"Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights."
I actually saw this marvelous quote when I searched the internet for something that would define the last few years of my professional life. Imagine my surprise when I found that this was the intellectual property of a friend -- Pauline R. Kezer -- tossed in among words of wisdom from people like Einstein, Churchill and Shakespeare.
Pauline was Secreatry of State from 1990-94. I met her through her husband Ken, the former New Britain High baseball coach who became a friend during my 15-year tenure at the New Britain Herald. That kind of brings the parameters of this blog full circle.
I've never responded well to change. When I went from two pillows to one, I couldn't sleep. When I went from Hellman's Mayonnaise to Miracle Whip, I could no longer eat tuna salad. When I go from the comfortable confines of my Chevy Avalanche and to my wife's claustrophobic Honda to save money on gasoline, I wind up needing a chiropractic adjustment.
Man do I hate change, but when it comes to my professional career, the latest one has become a Godsend. I hope the CFO at my new newspaper, the Meriden Record-Journal, doesn't see this because he may want to reduce my salary, but I'm loving this.
I left the Herald in November, 2010 for a crack at running a weekly sports sections for the [Farmington] Valley Press/West Hartford Press. I enjoyed the writing and the reporting. The people of those towns reacted extremely well to my work. But all that gets nullified when you have a nitpicking psychotic for a publisher who almost drove that baby into the ground.
By June, 2011, I was washing my hands of that awful experiment and began freelancing. Freelancing is great if you're financially set and the opiate of seeing your name in print just refuses to ebb, but when you can use the cash and you have to keep searching for work, it's a tough racket.
I worked for some great papers, like the Portland (Maine) Press-Herald, the Worcester (Mass.) Telegram, the Union Leader in New Hampshire, to name a few. I've worked for others who have taken their time about paying, which means I have to lean back on the days working at my parents' collection bureau to get the funds due me.
That's all gone now. Employment at the MRJ is a blessing, and I'm trying my very best to churn out quality stories for my new readers. The one overlap with my past is Southington, which in my opinion ranks among the top 10 sports towns in the state. When it comes to the rest of the circulation area -- Meriden, Cheshire and Wallingford -- I'm a newcomer. Being a native of nearby Hamden has helped with the transition.
Inevitably what makes or breaks a job experience are the people with whom you work, particularly those who make the decisions. Personally, I've found it unsettling to be a boss in this business. I'd prefer to concentrate on my own work and be a viable part of a dynamic team and that's what it's all about in Meriden.
The sports editor is Bryant Carpenter. I've known Bryant for more than 10 years. We crossed paths in the field when teams from our respective circulation areas clashed and we developed a mutual respect. Working on the same team with him is a treat because of his deep respect for his colleagues and genuinely good- natured demeanor.
It sounds like a basic thing, but today's younger generation seems to rank power above people. Working relationships are hard to foster when the person at the top is bent on reinforcing the hierarchy instead of focusing on the product. Some power-mongers are subtle, others blatantly overbearing, but neither approach works well with me. At MRJ, we're all working together and that means happy days for our readers. I've been working in this business for more than 20 years and it's nice when somebody asks for my opinion or my help instead of playing dictator like the charlatan at my previous full-time stop. I know it sounds ultra-corny but a happy employee is a productive employee.
The third member of our writing team is Sean Kroffsik and a nicer guy you'll never meet. I've know Seanie for awhile and I've never heard him say a bad work about anybody, nor has anybody I know ever said a bad word about him. I'd have to work awful hard at being nice to develop that kind of personality but it comes naturally for Sean. Lord knows I've failed at it since I know of a few people who would gladly take away my second pillow and put Miracle Whip on my turkey sandwich if they had the chance. And those are only the ones I know.
The two guys who work on the desk are George Dalek and Paul Rosano, and they're great guys, too. They have to be to wade through my copy, eliminate some of the flowery adjectives and toss out the typos. A tip of the chapeau to the talented guy I replaced, John Petit. Filling John's shoes isn't easy because he's so talented and so passionate.
Folks who know me know I'm heavily into history. Through five years at the Bristol Press and 15 at the Herald, put together volumes of copious notes on sports at the local schools. When I went to the weeklies, I began accumulating information on Simsbury, Avon, Granby, Canton and West Hartford. My time in West Hartford was particularly heartwarming. I am missing my friends there and come the fall, I'm going to miss the awesome coaches at Conard, Hall and Northwest Catholic.
But as the old door closes, new ones open. I get to work with some pretty great athletic directors and coaches at my new schools with whom I've made acquaintance. It'll take some time to revise my history books but I'll get her done.
I hope y'all will stay with me for what I hope is the final chapter of my career. I have a feeling we're going to enjoy some memorable times and I'd like you to be on board.