bill and karen

Whether I met Bill or Karen first is lost to the annals of time. I met both of them at one of the parties at the infamous Delta Nu house.

Bill and I became friends nearly instantaneously, and Karen’s always a great person to be around.

Bill thought so as well.

It didn’t take long for Karen became integral to our adventures. And then the obvious became obvious to everyone except for Bill and Karen.

When Bill joined the Army, one of the things he told me before he left was that he didn’t realize how much he was going to miss Karen. But no one knew at the time where he would end up. They kept in touch and finally, in 2011, their Facebook pages were filled with iterations of “It’s about time!”

And, finally, they got married yesterday. I was honored to be a part of the start of their next adventure as a groomsman.

I’ll post the few pictures I have later. It’s too much of an arduous task with a phone and a Chromebook.

We took Bill out on the town in Richmond on Thursday. I haven’t been in the city for an extended period in ages. It felt great to be back. It was also a little sad that I got disoriented a couple of times. I also got to visit some people and see the sights.

When I got hungry, I had to remind myself that I couldn’t run into the house for a bit and make a snack. The infamous Generator House next door to my old place is fully renovated and looks beautiful. I got to see Nia, my former neighbor and fellow Hamptonian. Ben the Great cut my hair.

I still haven’t gotten past the lobby of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which is remarkable because I’ve been to the newsrooms of both Style Weekly and the Richmond Free Press.

The bachelor party was fun. We sucked at bowling. I had far too many pork barbecue sliders. We went to GWARbar. We can neither confirm nor deny that we inadvertently broke an ATM.

On Friday, we headed to Lynchburg for the rehearsal and dinner. Because we’re getting old, we all pretty much turned in for the night early. Never mind that the wedding wasn’t until the next afternoon.

It’s a good thing that it was, because I didn’t sleep well that night. Something made me sick and I can’t for the life of me figure out what. I didn’t eat anything out of the ordinary, and no one got sick. Well, I did have like four crab cakes, but I’ve eaten many a crab cake with no problem, beyond these particular crab cakes breaking my rule of not exactly trusting any seafood west of Richmond.

After taking a mini-tour of Lynchburg in the morning (I can count how many times I’ve been to Lynchburg since 2000 with one hand), it was time for the wedding.

It was absolutely fantastic.

There were points when I could tell I was grinning like an idiot because Bill and Karen are perfect for each other. I literally ran around, jumped and sang ’80s hits purposely off-key at the top of my lungs. A lot of the old gang from college and the few years after were there. I hadn’t seen some of those people in at least five years and it’s a shame. I never took my phone off silent and rarely took photos. Why did I need to care about my phone? Nearly everyone I wanted to see was there, and I reverted back to wanting to experience it all with my eyes instead of through a camera lens.

I should have kept better tabs on my phone and the clock, but there were so many people and things to get caught up on because I rarely get to do that now. Not only were there people I haven’t seen in what seems like centuries, there were people I wrote about from the Tri-Cities. I had no idea I separately interviewed a couple who are good friends of Bill’s parents. I didn’t exactly expect to have multiple conversations about this City Council meeting and its resolution.

Because of that, although it was a joyous day, it was a bittersweet one. When will we see each other again? Some certain people need to get married (you know who you are) or we need to start planning reunions.

I’m all for more activity. I haven’t thrown a non-wedding party since maybe summer 2012. I haven’t been to a general house party since New Year’s. My house growing up was a hub of activity, and while I enjoy my life and career, it sometimes makes the quietness of this life halfway up a mountain deafening.

But I digress.

When it was all over, we planned to meet at a bar to say our final goodbyes. Since Lynchburg is such a hopping town on Saturday nights, and we knew nothing of the place, we picked a spot that was closing in about an hour. I got invited to something next weekend, but I already got two Saturdays off in a row. It’s not worth pressing my luck. I accepted this job with the understanding that I could kiss weekends goodbye.

But I got to be there for Bill and Karen, and that’s all that matters. They have a great story: Being friends for years. The thousands of miles that separated them. the love the blossomed and led to Saturday. They were surrounded by the friends who were there every step of the way. And, again, I was truly honored to be a part of the launch of this part of their adventure.

And now I have more of an excuse to go to Hawaii.

picture it: baltimore, november 2003

story within a story

This is a cell phone photo of a blown-up disposable camera photo. I also used a makeshift lighting umbrella to take this because I didn’t feel like taking this off the wall.

The time before my blog is a weird place. I had a lot of adventures in high school and college, and I can’t recall an awful lot of them because I didn’t get to write them down.

I’ve been trying to piece together one of them.

In November 2003, my sister’s mother-in-law got remarried in Baltimore. As I’ve probably mentioned ad nauseam, I’ve spent a lot of summers in Baltimore growing up because Theresa lived in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, up until about 1998 and my mom shipped me up there to keep me away from the horrible children in my neighborhood. Like the one who’s serving a life term in Florida that I’m pretty glad about.

So, my mom and I were invited to the wedding. Well, it was more like I wound up going because my mom doesn’t like driving long distances. I didn’t get my own room, so I wasn’t amused.

There was a nasty, cold rainstorm the night we got there, and the hotel’s satellite TV went out because of the driving rain. My mom sometimes goes to bed early, and I was utterly bored, so I told her I was going for a drive. She was a little concerned, because it was Baltimore and all, but I told her I would be fine. I’ve totally been there enough to know where not to go, especially at night.

So I went.

I was gone for while so my mom called to check on me. Another thing I’ve probably mentioned entirely too much is that my mom has this incredible knack for calling me at the worst possible times. The absolute worst. She called me about when I needed to make a turn because what was straight ahead was a part of town I’d never visited before.

I shouted half-sentences to her and abruptly hung up after saying I missed my turn.

Then the news came on.

The top story was this: Man found at Ripken home reportedly fled kidnappers.

If the link dies, here’s the first two grafs, by Laura Barnhardt:

The three men who left a naked gunshot victim near Cal Ripken’s house on Thanksgiving night likely didn’t know they were in the former Oriole’s neighborhood, Baltimore County police said yesterday.

The shooting victim, identified yesterday as 20-year-old Brian Holmes Robbins, told police he was kidnapped near his apartment in the 1100 block of St. Paul St. in downtown Baltimore and released in a field near Ripken’s Worthington Valley home nine hours later.

Ripkin called police not long after I told my mom I missed my turn, and what exactly transpired was still unclear when the news came on.

Meanwhile, I was outside Towson and finally got my bearings in the pouring rain and poor visibility (because I needed to clean the inside of my windshield).

My mom called again, frantic. I think it was one of the rare occasions that I’ve sworn at her; I couldn’t understand what the hell she was talking about. Once she asked me what I just said to her, established that she was making sure that I wasn’t naked and bleeding on Cal Ripkin’s front doorstep and I said something along the lines of I very well could be if you don’t get off the phone and let me drive in peace, everything was cool-ish.

The next day, at the wedding, we took the photo included here. The entire weekend nearly faded from memory until my mom gave me a copy of the photo a few months ago. All I knew was it was the weekend that particular crime happened, and the carjacking of Ripkin’s mom almost exactly a decade later pretty much drowns out this incident.

When that story broke, I said, “Again‽”

Everyone, of course, assumed I was referring to his mother’s kidnapping the year before.

“No. I was in Baltimore when a carjacking victim wound up naked and bleeding at his front door!”

If I were Cal Ripkin, I’d consider living another state.

there will be photos

Our story starts in Richmond on Friday, because of course my wedding had to involve Richmond in some form or fashion. I headed back to my old stomping grounds in Church Hill to have my favorite, formerly friendly neighborhood, barber cut my hair. He went out of his way to make it into the glorious beard you can see in the photo I posted yesterday. It was the most intense barber visit I’ve ever had. Ben having to work his way through more than four months of unbridled hair growth probably aided in that.

Afterward, my destination was Craig’s house. My mom’s bus arrived in Richmond on Saturday and I figured the easiest way to do everything was to just be in Richmond already. Also, I had no idea exactly how any sort of bachelor party would happen so I thought being in Richmond one day and Charlottesville the other would be the best course of action.

It would have helped if I remembered to charge my phone.

While my phone was dead, Craig and I went to Friday Cheers downtown to see St. Paul and The Broken Bones. I needed a good concert in my system. Of course I have their album now. We got drinks afterward with some friends. I would have grabbed more people but my phone was beyond doornail at this point. After that, I got a pretty good night’s sleep. I’m glad I did because I needed it Saturday.

Where do I start with Saturday? Would it be me slightly fretting over not getting a refund back yet from the University of Virginia? Would it be me being in Richmond way, way longer than I expected? Would it be getting to the reception hall late and the Fry’s Spring Beach Club’s coordinator freaking out because there was miscommunication? Would it be that we never got a chance to map out moving the wedding entirely there? Would it be at 6 a.m. Sunday, when I thought everything was fine until the food arrived entirely too early?

I think some people will talk about how stressed out I was for quite a while.

But it all worked out. At UVa, the trees in the garden contracted fire blight, a disease that makes them look like they’ve been burned. The best plan of action to save the entire tree is to aggressively cut the portions that were stricken. It’s currently a lovely promenade of half-dead sticks. Additionally, the forecast varied wildly from high 90s and incredibly humid, like some days in the middle of last week; mid-80s and stormy, like some of the later days last week; and a what seemed like an impossibility: times of clouds and sun with a high of 78.

That was exactly what we got.

Despite the torrential rains, dead trees, panic and literal last-minute changes, our wedding was outdoors with living trees on the second most pleasant day so far this June. The first was 75 and partly cloudy on June 1, this blog’s anniversary.

Much of the day is a blur, obviously. But it was such a great day in Fry’s Spring. Some people I have known for years mentioned that until Sunday, they hadn’t seen me smile that much. Or ever. Of course I was: I told myself 12 years ago I was going to marry that woman and here we are! It was the happiest day of my life thus far.

And I had a pincord suit with a matching hat. And white shoes.

The next day, yesterday, was my birthday and it was more of us starting to catch our breaths. We’re continuing that today. I can’t remember the last time I hadn’t done more than go out on the deck by 2:40 p.m.

Well, I bet you’re looking for photos. As I said in the title, there will be photos. A ton of them are on Facebook and I’m giving people a day or so to send me their favorites to the wedding email before I go through them all and post some. Also, I should have some from Ryan next week or so.

Other than that, I need to get that typewriter fixed so I can start sending out thank you letters.

And get ready for work Thursday.

crunch time

I probably should have taken more time off from work.

We’re at the stage where the finishing touches for the wedding have to be done and my work schedule makes it complicated. I planned to wake up at 9 a.m. on a day off to get stuff done but slept 11 hours instead. I’m now squeezing things in during breaks at work, and I’ll attempt an early rise again on Friday.

I’ll spare you the details. Hell, I want to be spared the details.

I just really need the next week at work to be smooth sailing so I can wrap up this stuff, but it’s a newspaper so that’s not going to happen.

Oh well. It’s not like I haven’t pulled of frenzied, last-minute planning while I have 10 other equally important things going on before.

you do know this weekly quote thing is unsustainable, right?

“The materials in front of us fail pretty profoundly on every imaginable level and there is nothing to like about this project as it stands,” [Charlottesville Board of Architectural Review] member Brian Hogg said.

Developer seeks new six-story building on West Main Street, by Sean Tubbs


Well, I could do this every week if I actually wrote down the amazing quotes I hear each week. Then again, most of the amazing ones I can’t put here, because I’m cognizant that my friends and acquaintances are very, very horrible people. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This was evident in the email event I had last night.

So, here we are: Within 30 days of the wedding. We still have some things to plan out. One thing we didn’t need was the University of Virginia telling us that we could park in a garage that wasn’t the one I told everyone to use.

My original plan was to write a generic statement and have a copy/paste extravaganza.

But, for the two of you who stuck with this since June 1, 2004, you know I write an awful lot and I have the problem of getting over my writer’s block at a lime when I don’t write for a living and I don’t have a computer that can handle opening my manuscript, which was in it I-mean-it-this-time edit because I finally figured out how to smooth out this one bumpy section that has been bothering me since about 2010.

Picture it: Two o’clock in the morning and many fives of emails to send a few days after I said that I missed getting personal emails.

They varied in length depending on the situation and where I was mentally as 2:06 a.m. somehow became 3:47 a.m. One of them was a stream-of-consciousness ramble that involved links to things unrelated to the wedding. One was 85% swear words. There was staccato punctuation. There was gratuitous caps lock.

Although I mentioned to one of my friends that that exercise made me reconsider finally getting my mom’s typewriter repaired and going full low-tech for thank you notes, I’m now looking forward to it.

Despite all of this, I wrote it in a way that didn’t require a reply. I got a couple though. It made it all worth it.

I’m down to one friend who emails me with any sort of regularity, Dave. I can count on one hand how many people still call me to shoot the breeze: Bill, Joseph, Pete and Craig. Beyond that, there are texts, sporadic Facebook messages and comments.  On the bright side, nearly everyone in my core group of friends is somewhere in the Commonwealth of Virginia still. The down side of that is that I haven’t been traveling much lately because of planning and paying for the wedding and all.

Butler mentioned recently that it was a shame that I haven’t seen everyone lately because I haven’t driven out to see anyone, and he was going to make it a goal to travel to Charlottesville to visit me. I’ve never minded my trips to see any and pretty much everyone being one-way because I love driving and my personality is that, if I have time off, my first response is to more or less turn my contact list into a game of chance and pick a friend to visit. To me, the trip to see someone is nearly as sweet as going to see them.

This reminds me that I completely forgot to visit someone a few months ago. I also forgot something bigger and I feel a little like an ass about it. It’s also an example of how the modern age has virtually made people who aren’t on social media disappear. But Butler did raise a good point: It is a two-way street. I was more of one when I was single and living in Chimborazo. Everyone: Just because I’m getting married, I live in Charlottesville and my work schedule is interesting to say the least, my door is always open, as it was in Richmond and Newport News and growing up in the center of it all for my family in Hampton.

But I digress.

I forgot to post some shots of my taking the extremely long way home from Hampton over Mother’s Day weekend. It had been ages since I’d been on Virginia back roads by myself with only the vaguest destination in mind. There’s nothing like twists and turns, wooded hill and verdant field, the lack of interstate urgency building up to or capping a trip to see those who will never have any idea how much our friendship means to me. It’s why cutting my wedding guest list was painful. It was why I rejoiced with every “yes.”

It’s going to be a little odd in a month when a good portion of the people I go out to see are coming to see me and celebrate with me.

clerks(‘) office(s)

Today, Renée and I headed to downtown Charlottesville. We had one huge question along the way: Charlottesville or Albemarle?

In Virginia, it doesn’t matter where you get your marriage license as long as you get married within the borders of the commonwealth and do it within 90 days of asking for one. It only really matters years and years down the road if a descendant wants to look up family history through court records. If you get your license in a county in which you never lived, your great-great whatever might not think to look there. We figured that, although we live in the independent city of Charlottesville, the ceremony is in Albemarle County; we both work in Albemarle County; and technology would be able to simplify things if and when someone wants to look up great-great grandma and great-great grandpa’s marriage license. We then headed to the Albemarle County Clerks’ Offices.

Or, rather, the Albemarle County Clerks Office.

The General District and Circuit Clerks’ offices are in the same wing of the building so we’re missing an apostrophe and an s here.

You could look at this several ways but, at the end of it, there needs to be an apostrophe at least.

Pat, I'd like to buy an apostrophe.

Although the clerks’ building is from 1939, the original Jeffersonian Era courthouse still stands and is in use.

But I digress.

When we got there, we learned that not all clerk’s offices accept credit or debit cards. We don’t carry cash regularly. I used to, but it’s more convenient to swipe and it has stemmed the tide of pennies in my possession (which reminds me to buy some rollers). Luckily, the courthouse is two blocks from the Downtown Mall. We hoofed it over in CVS the near-unseasonable heat to get cash back from a debit transaction, because her bank isn’t nearby and mine doesn’t have an ATM within walking distance of downtown, then tried again.

We were directed to a pink room that had a stack of preliminary marriage license forms in one basket and one for new or non-Virginian officiants to apply to perform marriages in Virginia. I guess that is for real-deal officiants. For Katy’s wedding, I just had to petition a judge, fill out a form and then I got a court order that is now framed in my living room.

The marriage license process was surprisingly simple. We had two copies for Drew to sign on June 22 in our hands within minutes. They also threw in an explainer for brides-to-be about how to get their names changed. I couldn’t explain it to Renée properly because the process to do it outside of marriage is different. We’d need our own copy of the license to set that process in motion.

Although we got an oversized unofficial certificate to be filled out on the day, why wouldn’t you want your own copy? I think they should give you one and, if printing it out is that big of a deal, just fold it into the price of the license. My mom has hers and my grandma’s, along with some other documents in a waterproof, fireproof box. I guess it’s time for me to start my own. It makes sense, especially since I have some other important documents careless tossed in boxes that are nominally water-resistant and definitely not fireproof.

We’re coming into the home stretch. This is about to be real. It’s exciting.

What’s also exciting is that it’s almost time for me to cut my beard of majesty and wonder into an equally majestic beard.

My beard lives on salmon it spears out of the Yukon River.

Marvel at it! Marvel!

of homework and really big boxes

Drew left us a stack of paper today.

It’s homework.

If you’ve been around for the past nearly 10 years, Drew was my one of my roommates in this house where this blog began. The Rev. Drew is also the officiant of my wedding.

He was in Charlottesville because his wife was at a conference, thus giving us a convenient time to meet and hash out some of the minutia of the wedding. Walking through the ceremony with a third party, albeit one that plays an integral part of the ceremony, was good. He brought up some things we hadn’t considered, and saying some things aloud made it more real, for a lack of better words.

One of the larger decisions we have to make is how the ceremony is going to run. First and foremost, I don’t want to offend my father-in-law at/with the ceremony, hence it occurring on a Sunday. (I can’t guarantee decorum from anyone I consider a friend at the rehearsal dinner or after the ceremony because they’re my friends.) Secondly, we decided to have a somewhat traditional ceremony.

By somewhat, I mean we’re going to plow through long-form and short-form traditional ceremonies, along with a contemporary one, and  use our favorite parts. We agreed a while ago that we weren’t going to write our own vows or do something incredibly quirky but we didn’t want a full Catholic Wedding Mass, mostly because we aren’t Catholic. We have time for the task ahead of us.

How much time, I don’t know. Renée is good with numbers. She knows. I can only multiply by eight because this is one of my favorite songs.

But I digress.

My mom has her hotel room booked. The wedding site is effectively finished. Everyone who’s not an ass who isn’t going to respectfully decline or is going to just show up has RSVP’d (to those people, and you know who you are, you know I still love you).

And I have my suit.

It’s a half-secret.

It fits well.

It’s awesome.

It came via UPS today because I’m one of the lucky few who can buy something off the rack with little to no tailoring. I thought about wearing my made-to-measure tux but I wanted to be different and wear something that wasn’t a part of my wardrobe in spring 2001. Although it’s awesome that I can fit into something that’s 13 years old.

Anyway, I wondered how it the world a suit was getting shipped to me.

This reminds me of a story I shan't tell right now.

It was so light, I initially thought someone stole my suit and left the box.

It comes in a box. A ludicrously large box.

It was still wrinkled all to hell, but I was going to get it pressed anyway . Also, I need to wear it in front of someone with a critical eye, who isn’t my mother, to make absolutely certain it fits me well. I’m beginning to get a bit of a belly like my Uncle Wilson, and I can’t remember the last time I did an ab exercise that wasn’t called digestion. My weight loss has stagnated; in fact, I’ve gained 20 pounds in the past two years.

Whatever. I’m getting married in less than 60 days; I don’t need to look svelte for anybody anymore. But I don’t want to buy new pants. I like my current pants.

But I digress.

And digest.

Postscript: I’ll never forget the first time I formally met Drew. It was junior year in college when I lived in Barclay. I wasn’t fully expecting to give anyone a ride to wherever we were going when I got pressed into service. I was blasting the fifth track of A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders. Talk about a first impression. Eleven years later, I’m glad to call him my officiant and my brother. It’s Great to Be a Tau Delt.

no tigers were harmed in the making of this entry

It’s 2014, the veritable future. We use our phones to play games, write messages to people and talk to the device, not on.

Since we’re just mere decades away from the melting icecaps leading us to build Orbit City stilt condos and flying cars, I decided early on that paper is archaic for wedding invitations on my side. (It’s also so much cheaper, and it’s not like everyone I know under 63 doesn’t have an email address.) I created pages with pertinent info and then complemented it with online invitations.  I thought I was going to do that with everyone.


It’s not a happy, shiny, paperless future yet.

And good thing too, because newspapers haven’t completely figured out how to digitize.

I’m going to Staples this week and making some paper invites on card stock. I have to buy more than I need, but the price isn’t that bad for a small quantity. I also wish I had InDesign like I did on LSW4, but I’ll make do.

On the bright side, I’ll have extras to give to select people, and a copy to keep for myself. In retrospect, it’s sorta like how I’m still a fan of CDs.

One day, after I’m mauled to death by a tiger than is on fire (Seriously, if I have to choose my death, I want to go knowing that people can say “He was killed by a flaming tiger. No. Really! A Bengal tiger that was burning to death ripped him in half before they both went in a blaze of glory.”), this site will expire because the Internet is not forever. (Who am I kidding? If my great-grandfather had a combusting tiger devour him in their last act, I’d keep his website running at all costs.) But anyway, our electronic invites would be nothing but a vague memory by the death throes of the 21st century. My great-grandchildren then, though, will be able to dig through a box of things and  find a record of one of the events that led to them existing.

I wonder if they’d mangle pronouncing “paper” like my nephew Tré attempting to say “cassette.”