January 28, 1970   no responses

I discovered my diary written in 1970/71. It was retrieved this past summer from a box in my family’s attic. This was a crucial time in my life. I had been in the seminary for five years and was on the verge of taking vows. I was disenchanted and frustrated in using my talents of directing plays for preaching peace and good will. A big decision had to be made. I am sharing this with you. It is a window onto my soul at that time in my “sentimental education”.


The following entries are eactly as written:


Friday, December 11, 1970 – 5pm

Sometimes I feel so very sad. I don’t know why. Wait – I really do but the thought of it makes me so sad – I seek compassion and so I forget it. I am scared of life. What will happen next year? Standing in the bathroom suddenly I shuddered  – “ I am going to die. Then what?”  At times like these all my wildest dreams seem wild, foolish, no longer pleasurable fantasy but a foolish venture. Where do I go? Do I stay? Do I go? I don’t know.

Saturday, December 12, 1970  – 5:30 pm

The joy of having accomplished something is overpowering. I feel like busting out and singing  – so I put on a record and make believe I’m Leonard Bernstein conducting my bookshelf with a Bic pen.  Yet when one does accomplish something we can feel two ways. We can either be so eager to do more or we can completely relax and not want to do a blessed thing until time forces its accomplishment. Right now I have finished a term paper, listing to some glorious Tchaikovsky and just enjoying every God damn minute of it!

Monday, December 14, 1970 – 7pm

Well, I’ve done it agai! For some unknowable reason (or some hidden reason which I can’t even acknowledge) I circle in like a hawk and tear my prey to shreds. At times I’m funny like Don Rickles but like Don Rickles the insulting goes just a bit too far – and a great deal beyond that. What really hurts me, beside the fact that I am truly sorry for this way of acting towards a person, is the insincerity in which my friends view my apologies.  I really do mean what I say  – not when I’m insulting though! I am truly sorry and I always resolve to keep watch over my tongue. But sometimes I get carried away and I don’t know how to reconcile myself to my friends, especially ones whom I love dearly and should never act it that manner at any time, for any reason.  I am a fool.

Wednesday, January 6, 1971  – 2pm

Funny today is the Epiphany, and I decided to leave the seminary. I’m scared, very scared; not about what I’ve chosen but how to execute the future. I know I want to enter drama, movies or TV. I think TV is a good, solid starting place. I’ll be leaving my friends and that is what scares me. I don’t want to be alone. I want people to love and people to care for me. Am I capable of living alone, out there? Why has God cursed me? If I didn’t have my friend Charley, I don’t know where I would be. At least I can be reasonably sure that I am loved. But can a girl love me, or more to the point, could I love her? I don’t want to be alone!  I have been hiding here for too long!  I know what I want and I must do it.  But oh God, what lies ahead in the darkness. If only I could see!

Wednesday, June 9, 1971 – Noon

Well, it’s been a long time; so much has happened as a matter of fact, a hell of a lot. Why the gap? I think I was so involved with Hadrian VII (a play that I directed as my swan song at the seminary) that nothing else mattered. Now everything matters. I have left the seminary. Actually, factually, I have closed the door on that span of my childhood. I am now a young man who must face up and grow. Everything is happening too very fast – Everything at once. I have left.  I face the world.

I love! Yes a new love, (I had met a man who did makeup on the production I just directed) but now the possibilities are open,. It is no longer a dead end street. At least I now have a chance to love and be loved.  This person is wonderful, beautiful, and plainly fantastic. As always however, I am scared of no response on the others part.

“Being in Love” is only half of my romantic dream.  I have been in love – many times but here is another half – their loving me. All the past loves were petty and flirt. This one, only 1-½ months old, is mature and warm and sincere. It’s just that will the person love me? Can I “win” their love?

Love, Love, Love. How I hate that word.  How I love it. Without it would be banality, with it – storm, exciting spring rain. Pour on me – Pour!   Pour!  Pour!


Years from now when you talk about this – and you will – be kind. …”

 January 21, 1969   no responses

In January 1969, I was in my second semester as a junior at St. Joseph’s Seminary. Located in Yonkers, Dunwoodie as it was also known, was the university to study at if you wanted to be a priest for the Archdiocese of New York.  It was also known as the West Point of seminaries for its strict rules, classic curriculum and educational regimen.  If you drive across the Cross County Parkway in Westchester from east to west, the castle like turrets spring up over a hill as you approach the Thruway. I used to sing “Camelot!’ as I sped up the hill in my Fiat 500.

I entered the seminary for humanistic reasons more than theological or deistic ones. I was going to change the world and help my fellow mankind – this is in the nascent days of the Vietnam protest and the era of peace and love. I thought I could use my great love of theatre and talent as a director in my ministry – harking back to the days when Mystery Plays were performed to teach the faithful.  In time I discovered that the church did not see this as a viable teaching tool.  I did get to direct plays at the seminary though and produce a children news show on ITV, the station of the Archdiocese.  RCA had donated to St. Joseph’s the color television studio they had at the 1964 World’s Fair.  Maybe the C in RCA stood for Catholic!

For my public speaking class, I prepared a short speech on the poetry of TS Eliot.  The date set for my delivery was January 15, 1969.  There was a movement afoot to make that date a Federal holiday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. who had been assassinated the year before. A few miles away in North Tarrytown, 1,500 employees of the Ford Motor Plant were planning to take the day off in protest if their factory did not close in King’s honor.

A few of us seminarians approached the Dean of Discipline to ask if we could suspend classes for the day and commemorate Dr. King with readings and meditations. . A flat NO was the response.  We were very angry at this response but as powerless as the plebes at West Point.

But I had a plan and it would also get me out of having to give a speech, which I was dread to give due to my stuttering. So far my speech impediment was undiscovered but I was fully aware that it was against Canon Law to ordain a priest with this handicap. This sword of Damocles would hang over my head to the very end of my seminary days.

January 15th arrived. I went to class and sat through fellow classmate speeches on the “Influence of St. Helen’s mother-love on her son, Constantine the Emperor”;  “Jesus: the message was the medium” and the “Song and Second Vatican Council.” (which gave us “kumbaya”). The countdown to shame came up to my number.  I walked up the lectern to deliver mine: “The use of time in the poetry of TS Eliot.” I gave the class and my professor a hard stare. I dramatically threw down a copy of my speech to the floor. I said in a very loud voice (this helps in not stuttering) – “I am not giving my speech today in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.!” I walked quietly out of the class. My professor was as speechless as I was.

The next day I was called into the Rector’s office and given a scolding on not conforming and being a radical. As a further example, he pointed out I was wearing brown penny loafers (bought on 8th St. in Greenwich Village) and not the regulation black ones to match my black pants and shirt with Roman collar.  I was silent. I was sent to the chapel to pray and meditate on my transgressions. I went to my room instead and read “Soul on Ice” by black author, Eldridge Cleaver. Meanwhile sixty autoworkers were suspended that day and so was my dream of becoming a priest.

It is a cold and frigid, Monday January 21, 2008 – Martin Luther King Day. I am sitting at my desk at work over looking Times Square, typing this. As I look down at my Allan Edmonds brown penny loafers, I laugh ironically – the Briggs Office is open for business…

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Langston Hughes