SPidge Tales

Friday, November 10, 2006

What I want to be when I grow up

As a kid, I only wanted to be two things when I grew up: a garbage man and a baseball player. Before I started Kindergarten, I would sit by the window everyday, waiting for the garbage truck to stop at my house so I could revel in what I believed my future to be, hoped my future to be, before my very eyes. I was disappointed most days, though, because my parents never told me the garbage truck only came once a week.

As a 10-year-old in the summer of 1991, I became a Mets fan, particularly of my favorite player HoJo (Howard Johnson), a consistent 30-30-30 man (30 HR’s, 30 SB’s, 30 errors). I finally had a new future career; I wanted to be a baseball player! This would stay my dream through college, though my reasons would change. In Little League, I wanted to be a baseball player because I idolized the pros. In high school, I dreamt of being a Big Leaguer and getting all the girls. In college, I just wanted to be a baseball player because I was a Philosophy Major and I couldn’t think of anything else to do with a Philosophy Degree.

I never saw myself becoming a teacher. I never took an education class in college or grad school. My year teaching at St. Gregory’s just fell in my lap. There are many joys of teaching—making a difference in children’s lives, getting to act like a kid again at recess, making fun of many of my students who were Yankees fans, going to happy hour with my co-workers—but one of the things I really enjoyed was having a good amount of free time to freelance write. My new dream, my new “this is what I want to be when I grow up” is a writer.

Writing is a different challenge than being a baseball player. To make it big time in sports, you have to have a lot of talent. You need to be one of the best in the world. Writing is a little different. You have to be good, and if you are exceptional, if you are a Shakespeare or a Dante or a Dave Barry, you will make it no matter what. But for those of us who fall into the “we’re good, but we are a dime a dozen” category, we need that big break. We need something else to get us into the spotlight first, then allow our writing to flourish. Would celebrities like Maria Shriver get publishing deals for children’s books if they weren’t who they are?

Becoming a well known and well read writer is probably as much a pipe dream now as being a pro baseball player was as a teenager. But, when I go to Sports Illustrated’s Webpage, I am given hope. One of SI’s columnists is a college student at Florida State named Jenn Sterger. She writes advice columns and first hand accounts of attending sporting events. She is an entertaining writer, and very well may be a talented writer, but why does she get to write for Sports Illustrated over a number of equal peers? Last year at a Florida State football game televised by ABC, the camera spanned the stands and caught Sterger and some friends dressed very scantily. The commentators made a joke about high school boys around the country applying to attend FSU, college students looked her up on Facebook, and she became an instant C-list celebrity. Appearances in Playboy and Maxim turned into a regular spot as a guest columnist on SI Online.

This American Dream, the dream of going from rags to riches, from anonymity to fame, is fostered by much of today’s literature and film. For every Lord of The Rings or Chronicles of Narnia, we see ten movies about the nerdy guy getting the pretty girl, or the girl who is somehow ugly because she wears glasses and a ponytail getting a makeover and suddenly becoming hot. Reality television gives the façade, or better yet, the mirage, of a society where nobodies can become important. And yet, people speak of writers like Tolkien and C.S. Lewis as bludgeoning our minds with escapist fantasy.

No, it is not the fairy tales and magical world stories that are escapist. None of us really believe that we can become a hero by battling dragons and using magic powers. The real escapist fantasies are the reality shows and rags to riches sagas that have just enough of a grain of authenticity to give us false hopes and false dreams.

While I wait for my shot at writing fame (my fantasy is that I foil a bank-robbery or something by just happening to be in the right place at the right time, landing me guest spots on Leno, Letterman, Colbert, and the talk-show circuit, giving me the opportunity to make known my writing to the world, leading to few celebrity girlfriends before settling down as a columnist for the NY Times), I will sit by the window, waiting each day for the garbage truck to come, in the hopes that today will be the day the garbage men visit. Who knows, maybe someday I will fulfill my boyhood dream and fill out an application.


Blogger ... Cristián ... said...

Hi Sean Patrick...
Mi name is Cristián, I'm from Chile and may be my english is not perfect, but I want to tell you that your blog is awesome. I love the list you made about the 200 things to do before die and the last one too "What I want to be when I grow up"...
By the way, I wanted to be an astrnaut, a fireman, a policeman a priest and also a baker!!! jajaja... Can you believe it!!! Anyway, I'm a secretary in a ministerial office of my country. It's a hugh work. Nobody else with my age has reach this place before.
I would like to receive your posts in my blogs or a mail in my mailbox... cristian.seal@gmail.com


12:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is hope of you becoming a writer Pidge. See, this guy from Chile found your blog...kinda creepy, but anyway, he likes your writings. You are a good writer. If you really want to become one, just do it...because you can.

2:38 PM  

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