There can be no doubt that this has been a rocky time in my life (and the lives of those around me). I am now in year two of grieving Micah’s loss–and I’m finding true what many have recently told me: year two is harder than year one. My emotions have had an itchy trigger finger this week…
Tomorrow, Micah’s high school is presenting a program on mental health and abuse awareness. The students running the program have decided to dedicate it to Micah’s memory. One better–they have asked us to be present for the program, and invited us to speak briefly as well.
As will undoubtedly come as a big shock to everyone reading this, I have never had an issue presenting (or running my mouth) in front of any group. A former teacher of eight years, a high school and community theatre actor and now a public attorney and public address announcer for a professional hockey team–talking just comes naturally to me.
Tomorrow is different though. Tomorrow I’m not going to be talking about my time as a teacher, or debating the finer points of a state statute or procedural rule–I’m going to be talking about Micah. I’m going to be talking to kids (and others gathered) about how they can try to spot signs of depression and mental illness early enough to intervene and prevent someone else from going through what my family, my friends, Micah’s friends, are going through. I only have to speak for 5-10 minutes, but I fear that may seem like an eternity. Again–normally, that would be a good thing, right? Not tomorrow.
Another theme of some of my more recent blog posts is the need for change. We were told relatively quickly that part of the grieving process is getting used to the “new normal” of our lives. Part of that new normal became the decision to move from our house–the house with Micah’s room–into a new house. Part of that new normal is getting used to all the changes that come with losing your son…
Over the past year, I thought I could continue doing the same activities that Micah encouraged me to participate in.
- I tried to continue being on the choir booster board.
- This did not work out very well. Being in the choir room, Micah’s choir room, was more painful than being around the rink. Talking to other parents, many who knew and appreciated, dare I say loved Micah, about their kids in choir, about things that Micah would never get to experience–it just became too much. I resigned with the hope that maybe I’ll return when Avi gets to high school…
- I tried to continue being a hockey team manager.
- I’ve stuck this one out, but it has been a great challenge as well. Being at the rink for a game here or there is okay, but I could not sit at the rink and watch a hockey practice without my son on the ice. It was hard to involve myself in with a group of families that only knew Micah peripherally, where I just didn’t share a common frame of reference. No, I didn’t know what they were going through on this team–because I did not have a child on the ice with their kids. Sure, I could tell stories of my somewhat-related experiences, but those seemed so distant. After the season ends, in early March, I will likely hang up my team manager hat for good.
- I tried to continue being involved with my son’s old hockey organization as an equipment manager and tournament committee member.
- Like the manager gig, I’ve stuck this one out. But, unfortunately, also like the manager gig, I feel out of place–disjointed. I don’t have the drive or the interest to want to be around the rink on a regular basis any longer. Maybe I just need an extended break from this, and then I’ll miss it and want to come back. I’m not sure. I just know that the break will begin soon.
- I tried continuing in my role as the state youth hockey league co-chair.
- This one, after a brief flirtation with resigning back in the early Fall, I’ve decided to stick with for a while. I still like the feeling of working for the good of all travel youth hockey players in Arizona (and the surrounding area). I still like helping organize and developing the league that I have helped grow over the past five years. This is how I will stay connected to and working for the good of youth hockey for the immediate future.
- I tried to continue scorekeeping and announcing hockey games.
- I think this is a two-part answer. When it comes to announcing–that’s just something I love doing, and I know Micah would not dream of having me stop doing it. I was lucky this season to find the opportunity with the Tucson Roadrunners to move my announcing to the professional stage. If you like to talk and hear your voice, no better place to hear it than in front of thousands of cheering hockey fans. I was also able to keep doing a little collegiate softball announcing on the side as well.
- Part two of this answer–the scorekeeping. It should come as no surprise that a guy with the username of “technobabble1” likes the technical part of being a hockey scorekeeper. Nor should it be a surprise that the attorney likes doing things by the rules. Despite all that, the ice rink is a cold place. My days of sitting in the cold scorer’s booth for 4-5-6 hours at a crack during a tournament weekend are over. My days of saying good night to my wife and kids as I go off at 7:30 on a weeknight to scorekeep two or three games and not get home until 11–those are over too. Does this mean I’ll never play the scorekeeper role again? No. I enjoy it enough that I’ll slip in every once in a while and watch the kids and parents faces light up when they hear my music playlist, or hear my voice announcing their kids’ names for goals or assists or even penalties. It just won’t dominate my schedule any longer. I didn’t know if I could actually do this–but I have. I have only handled scorekeeping duties for perhaps 25 games since last August. It sounds like a lot, but in past seasons, there were tournament weekends when I would work 15-20 games in a single weekend. So, it was a gradual transition to my “retirement.”
So, now what? Where do I go from here? My wish list is nice to dream about. I want to find my way into doing voiceover work for commercials. I would love to find my way into voiceover work for movies or cartoons, or even my whole body back into acting. I would love to find a job in the Chicago Cubs front office during the day, and handle the Cubs public address announcing duties at night. I would love to work in that capacity for the Arizona Coyotes or the Chicago Blackhawks. (And, if anyone reading this has a good hookup for me, please let me know. 🙂 )
When I became an appeals attorney almost two and a half years ago, I said that one reason I wanted to handle appeals was to strengthen my resume a tad–to try and become a commissioner. In Arizona, there are three primary ways for an attorney to get on the bench: become a Judge Pro Tempore, a Commissioner or a Judge. A judge pro tempore is basically a fill-in or substitute judicial officer. This might be fun, but I believe my current position working as a public attorney for the county precludes me from doing this. It would be fantastic to become appointed as a judge–but I don’t have the experience that many judges have in terms of writing for a law journal, or being a partner at a medium-to-large-size law firm. Additionally, judges in Arizona are appointed by the governor, and many of those selections tend to lean towards the political views of the current governor. Arizona, being a primarily “red state,” has had predominantly Republican governors that tend to appoint predominantly conservative, Republican judges. There have certainly been exceptions–but as a left-leaning (and Democrat-leaning) liberal Independent voter, odds would be against me.
This leaves me with the possibility of becoming a commissioner. Commissioners serve much as judges do, albeit at a slightly lower level of pay. The big difference is that commissioners serve at the whim of the presiding judge for the county that they live and serve in. There is no real merit protection. If a commissioner does things that make the presiding judge unhappy, bye-bye commissioner. Despite that risk, I have decided to start actively looking for commissioner vacancies.
I think I could be a pretty solid, fair commissioner, and I think I would have a shot of getting a commissioner position with enough effort and the right references.
It’s time for me to start looking to make this move. In the words of A.Ham., “I am not throwing away my shot.”