Friday, July 24, 2009

Lake Anna Weekend Blitz

Saturdays are definitely a commodity and one thing is for sure, they are usually over before you know it. That is why I try to make the best of my Saturdays during the summer months.

After choking down a stale breakfast cookie last Saturday morning, I threw on my D.O.T approved full face helmet, pushed in the choke, popped the stand and just a matter of minutes later I was southbound and down route 28.

Finding my way through Manassas, Nokesville, Culpepper and eventually ending up somewhere on the outskirts of the ever gorgeous Lake Anna.

It is still amazing to me that after living in Northern Virginia for almost 8 years now how rural "The Real Virginia" can be.

This serene and beautiful virgin habitat resides just a handful of miles outside of the industrial looking, traffic strewn, North-South Virginia boundary otherwise known as the capital beltway.

As I rode past a fresh crop of sprouting tobacco plants basking themselves in the glow of the sweltering sun, I could smell their sweet aroma as it crept up through the air and eventually found its way into my nasal passages.

Taking in the smell of nature while riding on my motorcycle is one of my favorite aspects of riding.

I distinctly remember what it felt like just a few months ago as I drove down the Eastern Shore and got my first whiff of the dry salty ocean air as it drifted from my nose and clung to my exposed skin.

After a sometimes anxious hour and a half of straight riding, I finally reached my destination of Mineral Virginia.

As I found myself navigating through a desolate back field traversing a muddy makeshift parking lot it was just then that I heard the first wail of a banjo echo through the trees in the distance. I had made it to the blue grass festival!

The fest was decent at best. I stayed for a couple of hours. I could tell that I did not fit the demographic for this particular event. I was under 60, did not have a confederate flag flagrantly draped off the back of my motorcycle and I did not have a wad of tobacco balled up in the right cheek of my mouth. I found my way out of the festival midway through a set.

Shortly thereafter I must have passed Lake Anna State Park's driveway about three times before I was finally able to find it. The drive through the park was fairly uneventful. I decided to go try my luck at the beach in the park to see if I could score some rays and a little midday nap.

As I got to the beach I noticed it there were signs posted indicating that there was an additional beach fee. How ridiculous I thought to myself, I'm not paying an additional fee to sit on an artificial and crowded beach.

In non violent protest as perfected by Gandhi I set my towel just outside of the beach area on the grass and sat down to rest. After a failed attempt to catch a nap, I made a few phone calls and was back on the bike northbound towards Manassas.

The ride back was LONG and tiring to say the least. I got lost at least 10 times and was starting to become frustrated right around the time that I ended up just south of Leesburg Virginia.

After picking a road at random that appeared to lead in the direction east I was finally able to call it a day.

As I parked my bike in the parking lot. I hobbled off the bike with a sore ass and found my way upstairs where B-ron and Fab Five had been waiting for me with Matilda.

Was it as I navigated my way down Route 522 along side the base of the Blue Ridge mountain range or when I caught my first site of the glistening waters of the deep blue Lake Anna when the endorphins kicked in and I found myself high on life? I don't know. But either way both made for an incredible day!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Summer that Never Came

Had you talked to me in early March, I had nothing on my mind except for the fact that I had just recently gotten over an illness that had consumed the better part of six months of my life.

I was extremely anxious and ready to ex-spell some of this un-invited cooped up energy to say the very least.

Suffice it to say that I was looking more than forward to some sort of idea that would bring me towards my ultimate goal of that seemingly un-graspable concept of "simple relaxation".

Hell... maybe alls it would take is hearing that crisp pick of the banjo echoing through the Shenandoah valley as I dozed off under the waning crescent moon that would bring me to my own salvation!

If that doesn't suit your fancy how about more of a moderate range? Let's go with riding my motorcycle into endless sunsets to just feeling the grit of sand between my toes as I basked in the luminous and radiant glow of the sun reflecting off of the salty beaches of the eastern Maryland shore.

After countless and sometimes violent torrential downpours that seemed to fall strategically on a Friday and end late Sunday night just as I realized that you I had to go back to work tomorrow, here I stand four months later.

Two moves and one muggings later, it's mid July and I feel robbed of not just my own dignity but of something that people take for granted. I feel robbed of my summer.

Let's just say "I'm ready to get my summer on" Who's with me?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sometimes I Feel Like Somebody's Watching Me.

Hey listen, I apologize now. I'm sorry ok? All's I can say is that I thought it was over (no not my opening line in the Chan 4 news broadcast) come on let's get serious here.

But no, seriously, I thought the incident was done. "This will happen never again." "Done with! That's the way these things go right?" "We're moving on".

Do you still blame me?

On July 10th I was nearly as over it as you can be. This was four days later and I was more than anxious for life to get back to some sort of semblance of normality.

At work that day, I couldn't help but think of anything else except for the fact that within just a matter of hours this was going to be the first chance since the attack that I would finally get a chance to pull back a coupla beers and just chill with Matilda and Allen in our new apartment. We'd drink some beers. We'd crack the occasional joke about someone breaking in. Ha ha ha.

"Get some movies too, take your time, I'll be fine". Matilda yelled as Allen and I were fastidiously on our way out the door.

Fast forward about 15 minutes after I had hit Giant and the nights libations had been secured... as I'm filling out a Block Buster application I received a call from Matilda saying that two burly black men had come to our door at 7:30 at night.

"It has to be those guys from the apartment complex that are there to install the locks on the windows". I preached in good faith might I add.

"Nope, already called the apartment complex". Came the reply.

"We'll be there in 2 minutes". I said as I crumpled up the Block Buster application.

It was right then as I stepped out of the Block Buster door and laid one foot onto the sidewalk that I saw the the dirtbag that robbed me.

It was something about his walk, his slight strut to the right hand side with this overwhelming air of intimidation. It was those dangling dreaded braids that I remembered so clearly before I pulled poor Allen into the truck and told him with a shaking voice that I was sure it was the guy that robbed me.

Soon thereafter, when they told me that they knew who he was and that the dog had lost his scent just a block away from where he lived. I grew more furious by the second.

Three days later, after lost sleep and brutalized nerves for the entire weekend, I've learned that the two guys who felt totally inclined to come to our door that night were more than likely related to the case. The two guys that I thought had followed me to Block Buster were probably not.

Damn. I look back and aside from the boxes that line our living space, this is a reminder of where we are at now. The message for tonight is to trust your instincts but don't trust them too much to make you paranoid.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Almost Dead

It happened in the blink of an eye and yet somehow it still managed to feel like it would never end.

It happened as I've always imagined that these types of things happen. Violently and without warning. Add a dimly lit parking lot on a humid dark summers night, a lone victim unsuspectingly carrying on about his business and you have the perfect four liner crime blurb in your local paper.

Except this time was different for me. This time I wasn't perusing through the Washington Post's crime beat section as I casually sipped my first cup of coffee at work. No... no... unfortunately for me, this time I was actually forced to live through the traumatizing real life experience.

As we walked our dog Emma through the apartment complex I thought to myself how nice it was to live in the burbs for the summer. It wasn't much passed 9:45 on a quiet Monday night and Matilda and I were on our way to the back parking lot to see if we could get Emma to do her business for the night.

After several failed attempts by Matilda and I to coax her into relieving herself we gave up and began walking back to the apartment. As we were walking back I noticed that Emma was finally ready to go do her business. I volunteered to walk the 250 feet or so back to the dog bag station in the parking lot and grab a bag.

As I neared the bagging station, about 500 feet away three dark figures caught my attention walking out of a foot path in the woods that connects the apartment parking lot to a large shopping center.

Even at this stage, I was fairly sure that trouble was imminent. Even though they were far enough away for me to outrun them, I considered all of my options. At this point I was under no immediate threat and I figured my best option was to get back to the middle of the well lit apartment complexwhere I felt confident that they would not dare to jack me.

As I walked as fast and inconspicuously as I could, the fear was too overwhelming to look behind me. At some point (and details are hazy at this point) I instinctually knew that they were behind me. Just mere seconds later I heard the fast pattering of running feet.

In a last act of desperation I opened my mouth to call out to Matilda to run and as my brain was crafting the words to roll off my tongue I thought better of the idea and decided not to tip them off to the fact that Matilda was ahead of me. And by this time she was well ahead of me.

"This is it" I thought to myself, my very first time ever being mugged. I wondered how would it go down? I had lived in Woodbridge for 5 years previous to this and knew that it was generally a safe upscale neighborhood. I was scared but not worried if you can even try to makes sense of that statement.

That all changed the moment I saw the small black pistol out of my peripheral vision and felt it make contact with the side of my head just and inch or two above my right ear. It was also at this time that I felt something sharp in my back as well as a clenched hand on the collar of my tee shirt.

My body was instantaneously overwhelmed by shock that I had trouble getting my legs to do what came natural to them. I could barely walk. Whatever chemical is secreted in your brain beyond adrenaline in high pressure situations is a god send. I immediately went into survival mode. As calm as watching the sunset I asked:

Me: "What do you want".
Robber 1: "Give me the money nigga".
Robber 2: "Give us money nigga or you gonna get hurt".
Me: "I'm walking my dog man, I have no money on me".
Robber 1: "You better get money nigga".
Me: "I've got money in my apartment, just chill, just relax".

As I tried desperately to reassure them that they were going to get paid, I saw a large object come towards my face, I reacted by falling into a yard as one of their fists made its first contact with the right side of my cheekbone.

As I laid in the damp grass I thought to myself that it's just a matter of time before I'm dead. What would my family think? What about the things that I haven't accomplished yet? It's amazing the things that run through your mind when you're life is in jeopardy.

I believe that I heard the distinct dry crackling sound of the high voltage stun gun before I first felt the current make its entrance into my rib cage and penetrate legs. I had never been stunned before and the only way that I can attempt to describe the feeling is that I can understand exactly why they call it a "stun gun". It wasn't exactly painful it was just was what it was.

Luckily one of these criminals had a fragment of a conscious and told the others to stop. As they grabbed me and pulled me up I got my first glimpse of the masks they were wearing. Apparently, the common run of the mill criminal ski mask has been replaced by the more stylish and intimidating scream mask.

As they walked me like a dog with the gun firmly pressed to the back of my head, I quickly scanned the area ahead of me to look for Matilda. She was no where in my limited scope of vision. Later on after the fact I learned she had heard an odd sound (the tazer) and saw them pounce on me. Knowing I had no money on me she ran up the stairs and into the apartment to get money.

After reaching the steps up to our apartment I began to cycle through a list of ideas for not letting them into the apartment. Them entering the apartment was an assured deal breaker for me. I knew that if they entered the apartment Matilda and I would b0th be found tied up and dead sometime the next day more than likely. However, as I tried to explain that she would get the money and throw it down, criminal one said he was going to shoot me. As I got three quarters of the way up the stairs the door opened and Matilda was holding onto cash, as one of them stepped a foot into the house Matilda told him that he was not coming in and I said he was not to make another step.

After an exchange of about $50 cash, I stood nearly face to face with him still with his scream mask. He said something to me that I do not remember. Something insulting but neither Matilda nor I can remember exactly what it was.

I stood there and proudly took it like a bitch. You want to know why?...

Because Matilda and I were both still alive at a cost of only $25 a piece.
Because this kid risked 15 years in prison for what I make in 1 hour. That's .0003 $ per hour.
Because statistically speaking this dumb son of a bitch will most likely never live past 30.
and lastly...
Because no matter what I think of that I could have done differently I can smile and think to myself that I know we did everything right and the fact that we are both still alive proves it.