It's easy to be led astray.
|One thing I truly remember clearly growing up was that we watched The Brady Bunch. My parents found it wholesome - as opposed to The Partridge Family - so we got the watch the former all the time. So I kind of got a skewed view of a profession from the start. Fancy dens? Live in maid? Big ol’ house that you got to design yourself not even knowing that you were going to bring in three more kids? Where do I sign up?! I simply held on to the notion that I wanted to be an architect for a long portion of my life.
By the time we really started discussing higher education, I was in Philadelphia. At first, my parents being Protestant and my father a pastor, they put me in an academy. But it didn't work out, and that's a whole other story. They sure wouldn't put me in the Catholic schools all around the neighborhood, so all they had left was to send me to a magnet school to study college courses. It was the ultimate goal of students who went there. I wasn't so sure, but I knew I needed an education anyway. Even when I took off from my house when things got too dramatic for me, I'd always take my book bag. I made sure I got my schoolwork done. My good friend told me, “Without the d-i-p you won't get a j-o-b.”
My father's church was in a very blue collar portion of the city that was still very Irish Catholic. We lived one neighborhood away, where it had change some, but a lot of the older people had stayed. Therefore, quite a few of my friends grew up wanting to be cops or fireman. They never could understand why I didn't want be one as well. What they didn't know was that I would have happily taken a job with the police or fire department, but deep down, I couldn't. I knew how much it would disappoint my parents, who had both graduated from college. My sister wouldn't ever go, and if I didn't I'm not sure they have taken it well. But it wasn't an easy decision.
I worked at a few jobs that only required a diploma. Things like landscaping, restaurants, parking cars… I’d written a lot in high school, and really didn't stop. It was something I truly enjoyed. So I figured if I could go to a college without spending money, I should go. Why not build on all the English I learned in high school? I learned two things that first semester. One, the professors in small colleges sometimes don't hold a candle to your high school professors with doctorates. Two, even if you sell something you wrote, it doesn't make you rich. I recall receiving the package from my first and only big short story sale. It was a half a dozen magazines and a check for about eight dollars. I know it was just from a magazine out of some book called, like, Strange Little Publishers Who Really Need Content, but eight bucks? I figured, I had to change professions. So I changed back to architecture, pick a four-year college, and headed off.
Let's just say the past of my architecture school life was checkered, but at the end of it all, I did graduate with a landscape architecture degree. You might say, “Well, that wasn't far from where you wanted to go,” but it was. I know a lot more about engineering, and didn't like architecture students in the least.
Now fast forward to where we've ended today. I put in my time and I have a department head position, I'm fairly paid, I have decent benefits. But next to me, last month, the Fire Chief retired... with full benefits. He's five years my junior. I won't see retirement for at least seven more years. I assure you, that kind of stings. All that time I could have been writing!
Oh, and Mr. Sherwood Schwartz? If I don't get to design and build that house on that empty lot I own next door, you better hope there's not an afterlife, because I will find you...
(WC - 702)