Monday, June 28, 2010

Richmond in June

Some weekends happen in slow motion. Some weekends don't even happen on the weekend.

I landed in Richmond on a Tuesday afternoon. I had help getting from the airport to a bachelor pad in The Fan and sat for a while talking with my ride. The bachelor wasn't home yet, and it was a hot June day.

Soon the bachelor's ride rolled in with a bottle of Jim Beam which went straight into the freezer. More small talk.

The bachelor arrived shortly after, on his phone as usual and busied about the place, washing dishes unbidden. Aaron stopped in with the dog, I was glad for that. We discussed our plans for the evening, afternoon became dinnertime and we made the move to a nearby bar.

Friends rolled in and about the place, our bespectacled waitress brought the food and knowing eyebrows raised. We drank our drinks and ate our orders and saw more friends: Sam, Krystle, Brandi and Alisa, Renata. The bachelor left after a while, claiming he needed to hit the gym. We didn't care, we talked and met more, like Dan and Kate. I was all smiles and why not? I was in the room with old friends I hadn't met, but was in that process.

We had other places to be, so we paid up after a while and went. We arrived almost too late to order sushi, but just in time. We did and ate up, this time with Trevor at the bar. Another table opened up in time for karaoke, we took it and began the night by waiting.

Our waitress was good, though, and the drinks arrived and the bar was hot and loud but the AC cut across the room if you stood in the right place. The singing started after a while and while it didn't start well it soon settled into singalongs.

A bar of women beckoned me to sit and I felt compelled to show my wedding ring right away. The drunker lady at my left seemed either not deterred or too drunk or perhaps solid doses of both. I did well to dodge her after a while and retreated to the safety of my friends, and with them I drank another whiskey. Shari and Jeff were there too, although I think they drank not sang

Our turns came around and songs were sung - Boats and Somebody, Semi-charmed and Shack. My turn came and I belted out Alison, my first time at the mic on a karaoke night.

Another whiskey, more songs, and the bachelor who had shown up and sang turned me toward the corner and down toward the pad.

We turned in to pull the Beam from the freezer and watched Heath's turn as Joker.

Time to sleep.

Awake in the morning, the USA soccer game was starting in an hour and a half, and I didn't know where I was in relation to where I needed to be to watch with more new friends. A new acquaintance from the night before came to my rescue and drove me to the digs where I rolled up with Charlie and Jorge & Rob. Drinks and eats and a late goal brought our spirits up and took us happily into the afternoon at a bar down the street.

Lunch was in order, so we got our drinks and food, sat around talking about digestive disorders while we waited.

The food came and the game was about to start. We finished soon and another ride came to my aid. This time I was carted off to a house south of VCU and we sat in cool air and talked of all things. Some weren't able to show, but we made the best of it, lazily strumming the ukelele. We never ventured to the porch, it was too hot, but it was cool talking about travels and other philosophy. Melissa, Jessica, Ian in the AC.

As the day dragged, I was dropped off at the bachelor's pad again. He had taken off to the City, without me in tow, which was the plan from the start. I dozed in the slight air and felt that the night would swallow me and I would be on my way the next day.

My first ride Krystle came by after a late dinner and we sat and chatted, to soon be joined by my ride from that morning. As we talked into the hot night, the pop of a transformer exploding sounded and the lights went down and out.

Unfazed, we talked by computerlight until the battery died. Still not caring, we talked on as Stanley played DJ on his phone and we laughed at the tunes and the darkness as the time turned into morning.

3am came but the power didn't but it was late for all and after they left I turned the lock on another great night.

I took the train out of town the next day and smiled knowing that I hadn't lived a couple of days like that in a long time. Who knows when I will again, but it doesn't matter. I got to live again.

Today is Sunday. The weekend happened somewhere else.

I'm in Houston now, watching planes take off into the humid Texas air and curve towards destinations. A flight delayed prompted the words to spill, so the screen catches them to splay somewhere else.

Birds bathe in the hot afternoon by AC condensation.

My story is done. Save and quit.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Things you find at a garage sale

It's interesting, the things you find at a garage sale. Sometimes you go looking for specific things, like old books or baby clothes. Sometimes, you're just browsing around and you stumble upon something you didn't know you were lacking.

I wasn't looking at garage sales this week, I was having one. Had one last week, too. My family and I are trying to clear out some clutter, clutter that has kept me parking my car outside in the driveway for over a year. After a year plus of clearing snow off my car or getting in a burning hot car that's been baking in the sun, I tried to make it a little more clear to my wife that this situation needed to change. I'd just prefer parking in the garage, thank you.

In the process of clearing out the clutter, I've tried to take it a step further and get rid of things that I have been holding on to for far too long. Holding onto mentally as well as physically. One item that I've had for years has been an old green army foot locker.

My parents used to go to auctions and buy things, and one of the lots had a bunch of army stuff. I forget what else it had besides clothes and this old foot locker. I wore some of the clothes when I was younger, and took the foot locker to store "private stuff". I bought a combination lock and kept my "valuables" locked up. Valuables which mostly consisted of Playboy or Penthouse magazines, a small bag of shake that was probably oregano, the odd 6-pack of beer or wine coolers, and other knickknacks. Most recently, it held those Surfer magazines (the soft porn had long been jettisoned - what do I need with that stuff now that I'm married?), some Rolling Stone magazines, a puzzle, a collectible Speed Racer mini lunchbox, my German study flashcards, gaming dice, plastic puppets procured as part of a pizza promotion, and some other shit.

The foot locker also contained the only item of an obsession that I had in the late fall months of my sophomore year of high school. Her name was Kelley, and I had kept a gum wrapper of hers, stuck to a piece of notebook paper that I taped to the lid of the foot locker, with the date of the aquisition of the gum wrapper written on it. That remained the only item, as my relationship with Kelley flared and disappeared, but I just left it stuck there. For 25 years.

The other day, I started rummaging through that foot locker to see what I could maybe sell in the garage sale. I've worked recently on switching my mind from "gather" to "disperse" as far as items in my life go, and as I started digging through the old green box, I decided most of it could go. Most of the Surfer magazines went into the recycling, as did most of the Rolling Stones. (I haven't been able to go "cold turkey" in giving up my possessions) The gaming dice now sit in an old mug on my workbench in the garage - I sold the D&D manuals last year, the dice are even more useless now. Not that I ever really used them.

So, in the end, I cleared out everything from that solid wooden box with the pink M-16 painted on top (Not my handiwork), either throwing it out, moving it to a different spot in my life, or recycling it. I looked at the girl's gum wrapper that I had carried around for 25 years, took a picture of it for posterity (and my amusement), peeled it off the inside of the lid and put that in the paper recycling, too. I set the box out on the lawn with the rest of the stuff to divest myself of, and waited.

Yesterday morning, a man drove up in a grey extended-cab pickup truck and started looking around. He spied the old receiver & turntable my mother-in-law had for sale, asked about the price, and bought them. We struck up a conversation, I mentioned that I'm looking for work, he had some suggestions of whom I should talk to; a friend of his, and his wife's company. As he took those items to his truck, I stayed behind in the garage, satisfied with my sale. My oldest child came up to me after a moment and said that he had taken some of the old surfing magazines out of the recycling. I thought that was kind of funny in a nostalgic way and went over to help him find more.

We dug magazines out of the recycling bin and he told me of how he used to have surfing pictures taped up on his walls when he was younger, and I told him of how I did too, and I had actually meticulously removed the collage I had created on the back of the door of my boyhood room, and still had that mass of paper, folded up all these years later.

We smiled and talked some more. He looked at the old issues of the fanzine I used to write for that I also had set out for recycling. I told him about that, he asked if I was still doing rock stuff. I told him no, I still played guitar occasionally, but wasn't into it more. He told me how he knew the drummer for a world-famous rock band, and had gotten back in touch with him on Facebook, and how their families had dinner recently, how it was really cool how his friend was still his friend and not some disappeared rock star. He looked through my box of old cassette tapes (New Order, The Cure, Blancmange, OMD... lots of the soundtrack of my high school days), looked at the foot locker, asked how much I wanted for them. I told him $10 for both. He took the deal and carted them off with the old receiver, turntable and Surfer magazines. As he left, we shook hands, something I don't recall having done with any of my garage sale customers. I think both of us sensed that we traveled similar paths in life, that we were longtime friends who hadn't met yet.

It's interesting, the things you find at a garage sale. The things you stumble upon that you need, but didn't know you were lacking.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Ok, so I'm writing this here blog because I think I'm okay with a turn of phrase, right? I probably haven't shown it as much as I'd like, but let's just agree that it's true. So it's frustrating to me to visit Verizon's website and find grammatical mistakes. I posted this on twitter:

"Horrible copy: 'And if you can find something it can't do, pick up over 38,000 apps and growing each day in the Android market that will.'"

Someone then asked me how I'd rewrite it. Fair enough. Here's what I came up with:

"With over 38,000 apps in the expanding Android market, you can add to our impressive list of features with just a touch."

Verizon: If you'd like to hire me to do this on a daily basis, just let me know. :) 
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