This will be the final edition of “Life As I Know It” and the last edition of the Review on which I will serve as deputy editor.
After two years with Home Town Media Group, the parent company of this newspaper, I am moving on to another opportunity, but, before I go, I thought I’d use our last visit together in this space to make the one thing I’ve learned in my time here, above all others, perfectly clear in the hope someone within reach of these words will read them and take them to heart.
It’s never too late.
Two years ago, I was in a pretty bad place. I hadn’t worked a job outside my home in 12 years and the fiction career I’d left the workforce to pursue had stagnated practically before it began. I didn’t like myself much anymore, certainly didn’t like my life very much at all at that point, and felt more like a kept househusband than I did anything else. My choices and my failure to execute them put a strain on me, on my wife, on our marriage; everything.
That was the low point.
The conversation in which we decided I should return to work, in whatever capacity, was one of the most difficult I’ve ever had. Between you and I, reaching out in an attempt to get a reporter job with the Review was something I did basically as a formality. There’s no way, I thought, I’d ever get a shot in journalism, which was something I wanted to do, something everyone told me I was good at, as far back as high school, which, at that point, was 20 years earlier.
You have to prove yourself to get a journalism job. No one tells you that in the want ad, but you do. I had to prove myself to get that job reporting on the Village and Town of Mamaroneck in September 2012 by writing a news story concerning something about which I knew nothing, the county’s waste water treatment plant on the Boston Post Road in Mamaroneck.
I did it, though, and I got the job. And then things got exponentially harder.
We may have discussed this here once before, but journalism, when done correctly, is something you have to do on the front lines, so to speak. You have to put yourself, whether physically or interpersonally, in a position to get what you need to write the best story and inform the public. That’s often uncomfortable and, if you’re not used to it, it can be pretty daunting.
If you haven’t worked outside your house in 12 years, or really in an office ever, it can seem impossible. And it did.
My first week or so on the job here as a reporter was the most difficult period of my life. I could not have been any further out of my comfort zone than if I was a missionary in Zimbabwe, which might have been preferable after I had trouble gathering man on the street quotes my second day.
In those early days I was never comfortable, I was never happy and I didn’t feel like I was me anymore.
And then I was comfortable, and I was happy, and I wasn’t me anymore. I was someone better.
Proving myself as a reporter, then as an editor, is the hardest, best thing I’ve ever done and I’m grateful to everyone who made those opportunities possible.
Here are three of them.
First, Review publisher Howard Sturman, who twice in my two years here showed confidence in my value to the company in the best way a publisher can. I thank him for that.
Second, former Editor-in-Chief Mark Lungariello, who was the guy who gave me that opportunity to prove myself as a reporter and who, in doing so, picked me up off the scrap heap of the life I had and let me through the door to make the transition to this new one. I’ll always be grateful for that chance and I’m happy to call Mark my friend today.
Finally, I’ll mention current Review Editor-in-Chief Christian Falcone. I have never worked harder or closer with anyone in my life and I think the victories we’ve had are some of the most rewarding I’ve ever experienced.
Chris and I will be the first two guys to tell you we are almost nothing alike, but we’re both Yonkers guys, we both care deeply about your newspaper and we found enough common ground to establish a base we’ve expanded into the best working relationship I’ve ever had. Chris gave me enough room, and enough faith, to transform the deputy editor role with this company into something it has never been and it was my honor to work alongside him to put this newspaper into your hands for the last year and half.
I consider Chris my friend, and I’ll miss working with him.
And I’ll also miss you. Writing this column was fun, and I especially enjoyed communicating with some of you directly when one of our visits here struck you for one reason or another. It was nice to know you were out there reading and I appreciated your time.
Two years ago, I was a would’ve-been writer with just about nothing to show for 12 years of his life. As I type these last few words to you, I’m a professional journalist on the way to a new opportunity in the field with one novella published and another on the way.
It’s not always easy, but it’s never too late.