since 2004, Pete is my college roommate, my fraternity brother and (sometimes) my friend.

OK, we’re actually close friends, but our friendship is based on my tolerating him for about three days and they yelling at him because he annoys me. But in a loving way. It’s complicated.

Anyway, when he told me his father died, that was all he needed to say. I was going to be there for him, especially since his father also is my fraternity brother.

I plotted out a ridiculous trip, of course. I intended to finagle an early shift Thursday, drive up to Fairfax, sprawl out in a hotel bed, attend the funeral as a pallbearer, skip the repast and get to work pretty close to when I was supposed to be there.

My immediate supervisor, Jenny, said that was stupid.

She gave me Thursday off. And one of my brothers, Butler, offered me a free place to stay.

Having Thursday off, allowed me to attend the wake, where I caught up with some more of my brothers. I was great to see them, but I wish it was under different circumstances. We made vague plans to do so. I hope we follow through.

For some of is, it made us think of our own mortality and the passage of time. I’ve known Pete for 17 years. My beard is rapidly turning white. We don’t party till sunrise anymore. But our craziness all seems like yesterday. And all seems so irresponsible now.

But there’s not a single regrettable moment.

It was a beautiful service, which is an odd thing to say. But there’s no other way to put it. I mean, what sort of monster says, “Oh, that funeral was so awful. Ave Maria was off-key, and that was a tacky coffin”? Well, I guess, a knock-down, drag-out at the graveside service would disqualify a funeral from being a “beautiful service,” but I digress.

It was an honor to serve as a pallbearer for my brother, my friend and brother’s father. His legacy includes bringing together a group of men who have a bond beyond just being friends from college.

And then my drive to work taking three hours at an average speed of 35 mph ruined killed any other profound statements.

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.)

I 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, its’ 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.

starting the year off with a bang

So, there was a coastal storm on the night of the Jan. 3. It wasn’t supposed to go very far inland. The inland roads weren’t fully prepared.

I was coasting along, fully expecting to see things transition into snow in about 20 miles. I had already slowed down because there was schmutz on my windshield from a salt/sand truck I had passed way earlier. I was debating hitting the wiper cleaner, pulling over and getting the towel out of my trunk if the little squirt of wiper fluid didn’t help enough.

My windshield effectively turned to mud. I tapped the brakes.

That was snow on Interstate 64 at the Shannon Hill exit, not salt.

Nicole immediately turned 90 degrees. I did the turn with the direction of the car thing, but my car slid into a ditch. We went down and struck the other side of the ditch with the front left corner. Nicole then slid backwards a few feet and banged up the back left corner.

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Seriously, the rest of the car looks perfect.

I didn’t get injured, and the airbags did not go off. There was no damage to the doors or windows or trunk or even the hood. But due to the age, mileage and the angle of impact, Nicole was totaled.

I was near a former coworker’s apartment, and he was on Interstate 64 at the time, so I wasn’t stranded for long. There was only one state trooper working on that stretch of highway, and towing companies were overwhelmed because, as Trooper K.L. Bailey — who did not give me a ticket — put it, “No one expected it here.”

I had a rental Impala for a few days, and was poised to get one from my nephew when something told me to get another Altima.

Today, I got one. She’s grey, and her name is Sydney Kazu Smith. I name all my vehicles (and my plants) after characters in novel universe. In Brown River Blues, Syd is the daughter of Edwin Montclair and Yumiko Makino and the wife of Scott Smith.

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It was close to nightfall, so this is the only photo right now.

Despite it almost being precisely nine years, I weirdly don’t miss Nicole. I guess it’s because I stopped, for lack of better words, I stopped forming a close bond with my cars after Simone sustained terminal mechanical failure in 2006.

The ride and most of the features are virtually the same, despite it being a generation newer than Nicole, so there was no real moment of adjustment. I adjusted the seat and the mirrors, set up my phone and set off on a quick jaunt to Henrico County.

I like having some updated features, like Bluetooth, automatic lights and a USB port.

I hope Syd and I have many years together. As I had said with Nicole, I want to keep my Altima even if my fortunes change and I can afford a second car.

I also hope this is the last time I’m in a wreck.

i wish i knew how to quit you

Lies. All of it.

THERE SHALL BE NO HIATUS.

I mean, I sometimes go a month with only making one entry, but there won’t be a self-imposed break

I’m just going to review at some point the currently visible posts and take any necessary action. There shouldn’t be anything I need to (heavily) redact. I think the worst thing I’ve said was mentioning that I drank during my vacation in Vegas. But I’m 34 years old, so I’m allowed to not only purchase bourbon but not be ashamed to do so.

By the way, if you ever are in a situation where you don’t know what to get me, the answer always is bourbon.

Well, there’s also a quote about a package getting returned to sender after looking like someone enjoyed the company of a lady of the night on it, but it was a quote, I’m a journalist and it most certainly did, so there.

I’ve been doing this for more than a decade, and I’ve been cautious (although I sometimes swear here, and the musical accompaniments to some entries sometimes have swears). The only time I got in any sort of contretemps because of this blog was when someone was out to get me in Hopewell and took a quote WAAAAY out of context. My publisher at the time all but recited “Smiling Faces Sometimes.”

Context

There are entirely too many sentences and paragraphs floating around in my head at all times to not put them somewhere. Most of them aren’t about my personal life to the extent that it is detrimental to the company for which I work.

So I will write.

I must write.

Also, I’m quite pleased with getting “contretemps” in and spelling it unaided.

we interrupt this string of youtube videos, …

I’m willing to undo a lot of things to get one thing I want.

(It’s time for the dreaded word from people who produce content online: Hiatus.

I’ll finish the journalism/playlist entries, though, because there are only four of them to go.)

I plan on making some moves in the coming days and weeks, so I need to reassess a lot of things. Unfortunately, that includes this 13-year-old blog. I am 99 percent certain the entire site won’t go away, especially since I own this domain.

Maybe it will mean I drastically revamp what I post here, like sticking to updates on working on my novel (which also has gone on a hiatus until I can get adjusted to my new work schedule). I don’t know.

What I do know is that things might be different soon, and I need to prepare.