People have called me the Chandler Bing of their FaceBook circle: I go to work somewhere doing something and come home from exotic world locations to my Pally and #FTKs (Friends, if I must jam the reference down your throat) to pass time sharing witty one-liners while changing hairstyles and waist sizes.
To many of you, I’m that kid from high school that you might have talked to a couple times. To others, the same for college, at parties or during the nineties at nightclubs or the aughts at political fundraisers or the teens at book signings or poetry readings and others who are just friends of friends or friends of family or family of family. But even Chandler Bing had his group who knew the most about him, who he really was. Here’s your chance to get to know me better.
I’ve been intentionally vague about my vocation and have preferred to let y’all define me by my more interesting avocations: political essays, cultural criticism, love poetry, short stories, book writing, public speaking, general patriotic rabble-rousing. While this public side of me defines most of who I consider myself, a Poet, it’s not how I pay my bills.
The other part of who I am is not nearly as romantic nor as exotic. I am an economist who serves as a consultant to very wealthy individuals and highly successful businesses on technologies and processes that make them more wealthy and even more successful. In this capacity, I am privileged to see the success of my work translate into job creation and increased wages for the people who work for these individuals and corporations. I manage a firm of other consultants which means I have to travel every week—away from home 50 weeks a year.
There is a moral aspect to my work as an economist, it’s not just dollars and cents: it’s about building relationships, growing communities, and increasing opportunities. I analyze, but I also mentor and partner and proselytize. I’m proud of this work. It certainly informs the other (poetic) part of what I do.
I am blessed that I have this skill set and this vocation. I am blessed that this skill set and vocation supports my many avocations. I am blessed to give and give back.
I share this side of me as a context for the two things:
1. My father (Pop) is dying.
I haven’t mentioned this much, but those of you close to me know that my Pop was diagnosed with cancer a month ago when we thought he had a stroke. I haven’t followed up with y’all but it turns out that the stroke was actually an episode caused by twin brain tumors triggered by metastasized Stage IV lung cancer. The doctors let us know that, even with aggressive treatment, his odds aren’t good: “Statistically, fifty percent of patients at this stage live eight months. Fifty percent don’t.”
My dad has strong faith and is excited about heaven. His lack of fear is testament—I wrote a poem about it.
As someone who previously counted on my father living forever, I felt obligated to visit only a couple times a year. Now, that obligation has morphed into desire. It was always a bit of a hassle. I had to adjust travel schedules, rearrange client consultations, and rob time from my Pal; now it’s a privilege.
Which brings me to #2.
2. I have taken a new position within my vocation.
Just days before the episode with my father, I was offered and accepted an equity stake as Partner in my consulting firm (we have recently stepped up our social presence—feel free to like our new FB page here https://m.facebook.com/crescentconsulting.biz/). What I previously did for other economic principals and other firms, I now have the honor of doing for my own as well. I carry the added responsibility of growing opportunities for our own employees and our own communities.
This new position is especially important because, now, instead of flying across the country every Sunday night and flying home to Tampa every Friday night, I work from an office in Orlando. Yes, our office is in Orlando and I am only an hour drive away from my dad. I'll only travel one week a month.
I have been able to see my dad face to face more times in the last month than I have in the three previous years. I’ve been able to go to church with him. I’ve been able to go to doctor visits with him. I’ve been able to play cribbage with him. I’ve been able to sit and argue about Donald Trump with him.
You may think this is an amazing cosmic coincidence of timing. I believe that there is divine blessing in it. Either way, I get to see my Pop, and I am thankful. I have also been able to reconnect with other family members I haven’t seen in a long time. I am thankful for the blessings of my vocation that have allowed me to pursue my artistic and philanthropic endeavors, to help make a home with Pally and the #FTKs, to grow community and create economic opportunity for friends and colleagues, and now to spend as much time as I can with my Pop before he goes to heaven.
So, by the end of the series, we learned more about Chandler Bing. While there are many more episodes to come in my life—some, I know are going to be tear-jerkers—I feel a little better letting y’all, my own circle of Friends, in on who I am. Thanks for reading and for caring. If you have a prayer to spare, please let it be of thanksgiving and for grace. For those of you who don't necessarily pray, I’ll take virtual high-fives and fist-bumps, or real-life hugs anytime.
Mostly, thanks for being my friend.