What do I want to be when I grow up?
One could say that my parents might have had an inkling that I would be asking the question “What do I want to be when I grow up?” at the ripe old age of 46. Back when I was still a teenager, I did not know what I wanted to do with my life. And wouldn’t you know, here I am and I still don’t know.
I grew up with a passion for sports, music and photography. My parents were very supportive and encouraging of my exploits in music and photography. Sports:…not so much. Neither of them was born in the States, so sports were “foreign” to them, Pun intended.(wink) They never dissuaded me from playing sports but did not encourage me very much either.
Music and photography were a different story. I started playing a musical instrument in the second grade, but even then, it took three tries to get it right. First was the cello. That did not last too long. I don’t remember how I started with the cello, but I know why I stopped: I found it boring and my mother got tired of driving the bulky cello back and forth to school every Tuesday. One down, two to go.
Next was trumpet. At least I could carry that to and from school myself. I did OK with the trumpet I guess. However, two issues cropped up with the trumpet: The first was that I could never seem to remember the notes and which buttons to push. Worse, however, was the fact that my young, supple lips got chapped very easily from pressing them against the trumpet’s mouth piece. By the time I gave up the trumpet, my lips were so raw that it looked like I was wearing a permanent layer of lipstick. Two down, one to go.
By fourth grade, I had decided on the drums. Now that was something I could get into. I was always tapping and banging on things. I also liked that, while there were notes to learn, they only had to do with how often you hit the drums. No chords, no scales, nothing! I was gonna be a rock star some day.
I became serious about photography after I received a Canon TX 35mm SLR camera for my Bar Mitzvah. That was back in the days of this quaint technology of film. Before that time, we always had a Kodak Instamatic around, but my love of photography really took off when I got that shiny camera.
My father, Gunter, was a newspaper journalist for over 25 years, in Newark, NJ and Philadelphia. I grew up around the newsrooms of some very large (and now defunct) newspapers. I also learned some pretty cool swear words there too. While my father was a wonderful, award winning reporter and my older brother, Peter, would grow up to be an award winning comic book and science fiction author, I was more visually oriented. I found the whole newsroom environment exciting and dangerous and thought; maybe I would like to be a newspaper photographer?
Fast forward to my senior year in high school. It was time to figure out where I wanted to go to college. I had played in bands with friends and had worked on the school newspaper as a photographer. But what did I want to do now that I was growing up? Guess what? I was not sure. I knew I wanted to study either photography or music. So what to do, I would ask myself, my friends, my parents.
Eventually, I decided to take a year off after high school to try to figure it all out. I played in a few bands and worked as an intern at a local newspaper. After about six months I decided that the music business was not stable enough for me, so I applied to and graduated from RIT with a degree in photojournalism.
Another clue for my parents and me that I was not sure what I wanted to do when I grew up was the fact that I announced one day, not to long after graduation that I wanted to open a record store. Yup, a record store. You should have seen their jaws drop.
If you are listening to me speak today, you obviously know that I am not a professional photographer or a professional drummer, for that matter. . I will tell you that as of this date, I still have not opened that record store.
So what have I done in the 25 years since I told my parents I wanted to open a record store? In nearly chronological order and sometimes concurrently:
- Newspaper photographer
- Magazine writer, editor and photographer
- Database administrator
- Graphics administrator
- Printing services buyer
- Printing estimator
- Special projects manager
- Computer service manager
- Database administrator (again)
- PC Systems administrator
- Freelance resume writer and web designer
- Continuing education teacher of computer basics and web design
- General computer consultant
- PC Systems administrator (again)
- Technical support supervisor
- Youth sports photographer and salesman
- Web marketer & freelance web designer (again)
- Big box sporting goods store manager
- PC Systems administrator (again)
- Youth sports photographer and salesman (again)
All that was before I started at my current position nearly 5 years ago. And all that was for pay in varying degrees. What have I done since then that was not for pay?
- Den Leader
- Chairman of the board of a computer society
- Youth baseball coach
- Youth basketball coach
- I don’t remember what else, but I’m sure I’m missing a few.
And how could I forget. I’ve been married to the same wonderful woman, Sara for nearly 20 years. She is here with me today. I’ve also imparted my love of sports to our son Michael, who is a sophmore at the University of Rochester. He is studying biomedical engineering and is also a linebacker for the football team. I’ve imparted my love of music and self expression, as well as my slightly twisted sense of humor, to our 15 year old son, Matthew.
So what about photography and drumming? Well, I started playing drums in a band about 3 years ago, after not playing for the same, nearly 25 years. I am also planning to launch my own photography website this year. I do think it is safe to say that I will not be opening a record store any time soon.
Check back with me some day. I just might be able to tell you what I want to do when I grow up.