exploring, examining, exchanging, expressing
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Let's get the formalities out of the way, shall we?

Hi. I'm Tony.

I was born in 1978 in a small town in upper-east Tennessee. My hometown had more cows than people. And where there weren't farms, there were churches and used car lots and not a whole lot else. But it also had mountains and lakes, friendly faces, and plenty of character. I didn't appreciate it at the time. Growing up, I hated it. I couldn't wait to leave. And so, when I graduated from college in the Summer of 2000 with a BA in English, I moved away.

I followed a girl to Columbus, Ohio. It seemed like a good idea at the time. The relationship didn't last, but I stayed in the area because I found a good-paying job at an Internet company. This was during the days of the tech boom, so life was nice for awhile. We had catered lunches and monthly massages. I was learning about web services, domains, networking, telecommunications, and all sorts of hot stuff. I got to play with servers and routers. It was great experience. But then the bust came and things started to get ugly. No more treats. Not so much as free coffee in the break room. In fact, the money dried up so quickly the company didn't even provide toilet paper in bathrooms after awhile. And then there were several rounds of layoffs. Luckily, I got "downsized" early, when they were still providing good severance packages.

Dismayed and discouraged by my first unemployment experience, I stuck around Columbus and looked for another job. I had been spoiled. The job market was much tougher by this point. So I applied with a consulting firm. This made me a glorified temp. No perks. But it eventually led to another real job with a stable company. It wasn't as exciting, but it was still computer-related work, and the people were fantastic. And that's where I've been for the past five years, gradually making my way up the ranks. There have been some interesting projects, but there have also been plenty of frustrations. I've met some wonderful folks. I've played with some cool technology. I've learned a lot about corporate life and the business world.

In fact, I learned enough to know that I'd like to leave it for awhile.

I'm ready to try something different. I've been volunteering with the Columbus Literacy Council, assisting with a class that teaches English to adult speakers of other languages. It has been incredibly rewarding to help these students achieve their goals. I've loved learning about their dreams, their histories, their struggles, and their successes. It has its own frustrations, of course. The education system is bogged down with beaurocracy. There are never enough resources. And some students are difficult. But I still find myself looking forward to going to class. And I end those nights with a smile on my face and good stories to tell.

When I finished college with a degree in English, everyone always asked me, "So what are you gonna do, teach?" It was the furthest thing from my mind. I wanted a real job, with real prospects. Teachers are poor! They're overworked and underappreciated! Who would choose a career like that?!


For better or worse, I'm going to give it a shot.