I kicked around a couple of different ideas on what to write about this week. I could have put some words together on a number of different sports happenings, but honestly, fuck all that shit. Instead, I’ve decided to write about a subject that I can safely say I know better than anyone in the world. That subject is…well…me.
This week marks the two-year anniversary of one of the most important events of my life so far. The first week of March in 2017 was when I left the only home I had ever known. I bounced around quite a bit growing up, but the New York/New Jersey area was the only region I had ever lived for the first 30 years of my life. So when I decided I was packing up all of my shit and moving not just out of the area, but also out of the country, it was easily one of the craziest, scariest and most daunting decisions I had ever made for myself. But goddamn, am I happy I did it.
In this post, I want to explain what went into that decision, and why looking back on it now, I’ve never been more confident that it will go down as one of the smartest things I’ve ever done.
Now, I don’t have any interest in going ALL the way back to the very beginning of this story, because it spans well over a decade and goes through the minutiae of my adolescence. Even though some aspects of it make for compelling storytelling, I’m writing a blog post here, not an autobiography.
All you need to know on that front is that my parents went through an ugly divorce. The horrors of that experience led my mom – who is a saint and deserves to have her story told in a better setting than this silly blog – to move to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. She would be joined a few years later by my younger brother when my dad decided he wanted to fuck off to the Virgin Islands to live out retirement. This was in 2005.
I stayed in New York because I had a dream to chase. My passions were always pretty clearly defined, even when I was a kid. My dad was a big shot in the NYC radio scene, and I have always been a fanatical sports fan. Put the two together, and I knew what I wanted to be. I was going to work in sports radio, and I was going to be great at it.
In my senior year of college, I had the good fortune of being able to intern at WFAN. For those who don’t know, the FAN was, is, and probably always will be the premiere sports talk station not just in New York, but really the country. It’s essentially where the sports talk format was born and has been home to the brightest stars in the broadcasting game since its inception.
Immediately following my internship, the FAN offered me a part-time job. That gig would beget several other work opportunities at the station, eventually leading to my first on-air position as an update anchor. By that time I had been working there for five years.
The satisfaction of knowing that my hard work was paying off with an opportunity to sit in front of a microphone in any capacity was overwhelming. I remember leaving the office that day and being so overcome with emotion, I cried right there on the busy streets of lower Manhattan. I didn’t even care how many people were staring at me. I was doing the damn thing, y’all. It was the surest sign yet that I was on the right path. This crazy dream I had of being a star broadcaster? It was actually happening. And I was elated.
Over the course of the next couple of years, I felt myself getting better and better at what I was doing. Even though sports updates on the FAN are relegated to just a couple of minutes, three times an hour, I found a way to deliver the scores and headlines in a way that was uniquely me. I guess what I’m saying is, I got really fucking good at that job. It’s not like I was doing anything revolutionary, but I could not have possibly felt more in my element.
But this was never my end game. Just as anyone who has done the same job for years on end would, I eventually got to a place where I wanted to take the next step in my development. And by the time 2015 rolled around, I was ready to leap. I began putting together demo tapes in hopes that I could earn an opportunity to host a show.
It took a while. The first two or three tapes I sent in were, to be blunt, absolute tire fires. Like, they were really, grotesquely bad. But I kept doing it. With every rep, I got a little better, and a little better. Finally, I sent one in that was passable enough that my boss was willing to give me a shot. It was to be on Christmas morning, 2015. My time slot would be from 3-6 AM. Or as I like to call it, zombie primetime. But holy shit. This was huge. More elation. More tears of joy. The arrow on my career trajectory was going up again.
When the day arrived, I was a nervous wreck. But I prepared my ass off for that show. I had a format. I had a plan. And after getting through my opening monologue and taking a handful of calls, I settled in and began to sense that familiar feeling I had felt all those years doing the updates. This is what I was always meant to do. I am GOOD at this.
There was just one problem. When you work in a corporate structure, it really doesn’t matter at all what YOU think of the job you’re doing. There are gatekeepers that decide who is worthy of being elevated, and who is not. And while the purpose of telling you this story is not to cast aspersions on the powers that be, the fact of the matter is that my performance hosting that show did not move the needle a single iota in the minds of the people in charge. Their feedback was constructive, but extremely tame in praise. You might be wondering how many follow-up opportunities I got to host again and hone my craft. The answer is…zero.
I’m not self-righteous enough to say that I don’t bear a large part of the blame for why that was the case. I didn’t do nearly a good enough job of advocating for myself, and the fact is, if I had been more in their face on a regular basis, I think I would have at least earned more chances to prove myself. But I wasn’t and I didn’t. The result was 2016 being a year that relentlessly beat my ass into submission.
That year started with my girlfriend of six years deciding she finally had enough of me putting my career first. Just weeks after the highest moment of my professional life, my personal life was beginning to crumble. My schedule of working late nights and overnights was taking a toll on both my mental and physical health. Socially, I curled up into a ball. I rarely left my apartment that I was now living in alone. Sometimes, days would pass without me even seeing the sun. I was still very much dealing with the fallout of the death of my father two years earlier – which is a whole other story in and of itself, perhaps for another time.
The weeks turned into months, and nothing was happening for me. That was largely because I wasn’t making anything happen for myself. But still, I felt betrayed and unappreciated in many ways, despite that being a completely useless thing to feel. In hindsight, it was also misguided. Nevertheless, the year pressed on and the shit storm in my brain only intensified.
2016 still had one more kick in the nuts to deliver to me, and that came in the form of the election of President Donald Trump. I promise I’m not going to go off on a political tangent here, and I understand that there are many of you reading this who were probably thrilled by this development. But for me, that nightmarish election process producing the worst possible outcome led to me taking inventory of my entire life.
I didn’t want to be where I was anymore, in any context. My personal life had worn me down. My professional life was completely stagnant and becoming more and more difficult to cope with and maintain. My home country felt like it was devolving into a caricature of all of its worst elements rolled into one. I felt like I was battling all of my demons every day. It was time for a change…and a big one.
And that’s when it hit me. I needed my mom. I needed my brother. I needed a change of scenery. So I made the call. I ugly cried over the phone to my mom and told her I wanted to move to Vancouver. I knew that door was always open to me, and part of me feels like a dope for not taking it sooner. But better late than never.
It was March 1, 2017 that I loaded up a van full of my belongings and started driving west. That road trip was a life-changing experience. I saw parts of the U.S. that I probably never would have seen otherwise. I remember driving through the corn fields of Iowa and looking at the farm houses. I’d gaze upon the glowing lights inside and think to myself, I wonder what their life is like.
During that week I was on the road, I had vulnerable, honest and difficult conversations with myself. Even though solitude was one of the things I was undoubtedly running from, being alone with my thoughts over the course of that trip was one of the most blissful experiences I had during the entire journey. Finally, I reached the city limits of Vancouver. It was at that very moment that I was overcome with the most comforting feeling I could have possibly felt at that time boiled down into two words: I’m home.
In the two years since, I’ve taken a lot of time to reflect. Too much time, really. The fact is, time spent looking to the past is time not spent preparing for the future. But let me tell you guys this: ya boy is back and ready to take over the world again.
What I’ve realized is that I hold the power. I’ve spent too much time playing by the rules of others and conditioning myself to believe that the only way to do something meaningful is to climb the corporate ladder. Now? I think that is absolute nonsense. It’s simply not true. I don’t need to attach myself to your business to glow myself up. My business is ME.
That’s not to say that I think I’ve automatically got it made. I understand the process is going to be hard. It’s going to be slow. It’s going to take a fuck-ton of work. It wont always be perfect. But I’m ready. I’ve never been more ready for anything in my life. I’ve got plans again. I’ve never felt more driven in my life than I do right now. And despite having to constantly fight back the feeling that I’m running out of time, I’ve come to the realization that I’m right on schedule.
Keep your eyes on me, folks. I’m up to something. The revolution may not be televised. But I’ve got front row seats with all of your names on them.