Another solo night in the time trap

5:15 pm
Once more I find myself in the Tavern, on a Saturday night. I'm working here for my co-worker on a night I would normally be with my children. I got a babysitter for them because I needed to do my friend a favor. He wanted to see a show, and I want to make sure I keep my job, so I offered to do this.

This time here is different. I needed the money before, but that condition hasn't changed. I need to be here and make some money to cover my obligations. This time is different because I'm also paying a babysitter while I'm here. 

At the moment, though, I am watching an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where Beverly Crusher keeps losing people. As in, they keep disappearing from her universe. At first its a friend who no one else remembers. Then this experience extends to her medical staff. She can't control it, but the number of people in her life slowly counts down to just one.

And here I stand, typing at a bar that's so much part of my universe. People I used to work with here, and drank here with just the other day, are now at an engagement party two miles to the east of here. I would have liked to have gone, but I would have been the only single person. I can't comprehend anything different, especially when I know that so much of my life is going to continue to be spent working for other people, waiting for someone to serve. 

I'm grateful for this, and feel useful every second I stand here, even if know one actually comes in. I am not sure I'll be able to cook for people, because it's been two years since I've even dried. I don't quite know where everything is. I did notice that things are set up better than they used to be, and that's because of my co-worker, the only other person who works here at night. 

Crusher keeps losing more people. The size of the Enterprise is shrinking. I can feel her pain, even though I know what happens at the end when the magic wand is extended and fairy dust sparkles turn the world right back to the way it's supposed to be.

I can't even comprehend a magic wand at this point. Somehow, I've been unable to escape the reality that I need places like this to rely on, both as an employee and as a member of this community. The other night I came here because I had nowhere else I wanted to go. The size of my universe, meaning the place I feel comfortable, has been reduced to a handful. The number of people I feel comfortable around is very small indeed.

So I stand here, waiting for people to come in so I can play a role, and hopefully make a few people laugh. And if no one comes in, I'll play the role of writer and try that all night.

5:41 pm
Of course, someone always comes in. A couple of women came in, and both are having beers and dinner. I'll have to cook something, and I've given the disclaimer. They're in no hurry to order and I'm happy to have someone here, someone to come in while I'm open. Crusher's universe is collapsing, but they're working to get her out of that bubble. I think I'll watch.

6:14 pm
I forgot how much I like this show. It's a bubble of my own, a fictional show that has somehow come back to me this evening, reminding me I'm connected to the part of my life where this was a big part of my life as a child. 

6:45 pm
The oven is making very angry noises at me. It doesn't sound like an oven should. There's a pizza in there, and it should hopefully be delicious. So far, this is all I've had to do. I'm getting paid to make someone a pizza and bring them drinks. And not watch Star Trek, as there's no television in the kitchen area.

I walked over to the television and saw the crew being beamed up. At no point do I expect to be beamed up. In any sense of the word. I am going to remember this place when I'm dead, when the long dream kicks in. Maybe I'm already there, back to this place where this moment is always captured by these words. They might not be the best words, but a little bit of my life will always be entwined with them. 

I am an amalgamation of all of the small moments. All of these mundane nights where I used my time to help another. In this case, three people. Me, the co-worker, and the woman who is currently babysitting the children. After all, this is not my usual night here. I don't do this, and I've not been here for a while. This is just a quirk in the schedule, no less or no better than any way I could have spent this moment. All of it is equal, in one sense of the word. All of it just is. 

7:59 pm
The night goes by fast when I have to cook food for people. I'm not used to this, but I'm astounded by how much this is like being right back where I was at other points in my life. Everything seems to line up to put me back here in a very uninteresting harmonic convergence. There are eight people here, and a lot of cars drive past without stopping. 

I didn't go visit my parents this weekend, and didn't go see a good friend of mine who is in the same town for just these two days. I've spent so much of my time not being able to do the things I want because I had to work. I hear people complain a lot about not having a work-life balance, and I don't know if I have one or not. I simply have to do what I have to do. 

I wasn't here for a while, though. Instead, I worked less through catering. I didn't make tips. I wasn't as much in charge of my destiny as being here in this time trap, from where so much has happened and I'm no longer sure if there's any actual life here, or if this is just me paying far too much attention to my past. 

8:52 pm
The night steadily moves on. 

9:30 pm
I didn't get to write this heading.

10:08 pm
I also didn't get to write under this heading.

12:45 am
I made money tonight, it turns out! After paying the babysitter, I made $33 that will go in the bank. And I had a great night. It was slow but steady enough for one person working the place alone. But, I was so happy to see so many friends come in, and to make new ones. Now I am home, resting, and it's strange because my children are here for the first time on a Court Square night. They are asleep and happy, and had a good time with the sitter. I have an extra day with them on Monday. 

I feel complete. I may not like it entirely, but I know I'm home when I am there. I know that I made the right decision to go back, because I get to be people part of people's life, if only for a moment or two. 

Tonight, a couple came in after getting engaged. They bought another couple at the bar shots to celebrate. And then my friends P.J. and Rebecca came in, and I caught up on their lives. I met another new couple who just moved here. They failed to be amused by my insistence on explaining the strange multiple caused by a 9.3 percent tax rate on their purchase. And, of course, Joe came in with his girlfriend and we had a debate about Saturday Night Live. 

Turns out that Court Square Tavern is the place where I best interact with the world. It really has been my most important space in this community. There's a reason that I keep ending up back there. It comes into my life when I need it. Right now working there is helping me feel a bit more stable as I evaluate the rest of my life. 


Court Square Tavern in 2014

I worked my first shift at Court Square Tavern for 2014, and while it was slow, I am glad that I have the opportunity to continue to get paid to be there for yet another time.

It's been three or four months now since I went back there. The transition has been odd because it's felt unreal to be back there this time. It's taken some getting used to, being back in exactly the same place I was so many Friday nights in the past.

This is going to be a positive year. I am determined to make it so. Everything is going right, and according to plan. This is going to be a great year of reporting, and a great year of helping to rebuild the tavern as an active place in this community. There are so many reasons why this is important, even if you never come in.

I can't do that big history right now, for it is late and I have a full day of work ahead of me tomorrow. I just know I feel good at the end of my shift because this is what I want to be doing. I want to make sure I have enough money to get me through the month and to make sure I can meet my obligations. I am blessed that I've been given a fourth or fifth chance to work in a place that I consider sacred ground. 

So, what will happen in 2014 at the tavern? I don't know, but I'm going to help to work make it a better place for all of us. 


Rethinking my social media options

As 2014 continues to retain a slight glow, I find myself seeking new habits and patterns. I am revisiting the fifth year anniversary of my second divorce the same year I will observe the tenth year anniversary of my first. 

This isn't stuff I want to write on Facebook. I've had the practice of stripping my status updates of anything that indicated any negative emotional states. I don't want to project any doubt into an online platform that mirrors the social ecosystem in which I live my life. Friends are in the same club as people I've never met before, and I'd rather they see my best side.

So, I post boring stuff like this:

As a bearded man, I have to say I love the practice of sports teams not shaving through the playoffs.

Nonsense and piffle, I'd say, but it's designed to be piffle. Occasionally I'll post something hoping to start a philosophical conversation, but I can't control how others perceive me. I end up censoring myself as a result.

Not so in this blog, which contains many embarrassing confessions that my life is not always perfect. No one's life is, and since I was a teenager I have used writing to to mark my days. When you take them all in totality, these scrawls define my existence. They make me who I am, and I often wonder whether super-intelligent computers in the future will know of me because a Googlesphere submarine will preserve the entire set of blog posts I've been writing here for the past 7 years. Cross-check those with the memory fields that will be built in space by Facebook, and it's possible our virtual selves could exist for quite some time to come.

I'm not disappearing from Facebook. This isn't one of those posts. I figure, we're so far into the 21st century now that communicating with each other in this manner is going to continue, and continue to evolve.

But I want to be more aware of what it's doing to me. And I want to see if I can alter how I use the utility in order to indeed craft out a better future for myself. After all, the regenerative glow of 2014 continues to pulse and it's time to set some policies. 

For starters, on Facebook, I am not going to be afraid to unfriend people. It seems like the rude thing to do, but I would kick people out of my bar, and would kick people out of my house. In real life, I've chosen to withdraw from certain people and to no longer interact with them. Why should I not do this on Facebook as well?

So, I've begun whittling down my list. I began with deleting three people with whom I failed to start relationships with. Two of them were from last year, and other person was from 2012. I no longer need to know any details about their lives. That information might be out there, but I do not need to see it. I do not need to have my outlook pulled backwards through lingering magnetism. 

I also will pledge to not get involved in political debates. I've done pretty well with this, but my role as a journalist and a referee of argument is put in jeopardy when I open my big mouth with my impulsive fingers. I have opinions, and I am sure they will come out over the course of my lifetime. But, they do not inform my reporting, because I have spent my career building a reputation as a neutral arbiter of what happens. 

I will continue to post pictures of my children, because that's something I enjoy doing and because they are the main focus of my life at this point.

But, I'm going to continue reevaluating Facebook and the role it plays in my life. 

I will continue to only use Twitter primarily as a way of advancing my journalistic interests. I am considering updating my current profile, which now says this: 

Journalist for Charlottesville Tomorrow interested in infrastructure, local government in England and Virginia.

This is true, but I hope to flesh it out a bit, make it more pointed. Twitter is a platform where I should try to expand my number of followers, whereas I want more quality friends on Facebook. 

And then there's Google Plus, the one that everyone's forgotten except for Google. I've noticed that many of my posts there are now getting a lot of comments from strangers, people I don't know. This is a bit better due to what I post there, which is mostly links to music and movies I like. These posts show up there, too, but I can turn that off. But I won't. 

I've realized that no one wants to read long blog entries. This is where I find obscurity! But, also, accountability, because nothing I post here is something I would want to keep secret. I may not want to shine the brightest light on what I write here, because this is my most reliable outlet for getting some catharsis.

Also, I've deleted my profile on a free dating site. That was nothing but trouble and a confirmation that romance is for other people. This year is the year I stop caring that I don't have a partner, and hopefully a reminder that my attractions to other people have been the source of great misery. 

Finally, there's Tumblr, which I use to post little snippets of "music" I create in my spare time. I'm not sure why I do this because I don't think any of what I do is ready for other ears to listen. Likewise, I post material to SoundCloud as well. I'm not sure why, because I've had at least one person tell me I shouldn't do this. The goal is to find a collaborator or a partner, and I'll still try to figure out how to make that happen.

In short, I live a pretty solitary life, despite being in public a lot and leaving a lot of myself online. Somehow I'm more expressive on here than I am anywhere else. I'm just a person going through the motions, and my contributions to social media in part define how people perceive of me. Yet, what I'm putting out there is only a distorted version of who I am. This year I'm hoping to flesh that out as I continue living out my fifth decade in this rapidly evolving century of ours.

So, 2014, bring it on. I'm ready to document it all. 


Towards 2014!

It's late at night and I've already broken two of my resolutions. Though, maybe I haven't. Who knows? The year has a lot of life left in it yet.

I was not where I wanted to be to end the year, but what more fitting a place than Court Square Tavern? I will admit I was grumpy and unhappy to be there, but now that I'm at the end and there's money in my pocket and money I know will go to pay towards certain obligations.

And in the end, that's what 2013 was. 2013 was a year in which I put my head down and did my job, all four of them. I'm a working class man who struggles to make sure I have enough to provide for my children. When you view it that way, I thrived this year because I've come out on top despite many broken items that needed repair in December. 

There was a man outside my house now who was so angry. I could not make out his words, but he was threatening violence to someone on the phone, or someone in his head. I could not tell. I had gone out to see if my other cat was nearby. Well, the only one now. I hope that man will be okay, and that he'll calm down, and whatever situation he is in will resolve itself peacefully.

I want the next year to be about other people, not about me. I want to expand the kind of work I do as a journalist. I want to continue aspiring, and the weight of the previous year is now lifted. It's silly, but it feels true. 

So, towards 2014!