The Sound of Regret

Why do I do this to myself? I don’t enjoy feeling this way; I don’t try to feel this way — it just . . . happens. Granted, there’s always a trigger, but I can never see it coming. By the time I realized what’s going on within the confines of my own mind, it’s already too late.

Depression.

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Who Am I?

In an ordinary world, an ordinary man lived an ordinary life. That man is not me. From the youthful and optimistic days of my young adulthood to the broken and mended 30-something of today, I have risen to the peaks and summits of life’s mountains, and I have fallen to the depths of life’s deepest valleys. Yet I have always found it within me to stand from the rubble and dust-off, lessons learned.

At the height of life, I was the most popular teacher at the largest high school in the state. At the depth of life, I sat in a prison cell and wished for nothing more than the end of the emotional pain I’d brought upon myself and those around me. And the winding roller coaster in between, as well as the peaks and valleys, have bestowed upon me a lifetime of experiences and lessons, triumphs and tragedies, rejoicings and regrets. The victim of my own success, I played the part of the superhero while acting as the supervillain. And in the end, I had nothing to show for it but a humiliated life and a ruined career, but also a loving and committed wife who refused to let our marriage fail.

Now, with her support, I have become the quintessential story of remorse, repentance, rejuvenation, and redemption. Today, I am driven through life by the need to be a positive part of the world — to do so much good in life with my remaining days on earth that it will someday outweigh the bad. I spent too many years playing the part of the tragic villain; I am putting Saul behind me and I am living as Paul, I am working as Paul, and I am writing as Paul. There is at least one part of the world — one part of societal reality — that I believe I can change. And I have the drive, the experience, and the talent to do it. Opportunity awaits.


I am a writer.

I am also a former teacher, a recovering sex addict, a convicted criminal, and a villain to many. I am trying to put my life back together, trying to be a husband again, trying to be a father again, trying to be a citizen again; and the “Ongoing Commentary” is my way of making sense of the world around me; it is my way of coping.

I’m tired of being the villain…

I’m not a horrible person. I’m not evil. I’m not sick. I’m not predatory. I’m not deviant. I am a fallen and fallible human being who made some really bad choices.

Imagine if your life’s entire legacy was based solely on the worst decision you’ve ever made — the worst thing you’ve ever done. Because that is my reality.


 

Life didn’t deal me a bad hand. In fact, I was dealt a great hand. But I played my hand badly – stupidly – and I lost a lot because of it; there is no one to blame but me. And now I’ve been dealt new cards, and I don’t have many chips left – but I refuse to walk away from the table; I haven’t lost yet. The game isn’t over until I’ve won, or until I’ve lost my last chip. Either way, I have no choice but to keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.

But regardless, I am still Kurt Michael Brundage. And I must always carry that weight.

“So it goes.”

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All You Need is Love

Love is all you need. It’s just too bad Christians don’t understand this simple concept. Christians have become the most unloving, unaccepting, intolerable people in the world.

Obviously, I don’t mean all Christians. Many Christians are amazing Christ-serving people who live for Him. But those are not the people who have shaped the world’s perception of the followers of Jesus Christ. Read more

#MeToo

Part of me acknowledges that — perhaps — I’m the last person who has any right to write about the topic of being sexually violated. Part of me feels so guilty about what I did in 2010 that I feel like I somehow defacto-deserved what happened to me in 1998 (regardless of the timeline discrepancy). Read more

Ghosts of the Past

Reminders of the life I once lived haunt me like a tormented ghastly evil spirit. It seems like — on a daily basis — I am faced with someone from the past who either hates me for what I’ve done or was a direct participant in my out-of-control life. And every single time I see someone, it rattles me. Read more

The Truth

I recently came across a George Orwell quote which made me stop and think.

I love quotes. I love those one-or-two lines of brilliance which could only be spoken by someone gifted in both knowledge and lexicon.

Here’s the quote:

“The further society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.”

Of course, anyone could apply this to nearly any situation with the proper context; I, of course, immediately thought of my own area of expertise: Educator Misconduct. After all, not only do I have first-hand experience, but I literally wrote the book on the issue. And, coinciding with this, many people hate me for it. Read more

Michael Lee Brundage (1953 – 2019)

I think, for many people, one of the most difficult moments in life is when we realize our dad isn’t invincible. 

Yesterday, my dad lost his battle with Renal Cancer; he passed away at home. He was only 65-years-old.

Over the years, I’ve written some tough content about my past, about my poor choices, and about things which happened to me in my youth. However, nothing was as difficult as what I wrote today.

Today, with the permission of my family, I was given the honor and privilege of writing his obituary — and it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever written. However, as a professional author, I could think of no better tribute to my beloved father than the written voice of his obituary… Read more

After 3PM — Testimonial

Below is an email I received from a woman who read After 3PM. Her husband is a former high school teacher who had a relationship with one of his students. Her message is an extremely powerful testament to the importance, value, and impact of the message in After 3PM. With her permission, I am sharing this message. Here it is… Read more

Bohemian Rhapsody

On this date, six years ago, I was sent to prison.

Never in my life have I ever had a reason to look forward to November 2nd. In 2012, November 2nd was the date of my sentencing. In 2012, November 2nd was the day I was taken away in handcuffs. In 2012, November 2nd was the day I was escorted away from freedom and into prison. Before 2012, November 2nd was still a sad day — the anniversary of my grandmother’s death. So as far as I have been concerned, November 2nd has been an anniversary I have mourned every year since 1994. Read more

Sins of the Father

No matter what direction I turn, I find myself standing face-to-face with someone I’ve hurt. Be it some random public interaction with someone from my past or someone within my own family dynamic, I am repeatedly reminded of the lasting pain I’ve caused in the lives of other people as a result of my horrid choices. And recently, it has gotten worse.

Today is the official mainstream release date of my second book, Life Noir. It’s Book #1 in a series of four books about how I hit rock bottom and managed to claw my way back to what resembles a normal life. It is written as a first-person memoir, chronicling my life from my pubescent years in high school in the 90s, all the way up until the moment I walked out of freedom and into prison on November 2, 2012.

I would not breathe free air again for the next 25 months. Read more

My Own Prison

I’ve been to prison. I spent 25 months in prison — 25 months away from my wife, my daughter, my parents, my friends, my family — torn from the ones I love due to my own destructive choices. And I am not so narrow-minded to assume I wasn’t the only one “doing time.” My wife, my daughter, and my family had to suffer through those 25 months as well, and it has had numerous lasting negative impacts, especially for my daughter.

But that prison sentence eventually ended; I was eventually allowed to go home. And yet, the 25 months I spent in prison is nothing compared to the life-long prison to which I am confined within my own mind, heart, and soul. Read more

Do You Believe?

Over the years, my personal relationship with “religion” has been nothing short of a rollercoaster. Before, during, and after prison, I have (on some — and often many — levels) struggled with what I should believe, from a “religious” perspective. My core beliefs have always fallen within the “Judeo-Christian” context, but being a person who often overthinks everything, I’d never been content with a singular truth. Read more

The Grand Mosaic

My wife and I just went to see the film, An Interview with God. It was a good movie and I really enjoyed the intellectual banter and discourse between the reporter and the man claiming to be God. The plot of the movie is simple: A journalist conducts three interviews in three days with a man claiming to be God — The God, in the Judeo-Christian sense.

So this reporter spends three days asking God questions about the world, about theology, and about God Himself. But in nearly every conversation, the topic turns to the life of the reporter. Thus, as the interviews progress, the reporter struggles with his on introspective context rather than his objective journalistic context.

This film, of course, is intended to (among other things) prompt the viewer to ask him/herself, “What would I ask God?” Read more

This Purgatory

Please don’t tell me everything is wonderful now!

That phrase, painfully shouted by the band Everclear in their song “Wonderful,” perfectly describes where my mind is right now.

Today I was cleaning out our storage room and I came across several spools of old CD-R disks. They were ambiguously marked, which made me curious what was on them. Several said “CPU BACK-UP” but had no date, so I was curious what I could have backed-up from an old computer I had years ago. However, I wasn’t quite prepared for what I found.

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Some People…

Some people are merely petty, childish, bitter, and immature. And I just experienced a profound example of this concept.

My wife and I sat down to dinner with some friends at a local eatery recently. And as we were preparing to leave, a guy walked up to my wife and awkwardly stood there, looking at her without speaking. After a few more awkward moments, he finally extended his hand and spoke to her, slurring a drunken sloppy sentence resembling, “Hi, do you remember me?” The words stumbled out of his clumsy mouth in the same way he would later clumsily stumble out of the restaurant; it was painfully obvious that he was quite inebriated. Read more

Depression

It’s late at night.

Or, perhaps, it’s very early in the morning.

It’s dark outside.

It’s dark inside.

It’s raining.

I am sitting on my back porch, listening to the raindrops around me. They’re not merely raindrops; they are like the ones which make huge flat orbs on a windshield while driving through a late night storm — the ones that hit with an accentuated “thud.” I hear them hit the porch roof above me. I hear them plop into my backyard pond. I hear them falling.

Falling. Read more

Torturous Euphoria

I have my dream job!

Not many people can say that. I certainly took an unconventional (and unfortunate) route to get here, but I have achieved my goal: I am a full-time writer. Thanks to a pair of publishers who have taken a chance on me, my professional life’s #1 priority is my writing career. Everything else I do is simply what else I do. Everything else is just the other stuff — stuff that fills the gaps between the time I spend writing my work-in-progress. Read more

No Way Out

Allow me to share a parable I recently heard on The West Wing:

This guy’s walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can’t get out. A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, “Hey you. Can you help me out?” The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, “Father, I’m down in this hole can you help me out?” The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a friend walks by, “Hey, Joe, it’s me can you help me out?” And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, “Are you stupid? Now we’re both down here.” The friend says, “Yeah, but I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.”

This parable perfectly illustrates why I do what I do — why I wrote After 3PM, why I make speeches, why I give interviews — that is why. I’ve been stuck in the depths of the issue I’m fighting — and I know the way out. Read more

“Behavioral Science 101” — Chapter One

There is something about the smell of blood — it never leaves the memory. When blood is experienced in mass quantities, there is a smell, and it smells like no other airborne emanation, except blood. It is the essence of life, but it emanates of death; it smells warm, even when it’s cold. It isn’t red, it isn’t maroon, it isn’t vermilion, it isn’t burgundy, it isn’t crimson, it isn’t scarlet — it’s blood. And blood in mass quantities, especially in an unfamiliar crime scene, casts a dark shadow from the floor upon the entire room, upon the entire building, upon the entire world. Read more

You: 2.0

You will always be you. I will always be me. And there is nothing either of us can do about that. We’re stuck. You are you and I am me. And for some people, that’s perfectly fine. But for some of us with a regretful past of poor choices and unfortunate experiences, it almost seems like a dream to be someone else, if only for a short while.

But let’s be honest, that won’t happen. You will always be you and I will always be me. Yep, we’re stuck.

But there is still hope, there is still an option: Upgrades. Read more

Another Teacher

Another Wichita-area teacher was arrested for having a sexual relationship with a student. This time, it was a Haysville teacher named Sheri Herrs — a P.E. teacher and track coach. She’s also married to a guy named Ryan. Sheri has (assuming she’s guilty) destroyed her career and scarred her marriage (which may or may not recover from this). She was arrested last night and booked into jail just before 7PM. She spent the night in the Sedgwick County Jail, and as much as I know she deserves to be there, I can’t help but hurt for her too — because I’ve been in the exact same situation, in the exact same place, thinking the exact same feelings of regret that she is feeling right now — at this very moment, as I type this very sentence, as she sits on a small metal cot with a flat plastic mattress, wondering what will happen to the rest of her life.

I’ve been there. I deserved to be there. She deserves to be there. But it could have been prevented. Read more

Baby Blue

I feel like Walter White. In many ways, the parallels are uncanny; I could write an entire book on the subject. I mean, let’s face it, I’m a villain, right? Granted, I understand that this moniker may be my own personal over-dramatization of who I am in the eyes of many people — but am I wrong?

I don’t like being the bad guy, and I miss being the good guy. But here’s the problem with that: I’m the bad guy now, living a good life. When I was the good guy (the respected teacher, husband, colleague, mentor, etc.), I was secretly an evil son of a bitch. So even though I was perceived as good, I was pretty fucking bad. And now that I’m widely-despised, I’m actually living the moral life I should have been living in the first place.

I’m not sure if that’s irony or not, but it’s definitely interesting. Read more

Solo

“Assume everyone will betray you, and you’ll never be disappointed.”
Solo: A Star Wars Story

Today is May the Fourth — affectionately known as Star Wars Day. So I’m obviously wearing my Millennium Falcom t-shirt and Star Wars: Episode IV is playing on my Blu-Ray player right now. I’ve loved Star Wars ever since I was a kid; maybe because, when I was a kid, life — and people — were so much simpler.

Needless to say, I am extremely excited for the upcoming newest installment of the Star Wars saga: Solo: A Star Wars Story, which chronicles the younger years of Han Solo (who is, incidentally, my favorite Star Wars character). Read more

Body of Lies

“If you live like it’s the past and you behave like it’s the past,
then guys from the future find it very hard to see you.”
Body of Lies 


I’ve been lying to myself. Ever since the moment I stepped out of prison, I’ve been lying to myself. I’ve been perpetuating a fallacy upon myself which has diluted my entire world-view and skewed my perspective of life. Because ever since I walked out of prison, I’ve been trying to convince myself (and everyone around me) that I’m a better version of who I was. I keep trying to convince myself that I’m a more moral person than who I was, a better husband than who I was, a better father than who I was, and a better friend (to my few remaining friends) than who I was. Read more

#BeTheChange

“It’s more comfortable to label me insane,” said the killer from the movie SE7EN.

“It’s very comfortable,” the detective replied.

I use this example often to describe why society feels “more comfortable” labeling people like me a “pedophile” or a “sexual predator” rather than seeking the actual causes for my choices and behaviors. However, I do not discount this perspective. It certainly is “more comfortable” to cast an accusatory finger upon someone who has done something terrible and immediately attribute his/her choices to some sort of sick affliction or mental illness. Read more

Ready Player One

My generation grew up playing “Super Mario Bros.”(Bros, not brothers, although it’s read “brothers,” it’s spelled “Bros.”) If I ever make it to Heaven (which is still 50/50 at this point), I’m going to ask God how many hours of my life were spent trying defeat Bowser and rescuing Princess Peach. And no matter what the answer, I will be both shocked and not at all surprised.

“Super Mario Bros” is obviously the quintessential classic Nintendo game. It is a two-player game, but only one player could play at a time. So if, for example, you were playing with someone who was very good at the game, you may sit for quite a while until that player’s turn was over. Thus, if Player One was Mario (as it was) and Player Two was Luigi (as it was), then choosing to play as Mario meant you played first, and playing as Luigi meant you had to wait until Mario died before you could play. Read more

Do I Matter?

My first mainstream book, After 3PM, comes out in three weeks. And I wrote it for one reason: To change the system; to change perspectives; to make a difference.

But I find myself asking the pessimistic (yet potentially real) questions: Will my book make a difference? Will I make a difference? Will I matter?

If nothing else, these difficult years (ever since 2010, when I committed my crime) have made me an extremely self-aware person. Essentially, “I know my place.” Or, at least, I know what place society demands I remain: Out of sight — Out of mind. But that’s not what I’m doing. Read more

Shoot the Messenger 

When did contemporary culture become more interested in the person conveying information than the information actually being conveyed? In a world that seems to (on the surface) crave intellect, this indisputable phenomenon is the most nonintellectual approach to obtaining information imaginable. In the same way that we used to idolize men like Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather, we now seem to take a sick pleasure in watching the downfall of people like Keith Olberman and Brian Williams. And now, incontrovertible facts are called into question, merely due to the individual relaying the fact. And I suppose I never really grasped this concept until I experienced it first-hand. Read more

The Weight of Depression

“Hemingway has his classic moment in ‘The Sun Also Rises’ when someone asks Mike Campbell how he went bankrupt. All he can say is, ‘Gradually, then suddenly.’ That’s how depression hits. You wake up one morning, afraid that you’re gonna live.”
—Elizabeth Wurtzel, “Prozac Nation”

Right now, I’m reading Prozac Nation, a memoir by Elizabeth Wurtzel. The subtitle of the book is, “Young and Depressed in America: A Memoir.” I can relate because, a) I have a prescription for Prozac (which I don’t take); and b) I’m certainly depressed in America (though I’m not as young as I used to be). But what really drew me to this book was the foundation of the book: A writer struggling with depression, trying to make sense out of life, fighting self-destruction, and all the while, trying to be a writer.

Continued one-on-one therapy has helped me realize how and why I become self-destructive when I experience the depths of depression, how depression has related to my sexual addiction, and how to cope with depression when it hits. Read more

Heroes & Villains

“We’re all the heroes of our own story, without even realizing we’re probably the bad guy in someone else’s.”
Everything Sucks

I was reading an article once about one of my favorite movies, The Dark Knight, and the writer said, “When you’re a kid, you cheer for Batman; when you’re an adult, you realize the Joker makes more sense.” This struck me as a bit of a cynical view of the world, regardless of how brilliantly Heath Ledger portrayed the Joker in that film. But it also made me wonder if being a villain had some sort of a morbid glamorous appeal to it. For example, I went to college with a guy who said (on multiple occasions), “The movie Blow always makes me want to be a cocaine dealer.”

But trust me, being the villain isn’t glamorous; it’s torturous. Read more

Selective Morality

Why is our contemporary society so selective about our own morality, based simply on the object or individual? Essentially, why is it okay for certain people to be immoral based on who they are or the medium in which the immoral behavior is being disseminated?

Why do Americans claim to despise immoral behavior in certain contexts, but seem to readily accept it from popular culture, politicians, athletes, and actors? Why does it take extreme instances of immorality (such as Harvey Weinstein) for people to finally speak out against this sort of thing? Read more

Loyalty

When I was at my lowest, there were people who were there for me.

And knowing that, I will — for the rest of my life — be there for them. I owe so much to so many people for being unconditionally supportive when I was in the depths of recovery; recovery not simply from being in prison, but also recovery from sexual addiction as well as the painful recovery from the self-revelation that I was, at the age of 18, raped.

Fortunately, I am able to talk about that — the most traumatic experience of my youth — but I am also a little afraid it seems cliche or even cheesy for me to continue to talk about it. But the truth is, I’m still dealing with it, I’m still handling it, I’m still coming to terms with it, so I still need to talk about it. Therefore, since I’m a writer, I need to write about it. Read more

Self Destruction

readeradvisory

When I look back upon my life, my experiences, and my choices, I can only think of one phrase: “Well, that was fucked up.”

If my life was ever made into a movie, the only two directors who could do it justice would be Quentin Tarantino or Martin Scorsese.

Perhaps it’s a bit too cliche to wish I could speak to my younger self.
So I won’t say that. Fuck that. Never mind. Read more

Pedophile? No.

It is a common misconception that the brief relationship I had with my former student was a result of some sort of deviant desire to engage with an underage girl. I think it is vital to the purpose of my endeavors to dispel this assumption with immediacy.

I fully admit that I had a physical relationship with a girl who was 15 while I was a high school teacher. And to quote A Few Good Men, “These are the facts, and they are undisputed.” However, what is in dispute is my personal motivation behind why these things happened. Read more

What Happened?


“I wanted to do good. What betrayed me?
My mind? My heart?”
-Al Pacino
The Godfather: Part III

As I type these words, I have no idea where I’m going with this, so you may just have to bear with me. All I know is, I’ve spent the whole day in a terrible headspace and it is an inner-turmoil which I can’t seem to get over. Perhaps it’s because I keep looking at my ruined life, remembering the great life I had and threw away because of my own destructive choices.

I mean, here’s the thing: I was a sentimental and reminiscent kind of guy before I committed my crime and went to prison. But in the past, my reminiscence was based on the fact that time had simply passed and the past passed into the past. It was simply — time. Time took away the life I enjoyed. I had no choice in the matter; I had to grow up, I had to move on, I had to progress through life. Read more

For the Record

For the record, I am not trying to be the “good guy.” I’m not trying to be some sort of great person doing a great thing — nothing of the sort. I know what kind of person I am (or was) and I know the sins of my past do not deserve forgiveness. I am not speaking out against my crime (and ongoing crimes like it) because I’m trying to cultivate some kind of image or seem like less of a bad guy.

I am speaking-out because it is the right thing to do. If there’s one mantra from Sex Addicts Anonymous which I’ve genuinely taken to heart, it’s the cliche, “Do the next right thing.” Read more

Agree to Disagree

I have come to the conclusion that we — as citizens and as humans — do not possess the ability to cohesively and peacefully disagree.

I recently had a discussion with my best friend about the recent Government Shutdown. She is a Republican and supports Donald Trump. In our discussion, I never said anything which directly insulted Trump (other than the mention of his approval rating as well as recommending a Google Search of Stormy Daniels), but since we happened to disagree in the realm of politics (which has become the most divisive issue in contemporary America), she didn’t see it as a discussion with two opposing viewpoints (point / counterpoint), but instead, she saw it as an argument or a fight. Read more

An Open Letter to the Superintendent

Alicia Thompson — Superintendent
Wichita Public Schools | USD 259
903 S. Edgemoor
Wichita, Kansas 67218


Dear Dr. Thompson,

My name is Kurt Michael Brundage. You probably haven’t heard of me, but perhaps you have. In April, my book, After 3PM, will be released nation-wide. This will be a groundbreaking new book about the epidemic of unlawful teacher/student relationships in America.

In the book, I provide a unique and unheard context regarding this issue; in 2012, I was a high school teacher who was arrested, convicted, and sent to prison for a relationship with a former student. At the time of my crime, I was an IB English Teacher at Wichita East High School. Today, moving forward, my prime objective is to give back to the educational community, doing my part to remedy the issue to which I tragically and destructively contributed. Read more

Thanks, Yoda.

I know what people think of me.

I don’t pretend to think I’m “okay” with the world; or, I suppose, more specifically, I don’t pretend to think the world is “okay” with me.

I have a label — a brand, a Scarlet Letter — and some people will hate me because of what I did in 2010 regardless of what I do for the rest of my life, even if my life’s endeavor is now to battle the moral issue to which I tragically and unfortunately contributed. Read more

True Friends

I suppose I never really grasped the personal value of shallow friends until I no longer had any. By definition, a shallow friend is not really a friend at all — someone we know, talk to, socialize with — someone beyond a mere acquaintance (or, so we thought). But here’s the thing about shallow friends: they are conditional friends.

But here’s the caveat to that: You really can’t discern the difference between a true friend and a shallow friend until the friendship is put to the test — a test of genuine acceptance and true character. Read more

Talk to Me

Talk to me.

Seriously. Give it a try. Talk to me. I’m a real person, I promise. Admittedly, I didn’t learn how to be a human being until I was 37-years-old. So if you haven’t spoken to me since then — or at all — by all means, let’s talk!

If you hate what I did, then you and I are on the same page. I hate what I did as well. However, if you hate me now because of what I did then, you need to reconsider. Because many will agree that, after two years in prison and even more years of therapy, I am not even a shadow of the person I once was. Read more

The Devil’s Due

Have you ever stared into the deep, black, empty, bottomless eyes of the Devil himself? I have. And it won’t be the last time. I don’t pretend to think I’ll escape my sins without paying what I owe, no matter how much good I try to accomplish with the remaining years, months, weeks, days, or even hours of my life. So before this life is all over, I believe I will have one last face-to-face stare-down with Satan himself, his black eyes piercing the darkness with a shooting pain that stabs my soul like an ice pick. Read more

Taking Inventory

As of today, I have been home from prison for three years.

So perhaps it’s time for a bit of reflection.

As I look back over those three years, have I accomplished anything? I mean, sure, I’ve written two books (with numerous more in production), I’ve run three marathons, repaired a few relationships (and been ostracized from many others), I’ve given a speech at a national conference, I’ve been interviewed numerous times in the media — but what does any (or all) of that mean?

Have I made a difference yet? Read more

Vision

butchcassidyvision

A few months ago, I wrote a series of letters to school districts and universities in my immediate vicinity, informing them of my goals as a public speaker (and author), as well as offering to come speak to faculties, administrators, or future teachers in college regarding the issue of unlawful teacher/student relationships. Two colleges replied, neither of which followed-through. Not a single school district replied. Every single school district ignored my letter, including the Kansas City Public Schools in Kansas City, Missouri.

I’m not surprised. Read more

Rejection

The educational community has rejected me once again.
Another potential speaking engagement has been canceled.

There was an inquiry recently about having me speak at a local venue, and the owner of the venue sought feedback from teachers and administrators in the area regarding the issue at hand, and as hard as she tried, educators refused to entertain the possibility of broaching the subject of unlawful teacher/student relationships. Read more

“Thank You” — An Open Letter

Dear Old Friend,

Until yesterday, we hadn’t spoken in a decade. In the back of my mind, I was 99% sure — because of the context of our former acquaintanceship — we would likely never speak again. But then, you began reading my writing. And then you read my book. And then we spoke. And then you forgave me.

Some people in this world really do have the right to loathe and despise me — for reasons I would never fault them — and you were one of them. And yet, your understanding and compassion prevailed over your judgment and discomfort. Not many people have that kind of dignified integrity; so, for that, I want to say Thank You. Read more

The Sound of Silence

When I was 18 years old, I was raped. In a vulnerable moment of pseudo-consciousness and inebriated confusion, a “friend” of mine — a male “friend” — sexually violated me in a manner that changed my life, forever.

In the news recently, there has been a plethora of sexual assault victims who have stepped forward and identified the individual who assaulted them. This has happened to numerous celebrities, and (I assume) many people who are not famous. I deeply admire the courage it takes to do this, but I will not be one of them.

Only two people know the identity of my rapist: My wife and my sister. And both have promised to keep this secret. Read more

A Melancholy Truth

I think everyone should strive to learn a new life-lesson every day. Life is not at a shortage of lessons to be learned, so as long as we keep our eyes and ears open, there is plenty we can learn from our everyday run-of-the-mill life experiences. Some of these lessons are simple and pleasant, others are difficult, bitter, and painful.

For example, here is the lesson I learned today: “Putting others before yourself is noble; but most people will not reciprocate this gesture.” Read more

Where I Belong

“Anyone can achieve their fullest potential. Who we are might be predetermined, but the path we follow is always of our own choosing. We should never allow our fears or the expectations of others to set the frontiers of our destiny. Your destiny can’t be changed but, it can be challenged. Every man is born as many men and dies as a single one.”

― Martin Heidegger


We all become who we were meant to become. I firmly believe that because I firmly believe in a God who intends the lives of all people to serve a purpose. And while I believe each person makes his/her own choices (and bears the weight of the consequences), it is also incumbent upon each of us to figure out where (and who) we are supposed to be in this world — and sometimes, an integral part of that is determining where we do not belong.

“What did you ever do to change the world?” asked Trevor, the young boy in the film Pay It Forward. I ask myself that question every day, and that is why I do what I do. Read more

“Letters Noir”— A Letter from Prison

July 24, 2013

My Loving Wife,

Today I had a troubling thought process. I was watching a show on The History Channel about serial killers, and (of course) they did a segment about the BTK killer, Dennis Rader. It was interesting because he’s from Wichita and I’ve personally seen him (through the window of his cell), but one thing about the show kind of got to me a little.

As the show was narrating about him, describing his crimes, it showed a brief clip of him walking in shackles, wearing a red prison jumpsuit, walking between buildings in the R.D.U. Unit of the El Dorado Correctional Facility. I saw that, took a deep breath, and realized something: I walked that exact same sidewalk, wearing an identical red jumpsuit, being escorted across the compound numerous times during my seven weeks in R.D.U. Read more

Burden of Proof

In all honesty, the contemporary social climate has made it somewhat dangerous to be a high school teacher. And although I still believe it to be one of the noblest professions, the recent trend of accusing high-profile members of society (such as actors and politicians) has added an extra tight-wire to walk, especially for male teachers.

[In retrospect, I should have included this in my upcoming book, After 3PM]

I do not — and will not — imply that anything being said by the accusers of people like Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein, or Bill Cosby are untrue. I don’t know all the fact and cannot come to a viable conclusion one way or the other, except to say one thing: Society always sides on the side of the accuser.

So what does this have to do with being a teacher — specifically a male teacher? Read more

On This Day…

There are dates we all remember as significant parts of our lives: wedding anniversaries, births of children, deaths of loved ones, etc. And for me, in addition to these, there are three unique dates I will never forget: March 9th, November 2nd, and December 5th.

March 9, 2012 — I was arrested for my crimes.
November 2, 2012 — I was sentenced to 32 months in prison.
December 5th, 2014 — I was released from prison.

 ——— Today is November 2nd. ———

Five years ago today, I was escorted from freedom. Five years ago today, I inhaled my last breath of free air, and wouldn’t again smell the sweet aroma of freedom for the next 763 days. Read more

Too Much Guilt

Sometimes the guilt I carry regarding my past is just too much. It’s one thing to regret my past, but the amount of guilt I carry is often debilitating — the cheating, the humiliation, the manipulation, and the pain I caused.

I still see a therapist regularly. I’ve told him about how I refuse to let go of my guilt, but he insists it’s not healthy.

Yes, I refuse to let go of my guilt. I hold onto my guilt because I am scared to death of becoming the person I used to be. And I would rather carry an anvil of guilt than release the guilt and become who I was. Because, honestly, not a day goes by when I don’t — at some point — feel like a completely horrible, worthless, and disgraceful human being. Read more

Change the World

Thursday—6:03 AM (CDT): On the Tarmac
I literally made my flight with 40 seconds to spare (thanks to the long TSA line.) And now I’m sitting in the best row of coach — that first row behind First Class, the row with the extra leg room. Score!

I am flying from here to Denver, then on to Phoenix for my first major public appearance. I am speaking at the annual conference of the National Association of Teacher Certification tomorrow. So today is a travel day, today is a preparatory day, today is a day to be nervous.

I’m not nervous about speaking. I’m not nervous about the questions I’m going to get during the Q&A session at the end of my speech. Read more

I Never Wonder

I will be forever grateful for the way my wife has sacrificed so much for me, has forgiven so much of me, and continues to give so much to me. Over the years, she has withstood more than any wife should, but she has withstood everything and has remained stronger than anyone I’ve ever met. But here’s the thing: I never wonder how she does it. Of the few things I know for sure in life, this is one of them; I never wonder how my wife could be such a strong and loving person.

She got it from her mother. Read more

The Delusion of Hope

“Hope. It is the quintessential human delusion, simultaneously the source of your greatest strength, and your greatest weakness.”

The Matrix Reloaded

 

It’s actually quite easy to completely give up hope. I should know. In March of 2012, I did it — twice. Twice in the span of less than a week, I completely gave up on life and (to paraphrase John Gillespie Magee, Jr. and, to a certain extent, Ronald Reagan) I was ready to slip the surly bonds of earth, put out my hand, and touch the face of God. It’s difficult to describe how it feels to literally give up on life. I suppose, from an egocentricity standpoint, it is an experience as unique as the person enduring it. Read more

I Am a Rock

I love those days when a song randomly cycles through my iTunes shuffle — a song which perfectly encapsulates the fleeting thoughts rushing through my mind. It’s happened to us all: a song on the radio, a song on a television show, a song on a commercial, etc. And for a moment, it seems like everything in our emotional scope is perfectly encompassed in a song written by another person, in another place, in another time.

During the nearly four years I’ve been home from prison, I’ve learned numerous life lessons, but one of those lessons keeps re-presenting itself: Friendship is a myth. Read more

Time To Move On

Last night’s act or terror in Las Vegas is dominating the news today — and, I suppose, rightfully so. However, something else tragic has happened, and it may fall through the cracks.

Legendary rocker Tom Petty has died.

I’ve written many times in the past that music has always been a source of comfort and expression for me, and the music of Tom Petty is no different. When I was a kid, I taught myself how to play the guitar. And as I learned, I taught myself about half-a-dozen songs; two of those songs were “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” and “Free Fallin’.” Tom Petty’s album, Wildflowers, is one of my favorite albums from the 90s. And I love his music from his time as a solo artist, his time with The Heartbreakers, and (most of all) his time with the Traveling Wilburys (the greatest supergroup in music history — made up of, among others, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan and George Harrison). Read more

Madness

Maybe I really am crazy. Maybe I really am out of my mind. Maybe I really am insane. Maybe I’m living a life of complete and utter madness. (Afterall, I’ve openly admitted that I struggle with Depression and High-Functioning Anxiety.) And why do I think this? Because I think, in my opinion, I’m not a bad person. And actually, I think I’m a pretty damn good person — now. Read more

You Are More

In light of what I wrote earlier today, I’ve been doing some reflecting upon why so many people refuse to want to know me for who I am now, and instead, insist on hating me for who I was when I was at my worst. This afternoon, as I was driving, running some mundane errands, I hooked up my iPhone to the Bluetooth of my car stereo and put all the songs on shuffle. I do this often because my musical taste is quite eclectic — everything from Guns N’ Roses to Tupac to The Beatles to Michael W. Smith to Garth Brooks. Read more

Birthday

It’s my birthday.

I wish I could say that with a smile. I really do. Birthdays are supposed to be happy days, full of celebration, candles, cakes, family, and friends. But the truth is, I’m pretty sure I just don’t have it in me anymore. Birthdays are days of reflection, contemplating the simple fact that I’ve made another successful trip around the sun (and, by “successful,” I mean I’m still alive — low standards, I know).

But for a guy like me, reflecting on life isn’t exactly an enjoyable task. Today, I’m 38. And if you’ll pardon the language, that’s pretty fucking old (at least, from my perspective). But as I look back, the evil I’ve done in this world overshadows any good I’ve ever done, even in my own eyes. Read more

Call Me David

In the 1989 film Dead Poets Society, Robin Williams’ character, a teacher named John Keating, told his students to daringly refer to him as “O Captain, My Captain.” It was a term of endearment (from a poem by Walt Whitman) acknowledging Mr. Keating as their fearless leader, and it was a  moniker they quickly adapted; they truly saw him as an intellectual leader.

Well, call me David. Read more

Ninety-Five %

With all due respect, I hope Corbin Breitenbach dies in prison — slowly, painfully, and without mercy.

Of course, I — along with 95% of the population of Wichita, Kansas — am pretty certain, based on the available evidence, that Corbin Breitenbach is guilty of sexually assaulting a 7-year-old girl on June 11, 2017. As far as I’m concerned — speaking as a father — the only brand of mercy this man deserves is leniency regarding which circle of Hell into which he shall be cast. Read more

Awareness vs Knowledge

Today, for the first time in quite a while, I wept.

I have seemingly hurt an innumerable amount of people in vastly immeasurable ways. And for this, I will always hate myself. I know I’ve hurt people — I’ve always known I hurt people — but today, perhaps for the first time, I really became aware of the pain I’ve caused. And as a result, I now know the true reason for why I am so dedicated to speaking out against teacher/student relationships:

I want to protect those students from — me. Read more

Criminal Minds

“The ultimate choice for a man, in as much as he is given to transcend himself, is to create or destroy; to love or to hate.”

-Erich Fromm

It is an understandable assumption that I am a horrible human being. After all, my name appears on the most shameful “list” known to man. I am a criminal. I am a felon. For the rest of my life, I will have a criminal record. For the rest of my life, I will have a Department of Corrections ID Number (#104403, in case you were wondering). For many (if not most) people, who I was is who I shall always be. Who I am now seems irrelevant when seen in the shadow of who I was.

I am a criminal. Read more

Every Morning

Every morning, I wake up and wish this has all been a dream.
Literally, every single morning.

My first thought, every morning, is to wish I am waking up the morning before I crossed that line of propriety with my former student; just go to school, teach my classes, and when she walked into my classroom that day, I would know exactly what not to do.

That is my wish — every day — but it never comes true. Read more

Backlash

“Brundage said he expects some backlash against
his book project and speaking engagements.”

The Wichita Eagle — 07/07/2017

After being interviewed by the Wichita Eagle and having the article released, I found myself grateful that I do not use Facebook. The few social media accounts which feature my writing are run by a publicist. I actually more-or-less loathe Facebook because it has become the depth of social hatred, arguments, and disgrace (and if you don’t believe me, read an article about politics — and the comments). Read more

Welcome to the Jungle

Yesterday, I gave my first major media interview about After 3PM. And admittedly, it was a bit nerve-racking. I was contacted by a reporter from the Wichita Eagle who wanted to discuss the book, as well as my life in-general ever since my release. She was very polite and personable and seemed genuine, which was a major breath of fresh air.

I’m a little bit apprehensive when it comes to giving interviews and/or being covered by the media; they’ve burned me — twice. Read more

Smells Like Victory

I love the smell of napalm in the morning.

Okay, that’s not quite accurate. I’ve never smelled napalm, at any time of day. But if Robert Duvall is to be believed in Apocolypse Now, it smells like gasoline (which I’ve smelled many times before) and it smells like victory (which I may be smelling for the very first time). Read more

Faith

As we stare into the deepest oblivion of nothingness, the only thing which seems distorted is the complete clarity of confusion. The deafening silence only gives way to the soft explosions of new memories — memories of the future.

When an imagined life becomes an oddly-familiar reality, the only option providing stability to the unstable knowledge of certainty is the comfort of the unknown. Read more

“Tell Her I’m Sorry”

“Tell Her I’m Sorry”

The Story of a Father’s Betrayal

A short story from the Anthology, Sunsets & Raindrops.

Life has a weird way of unfolding, refolding, and falling apart. Life has this tendency to lose control, gain control, descend into confusion, ascend into chaos, and level-out into a sense of neutrality which is anything but neutral and certainly isn’t level.

But that’s life. Read more

The Problem is Choice

The relationship I had with my former student was not a mistake.

Anyone who reads my writing with any semblance of regularity (and there are quite a few — thanks, by the way) knows I use more film, movie, and television references than Anthony DiNozzo. A critic once told me that perhaps the reason I reference movies so much is because I’m somehow stuck in my own fantasy world, unable to grasp reality. And honestly, that seems like a reasonable deduction. But the truth is, I just really like movies. Read more

Behind My Reflection

The act of “looking into a mirror” is an oft-used metaphor, almost to the extent of being cliche. I personally don’t mind cliches, but the academic community seems to shy away from them as limiting or corny or unimaginative. Writers prefer the avoidance of cliches because it implies the writer is somehow unable to conjure his/her own metaphors or images or quips to describe a situation, and therefore must relinquish him/herself to the old fail-safes of cliches.

But some cliches are just too perfect. Read more

“After 3PM” — Preface

NOTE: This is the Preface from After 3PM, the book I’ve written about addressing the issue of unlawful teacher-student relationships. After having the book edited by someone for whom I have immense respect, I feel that I need to clarify the purpose of this book and why I am stepping forward as a voice on this issue.  It is my hope that this Forward will assist in that understanding, not just the text itself, but the footnotes as well (located at the bottom of the page). Read more

The Blacklist

How do I live with myself?

A valid question, with a simple and complex answer. I sometimes find myself gazing into oblivion, flipping through my past like the brittle and thin pages of an old dilapidated book, careful not to tear the delicate material of my tattered memory. And when a certain passage crosses my mind’s eye, it is difficult to contain my own disdain for my own past and my own consequences of my own choices. I have to live with those choices, every — single — day. Thus, posing the question, “How do I live with myself?” is a completely reasonable query. Read more

The Living Years

It’s been nearly a decade since my college track coach was killed in a tragic skiing accident. And I’m not sure why, but he’s been on my mind lately, more so than usual. There’s always been a special place in my heart for the two men who coached me, and it left a gaping hole in my life when I lost one of them, even though we’d barely spoken anymore. But when I learned of his death in 2008, it crushed me. So as I often do, the only thing I could do to cope was write; so I wrote something on the website of his obituary.  Read more

I am a writer.

I don’t write to earn a living.

I write to earn a life.

There is a not-so-small part of me that feels like I’m living on borrowed time, as though each breath I breathe is not my own. And it’s not in that kind of “cherish every breath as gift” kind of thing. Every breath feels less like a gift and more like an undeserved act of charity — of pity. Read more

Tapestry of Life

Have you ever wondered, “How did I get to this point in my life?” Sure, we can all cast bright shadows of retrospect onto the memories which flash through our consciousness like strangers passing us in a hallway. But when it all comes down to incontrovertible fact, everyone can ask (yet rarely answer) the question of, “How did I get to this point in my life?” Read more

Just Breathe

Every once in a while, my Apple Watch reminds me to breathe. It’s actually a pretty cool feature; it guides users through some deep inhaling and exhaling, aimed at gaining focus and relaxation. Sometimes, when it prompts me, I ignore it. Today, I didn’t. Today, I needed to breathe. Read more

Marry | F*ck | Kill

A scandalous video of teachers has surfaced in Bangor, Michigan, speaking socially about their students at a bar, playing a game apparently entitled “Marry, Fuck, Kill” (or something like that) where each of them can be clearly heard saying which students with whom they, among other things, would have sex. Read more

Unbelievable

Sometimes, I can only shake my head. Sometimes, life just doesn’t seem real.

This morning, as I kissed my wife goodbye before she left to go to work, it felt like time momentarily slowed down, and I was able to take a brief instant to just look at my wife and see how amazing she looked — her beautiful blonde hair, her elegant attire, her cute and trendy aviator sunglasses, her coffee in one hand and her teacher bag in another. She is proof that sometimes I don’t get what we deserve; sometimes, I get more. Read more

But It’s Legal…

I was nearly sickened by watching the news this morning.

A Washburn University professor has resigned because of allegations that he had affairs with a student and multiple faculty members while teaching there. But that’s not what got under my skin. I wasn’t upset by the story itself; it merely prompted me to shake my head in disgust, muttering to myself, “Another one.” Two things about the reaction to this incident really bother me. Read more

For My Friend’s Wedding

A day of spontaneity has become a lifetime of forever. So grasp onto the immediate passion in which you have engulfed your lives and surrounded your souls. Passion can be forever if it is eternally refreshed, released, and recommitted. Forgive the sins of the one who loves you, as they shall forgive your sins with mercy.

Two are now one, beyond and through the winds of change and the storms of uncertainty, you will be, for all of time, for all of life, for all of each other.

Because, when the clouds clear, only two souls remain, and you have each other; for better or for worse, as long as you both shall live.

Forgive, forget, for love.

Forever.

And ever.

Amen.

Ignore Me

For the record, nothing I say matters. I’m a criminal, a philanderer, a liar, a cheater – I’m just an all-around terrible human being. I mean, don’t let the fact that I have more education and have committed fewer sexual crimes than the newly-elected president make a difference. But that is all immaterial — it’s just details. Because as a result of my life choices, nothing I could possibly say could possibly matter, right? Read more

Too Old to Die Young

I don’t wish I was dead, and I’m certainly not suicidal, but I often find myself preoccupied with my own funeral.

In addition, I’ve also come to a very difficult realization: If I were to die tomorrow in a terrible accident, it would not be considered a tragedy. Some would consider it unfortunate, but not tragic; some would consider it justice served. Read more

A New Hope

SPOILER ALERT!: The final line of the new Star Wars movie, Rogue One, is “Hope.” That’s it – that one word – “Hope.” Well, I suppose that isn’t really much of a spoiler considering the subtitle of the subsequent film is “A New Hope,” but still, it was (in my opinion) the perfect way to end the movie. And I was actually a bit amazed at how good the movie was and how much I liked it. In fact, out of the (now) eight feature films in the Star Wars franchise, it is likely my second favorite (behind Episode IV, the original, released in 1977). Read more

Memory

I’ve never seen the musical Cats. However, over the years, I’ve always been passively aware of the musical’s best-known song, “Memory.” Actually, though I’m familiar with the melody, I only knew of that one word in the song. But during a recent conversation with my father, he randomly asked, “Have you ever really listened to the words of that song?” Admittedly, I hadn’t. Actually, I don’t even remember the context of the question, but all-the-same, it eventually prompted me to Google the lyrics and download the song from iTunes. Honestly, I doubt I ever really even cared what the song was about, until I really listened to (and read) the lyrics. Read more

Is God Real? I Don’t Care.

I remember my first computer with the Internet. It was horrendously slow by today’s standards – the dial-up number was almost always busy and it took about 20 minutes to get online. Waiting to access the Internet was like watching a glacier move. But once we heard that fateful telephone dial-up screech and the World Wide Web opened-up, the planet felt as though it was at my fingertips. And here’s the thing: when I really learned how to surf the Web – in the summer of 1996 – I didn’t go straight for the time-wasting games or the soul-rotting pornography or the questionably-illegal MP3 downloads. Instead, I sought intellectual connections with other humans; I sought genuine discourse, discussion, and debate. And I found it on a new and trendy little website called the “WebChat Broadcasting System.” So after learning how Internet chat rooms worked, I gravitated toward discussions requiring knowledge and wit – and my favorite one was the chat room for theological debate. I seemed to really enjoy defending my Christian faith; granted, it was more of a hobby or pastime than a faith-based endeavor, but I enjoyed it all-the-same. In my high school youth group at the time, we’d studied the concept of “Apologetics,” the act of defending the Christian theology against objections and arguments. So these chat room debates were a fun way for me to not only defend my Christian faith, but learn more about it as naysayers attempted to talk me into a corner. I found it very beneficial and quite entertaining. Read more

Prologue (from “Sympathy for the Angel”)

— Prologue —

What Happens in Vegas…

from Sympathy for the Angel

The smell of stale cigarette smoke lingers like an invisible cloud of anxiety in this place, but no one ever seems to look worried. There’s a hallway between the MGM Grand Casino and the MGM Signature Hotel that has a sweet smell to it – a distinct smell – but otherwise, all of these places all smell the same. Something I’ve noticed: The casinos with the higher ceilings have less of that smoky smell, and this one, the MGM Grand, has pretty high ceilings, comparatively speaking. If you go down to Freemont, most of those ceilings are low enough to jump and touch. Read more

Prologue (from “Political Science 101”)

Prologue

Be Just…

from Political Science 101

The front of the Missouri State Capitol Building is regal and majestic, not unlike the United States Capitol; they carry many similarities. However, what most people seem to ignore is the back and sides of the Capitol Building in Jefferson City, which features an equal amount of architectural splendor as the well-known front of the structure. Read more