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what i want to be when i grow up
learn me something new
by robert a. melos

Lately I’ve been thinking of bettering myself, improving my mind, striving to be all that I can be; and no I’m not enlisting in any military service. A general recently made it clear I’m immoral. Well, not me in particular, although that’s only because he hasn’t met me in person. No, I’m talking about furthering my education.

My current education is slightly dodgy, to say the least. I have a background in photography, marketing, art and design, occult sciences, mixology, journalism, literature, psychology, acting, writing and real estate. At one time or another I pursued education or a career in all of these fields. I didn’t complete a degree in anything truly useful. I have a degree in photography and occult science.

Now arguably photography is useful if you want to take pictures of happy couples getting married, but my temperament and disdain for marriage kind of took the fun out of that, and all I learned in occult sciences is you can’t really turn anyone into a frog even if you want to turn them into a frog. And while I’m on that subject, we always make turning someone into a frog sound like it’s a terrible thing, but if you look at it from the frog’s position it isn’t all that bad really. I mean, lounging on the lily pad all day, maybe doing a few laps around the pond, dining on all the flies and dragonflies you want, granted that doesn’t sound yummy from a human perspective, but I’m sure frogs love a succulent dragonfly every now and again.

Sorry, I’m getting sidetracked. I’m thinking about my life, and my future education. Mixology was fun, but essentially that makes me a bartender wannabe. I never worked as a bartender, but I wouldn’t mind doing it. I just never got hired for any of the bartending positions that I applied for. Nor did I get any of the acting jobs I auditioned for, although I did get a few call backs. I have published three novels, the third coming out in a couple of months, but I still feel like I should be doing something more, learning something more.

I believe education is important, but it shouldn’t be education for the sake of education, it should have a practical purpose. I came to this conclusion earlier today while I was talking with a representative from a college offering an Internet commuter course in psychology. I was considering getting a degree in psychology, not really knowing what I’d do with it if I got it. I don’t want to go into a career in criminal justice, or substance abuse, and I have very little interest in a career in human resources or social services.

I realized I want to pursue an education in something that I consider useful. Now I’m not saying I consider psychology useless. Far from it. If I were a younger man I might want to be a psychologist and try to fix the minds and emotions of all the people in the world, but I no longer tilt at windmills. Actually I never did, except for the windmill hole at the miniature golf course and only that one time when I was really drunk.

Back to my future education. I started to browse through all of my previous declared and undeclared majors. At one time I did some substitute teaching of the elementary school levels, proving to me I don’t want to be surrounded by children for any amount of time, so teaching as a career is out. I could pursue literature, but being a college professor or working for a publishing company as a reader or editor, while attractive in theory, are two careers that, for me, don’t promise the best of everything.

When I look at the education I had prior to college, I now wish I had gone to vocational school. I think anyone with a skill, mechanics, chefs, hairdressers, electricians, plumbers, are much more important careers than most of the things I paid way too much money in colleges to pursue under the illusion I would make a fortune if I had a degree in any of my chosen fields.

I would consider interior design, or garden design, only those careers would be too clichéd for me, as would hair design, although I have never had the urge to bang hair. I wouldn’t need to go to college to become a plumber or an electrician, and truth be told, I’m not plumber or electrician material. As for being a mechanic I’m just not mechanically inclined.

I wouldn’t mind being a chef, and am fairly good in the kitchen, but I’m no Emeril. I’m not even an aluminum chef, let alone in the league of iron chefs. So after 43 years of life, more than half of that spent in the education systems, I’m still thinking about what I want to be when I grow up.

In the forth grade I wanted to be a fireman, but that was because Emergency was my favorite television show. Aside from that, all I’ve ever wanted to be was a writer. Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, Erma Bombeck and Rita Mae Brown were among my heroes. I was a nerdy kid.

Now I’ve been a writer, whether I’m successful will be up to history to decide (sorry, I couldn’t resist paraphrasing George W. Bush just this once), and I’ve been a Realtor for the past 25 years, and if you read my last column you know how I feel about that career decision, so at this point in my life I’m looking to the future and considering my options and wondering what will fulfill me emotionally and financially?

I do have one sort of fantasy job. I harbor this fantasy of opening a hot dog shop; a place that sells only hot dogs. I’d call it Bob’s Your Weiner. I don’t need to go to college to make hot dogs, but imagine what a cool degree Hot Dogology would be. Are you beginning to see why my educational background was so scattered?

I also considered the potential of a career in IT or web design, figuring they would pay super well, but then I also figure my desires to hot dog-it would probably pay better than most other careers I might want to pursue, and this brings my theory that an education should be a useful thing to a crashing end. Maybe I should study psychology all the way through to a degree, if for no other reason than to figure out my own mind.


Robert is the author of the novels Cool Mint Blue, Melba Ridge, and the recently released The Adventures of Homosexual Man and Lesbian Lad; and the creator of the on-line comix Impure Thoughts found at his web site Inside R.A. Melos, as well as having been an on-line staff writer for QBliss where he had a monthly humor column, Maybe A Yip, Maybe A Yap. In his non-writing time, when he's not studying the metaphysical or creating a tarot deck, he sells real estate in Middlesex County New Jersey, hangs out with his dog Zeus, and spends time at the Pride Center of New Jersey in Highland Park, NJ, where he is on the Board of Trustees.

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