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!