Savage Enterprises Publishing
Mike Aragona - Freelance Writer / Editor

The Last Word

Jack of All Trades - Master of None — (June 1998) That's me. Or, at least, that's how I feel (and, truthfully, have been feeling for the longest time now).

You see, I have a problem. I can't really pinpoint if it's laziness, arrogance, or apathy. But what it boils down to is this: I can be *phenomenal* at anything I put my hands and mind to. If I really wanted it.

That's a scary truth to admit. But it does explain my life. Let's do the time-warp.

I'm not gonna touch High School except to say this: I spent a lot of time goofing off instead of being serious about whatever I was studying. Talent? Natural Intelligence? Who cares. Fact is, I didn't study half as hard as I should have but that doesn't mean I ever had low grades. Quite the opposite. I had very good grades. You know what else? I didn't decide on what to do in college until almost halfway through my last year of high school. I said to myself, "well, computing is a cinch, and the money seems to be there, so let's do that". Looking for an easy out? Maybe. After all, I was thoroughly convinced the world would end in 1984 or thereabouts.

3 years of college and what did I learn? The same study truths that applied in high school were valid there! Maybe a little more studying, but not much. And still I passed. With very good grades. In fact, upon graduation, I found out that I wasn't really that far behind the valedictorian. But he didn't have a life. He did get one at graduation, though. He got a job right there and then and is still working there last I heard. Me? Took me 3 years just to land a *steady* job and it was one that wasn't in my field. It took 2 years after that to make an internal move into the computer department and then 3 more years working there until I got my big break and headed off to where I'm currently working.

During all this time, what's going through my mind? This: I'm a damned good, if not excellent, Network Administrator. Sure, my point of expertise is for a product that many companies are upgrading from. But, I've taken courses designed to keep me updated on the latest so I won't fall behind. However, I also know that I could easily become a spectacular Networking Specialist if I put my nose to the grindstone and study my mind out, filling my brain with everything about the industry. I can't bring myself to focus like that.

This 2: I'm a damned good writer. I've written things which have often surpassed my own personal levels of excellence, just as I've written stuff which has made me laugh at the shoddy storytelling. But, everything I've written has always entertained me. However, I also know that I could easily become a spectacular Writer and actually break into the industry if I put my nose to the grindstone and worked my muse for all she's worth. I can't bring myself to focus like that.

This 3: I'm a damned good programmer. It was the field I studied in and I have the logical mind to put together good code, understanding what's needed to create what's wanted. I've moved away from this territory mainly because, after being introduced to the world of Networking, I decided that coding all day long just isn't for me. But, Web-Designing has a great appeal for me. The proper marriage of good coding (whether it be java, javascript, perl, or just ingenious form/table/ frame/ post commands) with an eye for visual design creates quite a stir in me. It sparks my creativity big time. I know that I could easily become a spectacular Web Designer / Programmer if I put my nose to the grindstone and fully applied myself. I could easily make a living off it because I know enough clients (and can make myself more) to do it. ... I can't bring myself to focus like that.

This 4: I've got a good eye when it comes to drawing. I've drawn a number of pictures in the past using actual pictures or whatever. Because I know I can draw what I see, I also know (based on my personal creativity and ability to see things in my mind's eye) that with proper training, I could be a really good artist. That is, of course, IF I put my nose to the grindstone and fully trained myself. Again, I can't bring myself to focus like that.

All that floundering about. It's no wonder I empathize so much with Sir Lancealot... All these questions beg for the main one: Mike, What Do You Want To Do With Your Life? What Would It Take To Make You Happy Every Day?

The honest answer? I want to be with my family every single day. I want to be there when my kids wake up, I want to tuck them in bed at night. I want to enjoy the sunshine with them, or just laze around the house watching cartoons. I want to be WITH them every single day. AND, I want to make people happy.

My life has always seemed to revolve around my need to bring sunshine, laughter, and a shoulder to those who need it. It's why I go out of my way to help people if I can. It's why I opened up a Bulletin Board System over 6 years ago. It's why I started writing. It's why I joined Comicopia and became so fiercely loyal to it and wanted it to go beyond this country. It's why I started a Joke Distribution Mailing List and, when it got too large for my ISP to handle, I moved it over to a server where the cost for running the list come straight out of MY pocket. To entertain.

So, as a summary, I offer my life. I need to entertain the world. And I need to be with my family. One day I'm going to have to make a decision and bite a very big bullet. Mainly because the only way I see these 2 desires merging is to either drop everything else (except for the family) and BE a writer. Or, get some sponsorship or grant money and open up Savage Enterprises Publishing for real publishing ventures. In the meantime, I get up every morning and try to eke out an existence to at least put food on my family's table and keep a roof over their heads...

Hello, my name is Mike Aragona, and I'm an Entertain-aholic... Jack of all Trades, Master of None...

(The Last Word (c) Mike Aragona. All rights reserved. No reproduction or retransmission of this article is granted without written permission of Mike Aragona)

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