4/30/2011

Calling all Canadians! We need you at CST Monday night!

That may be the worst title of a blog post I have ever composed. But, I think I'm justified. I'm desperate to get people to come to Court Square Tavern on Monday night to watch the Canadian election returns.

I've not had the chance to do a full advertisement for it, which sounds about right given my current life, in which I never seem to find time to fully implement the ideas I come up with. So far, all I've done is create a Facebook event for it, but that's about it.

And, as of this moment, only a handful of people are coming to the event, and I'm a bit concerned that it's going to be a bust. Which is a shame, because I actually have an interesting idea behind wanting to have a public place for people to watch Canada pick a new Parliament.

I lived in Calgary, Alberta, for a year from 1999 to 2000 while my girlfriend at the time was doing a post-doctoral fellowship. We talked an awful lot about parliamentary politics, which was fascinating to me. Jean Chrétien was Prime Minister at the time, and everything was very different than it is here.

For one thing, there are no set elections. They can happen at all kinds of intervals, and in this case, there's an election because the House of Commons approved a no-confidence vote against him, forcing a vote.

After I left Canada, I pretty much forgot so many of the details of what it was like to be there. But, every time there's an election, certain memories come back to me.

I listened to the CBC, and an occasional presenter to this brilliant show one was Michael Ignatieff. Now he's the head of the Liberal Party, one of several parties hoping to come out on top Monday. He'll only become prime minister if his party gets at least a plurality of votes. Stephen Harper, the Conservative leader and current PM, is hoping he will as well.

I have no idea what the polls are, but I'm planning on posting a lot about this in the next day or so. I want to be on hand behind the bar to talk about what's going on while people perhaps have conversations about politics.

I love politics, and am blessed to have the honor of being a reporter who will cover the Albemarle County and Charlottesville elections this year. So, before that happens, I'm curious to see what's happening somewhere else, and to hopefully chat with whoever shows up about what the results might mean.

Canada is so close to us, but we cast it away and pretend like it doesn't exist. I remember the day I moved back home. We drove down from Ontario at Thousand Lakes into New York. We stopped off in Syracuse to fuel up the Mazda I was driving at the time. I bought a Sunday newspaper, and the biggest shock was that the weather map didn't include any of Canada, even though we were 100 miles from the border.

So, back to now, and a time when Canada has also disappeared from my mind, even though my heart has insisted that I continue to have the lyrics to O Canada! memorized at all times. And now, I'm hoping to get people to show up to my bar to watch a little bit of Canadian history.  We're open from 6:00 PM on. It's a rare Monday night opening. Come and chat elections with us!

4/20/2011

On being impulsive

In my driveway is a used sport utility vehicle that I just purchased. I am not sure how this came to be, but I feel pretty good about it. And, I want to continue feeling good about it.

Or at least, I want to feel pretty good about it, because I will be spending more money to own this car. This purchase may not have been the most fuel efficient option and perhaps I should have done more due diligence.

I could easily pick this decision apart and find many ways to be mad at myself. I am sure over the coming days I will hear from people that this was not a good thing to do. They will try to make me feel bad.

But, I have made the decision, and I will live with it. In the short term, I solved many problems, and that was my goal. I could afford it and I can afford it.

Now I have a choice.

I could decide to concentrate on the long-term and write out many reasons why this purchase was not advised, and that will make me feel bad. I could try to find ways to prove the naysayers wrong.

Or I could trust myself, and take comfort in this impulsive decision. Having this new vehicle will resonate throughout my life over the next few months. I will enjoy having FM radio again, as well as a working tape deck. I also remove something from my life that reminds me of my second divorce.

This purchase is a reward for a lot of hard work, and an investment in myself. I will have to balance my money more to make sure I have the additional money to cover this, and I welcome the challenge.

I've always been impulsive and resistant to long-term planning. I have long-term goals I've shot for, but have largely lived my life spontaneously. When I was 20, I wanted to be a newspaper reporter. Nearing 38, I am a newspaper reporter, but I'm also so much more. And, it's delicious.

I am here in this contemporary now because an impulsive decision I made back in 1992. I was in my second year at Virginia Tech, There was an activity fair at Cassell Coliseum and I didn't even really want to go. I had enough going on, with a full schedule and 12-hour a week job at the dining hall.

But, I met some folks from the Preston Journal, a weekly tabloid paper that came out every Monday. Some guy asked me if I wanted to work for a newspaper, and of I said yes. I had never previously considered a career in journalism.

I knew as soon as I talked to the staff members there that I was going to work for them. And, I stuck with it, and within a few months I was the paper's managing editor. A year later after that impulsive decision, we went twice-weekly and I had no choice but to work hard to make it work, even with a 12-hour delivery job for Backstreets Pizza. A year after that, I was in the office because the twice-weekly gambit failed and ended up in our collapse. I got a call from Rick Mattioni at WVTF asking if any of us would like an internship, and suddenly I'm an intern radio producer.

Okay, sure, that's all professional, not personal, but don't the two really blend together for each of us in the end? We just live a life, and professional and personal are just labels we use to help compartmentalize. At the end of the day, we're just ourselves.

I tend to have a hard time making decisions, but at key moments in life I have made snap decisions that changed everything. Somehow, I like radical change that alters everything, and it's nice to change things around. Even though sometimes, that radical change is not nice for everyone.

I've been complaining a lot about something needing to change, but I know at 38 that I can't afford too many changes.

It is my hope that altering this one detail about my life will at least make things a little more interesting.

And I don't want to over-analyze this one. I want to simply say to myself that I did it, it's done, now enjoy what's good about it and fix what's bad about it.

This awesome now I am living through is the sum of many impulses that changed the format of my life. I've changed life genres so many times now that it's hard to keep count.

I'm going to give myself a bye here. There are many reasons why this was maybe not the best option, but it's an option I took it and I am sailing down that mountain into glory.

Also, it's really nice to drive a vehicle that doesn't have a decaying paint job, a broken headlight, gets 10 miles a gallon, and has a trunk that doesn't shut. I have at least overcome those annoyances.

Bring on the new ones, I say!

4/05/2011

On non-posting

I seem to have an inability to finish blog posts these days.

My dashboard in Blogger has 5 drafts from the last month or so, ones I've not been able to finish. One was on the tsunami, another was on working all the time, and another was about the United Nations workers murdered last week by an angry mob in Afghanistan who were enraged after people in Florida sentenced a copy of the Koran

Because I did not finish them for the intended audience, they don't seem to have as much resonance. I did not commit them to the public eye because they were not complete thoughts and for whatever reason I decided to stop.

Usually I stop because I write a little too personal and I realize I can't send it to the general public. Perhaps I'm saying something that might get misinterpreted. Most days I feel like there's something grand I should be writing, but I don't get very far with it because something else has to be attended to in a more immediate fashion.

I often dream up gimmicks I could do to train myself to have a public voice here in this little space. For instance, I've thought about trying to get by on only $100 in gas this April. So far I've put $20 in, and I need to fill up again. I'd like to find a way to drive less and to see how else I might get around. This might push me to get a bike, for instance. That would be interesting to write about, right?

Or, I could try to document my attempts to write songs, which seems to be happening even if I don't take it too terribly seriously. But, I'm a bit too timid to put myself out there, and I'm not going to write about my ambivalence.

I'm likely going to write about gardening, which I'm trying again this year. My dining room area has been transformed into an impromptu nursery, as I'm trying to grow vegetables again. Yesterday, I took time off from running to spend an hour digging a second plot. I don't know what I'm doing, but this year I'm going to enlist help from friends to get suggestions and tips. I will open up to what they know because I want to learn new skills.

I'd like to do the same with other musicians, because I'm definitely not growing without other people's input. I would like to find a group I could play with, but that would mean a level of commitment I just don't have at the moment.

And that's okay. I'm content to play improvised stuff, and to fumble along as I learn more and more about song structure. I think I've improved, though I still have problems trying to figure out how to put all the pieces together.

One of the blog posts was about the fragmentation I feel, with all that's going on in my life. I tend to work as much as I can, but every spring I start to feel like that's the worst possible way to live. Yet, there's so much to pay for these days.

I wish I had completed the one about the tsunami, but I don't feel comfortable talking about that sort of thing. I have this idea of what I want to say so vividly in my head that I don't want to muck it up with language.

These days I've been feeling like everything is about to change again. Our system of politics is going to continue to evolve into a much more volatile struggle between two competing visions. I'm not paying enough attention, but I feel it's necessary to begin doing so.

I guess I could also write about the tavern, a place where I've begun to have fascinating discussions with people about the world. I'd like to think we're living up the vision I've had for CST, which is to provide a spot where people can have great beer while having a nice conversation. But, to write about the tavern and its occupants would betray a certain level of confidence I have in them. The last thing I ever want to do is write about people I know in a public forum.

At the bottom of it all, I'd love to write fiction, to figure out how to deal with ideas in stories. I have this vague sadness in me a lot, and it always seems that I can keep that sadness at bay if I just write things down.

So, in the spirit of moving things along, I'm going to hit send, without an edit, so there might be a few things off here and there. But, so what? Who said it had to be perfect?