Kathy doesn't like this picture because I'm not smiling. I don't like my teeth.

My Backstory: The Prequel

When you’ve been alive for more than 60 years, you tend to repeat things.

Today, it’s time to rehash my backstory.

On the other hand, when you’ve been alive for this long, the story evolves. It becomes more nuanced. The years add layers. Even to the old stuff. The years provide perspective. Possibly answering some of the whys of the past.

When I was 12 years old, I knew I was going to be a writer. That’s it. Career decision made. Didn’t quite work out that way.

Early in college (freshman or sophomore year), I had a conversation with a friend, an upperclassman. We talked about life as a Certified Public Accountant. And how much money they made.

Many of the guys I hung around with were majoring in Business. “What kind of a job are you going to get with a liberal arts degree?” I have to admit that I was clueless when it came to considering what I wanted to do with my life, besides write.

My dad and I often talked about work and career, usually during the dozens (probably hundreds) of times we were driving somewhere, just the two of us. I was in high school. I can’t count the number of times he urged me to “Be a dentist. Be a doctor. Don’t work in a factory like me.”

He expressed a bitter disappointment in his work life by constantly disparaging himself and what he did. And he clearly didn’t want me to “make the same mistake.” It didn’t matter what I thought about the quality of his work or his work ethic.

Did you ever want to disappoint your parents? I sure didn’t.

Oh, I did. In many, many instances. But did I want to? Never.

Back to college. I hated science. Had a bad experience in high school, took the minimum amount of science I needed to graduate, without question chose the wrong discipline, and that solidified my decision to not want to be a medical professional. There’s no way I could handle it, I concluded in ignorance.

How much money could I make as a writer, as a reporter? Was I going to make a killing as a novelist? How was I going to do this? I loved to write. But accounting… “I have the aptitude for this…”

I researched the career path of a CPA. My eyes and mind were fixed on dollar signs.

It was the second worst decision in my college career. (I’ll lump the other series of choices into what I’ll call my “Worst Decision Ever.” But that’s a completely separate story for another day.)

(Maybe. It’s painful.)

At the time, the top CPA firms were known as the Big Eight. I interviewed with five of them. I was wined and dined by several corporations, too. Received multiple job offers.

I also interviewed with Tribune Company, parent company of WGN, television and radio, Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, newspapers and broadcast stations across the United States. This was my dream job. If I wasn’t going to be a writer, this was the next best thing.

The problem with this strategy is obvious. I wasn’t going to be a writer or a broadcaster or a producer.

I was on the audit staff.

I lasted there less than a year. I’ll spare you the gory details. Suffice it to say, I jumped from job to job. Often! I hated what I did. I know that’s not how I should have responded. But I did.

I started my career at Tribune Company on May 28, 1980. On April 15, 1992, after being fired for the second time in two years, I started my own accounting business, which survives to this day. Despite my annual declaration: “this is the last year.”

So wait… you’re probably saying… I thought you were a personal fitness trainer.

Well, yeah. That happened along the way. You can read the short, short (and incomplete and somewhat dated) story here on my fitness website or the album version (which includes some of the personal life details, but also needs to be updated) here on my WordPress website.

I’ll continue the story here tomorrow. And I need to update the other two stories. But where’s that darn WordPress log-in info…

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