What I Want to Be: Ten Years Later


What did you want to be when you grew up? Did you think about being an astronaut? Perhaps at one time, when you were a child you wanted to be a doctor and help tons of sick people or a lawyer and show up to court in expensive suits, winning significant cases.

Really, our entire lives, it is always being embossed upon us how important it is to know what you want to do with your life. As high school students, we are continually told to find out who we’re supposed to be, but always being told where we’re supposed to be. This is where the pressure gets turned up for the first time for many of us. Some of us have to go to work for the first time, some play sports year round, there are meetings with counselors discussing your future. “What schools have you thought about applying to?” We are bombarded with pre-tests counting for half a school years worth of work, for which most of us are unprepared; there are ACT’s, SAT’s, extracurricular activity is so very crucial, or so we’re told. But somewhere in the midst of all this, you have to find yourself. You have to make up your mind who it is you are supposed to be and stop letting others place the weight of all of their unanswered & unrealized childhood achievements. We all know what happens if you don’t; you’ve heard it a thousand times. Someone or something else will do it for you.

Never once thought even for one minute that I would be where I am, at twenty-nine years old and ten years out of high school. I have a lot of friends that would probably agree with that. A lot of married friends with children of their own and a lot of single friends; some living like me, in or near a big city/metro area, perhaps writing, as a college drop-out, conceivably in a hospital as a nurse or doctor; doing something they can be proud of. Then, of course, there are some living out their lives as part of a small-town community like the one from which we came, making a difference every day even if the only people who are going to see it that particular day are their children or the little league baseball team they coach, or the kids in their class. Lastly, you have the ones who didn’t make it long enough to see today. The ones who are forever burned into your memory, even if you try and forget them for the hours of sleep you’ve lost; then take it back that you ever wished to omit them and come to grips with the fact that they’re gone. They’re not coming back. They live now only in our hearts, our memories, and in the stories, we’ll tell our children, nieces, and nephews about how much their grandfather would have loved them. Or sit around with old friends and talk about how he was much more than a great personality, more than a good team-mate, but a good and a decent person, with heart for days, who shined so brightly even as young as he was taken from us.

I guess my point is that life is short, it goes by like a lightning bolt that you’re trying to catch with a baseball mitt. So try and slow it down, every chance you get; and don’t let life keep you in a constant hurry. Because no matter how old you are, or what kind of person you are, life is going to throw you curveballs and change-ups. So dig in, sit back in the box, get the one you want, keep your eye on the ball and see it come in slow. No matter if you’re taking the pitch, bunting or swinging away.


Modern Day Doctor Dolittle

Bowel-obstructed bunnies, lame ducks, and festering iguanas at Manhattan’s only exotic animal vet.

via The Doctor Dolittle of the Upper West Side — Longreads

‘Here I Go Back Down Again’

“Well, here I go back down, again

The vicious circle never ends

I’m up,  I’m down,  I’m up and then…

Here I go back down again.
Some folks think I drink too much
I guess, I could lay off the stuff

But, when I’m low, it picks me up

Maybe, I just think too much…

Well, here I go back down, again

The viscous circle never ends 

I’m up, I’m down, I’m up and then…

Well, here I go back down again

I’m up I’m down, I’m up and then…
Here I go back down, again.

Here I go back down, again.


– Charlie Robison of Bandera Texas


Dude, Not Cool…

Doctors and nurses ran frantically into and out of the small room I found myself in. I had never seen such organized chaos from my place in the hospital bed. Little did I know it then, but I had just traveled the longest, most expensive 50 miles, by ambulance to the nearest hospital. In weeks I had not felt the emotion you and me, we all have at some point in time likely taken for granted, known as joy. We’ll come back to that sensation and others, both authentically human and artificially or chemically induced, in greater detail later.
In weeks I had not been hungry, had not eaten anything that felt like it wasn’t fighting to out of me. I was miserable. I hadn’t held a baseball or wore a pair of cleats in as much time, though that time was starting to feel like much, much longer.
The doctor came into the room, finally. He decidedly sighed, looking over what I could only assume had to be my chart. After a quick but thorough examination, he stepped back and folded his arms. He then knowingly looked over to me, into my eyes, then as if without a shadow of a doubt said to my worried parents, “Crohn’s disease.”

As he continued talking, my mind raced off far away; immediately I knew one thing- I had never heard of anything that sounded so unpleasant, so uncool. After a few seconds, I came back into my body. “…but we’ll get him started on some steroids to control the inflammation and get you some medicine for the pain.”
He grinned, “You’re going to be feeling better soon”, he said, “but we want to be sure that you don’t have anything to eat or drink for maybe a day or two.” He went on further, but my ears told my brain it had heard enough. Provided the fact that I had tubes up my nose that had the necessary task of pumping bile from my diseased gut so that I could stop incessantly vomiting, I thought how he could joke at a time like this? Who is this guy, what is this, his job? Telling strangers who had nearly choked on their stomach as it tried to turn itself inside out, that he would fix them, while he starved them?”

Election Night: 2016

Brextin, the Chicago Cubs and Donald J. Trump.  Does it get much crazier than this? Am I in some kind of dream? As I direct my gaze into the television and pan back over again to the familiar faces at a small gathering of friends and family, I get the feeling that I’m not the only person in the room who is asking themselves the same questions. I’m hearing from one panelist that there will be a huge sense of disbelief and even despair on Wednesday morning Nov. 9 2016. By another it is being compared to “a hangover after a three day bender when you wake up, your clothes are off and your bank account is gone.”

Even Republicans, moderates and libertarians have many concerns. Public policy. National security issues. Does someone who has been “the boss” to so many people for his entire adult life have the right combination of grace, strength humility and confidence that it takes to be able to work across the aisle as well as within the party and with other nations to take us to the place we need to be in order to thrive and prosper as a country united in 2017? Maybe not. Maybe we will all be worse off  in four or maybe it could be the end of life as we all know it. Indeed, there is much controversy over this election. Either way you look at it, whatever political party you support, at the end of the day we are all Americans and I think that it’s uncertain times like these that it’s more important than ever we stand united together as a country. But whether you decide to jump ship and look for a life in another land or stick it out and make the most 6f it, join me in hoping and praying for and even believing that we our country is going to be one of unity and prosperity moving into the future.

 J. L. McLendon