What I Want to Be When I Grow Up

My progress on my new book is going pretty well, considering I mostly write in my work’s parking lot after rushing to get there as early as possible and during my “free” lunch breaks (the ones I don’t have a staff meeting during or have to spend half my time cleaning out the turtle tank). On a side note I am so looking forward to the summer when we don’t have staff meetings and I might get the chance to sneak in a turtle tank cleaning during the workday instead of on my time.

Anyway, in my new book I’ve almost gotten to the point where I’ll be introducing an important character, and today I’m doing some work in his point of view.

Jax Conley is 14 and feels pretty isolated from the other kids at school, both by choice and because of his living situation. This post comes before he’s met Lindsay, my main character.


At school they’ve asked us to write about our dreams for the future. We freshman have our entire lives ahead of us—many, many years of possibilities, so most of my peers go big: sports stars, rock stars, movie stars, surgeons, lawyers. I’ve tried, but I just can’t picture an amazing future for myself. The problem is that big, impossible dreams are what teachers expect to see, so that’s why my paper came back with a C—that and I had run-on sentences. And I started some sentences with “And” and “But.”

I guess you want to know what I wrote about.

Okay, so there’s not real chance I’d get a scholarship to any college, and if I went anyway, the job I’d end up with would most likely leave me working ‘til I’m 80 just to pay off the student loans. What I’m going to end up doing is what 1 in 2 kids in this town will end up doing—working at the factory here in Sterling Waters.

Actually, I’m looking forward to turning 16, when my mom will let me get a real job and I can do something besides mow neighbors’ lawns and clean out the gutters for the old lady next door. I would love to get my own steady income. Then we wouldn’t have to worry so much about how to pay all our bills, and my mom wouldn’t have to embarrass herself giving food back at the checkout line because she didn’t have enough money for everything.

My mom does her best, but she works 2nd shift and has another job on weekends, and since I’m around and able-bodied I’d be a real jerk if I didn’t help however I could.

Also, maybe if I had a job I wouldn’t be sitting in class distracted by thoughts of whether the money I’d deposited will show up before the power company tries to cash the check or if the house is flooding because the hack job I did at sealing a pipe the night before failed. Kids aren’t supposed to worry about that stuff. We’re supposed to be thinking about our crush and how we’ll get into the big party on the weekend, right?

But that’s how life really is, and even if you think you’ve found a way to escape and kick back a little, if you’re lucky enough to find a real friend, enjoy it while you can because that diversion won’t last for long, and when your friend is gone and reality jumps back in, all those responsibilities will still be there, probably worse than ever.

Okay…so I got into this a little deeper than I’d planned…it was definitely more than I’d put in my paper.

Maybe I can wrap up on a positive note.

Well, I guess there’s one thing I’d like to do after high school. I’d like to get my associate degree in something practical—so when I need to fix the sink or if an outlet stops working I’ll actually know how to repair it the right way instead of making it up as I go. That’s my dream. Pretty impressive, huh?


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