Carnival of life: Everything is a learning opportunity

miki markovich carnivalBY MIKI MARKOVICH

Back in the late 70s, when most eight-year-olds were spending their days going to school, watching cartoons and maybe reading some “Sweet Pickles,” I was starting my first full-time job. Something about my mother’s third husband being one of Houston’s biggest drug dealers and her pouring boiling hot dog water on him during an argument being a bad idea. You know what they say: Life is in the details.

Frankly, I was relieved to get away from the loud parties with live bands in the garage and naked revelers in our pool. And, after constantly sparkling from all the cocaine in the house and having my Cairn Terrier overdose on pot brownies, I was ready for a change of pace. I guess because scaring a major criminal comes with some sizeable consequences, there were concerns for my safety as well and I was sent to live with my grandmother. Her rambling spirit had found her calling a traveling carnival home and her entrepreneurial spirit had her creating an additional game for me to run. An extra body meant an extra income after all.

An event tent, some Coke bottles, some wooden crates and a couple softballs later, I was in business. I learned a lot from running my own Coca Rola game. Aside from honing some math skills while discovering I could make a lot of dough from men who didn’t want to be shown up by a child and a new appreciation for fried cheese, I found that I missed school. I missed reading, music and math that didn’t have to do with my new found job. It didn’t take much at all to convince my grandmother to haul my lanky self to the store. There she let me choose all sorts of workbooks, novels and gear. I worked on my Roman numerals, read “Little House on the Prairie” books and explored space with the help of my new telescope and college level astronomy book. My grandmother didn’t even wince when I transformed our little travel trailer into a 30-foot musical instrument complete with rubber band guitar halls and percussion rooms. I was set.

Not surprisingly, I still get ribbed about having been a carnie; some people even act a bit fearful of me after learning about this year or so I spent rambling about the great state of Texas. But here’s the thing, I learned early in life that I am responsible for my own education. I’m not limited by classrooms, syllabi or convention. Today, more than ever, we have the global knowledge our fingertips. Learning languages, delving into art or practicing the basics of Krav Maga has never been easier. The resources for planning life altering trips, finding incredible volunteer opportunities and broadening our minds are there at our fingertips. With the abundance of university lectures available online, social apps introducing us to like-minded individuals and more, there has never been a better time to be curious. What are you curious about? I’d love to know. Leave a comment, tweet or Facebook me.

Miki Markovich is a seeker of beauty and truth, traveler of interesting roads, saver of furry souls, typer of words, iPhone lover and mac head. You can find her on Twitter at @mikimarkovich and @fiveminutezen. If you’re looking to go from pissed to blissed in five minutes flat, find balance or improve the quality of your life through self care, check out her website at

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