Thoughts on Sudden Change

(Warning: This post contains a major spoiler for the show Lost)

I'm a subscriber to the idea that the chapters of our lives are carried upon the backs of gigantic continental plates. Every now and then something happens that causes these slabs of experience to move forward in an incredibly violent manner. When they do, the entire landscape has changed and cannot be put back to normal. The puzzle pieces of a life scatter.

In the immediate days that follow, we live off the adrenaline of change, fueled by the imagination of what is possible. Fantasy logic kicks in and the mind travels via flights of fancy.

The body, however, begins to feel a pit in the stomach because nothing is quite where it is supposed to be.

On Friday, I suddenly left my job at Court Square Tavern and find myself adrift in a new world. For everyone but my former regulars, nothing has changed. Yet, for me everything now seems slightly less certain.

At times this mystery is invigorating as life unfolds like a novel, a play, a film. At others, the script isn't so clear.

A week ago, I thought my life truly was going to unfold upon the stage in the basement of 500 Court Square. The past year has been an intricate opera of the hopes and dreams of my co-workers and friends and myself. My second stint there began last January, shortly after the disintegration of my marriage, another sudden change that caught be my surprise.

In the fires of that furious time, I created a new vision for myself and regenerated into someone a bit stronger, hopefully a bit wiser. I forged a new body by pouring all of my frustrations and anger into my muscles. I worked hard to sort out right and wrong in my mind.

I am hopeful that a new sudden change will cause a shift in the way my personal geology continues to be deposited upon the greater world.

I would also be preoccupied enough so I stop looking back at the previous one. The old fractures, at least, are now covered by a new film of experience that's solidified into memory.

The last time I stopped working at Court Square Tavern, I cried because the place was damaged and needed to be repaired. But, I was also concerned about how I was going to make up the income. At the time, I was a freelancer, and it made up about a third to a half of my money. Of course, at the time I was in a family with two adults and did not own my house.On the Ides of March 2006, I was in shock and somewhat distraught over the hit to my bottom line.

Four years ago, the same worries. Back then, I just redoubled my efforts to freelance, and I had a pretty good year.

What can I learn from then? What can I learn about all the times when life turned due to a rogue moment, when I come loose from the painting I'm currently drawn within?

This time, I'm in a bit better shape, even though I have a lot more obligations and I'm on my own. For the past five days, I've been living as if nothing has changed. But, as that first night approaches when I don't go to work, the reality is beginning to set in. Payments are becoming due, and I'm going to have to get creative.

So, tonight was the first night I've considered going back to work in a restaurant because that is the quickest way to make money. Part of the reason I left was because I was being handed many more responsibilities and I just didn't have the mental time to deal with it, and handle my primary job.

It may be odd to talk so publicly about one's economic fortunes, but I write this all out, and write all of it out because I form my own thoughts about myself by writing. Writing is the act of chiseling out experience into something that explains who I was at this moment, in this time.

At this time, I'm buoyed by the knowledge that I did this before. Progress continued to be made.

At this time, my story intersects with those of every person on this planet on some level. I believe in progress, and in attempting to better the lives of as many people as possible. But, I can't do that unless my own is functioning in tip-top shape.

Sudden change seems to have opened up a time in my life when things are active again, when the day-to-day choices I make in the next few weeks will determine a good part of how my future occurs. How will I choose to use this extra time? Do I decide to immediately rejoin the food service work force, and if so, how do I make the best decision for me and my children?

I was locked up in that tavern. I told customers it was my purgatory, and joked that I seemed to end up there after every divorce.

And I may have been right.

The television show Lost ends by revealing that part of the narrative in the final season actually took place in a purgatory of sorts, and the characters had to wake up in order to progress to the next stage of their existence.

Taken as a metaphor, that sounds about right.

I don't want to publicly write the details of what happened, as I'm still sorting that out and really don't want to give away the story before it's finished.

I know one thing I want do to in this new epoch is to find a way to take my propensity for memoir and fictionalize it, in any manner. I've never taken any of my creative pursuits seriously. I've never taken myself seriously as an artist.

Now, I have time. But, for how long? How long until I find myself hardening again, joining whatever landscape evolves as the rapid change continues to wreak havoc on what once was? New stages will emerge, new people I otherwise would not have met. Opportunities that I will either decide to take or will shy away from, or will decide are not in my best interest.

This blog contains thoughts a lot about my time there, and I'm glad to read through it. I know I'm not going back, because to do so would go against everything I believe in about how people should treat each other.

It's going to be a very good story, however it comes out.

So, onward, continental drift! What will the world bring me this time?


July 2010 Tavern report

This August marks six years of my on-again and off-again employment at Court Square Tavern. My long-term plan is to continue to work there at least three nights a week in order to amass my personal fortune.

Of course, this will take us actually increasing our business. I am confident that is happening as we are getting many more regulars. I have a great time there, as I've mentioned.

Tonight was one of the slow ones that are less than thrilling. I only had one party of more than two people, and they only had six beers between four people. I was pleased I managed to persuade one of them to try the Zatec Bright Lager, which had been recommended by one of our regulars, who spent years in Prague.

Of course, I was also pleased that he and his wife came in this evening. They chatted with a couple from New Jersey who are touring the area to view the homes of the presidents. They did Monticello today and are doing Montpelier tomorrow. They had eaten at Siips and walked up to the tavern. When they had arrived, I had a couple of sisters from Arlington who were also touring the area. We had a blast talking about old music, the precarious nature of our country's solvency and what form my novel is going to take.

On Thursday, we had two people who came in to celebrate their birthday. Both parties had a great time and I did as well. Last night was more of the same, me getting paid to be out. I enjoy running a pub, and tonight I was doing it solo again, but at least there were no food orders but a lone turkey pot pie with mashed potatoes.

The party of four who had six hadn't been in since before the fire. In the "smoky time" they said. I can remember when a cloud of smoke filled the place, but have little nostalgia for that sensation. Yet it's important to remember the character. We lost a lot of our die-hard regulars when we did not when smoky time did not resume when we re-opened.

I feel we're finally coming back into our own, and I think we're set to have a very busy fall. I'm working on some sort of a way for patrons to track how many of our 100 beers they've experienced. I'd like to find a way to get more people in to play our board games. I've got to get a handle on the whole foursquare thing.

The other day, a new regular came in and was talking to an older regular about the place of the bartender.

"A good bartender creates community by introducing people to each other," said Todd, who comes in for whatever bottled beer I've put on

He was not referring to me directly, but at the end of the day, I love providing the community with a pub that's not quite like any other place in town. And for me, I feel like I'm part of Charlottesville history. Very much enjoyed sharing this place with people from outside.


Thoughts on U.S. Soccer in the World Cup

Landon Donovan and Bob Bradley are being interviewed on the Daily Show, and this is the first time I've seen them talk about their World Cup. It was only three days ago I watched as they failed to beat Ghana.

Rather, I didn't watch closely because I had hoped up Court Square Tavern early and I had seven people to serve. It was good, and I was glad to be there getting paid. This is what I do.

But, tonight, after a long day reporting my little corner of the world, I'm watching Jon Stewart talking to these guys as if it's okay, as if it's both a big deal and not a big deal that these two men are on national television. For me, I've followed the U.S. Men's team since 1994. And now Stewart is asking a good question that actually is interesting.

Can the U.S. avoid divas? England has been faulted for having a side that simply did not gel together. We don't seem to have that, and maybe it's a good thing as we go forward.

And we will go forward. And eventually, we will win the World Cup. I know this to be true.

But it's going to take people like me to pay attention, and to keep paying attention to soccer. I follow sports primarily because I'm interested in story lines associated with athletic achievement.

I've grown so disinterested in baseball because the sport has totally lost its way for me. 32 teams operating in a static universe that seldom rises to the level of interest. I used to love this sport, and think I will again, but not until the structure of the sport changes a little. I could care less who wins. Same teams year in year out.

I enjoy the National Football League and college football very much because there's an element of chance in terms of how the championships developer. At the professional level that is due to the parity built into the league through revenue sharing. At the college level it's due to the patchwork bowl system, which I'm confident will one day resolve itself into a true national champion.

But, really, the World Cup is it for me, even if I've not been able to watch this one as much as I had hoped I would. I'm still invested in this, but not willing to take days off to watch. This will be painful on Friday as I have to skip two matches because of work.

I am already looking forward to the future. I anticipate watching a lot of the English Premier League in the coming year, especially if Landon Donovan ends up playing for Manchester City.

For me, a first-generation American born at a time when the world globalized, this is the best possible thing in the world to contemplate. Regardless of what mainstream sportscasters want us to think, we've entered this sport fully now. Tim Howard is one of the world's best goalkeepers, and plays for Everton.

Everton is the club my dad has supported since childhood.

So, you can see why I feel somewhat of a connection.

A friend of mine and I are going to be saving up money to go to Brazil in 2014, regardless of if the U.S qualifies. I'm sure we will given our easy road, but part of me supports this argument expressed in the blog The Yanks are Coming that we may need to find a more difficult road to qualifying if we expect to improve as a team.

For now, though, I must remember that we still have a week or so left of the World Cup, even if we've passed the group stage, which for me is the best. I love that feeling when there are 32 teams and none of them are eliminated. That's when all of the possibilities are open. In hindsight it seems like France was always destined to crash out, but they had the chance to perhaps qualify with a win against South Africa. South Africa ended up beating them, but sadly did not win enough points to get out of the group stage.

Less than four years until it starts again for real, but until then, I am going to try to stay in touch with the U.S. men's team. I want them to succeed. I thought briefly about going to the Meadowlands on August 10 to see them take on Brazil (whom I really hope do NOT win the World Cup).

So, what's a U.S. fan to think post defeat-by-Ghana-due-to-ridiculous-defensive-mistake?

For me, I'm pulling for a team that either has never won or hasn't won for many years to take it all. My first favorite at this point is Uruguay, a place I would love to visit. After that, why not Paraguay?