|This a brief personal history. I grew up mostly in Fayetteville, North Carolina, although I called Wilmington home starting my junior year in high school after my mom decided to move to Florida and I stayed behind with my father in NC. I didn't actually live with him, though; I went to the North Carolina School for Science and Mathematics for my junior and senior years of high school, a public boarding school that focused on science and math (duh), where I made a ton of friends and frustrated many of my teachers with my complete inability to apply myself to anything even remotely related to classwork. I did read a lot of books however, and it was here that I first read Don DeLillo and Paul Auster, who are still two of my favorite authors. My youngest sister Tori, who is 11 years younger than me, also attended NCSSM, where she was a short drive away from my brother, who was then attending Duke University.
After NCSSM, I attended Davidson College, which is located in Davidson, North Carolina, just outside of Charlotte. It was here that I started to realize that I couldn't get by on my ability to improvise (read: bullshit): if I wanted to do well, or even pass, I would have to do some serious work. I did okay here; despite a horrible freshman year, I still finished with a 3.4 overall GPA and received an B.A. with Honors in English for my thesis on Paul Auster (who I was also fortunate enough to interview at his office in New York). At this point in my life, I thought that I would go to graduate school, get a Ph.D. in literature, and become a professor.
Unfortunately, things didn't work out that way. I was accepted into the Masters program in English and Modern Studies at the University of Virginia, which I thought would be a great springboard to a Ph.D. program there or elsewhere. But from day one, nothing clicked. After the small class sizes and frequent interaction with my professors at Davidson, the impersonal, lecture-hall teaching style of a large university just didn't do anything for me. Not to mention the fact that I'm convinced that about 80% of my classmates should have been spending more time in therapy than in the library. Don't get me wrongI'm sure that many people find this a great program (it apparently has a very good reputation across the country), and I can tell you that I was very impressed with the collective knowledge of my professorsit just didn't work for me. If I weren't so stubborn, I would have left after the first year and saved myself some tuition money, but I stuck it out until the end.
Naturally, this kind of messed up my career plans. It's kind of hard to be a university professor without a degree. So I decided to look for work in Charlottesville; my then-fiancee (and now-wife) still had four years left in her clinical psychology program and I just needed to put school behind me and start looking for a career. I ended up at Michie (previously known as Michie-Butterworth, and, even earlier, The Michie Company), a law publishing company that is a division of Lexis-Nexis, the online news, legal, and business information service. I worked as an editor for the Professional Publications department; we published treatises on the law (used mainly by practicing lawyers) and textbooks for law schools. I also helped to design and maintain parts of our web site and did basic maintenence and upgrades on the computers in our department.
Then my career path took a strange but unexpectedly pleasing turn. While at the wedding of some friends of ours, my wife and I met a couple named Kurt and Karen. It turned out that Kurt was president of an engineering and multimedia company. The media design department used Macs, my computer of choice, so we talked about those and their uses for multimedia for a while. Aside from a couple of short emails right after the wedding, I didn't hear from him again until, about three months later, when he basically called me out of the blue and asked me if I would send him a resume and come to an interview. The interview was little more than a formality; they presented me with an offer sheet when it was over, and I accepted immediately and gave my notice to Miche the following Monday.
For a while, I was a very happy employee of Sycamore Associates, Inc. I worked primarily in the media division, focusing on web sites, but occasionally authoring a multimedia CD-ROM piece in Director. I also had to work some very long hours for a few months on classified projects for a big aerospace company where many of the engineers in the company work. After a while, though, I felt like Sycamore's focus began to wandermy two primary coworkers and I were being given more and more responsibilities outside of our primary duties (handling tech support for a new web hosting division was the most annoying one) without any corresponding increase in pay or any clear vision for how the business was going to develop.
Then one day my wife, who was also growing increasingly annoyed with Sycamore's demands on my time, noticed an ad in the Washington Post for a position that would allow me to focus on my current true love, building websites. The position was with CO2 Media, another media company based in Frederick, MD. Unfortunately, they were based in the same building as Sycamore's new officesmaking defecting to their camp an uncomfortable situation for me at best. But after talking to Max and Jeff, the directors of CO2, I didn't see how I could pass up the opportunity. They are a nationally known firm who have won numerous awards for their work, and their roster of clients includes such big shots as the Discovery Channel and Startec Global Communications.
Now that I've gotten my basic history out of the way, I'll tell you a little bit more about the things that mean a lot to me. One of my greatest loves is music; since I was 12 or 13 I've spent pretty much all my disposable income on CDs and concerts. I have over 1000 CDs in my collection. I try to listen to the best ones (probably the top three or four hundred) at least once every few months. I find it one of the great ironies of my life that, as much as I love to listen to music, I have no gift in terms of playing an instrument, while my wife, who is an excellent classical pianist, has doesn't really hear as much as I do when I listen to music and has no interest in composing music.
I used to be a real snob about music when I was youngerI wouldn't listen to anything that was played on the radio or that wasn't labeled "alternative" (of course, this was back when alternative meant all the bands that were popular with the college crowd but didn't really fit any other radio format or genre; they were really just artists who defied simple classification, and so it was easy for the record companies and radio stations to lump them all into the alternative category. Later, of course, alternative morphed into a major radio force that included bands like the Goo Goo Dolls and Third Eye Blind, who not only suck big time but also have nothing to do with alternative music as I understand it). I guess I'm still pretty snobbish about what I listen to in some ways, but my horizons have expanded significantly in the past few years. Although I still don't generally like county or rap (among other genres), I have developed a great love for artists like Lyle Lovett, Steve Earle, Tribe Called Quest, and The Roots, just to name a few. And now, if a band I like gets some radio or MTV airplay, instead of immediately thinking "sellout", I generally think, "Hey, good for themit's about time they got some recognition".
I also love baseball, especially the Atlanta Braves. This comes as a shock to friends that I haven't seen in a while. I used to loathe sports of any kind, and I still have a healthy hatred for football, basketball, etc., but for some reason I have learned to love baseball, despite all of its recent woes. It all started when I watched the 1992 playoffs and World Series with a roommate who grew up in Fitzgerald, Georgiaone of the many long-suffering Braves fans who finally got to see them win it all in 1995. The following spring I was visiting my mother in Ft. Lauderdale and decided to attend a few spring training games at the Braves facility in West Palm Beach. Watching the games in that atmosphere got me hooked; since then I have followed baseball with a fervor that is unmatched in any other hobby I have ever had. When the end of the season comes, I experience a very real withdrawal; I've even caught myself watching SportsCenter during the offseason just hoping for the smallest nugget of baseball news amid the hustle and bustle of the hockey, football, and basketball seasons.
I also like to paint, although I have no training and very little talentso little, in fact, that I can attribute whatever skills I do have to a sheer stubborness. I tried painting a variety of things at first, but I discovered quickly that all I was really interested in painting was the view of the ocean from my father's house (here is a very badly scanned image of my current favoritethe scan loses so many of the details that I almost didn't post it, but what the hell). I keep on trying to convince myself that I should try something new, but I have yet to lose interest in this subject. It was the first thing I ever painted, an impulse that I still can't explain, and I am content to let it play itself out however it sees fit.