My Story: “Inclined to Mischief”

Here’s my story, or at least one version of it. 

I grew up lonely and a little bit angry in the American midwest. Back in elementary school, I was prone to getting “Inclined to Mischief” marked on my report cards.  This has never really bothered me at all.

Nope, not one bit.

I went to Georgetown University in Washington, DC, but managed to spend a summer in Trier, Germany and an entire year in Edinburgh, Scotland as part of the experience. 

After I graduated in 1992, I pretended to teach English in Hungary for a year. If you ask, my level of Hungarian is best described as “belligerent.”

Then I floated around the US for a spell. I lived on an island in the middle of the Snake River in Idaho, and turned down a “golden opportunity” to sell office furniture for a living in Portland, Oregon. I also passed up a chance to go to cooking school, mostly due to the unfortunate convergence of a day-old bagel, a dull knife, and my left index finger. 

Eventually, I headed east to Boston to do a master’s degree at…wait for it…Harvard Divinity School. However, my academic story was quickly derailed by the prospects of never-ending unemployment and a quirky summer job in US public radio that I took on a whim.

From 1996 to 2018, I spent most of my professional life working for a news program called The World. It was, and still is, the only show on American public radio that does nothing but international news. A horrific mangle of acronyms has funded and produced the show over the years, but two of the main ones are the BBC World Service and WGBH public radio in Boston.

For more than two decades, The World was very, very good to me. I started as a researcher and booker, but managed to move up, in fits and starts, to associate producer, then to producer, and finally on to reporter. 

For eight years, I covered technology for the program, and managed to both start and end a weekly podcast before the concept even became popular.

From 2010 to 2012, I lived and worked in Brussels, Belgium. I covered some big events like the tragic mass shooting in Norway, and the ongoing financial crisis in Greece and elsewhere on the continent. I also managed to convince my editors that I needed do a piece or two about Belgian beer.

Then I came back to Boston and helped launch a BBC podcast called Boston Calling. Rumo(u)r has it that the show remains fairly popular.

Eventually, I decided to make the leap to editorial. I chained myself to a desk in The World’s Boston newsroom. For five years, I worked as the showrunner for the program. I led a newsroom of 30 plus journalists, and together we covered some big international stories, including the terrorist attacks in Paris, and the election of Donald Trump as president.

feef on a table on the back porch

But I decided 20 years was enough. More than enough actually. I hung ’em up back in May of 2018.

Just a few weeks later, though, my wife got a job offer in Amsterdam. It seems my story is fated to somehow be tied to the Low Countries. I’m scared of heights anyway, so it’s fine. Also, I like sandwiches.

Haarlem (the one in the Netherlands) is home these days.

I spend a lot of time these days making sure my 13-year-old daughter is happy and healthy. She’s a vegan, so you can often find me sneaking pastrami sandwiches when no one else is home.

I’m always on the lookout for the chance to write, edit or produce something new and exciting. I love telling stories, and sometimes I even manage to do a decent job of it. My most recent attempt at scribbling is this blog, Slaughterhouse Sketches, where I try to make sense of my new Dutch neighborhood and its denizens, including myself.

You can always get in touch with me if you’ve got an idea, or need a hand with something. My rates are reasonable.

Hands with boxing wraps

Or maybe you share some of my other great loves? Away from work, I enjoy fine Belgian beers and single malt Scotch whisky. I like books by Kurt Vonnegut and early Miles Davis on vinyl. I’m also a decent bread baker, and I know just enough about the Sweet Science (boxing) to be dangerous…mostly to myself.

That’s my story so far. I fully intend to have “Inclined to Mischief” carved on my gravestone, but not for a good, long while yet.

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