and learned that in a day of substitute teaching I would make almost twice the amount I made in a day at Staples and would have way more time for family and music.
The fear, however, was that if I didn’t get called in to substitute teach for a day, then I didn’t work that day; not to mention the fear of surviving summer break. I agonized over it, prayed over it, discussed it with my wife, colleagues, and Staples management, and ultimately came to the conclusion that despite the unsure nature of substitute teaching, it just felt right. So I quit the job at Staples and began the intensive training process of becoming a substitute teacher in NYC. After completing all my exams and paperwork, the phone rang my first day as a substitute teacher and I drove to a high school all the way in the Bronx to teach Dance! That was an adventure! But the greatest adventure was the following four days, when I accepted an assignment to teach English for a week at a middle school for suspended kids in Brooklyn. Now, the average public middle school kid in Brooklyn is generally pretty tough, but this is a school just for the suspended kids; they’re the toughest of the tough! So after an exhausting four days of profanity, near violent skirmishes, kids climbing on window sills and stealing a variety of electronic devices, the school offered me a job teaching three days a week for the rest of the school year. I must have done something they liked! With Tawnya’s encouragement, I accepted the offer, and now I teach three days a week at the suspension school and am on call at other schools two days a week.
My new life style is amazing. I teach at a school with ample time for prep and grading, then I take all afternoon to write music, and am home with the family by roughly 5:30 every day. It’s a dream life compared to Staples. The extra time to write and be with my family is invaluable. Plus, I actually enjoy working with the suspended kids, trying to help them find their way. The downfall, however, is that while life is sweet now, all our plans for summer employment keep fizzling away, and there’s no guarantee of a long-term position like this one next year. In the meantime though, we’re praying and hoping that things will work out, and trusting from past experience that we’ll have heavenly help along the way.
Meanwhile, life in the BMI Workshop is grand! I’m working on my fourth assignment as an official BMI member and loving every minute. I feel positive about my work and hope to post a recording or two of some of my new songs in the near future. With each assignment we are given a different collaborator to work with, sort of like a series of blind dates. We are now in the stage where we pick our own collaborator that we will work with for the whole year next year. It's like Prom season; I’ve struggled with thoughts like, “What if he’s out of my league? How could I convince him that I’m the right one for him? If I were him, I would pick this class member over me…” The first couple lyricists I asked already had collaborators lined up, then just this week I popped the question to an excellent prospect; and he said yes!!! His name is Brett, and I think we will work exceptionally well together.
So that’s the update! Spring is upon us in New York City and the change of seasons seems fitting. It seems like we’ve made it through a long dark tunnel and can finally look around and enjoy the fact that we made it. We live in New York! I’m in the BMI Workshop! I work at a job where I can kind of pay the bills and still write music and be with the fam! It’s the type of joyful realization that is soft and sweet and I just want to sit and hold it for a while, sipping at it like a warm cup of hot chocolate on an early spring morning. Wonderful news. Hope more good news lies ahead.