Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Countdown

Every couple months, I’ll point out a cute kid and remind my husband that I’d like to be pregnant in two years.  It’s been "two years" for about three years now.  When I recently revised it to one year and ten months, he freaked out and said, “What happened to two years?”

I understand his hesitation.  Whenever I see a frustrated mother dragging around a screaming child, I immediately break into a cold sweat.  Given my own personality and that of my husband, I suspect our kid will be especially prone to whining and throwing tantrums.

Nonetheless, I really do want to be a mother... eventually.  My reasons are as follows:

1.) I refuse to let these twin-bearing hips go to waste.

2.) As illustrated in the movie Idiocracy, I feel compelled to pass on our genes.  Our kids will no doubt be uncoordinated, allergic to everything, and have giant feet, but at least they’ll be intelligent.

3.) As illustrated in the show Toddlers & Tiaras, there’s a lot of bad parenting going on.  I’m confident that I will be able to avoid the major pitfalls and make only minor mistakes, like guilt-tripping my kids for ruining my social life.

4.) I have a phobia of becoming a lonely old person.  When your kids get older, they’re obligated to call you on a regular basis and invite you over for holidays.

Since motherhood is looming, my career crisis needs to be resolved ASAP.  It’s hard enough for a new mother to maintain an existing career, let alone jump-start a new one.  I will also admit that I’m not sure I’m cut out to be a stay-at-home mom.  I think I’ll be a better mother if I have at least a part-time job to escape to.  Maybe I’ll feel differently once I have my own child.  I’m basing this theory purely on other people’s children.

Bottom line: I'm feeling the time pressure.  The back of my mind keeps repeating, “Must have thriving career in two years.  Must have thriving career in two years...”  Oh wait, one year and ten months.  Crap.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Next Big Idea

So I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I’ve decided to become an entrepreneur!  With my finance background and attention to detail, I should have no problem launching a successful new venture.  I’m confident that I’ll be the best boss I’ve ever had.

According to Entrepreneur Magazine, Austin is the perfect city in which to start a small business.  The success rate is among the highest in the nation.   The economy is strong, taxes are low, and real estate is inexpensive.  The population is growing, and The Wall Street Journal recently dubbed Austin a “Youth Magnet” city.  The culture is progressive and creative, and the residents take pride in the local, independent businesses.  Hence the slogan, “Keep Austin Weird.”

There are certainly fewer chain stores in Austin.  Instead of Barnes & Noble, we have BookPeople.  Instead of Ben & Jerry’s, we have Amy’s Ice Cream.  And instead of Regal Cinemas, we go to the Alamo Drafthouse.  These local businesses aren’t just smaller – they’re usually better.  At the Alamo Drafthouse, they serve beer during the movies, play drinking games, and hire comedians to mock bad films in the spirit of Mystery Science Theater.  (Seriously, why didn’t I think of that?)  Austin has also started some great trends: natural and organic grocery stores, the food truck revolution, and roller derby!

Now all I need is a fabulous business idea.  Well...I could...um... Yeah, so why don’t you tell me your best idea, and if I like it, I’ll cut you in for five percent.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

When My Kid Grows Up...

My incredibly supportive parents have always insisted that they would stand behind any career choice as long as it made me happy.  A lot of parents claim to have this policy, but let’s face it... parents have their preferences.  And they usually can’t resist trying to steer their child in a certain direction at some point.

My mom is perhaps the only parent in history who has remained entirely neutral.  If I had told her that my lifelong dream was to become a cocktail waitress, she would've smiled, clasped her hands together, and said, “That’s wonderful!”  Then she would've immediately run out to get me a custom t-shirt that said, “World’s #1 Cocktail Waitress.”

My dad, on the other hand, secretly dreamed that I would be a female golf prodigy.  Golf was – and still is – his passion in life, and he wanted me to have the early start that he never did.  So when I was in elementary school, he started dropping subtle hints.  “Think about the college scholarships and the business networking opportunities!” he’d say.  He was convinced that my hands were ideally shaped and that I would be a natural.  He would often suggest that I join him on the golf course, and in response, I would roll my eyes and say, “Ugh, Dad!   Golf is for old people!”  (Years later, when I saw the college-age players on the LPGA tour with their million dollar endorsements and modeling contracts, I kind of wished I had listened.)

Although I had no desire to play golf, I was interested in playing pool.  Pool was another one of my dad’s hobbies, so he was happy to oblige.  I was the only eight-year-old I knew who had her own pool cue.  I looked very intimidating with the fancy carrying case slung over my shoulder.  Lessons with my dad were supplemented by instructional videos.  My personal favorites included Ewa: Pool’s Leading Lady and Amazing Trick Shots with Steve Mizerak.  I once tried to convince my friend to lie down on the pool table and hold a piece of pool chalk in her mouth with the eight-ball balanced on top, so that I could use the cue ball to shoot it off and into the pocket.  It’s probably a good thing she refused.  My pool skills peaked around age eleven.  I was never great, but I was able to hustle some of the older boys in the neighborhood.  Not for money.  I just robbed them of their pride.  Then I bragged about it in my diary.  I would harshly criticize their pool technique while dotting the i’s in their names with little hearts.

Eventually, my dad got over the fact that I would never turn professional.  And even though it's too late for me to be a golf prodigy, I may still let him teach me to play at some point.  Like, maybe when I’m old.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Inspiring Friend #1: Jackie

I’m certainly not alone in this whole career crisis thing.  I’m constantly inspired by my friends’ bold career moves and the creative ways in which they find fulfillment.

Today’s inspiring friend is Jackie, who I met while studying abroad in London.  We were both twenty years old and had no idea what we wanted to do with our lives beyond partying and backpacking around Europe.  Ten years later, our paths have crossed again in Austin, and it seems we’re both still working things out.

Jackie recently decided to supplement her career by becoming a part-time fitness instructor.  Personally, I would pay a large sum of money to avoid becoming a fitness instructor.  I’m pretty sure instructors are expected to show up without fail, and I value the freedom to skip my workout because I just ate or because my neck hurts or because I’m afraid of getting ringworm – at any moment, I have dozens of ready excuses.

But today I sucked it up and went to Jackie’s first class at the opening of Austin’s new Pure Barre studio.  If you’re not familiar, Pure Barre is the latest workout craze and draws its inspiration from ballet.  I was feeling pretty confident given my past experience as a ballerina.  Look at that form!

But, um, yeah, this was not the fun and easy ballet that I remember from grade school.  I almost cried during the warm-up.  I wanted to scream out, “Jackie, I thought you were my friend!  Why are you doing this to me?!”  I guess the fact that I almost threw up only attests to her prowess as an instructor.

Since I signed up for an entire month of classes, I suppose I’ll have to go back at some point, although I’m not thinking about that right now.  You’re lucky that I found the strength to walk over to my laptop to post this.  On the plus side, only 14 more classes until I have a dancers’ body.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

10 Signs You're About To Quit Your Job

I compiled this list in honor of the two-year anniversary of me quitting my last full-time job in finance. Now, I’m not admitting to any of these, but let’s just say... Okay, whatever, I’m guilty.

1.) Getting excited about subway delays, steam pipe explosions, blackouts, being trapped in an elevator, or other non-life-threatening events that interrupt the workday

2.) Timing coffee breaks when the line is the longest and profusely thanking the barista for messing up your order

3.) Checking CNN about 1,000 times per day because it’s the only website that isn’t blocked

4.) Pounding gallons of water and relishing the frequent bathroom breaks

5.) Taking the occasional power nap in a bathroom stall

6.) Not washing your hands in the hope of catching a highly contagious virus

7.) Eating lunch really, really, really slowly, being sure to chew every bite at least 50 times

8.) Constantly staring out the window even though the view is completely obstructed by scaffolding

9.) Fantasizing in great detail about getting laid off and being consumed with jealously when someone else gets fired

10.) Finding elaborate ways to leave early without anyone noticing. For example: secretly migrating the contents of your purse to your pants pockets, and then leaving your empty purse and jacket behind

Ah, the memories…

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Literary Geniuses of Reality TV

It’s no secret that I’m dying to join the ranks of funny memoirists like David Sedaris, Jen Lancaster, David Rakoff, and Sara Barron.  And why not?  I’m bitter and self-deprecating.  I can write pretty.  So where's my book deal?

Oh, that’s right... I can’t land a book deal without a platform.  In other words, I need thousands of loyal fans who would run out and buy my book the instant it hits the shelves.  Perhaps I should spend less time practicing my craft and more time auditioning for reality TV shows.

After all, several of The Jersey Shore stars have scored book deals, including my personal favorite: Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino.  Gym, tan, laundry – now that’s a solid book premise.

Literary agents are practically throwing themselves at The Real HousewivesJill, Bethenny, Alex, Luann, Vicki, Nene, Teresa, and Danielle have all authored books.

The girls from The Hills all managed to get book deals – well, the ones who can read, anyway.  Lauren Conrad’s book made it onto the bestseller list, and Lo’s book will be released in January.

I’m sure you’ve already pre-ordered your copy of Kardashian Konfidential!

Other reality-TV-stars-turned-memoirists include Tori Spelling, Tila Tequila, The Bachelor’s Bob Guiney and The Bachelorette’s Jillian Harris, Kendra Wilkinson from The Girls Next Door, and a slew of American Idol contestants.

If I ever want to become an author, I need to get on reality TV pronto! 

Back in 2004, I did audition for Extreme Home Makeover.  The show wanted to do an episode featuring the "real-life Friends,” and I happened to be sharing a crappy New York City apartment with three guys and another girl.  ABC sent a camerawoman over to film an audition tape, but apparently we weren't quite "wholesome" enough.  Rarely in reality TV is "lack of wholesomeness" a negative quality.

In retrospect, it was the completely wrong show for me.  I'd make a much better villain.  I should be exploiting my anger and bitterness like The Winnebago Man or that JetBlue flight attendant.  In case you missed it, The Winnebago Man is an RV salesman whose angry tirades made him a YouTube sensation and the subject of an award-winning documentary.  And the JetBlue flight attendant – Steven Slater – achieved overnight fame when he cussed out the plane's passengers and escaped down the emergency chute with two stolen beers.  Now that Slater is out on bail, he’s been offered a reality TV show that will encourage other people to quit their jobs.  I’m sure a book deal won’t be far behind.  Actually, that’s one book by a reality TV star that I’ll probably read. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I Think You Should See Someone

Complain too much about your career and eventually someone you know will utter this phrase.  Although I’m generally opposed to taking advice from strangers, I did agree to see a career counselor after my husband suggested it.  I’m not in the habit of taking advice from my husband either, but I was looking for an easy answer.  I hoped that this alleged career expert would take one glance at me and say, “I know exactly what you should do! Here’s a job application.”  Looking back, I probably should've gone to a psychic instead.

My initial meeting with the career counselor was the equivalent of a bad first date.  I knew right away that it wasn’t going to work out between us, but I waited four sessions before ending it in an email.  Here, I've summarized the deal-breakers:

1.) It was a long-distance relationship

Our counseling sessions took place at her apartment in Queens.  Getting there required spending forty minutes squeezed into a packed subway car during rush hour.

2.) High cheese factor

Half of everything she said demanded an eye roll.  As soon as I walked through the door, she congratulated me for taking the first step toward living with greater joy.  She then proceeded to ramble for five minutes about the mind-body-spirit connection.  I kept expecting her to pop in a CD of Native American flute music and try to heal me with crystals.

3.) I can’t take serious advice from an optimist

Optimists are great for lightening the mood, but I’m hesitant to take advice from them.  Problems are rarely solved by thinking happy thoughts and ignoring the worst case.

4.) Her poetry

When I Googled her, I came across some poetry she had written.  Without exception, her poems had trite, one-word titles such as Heart, Hope, and Love.  I’m sorry, but I just can’t respect someone who writes a poem entitled “Love.”

5.) Her policy of embracing mediocrity

Her motto was, “It's okay to be not good at something.”  Actually, this was probably her best advice.  I agree that you shouldn’t allow a fear of failure to stop you from even trying, but at the same time, fear is a powerful motivator.  If you’re not afraid of being mediocre, then, well, you probably are.

Overall, the experience taught me that there are no easy answers.  Unfortunately, you can’t just pay a stranger to tell you what to do with your life.  If you disagree, send me a check and I’ll choose a career for you.  Satisfaction not guaranteed.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Does Jami Play a Mean Fiddle?

I’ve always found it more frustrating to relearn something than to try something new.  You tend to have higher expectations when you were once good at something, and it can be downright depressing to discover how far you’ve regressed.

I’m reminded of that saying, “The mind is like a taco: the more you cram into it, the more will fall out.”  I studied Spanish for five years and can only remember a handful of useless phrases.  I majored in math and can’t solve a differential equation to save my life.

Although I’ve accepted that I can no longer speak Spanish or do complicated math, I’m still in denial about certain previous abilities.  Despite the fact that I haven’t played on a regular basis in over a decade, I still pretend to be a violinist.  At one point, I was fairly serious about it.  I played with the All-County Orchestra and was concertmistress of my high school orchestra.  I even won an award in high school for “Most Musical.”  But when I got to college, I gave up the violin in favor of partying.

Now, when I do take out my violin and attempt to play a piece from one of my old Suzuki books, I get frustrated and quit in a matter of minutes.  About a year ago, I decided to trick myself into relearning the violin by tackling a different style of music: Irish fiddling.  The inspiration for this idea came from a pub I used to frequent in New York called O’Neill’s.  Every Saturday and Sunday night, traditional Irish musicians gather around a table to drink beer and play amazing music.  Here’s a picture from one of their tune sessions:

Photo Courtesy of Jimmy O’Kelly

Every time I went to O’Neill’s, I would say – with drunken confidence – that I was going to play the fiddle in an Irish jam session one day.

When I moved to Austin, I actually found a pub that hosts intermediate Irish musicians on Sunday nights.  I went to check it out last weekend, and the bar patrons seemed more interested in the pre-season football game than the live music, but that’s probably a good thing – fewer people who would notice my mistakes.

So yesterday, I dusted off my violin and played “The Irish Washerwoman” a dozen times.  (I’m sure the neighbors love me.)  Now all I need is six months of dedicated practice to make my dream a reality.  I’m sure that’ll happen.  Yup.  Piece of cake.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Housewife By Default

In the last couple of years, I’ve transitioned from working 60 hours per week, to working part-time from home, to not technically working.  The other day, I was washing dishes on a weekday afternoon in my pajamas, and I came to the panicked realization that I was, in fact, a housewife.

Not that there’s anything wrong with being a housewife.  But there’s a difference between choosing to be a housewife and becoming one by default.  During business hours, I should be focusing on my career (or lack thereof), but when I’m confronted with a pile of dirty dishes, I just can’t help myself.  If only I had my husband’s ability to ignore all domestic tasks.

It seems that I’m not the only woman with this problem.  I had trouble finding a title for this post that didn’t infringe on someone else’s copyright.  You’d be surprised how many accidental housewives and unintentional housewives are out there.  Women everywhere are "accidentally" quitting their jobs or having babies and are – through no fault of their own – winding up housewives.

One of my least favorite stereotypes is that women just want to get married so that they can stop pretending to be interested in their careers.  Okay, fine, so I sort of quit my job a few months after getting married, but I certainly didn’t plan it that way.  I had a history of saying "I quit" long before I said “I do.”  It’s not my fault that our honeymoon gave me a lot of time to reflect.  Here I am having an epiphany while riding an elephant bareback through the jungles of Thailand…

I was also suffering from post-wedding depression.  Planning a wedding is a huge distraction, and once the wedding is over, reality sets in.  The biggest day of your life is behind you, and from now on, every day will be exactly the same...  It’s no wonder so many women quit their jobs after getting married.

Since I do still want a career, I’m trying hard not to fall into housewife mode.  At this very moment, there’s a really disgusting pan in the sink, and although it’s killing me, I refuse to wash it until after 6pm.  I’m also avoiding soap operas and talk shows, sweatpants and bathrobes, and eating on the couch.  It’s too bad, because I really like eating on the couch.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

25 Things I'm Awesome At

I received a few rejection letters recently, and since I'm prone to focusing on the negative, I was tempted to do a self-pity post. Lucky for you, I changed my mind. Instead, I tried to boost my self-esteem by compiling a list of things I am unequivocally good at. (It's fun, you should try it!)

1.) Making fun of myself
2.) Remembering birthdays
3.) Complaining
4.) Chugging beer and/or drinking a lot
5.) Reaching things on high shelves
6.) Playing Dr. Mario
7.) Memorizing and test-taking (proudest moment: getting a perfect score on the SAT II)
8.) Making spreadsheets
9.) Buying thoughtful presents
10.) Detail-oriented planning (vacations, weddings, etc.)
11.) Making margaritas
12.) Giving myself manicures (trade secret)
13.) Sleeping for long periods of time
14.) Exaggerating
15.) Pulling pranks
16.) Playing Skee-ball
17.) Writing funny poems
18.) Packing light
19.) Quitting jobs
20.) Spelling
21.) Typing fast (96 words per minute with zero errors!)
22.) Walking fast
23.) Keeping my hands steady (good for waitressing or playing Operation)
24.) Cleaning up after my husband
25.) Thinking of things I’m terrible at

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Critique Me, Please!

Unbiased feedback is invaluable for screenwriters (or any writer, really). So when I moved to Austin, I joined the local screenwriters’ group and volunteered to have my screenplay read aloud and critiqued.

I arrive at the History Center with my giant box of scripts and start setting up for our meeting. Meanwhile, I notice half a dozen blind people come in and sit down. I think to myself, “Wow, it’s great that all of these visually-impaired people have showed up to listen to my screenplay!” Then half a dozen becomes two dozen, and I realize something is amiss. To add to the confusion, the blind people obviously don't realize that some of us are not blind.

I speak to the woman who runs the center and find out that they’ve double-booked their only meeting room. I point out that the copies cost me $150 and that I had to highlight every part by hand. The president of the Federation of the Blind takes a more direct approach and says, “We should get the room, because we’re disabled.” I consider arguing that special treatment would only be demeaning to them, but I don't want to appear insensitive. I suggest that one group use the reading room, but the woman in charge is adamant that the reading room is reserved for those who want to spend Saturday morning brushing up on Austin’s history.

Our group ends up crammed into the hallway. Every five minutes, my script reading is interrupted by a blind person trying to find the restroom. I'm on the end, so the blind person inevitably runs right into me. They quickly become irritated and can't seem to understand why we are taking up the entire hallway, so someone from our group has to get up and guide them around us.

(Now might be a good time to mention that I completely support people with disabilities. My grandfather’s parents were both born deaf, so I owe my very existence to the hearing-impaired.)

Eventually, the Federation of the Blind ends its meeting, and the members stream into the hallway and stand around chatting. I have the urge to scream, “Excuse me! I know that you’re blind, but I’m pretty sure you can hear that we’re trying to have a meeting, so SHUT UP!” Instead, I sit there, gritting my teeth and missing most of my critique.

The critique seemed to be more negative than I would have liked, so perhaps I should thank the Federation of the Blind for distracting me. When I couldn’t hear over the chatter, I just assumed my fellow screenwriter was saying, “This is the best screenplay I've ever had the privilege of reading aloud!”

Bottom line: Being a writer is frustrating in ways I never could have imagined.

Friday, August 6, 2010

When I Grow Up...

My mother never throws anything away, so my parents’ garage is overflowing with my childhood mementos.  Last Christmas, I looked through everything and was able to track my career aspirations since the age of five.

According to my Dr. Seuss’ My Book About Me, I wanted to be an artist.  But even in grade school, I was unable to limit myself to one career choice.   In the background, I’ve also checked singer, dancer, movie star, and mother.

A few years later, I won first place in the “If I Had a Wish” essay contest.  After being presented with my shiny blue ribbon, it was clear to me that I should be a writer.  Apparently, I was awesome at it!  Here is the first paragraph of my award-winning essay (check out the cool graphics):

I was feeling all sentimental and proud until I got to that last sentence.  “Defend my castle from Indians?”  What were they teaching me at that school?!  I guess the judges weren’t deducting points for political incorrectness.

After winning that contest, I got very cocky about my writing ability.  For all future holidays, I could think of no better gift for my parents than my own illustrated stories, dedicated to them.  Check out this dedication:

I seemed pretty convinced that I would be a published author by middle school.  I’m now hoping to be a published author by age thirty-two, and even that will be a stretch.

I did deviate from wanting to be a writer at some point.  In the autobiography I wrote at age eleven, I apparently wanted to become a lawyer.  Here is an excerpt from “Jami Tells Her Story: The Autobiography of Jami,” in which I've predicted my life in 2011:

“In the year 2011, I expect my life will be very different. This is what I think my life will be like. I’ll call my two children, Elizabeth and Katie, down for breakfast before they go off to Hillview Elementary. I’d leave my sunny Maryland kitchen and speed off to work in my solar-powered convertible. Reaching the 50-story Hillview Law Office in record time, my personal robot secretary, Shannon, would lead me to my office and adjust my recliner. After a tough day of law, I’d reach my white, three-story house, just as the yellow bus pulled to a halt. When my husband, also a lawyer, came home, he’d stroll into the kitchen, his brown eyes sparkling. We’d eat dinner at Rappin’ Randy’s. After tucking in my daughters, I’d watch a horrifying movie and edge closer to my husband on the couch. Not everyone would have a family quite like mine. I guess I’m a really lucky person in the past, the present, and the future.”

I was such a cheeseball!  It’s amazing I had any friends back then.  I hate to break it to myself, but lawyers don’t usually arrive home by 4pm to meet the school bus.

Anyway, the lawyer thing was just a phase.  I quickly went back to thinking I would be the next Hemmingway.  When I was thirteen, I wrote a description of my dream house that included “a fireplace in every room and a library filled with books I’ve written.”

If I were to rewrite that “If I Had a Wish” essay now, I would wish for half the confidence I had as a kid.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Win Your Dream Job

In my search for a new career, I stumbled across this Ultimate Job contest seeking “a romantic couple” to travel the world for a year and test out honeymoon destinations. Last year, 30,000 people applied for the job, and the winners (Denise & Mark) were chosen based in part on their superior blogging skills. See, who says blogging is a waste of time? The couple also appears to meet the “romantic” requirement, as they are in hot pursuit of the Guinness World Record for most vow renewals (currently 83). Think you can top that? The contest is already taking applications for 2011.

Of course, I’m not convinced that spending 24/7 with one’s spouse is the ultimate dream job. As someone who has worked with her husband twice and continues to share a tiny home office with said husband, I can tell you it’s not for everyone. Not to mention, traveling can be stressful. My husband and I fight more on vacation than we do at home. One of our most trying relationship moments occurred after missing a flight and getting stranded in Mexico City. On the plus side, I finally got to use all those Spanish swear words I memorized in college.

Despite my concerns, I showed my husband this contest and suggested we make a video application just for fun. (This is the sort of thing that happens when you work from home.) He questioned the point of this, since he already has his dream job. Bastardo.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Not an Architect

I’ve never wanted to do one thing or live in one place for the rest of my life.  I get bored quickly, so I like to keep my options open.  When a decision is forced on me, I tend to panic, over-analyze, and immediately regret my choice.

In third grade, I had to choose a musical instrument to play.  After assessing the pros and cons of every possible instrument, I told my mother I wanted to play the violin.  Five minutes later, I started to worry, “Does this mean I’ll never play the flute?”

When I had to choose which colleges to apply to, I made an initial list of 109 schools and devised my own ranking system using 13 different-colored magic markers. I eventually settled on Tulane University, the “Harvard of the South” and the esteemed alma mater of such notables as Ruth Ginsberg, Newt Gingrich, and Jerry Springer.  It was a complex decision, but the key selling points were warm weather, an unenforced drinking age, and the fact that I could go there for free.

I assumed the tough decision was behind me and I could procrastinate for a few years before declaring a major.  But then Tulane informed me that if I wanted to enter the School of Architecture, I had to decide right away.  It seemed ridiculous that they would expect me to know whether or not I wanted to be an architect.  I had to go to the library to find out what an architect actually did (Google came into existence about a month later).  I tried to imagine myself conducting feasibility studies, preparing drawings, and developing construction plans.  I seem to remember borrowing a T-square and sketching a few ugly buildings.  In the end, I went with the odds.  Between “Architect” and “Not Architect,” I figured my calling probably fell into the latter.

Years later, I lived in a high-rise located directly across from the Chrysler Building.  The apartment offered an up-close view of the elaborate silver crown with its seven terraced arches.  Every time I looked out the window, I felt a pang of regret.

I used to say that nothing was out of the question, but the older I get, the harder it is to lie to myself.  Realistically, I will probably never design an art deco skyscraper.  Or go to an Ivy League institution.  But, hey, I might still learn to play the flute.