April 7, 2005 10:00 am

How I Got Myself Into This Mess

:note: Opeth – “The Leper Affinity”

This has been asked a grand total of, um, once, so I will answer it now. How did I end up doing this whole web design thing?

I have a friend named Abby. She’s very quirky and fun, the sort of person who randomly decides to go to Costa Rica with a friend for spring break, and then actually does it. In 9th grade, she told me she started a website of her very own. It sounded interesting to me, and I opened an account with Angelfire. It’s still there, if you want to see it. Be warned that there will be many pop-ups (unless you have the good fortune to be using Firefox) as well as music on some pages (*dies*) and I was, um, pretty closed minded. That was when I still said I believed in God and hated Bill Clinton. :roll: Ahh well. Anyway, Abby and I talked through MSN messenger a lot (still do, though probably not nearly as much as we did then) and helped each other learn HTML.

I’d get SUPER EXCITED whenever I learned anything new (which was always stuff I think is AWFUL now, like marquees) and I can’t tell you how fun it was to type out something that looked like gibberish and have it show up as an image link to MSN.com. It was incredibly… liberating? I guess? I could put ANYTHING I wanted to on my website, absolutely anything.

Our sites were absolutely abysmal. :yuck: Hideous to behold. Animated gifs, some Comic Sans, the whole lot. I did sort of know what looked like crap and what didn’t, but there’s only so much you can do with an Angelfire free site – they all look ugly no matter what. I eventually moved to a new location, teufelkind’s lair. It was my lame attempt at being gloomy, name-wise. TKL was the site my aunt found and subsequently discovered I was an atheist, and despite my begging her not to, she then told my parents who in turn told my grandma, and all were incredibly pissed.

[Side note: that was the only time I ever really felt like I ran away from home – I snuck out at 4:15am the day after Christmas and drove to Daniel’s house with my sleeping bag and an alarm clock (I had to go to work that morning). When I showed up, nobody was awake, but I had just gotten my sleeping bag and clock set up on the couch when Daniel’s mom came into the living room. I’m sure she knew something was up (why else would I be standing in her living room at 4:30 in the morning?), so she asked if something happened and I burst into tears. I sobbingly told her how my grandma sent me the three most demeaning, guilt-inducing, intolerant emails I have ever received in my life and how I couldn’t even face my parents because I knew they knew and were going to hate me because I didn’t believe in the same things they did and how I told my aunt not to tell because it would RUIN MY LIFE and she did it anyway. That whole story could be a post in itself. Let it be known that if your kids/grandkids eventually do not decide to subscribe to the same belief system that you do, you should not make them feel like they have committed the most indescribable sin in the universe, nor should you then send them multiple emails about it. They won’t be pleased, nor will they be inclined to forgive you for it.]

Anyway, I messed around on there for a while before I realized that Angelfire totally blows (and man, does it) and I desperately needed my own domain name. I hemmed and hawed about it for a LONG time, because I knew I wanted one but I had no idea how to do the whole “not on a freeserver site anymore” sort of thing. I eventually took the plunge in March of 2003 (which means, yes, this year I totally forgot my “blog birthday” as Dooce calls it), and LOVED it.

The first versions of this site were rudimentary at best, but far, far better than anything I ever did on Angelfire. I picked up on how to use CSS to my advantages and started learning about web standards and the move toward XHTML. Eventually, I started teaching myself a little bit of PHP, and I finally converted this site to mostly valid XHTML and began using PHP includes to control the header and footer sections of the site. This was on my break in between summer and fall term last year, I believe. I was getting SO SICK of how my site looked, and I’m super happy with it now.

My junior year, I started looking for colleges, and the Art Institute of Portland seemed to be the only one in the vicinity that even offered a web design major. The Ai in Seattle did as well, but they only offered an Associate degree and I figured if I’m going to already be there for two years, what’s another year to have my Bachelor’s? So I picked Portland. I’d been here before and liked it, and I knew it was a really liberal city, so that was good too.

So far, I’m really liking it. It seems to be exactly what I want to do, and I like how this school holds my hand through everything. They make sure you get internships before you graduate, and when you graduate, they help you get jobs. Even after you graduate, if you need help getting a job, you can just call them and they’ll help you out. It’s awesome.

In short, all of my HTML and XHTML skills and a good percentage of my CSS skills were self-taught before I even came to the school. I’ve learned a lot more about how to use CSS to my advantage to make supercool sites and I’ve learned a bit of ASP/VBscript as well. And JavaScript. And I’ve had some classes on design as well. I’m much more interested in the web developer, programmer type stuff than I am with design, but I can design things if I have to. :)

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