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Where I Need to Be

November 10, 2009

“I seldom end up where I wanted to go, but almost always end up where I need to be.”
–Douglas Adams

I’m not sure that I ever figured out where I wanted to go, but somehow I still feel like I did end up where I needed to be. I’m talking about more than just our location, although we’ve really enjoyed the friendly, slower pace of Shepherd over the life we had in Lansing. I have a great family all in good health, and I have a job where I get to do something that I enjoy doing. The road we followed was a little rough, but I can’t imagine any better way for us to get where we are now.

Had we lived where we wanted to live, we would have stayed in Livingston County where I grew up and where I had my first job out of college. I think that in her heart, my wife would have preferred to stay in her hometown, but instead agreed to move to where I was living. So, she resigned from her teaching job in Marlette, but before we started our hunt for a new apartment I learned that my company was being dissolved and I was losing my job.

My First Website

My first website was a cheesy four paged deal where I wrote about my friends and posted a cheesy graphic with a globe, the words “Jon’s World,” and a couple of random images from shows or movies that I liked. So, needless to say it was pretty limited by today’s standards, but back in 1996 it was pretty typical for a personal homepage.

I put together one night while I was on duty at the Journalism Mac Lab inside Anspach hall on CMU’s campus. I had transferred over there from Woldt-Emmons where I had worked as a computer consultant for a few semesters. And, I started working at the computer lab after I had grown tired of working for the campus newspaper.

So, my life seemed to have already been following a path away from Journalism and towards something having to do with computers. I always suspected that I would be able to blend my writing and computer skills somehow–perhaps by covering a technology beat. But, I couldn’t have imagined that my first job would have been with an Internet Service Provider in Howell.

HomeTown Online

Just to show you the way things were back then, I got the position as a web designer at HomeTown Online based mostly on my college degree and the personal webpage I had developed on my own while I was in college. When I started, there were only four people, but eventually we grew to a staff of seven. I was one of three dedicated web designers, with one of them working part-time, and then our manager Jonthan Terry, two helpdesk technicians, and then one person who handled the billing.

We were all crammed in the back of HomeTown Newspapers, the company which at that time printed Livingston County’s two newspaper weeklies. Cameron and I dedicated one day each week towards manually converting the articles from each issue of the paper into webpages. This was where I began to sink my teeth into improving the look of the sites for the Livingston County Press and Brighton Argus. In the long run, it wouldn’t matter, but at the time I took a lot of pride in my work.

Our operation was pretty informal and, at times, a little disorganized. I tried to help out by designing forms and contracts for new clients to sign. I also began to meet with clients to help determine what kinds of website projects they were looking for.

Although it seemed like we were making pretty good progress, the truth was that HomeTown Online was a money hole, and our parent company finally made the decision to close down the operation. We were given notice that we were being laid off around April of 1999. This left us with enough time to help close down the operation and, hopefully, find new jobs.

It didn’t feel like it at the time, but this really was a good change for me especially as I was planning to get married that summer. I really needed a job that paid better than $9 per hour, and even if HomeTown Online hadn’t been shut down I wasn’t really going to grow much farther than I already had.

And the Rest . . .

After that, I got married, moved to Haslett, started working for the Michigan State Medical Society, became a father, and then changed jobs for a second time all in the span of three years. We moved to Shepherd to be closer to Central Michigan University’s campus where I worked for Special Olympics Michigan, and haven’t left since. I did, however, leave my job at Special Olympics and ended up working for Dow Chemical for almost four years before that project was shut down.

Now I’m working for EduGuide in Lansing, but I can’t shake the feeling that I wouldn’t be the person I am now without all of those little setbacks, changes, and detours that came before. I’ve also been left with a set of skills which often in handy during my current job.

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