The DMV in the DMV (and how I chose my custom license plate)

I’ve referred to my new home in a couple of different places online as the DMV. Since I’m likely to use that term a lot in the future, I thought that it might be a good idea to explain why this doesn’t mean the Department of Motor Vehicles (except for when it does.)

Part of moving to any new place is learning the ways that the locals refer to things. For example, many people who live inside Washington DC refer to it as The District. Similarly, people who live in this geographic region sometimes call it the DMV because it’s comprised of three very close-together places- DC, Maryland, and Virginia.

As for the place most commonly known as the DMV, that was a challenge. Since the pandemic started, the local DMV has a reduced capacity and is appointment only. I arrived in Arlington on August 8th, and I went online to make an appointment for my Virginia driver’s license on August 10th. The first available appointments were in mid-October, and I set one for October 15th.

In the interim, I was able to change my voter’s registration easily- there’s an elections office a short distance away, and I was able to walk in and fill out that form very easily, no muss no fuss.

While I waited for the DMV appointment to finally arrive, I noticed that there are a LOT of custom license plates in Virginia. I’ve always noticed custom plates more than most people, because they fascinate me. Sometimes they’re hilarious (like the Corvette I once saw with a plate reading ZOOOM), and sometimes they’re just completely obscure and ineffable.

I have since learned that part of the reason there are so many vanity plates here is that it’s really inexpensive to get them customized. When I realized how cheap it was, I decided I was going to get a custom plate. I started work-shopping possible plates with my friends. Here’s some of the contenders:

  • Every possible version I could think of for my name was taken, except for STG42 and STEEEV. (Hilariously, STEEV was already taken, so I needed the extra E.) I considered this one to the very end, but ultimately chose not to use it because I don’t even call myself Steve. I’m a Steven, through and through. I also considered BLOO42 because I like the color blue and the number 42.
  • DRFATE and MOGO – two of my favorite less frequently used DC Comics characters, and both were inexplicably available. I liked both of these as potential plates, but not quite enough to go with them on my car.
  • UNGOTH – this plate tickled me a lot and it very nearly won out.
  • WHMSY – I have said on numerous occasions that my resting state is whimsy, so this would have been appropriate. NERFECT was also available, as in “Pobody’s Nerfect.”
  • WHTSTR, NLSHOK, and BBYLON were all available, in case I wanted to go with my Babylon 5 fandom. I like to think of my car as a Whitestar, so it was tempting. Notably, both ZATHRAS and NOTTHE1 were both already taken.
  • SISYPHS was available, and it appealed to my sense of futility. Also, I live on a hill so this would have been extra funny to me and only me.
  • “GZIP SUV” is available. This is extra funny to me, and I might have gone for it, except that by the time I thought of it, I had already chosen and ordered my plate.

I also considered multiple different iterations of the number 42 and “Don’t Panic,” but every iteration I could think of was already taken by somebody. At the last minute, before I went to the DMV, I tried one last option, and it was miraculously available. That’s how I wound up with this plate:

The actual DMV visit wasn’t much worth writing about. They only let you in ten minutes before your appointment, there are no walk-ins, and their capacity is very much reduced. That being said, I was able to get my Virginia driver’s license, car registration, and license plates sorted out all in one visit, so I’m making a note here, “huge success.”

Do you have a custom license plate? What does it say?

29/52 (and 8 of 30!)

State of the Steven

I did it again. I mentioned my upcoming move in an offhanded comment on Heather’s blog, and she said, “And does this mean you’ve made a decision?? Spill!”

One again, I was absolutely certain that I had talked about this on the blog, but I haven’t. I scrolled back through the last few posts, and when I talked about this in February, I was still thinking about it and I hadn’t locked anything in.

So with that in mind, I thought it would be a nice time to do an overall check-in, a sort of “State of the Steven” post as it were. We’ll start with the topic I already brought up-

I’m moving! I spent a lot of time thinking about the things I mentioned back in February, and I talked the ears off of anyone who would listen about the possibility of a move. Most of the people in closest proximity to me figured out that I was definitely going before I knew it myself.

I did a ton of research, looked at dozens of possible places to live, talked on the phone with one helpful-but-also-standoffish realtor, and took several “virtual tours” of possible apartment buildings. Just a hair under two weeks ago, I signed a lease for an apartment in Arlington, VA, just outside of Washington DC. I have about ten weeks left in Florida then I’m headed up to the new place in August.

map of where I will be living relative to DC
The red pin is approximately where the new apartment is located.

On January 1st, I posted about my theoretical goals for the year, and one of them was blogging more consistently. I’ve obviously let that one slide, so let’s take a quick look at a few of the other biggies:

Health, exercise, and sleep: I started out the year strong on this one, but then we got a pandemic. My access to the treadmill went away. Grocery shopping involved more and more junk food and beer. All the things that keep me sane like live music and trivia out with my friends went away for more than two months. Time began to lose all meaning, thanks to the stay-at-home orders, and my sleep went off the rails. So overall, I would say this goal could be better.

Travel: Unfortunately, Covid-19 and the stay at home orders have killed this one. I’ve had five trips involving air travel killed so far this year, and one remaining for September is in serious doubt. I’ll probably be going up to DC in late June, partly to collect keys to my new apartment and partly because the planned Seattle trip with my sister got squashed and we’re trying to make up for it with a smaller East Coast city-hop. We have to wait for touristy things to open though; if we went now we wouldn’t be able to do anything.

Live Music: This is an utter failure, again because of the pandemic. I’ve honestly lost count of how many shows have been canceled, postponed, or rescheduled, but it’s more than twenty so far. The picture to the right is the little whiteboard in my office. The left column is cancellations and it’s only shorter than the other column because I erase shows once a refund is received. The right column is any show that’s been postponed but hasn’t said anything else about the status. If a show gets rescheduled, I’ll either erase it from the right column or move it to the left, pending a refund. I’ve given this WAY too much thought.

And some of the smaller goals from the January 1st post-

  • See more Shakespeare – I watched a little on YouTube, but the pandemic has put a kibosh in this one. Still, there’s a great Shakespeare theater in DC, so I’m optimistic for the future.
  • Make a decision about moving – Finally, a goal that I can actually say is DONE. All that’s left now are the move itself, the acclimating to a new city, and so forth.
  • More decluttering – I’ve actually done a heap of this in preparation for my move- I got rid of the kitchen stools I never sit in, the second television I don’t need, some other small furniture items, and a few odds and ends. I still have way more than I really want to bring for an interstate move, but hey, it’s a start.

How’re you doing so far this year?