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.

two little things, which coincidentally are both about my mom

1. Over the past few days, people searching for “facebook login” on Google have been clicking on the search result for this ReadWriteWeb article by mistake, thinking that they can log in to Facebook from there. There are hundreds of comments on the article from confused people saying that they hate this new Facebook layout and dammit they just want to sign into their account.

I work with a lot of people who are not so tech-savvy, so this didn’t come as much of a surprise to me. People ask me about “this page on your website” when they’re really talking about another site, they tell me they can’t access our website from home when they’re not connected to the internet, and when I tell them where to go on our site to get employee discounts on Microsoft Office, they ask me how to install software.

This frustrated me when I first got this job, but now I’m used to it. I’ve come up with some simple things to say that will help people without making them feel stupid, like teaching them about the address bar vs. the search box, showing them how to use bookmarks, or telling them where they can go to get software-installation help.

My dad’s been into computers since we got our Commodore 64 in the eighties, so he’s never had much trouble figuring out the internet. He asks me for recommendations on things like the best site for him to post photos or where he and my mom should sign up for web space, but that’s about it. I learned everything I know about the basic inner workings of a computer from him.

My mom, though, has had a bit of a harder time. I remember a few times in the late nineties when she would send large PowerPoint files from her office to home via email, and then call me from home to tell me that “the email is stuck.” I’d explain to her that she should go do something else for awhile and come back to check on the email progress later, because a 15MB PowerPoint file was going to take a very long time to download on their 28k modem.  I can also recall this incident in which my mom, having neglected to look at the address bar, thought my little Geocities website was much larger than it really was.

These days her level of internet-savvy has improved. She signed up for LiveJournal so she could read my private posts there, and then posted an entry of her own. Last year she won an iPod Nano in a contest, so over Christmas I showed her how to use iTunes to import some of her favorite CDs and put the songs on her iPod.

While reading a Metafilter post about the ReadWriteWeb/Facebook confusion, I came across this comment:

My dad, thank the lord, is not on Facebook, but he does the search bar thing all the time. Every time I grit my teeth I remember that he knows how to rebuild a diesel truck engine and I can’t change my own oil.

At Thanksgiving in 2008, the after-dinner conversation turned to “what’s the grossest thing you ever saw?” I talked about the time I saw a dog get run over, other people talked about stuff I can’t remember, and then it was my mom’s turn. She told a story about having a few drinks with a friend one evening while they were in nursing school. They went downstairs to the morgue to see what it was like all deserted and dark, and when they opened the door they saw that the room was full of cadavers covered by sheets. My mom’s friend dared her to lift one of the sheets and look underneath, so she did.

In other words, my mom’s not good at the internet, but she’s seen a dead person’s brain all covered with maggots, so.

2. Do you guys know about my Tumblr site? I mostly use it to reblog things from my other Tumblr contacts. Sometimes I add commentary, sometimes I don’t. It’s not super interesting most of the time, but the reblogging with commentary thing was something I couldn’t resist.

I don’t usually get really going on a subject over on Tumblr, but yesterday I did, so I thought I’d repost it here.

Virginia law now states a single “yes” is enough to destroy any accusation of rape


“Let’s say you start having intercourse with a man (and) 30 seconds into it you say you want it to stop,” [Defense attorney, Robert W.] Lawrence said. “Some states have said that’s impossible and it wouldn’t be fair. Some states say you have to look at the specifics of the case … and give the man reasonable time to react.

“My position, personally,” he added, “would be if the female consents and they start having intercourse, he has a right to finish.”

Holy. fucking. shit.

No, no. I think you mean HOLY. FUCKING. SHIT.

When I was 12, Ann Richards and Clayton Williams were running for Texas governor. Among other controversies in that race, this one stuck out for me:

During the campaign, Williams publicly made a joke likening bad weather to rape, having quipped: “If it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it.”

That shit scarred me for life. Before then I had no idea someone would ever even THINK something like that, let alone say it in public. The realization that people with opinions like that could make it into positions of power was huge. I was just a 7th grader at the time, but I’ve never, ever forgotten Clayton Williams’s name, and I’ve never forgotten that quote.

Current 12-year-olds, I’m sorry that there are people like Clayton Williams and Robert W. Lawrence, and I’m sorry that they are successful.

Here’s another one: when I was 18 and about to go to college, my mother came into my bedroom and handed me a condom.

“Uh, what’s this for?” I said.

I’m not going to quote her because I don’t remember her exact words, but she told me to keep it in my backpack at school at all times. She said that if I were ever sexually assaulted on campus late at night and I couldn’t get help or fight him off, I should tell him to at least wear a condom. I didn’t know what to say to that, but I took it and put it in my bag anyway.

I told a friend about it a few years later, and was shocked when they told me that asking my rapist to wear a condom would keep me safe from pregnancy and STDs, but would  probably keep the rapist from being convicted of a crime.

Yup, this is what it’s like.

new stuff I did in January

One of my goals for 2010 (let’s not use the R word to describe my 2010 goals, okay? The R word applies to nebulous things like “go to the gym” and “get organized!” and other things that make people buy stuff) is to try new things whenever the opportunity arises. This isn’t going to be too difficult to accomplish–I’m known for tackling even the boringest of tasks simply because I’ve never done it before–but stating that it’s a goal will help me remember to say yes to new things.

Here are the new things I did in January

  • took a country-dancing lesson
  • went on a home tour
  • made a wrap dress that didn’t totally suck
  • went to an absinthe bar
  • re-stuffed an old couch
  • went to the Harry Ransom center
  • helped shop for a wedding venue (someone else’s)
  • went to a public clothing swap
  • cooked tofu