7/28/2015

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.


Inability

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. 

7/03/2015

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. 


7/02/2015

Another evening at the place where I am



Another night at Court Square Tavern. I don't do this often anymore. This is a place that has fallen out of time and I don't enjoy that anymore. I want to be in the future, not the past, and when I'm here all I can do is see days behind. Not the days ahead.

At one point I wanted to buy this place, but I don't want that anymore. I'm glad that eventuality hasn't happened. I'm still glad to be here occasionally, but the complete and utter lack of customers at the moment confirm my fears that the glory days are long over.

Will this be the last night? I don't know, but I "wrote" this song at some point on another night when I had to temporarily work here.