Category: General

911 Memorial
Looking Back on 9-11-2001

When I began to work on the first season of the Gen2Gen Podcast, I didn’t know where it would lead me.

Many of you know that I have spent parts of my life deeply involved in various political efforts; including two campaigns of my own. The first time I ran, it was the winter of 2002-03 in a special election and the wounds of 9/11/01 were still fresh and raw. The most-recent campaign was in 2017-18.

Both were different in their unique ways, but what I was fighting for really hasn’t changed.

What has is my perspective.

On the day when everything changed for us here in the States, I was merely 17 years old. I was a senior in high school. I was unsure of my future. And I was still very much in the closet.

I speak as the narrator on the podcast and share my own experiences of that day, but as a senior and soon-to-be “adult” I had a different perspective on the world. I knew there was evil in the world, but it had never really shown its face to me. But that changed. And we changed.

We passed new laws. We joined one war and began another. We lost many thousands of lives and hurt many more. And we, for a time, were together.

But that was always going to fade.

But we have faded so far from where we started.

We can’t even date people who have a different world-view. We can’t be friends with or have a beer with people who see the world differently. I cherish those relationships where there are different opinions. It’s what makes us … well, us. One of the podcast guests, Yad Conrad, a native Iraqi now living in California said something towards the end of his interview that struck a cord with me.

He was speaking about how despite our differences — and there are many — what he continues to be drawn to is our human-to-human connection. And it’s true, that’s our common bond. And President Kennedy said it best, “For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”

That is our common bond.

And it’s true. We need to continue to show ourselves worthy of this American experiment which has stood for nearly two and a half centuries. But it takes conversation. It takes compromise. It takes a community of people willing to stand up and do the hard work. To listen. To run into a building that was just hit with an airplane. It takes the heart of someone overtaking a plane to save countless lives on the ground. It takes guts. It takes passion. And I know we can do it. We have done it before.
And we can do it again. 

Gen2Gen Podcast, General, Politics
Asking for Help is a Sign of Strength

I’m naturally a relatively quiet person when it comes to what is going on in my head. I take time to process. I think it through. Then I sit on it. Then I speak. Unfortunately for me, if it is something deeply personal, I may never reach the “speak” stage. It has been that way since the beginning for me.

However, it continues to be something I work on.

And as such, it is important to be transparent. And open. And honest. If I’m going to be a good husband and father and teach my daughter that emotions and feelings are okay, then I have to be okay expressing mine.

I’m posting this article on September 2 and it isn’t by accident. On this day, 19 years ago, a friend of mine killed himself. If you do the math, I was 16 years old. A junior in high school. He would be the first of three over three years. None of us will ever really know what happened and why. But here is the truth about me. I was a depressed teenager. In those years, I had deep moments of despair, anger, isolation, and sadness. I fought the inner demons. And often.

I particularly remember a very dark week in the winter of 2001-02 when I stopped eating, held pills in my hand, and looked outside at the freezing frozen earth outside and considered my options. On another occasion I held a sharp knife in my hands. And still on another I remember being behind the wheel and having the dark demon encroach into my thoughts.

Suffice it to say, those have been my darkest hours. But I came through. And I’m not worse for the wear. I’m better.

And today is good. I’m a constant work in progress, but I try to do better each and every day. A friend and I were texting a few weeks back; someone I’ve known for a long time. And I simply told him that I loved him. And he said the same. And then he followed that with a statement for more important and valuable and it reminded me of one of my most important jobs as a parent. He said he is raising his son to know and understand his emotions and to share them.

We have to do better as parents and fellow adults. It’s okay to have feelings. And damnit, it is okay for men to hug and express their affection for each other. Life is too short to not express yourself.

I’m good today. I still have rough days but never to those dark valleys I once roamed. I’m free of that demon. And it is my job now to ensure I stay where I am and pull others up.

Be kind. Be human. And know that each moment is a chance to extend your arms and embrace someone who you love and care about.