What do you want to do when you grow up?

I hated that question.

When I was younger, it was very hard to find something productive that I was really passionate about. I didn’t like sports, school was boring and I wasn’t really a fan of the outdoors. One thing I adored, then and now, were stories. Whether they be fact or fiction, tall tales or small stories, good writing has always captured my attention. I read about young wizards, unfortunate orphans, rebellious teenagers, damaged souls and mad geniuses. It wasn’t just school readings that crossed my path: comic books have been a pleasure of mine. Teachers would catch me buried in issues of The PunisherUltimate Spider-ManRunaways and Watchmen, but it’s hard to keep excited about long division or biology when the Green Goblin was holding Peter Parker’s girlfriend hostage over a bridge in my backpack. My imagination was set on fire by these crazy stories that would cross my eye and I was determined to write something that would be as exciting as what I was reading.

Choice scholarly reading. Photo Credit: Jon Winkler
Choice scholarly reading. Photo Credit: Jon Winkler

“I want to write stuff.”

Before you get the idea that I would just do nothing for days on end, I was visually stimulated. Movies, television and video games fascinated me, as if the daydreams in my head came to life and nobody told me about it. I was shocked to learn that someone thought of sword fights in space before I did, or how life as a pop culture nerd in school could be so funny, or how awesome it would be to play the ultimate soldier. But as I got older, I started to focus on the writing of these visual spectacles and started expanding my tastes, specifically on movies. The writing that grabbed my attention on screen were acts of betrayal, threat, taunting, rebellion or just general madness and the bizarre. The more movies I watched, the more I saw to marvel at: fist fightscar chases, gun showscamera work, cinematography and the all around creation of a movie. From there, it’s all I could talk about. Some samples of my opening statements in daily conversation were:

“Did you see this…….?”

“I saw the coolest thing the other day….”

“Remember inwhen….?”

Everything about Goldfinger was pitch-perfect entertainment. The style, cinematography, acting, writing and cool flow was engrossing. My favorite movie of all time for being entertaining. It’s the best example of movies made at their best.

Movies weren’t enough for me, as music started to become more of an obsession. My weekly budget would be diverted to buying CDs. Two bookcases were the only way to contain my collection of music. Different styles and genres provided soundtracks to my day, something to make moments better. Excited for the weekend? You bet. Met a cute girl today? Oh yeah. Pissed off about something? Ugh, obviously. Hanging out with the crew? Sure thing. Depressed? Yeah, sure. Feeling like a king? YOU KNOW IT! Just as I dug deeper into movies, I submerged myself into the layers of music. It takes many repeats to hear how deep the Weird Fishes go, the foreign time change for the girl in the red light, the disturbing narrative of an obsessed fan or just the insane precision on an wacky instrumental track. It’s like looking at blueprints for a skyscraper or machine, or the breakdown of a chemistry equation. Listening carefully to all of the moving parts was fascinating to me.

I remember hearing this in a roller rink when I was five-years-old, and everything about the song fit the moment. The swirling synthesizers and rocking guitar matched up with the flashing lights from the ceiling and the upbeat sounds coming from the arcade in the corner. The lyrics of wanting a place of paradise separate from stressful reality have applied to me then and now. It’s my favorite song of all time because no matter what I’m doing, the song makes me think of that one fine day of hammering buttons, eating pizza with my friends and skating along to the lights and sounds.

“I want to write about entertainment.”

The question of “what” was answered, I just had to figure out “how.” I didn’t know if I wanted to write for entertainment or about entertainment. How can I deliver something? All I knew was that I was a great writer and I knew too much about movies, music, television, video games and comics. My teachers and parents told me to do some research, and I found the writing and talking of some true inspirations: Peter Travers, Joel Siegel, Joe Morgenstern, Rob Sheffield, David Fricke, Dave Haslam and John Harris. These guys talked and wrote about music, not like a school assignment or a regular newscast, but in a conversational manner. It was as if they were right in front me talking about pop culture while waiting for lunch. This was also how I wrote and how passionate I was about these nerdy topics. I asked what these guys do for a living, and I heard the word “journalist” thrown in every time. There it was, the key word to put on my resume and to have a definite answer to that god-awful, groan-enducing question.

“What do you want to do when you grow up?”

“I want to be a journalist….I want to be a entertainment journalist”

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