When I got the email a few months ago from Washington University in Saint Louis, where I attended law school, informing me that my 10-year law school reunion is this weekend, I was floored. How the hell has it been 10 years already?
2001 – It doesn’t seem that long ago, but it really is. Who was I ten years ago?
Ten years ago, I was the nerd who taught myself how to use Flash and set up a Flash intro for my website. Click here to view it – make sure your sound is turned down low. I also created this *fantastic* Flash photo album, replete with *witty* captions. You can substitute “fucking terrible” for “fantastic” and “witty”.
I was 24 years old and had never had a full-time, permanent job. I’d worked since I was old enough to count money, but they were always jobs while I attended school. I had earned money by being a babysitter, a window washer, a telemarketer, a bag boy, a movie theater manager, a security officer, a webmaster, a graphic designer, a salesman, a researcher, an author, a camp counselor, a video rental clerk, a retail employee, an ebayer, and a thief. I didn’t drink, had never had a cigarette, and had dated less than ten people in my entire life.
In May of 2001, Amy and I moved to Los Angeles, moving into an apartment that I had never seen. In fact, I’d never stepped foot in the city until that May. It was a tough job market, and I was applying for any job I could find. In July, as I was about to take a job managing a local Blockbuster, I got a call from an attorney who I had met who had his own business. He wanted to start something new, and he put the entire responsibility of it in my hands. Two months later, I launched a brand new business as the sole employee, and over three years, learned the ins and outs of starting and building a business, branding, marketing, hiring, managing, and everything else you can imagine. It was a trial by fire, but I was hungry for it.
In October, I got married. Our guest list was cut by a third after 9/11, and there was an anthrax scare at the hotel where all the guests were staying, essentially keeping everyone confined while the Health Department investigated for an hour. It was still a fantastic time. We left the next day for a cruise to the Bahamas, which was miserable, and it’s barely over ten years later that I will be going on my second cruise ever, hoping for a better experience.
It was in 2001 that I created the image that graced my header of my blog for 6 years:
Along with several other less successfully Photoshopped images:
I didn’t blog, per se, but I owned Avitable.com and maintained a website that I would update with photos, information about my life, and links that I found interesting. I wrote everything in HTML by hand, and would email my friends and family whenever I updated it. Even though I consider my blog anniversary to start counting from June 2004, in reality, I’ve been doing it since 1998.
I even wrote fanfic, which I talked about years ago.
There was no Twitter or Facebook. Yahoo, Livejournal, and Altavista’s image search had relevance. I had slowly started getting rid of the hundreds of VHS tapes I had in lieu of DVDs. My only cell phone was an emergency phone with 100 prepaid minutes on it.
And now, in a blink, it’s ten years later. This weekend, I’ll be revisiting the place where I got my degree, where I met the woman who would become my wife, and then my ex-wife, where my adult life really, truly started. I will be on a panel talking to law students about alternative careers for lawyers, and not alternative like dressing in drag, although having painted toenails is probably pretty close. Am I going to fit in with my peers, most of whom have been practicing law for the last ten years? Eh, it doesn’t matter. I’m used to being that guy – the one who’s a bit different, who doesn’t really do things like everyone else. I’m the clown, the prankster, the geek, the jeans and Hawaiian shirt amidst a sea of suits and blazers. I’m the one who took my exams so quickly that there was a betting pool on how fast it would take me. I’m that guy who played Monopoly in the library the night before a paper was due because my priorities are out of whack. And finally, since it’s going to be a high of 40 degrees there, I’m the guy who’s going to be really fucking cold.