Personal Been 2(00)0

On April 3, 2010, at 3:15pm, I turn exactly 30 years old.  This post is part of a very ambitious effort to share each of the last 10 years.  Thanks to Mike and his recap of the 2000's for the inspiration.

My sophomore & junior years at Ithaca College.  I usher in my 20's.

The first two and a half years of school had been many things: academically and professionally unclear, romantically frustrating, enlightening, awkward, incredibly fun.  I've been nerdy all my life, and so during my freshman year living in a freshman-only dorm, I had befriended other goofs like myself.  Thankfully, by 2000, nerds like us - computer nerds, academic nerds, music nerds, comic nerds, etc. - had generally been accepted into society; for better or for worse, college life was not like Revenge of the Nerds.  So despite our geeky predispositions, we were still very sociable, and could walk across campus without the risk of swirlies.

2000 was also about the halfway point in what was my first serious relationship, which had started up the year before.  We would date for almost three years, spanning most of my undergraduate years.

My full sophomore and junior years are a little blurry.  Not because of heavy partying (didn't happen; see 'nerd notes' above), but because they were very similar in that not much exciting or notable happened - though the situation with my girlfriend does stick out.  She had started at Ithaca College (we had met in our freshman dorm) but this was the year that her financials got all screwy and she had to transfer.  Her family lived two hours away in Pennsylvania and she started going to a nearby school.  I had had a car and lots of puppy love, so driving out to see her every other weekend wasn't a big deal.  It wasn't until years later did I realize how much I missed at school because of my frequent absence.

I can't say I regret my decision to date seriously in college.  I was repeatedly "warned" by friends, classmates, and random revelers not to.  But it was a good thing at the time, and in the long run I'm a much better person for having experienced that relationship and everything that came with it.

The other interesting tidbit worth noting about 2000 was the summer.  I stayed in Ithaca to work for those two months at the computing center, where I had been working part-time during the school year.  After trying catering as my school-job and failing oh-so-miserably (possibly the only 100%, utterly irresponsible thing I've ever done: deliberately skipping a shift to sleep, and then hanging up on the supervisor when she threatened to let me go. Worst. Job. Ever.), I had discovered the computing center where I started out as a network technician, going to students rooms to help connect them to the internet.  (We had had broadband on campus as early as my freshman year, but in 2000 machines required some configuration.)

That job had been awesome.  I got to learn about and play with computers.  But hands down, the best part was meeting cute girls - and going to their rooms no less!  I was hooking up like crazy, even if it was their computers getting the hook up.  Everyone was super friendly because they were in a position of helplessness (god, why was I dating?!) and every once in a while, when the stars aligned and the browser successfully loaded Yahoo!, I'd get the coveted reward: the thank-you hug.

That was during the school year.  Over the summer, when there were no students on campus, a few select student employees stayed to work on a bunch of other infrastructure necessities: upgrading labs, fixing staff & faculty computers, etc.  It was far less sexy but I learned more about computers that summer than possibly any other topic in a 2-month span in my entire life.  I'm a hands-on visual learner with a genetic predisposition for mechanics and technical bits, so installing PCI cards, swapping hard drives, and installing OS'es was a serious rapid download for me.  I still had to work with some degenerate student techs, was still prone to the occasional slack, and the percentage of polite and thankful (and cute) staff & faculty was far lower than the students.  But I put together my own computer from scratch, lived completely on my own off-campus for the first time ever, and had more clear and immediate paths open up for my future than ever before.  While I floundered in making decisions for an academic path, these other dealings were becoming very much in order.

I should note too that this was the year I befriended two of my oldest and closest non-hometown friends, Dan & Lauren.  Dan lived in the dorm room next to mine, and Lauren worked at the computing center.  I still don't remember if I knew them each separately before they started dating; regardless, they've both been fixtures for me in these last 10 years, and amazing friends throughout.


Eric Tabone is Operations Manager at the digital strategy consultancy, Undercurrent. He lives in Brooklyn, New York with his awesome wife and two kick-ass cats.

All original opinions and commentary throughout this blog (comments excluded) are Eric's alone, and do not necessarily represent Undercurrent in any way.


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