on the occasion of bluishorange.com’s 10th birthday, a list of things about 31-year-old me that would surprise the hell out of 21-year-old me

ye olde fish in a blender

ye olde fish in a blender

Dudes, bluishorange.com is 10! I’ve been running this motherfucker ever since February 23, 2000, when I didn’t have any lunch money. Why didn’t I bring lunch with me that day? Why didn’t I go out and buy some food with my bank card? Hell, that office was a whole 10-minute drive from my then-apartment, so why didn’t I just go eat at home? These are questions for the ages, my friends, and we’ll probably never know the answers.

Anyway, here it is, a list of things about 31-year-old me that would surprise 21-year-old me:

  1. I have not become a professional writer.
  2. Not being a professional writer does not bother me too much.
  3. Not being famous does not bother me too much either.
  4. I knew how to sew, knit, make jewelry, and do a whole host of other craft-related things. If you name it, I can probably figure out how to make it.
  5. I have not even moved to another state, let alone another country.
  6. I am still a damn web designer.
  7. I went to my 10-year high-school reunion and didn’t hate it.
  8. I own and know how to operate a very nice digital camera, and have been paid for doing so.
  9. I own and know how to operate a chihuahua.
  10. I drove all the way around the United States. With the chihuahua.
  12. I recycle.
  13. My diet consists mostly of vegetables and not pasta flavored with packets of gelatinous cheese-like goo.
  14. And yet I’m 30 pounds heavier now than I was then.
  15. I have been to jail.
  16. I have been to Ecuador.
  17. This website is still here.

Or maybe the things that would not surprise 21-year-old me are more interesting:

  1. I am not married.
  2. I do not own a house.
  3. I do not have any children.
  4. It is still very important to me to have a job in which the main goal is not selling people mass-produced stuff they don’t need, or trying to convince them that they need more stuff.
  5. I’m still sporting more than one hair color at any given time.
  6. I have not removed any of my piercings.

To celebrate this dubious milestone, I’ve gathered some of my favorite posts into a best-of category. And here’s another thing that might have surprised 21-year-old me: looking through my archives to find those posts was difficult.  Looking through my archives is always difficult, really.  They’re a record of all the stupid things I’ve done and ill-advised decisions I’ve made and people I wish I hadn’t hurt and people I wish I’d never met in the first place. One’s twenties is the appropriate time for such things to take place, but mine are chronicled on the internet! For everyone to read about in often-cringeworthy prose!

See, 21-year-old Alison? It’s a good thing you’re not famous.

a little history

While I’ve alluded to my depressive history on this site, I’ve never outlined it in specific detail.  I think this is partly because I’ve been maintaining this site since early 2000, and while August 2001 can now be considered part of such a history, it wasn’t history when I wrote about it then.

Duh, you say. Fair enough.

It’s also partly because I can’t outline it in detail without recalling certain painful time periods, painful occurrences, and painful people I’d rather not think about.  Additionally, said people probably don’t want to be mentioned on this site any more than I want to write about them, and I think everyone should get to choose how their own story is told.  So I’ll never mention them by name or include any identifying details.

And (with the exception of Effexor) I don’t like to talk about what medications I’ve taken. I’ve never wanted to have a comments discussion about which drugs worked for whom and when, and I’d hate for someone to take what works for me only to discover it doesn’t help them at all.  The way anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications work on different people is so very personal that a free-for-all discussion isn’t likely to be useful to anyone.

So those are the rules. I won’t talk specifics about the people in my life, and I won’t talk about what medications I’ve taken. Also I’m not your doctor or your lawyer or your psychic or your life coach or whatever.

Also, I hope you’ll forgive me for not plumbing the depths of my extensive archives to find old posts that correspond to these events. I don’t like doing that. If you’re so inclined, you’re welcome to find them yourself.

As best I can recall, I suffered from depression even as a child.  My parents sent me to therapy a few times in junior high, which is probably an indicator, but more than that I just plain felt sad all the time.  In junior high especially, I would pretend to be sick when I was too depressed to face going to school.  I remember thinking that my life couldn’t possibly turn out to be any good, because I wasn’t any good.

I didn’t do anything about it. I didn’t really know you could.  A close family member had been in a mental hospital for awhile, I knew, but that sort of thing was for adults, and my family member was much worse off than I was. Right? It was probably just teen angst. Right?

Things got a bit better in high school. I didn’t have the junior-high bullies to worry about, and I joined some groups (school ones and church ones) that sometimes made me feel like I might fit in.  I had several close friends.  My senior year, when I fell in with the theatre crowd, spent lots of time in jazz choir (yes, really), and had an after-school job as a grocery cashier was the best school year I’d ever had.  Except maybe for kindergarten, but that didn’t really count.

I was, however, woefully unprepared for college.  I arrived at the University of Texas as an undeclared liberal arts major and found that the school was intimidatingly large, I’d never learned how to study properly, I wasn’t too good at making friends, and my roommate didn’t speak any English.  She was nice enough, but we couldn’t communicate, and sitting in our room watching her watch her Spanish soap operas was lonely and boring.  I didn’t study much, either.  I wasn’t any good, so what was the point?  Outside of taking in the occasional class, I hardly ever left the dorm.

This is already a little hard to write about.

Long UT story short, by the end of my freshman year I’d been put on academic probation.  Over the summer my parents took me to a doctor.  She was this sort of cross between a psychiatrist and a career counselor and a person who diagnoses learning disabilities, whatever you call that.  She diagnosed me with depression, a mild learning disability, and gave me some ideas for solutions for both.

I started taking anti-depressants and going to therapy during my sophomore year of college.  Things began to get a tiny bit better, but my grades weren’t improving much, and I was losing a lot of weight. A series of mid-sized interpersonal setbacks (see what I did there?) later that school year led me to drag my sad ass back home to Houston.

After that I felt much better. I got a job waiting tables (which I loved) and took some classes at community college (which I liked for the most part).  I weaned myself off of the anti-depressants in late 1998. Then I got a job as a web designer and decided that since I was fine now, the bout of depression had been due to college, moving to Austin, or some combination of both.

But August 2001 brought with it job dissatisfaction and a particularly painful breakup, and the bottom fell out.  I went to the doctor, who diagnosed me with the same old depression and some new anxiety and prescribed me anti-depressants and sedatives.  She told me that with my two depressive episodes to date, it was likely I’d be on medication for the rest of my life.  I went to my parents’ house and didn’t leave their couch for three days.

When I sat up from the couch, I formulated a plan. I would quit my job and go back to college.  So I enrolled as an English major at the University of Houston, and to my surprise I loved it. One of my friends recommended a therapist I ended up liking quite a bit.  I switched medications once, and took a sedative here and there for bad anxiety attacks, but I was all right until after the summer of 2005, when I began my Unemployed Year.

I’m going to stop for now.  I can only write about this sort of thing for so long, you know.  Hopefully my future posts about depression will be all uplifting and shit!

didn’t you used to be bluishorange

It comes as no surprise to me that it is Ernie Hsiung who has said exactly how I feel about this website right now.  After all, our websites grew up together:

In another world and time, 8Asians.com would have no ads and would be similar to what my blog used to be – completely ad free.

What killed this?  Jealousy.  Jealousy in that you see other people around you doing similar stuff, and then you meet them at parties or social gatherings and they’re like, “I just booked a sponsor for $1,000 and I’m going to hang out in Asia for a week [true]” or “I just scored a sweet book deal with Random House and I’m only 20! [also true]”  And you think your self, “girl, you’re like twelve years younger than me.  Where’s my thousand bucks and book deal?”

And then you realize to your horror that you had a pretty successful site that has been around for years, and apart from random strangers recognizing you from Florida you don’t really have anything to show for it, besides your dad pissed that you’ve written about his business for the Internet to see.  If my dad is going to be pissed at me, I might as well cash out from it.

Maybe that will change if I suddenly get laid off or fired, and free time is ample; but I feel like as I’m getting older I’m less creative, less funny and instead of having kids or a partner to spend it with, here I am, trying to do the hustle.

I don’t technically think that I have NOTHING to show for this website. It’s gotten me friends and dates and jobs and skills and experiences I wouldn’t have had otherwise.  But sometimes I look at the nearly nine years of writing and photos and miscellany I’ve put on this site and think, WHERE HAS IT GOTTEN ME, REALLY.

I’m currently dating a guy who doesn’t read my website. At all. Has never been to my website as far as I know. Doesn’t follow me on Twitter. Doesn’t look at my photos on Flickr. Doesn’t read my secret LiveJournal. And you know what? It’s nice. He’s the first guy I’ve dated in a long time who didn’t fall for me on the internet first.

The other night I was telling him some story or other about myself, one of those stories I almost always tell to people I’m getting to know. I was halfway through when I realized that in the weeks I’ve known this guy, I’ve never, EVER needed to preface a story with “I wrote about this on my website at some point,” and watch for his reaction to see if he remembers reading it so I can tell the short version, the way I’ve done with so many people over the years.

It’s nice, is all.