I was born in St. Louis. In high school, I played football, and because I’d watched it on television ever since I was a little kid, I picked it up immediately. I went All State my junior and senior years in high school, played third string for Notre Dame, and tried out three years in a row with the Colts, never once making it on to the team.
I did stay in Indianapolis, though — I decided that I wanted to be a teacher instead, and now spend my days teaching science to high schoolers and coaching the varsity team in the evenings.
I was born in St. Louis, and in high school, though I played football for a while, I wasn’t good enough at it to continue past my junior year. Instead, I joined the theater department, and lit up the stage with my acting. Out of high school, I felt a need to get away, to get up and into the biggest place I could go, so I went straight to New York City and starting studying acting and theater as an undergrad at NYU.
I’m still acting — I’ve had a few minor parts in movies, but what I’m really proud of is the theatre company that I put together with a few of my former classmates. We’ve grown immensely in the seven years since we started up, with great reviews and critical acclaim not just from the New York scene, but around the world. A friend of mine and I are thinking of starting a theater school in our space, a place where we can teach up and coming actors what we’ve figured out over the years.
And in the meantime, I love New York — the autumn breezes, the taxi rides uptown and downtown, the rooftop parties on summer evenings. I haven’t been back to St. Louis since.
I was born in St. Louis, and in high school, I made a fool of myself in football for a few years, and then went and worked in the theater department, putting together the sets and lights with my friends (while we smoked pot during breaks). I had an amazing time, but the teachers never really liked me, my grades were average, and what mattered most to me was having fun.
After graduation, I briefly thought about going away, but the majority of my classmates went to Mizzou, so that’s where I went as well. Officially, I studied finance, but mostly, I studied how much I could party before a big test, and how much BS I could make up while still getting laid. My teachers still didn’t like me, but they respected me, in a way — respected the fact that while they had worked for a long time and only made it as far as teaching in a midstate college, I was doing whatever I wanted and passing right on by.
I married my last college girlfriend, and got a job at a bank in St. Peters where my friend’s dad worked. We bought a house and had two kids — I make enough money for her to stay home with them, but sometimes I have to work late (and my boss is an ass). I’d like to think that someday I’ll manage the branch.
I was born in St. Louis. In high school, I did theater tech — lighting, sound, stage design. As soon as I graduated, I wanted out of the Midwest — I headed to a small college in the Northeast and studied broadcasting and media for four years. After that my leads weren’t what I’d expected, so I headed home for a few years and started working at a Gamestop.
I dreamed of moving to Chicago — I still longed to be out of St. Louis and in the big city. But a few months before I could make that a reality, my manager at Gamestop told me about a corporate opening, a district manager position, overseeing all of the retail stores in the city (he said he would have wanted it, but his family was making him move out west). It was a lame job — doing miserable work, overseeing miserable people — but it paid well, better than I would have ever expected to make in the broadcasting jobs I was looking at. After a lot of deliberation, I took it, bought a house in the suburbs, and spent my days driving from retail store to retail store, checking inventory and prices.
I was born in St. Louis. I worked in the technical side of my high school theater’s tech department — designing lights and sound, creating sets. After high school, I found an interest in broadcasting, specifically in radio, and headed to a small college in the Northeast to study that. I graduated easily, and then moved back to St. Louis to plan what to do next: I wanted to be on the air somewhere, maybe Chicago. I headed up to the Windy City a few times to look at apartments, but also thought about staying closer to home, closer to my family and the friends I still had.
I applied at a few smaller radio stations in the area — Southern Illinois, Cape Girardeau, St. Charles. At an interview in Rolla, a man with a big cowboy hat and a southern drawl, the owner of the station, asked me why I’d ever want to be in an industry like radio. I said I’d grown up with it, that I loved listening and that it was a media that could evoke feelings the way television and print never bothered to do any more.
He must have liked my answer — he and the program manager hired me on the spot to work the afternoon shift. 1,000 watts, a potential audience of just under a million. Within a few years I worked my way up to the morning shift, and then became a local celebrity — as much of a celebrity as you can be in Rolla, MO. I attended car dealership openings, I gave away Barry Manilow tickets, I ran “hands on a hot rod” contests, I interviewed country stars playing the annual fair nearby.
I’ve moved stations twice (once away from the station I started at, and once back), but I’ve been doing it so long now that callers call me just to say hi, and local businesses seek me out for on-air promos. I dream of the big city sometimes, but I can go over to Earl’s Rib House and eat free — why would I want to leave that?
I was born in St. Louis. In high school, I tech directed a few shows, and even designed some lighting schemes and sound cues myself. In college, I studied broadcasting, radio specifically. I liked St. Louis (and that’s why I moved back there right after I graduated from college), but I’ve always liked the big city better, and so as soon as I found an apartment to stay in, I moved up to Chicago’s west side.
In Chicago, I felt myself move away from radio — some people were doing the right thing, but too much of it was cliche and boring. Instead, I fell in with the great writing tradition of the city — I started writing on my own, and then for free, and then for pay. I worked off hours as a freelancer, and then on hours. I wrote a book, got it published, and sales were spectacularly low. I wrote another book, got it published too (though it was surprisingly much harder to do the second time), and it did pretty well — I went on a regional book tour, I appeared on a few TV and radio stations. I was asked to ghostwrite a book, and did, and was then asked to ghostwrite some more, and did again.
I do like Chicago — the lake, the winters, the El. It’s a good town to live in as a writer, with a good community of people crafting words right alongside you. I’ve got a reputation here, I’ve got a history here, and I’m happy, spending my days looking out at the skyline and putting one word after another, cobbling out a voice and a place for myself.
I was born in St. Louis. In high school, I played football for a few years, and then decided I was more of a theater person. I worked hard, and was fascinated with the tech of it — how you could shine lights on the stage in a certain color and play sounds at the same time, and evoke any number of unexplainable feelings. After school, I left St. Louis, went to upstate New York, and studied broadcasting — I partied, I practiced, I thought, and I learned. And eventually, I graduated.
Back at home, I looked for radio jobs in the Midwest, but none of them ever materialized. The big city called, I chanced on a good roommate and a great apartment, and made my way to Chicago. Once there, I poked around, and landed on writing as something I both could and wanted to do. I did it for myself, for someone else, and then eventually for everyone. I liked Chicago — the pizza’s great, the people are nice, and even when the wind blows cold down through the canyons of steel and glass, you can feel the hum of strong, interesting people working all around you.
But there’s something else, something out west, that I need to find. After six years here, I’ve finally wrapped up my leases, closed my accounts, packed my belongings. And tomorrow, I’ll rent a truck, I’ll fill it with everything I have, and I’ll go west. I have no idea if it’s the right decision, or if it’s the thing to do to get what I want — truthfully, though it’s pretty shameful to admit, I still haven’t quite figured out what that is anyway.
But it’s the decision I’m making, one of many in a long line. And all of the decisions I’ve made so far have brought me here, past all of the possible lives I could have lived and all of the corners I could have turned to go elsewhere.
I was born in St. Louis. Who knows what I’ll do next?
Posted on Thursday, September 17th, 2009 at 10:11 pm. Filed under general.