I made it

I made it to the opening day of the new Star Wars movie. 

I didn't think that would happen. I didn't think I'd have the fortune to see what happens next. 

I leave for the theater in thirty minutes. I'm going by myself. I have no shame or sadness in that. I've chosen now to embrace this part of my story, the one where I'm working hard to provide for my children. 

And I made it. 

No need to say much except I'm excited. 

I'll let MC Chris take it from here. 


Things I've been meaning to tell you, Dec 2015 edition

So, really, things are great. 

Even when they're not great, my day-to-day life is calm, relaxing and filled with purpose. 

But I'm right back to where I was, exercise and health-wise, seven years ago when my marriage ended. 

I weighed 198 pounds when I stepped on the scale today. When I began exercising to kill the pain, the anguish was my fuel. I pushed myself and pushed and pushed myself. I dropped down to 165, developed myself in a way I didn't think was possible and gained so much more confidence than I've ever had.

Now the pain is gone and my life is running pretty well. My work is meaningful to me, my children are a part of my life and I've learned to enjoy solitude and a peaceful life without a partner. 

But things are wrong. I'm eating too much. Drinking too much. And I'm getting unhealthy. 

That's going to change. I have plans and I have goals and I will document them here. Being physically active is something I miss and I can feel the extra weight dragging down my quality of life. 

So what am I going to do? Hit "publish" and keep myself accountable. But first, it's back to the gym for 45 minutes of cardio before I go back to work. 



I can sense that the season is seeking to strip me of my sensibilities. The lack of light has left me loose and disconnected. The doubts within me are harmonizing, preparing for a suite of dirges that will call me into the darkness.

I am trying my best to not let that happen. 

I'm not exercising. I seem to instead be working as much as possible. I seem to not have leisure time at the moment. Everything feels like a job, but knowing that, I'm kind of relaxed about it. I'm doing good work, even if I sometimes begin to lose faith in myself and the quality of what I do. 

I'm more cautious than I've ever been in my life. I don't take risks anymore, not the way I would have in the past. I don't ask anyone out. I don't go anywhere spontaneously. I don't look for other jobs. I don't look to have adventures.

I know what I have to do, and what I do is work. 

Well, work and play Minecraft. 

I need to be doing something purposeful at every moment, it seems. Even my chosen pastime is a form of work, as it takes a lot of time to accomplish the objectives of the game. I'll spend weeks on a particular task I'm trying to accomplish.

Yesterday, I converted back into a zombie villager, repopulating the first village I ever saw in my game world. There's only one of them so far, but I remember the tremendous loss I felt when I realized that my nocturnal mining habits had attracted so many zombies that the entire village was wiped out. 


Forgive me if I don't explain tonight.

As I type this, I'm listening to a Board of Architectural review meeting, half-listening to the things the architect is telling them about the parapet, something about utilitarian spaces, something about demolishing a building and preferred strategies but I'm not really listening at all. All of their words are being processed by me, though, as my ears perk up occasionally when I hear something that interests me. 

They've perked up a bit as I sift through the words for details I can tell to others. That's what I do. I sift through the noise for things I think people should know. I've done this for over 20 years now as a journalist.

When it comes to other creative outlets, though, I don't know what other people would be interested in. I just make my noise and hope one day others will sift something and make sense of my sensibilities.


Secret music

I wonder if anyone will ever listen to the music I've made over the past six years. They're improvisational journeys that capture specific moments in time while reflecting on all the other moments in time I've had in my 42 years. 

Technically it's not all there, but I record myself as a way of speaking to the universe that I know, which includes myself. I'm sometimes able to project things that really capture how I'm feeling about a particular issue. I'm able to release myself and just communicate with myself in a way that words don't do as much as they used to. 

Words alone aren't enough for me. For the past eight and a half years, I've been employed as a writer who just writes text. I've enjoyed being on the radio at WTJU as part of Soundboard, but it's going away at the beginning of the year.

I miss making audio of any kind. I learned how to produce public radio pieces because it continued a tradition of making audio that goes back to my childhood. I loved making sound happen, capturing my voice on a tape for a series of silly things I did with my best friend growing up. 

Listening now to music I did in mid-summer makes me glad I've not stopped believing in the power of making sound, music, whatever you call it. I've given myself a soundtrack that makes sense to me, helps me feel like I've achieved something, just by capturing something that's intimate on tape, over and over again.

As I said, technically I'm not sure if this is music at all or just the mad ramblings of a crazy person. In this moment when I write this word, though, the creation I made happen by believing in myself by hitting record is making me glad I've tried.

Could anyone listen? Would anyone be entertained? I don't make what I make for anyone else but me. But that keeps me from even trying to find others to play music with or even to find people to play it for. It's almost like I have to keep it secret because it's the only thing that I don't want ever to lose. 

Listening to me sing on the nights where I feel confident is very important to me. 

I have a voice. Many voices. I'm a reporter who has the fortune to have been on the same beat for eight and a half years. I'm a father who encourages his kids to learn as much as they can about the world. 

I'm also a person who has a creative point of view that is not currently being expressed.

Publicly, at least.

Privately, I have hours and hours of my demo tapes.

Will anyone ever hear them? I hope so. I'd like to think there's material in here that could be fleshed out into something. 

But I don't think I should put out the raw stuff I'm currently doing. I'd like people to know about it, which is why I guess I'm writing about it tonight. There's a whole creative side of me that I would like to explore. That's the direction I'd like to take. 


A Halloween confession

Here's something.

I don't really like Halloween.

It makes me feel really, really inadequate. I am not the kind of person who likes to dress up in outlandish costumes. I also have a hard time relaxing these days around other people. I feel like I'm always wearing masks anyway, never really unable to tell most of the people I come into contact what I feel about anything. In order to do my job right, I have to check so much of myself and put it away. 

But it's more than that, too. I can't imagine spending time to get a costume together. The idea of it all makes me anxious. My life is one where relaxation takes the form of hanging out by myself without a deadline. I feel anxious when I let my guard down, nervous that maybe I said the wrong thing.

I'm happy for others who like the holiday and don't at all want to have people think I want others to not enjoy themselves. I just get a weird, sad melancholy when Halloween comes around and I'm not entirely in the fun. 

I don't know how to be in the fun anymore. Fun is for other people. 

Do I really believe that? 

I think I do. 

Though, my feeling of uncertainty could also come from this being the beginning of the holiday season, which is not my favorite time of year at all. I look forward to January 1 when the new year begins and hope returns, hope that maybe the next time around the sun won't feel as difficult. 

Sadly, though, they're all just going to get more difficult until the end comes. That's the most horrifying thing I can think of, and it's not at all supernatural. 

As I approach the end of the 1st quarter of my 42nd year, I reflect that somehow I've managed to find happiness amidst the challenges of my life.  I take joy from being alive and having a mix of emotions swimming around my brain and body. There's a tremendous amount of meaning in my life.

But, I do wish that holidays didn't make me anxious. But I'm comfortable with the fact that they do. 



I had a great day today. I turned in two stories and worked on a third that's going to be an absolute blockbuster. More on that another time, though I really don't want to talk about my work that much here. 

I thought I was supposed to work at Court Square, but when I realized I did not have to do, I felt like I could devote some time to myself. I went to Tin Whistle to finish work and met up with my work colleague Tim Shea who is leaving the organization soon. Speaking with Tim and his girlfriend made me happy, as did talking to several other friends I saw there. 

So I decided to come home and try to make music. Astute readers will know this is a pastime of mine and has been for many years. Singing my own songs makes me feel alive, but I don't seem to be able t write them. I have to improvise them. I love seeing what I can come up with in the moment. 

I also have a hard time sharing any of it because none of it is perfect. 

I have dozens and dozens of hours of material that I've created off the top of my head, all these weird experiments where I just let my imagination ago and sing what's on my mind while trying to be my own accompaniment. 

I don't have to share it. But I want to, but I'm so scared I'll be told it's awful. I've never been able to get over criticism over things I make from my heart. The songs I sing in order to process what's on my mind. 

I want to work with people. I want to make songs. I want to make a version of me that is more than than the me everyone knows. 

But for now, I am so satisfied I actually broke a three month hiatus on recording anything. I have had a weird year so far. Tonight, though, I had a bit of a break-through, and that is why I have satisfaction. 


Thoughts on the future, the past, the gift of the now

I'm rewatching Back to the Future 2 for the second time in 24 hours. I'm looking forward to Saturday's Doctor Who.

The concept of time travel appeals to me because I so often wonder what would have happened if I had made different decisions at key points. Both the trilogy and my favorite television show employ a narrative device that simply doesn't exist. But yet I often imagine how I might go back and fix mistakes.

I am a time traveler. I've committed my life as a writer to understanding how people make decisions. I've learned so much about how the community in which I live came to be. I have spent the last eight years writing about decisions made. I am gifted with the ability to write these things down.

I am also blessed with the ability to be able to write and sing my life in my personal journals, and I often write about time travel and patterns that I see in my life, personally and professionally.

Sometimes I think I am trying to create a bootstrap paradox

On this day, October 22, 2015, there is no more imaginary future in Marty McFly's world. There's only the now, the same as it ever was. And so, there is only a future we can make. I feel liberated in a way because I know that time travel is just a trick we humans play on each other to help us all want to do better.

I know what I want now. This isn't the forum to really to talk about that directly, but I want to stop thinking about the past. The past is resolved. I've learned so many lessons. The past is still with me, but I have always been present while imagining a better future.

We made it this far, everybody. Let's keep making things better.


Two months into 42

This is the first day in seven that I'm going to go to the gym. I feel weird about this because I would love to go. But I'm working on a story and I have to go to work shortly. I don't much want to go to work, but I'm facing up to my responsibilities.

I'll also work tomorrow, finishing up this story as well as doing a catering shift.

This isn't where I wanted to be, financially, at 42. But, it's what I have to do. Becoming suddenly single so suddenly after purchasing a house almost seven years had an effect that will last well into my fifties.

Now that I can see my fifties approaching, at least on a spreadsheet, I no longer feel young, mentally. I feel my options are pretty limited, so I'm trying to be the best at the things

Physically, though, I feel fantastic because I know I'm on the right track. I've not had a soda in almost two months and I've given up coffee.

I've also given up hope in other arenas, but I won't go into that here. Things are more or less going great, except when I realize how much I have a life that works best if I'm alone. I'll be working as much as I can as long as I can to dig myself out of a whole dug with the efforts of long-gone passion.

Tomorrow, though, I'll go to the gym before I go to work. I'll try my best to stay positive. I get knocked down, and I get up again.


More tweet experimenting

This one is another experiment. I can't tell you what it's for, because I'm not sure what it's for. But, I often say things on Twitter in the moment, and I want to be able to get more people to read them. 

So here is my journalistic work-day digested via tweets. 

Council began at 7:00. One of the first items on their agenda is always Matters from the Public. Anyone can speak up to three minutes on any item that doesn't have a public hearing on the main agenda.  Often these are on issues I don't write about, but I think are significant enough for people to know what's being said. The tweets do not do what's said justice, most of the time, but they hopefully inform people and whet appetites for people to want to know more.

Both of these people need to be heard to fully explain what they were saying. I often think about creating podcasts that are just annotated versions of Matters from the Public. Real people's voices say much more than I can summon in words.

I'm hoping my fellow journalists are paying attention to this and are readying stories on the third anniversary of Sage's disappearance.

My job, though, is to monitor what's happening with Charlottesville and Albemarle government as it pertains to the built environment. The phrase "built environment" is jargon, I know this, but it's all around us, and there are ways to affect that happens.  Part of that is through monitoring decisions that are made by passing the consent agenda.

I love that people are paying attention.

Oops.  I left off the unit in the tweet. $12,500, not $12.5 million. I'm not perfect, but corrections can help me become more accurate.

I have a policy of not tweeting things that I'm likely to write about. I want to save the facts for my article. I'm going to write in the next few days about many transportation items that happened at this meeting. But, I had to make an exception for this.

I took a break from tweeting for a while. I'm not writing about the next issues I'll tweet, so the medium was perfect to help me pay attention.

So, that would appear to be that. I'll spend several hours later this week revisiting the meeting, and these tweets help me remember where I was by connecting me to the moments I was in City Council chambers watching it all. That will help me as I sort through what's going to be a confusing story to write, but I'll get something good written by attacking the confusion with research!

This is my life. You can look through what I do and see that I'm sad about my lack of a personal life. But, I'm much happier than I've been in a long time because I genuinely love this. I'm excited to be able to share what I know, because I want more people to pay attention to local government and to spend less time paying attention to national government. We can't affect national government, but we can change our "built environment" by understanding better how complex our communities are.

I'll conclude this experiment by previewing tomorrow.


Recapping a meeting in tweets

This one's experimental. Heck, they all are, really. If you go back into the deep archives of this blog, you'll see that I often used it ten years ago to try things out and to say where I was with my experimenting with podcasting and the Internet. This was before Facebook and Twitter, and in general I was probably a bit more candid than I am on those platforms. Even this blog, until my 42nd birthday, was not very active anymore because I was afraid I would say something I didn't want everyone in my community to know. 


I define that broadly, and I think most people do now. I think that Facebook in particular has given us all the chance to explore our own reality through the all of the previous communities we have been in. My friends on Facebook come from growing up in Lynchburg to my time in New Hampshire to my family across the world, but I'm mostly connected to the people I know in Charlottesville. 

Twitter, though, I use to be a journalist, mostly. I'm not as personal and I really dig into the details of how my community is put together, past and present with an eye to the future. 

So, on that note, let me try embedding some of the tweets from today's roundtable of former Mayors and Vice Mayors of the City of Charlottesville. 

At this point, I'd like to apologize to Nancy O'Brien for not tweeting her cvillepedia entry.
Huja began the meeting by asking those who were present to mention two issues they faced when they were Mayor or Vice Mayor.

Let me break in here for a second to say that Daugherty had a lot more to say. They all did. These are just tweets that were recorded in the moment. I'm going to post the audio at some point, and I encourage anyone who's read this far to just listen. Anything I ever write is just an account of what happened. It's my version of what happened, and I don't ever want to pretend that I have the final say on anything.

It's the same thing as when I was a radio reporter. You take soundbites and hope you get it right. Hope you got something that distilled what happened in that moment. You can so easily get it wrong.

I took a risk live-tweeting this, because there's so much that can go wrong. You will note a lot of punctuation errors in the above. I'm just trying to get the information out there quickly, and I want to be as thorough as possible while staying in 140 characters.

Anyway, back to the people from today.

The Buck Mountain reservoir never happened. During an environmental check, the Jamesriver Spineymussel was discovered and the project was cancelled and another search for a larger community water supply would play out at the end of the 2000's. But, that's for another day.

Alvin Edwards arrived late, so he didn't get a link to his cvillepedia entry.

Holly Edwards then began to explain why she wanted to convene this meeting. I didn't capture this as well as I could have, so I recommend you listen to the recording.

O'Brien also made the point here that they didn't have emails or cellphones back then. Again, listen to the audio if you've taken the time to get this far into this account.

I'm going to end the account here, because I want to go back and listen to what the elected officials said. You can follow me to see what I said, or otherwise look at the timeline. But I want to write a fuller account of this when I can go back and hear the audio.

I want to do more of these. I'm not going to publicize this page. I'm thinking of creating a new blog that just archives my tweets on a daily basis. I can maybe send that out as a newsletter or something. I think I write some interesting things and I want to build a bigger audience for it. I want to reach more people and get more people interested in their local community.



The summer is over. Long live the summer, as we've got it for another month or so, along with the hint of fall. I can feel the potential for joy as the leaves fall from the trees and survival instincts kick in. How shall we survive the winter? Have we collected enough? Have we stored enough fat? 

I am not sure. I just know I'm working furiously to prepare, to fix myself, and now that summer is over I can work without thinking I need to go on vacation, I can just get on with it, and I can take joy in anything. There is nothing that can stop me now but my own falling leaves, my own decay. 

Music from the past can help. I'm reading Kim Gordon's memoir, Girl in a Band, at the moment, and I began my work day by listening to an album I'd not ever heard before by the Raincoats, a British all-woman band from the 1980's and I'm tempted to just listen to the whole thing again a second time. 

Seems appropriate to hear as I begin the last four months of a year that I had high expectations for that has turned out to be more of the same. I'm halting the slide, though. I'm on the way towards something a little bit different. I'm on the way towards a new middle.  


A depression day

No need to panic. No need to cry. No need to worry, either.

But today is a depression day. Actually, this whole week has been like that. 

I didn't want to get out of bed today. I woke up at 6:00 and my fantasy is that I can somehow become a morning person. But, I never want to leave my dreams. I fell back to sleep and woke up again at 8:00, but still couldn't get out of bed.

I'd spent the night before writing about guns and rage and anger on Facebook, trying to get conversations going where people can at least acknowledge there is a problem. It seems that's a role I can play, or want to play.

But then I wake up, and I don't believe in myself. I dread that I said awful things and that I'm going to be punished for voicing an opinion. I stay in bed and don't want my day to begin because I dread bad news and notifications of needs for corrections and other things that bring me a great deal of stress.

I'm in a cycle, I know this. If I had gotten up at 6:00 and gone to the gym, I'd likely feel so much more capable than I do now. But I had to get to work to begin writing a story, a story that is not proceeding so well as I write this. I can't seem to connect to it, and the voice of doubt is screaming at me that I'm not good enough to write this story.

I confess my vulnerabilities. My therapy in part is to be honest about the way my biochemistry works and about the way I cope with the sadness that flows through my bloodstream. I've gotten very good at challenging myself, but I need to get better. I should have run, but I panicked that I needed the time to write the story.

I don't write out why I have the sadness, and maybe I should. It relates to poor decisions I have made but writing about those poor decisions and the isolation I feel as a result can be counter-productive. I want to move forward, but I never quite seem to get ahead. I have a very hard time believing in myself and I have an even harder time believing that I have any worth to anyone else. 

Another trap, but one I can't escape. 

I'm trying to. Me writing here is one way to get all of this out of my head. I need to understand it better. I have deliberately chosen a non-medicated way to deal with my depression. I believe that sharing my feelings, albeit with an anonymous audience, is a good way to shake my fist at the demons. One day maybe I'll be able to believe in myself for more than 20 minutes.

At the end of the day, I'm not living the life I want to live. I don't even believe I have a choice anymore. This literally depresses me. 

But I'm a fighter, and I get through the day by going through my job anyway, slowly piecing together stories. The doubt shouts at me, and a feeling like being punched from within pulses and pulses. I imagine the worst thing that ever happened to me is happening again, and I just have to take a very deep cleansing breath and remember the best things that have happened to me. I think of my children, I think of how I want to help them with any emotional difficulties they have. I want them to never let people take away their self-confidence from them. I think about the kind of life I want to live, and how I might be able to cut through the furious vines that keep me in place. 

Maybe one day I'll get there. 

Today, though, is a depression day, and I'm fighting it. I got out of bed, I'm writing my story, and I will find room in my day to run. Running makes everything better. 



I'm numb. Because this keeps happening.
We go to Bridgewater Plaza several times a year. It's a place my children love. Two people I didn't know were murdered there in cold blood, doing the same job that so many of my friends do. All because some asshole couldn't get a handle on his anger and he had access to a tool that allowed him to impose his hatred onto the world.
And it'll happen again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again.
That's why I'm numb.
This one's weird because I've spent so much time in the exact spot where they were murdered. I've watched my nieces and nephews grow up there, and my own children delight in going to the arcade. My own sense of place was shattered in exactly the same way that it was when the massacre at Virginia Tech happened and exactly the same way it was when my friend's cousin was murdered by an angry man with a gun when I was in high school.
How much longer until we have one of these murder-suicides happen here? I keep wondering when one will happen at City Council, or on the downtown mall. 
I want to spend today just thinking about these issues, thinking about how to protect my children, how to talk with their mother and stepmother about how to talk to them about this. 
Journalists are killed all the time throughout the world and we turn our backs on it. I don't want to turn my back on this. I want somehow for all of us to sit down together and talk about anger, talk about ways to help people cope with it. Because somehow we're churning out a whole lot of men who seem to think the world owes them something, and when they don't get it, they pick up a gun or guns. 
And we'll keep avoiding the tough talk and I'll be quiet again because I'm not supposed to talk about this.


The end of romantic foibles

After at least three dozen uncomfortable and awkward dates, a couple of really good first dates that didn't lead anywhere and one broken heart I've still not recovered from, I have decided to pull the plug on my online dating account after nearly seven years. I am not going back.

With that action, I confirm that I have officially given up on dating for the near future with an option to give up on romance the rest of my life.

 I can't write publicly all of the romantic foibles I've had. At this point, I can't imagine anyone wanting to be with me for more than a few minutes. This might be due to reading profile after profile of people who want someone to go exploring with. Usually these people don't have children, and still have the option to have lives of leisure. I don't have that option.

I'm a walking red flag, so I'm waving a white one I surrender to being alone.

But I am not surrendering to loneliness. I plan on working seven days a week starting now to make sure I can get to the next level for myself professionally and spiritually.

I feel much better already.

I would have posted this on the site, but my profile is deleted, so this is my way of saying something about it. I do wish I could write about romance as a twice-divorced person, but I can't do that publicly. I think there's a lot of humor in it, but there's a lot of sadness, too.

I just want to be happy. I've found happiness inside of me and I'm going to nurture it.


Notes That Were Episode #6

So, I'm going through all of the audio in my archive in the hopes of sorting it out somehow. And I came across this episode of The Notes That Were, a podcast I did from 2005 to 2007 but never published because the content is likely not palatable to most people. 

One of my formative influences is Negativland, and I wish they were a household name because it would make explaining myself so much easier. But they are not, so you'll have to look it up yourself.

This is me chopping up all kinds of comments when I was an evangelist for podcasts in 2005 and 2006. I really wanted to make podcasts and I still do. Making audio is when I feel happiest. I think I'm going to go ahead and just do that and see what happens.

Here it that episode. I'll explain if I have to, but just listen and see what you think. 

Time travel back to 2005

I don't think I can listen to this, but maybe I should. 

In November 2005, I was part of a panel discussion sponsored by the Virginia Piedmont Technology Council on blogs, podcasting and RSS. I may have even written about it in the past on this blog, but I'm not sure. 

That was a different era. But maybe it's the same era. 

I don't know. 

All I know is this is the second day in a row I'm experimenting with things, organizing things, and trying to figure out how to get back into the podcasting game. I'm not making a quick move towards that, but I feel I've lost touch. I must get back to it.

I'm experimenting with different services. I'm working with some friends to produce a podcast they want to do. Moderately intelligent sports talk is what you'll hear on the Cool Stove. I'm using a service called Podomatic on this one to test out what one of these podcasting sites offer. I can easily embed each episode here. I'm curious to know what you think. It was frightfully easy to create this. I produced the show from their raw interview, just to whet my appetite to produce more and more. 

The Charlottesville Podcasting Network still exists, but I don't own it or operate it anymore. I had to turn it over to someone because I couldn't afford to pay for its upkeep anymore. I'm still associated with it, but I barely know how it works anymore. For instance, I can't give you an embed of the file from above. I can only send you to the site.

In any case, what would I hear if I heard the podcast of me from almost ten years ago? I would hear someone who was in a very different era, with so much going to happen. Do I feel pity for that person, or compassion? I can't change anything now. And I wouldn't want to. Things are pretty awesome, or at least, I am finding it easier and easier to get back to 42.

Any questions?


The power of making music

When I am in my most stressful moments, snippets of lyrics I've sang in the past generally save me. 

I don't share all of music with the world, because I don't have the time to perfect it. I do it for me, because I need something to save me at times of severe stress.

I'm in times of severe stress frequently. My beard is going grayer much sooner than I thought it would. Every single day brings with it some crisis that has to be solved.

And they're almost always solved. 

Since 2009, I've made at least fifty hours of songs, all improvised as I play my guitar and try to let myself go as much I can. I become this weird version of myself when I sing, and I love being able to have the luxury to spend some of my humanity to capture this stranger who lives inside of me.
That stranger saves me all the time.

I can't explain it, but I want to. I'm one human being among way over seven billion now. So many people, so many potential points of view. 

I want people to be able to shut out criticism in order to create something that is helpful to them. I create things to understand me better. I have renewed this blog in order to try to understand me better. 

I improvise everything when I sing. I am incapable of writing songs. I need to live through the things I created, which is probably a reason I don't share them with many people. I don't want my lived experience to be taken away from me. 

That's the power of making music for yourself, as opposed to just consuming others. That's crucial, yes, to study others and to know forms and the like. I don't know. My song self doesn't think about any of that, to be honest. My song self is just me in a crystallized moment. 

When I hear bits of those fifty hours, I'm energized. I think I am me in this moment and all of the other moments. I hear a voice is alive, that is fallible, that is human, a human is connected to is own humanity. 

But can I let anyone ever hear it? If I think about that, I immediately say no. I don't want to take away from what it means to me. Is this selfish? Self-protective? The right idea? 

I don't know, but I'll finish this post with a video of a song that also goes through my head. Novelty by Joy Division, whose lead singer killed himself in 1980. The words in this song shout out to me from the time when he was alive and they resonate with me. He lives on. When you hear this, just think of me as a person who is only as good as the last story he wrote.

So they say. One day courage will come. 


Malcolm Tucker and the Doctor

I was just getting used to finally accepting Peter Capaldi as the Doctor when someone at Buzzfeed decided to point out 21 ways in which we can swear like Malcolm Tucker.  If you click, it's decidedly not for people who can't handle profanity, obscenity, abuse, or any of the other lovely things I came to appreciate watching The Thick of It.

For me, I was very skeptical of Peter Capaldi being named as the Doctor. To me, his face was so associated with the amazing spectacle of Malcolm Tucker, the spin doctor for an unnamed party in British politics in that fictional show. I first watched it on a trip to England in 2012 and fell in love based on Capaldi's ability to so easily display concentrated hatred that could be used for political ends.

So, when he was announced two years ago as the replacement for Matt Smith, I was completely flummoxed. I watched the presentation on a live stream from the BBC with my children present. I didn't know what to expect, but when his named was announced, I was about what kind of Doctor he would play. 

Thinking about that moment two years later, I remember he came out with his thumbs in his lapels, a stance that is associated with William Hartnell's grumpy first Doctor. That made me think he would be carrying over Malcolm Tucker into the character of the Doctor. 

At that time, Matt Smith still had three episodes left. His Doctor is youthful, enthusiastic, and confident about his abilities to defeat his enemies. 

Capaldi shows up at the end of the last of those episodes, at a time when the character has been given a new lease on life thanks to other characters in a way I'm not going to explain. None of this makes sense if you don't know the show, and I get that. But I still want to explain anyway because this is about how an actor can transition from one iconic role to another.

Capaldi appeared in the last minute, and he had short gray hair and said a few things that indicated he wasn't quite with it. When his debut took place, the same vibe continued. 

And now we've had a full season of him, and during that time I've thought about a lot about grumpiness in a person's character and how it's ultimately unbecoming. It takes until the very end of Capaldi's first series during the Christmas episode to understand that he is capable of experiencing joy.

Which brings us to now. The new season begins in a month and in the trailer Capaldi shows signs of continuing to evolve into a role that has seemed purposely tentative. 

There's a real reason I enjoy this show. I identify with a character who is ever-changing who is written in a universe that more or less it knows it is fictional. 

Malcolm Tucker is not the Doctor.

Peter Capaldi played both roles.

Any connection between is in my head, but then I think that I'm not the only one who was concerned. The role was played perfectly, and I eagerly anticipate the season that's about to begin. The trailers don't show an actor anymore. They show a character who is evolving, and that's what I care about.

Because I'm also a character who wants to evolve. The best fiction inspires that in people, don't you think? 


It worked again

I felt grumpy all day. Nothing felt right. I had a 9:00 meeting so I didn't get to run. I opted instead to spend about half an hour cleaning before I went out to meet my friend at Brazos. 

I also had to cover a meeting at which I didn't get to say anything. I was a ghost in the room taking notes and attending to my work correspondence. 

I started several blog posts but they were very depressing and that's not the side of me I want to present to the world.

I'm tired of being grumpy.

Then I had to cover another meeting that I didn't know about, which meant I had to change my evening plans. Those plans were to go the gym and do something to keep building a new habit. I need that new habit so much. I weigh almost 200 pounds, the result of totally giving up on exercise this summer.

I'm not going to chastise myself for letting myself go. I had reasons, and I've taken steps to get back on track.

I got home from the meeting and my mind really wanted me to skip the gym. I didn't have as much time, but I could feel my body sulking. 

So, I went to the gym. I can see into the fitness room from my bedroom, and I saw the rowing machine was free. My plan was to do that instead of running, because I don't want to do just the same thing every day. 

I got to the gym, though, and I panicked because someone was working out very close to the rowing machine. I'm weird about exercising so close to other people. It's why I've never taken a yoga class. I still have fears generated from PE classes in grade school. 

I ran a quarter mile instead to warm up, conquered my fear, and got on the rowing machine anyway. I've not done that in so long and I was so uncoordinated. I threw off my self-consciousness, though, and rowed 2,000 meters anyway. Sweat poured down my bald head, and I looked stupid, but I began to feel great anyway. 

Then I got back on the treadmill, ran the rest of a mile, and two hours later I still feel amazing that I stuck to my program, stuck to the plan to make 42 a better year than many that have come before. 

So, it worked. And I finished this blog post, and I can go delete the drafts of negative posts that I really don't think need to be shared with the world.

I want to choose the positive path. I've always wanted to do this. I have to make this the way of it.


Away from the fitness

I saved my life by devoting myself to exercise.

Maybe I can do so again. 

There was a time when I had nothing else to do but run. I dropped 30 pounds in four or five months as I ran and ran and ran. 

It's all back. And I'm not sure I have the willpower to make it go away. 

But, I'm trying to fight whatever demon in my mind wants me to stay away from the endorphins and the feeling of satisfaction that comes with being fit. Last week I bought new shoes for the first time in two years. And today I fought off a potential wave of sadness by signing up for a gym membership and promptly went for a three mile run. 

The strategy worked. It's wearing off now, for reasons I can't say, but I so hope I can remember this tomorrow and get some miles in.

I don't quite know when I stopped practicing the power of exercise, but I did. Maybe there's part of me that just doesn't care anymore. I hope that part goes away and that I can make intentional choices. I don't have a lot of control over things that are not me, but I need to get control of my time and insist on activity. 

But here's what happens. I choose work over exercise every single time. My work has taken over almost every aspect of my life. It pervades everything, even my dreams. At least twice a week I have stress dream where there's a permit I have to get or a news story written and none of it goes wrong. I get caught in endless loops, and my waking life isn't much different.

Today, for instance, I knew I wanted to run. But, as I was leaving to drop off my children at their mother's house this loud voice in my head said I should be trying to get to work as soon as possible. I'd taken a day off after my birthday, and I felt like I was somehow out of place. I played tug of war in my head for a bit, trying to justify the run, thinking of the work I needed to do, and finally I snapped and did the right thing.

I need a different direction. A different era. That's only going to happen if I make it happen. 

So, now I'm going to head towards fitness.  


Sense of perspective

Aside from various projects here and there, Roanoke looks pretty much like it was when I left there thirteen years ago to move to Charlottesville. Of course, my American children and I only spent about six hours there today but my cursory observation is that the place has the same charm and somewhat latent energy it has when I left to come here.

We all have question points in our lives where things could have turned one way or the other. For me, taking an official job in the public radio system was one where perhaps I should have paused a bit. I can certainly imagine the world with me becoming a public citizen in Roanoke the same way I seem to have done that here in Charlottesville. 

The danger of having become a writer and a journalist is that I tend to be able to pick up everything, including my own life. I've written hundreds of thousands of words now, mostly for myself, but I have a body of work covering local politics in my community.

What does "politics" mean to you? For me, it means allocation of resources. That may be a boring term to many, but I look at it in a very holistic way. Politics is the act of deciding what is going to be done in the public sphere, in the realm controlled by our system of government. I'm fascinated to have an up-front seat as an observer. I'm glad my time is spent trying to understand how things work in terms of public policy in my very small part of the universe. 

My career as a journalist began in Roanoke twenty years ago. I'd been at a student newspaper at Virginia Tech, but I thought I might actually be able to make a go in this profession when I began work as an intern at WVTF Public Radio in the winter of 1995. I got a ridiculous amount of credit hours to spend three eight-hour days learning how to write tight copy, learning how to edit tape.

But, it was really there that I began to learn how Virginia works. The mornings would begin getting a tape feed via satellite from the Virginia News Network. It came down and recorded to a reel-to-reel. I would edit the soundbites from Richmond and write up copy that my mentors told was better than what was coming out of the commercial service. 

The content of those stories is long gone. I can't imagine there's any record of them. Somewhere, though, I do have a huge print-out of all the stories I wrote from that time. Someone who is no longer in the business gave them to me about ten years ago. 

Do you remember where you were in 1995, presuming you were alive? I hope so. Life is much better when we have records of what happened, records that are ours and not simply memories of what was popular at the time. I couldn't tell you much about that, but I can tell you I remember being in the newroom at the station when the Kobe earthquake took place, when the federal building in Omaha was blown up. 

The memories of my personal life in the spring of 1995 are hazy. I still had to work at a restaurant, still had to go to class, and I was in a long-term relationship. 

But I was hooked. I wanted to know how Roanoke worked, and my mentors were glad to teach me. I wanted to understand this place, this city that was the biggest one next to the one I grew up in. I learned about how in Virginia, cities and counties are completely separate political jurisdictions from each other. I learned that the sheriff in the city of Roanoke was in charge of prisoner transports, whereas the sheriff's deputies in the county of Roanoke were more about general law enforcement. 

I don't know if that's still the case, but now I want to check. 

And that's why I feel so lucky. I get paid to ask questions and to wonder how things work. That's more or less all I want. I sometimes think maybe I'm supposed to guide things, or maybe I'm supposed to give my opinion.

But everyone has an opinion, including myself. I can't hide that, but I don't believe I can explain mine in less than 1,000 words on any subject. And I really don't want you to fall asleep. 

I want to listen to others. I want to tell stories about who we are, why we are here in whatever when
I happen to currently be in, whenever the juice is turned on and I have to write something suddenly. 

What I've neglected to do, though, is write off deadline to try to explain some of my worldview. I think maybe it might be of interest as people. 

This blog is my public record, and I've not redacted any of it. There are times when maybe I was more candid than I should have been, but it's a document of my life. This is not my journal, but at times it has served that function. 

So, one day after I turn 42, I leave Lynchburg for a day trip to Roanoke to take my American children to the museums there. For whatever reason, Roanoke hasn't been a destination that pops up in my mind a lot, despite having a lot to offer. 

I'll leave it there for that, as I must get back to some work. But, I plan on writing here daily for a little while, just to see what happens. 



I didn't expect to get this far. I'm not sure sometimes that I did. I've written many times about feeling like a ghost, but today I actually relaxed and allowed myself to feel corporeal. 

It was nice.

42, of course, is the answer to life, the universe and everything. The question is all wrong, yes, yes, we know that. 

I thought I would have answers but I don't have any. I don't have any questions, either. Nor do I have any statements.

Now I am here and it's time to see what that's going to look like. I have my thoughts, but I don't know for sure how long they will last before they collapse on themselves. That tends to happen. 

In the past several days I've had many things to think about, but at the moment I only have this, and it is ephemeral. Yet I shall let it go anyway.

I was going to write something about my music and what it means to me, but the more I get older the more I realize it's best to keep the things truly important to me to myself. That's why I don't write a public journal anymore, for instance. 

I keep to myself a lot. This seems to be good for me. I'm not so sure humans are really supposed to be around each other very much. I think we do best when we keep things virtual. This is just the way I see it, I mean. I've not had much luck with relationships. Not just romantic ones. I mean all of them. I'm best when I don't let people know what's in my head.

And there's the problem, isn't it? 

I want to say more, but there's no one really listening. If I bare my soul, someone will just use that against me. That's the lesson it's taken me 42 years to learn. Best to keep quiet, make other people happy, and take satisfaction from a universe that can be so beautiful. 

Anyway. 42. 


Using Twitter

I use Twitter frequently to archive the research I am doing. I also want to share what I learn with the public. I imagine that people are interested in the things that I am interested in.

Today the topic was the new streetscape for West Main Street, something I have written about for many years. The Planning Commission took up the streetscape six months after Mayor Huja blasted it and said he wouldn't support it. 

This is my blog, so I can limit the backstory. But, I can also refer people to tweets I make throughout the day when I'm researching something.  

I don't like that the default embed here doesn't add a timestamp. I'll have to try to fix that at some point. I want to begin to use this space to experiment again, or maybe I need to find a new space at some point to better inform the public on things I think are important.

I'm an odd duck. I love doing this. I don't think I acknowledge this enough, but I love that I get to work for an organization that's devoted to trying to educate people about local policies and the system by which they are made.

And today I got to time travel.

That tweet was a bit obscure, and I never followed up on it. I got sidetracked a bit by the conversation about Cherry Avenue. I didn't work at Charlottesville Tomorrow at the time, and when I didn't have this job I didn't have the interest level needed to pay attention.

If I had listened then, I would have known about the history of the Cherry Avenue zoning district, which governs the closest major city street to my house. I didn't own the house at the time, though, so how could I have known that the zoning issues would matter to me?

At the time I rented with the woman I was married and I was working to build a business here in town. We had an infant and I was more concerned with trying to make ends meet. I was a sometimes reporter for public radio but I was mostly invested in the Charlottesville Podcasting Network.

Here's a post of a piece I did for CPN back then.

Myo Sim Karate and Kendo turns 40

Twitter didn't exist back then. Facebook was a closed system that was still in development. Social media didn't exist. Heck, this blog was social media at that time. Some people figured out how to find me, somehow, and there was this sense that new things were possible.

Charlottesville Tomorrow was growing at the same time, and here I am in 2015 working for an organization that continues to try out new things. I'm fortunate to have found something to do for a living that allows me to explore my community while telling stories read in the Daily Progress as well as being able to share minutiae on Twitter.

Because, that's the role Twitter plays to me as I exist as a journalist in the second decade of the 21st century. I'm able to take my followers through my research on days like today where I had to make sure I had copy for an 8:15 deadline for a meeting that began at 5:00.

I believe in grounding my stories with as much historical context as possible, so I prepare a lot more than I actually get into my copy at deadline.

You can look at those more closely at my twitter account. I had planned to write more but it's getting late.

I do want to begin using this blog again, though. These days it's off the social media radar unless I get a link from someone, but I really just like having a place to write what I want in public at a time when I wonder what that concept even means.


There's something I want to say, but I cannot. 

There's an impulse in my mind that I must short-circuit.

I gave up the freedom to say what I think in order to become a journalist. 

And it's sad, because I don't really have opinions about outcomes. My opinions are mostly about the process and about attitudes. 

There are days when the negativity depresses me. These days are common. 

I can never go into details. Who would care what I think anyway? 

I will only say that I wish humans didn't have this innate instinct to piss over other humans all the time. 


Reviewing the night and the Tavern

I smell like the tavern. It wasn't a busy night. I cooked nine meals and worked about six hours or so. I met a new surgeon at the University of Virginia who had a bratwurst. I cooked a rueben for a guy who works at the Inn at Court Square. I made two chicken sandwiches, a shepherd's pie and a bratwurst for a table of four. I made an Italian sub for a woman and a portabello stuffed mushroom for her boyfriend. I made a taco salad for my friend Sidney who was there to see the woman and her boyfriend.

I think that adds up. I don't know when I'll be back there again. Likely not for a few months. At the end of the night I feel much better about having been there all night.  I figured out how to move the satellite radio receiver in such a way that it won't overheat and thus stop the music. 

In other words, a good night of being a caretaker. 

Another night in my life. A happy one because I made some extra money I didn't have before. 

I would have liked more customers. I would liked to have had more people to entertain.

Charlottesville is not the same as it was when I began working for the tavern back in August 2004. But then again, nothing is the same day and day out. Dust settles into an eventual grime. Things come and go as the seasons change. 

Yet it's somehow comforting to me to clock in and out in a small dungeon-like room that's been part of the building at 500 Court Square for 90 years. The building seems so ancient to me because I can feel things that have happened there before. I feel drawn to the place and have done since the second I walked in more than 12 years ago. I remember that first time every single time I walk in the door. I felt like I was in the best place in Charlottesville, a hidden place of importance. A place of secrets. 

I began building up my own secrets that first night I walked in the door. I entered into a time machine that I'm still attached to and became part of and I'm still in that story. 

Tonight I told the surgeon that I live in the flight path of Pegasus and could watch the helicopters landing at the University of Virginia several times a day. We talked about what it's like to be a surgeon, and he told me secrets that I wish I could write down. They weren't anything specific, but he spoke candidly about risk and about being human while trying to fix others. 

That's the kind of experience I like when I'm a bartender. Since 2012 I've mostly been a catering server and that's more about creating a movable feast then tending the fires of a bar in a historic place. 

I don't know what's going to happen. There's part of me that leaves open the possibility that one day I'll play a greater role continuing to tend those fires. I'd certainly relish the opportunity to continue growing the place I love into something that helps me learn more stories. In turn, that will help me tell my stories.

That's what happened before. I was able to sustain my return to freelance journalism in the summer of 2004 because at least a third of my income was based on working there. In 2004, the place was still relatively popular. The fire hadn't happened yet and it still had its old reputation and old clientele. 

Thinking about that now, on a night when all the people I knew then have moved on, makes me happy. I learned so many lessons in the year that followed and they are still with me now.

One of the people I worked with then is now engaged to be married to his boyfriend. I'm so glad that sort of thing is no longer a secret. 

If the last ten years of my life were scripted as a television show, Court Square Tavern would be one of the major settings. I can relate my life as a series of seasons that took place there, and I could break down each one if I chose to. Who I am now has been created by each year I've gone through the place, including tonight. 

I feel these narratives don't tell the full story, but I feel the full story is within me waiting to be told. Who would want to hear it? Can I tell it from the perspective of others who are not me? What greater story would I want to tell?

I don't know.

All I know is that as I left tonight, I wondered for a moment what memory of my own I would go back to if I had that opportunity. 

But I can't describe any of those moments because they are mostly secrets, stories about my life that must remain within me and not for any sort of a public audience. It doesn't mean that they are bad, or awful, or anything. Secrets can be banal and absolutely uninteresting.

Maybe at some point those secrets can come out in fiction. I'm absolutely incapable of writing fiction. I'm trained as a journalist and I've certainly established myself in that field, at least locally in the same story I walked into that night in December 2002. 

The thing is... I want to walk into another story. I don't want to end this one, but I would so like to find something else that has as much meaning as a place as Court Square Tavern. Or do I figure out some way to secure its future? 

I have no idea. No idea at all. 

But that's okay. I don't have to know right now.