Time to say goodbye

Here, a little background music while you read:

A good blog (allow me to flatter myself) is like a good TV show. It amuses; it informs, seriously or with humor, about matters vaguely important or unapologetically trivial; it has a target audience; and it knows when to quit. I could also add that a good TV show yields lasting cultural markers—the Rachel, anyone?–and that a blog, if it is true to its purpose, would do the same. Which is why y’all should understand that really, this post from almost exactly a year ago was probably the beginning of the end.

Yep, I used y’all in a post. I use it in real life. No one looks at me funny. That’s how I know it is, as Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli are currently putting it so melodiously, time to say goodbye.

Red, white, and new.

Now that I’m home full-time with the oyster, being red doesn’t matter so much. In fact, being red around here matters less than being red further away from this town. Being white actually has “mattered” in ways that I didn’t expect and that make me uncomfortable and would be hard to explain to anyone who is insulated by distance or by work that keeps them sheltered in a particular like-me demographic, like being a young professional in this area. And finally, the elephant on the blog, the thing I’ve noticed as I’ve had less to say over the last few months…I’ve acclimated. I’m no longer new.

I launched this blog three years ago one week from today, on September 11, 2011. It was meant to be what the subhead says, the story of “a midwest transplant trying to put down roots in the center of the free world.” We were delayed in our adventure by Martha and were surprised shortly after our arrival by the oyster. We have had some incredible highs and devastating lows in the past three years and those things and all the details in between and along the way and behind us and ahead of us mean only, really, that we are living life.

We love the life we live and it’s hard to maintain a full and focused life when you’re distracted watching for potential blog posts in the daily details. So I won’t do that anymore after next week. I’ll post three more times before I close up shop next Thursday.

I’m going to miss y’all.



So you’d like to drive in our commonwealth

When the husband and I first arrived in NOVA, we were struck by the heaps and piles of regulations concerning how and where and when and in which direction to park one’s car, among other things.

I can’t imagine how quickly my brain would have melted had we tried to switch our driver’s licenses and plates at the same time. But, that time has come now, and in a show of what I thought was due diligence, yesterday I set out to determine where exactly to begin with this process.


So you’ve been living in our commonwealth for nigh on six months now and you feel that you have bested the system by using the same three-day temporary parking permit to park your out-of-state car in front of one of our residences and sneaking it into the landlady’s driveway on Thursday mornings when you noticed the county goes around ticketing improperly permitted vehicles, eh? Oh ho. Well, we’ll just see about that.

1. Welcome to Virginia. What color is your car?
a. Red
b. Black
c. Gray
d. None of the above
e. I don’t understand the question

2. So you’ve been parking your <color> car in front of your current residence since you moved in, without acquiescing to our nonsensical permitting requirements.
a. Yes
b. Maybe
c. In a way
d. Depends who you ask
e. I don’t understand the question

3. And now you’d like to properly register this car with the commonwealth of Virginia, county of Fairfax, and city of Alexandria?
a. I guess
b. Apparently
c. I feel like I’m out of options
d. “Like to” is subjective
e. I don’t understand the question

4. You need a Virginia driver’s license.
a. I know
b. I’m trying to get one
c. Your mom needs a Virginia driver’s license
d. All of the above

5. To obtain a Virginia driver’s license, you will need to verify, using notarized documentation, the following:
a. That you are over 18
b. That you are over 19
c. That you haven’t had your current license suspended, revoked, expired, damaged, lost, stolen, mutilated, copied, run through the washing machine, or left in the sun
d. That you are a citizen of our great nation
e. That you are a resident of our magnificent commonwealth

6. Please prove that you are a resident of our magnificent commonwealth. The following forms of identification are required for this:
a. Virginia driver’s license

7. You don’t have a Virginia driver’s license?
a. No

8. Hmmmm. What color is your car again?
a. Red
b. Black
c. Gray
d. None of the above
e. I still don’t understand the question

9. You have library fines, don’t you?
a. Yes
b. Maybe
c. Your mom has library fines
d. “Fines” is a funny term
e. I don’t understand the question

10. Your car needs to be emissions inspected.
a. I read that on your website
b. I don’t understand the question

11. It’s not on our website, it’s on a different website. Why would we put that on our DMV website? It’s on the EPA website, duh. Can you read?
a. Yes
b. Duh back to you
c. Can you?

12. Well you need to have an emissions inspection before you can register your car.
a. I just want a driver’s license right now
b. I’m selling my car
c. Pretend my car doesn’t exist
d. Do you make people without cars get emissions inspections?

13. We make it easy to get an emissions inspection! You just take your car to a commonwealth-approved inspection garage and have it tested, at which point the passed emissions test is valid for 90 days until the renewal of your vehicle registration and a failed emissions test grants you a window of 14 days in which to have the vehicle repaired and retested so that at that time the garage may scan your registration application request, sending the emissions inspection information to the DMV and the commonwealth EPA for timely processing of the emissions inspection results in order to renew your vehicle’s emissions inspection approval tags which are valid for only one year if you had to take advantage of the 14 day window but are possibly valid for two years if your vehicle passed its inspection the first time around and you are not delinquent in having your vehicle inspected and your registration renewed–plus you can’t have library fines–which means that we recommend setting up an appointment for the emissions inspection in the first place and trying to do that within the middle two weeks of each month to avoid delays. Bear in mind that at the commonwealth-approved emissions inspection garage, they will need to scan your Virginia driver’s license for record keeping purposes and expediency.
a. You don’t have a Virginia driver’s license?
b. How does your car operate???
c. You’re poisoning us with your emissions!

14. Well this is a pickle.
a. I just need to change my current out-of-state driver’s license for a Virginia driver’s license first.

15. Did you say that your car is red?
a. I lied, I don’t have a car, does that help?

16. You can’t lie in Virginia.
a. Ooops.

17. You need a Virginia driver’s license. And new plates. And an emissions inspection. And a vehicle registration.

18. And you must have your vehicle inspected for emissions. It’s the law.
a. My vehicle emits.
b. Boom, inspection done.
c. Can I have my license now?

19. No.
a. I hate you.

20. We don’t care. You need to register your vehicle with the commonwealth, the county, and the city.
a. I’m just going to park on the grass.

21. Oh, and also, all of this stuff costs money but we only accept payment in gold coins, unfolded Euros, and blood.
a. I assumed, considering that you are northern Virginia.

22. Yeah. There’s a fee for the license application, the license itself, the emissions application, the emissions inspection, the tags proving your emissions inspection, a license plate application, the license plate itself, the vehicle registration, and a service fee for coming into the DMV.
a. Where are you going with that baseball bat?
b. And that gasoline?
c. Are you setting your car on fire?
d. Why are you doing that?
e. Don’t you want to register your car and yourself and your dog and your hair gel with our magnificent commonwealth?

Here we talk to strangers and recycle used Kleenex

Virginia never ceases to amaze me. The speed limit on the highway is 55 mph and people obey it going south, but totally ignore it coming north on every major thoroughfare.

There’s a state tax and a commonwealth tax, and although you’re never charged neither, you’re sometimes charged both.

It is mid-January and I’m not wearing a coat. Thanks to a handy purchase at TJ Maxx, Dietrich is wearing less of one. We both looked big-city chic on our walk this afternoon.

Yesterday I talked to no fewer than three random people on the street, pleasant conversations all. One of these people even invited me and the husband to the pancake breakfast at the neighborhood Methodist church on Saturday.

More often than not, people Dietrich and I encounter on our walks holler greetings across the street and come over so their dogs can meet mine. This always goes well but still surprises me, since this is not the way people behaved in the old days.

There’s nothing like the judgment cast on someone who doesn’t bring reusable bags to the store. It’s enough to wither even the hardiest of Midwest girls, and while I used to do my best to remember to bring my own bags, now I go back to get them if I leave the house alone. Today I made a return at the mall and used the bag I brought my return in to carry my new items. Booyah.

In other news, I followed up today with A Certain Organization and haven’t heard back. Monday is a federal holiday but after that, if I don’t hear anything in the big-kid jobs department, I’m pretty sure Ann Taylor Loft will have an application from me. Just have to muster the energy to dig up addresses for three personal references and get used to having a manager check my purse at the end of a shift. I’ve worked retail before, I know how this goes.

Also, I’m afraid that small apartment living is costing me my manners. Today I drank out of the juice carton so I wouldn’t have to wash another mug and my underthings are strewn about the shoebox, drying with no regard for decency. Of course, none of this really matters since the husband and I don’t have guests. Of course, if I keep talking to strangers, maybe we will.