Hello world!

The first time I blogged was in high school, when I was about 15 years old. I became interested after exhausting the limits of what one could build in Geocities, Tripod, Angelfire. It was a way to bond with introverted friends who had LiveJournals. But I ended up with a Xanga, which didn’t have the same custom HTML/CSS as LJ. This was the part I found more interesting. Blogging daily was common.

Simultaneously, I started keeping a scratch-made blog on a regular hosting account to satisfy the itch to learn more about layouts and to play with things that you couldn’t work into the limitations of blogging platforms. I grew up pretty working class though, and my family couldn’t even afford internet service sometimes, so the idea of paying for a hosting account was an issue.  So I joined a blogring. Do people still remember blogrings? They were like little clubs, or nerd gangs, on the web. The blogring I found promised hosting space under a subdomain on someone’s account. You pledged allegiance to show off Pixelette.net pride in exchange.

But not anyone could join–you had to make contact with the ringleader, show them you were worthy, and be digitally jumped in–via your ability to make table-based (the latest technology!), adorable layouts, fairly quickly. It worked out, I don’t know why, but I guess I was good (a thought that I still hear in my head for various reasons today). My senior class project was a website…with an Evanescence layout. I should have paid attention to that as a form of vocational discernment, but my English teacher didn’t get the purpose of my project, another thing I should have paid attention to.

The ring fell apart around the time I went off to college, which was fine, because Notre Dame provided all students with space. After class (or in lieu of), I spent my time going through tutorials on CSS Tricks, keeping up with the blogs of people like Cameron Moll, Veerle Pieters, and Sarah Parmenter to see what new things about the internet they had to tell.

Then, as part of my financial aid package, I had to find a job on campus. I ended up working in various offices around school offering shit graphic design and decent web work, because it paid three times as much as washing dishes did and that meant I had more free time to well, be online. I did not pay attention to this habit as a way to revise what I was doing with my coursework either.

In my second year of college, the big gig arrived. I heard about an internship with the Notre Dame Web Group. My grades weren’t good for the other types of internships that students did during their summers, but this was one I could pwn. It was a fairly serious internship–not a gig where you stuffed envelopes and posted news in a CMS. This was apparently a gig where members of the staff taught you the craft of web design and development. You would do one or the other. And based on my experience, they had me do web development–I’m serious! Looking back, those people were running a great little shop and the rest of the university didn’t know it–I worked with a real, dedicated, content strategist. I would never run into one again until well into my “official” career. They were incorporating responsive design in 2006. I used the first version of jQuery! WTF! I didn’t pay attention to how much I loved this job.

During the last week or so that I was there, my manager showed me something he was working on–he knew how much I just liked _layouts_. It was his blog, and it was running on WordPress. I wouldn’t have to keep track of my entries as haphazard .html files. I didn’t have to write code for every little emoji (the type I used were then known as blinkies). I went home and installed it on my local machine using MAMP. Game over.

But then, I decided I wanted to go into academia. I quit my work-study job and stopped making websites for people around campus. I took down my website. My advisor recommended that I demonstrate that I was dead-set on the PhD–which was true. The web stuff was a hobby, it wasn’t really a real job–my old manager, for example, was doing something else already. I still wanted to scratch the blogging itch, however, so I opened up a private LiveJournal account with a handle I didn’t have on anything else.

I applied to 19 PhD programs around the country and got rejected by nearly all of them (the Clinical Psychology PhD program has a 2% acceptance rate, and remember, my grades were shit). Most programs didn’t bother to send feedback beyond a form letter. One, however, did. The program director reached out to me, telling me why they had chosen to reject my candidacy. It was because they had found my private LiveJournal, and they didn’t like what I had to say. To this day, I have no idea how they found it, but I purged all of my blog accounts from the web as soon as I purged his email. And after that, I never blogged, or really kept my “old website” again.

Since then, it’s been hard to start again. Part of it is because of the nature and intent of blogging has changed. No judgment, but there was definitely pressure to make my blog as popular and addictive as possible, something that went against what my mind was itching to do instead. I got rid of my hosting account when I could keep my portfolio on Github Pages. I tinkered with a Jekyll setup for a little bit because well…WordPress core kind of sucked. (Love you!)

Then things in life happen, because they happen. So now that, a decade later, I work on that which galvanized and at the same time, shut down so much, I went dumpster-diving into my computer to see where I left off.

I kept a copy of all my layouts, the same way I keep old concert tickets and formative letters. Things that are special enough to me that I’ve hauled them across the country back and forth for years.

According to my archives (and because intro pages used to be cool), this is blog version 32.

I expect my layout output now to be less prolific. But don’t worry–I am planning on posting screenshots of some major teenage angsty stuff.

A “Miscelanea” is a type of little neighborhood general store commonly found in Mexico that sells assorted items, like soda, [individual] eggs, school supplies, firecrackers. They are usually in the same building as the people that own it, and it’s expected that they be named after the family, or a specific member of the family. 

My dad opened one for my grandmother to live off of in the 90s, and when I’d visit in the summers, I ran the counter. In the back of his mind, he thought we would eventually move back. But a couple of years ago, when my grandma died, we closed it down. It had been operating at a loss since big-box stores opened in town, and life had moved on in the United States long before.

The most common sign found on the storefronts, “Abarrotes en general,” translates roughly to “groceries and such.” I don’t expect to live off this blog, but I think it’ll feed me. Stop by for a snack and chat.

By Desiree Zamora Garcia

I like to eat, think, and take things apart.