TWITTER: @sirbacon123

28 April 2010

Take Me Out To The Ball Game

I’ve played a lot of ball in my day and one thing I learned at a very young age was not to be cocky.
I kinda learned it the hard way.
I was at a baseball camp when I was about 11 years old, the same age as my son, when we were doing a drill catching fly balls.
To this day, I can remember shooting my mouth off about how boring that drill was. 
Somewhere in the infield, a coach was loading the machine, launching balls our way.
When it got to my turn, I heard the sound, but I never saw the ball.  
The next thing I knew, it was a Batman episode.
Pow!!!... Bam!!!... Zonk!!!
The ball smashed directly into that soft spot between my eyes, right above my nose.
For whatever reason, it didn’t hurt me at all, but it sure destroyed my pride.
And definitely woke me up.
From that point forward, I have always made it a priority to shut my mouth.  I certainly have it in me to jab at people, but I always remind myself that what comes around goes around.

At last check, I am still human and unfortunately I still need a reminder from time-to-time.
Fast forward to last weekend, when my son and I went to go see a local major league baseball game.
It was a chilly day, but thankfully our seats were in the sun.
For the first inning.  
That meant for the second inning, we moved, back into the sun, right next to the foul pole.
As our luck would have it, within a pitch or two, a fly ball came our way and landed about 10 feet from us, just barely in foul territory. 
The left fielder came over, picked up the ball and flipped it right to my son.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is at the last second, some other kid ran over, reached out and grabbed the ball out of mid-air, putting my son into tears.
They were tears on the inside, ones that only a father could see, but it was like watching his heart get ripped out, right in front of me.
Strike one.
Like any supportive father, I put my arm around him and...
...gave him the speech about, “in life, you gotta want it.”
“That other boy wanted it more than you did.  You waited for the ball to come to you.  He went out and got it.”
As the words were coming out of my mouth, I was telling myself, SHUT UP, but I just couldn’t stop.
There are times for lectures, but THAT WASN’T IT!
Within another inning or so, the sun had disappeared again, so we moved to the other side of the stadium -- front row in the right field pavilion.
As our luck would have it, our right fielder threw a ball into the crowd at the beginning of each inning.
We were in the perfect place at the perfect time.
Within moments of sitting down, he locked in on my son and tossed the ball right at him.
This time, my son reached out and raised his glove high in the air to make the catch, but the ball went higher than he expected.
Fortunately I was there to make the play and save the day.
I lifted my hands up, but as I waited for the ball to get to me, yep, somebody reached out and snagged it away.
Like son, like father.
I looked at him, waiting for the “you gotta want it” speech, but I got nothing.  
Except for puppy dog eyes.
Strike two.
I could not believe it happened twice.  I could not believe we had nothing to show for it, but I really could not believe that my son didn’t rub it in.
Then again, he didn’t have to.
The good news is that there were still a couple of innings left, which meant hopefully one more chance to get a ball.
And sure enough, that chance came.
This time the throw was a little short, but my son was determined.
He reached out for the ball -- he REALLY wanted it -- stretching his arm out as far as it could go.
But the ball tipped off the front of his glove and deflected away from him.
Right into my hands.
It was teamwork at its finest.
I handed him the ball, but you would’ve thought it was the Hope Diamond.
I immediately told him had he not reached out to get the ball, it would never have hit his glove and would’ve never bounced my way. 
It was one of those special father/son moments that nobody can ever take away.
And he has a ball to show for it.

27 April 2010

The Next Step

When I was working, I lived by a very structured schedule.
Wake up, buy an overpriced cup of caffeine, work from 9a to 9p (on a good day), go home, watch TV, rinse and repeat.
Pretty much all of those activities have been eliminated, except for the structure.
Now it goes a little something like this -- wake up, work out, make a cheap cup of coffee at home, check my email, do stuff until the kids come home from school, check my email, do more stuff with the kids, check my email, go to bed.
To be honest, I’m not sure how much I miss about my former life, except for the two times a month where I actually believed that my commitment was appreciated.  

Insert joke here.
For many people, losing their job means losing their identity and about six months into the 18 months I’ve been out of work, I definitely felt that way.
But not anymore.
I know there is a lot more to me than that itty bitty font on my business card.

It took me a LONG time to figure that out, but then again, Jim Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Even as I've grown comfortable with my new life, I do realize that I am one phone call or email away from jumping right back into the rat race.
Of course, I’ve been waiting for that call or email for so long now that I have serious doubts that it will ever happen.
When I mention that to my wife or close friends, they pretty much tell me to shut up.

But let’s be honest, with every day that I am sitting at home, which way is my stock going?
If you guessed down, you win a free book of food stamps.
Do I believe that I can do a good job?  

I KNOW I can still do a GREAT job!
Do I believe that I will get a chance to do ANY job?  
Not so much.

Here’s the bottom line -- Clarence Oddbody won’t be knocking on my door anytime soon, so it’s up to me to recreate my wonderful life.  
But that may not be such a bad thing.
I don’t know yet what I can do or how I can do it, but just imagine if we were all able to create the rules to our own life.
Is it a longshot?   
Fo sho.
Is it possible?  
Just ask the genius who had the vision that someday you could build a Starbucks in the parking lot, 100 yards away from the Starbucks in the supermarket.
Now I don’t have these gigantic dreams of changing the world, but I know that I still got game.
I spoke with my stepmother the other day for the first time in a while.   We were pretty close when my dad was alive, but through no reason other than, no reason at all, we don’t speak as much as we used to.  

(Note to self:  you have something to work on.)
I updated her on my lack of employment and as always, she knew exactly what to say.   A couple of years ago, her son-in-law had gone through something very similar.
The hard part about talking to people that you haven’t spoken to in a long time is that as soon as you mention you are unemployed, they think you are unemployed AND depressed.
I am far from depressed.
Not every day is a good day, not every minute is a good minute, but I am very happy with my life and very happy to be a stay-at-home dad.
I think she could hear some optimism in my voice, which is amazing considering I was on a cell phone and I have AT&T.
The advice she gave me was pretty clear and straight to the point -- forget what you used to do, figure out what you do well and put those skills to use.
Her advice was simple, but absolutely correct.
I took what she said to heart, after all, that’s where it was coming from.
And doggone it, I have a lot of great qualities -- I’m funny, I can write, I’m a huge sports fan, I remember the 80‘s better than anyone.

Did I mention that I was funny?
I got it.

Maybe I can write Caddyshack III.

25 April 2010

Happy Birthday Zac

First and foremost, I want to send out my condolences to the families of the Coal Miners who lost their loved ones in the recent tragedy in West Virginia.
To be perfectly honest, I am not someone who can truly relate to what those brave men did for a living to provide food and shelter for their families.
That being said, I have nothing but respect for the way they approached their lives and I pray that their families can find peace during this most difficult of times.
The reason that I bring this up now is because of an email I received following my appearance last week on CNN.
It comes from Jeffrey:

I wish you the best of luck and hope you find a job soon!

Hey can you pass along a message on your blog today.  

There is a son, Zac Harrah about 6yrs old who is about to have is 7th birthday without his father. 

His father was one of the miners in the coal mine disaster last week. 

The local news paper is asking for people to send his son birthday cards for support. 

Thanks for your help.

The address:

Zac Harrah
705 C&O Dam
Daniels, WV 25832

Best of luck, thank you.

My apologies for not getting this out sooner, but please join me in wishing Zac strength during a time where he should be celebrating like a seven-year old.

23 April 2010

Blinded By Science

Allergy season has officially arrived.
That means, keep the kleenex close by and let the sneezing begin.
Fortunately for me, a couple of years ago I found a $5 over-the-counter medication that has eliminated pretty much all of my wheezing.
By the way, that’s $5 for 100 pills.
Unfortunately I was never able to find a pill to cure my allergic reaction to the Library.
Coming within 100 feet of the building in college gave me goose bumps.  I’ve tried to stay away since.
I think it was the silence in the building that wore me down.  Couldn’t they pump just a little muzak into that place?  
It would really liven it up.
Don’t get me wrong, I love learning.   I love getting smarterer and I definitely love reading, especially sports or music magazines.
I read several internet newspapers everyday.  I keep up on current events like I’m Dan Rather, but sitting in a library puts me to sleep.
Now part of my new job description as a stay-at-home dad, is helping the kids with school, a part of the job I have really enjoyed.
Even if it means a trip to the local library from time to time.
As a parent, you do a lot of things that you might normally not do.
Two words -- poopy diapers.
When my first born was hatched, I was probably the least prepared parent of all-time.   
I know this sounds dumb, actually incredibly dumb, but it never registered to me that newborns need your help doing EVERYTHING.
They need you to eat.   They need you to sleep and they definitely need you to change their poopy diapers.
My excuse is a lame one, but it’s the only one I got.
Both my mom and dad had no brothers or sisters.  My only sibling is a brother who is 14-years older than me.  And that left me to grow up with no youngins around.
Fortunately I was blessed with three opportunities to be the father of a newborn.
Looking back, my grade as the father of baby #1, a girl, was definitely an incomplete.   
I got an A for love, but a much lower grade for participation.
With baby #2, the boy, it was a whole nother ballgame.
For example, he loved to play this game called:
  • Right as you change my diaper, I am going to throw up and sometimes to mix it up, I’m going to spray you with my hose for the fun of it.
Not a fun game to play, but the highlights are hilarious.
By baby #3, another girl, I was an expert.  Well, at least as much of an expert as I was going to be.   
I figured out what foods you could stuff her with to keep her from crying.  I mastered the art of not hearing her scream while I was sleeping at night.  
I was the model dad.
Now before you call Child Services, I must remind you that the kids are now 12, 11 and six, and perfectly healthy.
You can credit my wife for balancing out my deficiencies.
During my recent time at home, I have really enjoyed the opportunity to take on a more active role in their life.
And it’s really nice that I don’t have to wear a name tag anymore.
I also get a chance to do things that time would never allow before.
Like tonight.
I got to spend four hours with my son... the library.
He’s got a science project due on Monday and it was my turn/opportunity to help him along.
The premise of the project is as follows -- two identical Red Tulip Plants and for the last month, one has been fed water only, while the other got water and bug spray.
The idea was to find out which plant would grow more.
And in the biggest surprise since the conclusion of Marley & Me, it was the bug spray plant that took off.
So tonight my son and I headed over to the local library where we worked on his project pretty much until they locked the doors.
I’ve closed down a bar or two in my day, but a library, not so much.
And what a night it was.  Bonding, studying, learning, working, laughing, loving. One of the best nights I’ve had as a dad or a human being in a long time.  
To quote the great philosopher Bill Withers, it was just the two of us.
And it was awesome.
And it was productive.
And guess what?
No sneezing.

22 April 2010

The Best of Both Worlds

It was the great 21st century poet, Destiny Hope Cyrus who once spoke of The Climb.  
You may know her better as Miley, but it’s very clear that she has really connected with the plight of the unemployed:
  • My faith is shaking but I got to keep trying, got to keep my head held high... the struggles I’m facing, the chances I’m taking, sometimes might knock me down, but no, I’m not breaking.
Like many of the millions out of work these days, I have lived and died and lived through this most miserable rotation of highs and lows.
Just when you think your destiny is out of hope, some small sign comes your way giving you another lead to chase.
Today it was an email from my good friend Jon.
Attached to the note was a new job posting.
Being that Jon is happily employed, his only goal was to help me and help me he did.
His note gave me more of an energy boost than the Americano at Starbucks.
Within minutes, I applied online... emailed somebody I know, not very well, at that company... found the name of the person this job will be reporting to.... emailed him...  went online to check out new job listings...  found a new job at a company near my house... and applied online for that one too, even though it really doesn’t totally speak to my background.
With about a quarter tank left, I checked my facebook account... saw a note from someone who had an big interview today in my field... emailed them to say that I would be happy to help out in any way I can.
What in the world is going on?
I was so deep in positive energy, I actually forgot that I was unemployed.
This chase was actually exciting.
Well I don’t know about exciting, but it was definitely a rush.
What is going on?
I’m writing this eight hours after getting Jon’s email and I’m still riding a high.
I know it sounds crazy, but when most of your days are spent in neutral or reverse, it really doesn’t take a whole lot of gas to get you going forward.
Today it was an email.
Tomorrow it could be a phone call.
The next day it could be a website.
The problem is, I’ve traveled down this road so many times before, I’m well aware that we are more-than-likely headed down Destination Nowhere.
I know that sounds like I’m bringing a bowl of negativity to this very positive party, but let’s be realistic here.
I’ve applied for a job that THOUSANDS of others will apply for.
The chances of getting a response from the company is slim. 
The chances of getting a response from the people I emailed are slimmer.  
The chances of getting an interview is slimmerer.  
The chances of getting the job are slimy.
But as the great Miley said:
  • There’s always going to be another mountain.  I’m always going to want to make it move.  Always going to be an uphill battle.  Sometimes you going to have to lose.  Ain’t about how fast I get there.  Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side.   It’s the climb.
This Cyrus girl must’ve had some hardship in her life, because she really knows what she is talking about.
I wonder if my kids know who she is.

21 April 2010

More Than A Game

I’ve never claimed to be a journalist.
Yes, I’ve worked in the “media” for the last quarter century, but the more you learn about the media, the more you learn that there are very few journalists left.
The new goal of the new media is plain and simple, promote and make money.
If you happen to break some significant story along the way, good for you, as long as you get ratings or sell papers.
My training, to not-be-a-journalist, began all the way back in high school, when I worked for the school newspaper...
... at the same time I played on the school baseball team...
... while writing the articles for the school newspaper...
... on the school baseball team.
If that’s not journalism, then I don’t know what is.
I was the guy who wrote the article when the third baseman made seven errors in one game.
Of course that third baseman was me.
Shockingly, there was no mention of any of those errors in the article.
Not journalism.  Check.
The reason I bring this up, is that I’m about to not be a journalist when writing about my son’s latest baseball game.

I'm going to be a dad.  A very proud dad.
This was no ordinary baseball game.
This was our chance to face the undefeated first place team.
And in the 11-year old Triple-A league, EVERY game matters, especially for the coaches.
I am in my second season as an assistant coach for my son’s team, one of the real perks of unemployment.
It’s basically my job to chew sunflower seeds, sit on the bench and hope that my son can carry out my unfinished dreams.
Well tonight, he hit a home run.
Not literally, but just about.
With our team trailing 8-1, the real coach put my son into pitch.
Normally he is the catcher, but he’ll play anywhere, as long as he gets dirty.  
He pitched nearly three innings giving up just one run and a couple of hits.
Meanwhile, the other team brought in their ace reliever to close the game.   I didn’t get a good view of his face, but his arm moved like a fifth grade Nolan Ryan.
On most days, you could probably get the car keys ready.
But not today.
We enjoyed a stretch where eight of ten hitters reached base scoring six times to make it a real game.
Then in our next at bat, down two with two out and two on -- the great Vin Scully would say that the deuces were wild -- my son came up to the plate with a chance to be a hero.
And a hero he was.
On the first pitch, he hit a booming fly ball to deep left-center field, landing just out of the reach of the center fielder, scoring both runners to tie the game.
My son’s final inning of pitching was a quick one, recording three outs on six pitches.
That set up the dramatic conclusion to this come-from-behind victory when we scored the game-winning run with two outs in the bottom of the inning on a double that landed just inside fair territory.
To paraphrase Harry Caray -- Bears Win, Bears Win.
Since we joined this team four years ago, we have had plenty of wins and plenty of losses, but the experience has been incredible.
We play for a coach who is not trying to make the next eight or nine or ten year old Barry Bonds, but rather he is trying to give each and every player on our team the opportunity to play high school baseball.
He teaches them the game.   He teaches them the signs.   He teaches them how to be a baseball player.
And why not.  In his previous life he was a high school teacher AND a high school baseball coach.
At not just any high school, but Columbine High School, circa 1999.
As his luck would have it, he was off campus exactly 11 years ago, when Columbine became the most famous high school in the world, for ALL the wrong reasons.
Our coach is one of the most caring and pleasant gentle men you will ever meet.
We are so lucky to call him our coach, but I feel even more fortunate to call him a friend.
But even with our great relationship, I have only had the guts to bring up the events of April 20, 1999 just one time.
We talked briefly about how he was at a seminar that day, the day that high school changed forever.
Grease was no longer the word.  Help was.
He’s moved on from Columbine, but I doubt Columbine could ever move on from him.
How could it.
When my son returned to the dugout after his game-tying hit, I gave him a hug.
To him, it was a sign that he had done well on the baseball field.
To me, it was a hug.  With my son.
If we learned anything from that most tragic day, it was hopefully to hug our kids.
It’s amazing what the game of baseball can teach you.
Final score, 10-9.   Good guys.

20 April 2010

Gym Dandy

I’m very happy to report that I’ve received many compliments about my appearance on CNN last week, but the words that really make me blush are when somebody says I looked skinny.
I’ve been called a lot of things in my day, most of which I can’t print in this here blog, but skinny is not one of them.
I’ve spent most of my life on the the north side of the scale, but thanks to unemployment, that has all changed.
My morning schedule is very structured -- Wake Up... Mumble... Drive the kids to school... Workout.
I see a lot of the same people at the gym every morning, but rarely do we exchange more than a smile.   This working out is a tough business and there’s no time for chatter.
The routine is pretty simple -- show up, pick a machine and hand my card to Dana.
She’s the one who works the counter, organizes the room and welcomes me with a warm greeting EVERY day.
(She’s also the one who lets me do 60 minutes on the elliptical machine even though the sign says its a 30-minute max.  Thank you girlfriend!)
Other than the brief and polite exchange each morning, Dana and I hadn’t really spoken too much.
Until the other day.
Last Tuesday, while I was midway through my workout, I remembered that my friend Lisa Guerrero had an exclusive interview airing on Inside Edition with Michelle “Bombshell” Mcgee.
She’s the one with the Nazi tattoos, who had the affair with Mr. Sandra Bullock.  Michelle, not Lisa.
So while huffing and puffing, I asked Dana to change the channel on one of the TV’s so I could see Lisa’s interview.
And what an interview it was.
Lisa did an amazing job dropping the bomb on Bombshell, this pathetic excuse for a stripper.
If the affair with Jesse James didn’t make you sick, the head-to-toe tattoos probably did.   
I’m not making a judgment on the art, I’m making a judgment on the artist.
White Power tattoos.  Swastikas in places that they couldn’t show.  Pictures with a Nazi armband, while holding a knife to her own throat.
I don’t believe Greyhound sells a class low enough for her to get a ticket.
The show and my elliptical ride ended at the same time, so as I dismounted, I went over to thank Dana for changing the channel.
Ten minutes later, I had a new friend.
A very cool friend.
I learned that like Bombshell, Dana has a couple of tattoos.  
And like Jesse James, Dana rides motorcycles.   
And like me, Dana is Jewish.
After hearing the first two revelations, the third part really surprised me.
With the Jewish bond firmly in place, Dana and I had a great conversation.
We talked about a man she used to respect.   Jesse.
She raved about the type of bike he builds, as does pretty much everyone who knows anything about bikes.
But it was the support of Nazi Germany by both Jesse and his ink’d up play thing that drew the line for Dana.
As Tim, the converted Jewish Dentist told us on Seinfeld, “it’s our sense of humor that sustained us as a people for 3,000 years.”
“Even better.”
Some Jewish jokes are funny.  Especially in Yiddish.
But there is nothing funny about the Holocaust.
To hear anyone say that it never happened, brings a sickness to my body, especially on this the day that Adolf Hitler was born.
The mother of my friend Phil watched as her father was taken away by the SS, never to be seen again. 
And to have a “celebrity” celebrate what the Nazis represented was beyond words.
And to hear that the logo for Jesse James’ company, West Coast Choppers, is inspired by Nazi German symbols is as unbelievable as Sandra Bullock beating Meryl Streep in the Academy Awards.
Talk about The Blind Side.
Dana told me that she won’t see any more of Mel Gibson’s movies because of his anti-semitic remarks.
My dad wouldn’t sit in a Mercedes or Volkswagen because they were “Nazi cars.”
And Jesse, I won’t cut fresh flowers for you.
But thank you for introducing me to Dana.

19 April 2010

Visiting Ours

Hi and Thanks.
Those three words were on the subject line of a recent email I received from a loyal reader.
On the surface, it looked a whole lot like so many of the other incredible emails of support I have received since I started writing this blog nearly four months ago.
But there was something inside that was not so ordinary.
The note, from a wonderful 26-year old with her entire life in front of her, spoke about how she recently moved back in with mom and dad because her paid internship had ended and she couldn’t get a full-time job.
She was working two jobs and was still not able to pay the rent to live on her own.  
She said that many of her friends are going through similar troubles and that it's hard not to get bogged down in the negative.
I hear you sister.
She said that my blog inspired her to restart her own blog in “an attempt to express some of my feelings about this new world I’m entering.”
That’s where many notes I have received just like it, ended.
But not hers.
She said she probably wouldn’t have written to me if it wasn’t the posts about my mom.
Like my mom, her uncle struggled with Bipolar Disorder until he lost his battle with it.
Fortunately my mom is still fighting.
And I’m glad to say, she is fighting hard.
After three weeks, she is out of the hospital and has moved into a temporary nursing facility until she transitions back to her full-time assisted living home.
Saturday I went to visit her.
Now based on our daily phone conversations, where I barely get a word in, I had a pretty good idea of what the visit was going to be like.
And it didn’t disappoint.
There were A LOT of stories that I had heard A LOT of times before.
Sometimes, in my own twisted way of coping, I think I enjoy some of "the greatest hits", knowing the punch line is moments away.
Then when the payoff comes, I get a nice chuckle in my head.  
I can only imagine what is going on in hers.
Sometimes, I just can't take it anymore.
But there was something a little different about this visit.
Instead of getting frustrated, I just let her go wild.  For over an hour.
And wild it was.
She asked if I still eat a big bowl of cereal every morning.   Which I don't.  Too many carbs.
Somehow she transitioned my answer into...
...our family friend Mike used to eat a bowl twice the size of yours... then he would molest his daughter and his wife was a chain smoker and one day the doctor pulled a piece of silver from the cigarette out of her lung.
Holy right turn Batman.
I told her my son’s baseball team won their game earlier in the day.
Somehow that turned into... time she was seduced by a hall-of-fame pitcher in the prime of his pitching career, but my mom turned him down because “what would have happened if I hurt you in bed.”
She told me that the Mafia still runs everything in the world.
That became...
...she was on a trip through the Panama Canal (40+ years ago) and the company that owned the boat had a name with the same first four letters of a company that the Mafia used for...
...honestly, I missed the end of that story.   Sorry.

She told me that Joy Behar is on fire.
She talked about her Rum Cake recipe, again.
She talked about my college graduation party, 21 YEARS AGO.
She talked about the necklace her father sent her when she was 19.
She talked about the shoes she was wearing are 40 years old.
She talked about Satchel Paige & Rupert Murdoch & Frank Sinatra.

If you were there, you would’ve loved it.
The stories she was telling are amazing and ALL TRUE.  She’s lived an incredible life.
But the sad fact is, I’ve heard these stories before.  

MANY times before.

Normally I’m counting the minutes until my departure, but there was something different about this visit.
Something special.
Maybe it was that I knew THIS manic episode was clearly coming to an end and these stories were nothing more than an 80-year old woman driving down memory lane. 
Or maybe it was that I finally accepted that she is just a sweet old lady, who was dealt a bad deck of cards.
Or maybe it was the words of the “Hi and Thanks” email bellowing through my head:
  • “(Bipolar) is a horrible, horrible misunderstood disease.  I wanted to let you know that you’re doing the right things.  Bipolar disorder, much like Alzheimer’s, can be just as hard on the people around the sufferer.   There’s no shame in that and when you share your stories, you make a misunderstood disease a little more accessible.”
As I left the facility, my mom thanked me for a great visit, even though she was the one who did all the visiting.
I said Goodbye and Thanks, and headed home.

16 April 2010

30 Seconds of Fame

In 1984, when I was a Freshman in college, I wrote an amazing term paper on the birth of Cable Television. 
I got an A. 
I really did my homework on that one, contacting all the big players in the business at the time -- MTV, ESPN and CNN.
It was so good, I used the same exact paper again as a Sophomore and Junior.
I think I got an A on those too.
Why waste a good thing, right?  I was green before green.
Well, little did I know at the time that cable TV would be responsible for putting food on the table for my wife and kids.
Little did I know at the time that I would actually have a wife and kids.
After working for eight years in local TV, I spent the next 17 years working behind-the-scenes for the top cable sports networks in all of the land.
Talk about dreaming the impossible dream.
Unfortunately that dream came to a crashing halt a year-and-a-half ago, but yesterday I made my triumphant return to cable TV in a much different role -- in front of the camera.
I was on air, making my pitch on CNN’s 30-Second Pitch, where each week they give unemployed people 30-seconds to sell themselves to potential employers.
It’s really a fantastic idea and a great way to connect with a growing demographic.
I got the invite from CNN last Friday and from the moment I opened the email, I had a pit in my stomach.
Not an olive pit or a peach pit.   It was more like the La Brea Tar Pits.   
I actually spent several days not eating.   Well, maybe not days, but at least 20 minutes.
I have absolutely no problem talking about myself, but on national TV?  
Are you kidding me?   
Plus, I’ve always been told I have a face for radio.
This was a recipe for disaster.
Of course, there was also the potential for a job.
Risk?  Yes.   Reward?  YES.
I somehow made it through the week, preparing myself for the big day.
I arrived at the studio 40 minutes before the live shot.  CNN had requested 25. That gave me an extra 15 minutes to find a brown paper bag to breath into.
To be perfectly honest, the best thing I did was sit in the chair where the interview was being done way before my time.
There must’ve been some magic in that chair because it made all of my fear disappear.
I was scheduled to go live at 10:40am Eastern.   Then it got pushed back to 10:43.   No biggie.
Then President Obama came on with some “breaking news”.
Hey, if you are going to get pre-empted, that’s the way to go.
Finally at 10:53, it was showtime.
Kyra Phillips, the host of the show, did a fantastic job making me feel at ease.  
She said hello.   I said hello.   
She asked me why I'm writing a blog.  I answered why I'm writing a blog.
We were a real Donny and Marie.
Then she set me up for my 30 seconds of fame.
I was on a roll, nailing every word I had practiced about 5,000 times without once looking down at my notes.
Then, out of nowhere, a man’s voice jumped into my earpiece:
“We need to do that again,” the voice said.
Now I’m pretty used to hearing voices in my head, but it’s never happened before WHILE I WAS DOING A LIVE SHOT ON CNN.
I had that split second to make a decision.
Make that half of a split second.  
Re-start or keep going?
I’m not sure why, but I decided to push forward and finish my 30-seconds.   Fortunately there was just a blip of the deer-in-the-headlights look.
As it turned out, that was the best decision of the day.
There were no technical problems.  There was no reason to start over.
In fact, who knows if that was even a real person in my head.
A few seconds later, Kyra said thanks, I said thanks and we all skipped our merry way.
But what if?
What if I would’ve stopped, as I was directed.
Clearly, somebody hit the wrong button somewhere and that message was not intended for me.
Slip happens. 
In 25 years of working in TV, I’ve definitely been on the other side of that, talking to the wrong person at the wrong time.
But this was REALLY the wrong time.   This was no seasoned vet in the chair. This was me.
I don’t think anybody expected me to be polished on-air, but had I stopped and started all over, I would’ve been a youtube sensation.
Wait a minute...
I could’ve been a youtube sensation.
Well by all accounts -- like my handful of close friends who talked me off the ledge for the last week -- it went extremely well.
I heard words like "perfect" and "you looked so young" and "you did a great job."
I don't know if they think I'm a charity case, but I truly appreciated the donations.

And on tax day, nonetheless.
By the time I got back to my car to visit my phone, about seven minutes later, I was greeted by nine text messages, two voice mails and about 40 new emails.
Amazingly, every single one of the messages said the same thing:  
  Did you really use the same exact term paper three different times?