Category Archives: Teaching/Education/School

They’re Everywhere: More of the McCarrick Mess

One of the things that has been bothering me this past “Summer of Hell” for the Catholic Church – my Catholic Church – is the utter mischaracterization by many in the mainstream press of the true nature of the problem.  Noted psychotherapist (former priest) Richard Sipe nailed it.  He identified the problem long ago as a problem of homosexual predation – that is, sexual predation on young men, post-puberty, by priests and, very importantly, bishops, of a homosexual nature.  The data is clear.  The sexual crimes and sins being committed are rooted in same-sex attraction.  YES, there are priests who have abused women.  YES, there are abuse victims who are under the age of legal majority.  But the overwhelming majority of victims have been post-pubescent males.  We’re talking about physically mature men being sought out by older men.  I would say let’s take the criminal element off the table but we can’t.  ANYTIME someone abuses another person of any gender should be considered criminal, though the law has not always treated it as such.  But to get to the root of the problem we face now we must have the courage to admit that the victims are mostly the same sex as the predators.  When we admit this we can then see that the there is a pool of potential victims in the seminaries of the Catholic Church.

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The Seven Sacraments. Stained Glass, Cathedral Basilica of St. Dunstan, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

At this moment I could identify to you several priests who are actively engaged in homosexual relationships with other men – priests and laymen.  If the “partners” are over 18 and have consented then there is no crime.  The hierarchy hide behind this. Even if there is a crime they run out the clock on the statute of limitations. This is why the bishops are careful to craft their “response” as dealing with sexual abuse of “young people and vulnerable adults”.  Do they ever consider seminarians “vulnerable”?  Nope.  Look, there’s so much going on here that it’s hard to sort it out.  And yet it always comes back to this.  There has been for at least fifty years a cadre, a cabal, a current of same-sex-attracted men engaging in homosexual acts with other men and doing so from the other side of a Roman collar.  This ought to concern every faithful Catholic.  While the Western world currently holds as a bigot anyone who dares to claim the thousands’ year old belief that homosexuality is an intrinsically disordered condition; the Catholic Church has always held to this belief.  I’m not asking you to believe what I just stated at its core.  But you cannot deny that the Church has always taught this.  Moving on from here we encounter brazen hypocrisy at best.

Sipe, who died literally as this summer was breaking open with its ghoulish revelations of the McCarrick’s and Wuerl’s of the world and their “misdeeds”, believed it.  He knew what the problem was.  His answer, his solution, was not the one I would have proposed.  He thought that things would be better if we just got it out in the open and allowed priests and laymen to be practitioners of a “normalized” homosexuality.  But he never denied that the problem in the Church was rooted in the same homosexuality.

So let’s talk about that school where I worked.  Remember that I’m not using names.  Here’s the story.  From the time I was in college seminary I belonged to the Knights of Columbus.  I had been told by my rector that it was a good thing to belong because they gave financial support to seminarians.  Indeed, over the few years I was active I did receive a few hundred dollars and I was most appreciative.  In my time at this particular council I had the opportunity to bring my dad and several brothers-in-law into the group.  For Dad, just having retired, it was a great social group and he would bring me with him on occasional Friday nights to have a beer at the bar with the guys.  During our conversations the members, who all belonged to the attached parish, talked frequently and in very hostile tones about one of the young priests who had recently been assigned to that parish.  The long and short of it?  This guy was bad news.  They all knew he had abused a few young men. They knew he had been removed from the parish.  They knew that he came from a wealthy family.  And they knew that the whole thing had been hushed up by the archdiocese.

When I say “they knew” I’m using their words.  I had no proof nor did they except what everyone had heard.  Remember how when the McCarrick mess first broke everyone said “we all knew”… but no one would tell.  Enough of that bullshit.

These men were typical in many ways.  When you think of blue collar, Jersey guys you’d think of them.  They were mad as hell when they talked about this priest.  And they were mad as hell that nothing could be done about him.  They spoke as if they knew the victims because they probably did.  They wanted to fight but couldn’t.

After I left the seminary and subsequently left the TV industry I started teaching in a Catholic high school.  Guess who I encountered.  Right there.  Teaching.  As a priest amidst 800 boys between the ages of 14 and 18.  If I told you that the diocesan administrator of schools was of a similar ilk would you be surprised?  We know the archbishop was into dudes.  The head of the schools office, if he wasn’t gay, was a very convincing actor.  And I am NOT trying to imply that every gay man wants to rape teenage boys.  What I am trying to do is draw the picture for you.  These men entered priesthood knowing they were gay, hiding that fact, and, never intending to live their commitment to celibacy, established a network where they would get their jollies and cover for each other.  They protected each other.  They lied.  They committed demonic acts.  They abused everyone in their path who didn’t agree with them and that went for those who favored more traditional liturgical practices as well as those who’s view of marriage and family stopped at mother/father/children.  Are you starting to understand what the term “Lavender Mafia” means now?  And no, lifting the celibacy requirement for Roman priests will not address this problem.  When was the last time that encouraging a gay man to marry a woman changed his orientation?

Look, draw your own conclusions.  I know what I heard.  I remember the things I saw.  And I will no longer pretend it didn’t happen/isn’t happening nor will I remain silent out of fear that people wouldn’t believe.

Pray for the Church.

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By Extension: How Other Areas of Church Governance were Affected by the Evil McCarrick

I feel like a dam that has just burst.  Things I have been holding in the back of my mind for years are suddenly finding themselves in need of being spewed forth.

In the coming days I will be recounting how the evil that was tolerated and even encouraged by Teddy McCarrick extended itself to other areas of the Church.

Do not think, though, that McCarrick was an isolated incident.  The Pennsylvania Grand Jury report showed us the depths of diabolical depravity in but one state, or rather “commonwealth” in deference to my family and friends in the Great Keystone.  PA is one out of 50 states.  Donald Wuerl still clings to power in the “51st”, that is, in the District of Columbia.  I noticed today on Twitter that my hero-reporter George Neumayr is following some kind of lead involving RICO violations…  Go, George, go!  PLEASE, consider donating to help fund his cause.  I have, and it is well worth it.

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Pieta, the Mother and her Son; Holy Ghost Catholic Church, Denver

But let’s return to the Archdiocese of Newark for a moment.  And let’s return to me where I left off.  After I was booted from the seminary I had no earthly idea what I was going to do.  I simply knew that this was, in some peaceful way, God’s will for me.  It was awful and it was terrible the way they did it but somehow I felt that I would be OK.  Unfortunately I also felt extraordinarily lost.  I had majored in Religious Studies in college and was now a few credits short of a Master’s Degree in Systematic Theology.  Not thinking I would ever do anything other than be a Catholic priest, I was at a complete loss as to how to go about finding work.  My parents, God bless them, took me in and supported me until I got on my feet.  For a few months I wasn’t sure when that would be or even how.  Finally I landed a job as a trainee in the newsroom of the local Fox station in New York.  Before I wanted to be a priest I wanted to be a news anchor.  This, despite the minimum wage pay and long hours, was a dream come true for me.  I got to work alongside real New York news anchors who knew my name and liked my work.  I got to show my skills in writing and producing features segments.  I got to forget about the seminary for a little while.

And I continued in that field on and off for the next few years.  I’ll never forget the first time I saw my name in the credits of a TV show.  It was so exciting.  But that’s a completely different story.  We’ll leave that one for the book.

There came a time when I realized, through Mom’s gentle guidance, that I wanted to be a teacher.  I remember her saying one day “Hey, you wanted to be a teacher, right?” and me replying “Lady, I thought I asked you to quit smoking crack.”  Unfazed, she said in return “Good, there’s an opening at a local Catholic high school.”  I figured “why not?” and faxed a resume.  No one was more surprised than I to receive a phone call twenty minutes later requesting an interview the next day.  I was even more surprised when I walked out of that interview with a signed contract.

For the record I taught Theology in Catholic high schools for the news 12 years.  I recently got out (another story for the book).  But boy I’d love to talk about some of the strange goings-on in that large archdiocesan high school.  I’m leaning in close now…  Wanna’ hear?

As I wrap this up, it is after midnight on a Sunday.  I’m still a practicing Roman Catholic.  There’s mass in the morning.  Remember that obligation thing they stopped teaching about for a few decades?  Some of us didn’t.  I will pray for each of you as I offer my intentions before the holy sacrifice.  And then we’re taking Mom to a drive-thru safari in East Texas.  She’s heading home in a few days and we’re a little sad but this promises to be a fun day.

Pray for the Church.

Bedtime Stories

I read to my kids at bedtime…  Most nights.

I’ll admit that a lot of times I’m too tired and I simply dial it in.

Tonight was one such night.

Having entertained some friends this evening, it was past our bedtimes when I decided to drop the hammer.  “KIDS GET TO BED!”  I shouted (in my mind).  You see, friends, I’m tired as hell.  I’ve been up since 5:45 this morning, running all over the place for work.  The only person who’s probably more tired than me is my wife.  She took them to the pool for an hour while I managed to grab a nap this afternoon.  Still tired.  That nap earlier?  I fell asleep with an episode of Unsolved Mysteries playing on my laptop.  The last thing I remember is hearing Robert Stack say “Before she disappeared, she was a woman with many friends and a good job…”  I blurted out something to the effect of “Many friends?  And not one of them told her about the atrocity that is her hair?”

I said I was tired.

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No, we didn’t read anything THIS exciting. Also, I love this shot from “Airplane!”

I really do love reading to my kids.  They’re 8 and 10 years-old now.  So, necessarily the books are getting more in-depth.  For the girl it’s Quantum Life: The Story of Max Planck and for the boy it’s Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae.  Got to start them young…

My daughter and I just finished what has become – thanks to her willingness – a new tradition in our family.  I completed The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe with my little darling.  I had read it last year with my son.  With him I went on and read all seven Narnia books.  With her?  I’ve noticed that she’s a bit more cerebral…  Case in point: while reading a section to her the other night she stopped me mid-sentence and said “Daddy, when did Lewis die?”  “November 22, 1963, Sweetheart,” came my reply.  Yes, I do know his date of death off the top of my head.  Hint: he died the same day as JFK but it was completely overshadowed in the news.  Completely ignoring my savant-like grasp of trivia (which hurt) my daughter then proved to me that her brain operates very differently from most people.  In fact, her brain operates a lot like mine.  “Daddy, then who wrote this book?”  I explained to her that Lewis had written the book.  “But it’s so neat,” she said, “almost like it was typed.”  “Well, sweetheart, it came off a printing press.”  “Wait, Daddy, they had them then?!”  “Babe, we’ve had presses since the fifteenth century.”

When I unpackaged it with her (for I never let an opportunity to teach pass me by) we discovered together that, absent the certain knowledge that printing presses are instrumental in producing mass printings of just about every book on the planet my daughter made the logical assumption that someone must have typed each of the pages in her book.  Since Lewis wrote the book she assumed he had typed the pages in her book.  Huh.  Go figure.

For my son we’re starting another classic.  I’ve never read this one so it should be interesting for both of us.  Last night we started Dickens’ David Copperfield.  What an uplifting endeavor and a beautiful way to end a day which sees me already falling asleep by dinner.

Actual line from the first two chapters: “Please Mr. Murdstone, I pray thee, don’t beat me!”

I really miss the days of Corduroy.

Why I Am Blessed to Teach: Three Vignettes from My Montessori Experience

Not long ago I took a job as a teacher.

That being said, I have been a teacher for well over a decade.  But, wishing to expand my portfolio and branch out, I accepted a position in a new school.  Now I can say that I have the following variety of teaching and/or administrative experience: large school, small school, co-ed, single-sex, diocesan, private-independent, mid-sized, teacher, vice principal, secondary, and elementary.  Why not toss Montessori into the mix?  It couldn’t hurt to learn a new way to teach and beside, my own children attend a Montessori school.  This could be both beneficial to my resume and fun!

That entire last paragraph could be rewritten thus:

But, having temporarily walked away from the insanity of working in “industrial” schools I had accepted my new life delivering blood samples and lab mice for a courier company.  One Sunday night the director of the school where my children are students texted to say: “Look, dude, I’m desperate.  Your daughter’s teacher quit.  I’m not entirely convinced it isn’t the girl’s fault.  Since it’s nearing the end of the year we’re scraping the barrel, pal.  Can you handle a dozen 1st-3rd grader’s?”  Also, she texted right after I had consumed a few gin and tonics so there’s that.

There is a line in Scripture that says “You have put into my heart a greater joy than they have from an abundance of corn and new wine.” (Ps.4)  I don’t know who “they” are but I do believe Our Blessed Lord has infused me with a great love for teaching and for the children (and sometimes adults) I get to teach.  It’s twisted, really.  I don’t know many other people who get excited about working with children and teenagers and yet I can’t help myself.  And you know it must be real when it’s a greater love even than wine or an abundance of corn for that matter.  By the way, the New American Bible translation from 1970 sucks.

And since it wouldn’t be my blog if I didn’t share some of the scenes of this life with you; here now a brief sketch of this past Friday morning and my interactions with three particular students.

Student X, boy, 7 years-old

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Sure looks like a “Thunderclaw”, doesn’t he?

The morning was off to a smashing start.  One of the families had brought rabbits to school.  As in, they brought actual bunnies.  And the bunnies were to remain at school.  “We’re donating them!” the mom said lovingly.  “It’s a great way for the kids to learn about stuff and it’s very Montessori.”  Perhaps I don’t know enough about this Montessori method.  And “stuff?”  Yes, it’s a fabulous way for them to learn about reproduction.  Come to think of it, my son’s getting to be about that age.  This might be more straightforward then having “the talk” with him.  I’m getting rabbits for the house.  Anyway, one young man rushed me on my way in the door.  “Hey look!  It’s Thunderclaw!” he shouted as he tossed a black dwarf rabbit in my face.  “Ack!” I shouted in return as Thunderclaw almost took a mug full of black coffee to the face.  It’s a good thing I have the patience of a saint – St. Augustine, pre-conversion.

A little while later I found myself sitting at a table that was about two feet off the ground across from Student X.  We had just covered a lesson on honeybees.  X was diligently tracing a hexagon over and over onto a sheet of paper.  He had already composed five sentences about these insects (in cursive) and was now illustrating the hive.  Burning the heck out of a yellow colored pencil he put the pencil down momentarily in order to suck his thumb.  The teacher in me stepped aside and the dad moved in.  “Son, you don’t want to do that,” I said gently yet firmly.  “Um, yeah I do,” came his reply without glancing up.  He was still admiring his honeycomb.  “No, no you don’t.  Do you know what will happen?” I asked.  “Yeah, um, it calms me down.”  I had to fight with everything I had to stop from saying “So will a Xanax” but I managed instead “First, you answered a question I had not asked.  I asked what is likely to happen in the future.  You responded with what is happening now.”  Crickets.  “But I like it,” came X’s reply in the cutest high pitched voice.  “You’ll need braces, son.  It’ll mess your teeth up.”

I thought I had won the argument based on my stellar logic.  Unfortunately I was arguing with a kid.  “I’m already getting braces.  My dad told me so.”  Well, you can’t beat that reasoning, I suppose.  “Plus, um, plus…  Uh… Oh yeah, my orthodontist told me I was a very lucky boy and I would have to get headgear!”  “Sounds like your orthodontist is the lucky one,” I shot back.  I smiled at X and marveled at his certainty and confidence.  He, of course, picked up his pencil in the other hand because apparently he’s ambidextrous and continued his masterpiece.

Student Y, boy, 8 years-old

A short while later I had just stepped out of a tiny bathroom where I had gone to scroll through Instagram and generally catch my breath when Student Y ran up to me.  Where he came from I could not say.  The kid’s a ninja.  He’s about the size of a capuchin monkey and just about as wiry.  And I love this kid.  That’s why I almost didn’t mind when he practically pulled my 200 lb. frame down to the floor by trying to climb up my leg to tell me something.  “HEY!  Can I read to you?”  This is one of the most rewarding aspects of working with little children.  He’s just learned to read in the past year and is still inching toward a milestone they call the “reading explosion” or something like that.  I may have made that term up but the point is he’s teetering on the brink between sounding out some words and racing through a paragraph.  And he’s excited.  And he wants me to be the object of his new-found skill.

We sit on the reading carpet (invented by a Nazi, for no adult ever said “Yay! Let’s get down on the floor for this!”) and he proceeds to a thin, purple-covered book.  It’s a leveled reader.  It is not his level.  His is red.  The purples are for a different stage, like two stages above him.  But, I admire his pluck.  Go for it, kiddo.  The stories in these books all follow a phonetic theme.  Unfortunately that means they sometimes give the characters names that have never been used by real people.  This was the story of a terrier named Sollie.  Y struggles with this.  “Solo was a timid puppy.”  “No, son, not Solo, Sollie,” I correct him.  “Sally was a timid puppy,” he tries again.  “No, son, not Sally, Sollie.”  “Sully was a tim-”  “Oh for God’s sake.  Sully was the Miracle on the Hudson pilot and, you know what?  Yeah, let’s just go with Sully.”

He continues.  I come to learn that Sully was indeed a timid puppy.  His owner Shiela had to carry him around.  He wanted to be brave like his dad.  He liked to eat meat.  Except, Y read that as /mat/.  “Y,” I said gently yet firmly, “in English, when two vowels go walking the first one does the talking.”  Crickets.  “OK,” he said, “/meet/”.  Good.  This happened a few more times.  The theme here was vowel clusters.  Then Y came to this sentence.  “They went to the pier.”  He read this as /pyre/.  “Y,” I said, “that’s /peer/.”  “But did the first vowel not go walking that day?” he asked most sincerely.  “Damn English,” I thought to myself.

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When two vowels go walking, a terrier eats a toddler.

Finally Y reached the climax of the story.  “When Sollie ran down to the beach, a toddler held out her hand with some cookie pieces.  Sollie ate them.”  First, Y read that as “cookie /pi-cees/” and I did not correct him.  Second, I noticed that Y was looking most confused.  “Why would he eat them?  He must be a mean dog.”  “What are you talking about,” I asked.  It turns out Y thought Sully ate the toddler, that rat bastard.  I clarified the story for my young friend.  And then I laughed at the thought of a terrier eating a toddler who would obviously be three times his size.

Student Z, boy, 6 years-old

I have saved the best for last.  Student Z is a young man who has only recently joined our class.  He had previously been in the “younger division”.  He was starting to outgrow that classroom so I agreed (happily) to let him come over to my class.  I’m friends with his parents and he’s such an awesome kid.  When I’m at their house he’s bouncing off the walls, full of energy, typical little boy.  In school, he is studious, reserved, almost shy.  I can tell he is eager to please and to do a good job.  Z is on the cusp of getting the hang of reading.  And hats off to anyone who has ever taught another person to read.  It is NOT easy.  Sidenote: In complete seriousness, the lady who runs this school is truly gifted.  I watched her sit down with a child last week and, in the most loving and gentle way, teach that child, encourage that child, and celebrate that child’s accomplishment.  It is a gift.

Thunderclaw?!  Who named that bunny?  Crazy Horse?

I extricate myself from the reading carpet and head to a ledge that reminds me of a bar only without alcohol.  Z follows in tow holding onto one of the manipulatives we use in Montessori.  It is a wooden tray containing flash cards with three and four letter words.  Other than the wooden tray I’m not sure how this differs from other schools.  Our goal is to pull six cards and sound them out.  Then Z will write those words in his notebook.  “Z,” I say, “Let’s toss in a few four letter words!”  Then I laugh at what that sounded like to my own ears.  He was game.

First word: “puh… ahh… puh.  POP!”  He smiles broadly.  He got it.  “Great job, Z!  And that was super fast!  Let’s do another one.”

Next word: “luh… ahh… tuh.  LOT!”  Another huge smile.  “Yay!  Amazing!  Ready for the next one?”  He nods excitedly.

Third word: “juh… ahh… muh.”  Only this time I must stop him.  “Sorry, Z,” I say holding my hand up.  “Not every A sounds alike.”  He looks puzzled.  “Let’s try it again.”  I hold the card up.  “juh… ahh…”  “Nope,” I say.  “Um,” he asks, “How does this A sound?”  “I’m glad you asked, Z.”

“Juh…aeyh… muh.  Say it with me.”

And in that moment I realized I was teaching him New Jersey English.

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You gotta’ problem wid dat?  I’ll see you on Bloomfield Ave.

When his mom and dad start wondering why he’s suddenly started speaking like Joe Piscopo (or me for that matter) they need only look at my upbringing.  Garden State’s finest spreadin’ the Jerz.

Proud to be spreading my heritage in this sleepy Texas town, I turned from the bar with no booze, put the cards away, and clocked out for the day.

My work here is done.

Moving On

Both of my loyal readers know that I have been in pursuit of a particular dream for some time.

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Symbolic of my career.

When I’m not busy being Dad, writing, or trying to whip my broken body into shape; I work at a day job.  What’s funny is that this “day” job is a vocation for me.  It is, as I like to think of it, a pathway along the wider road of God’s plan for me.  For the past eleven years I have been a teacher in a Catholic high school (three of them, to be exact).  Initially I got into teaching because it was a job.  Somewhere along the line I realized I liked it.  Then I realized that I loved it.  Then I began to feel that I was good at it.  Finally I thought that I could be of use to God in a different way.  I got this crazy idea that I could be a pretty decent school administrator.

I went back to school and completed a second Master’s degree.  And then I went on the hunt.

And I got… nowhere.

I explained my frustration to my wife.  “It’s just that before this year, I had never interviewed for a job that I didn’t ultimately get.”  “That’s nothing,” she said, “I’ve never interviewed for a job.”  She pointed out to me that her first job out of college came about through a connection and she more or less advanced from there.

I put the dream aside, trying to convince myself of the words my best friend and brother, a guy I’ve known since our days in the college seminary.  He’s always told me “God’s timing is perfect.”  I used to laugh at him.  Most of the time, though, I’d think of how obnoxious a thing like that is to say to someone who’s trying his heart out and getting nowhere.  Yet somehow he knew.  I put the dream aside and figured I would get comfortable with something I already knew I loved.  I prepared myself to teach forever.

It’s funny to me how God does things like this.  It’s His time.  We’re just passing through it.  I even remarked to my current students that, on the whole, this has been the best group of high school juniors I have ever worked with.  I’ve always had it pretty easy and I’ve certainly had my stand-outs.  But these kids this year have been a real blessing.  They are kind, witty, caring, passionate.  I love each and every one of them.  God knew they’d be my last class as a teacher and He allowed me the grace of going out with the best.  Recently a few of them have met my beginning-of-year challenge.  “If you can find my blog, kids, you can read it.”  For those who are reading right now, first, isn’t this blog amazing?  You’ve never read anything this awesome.  It has changed your life.  Whatever, just lie and say yes.  Second, thanks for being the best.

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I think I made it.

I’m really going to miss them when I start my new job in a month as an assistant principal.  Oh, had I forgotten to slip that detail into the story?  Sorry.  Yes, I’m losing my summers and gaining a whole lot of responsibility but it’s everything I’ve wanted and I couldn’t be happier.  Please pray for me that I do a good job.

And what did my current students ask of me as a memento of my time with them?

Apparently I should make them a “mix tape”.  Go figure.  I didn’t even know they would know what a mix tape is.  Perhaps I’ll take them up on the suggestion.  I haven’t made one of those in forever.

Of Broken Toes and Broken Dreams

“Ever have your spirit crushed, Mr. H.?” asked a student once.

OK, work with me.  It’s called a literary device.  Sure, no student ever said that but it’s possible that one could have.  More to the point I need to set up this next bit.

“Kid,” I said, “I’m a Mets fan.  Every year since 1986.”

See, wasn’t that cute?

In all honesty this past Thursday I had more than my spirit crushed in the form of a few small bones in the toes on my right foot.

At the Catholic high school where I teach I also assist in other ways.  One of those ways is to transform our very large gym (one of two, I might add) into a worship space for about 1200 people who gather once a month for mass.  I arrived early on the day in question.  It was just before 7AM.  I had really high hopes of starting a new workout that day too.  The thing is that my trainer clued me in to the secret of working out pre-breakfast.  Factor in a lengthy commute and my need to be there at an ungodly hour and the workout last out to a few extra minutes of sleep.

Boy am I excited about this workout, though.  After everything I’ve tried I’ve always felt that nothing has worked for me.  I have a vision in mind fueled by a desire for better heath vanity.  I now know that there are no easy fixes, that I should have done this when I was a teenager.  See, back then I had the time.  I had no social life thanks to a lack of friends or a personality, so I could have been pounding my societal aggression in the gym for hours on end.  Instead I was – come to think of it I really can’t account for my teenage years.  Must have blocked them.  I certainly wasn’t drinking, getting high, or dating like the cool kids.  But I squandered those years – years when I could have been setting myself up for success.  It’s hard, damn near impossible, to achieve the kind of success I want at my age.  The people I know who’ve done it can all maintain it.  That’s always easier to do when you reached it in the first place.  But when you’re married with kids and a job, not so easy to get started.

But this new program…  Having reached the conclusion that I need to be happy with whatever gains I see; I was really eager to jump into this.  I might only lose a few pounds, probably wouldn’t really put on any muscle but I’m OK with that because it’s better than nothing and if I achieve my potential I can’t be disappointed in what my potential actually was.

But it needs to start another day because I was tired that morning.

I walked into the gym to discover a group of kids even more eager than me already rolling out racks of chairs to set up on the gym floor.

“Kids, I love the energy!” I shouted as I put my coffee down.  You’ve got to praise them at every step.  It’s easy with these kids.  I love them like my own.  And like a proud dad I feel the urge to encourage them because they are so awesome.  And I mean that.  “But hang on a bit because we have to roll the floor mats out first.”

Then I proceeded to walk them over to the side of the bleachers where a giant machine on wheels resides.  “This baby here contains enough floor matting material to cover the whole gym so we don’t scuff up the floor with the chairs,” I said as I motioned for them to give me a hand wheeling it into place.  The thing weighs 1,000 pounds fully laden.

Did I mention they’re eager kids?

In their eagerness they pushed the rack really hard before I had a chance to get my foot out of the way.

Ever hear bones break?  It’s not a pleasant sound.

I looked down to see a hard graphite wheel rolling up onto my foot and then… staying there!

“Love you kids but get this thing OFF ME!!!” I shouted.

They pushed and after what seemed like an eternity it rolled off.  The other side.  Taking an additional pounding blow on another toe.

I tried to act tough.  Who complains about broken toes of all things.  I finished helping the kids and even taught a class before seeing the school nurse who instructed me to go home and elevate it.  It was in her office that I first removed my sock.  Oh God, it was so gross…

And because I knew I’d need to see a doctor, it turns out I do indeed have two broken toes and will be wearing a boot for the next month.

On the upside, I’ve been wanting to introduce a Bermuda-themed look into the school dress code for some time.  Think about it.  These kids already love me for my style.  It’s the most amazing thing.  Remember those teenage years I mentioned?  Yeah, they seem not to matter now because the teenagers of today look up to me.  Do you know how gratifying it is to have 500 teenage boys literally trying to copy everything you’re wearing?  I’m apparently a trendsetter.  Let’s see how they dig shorts with my tie and jacket…

But that workout will have to wait.

Just like another Mets World Series win.

I think God’s trying to tell me something.

Chuck, and Sue, and Me

Today I bid a fond farewell to another graduating class of seniors at the high school where I work.  All my teachers out there know the feeling.  After the amount of time you spend with you, you alternately feel as though it’s simply time and that you wish you had another four years with them.

That’s because you love them.

“But that title?” you ask.  What’s with the New York local news anchors?

I was asked last week to write a letter to one of our graduates.  The woman asking me to write was the mom of the young lady and she wanted to include letters of advice or memories or well wishing to her daughter from teachers she knew had been particularly admired by her daughter.  OK, 1) that’s powerful right there.  A mother shared her child’s education duties with me and here she is acknowledging that I hadn’t let her down.  There is no 2.  That’s humbling.

This young woman was a delight to teach.  She made the classroom a fun place to be for everyone.  She was polite, intelligent, caring, and passionate about her interests.  Among these activities was her work on the student-produced news magazine that aired once a week.  We shared many stories over my own television production work and I applauded her for hers.  This could explain why yours truly appeared on every single episode of the broadcast this year.  Hey, self-promotion…  It’s the way to go.

In the spirit of writing my letter to her, encouraging her to continue to pursue her dreams because I’m sure the Will of God lies somewhere in the imaginations that He’s given us; I began to remember why I wanted to work in TV.  I looked up a clip on Youtube of the two people who were a huge part of my life as a child.  Obviously my mom and dad are not on Youtube (yet) but Chuck Scarborough and Sue Simmons most definitely are.  They anchored the news together in New York for over three decades and most of that time I watched religiously.

Other kids would come home from school and watch cartoons.

I came home from school and did my homework quickly so I could watch Live at Five.

And then I clicked on a clip of Chuck talking about 40 years at WNBC.

And it hit me.

I can’t believe I hadn’t know this all along.

If you ever want to know where I developed my “style” both in dress and speech pattern when speaking in public, in writing scripts (like the things I say “spontaneously” to my class) and in how I can “anchor” down a conversation…  Well, just look at this clip.

Seriously, I used to wonder if they’d ever adopt a three-anchor format just so I could sit between Chuck and Sue.  I didn’t even care to read any stories, just to bask in their glory.

Instead I am happy to inspire others to make the most of their dreams, to teach and not to do, to be an anchor in the classroom and for the faith, to tell the story of Jesus Christ.

But so help me God, it this chick gets to meet Sue Simmons I will hunt her down.