The first time I coded anything was around the age of 11 when my brother encouraged me to sign up for CEU credits (yup, at 11) for Paint Shop Pro (kids, Photoshop was not always there to make everything you do look like art believe it or not) and HTML. That was like… pre-HTML as in a million years prior to XHTML and HTML5.
My first website was a Tripod website and it featured an awesome borderific table that simply listed my best friend by hierarchy and a repeating background image of Laura Croft (the video game version folks, Angelina was also not a thing yet) showing off her guns in a Santa outfit. The photo? Nerd alert: I scanned from the front page of WIRED magazine, or at least what WIRED was back then before it became AWESOME!
From there, I dinked around on my summer breaks mostly with web design until we moved back to Utah when I was 15 and I met long time AOL (I’m really dating myself here) friend, Lou Eastman. Technically, I had seen Lou before as the amazing guitarist of the band, Froglick. I frequented Froglick’s shows as a kid, also on my summer breaks in which for two years I flew to Utah by my lonesome to give the parents a rest from my crazy and drive my older sister crazy instead.
So, back to Lou.
When I was 15, I met a lot of people from the internet. Kind of like being able to say, “Back in my day we left our doors unlocked,” I can honestly say, “Back in my day online predators hadn’t really thought of that yet.” It wasn’t really a thing, or at least not a huge thing. To this day, my longest standing friends are all good old AOL friends. My Mom always worried about that sort of thing because she insisted that by chatting with friends only 24/7, I was stunting my social growth and that I would essentially grow up and be awkward and alone. TAKE THAT MOM! Still, my Mom came with me to meet Lou because it was the first real time I had done that sort of thing (with permission) and he was much older than I was.
We met Lou when it was already dark. I’ll never forget the cold, shivering awkwardness of standing in the middle of the street in a neighborhood we’d never been to because my Mom was dropping me off to “play” with my new friend. That night, I was interviewing Lou for a school project and interning with him as a sound engineer – my first and foremost love affair with “what I want to be when I grow up.” But Lou worked for iWon.com at the time which was basically what Google used to be (before Google that is, let’s come right out and say I’m ancient at this point). So I spent many long night with him at the iWon office learning about super interesting stuff like… tables.
He took my design skills to a whole new level!
From there, I spent two years of high school learning Pascal, C, and Visual C/C++. I excelled through that class so quickly that in AP Computer Programing I skipped right on over actually being a student and was made the teacher’s TA. I was the only girl in the class, so that was fun. I essentially bartered copies of CDs (because CD burners had JUST come out) for anyone needing helping with their assignments. That is how I received my first Rage Against The Machine album and the rest of my life – music, programming, and pretty much all things awesome – is history, as they say!
In fact, it was historical enough that my first real job was freelancing as a web designer for people I knew – mostly bands and then a few random businesses. I did most of it for free because my nerdy brain somehow thought that doing this would be impressive and guys would totally dig the smart chick that also listens to awesome music. In hindsight, that is really funny!!!!
My first real job was also programming. By real, I mean at a legit company with a digital time clock, set hours, 9 to 5, and all that boring jazz. I was made Assistant Manager of a survey development team, rocking the only girl theme even further on in life. But this is also where I check out and drop programming for … well, until now.
Long story short, it is good to be back! Having started out so young, it comes back to me like THAT. Working with different programming languages is just like knowing English or Spanish… or Australian (that’s another story). But as I sit here digging through my work and making things look oh so pretty, I can’t help but realize the subconscious behaviors I have that link back to my roots as a programmer.
I would post a picture, but the photo I am thinking of is in a box back in the States. In the photo, I’m rocking a desk with two screens, a massive pair of headphones, and a Jolt cola. Ironically enough, I was programming the new Froglick website at the time and listening to the brand new White Pony album by Deftones.
Fast forward to this very moment and it is nearly the same – minus the midnight our and the caffeine, but I can honestly say the lack of Jolt and midnight are far more to do with being in Australia than they are to do with any change in who or how I am. You can probably guess the rest. I have my fav lil Harmon Kardon SOHO headphones around my neck, a bottle of water literally hanging from my mouth for ten minutes straight because I’m too in the moment to actually take my hands away from the keyboard and put the drink down, and I am jamming Crosses as loudly as possible. Crosses, you might guess, is a “new” band that Chino Marino fronts, and Chino Marino is none other than the lead singer of the Deftones.
Someday I am going to have to post that old picture. Until then, just know that I pretty much never change, and that’s a good thing.