Another night at Court Square Tavern, still

I sat for two and a half hours tonight doing research for my regular job before the first customer came in. He was a visiting medical student who proudly told me he's gotten all his paperwork turned in for the all-important match for residencies. This guy wants to be a plastic surgeon and he told me all about how it's not at all about breast augmentation and tummy tucks. He explained how plastic surgery helps people recover from losing limbs and bodies need to sculpted back in place sometimes to make that happen. 

Of course, he didn't say that right away. When he came in, I was so focused on my research that when he answered if we had any good food, I told him we had food, but it was up to him if it was any good or not.

Then I quickly apologized, explaining I'm a reporter who is neutral and when I'm thinking that way I can't really be a salesman. Then I told him the bratwurst is very good.

Soon after, a friend of mine who works for one of the local governments came in and we chatted for a bit before another friend of mine came in. Then five more people came in, and then another five. It got busy really quick and I made the shift quickly from writer to tavern-keeper.

It's been 12 years since I began work there and I'm still there. As I've written here on so many occasions, it's the place where I feel most at home in Charlottesville. I prefer to be there just as a customer, but when I am behind the bar and business picks up I am fully engaged and happy to make the people who come in welcome and I want them to leave feeling good that they were at the tavern.

Changes are coming soon. I can't go in to much detail, but changes are coming soon. I'm hoping to be part of them, and I'm hoping they will secure the place well into the future. I need the income I make there but more importantly I need to be able to continue being part of the institution.

My favorite times are when people who used to come in come back and see if for the first time in years. I love hearing stories of the old days, before the fire, and back when CST was one of the only places in town you could find European beer. Now there are corporate chains that offer that service as well, and there are so many more places to go. The tavern hasn't kept up, but it's not been left behind.

There is no other place in downtown Charlottesville where you can go and have a true pub-like experience. To me that means a place where you can go in and suddenly get pulled into a conversation with a stranger. I love getting to have that experience as a bartender. It's such a different experience to working as a catering server, but I love that as well. I love helping to make people happy at weddings in different locations across the community.

But the satisfaction I have working at the tavern on a night when I get to see new experiences unfold. A set of groomsmen and a groom made up one of the groups of five. Sadly I won't also get to work that wedding, but I'd love to. I've been witness to so many now and I'm proud to get to be part of people's lives as a background character.

I do prefer the tavern because I get to be a bit more in the foreground. After all, it's one of my stages and the one where I have fit for so long.

I'll keep working there as long as I can and may be there a bit more in the fall. I want to be part of the changes and try to make it a place that'll continue to be there for a while to come.

As the groomsmen left, several said they hope the place sticks around for a while. I do too.


A piece of history

While I was at the Board of Supervisors all day, I used my secondary thought processor to look up all kinds of specifications about the hardware of the Atari class of home computers. I listened to the business of the day while researching the history of the first personal computer I ever had. In Christmas of 1982, my dad Joe Tubbs got our family an Atari 800. At the time, this was absolutely epic. We set up the computer on our dining room table.
Tonight I found one of the first games we ever played. The Sands of Egypt was a graphics-enhanced text adventure that we never solved despite hours and hours of play time. It's kind of a legend in my family.
And now, here it is courtesy of the Internet Archive almost 34 years after we first played it. So much has changed in that time. 

You can play it here


The Grind

Every day is near the same. My dreams keep me in slumber as I visit cities I'll never get to visit in real life because they might not even exist. I'm assigned to accomplish tasks that can never be solved, but I cannot wake quickly because I am driven to do the impossible. Then the liquid of reality pours in and I float up to consciousness.

I move quickly to my computer to begin to do the impossible. Stories must be written. Complexities must be simplified. Corrections must be made. Direction must be given. First, though, I need caffeine ameliorated by the tannins in my cheap black tea with a spot of milk. I like to sit in my front room going through the first set of information about the world.

First question: How badly did I screw up the night before? Did I get something wrong in a story? Did I make anyone angry? Did anyone react to what I wrote the day before, or what my colleagues wrote the day before? I seem to need to do this at home rather than at my office.

Eventually, though, gravity pulls me towards my desk at work, the same place on the downtown mall that I have sat for over six years now, on the second floor of a parking garage with glass on my right and glass behind me. In years past I might have taken the bus to get there, but route changes have severed my personal connections to the transit system. I lament this almost every time I get in my car to drive the mile and a half.

I take the same route every day. I'm stopped at the same traffic lights on an almost routine basis. I get caught at every single one. By the time I get to the garage, I've managed to listen to ten minutes of either soothing jazz or something somber from public radio. And then I drive up the concrete and try to park in roughly the same spot, close to the mallside elevator. If I park anywhere else, I will forget where I was.

I get out of my car, and then walk down the stairs unless I'm lucky and the elevator shows up right in front of me. If I'm carrying more then two bags, I'll stop and hit the button. When I walk down the stairs, I always remark about how many flights I've taken in that staircase over the last six years. The routine adds up to many miles.

I get to my desk and make a silly comment upon arriving to work. I'm usually in well after 9:00 am because I'm almost always going to be at work well past 5:00 pm. My work day doesn't end until well into the evening.

On some days City Space is filled with people who are attending a workshop, a training, a symposium, a retirement, a party. There's always a happening, and I'm always on the margins watching. I sit at my desk and watch people go by as I settle into the work in front of me.

I always do the work in front of me. Sometimes I do more than what's due that day, but I try my best to never break a deadline or to ask for more time. If I am assigned to something, I always aim to deliver on what I have promised I can do. Any less and I would feel a failure. I do what I say I can do and sometimes this pushes me to new heights of productivity.

I write about the public realm in my community as well as the wishes private property owners have for their land. I see all of the forces pulling upon the community in which I have now lived for 14 years. Everything that comes across my eyes is weighed against the format in which I present my stories. I am that rare person who has had the ability to do the same thing for nine years and with each passing day I feel I grow stronger not only in my ability to get the job done, but also to push past my boundaries.

When I get home, eventually, it is almost always to an empty home. In the summer, I have to turn the air conditioning on to wipe away the stuffiness and heat. In the winter, I have learned to live in the relative cold of my house. But either way, I'm always alone. The days of romance are over for me, or at least, the prolonged stasis of independent living increasingly seems permanent.

This is my life. It is a good one. I believe the work I do is valuable and it is backed up by the funding that my organization receives. I am happier than I have been in my entire life. Every second seems to fit into a cohesive whole. There is not much room for creativity outside my work life in part because I have two other jobs I must do in order to make ends meet. Previous life choices have added up, and the bills have come due.

Certainly I am leaving much out of this narrative. I am certain I will repeat this narrative as well, and add to it as it inevitably changes.

There is no negative connotation associated by titling this post "The Grind" as I believe that I am well-suited by the routine that has been carved out over time. Gone are the musings of a depressed man who felt sorry for himself. In its place are writings from a person who realizes that a life of work and duty is a noble cause.

Yet, I am also the sort of person who questions my own usage of the word "noble" to describe my life. This is just my life. As a child I wanted to know why society worked the way it does. From my position now I do not claim to have any of the answers, but I can describe to you the mechanisms that I see.

I write this in the evening. Soon I will try to sleep and the dreams will come. I will go on another trip and I will be in more exciting scenarios than my current life of public meetings allow. I will fly. I will see people I've not seen in years. I will speak with former lovers and apologize. I will try to make amends. I will be human. And then I will wake  up and it all begins anew.


The keys

Somewhere in this house Squirtle stands guard over my keys. I'm not sure where they are, but I know they are here, and the protector I put in place of them is waiting for me to find him. 

I do try to keep my house in order, just like I try to keep my communications in order, but sometimes there's a whirlwind and I'm left wondering where things are. This is one of those times. 

I lost my last set of car keys last May upon coming back from a catering gig outside Waynesboro. A big tulip concern threw a party to announce their big hothouse and I drove back late and stopped at a gas station in town and somehow they got misplaced. I searched for two hours in the parking lot before the manager told me I'd need to move my car by morning. I had it towed and getting a new set of keys wiped out the money I'd made that night.

Such is life. Things come, things go. Everything around us is always in motion. Everything inside of us is always in motion.

When I got the new keys, I found a keychain in a box I'd picked up from the public defender's office several years ago. My children have loved playing in that box, and I thought it fitting to appoint the Pokemon Squirtle to be the new chain to protect my new set of keys. At the moment, they are missing amidst the whirlwind but I am certain I will find them. 

Downstairs the washing machine whirs and I sit here waiting for the phone to charge so I can listen to podcasts. Ten years ago I was all about podcasts but these days I am all about information about the community in which I live. I am cleaning my bed sheets and I must wait for that to be done before I can seek slumber. I am hoping that in a moment the cleaning will reveal Squirtle and his bounty of keys, metal shanks that can unlock the doors I am allowed to unlock. 

If this doesn't happen, I will get new keys. I will find new doors to open. 


Year 43

My left ear pulses with pain from a bee sting that happened while I was mowing the lawn tonight while my kids were in the backyard enchanted with fact that nature has totally overgrown the bottom terrace. The top terrace is rough around the edges, but no one will be swallowed whole. 

Both of my ankles throb due to at least two other bee stings. I apparently angered a hive today in trying to get the public portion of my yard under control. Earlier this summer I paid a friend of mine $50 for a lawnmower because he moved to Los Angeles with his wife. 

In the past seven days I have now suffered a sunburn from the beach, a summer cold I suspect was caught in the hotel breakfast buffet line and now these sharp aches from earlier this evening.

This is year 43. This is now the time when I can expect that aches and pains are going to be more part of my life as I'm well past the days where I can claim to be young. In my mind, I'm still in my early 20's but now my body is rejecting my mind's desire.

I am a body. If I close my eyes I can imagine each pulse of pain of coming from a distant part of this galaxy of nerves that compromise my corporeal self. They are a reminder of things that happened today. I embrace the pain with joy because I managed to mow my lawn. I got something done that needed to be done, even finishing after the stings pumped a tiny bit of venom into my system.

This is year 43. There's more I need to say about these times I'm living in. I know what I do for a living, but what do I do to live? Is it simply accepting the pain without acting upon it?

Surely it is time to begin to amuse anew whatever soul finds itself gazing upon these words? Maybe I should commit to truly committing myself to the idea that I have dastardly thoughts from a mundane world?

I simply know now that the nerve endings will heal and that I shall chalk this weekend up to being one of the best I have had all summer.

For now? I shall continue to take deep breaths and ride out these sharp bursts of feeling in my extremities. Tomorrow brings another challenge. Today brought a realization that stories are the sinew that binds humans together.

I'll see if I can advance that idea tomorrow. 


Almost at 30

Tomorrow I'm hoping to run a mile for the 30th day in a row, ending a quest to become more aware of my body's health and my mind's inability at times to clear time for fitness. 

I have my children tomorrow, so the completion of this journey depends on finding someone to look after them for 15 minutes. I don't plan to run more than a mile because my legs are getting quite tired and they need to rest in order to replenish. 

I'm going to miss this challenge and I am hopeful I can find another one to replace it. I have written out my running schedule for the week and I plan to stick to it. I cannot afford to lose momentum. I am going to have a shorter life if I do not get back to placing my fitness and health as a maximum priority. 

I don't really feel much of a sense of accomplishment at the moment because I'm not sure I'm going to be able to finish. I don't like to spend any time away from my children on the weekends I have them. I'd love more than anything for them to run with me, the same way we all ran their elementary school's 5K back in October. My son ran it in just over 30 minutes which was quite impressive. My daughter was a little slower. I'm hoping we can all get back to speed.

One reason I'm not feeling triumphant over the completion of my journey is that I've been saddened by the passing of Prince and the passing of Richard Lyons of Negativland. I'm also sad tonight because of the woman who killed herself in the Shenandoah National Park and that the wife of Patton Oswalt died in her sleep. I'm sad that it appears the residents of my country lack the ability to communicate with each other. I'm sad so many problems appear intractable. 

Breathe. The best thing to do when it seems the walls are closing in is to breathe while you still can. 

One of my main intractable problems has been an apparent lack of time to run. I transformed myself through running seven years ago. After my second divorce, it was my salvation alongside with a job I could throw myself into. Now I've managed to convince myself that work is more important than fitness. I've been making so many excuses about why its more important to continue sifting through email than to hit the pavement.

But more than that, I had become convinced that somehow running outside wasn't safe. I had told myself that I needed to be on the treadmill. I built up so many reasons why I couldn't run and so I let it go. I let go of the habit. 

And on Day 29, I've proved I can do it. I've proved I can challenge myself and meet a goal. 

Day 30 will happen. 

What's the next Day 1 going to be? 

It's going to be okay. That's the way I want it to be, and my faith calls upon me to hope despite the possibility of darkness. To feed that faith, I'm going to fix myself. I'm going to try to fix as many problems as I can throughout my life. I know that when I die, I want to have had cleared up as many messes in my life as I can. 

One of the messes is that my body is not operating at its peak potential. I am an animal that has too much food and doesn't need to exercise to get through the day to day.

The last 29 days, though, I've been feeding myself by making sure I had time to get out there. I am hopeful this will have created a habit that I can sustain. 

I will make it happen. Expect more blog posts about running. Expect me to experiment with some running podcasts. Expect me to stop making excuses for why I'm not doing the things I want to do. 


Springtime at Court Square Tavern

The air rumbles with vibrations from a cooler keeping condiments and cold-cuts at the right temperature for doing business. We're not doing any, of course, but that's to be expected.

I'm not sad sitting here even though I knew no one would come in. I would not be here if I didn't have to be. I could walk over to the park and enjoy the festival but I stay here hopeful that perhaps someone will come in, knowing though that no one would want to be here at this time.

And I have four and a half hours left.

I've chosen to do this over catering this year though I don't think I will be able to continue that in the future. The vibrating air is pulsing its way into my brain in a way that may not be useful or helpful.

I'm not a despondent correspondent at the moment at all because I am happy to be here. I know that tomorrow will be a day off and I have no plans. I'm not sure what I will do, but I will try to be productive.

I hope to run at least a mile. It will be Day 25 of my quest to run for at least 30 days consecutively. I think I am going to make that goal even though I quite tired of running. I would like to go to a place and talk to people all day and possibly make new friends. The surprising thing about 42 is how few people I know very well. I stick to myself mostly and at the moment I'm in a bar by myself waiting for people to come in and hopefully they will soon enough. 

I'm grateful to be here. This is an important place for me. I made it through to this moment. I'm here the night after LCD Soundsystem had their reunion concert at Coachella, a place I can't imagine going to. I don't imagine going to many places anymore. 

It is fitting that I am still in the underground. I imagine that somewhere inside of me are seeds that will grow into a more interesting life that escapes this place. I love this place, but it is true at this point that it is not a healthy place for me to be. I need to be around people when I finish work. 

Well, the other work. 

Yet, I am happy to sit here in a place that was not open ten years ago because of the fire. People may come in later, perhaps, but they might not. I will be here either way for another three hours. Or is it four? I think it's four hours. All around me people are having fun but I cannot see them for they are not here. At Champion there is a metal show. In Lee Park there is a festival. In my office there is a silent auction and gala. 

And here there is just the chattering of fleshy fingers on plastic keys mixing in with the television and the 90's indie rock and all of it. I am here in this moment. That is all that matters. There is no judgment. There is being alive and looking on the positive side. 

It's springtime at Court Square Tavern. 



I created this blog over ten years ago when I was in a different part of my life. I made up the name for the blog out of my sense that I'm just one person out of billions on this planet of ours. I've lowered the number periodically as I've aged. 

But now I'm a citizen of this country who writes a lot about how the government actually works. I'm able to explain obscure things like how state legislation affects locality's ability to regulate their own land use. I'm capable of turning the impenetrable into narrative. 

Who am I? Do I even know? 

I just picked a scab by accident. I itched. I went there. 

Blood smells metallic because of the iron that courses through our veins. Each human on this planet is its own micro-biome filled with entire cultures of mites and so many other creatures. I just sniffed the wound and it smells like coins. Thoughts of Lincoln, Roosevelt, Jefferson and Washington come to mind. 

I wonder much about who we are, all seven and half billion of us on this planet. I seem so closed off to all but 150,000 of the planet now. I write about my local world exclusively and am not sure I'm doing enough. 

What does mean to be a citizen? 

I will be asking that question. 


The now, won't he?

I'm well past my sell-by date and I'll sit on the shelves for a while. I'm locked into the greater ecosystem and I'm at the sense where my youthful lubrication to get somewhere else may have dried up. I'm twice-divorced, work two jobs, and leveraged to a point where there is no ability to take risk. 

Yet I write those words with aplomb. 

I'm alive in a world that seems more and more absurd every day. I feel like I'm awake in a historical period where so much is at stake, and I'm an active observer, carving out a corner or two of narrative where I can. I'm one of over 7 billion people on this planet and a believer that any of us can be what we want to be. I still have hope despite experience. 

The point it, I didn't turn bitter. I wanted to, and every day there's a gravity wave that beckons me to give in. But I don't. And I won't.  The now is the now and I'm no longer going to worry if people understand me. 

I'm alive. I'm single. I'm a father of three. I'm a series of statements that really need to be put to music. Until then, I can tell you now and for sure that I am not throwing away my shot. 


From Minecraft to microfiche

For much of the last year, I've spent my free time playing Minecraft. I bought the game for my kids but found myself completely lost in the world. I've spent countless hours playing the game,  learning how to survive and build structures and explore a virtual world. 

But now, I've grown bored with it. Which means I have free time left over. That's meant I've been going to the Jefferson Madison Regional Library's reference section in the central branch to go back in time to update cvillepedia. 

It's a good trade of time, I'd say. I'm still spending as much in front of a computer but the virtual world I'm helping to recreate tells the story of Charlottesville and Albemarle County through historic articles from the Daily Progress

My main mission this year is to help understand the events of 1960 better. That's the year of the first major annexation of county lands by the city.  There was also an election and a referendum on public housing. The latter led to the urban renewal at Vinegar Hill, an event that left a big hole in the community and continues to lead to distrust as Charlottesville is in a new era of growth. 

I wasn't around back then. I'm around now and I hope to use some of my time to connect the pieces in a digital environment. I want the future to have a chance to see the stories of the past to understand how decisions were made then. There are tough ones to make in the future. 

I'm spending a lot of time on this. I'm drawn to it and want to make this my main hobby this year. Of course it's so related to my work, but my life is now about telling the stories of how this community gets planned. I have a front row seat to see whether whether and how Charlottesville becomes a slightly bigger city. 

So it's important to go back and see what happened in the past at a very different time that still seems familiar as I go through it. I'm reading about election announcements by candidates, retirements by Councilors, and getting a sense for who made the decisions back then 56 years ago. 

I'm also building out stubs for the people who were elected before then. People like Strother R. Hamm who lived from 1890 to 1970 and was mayor at one point. He owned a furniture store. That's important. It's important for me to know these things. 

I don't know what  happens next. I want to know what happened before. I've always been pulled back to the past. I've made my living reliving meetings so that I can write about them, constructing things that happened into narratives for others to read. 

I'm appreciating the chance to go a bit further back. I've also been spending time in 1998 and 1999. A researched in England wanted help finding information about a murder trial. That's not my thing but I have a ton of scans if anyone's interested in helping out. 

There are so many stories we have to tell. I hope that I can help others use tell them. 


Five weeks until the Ten-Miler

I've done it again.

Completely forgot to start training for the Charlottesville Ten-Miler. I had been hoping I would have done so, but work has gotten in the way. 

At least, that's the story I'm going to tell myself. The reality might be different, and the future certainly needs to be.

I got an email this morning telling me that the race is 85 percent full and I should purchase my space now. 

I'm beginning to wonder if I should do it. Realistically I'm not going to suddenly flip a switch and become the person who takes time to run again. At some point I lost interest. 

But now it's five weeks away. And I'm going to have to make a decision. 


Before the snow

The chance at a fresh start, a temporary one, is worth grabbing hold. 

Soon there will be a new coating on the soiled world that will remind me that there's always the chance of a happy illusion. This temporary geologic event will at first be beautiful, but then it will quickly be get sullied by the need for society to remove all the obstacles. 

I've grown jaded. I always think now about what comes after, always imagining the worst because that way the bad that does happen doesn't hurt as badly. This stance also keeps me on my toes, always ready for something else to go wrong.

So in this moment when the ground is still greenish-brown, I think about the gray sludge instead of the majesty of inches and inches of freshly fallen snow. There are so few moments now where I can stop and enjoy them happening when they are.

It has become so common for others to tell people to live in the moment, to forget the past. For me, that denies that the ocean of my previous experiences has its own current. I cannot help but be reminded of the gravity of my previous actions, and the forces which will always define my life.

But I am grateful today for temporary illusions that give me the freedom I from the past in order to slide into moods that permit more escape than usual. I'm blessed that I've learned to ride the waves within my mind, and that my need for vigilance has been earned.

And the two feet of snow to come is a pleasant reward. 
(this was the soundtrack for the above)


David Bowie

The internet is pulsing with remembrances of David Bowie. I'd like to write one myself but I'm not an expert. I'd like to write one but I don't know what to say that hasn't already been said. Something about David Bowie seems overwhelming to me at this moment, like I would do very well to just sit down and listen to everything I can because this is the time to take it all in before he fades away.

But he'll never fade away. Not the way he went out. Not by drawing everyone's attention to how he would transcend death by always being present in everything that came afterwards, musically at least.

I think about my life and the work that I do I sometimes question if it's what I am supposed to be doing. When I was younger, I wanted to have a more creative life but it turns out I'm very guarded when it comes to putting out anything creative. I seem to use my own creativity as a way to prove my existence to myself. 

Bowie always played to an audience, was so in control of his persona. Everything seemed to come effortlessly to him, but I'm also saying this from someone who never gave him too much thought until later in my life. 

The day he died, I invested in a copy of FL Studio, the same program I used to use when I was younger to concoct little musical pieces. Using the name The Fundamental Grang I put together hours of silly tracks created for my own amusement. I was building on the music I'd been making with friends going back to high school. 

I like to think that someone would be interested in it. This week none of it seems to matter and I just feel like I've been a pretender all this time. 

I don't think I'll think like that for long. Right now I'm listening to another Bowie album I've never heard before, Scary Monsters. I can listen to it on YouTube without paying for it, just like I can listen to almost any album of any significance from the last 50 years. 

Nothing I'll do will ever have that impact but that makes it no less significant. I don't know if I'll ever try to make any of my music available, but I would like to begin creating for a public audience. I'm so terrified of being critiqued and I don't want to ever lose the ability to find true meaning in things by expressing them musically. 

The music software I've bought is much more advanced than it was then and I'm enjoying listening to it. After I wrote the previous post, I decided to put in headphones and mess around with sounds. I didn't entirely tune out the meeting, but enjoyed trying to put a beat to what I was hearing. There are some great synthesizers in the package and I enjoyed having a secret soundtrack to sitting in a drab discussion about policy. 

It was important, the discussion, but I really wanted to be creating something. And so I did, and I felt better. The act of communicating with myself via a little tune.

Listening to David Bowie is now going to be very different for me. He's told a complete story and he's embedded threads throughout his entire discography that are him communicating directly to the universe - the universe being us.

I'm very sad that he's gone. 

But he's left behind a treasure for so many people who have yet to discover any of this music, which is always evolving from period to period, persona to persona. 

Aren't we all? My life at 42 is not the life I had at 21. Who knows what 63 will be like? 

I don't know. But something about David Bowie's death makes me want to live to my fullest. I want to explore my creativity more and I want to use my skills to tell good stories about the world around me. I want to expand that world and I want to not be afraid to do so. 

Now, before I do that, I'm going to check out Tin Machine for the first time. So much to explore! 

Important words

A guy in a suit is going on about the rules and regulations. I've heard it all before. How many people can be in the room. Who can bring what business forward. I'm just waiting for it to be over so I can get on with my evening.

I keep hitting refresh on my email, hoping there will be something new, interesting, unpredictable. Something spontaneous and true. 

It doesn't come. 

The windows are drawn in this conference room and I can't even see out to the world that I'm missing. I've seen it all so many times, though, cars whizzing through the same intersections that I'll pass through later on this evening, if I'm lucky, if this meeting ends.

How many times have I been in this room now? So many. And I wonder if I really need to be here now, but I can't make myself get up to move. 

This is not one of those times that seems important but it's a time in which I'm alive. I want to be away from the computer and want to be exercising or cleaning or cooking or doing something that involves communicating with another human. 

I'd love to have someone waiting at home so I could hear her stories, but that hasn't been the case for many years and I'm too misshapen now to fit through the doorway. I'm resigned to the end of love in my life and the impossibility of having it be any other way.

I keep waiting for a message to come over that would alter my world, would change it in some manner. 

It doesn't come. 

The six people who are receiving the briefing are listening through the motions, just like I am. 

I just tried to find something new to do this weekend, but I didn't find anything. 

The spirit of my holidays has faded. I'm neither negative nor positive in writing these words. This feeling of restlessness has been with me for a while and I'm not sure if it will ever change. 

I'm confident, though, that this won't last forever and there will come a time when I no longer have to be in this room. I may not be able to guarantee I'll make it to the gym this evening, and I cannot guarantee I will avoid the quicksand of last year's routine. 

For now, though, I have to imagine that these are important words and that there is a meaning to them besides just marking time. 


166 months ago

The copper bar is here but there are no customers. I am feet away from the refrigerator that caught fire, ending my first tenure as an employee of this establishment.

I'm not quite sure why I'm still here, but I'm still here and I'm glad to have had the chance to earn some money this evening. I had hoped to go to the art galleries, but that sort of thing is for other people now. If I can make money, I must. 

The copper bar has been here for so long now, and there have been so many time it has served as the equals sign that carved my life into two sides of an equation. One day I'll be able to show my work.

I'm all alone here now. The door is locked and my colleague and I made some money, even though it's been slow for the past three hours or so. The rush was sudden and quick and we served people fast and they gave us money. 

Tomorrow I'll be here again. I've been here so often. It's part of the journey from birth to death and I don't question anymore that I'm supposed to be here. I wish I could be somewhere else, out at the art galleries, out feeling young and attractive, but instead here I sit all responsible, all mature.

I am happy. I am happy that I am here at the copper bar where there have been so many good times, where there have been so many times when I thought the world was perfect and I was blessed with bounty. 

Now I'm just blessed to be able to appreciate what I've already had. Blessed to watch other people come in and have fun, have a great time being themselves here. 

If I could buy this copper bar I would and I would try to honor its memory way into the future. The problem, though, is that I don't have any capital to do so. 

After the trip to England my life doesn't seem as intractable anymore. I don't seem like I'm attracting flies anymore. I do still feel like I'm caught in the tractor's pull, but the gravity isn't as strong as it was. 

I remember sitting at the Globe in Dunstable two weeks ago and wondering what it would be like when I got back here, back to this spot. That place seemed like a place I wanted to go back to, as much as possible, but I didn't go back a second time this trip.

I want to take American friends there. And I want the people there to come here. I want this to happen. Sometime within the next 166 months.

For whatever reason, this place, this Court Square Tavern, is the place that serves as a common denominator for all of my time in Charlottesville. I'm still here, alone but engulfed in a thousand memories that are constantly swimming all around me. 

I'd like to go to a new place, travel to and live in a new town. But the reality is I've settled here and it's a great place to be. I'm right at the center of everything going on here, a journalist who occasionally also brings people food and drink in the oldest bar in downtown Charlottesville. 

That fact makes me feel humble. 

The fact that 166 months ago this place was on fire and then got restored also makes me feel humble. 

The fact is that this place is the place where the seeds of what I call my "travesty" were sown not four months after I moved to Charlottesville back in 2002. The details of that are known so intimately to me, but not to whatever public audience is reading this. Those details may come out as time passes, but they also might not. I just want to say that this place is sacred to me for any number of reasons, good and bad. 

Right now, this copper bar is my salvation. Without this job at this moment I would not be able to make ends meet financially. I'm not ashamed to say that. I'm doing what I have to do to get by, and I'm hoping I can turn this winter into a time when the Tavern can have yet another resurgence. 

For the first time in a long time, I'm looking around this place and I'm seeing the future. It's hazy but the horizon glows with optimism.

A David Bowie song comes on, it's his 69th birthday, and I'm here in the glow of 42 remembering how this particular song (China Girl) sort of made me dislike Bowie when I was growing up because I really didn't care for it then. 

But now I hear it through a different prism, a prism I can't entirely explain and I wonder if I'm doing anything at all by typing in this little white box while sitting at a copper bar drinking a golden beer while I wait to go out into that dark wet night. 

Oh, reader. Did you ever feel like you were bound to a place but you couldn't control it? I never expected to have a setting like this one, a sanctuary of sorts. And yet it feels like soon will come the time when it will no longer be here. 

Let's not think about that now. For now I want to think about the copper bar and what it means to me and how glad I am to have this home away from home, this place that reminds me of the Globe, this place where I will work tomorrow night, this place where I continue to recover from the travesty.

Tomorrow is the future.

I'll take it. 


A week on

This time last week I got to my car in the economy long-range lot at Dulles after a week away in England. I didn't have too much disorientation adjusting to being on the left hand side of the car, and I didn't have too much sadness about being back in the United States. I was looking forward to seeing my children and looking forward to getting back to work. 

At this moment I'm sitting in a meeting listening to people say things. I have to take some of those things and turn them into a story at some point in the next four hours. I'm sure I'll be able to get it done, but the first pangs of sadness have hit me that nothing exciting is planned for my life for a long while. 

I'll be working a lot the rest of the year. There have been some changes which have eliminated almost all disposable income. I'm having to watch every single dollar. I won't be going out anymore except when I work at Court Square Tavern. I won't be spending money on clothes. I won't be able to save up much for another trip to England. I have to work every single hour that I can find just to avoid losing my house. I'm closer than ever to a financial catastrophe.

But you know what? I'll be okay. I'll continue to be single, continue to learn to embrace my life of solitude. Because I have the beginnings of a goal and the hint of what the next stage of my life will be. I want to find a way to connect my American and English lives, especially when I can still remember what it felt like to be there last week. I'm trying to imagine new ways of getting to travel there, trying to find some way to make my dream of spending more time there come true. 

The bottom line is that even though I've lived in my community for over 13 years, I don't feel home here. I feel like I'm part of it, but I feel like I'm a visitor here and not a full participant. Maybe that's because I sit in a lot of meetings and I have to keep my thoughts to myself. 

I don't feel at home in England, either, and I don't know if I would ever be permitted to move there. 

I just want to explore why I feel this way. Why I want to live a life in both areas, why I want to study these issues. I can't articulate it anymore than that, but I wanted to post something about this new feeling of restlessness that may have just begun. 


Things I've been meaning to tell you: 2016 edition

I don't think I've ever begun a New Year with more confidence and commitment to work hard to improve myself. I have deliberately chosen the pathway towards positive outcomes. My pathway has had a few more barriers thrown my way, but these only make me stronger. The time to wallow in negativity is over. The only way forward is up. 

That's really it. I'm not as interested in writing about myself anymore. I'm considering formally ending this blog and starting up one that's much more about my professional interests and one that will help me document some exciting things I want to try in the coming year. 

For now, though, I just wanted to say Happy New Year and that I wish everyone well!