I blogged last week about realizing at an early age (okay, as a teen) that my career as a sports broadcaster would probably be over long before it started. And believe it or not, I was fine with that. Sadly though, I had all of this extraneous sports trivia and knowledge floating around in my over-active brain and it needed someplace to go. And since I spent most of my free time (when I wasn’t playing sports) writing, the gradual realization that I should become a sports journalist hit me like a right hook from Mike Tyson back when he was the most feared boxer on the planet for his punches, not his ear nibbling skills.
After a not-so-stellar high school academic career (I had a little problem attending classes and therefore had to repeat a lot of them), on a whim, I decided to apply to a local college with a journalism program. After taking a writing aptitude test, I was accepted. My parents, just happy I finally graduated from high school and wanted to try and better myself, were elated, and my dad went out and bought me a new Canon SLR camera I would need for the photography classes. We’re talking early 90s here, so film was still the way to go. He also bought me 50 rolls of black and white film, the tools needed to develop spools of film (the school would provide all the chemicals needed), and a few reams of photo paper. As much as I loved writing, the idea of taking my camera out and about and having to capture certain images really appealed to me.
The course was great. I loved the photography aspect, but my favorite course was Ethics in Journalism. Basically we would be split into two groups, one for, one against, and we would be given a topic, a photo, a headline, and we would argue our case why something should or shouldn’t print. It was awesome. And nobody cared about my stutter either. Sure it made arguing my point somewhat tedious at times, but my point was still made. One girl in the class even told me it made me sound more passionate about things. Totally should have asked her out. Think I missed something there.
I also made the mistake – and I say mistake because it really took my focus off school work – of playing for the college soccer team. The lure of an academic scholarship, providing I kept a 2.0 GPA (50%) was too much for me to turn down. Mixing practice, games, travel, and schoolwork shouldn’t have been that tough, but I concentrated more on being an athlete than being a student. And once soccer season was over, I coasted until the end of the first semester and decided to drop out. Only to regret that decision and re-apply to go back, although I had to wait one full year to do so.
I ran into the soccer coach that first day I went back and he asked me to come out for the team. Soccer is a passion; like writing. I couldn’t say no. This time I was living on campus, my commute time would be cut down, and I’d have full access to any school labs I would need. I managed to juggle both soccer and school this time. Deep into the second semester of the first year I was still plugging away when I got slapped by indifference again. While I was loving the photography aspect of the program (and 20 years later, I still say I’d like to take better photos and learn to use my fancy ass digital SLR Canon camera), the writing was bumming me out. Journalism was less expressive than I had hoped, and the awful truth was that everyone wanted to be a sports journalist, and only a select few would ever become one. And the pay sucked. Although the pay was a side issue really. Never been that interested in money. The truth of it was that I would probably spend the better part of the first few years of my journalistic career writing obituaries, weather reports, and mundane filler pieces hoping to get out of the tiny little town I managed to find a position at on their daily 4 page publication.
Let’s fast forward to today shall we? I currently reside in Dubai, UAE. Never thought I would get here. Didn’t even know where here was way back in college the first time. I do have a career as a writer, although not even the tiniest drop of sports knowledge is required for my day job. And is the writing exciting? No. Not even remotely. For the last 9 years I’ve been working as a technical writer. Basically I’m one of those sad individuals who can take complex information and simplify it so the masses can read it and understand it. This stuff makes writing obituaries seem fun. And I’m okay with it. I’m living and working in a part of the world I would never have seen without a love of writing in the first place. Sure, it’s not glamorous and borders on the brain-numbing side of things, but I am very good at it and most days I do like going in to the office. And there are enough quiz nights around Dubai to make use of my trivia-addled brain.
I was on the metro home from work last week and was talking to a coworker and stuttered. He’s heard me stutter before and pays it no mind. There was a gentleman sitting beside me and he tapped me on the shoulder. He said he was from Morocco and that his sister stuttered. He said I was the first “Westerner” he’s heard stutter and it made him feel better that his sister wasn’t alone in her ordeal and if I could come to Dubai and live then so could she. I didn’t know how to take that, so I just smiled. Yeah, I’m working on new dreams now.