Everyday Words

Old school geek

April 14, 2009
first site "Isn't It Dreamy"

Although I can’t pull off a “s’up” or wear baggy trousers round my bum, I am, in fact, old school.

Old school geek and social networker, that is.

Until the age of 8 (or 1982) I spent most of my time outdoors, playing with legos, drawing, creating forts and reading. But then a friend of the family who was an engineer got a Commodore 64 and while the parents talked politics after dinner, I sat and hacked away at that thing. In 1984 my school bought a couple of Apple II computers, one of which I ended up hogging for hours on end and staying after school so that I could code and code to make that little turtle move around and make pretty things.

After a couple of years of pestering my parents for a computer, “a compu-what?” my father took me to some office supply warehouse where a man began to talk to my father about what he had in stock. My father stopped the man, pointed to me and said, “You need to talk to her.” The salesman looked at me; the littlest, blondest girl in the biggest dress you ever saw wanted to talk floppy drives, memory and modem speed. I was so incredibly proud when I put in an order for some hacked together PC-clone. A month later we picked it up and I began coding games and small programs in DOS Basic between going to school, building forts in the forrest and putting dresses on Barbies.

In 1986 I discovered local BBS (bulletin board systems) in which you’d use your modem (at the time, 300 baud) to connect to another modem that hosted a site so you could talk to people. This was pre-world wide web days. Most of the people I talked to were guys who were outcasts because they were geeks. It wasn’t yet cool or lucrative. In fact, one tended to be rather quiet about owning a computer or worse yet, being a modemmer! Yet these geeks taught me a lot about computers and coding and, since they were local, about connecting the virtual world to a real one. I started arranging local meet-ups for us from playing sports on the weekend to attending special events. I didn’t think being online had to be separate from the real world.

Over the next few years I kept progressing with coding and modem speed (oh, a 1200 baud modem! A 2400 baud modem! Oh my, not a 9600 baud modem!!). In the early nineties something new was being pioneered; it was when a central computer would hook up to another computer somewhere else in the world. No longer did you have to settle for local geeks – you could go international! I began making friends in New Zealand, in the Caymans, in Italy and I learned the true meaning of “social networking.”

Around 1992 I stopped using a computer all together when I began my travels and it wasn’t until 1995 when I visited a friend in Vancouver did I see where the world of computers and modems had gone too. There was now Windows 95 to make computing easy and hardrives that held more space than those floppies ever could. Computers were becoming more mainstream yet the web still had a ways to go. There was, however, a new development in connecting – IRC Chat. And I hopped on there from time to time, chatting with family and old friends and meeting new ones. I really liked this idea and decided to build a quick and permanent way for people to know me and connect.

So in 1995, using my friend’s computer, I put up my very first web page (seen above). I used Netscape Navigator and hosted it on their site. I put things up that were important – photos, about me, a diary to keep people updated and an email link. Because the web was relatively new I didn’t understand how people could find me (I thought you had to tell them the web site address) and that it could go to anyone in the world with a modem. I thought just my few close friends would read it. Little did I know. Continue Reading…

Everyday Words, Los Angeles

Suzanne Sommers and Me

January 18, 2009

I had a very long, very real dream that involved living in Malibu, me running in running shoes, sweatpants, t-shir, baseball cap and running into a plethora of celebrities as I make my way home. I know, how can that be realistic? Me, in sweatpants and a baseball cap running?

The strange thing about the celebrities were that they were mostly TV actors – I do not have a TV, I have never had a TV and I have never worked on TV. So how Brad Garret got into my dream, I’ll never know (mind you he was just running down the hill with his dogs on his cell phone. We didn’t really chat).

But before I was to cross the PHC highway to go up the hill to my place, my name was called. I whirl around and there is Suzanne Somers with her 3 young children and her mother, Connie Stevens.

“Why Miss Alex! Come and say hi!”

“Hi Miss Somers what a nice surprise to see you out here.”

We hug. She’s bundled up because it’s winter and we’re on a rocky beach. So I fix her scarf and she hands me her cup of hot milk. We talk real estate. I point to the direction I’m in and how I love it here. How I felt so judged in Kirkland but out here was a breath of fresh air.

“I don’t know how you lasted so long!”

Then she introduces me to her mother and I say we met last weekend at the picnic. The one Marcia Cross hosted (in fairness, I do see her around town all the time and her hair dresser is a good friend). Oh right, says Connie, all cute in pigtails.

As we’re talking we see a couple of celebrities whiz by in the back of a pick up. We say how it’s changing here and how they’re building mansions into the rock cliff. But that for the next few years it should stay the same and that’s good for now.

I then wake up into reality.

I do my morning routine, then I check my email and there’s an email from a place I’ve never visitied online or on TV – HSN.com.

Coincidence? I think not.

Everyday Words

Living Well is more than Organic Fruit

June 2, 2008

Please go out there and do. Live. Don’t be the same as yesterday. Don’t live vicariously online. Don’t use language that has no meaning or talk ideas you don’t really live. Don’t hide. Don’t copy others or live their ideas or life. Don’t fear doing your thing. Don’t fear doing. Instead of reading a decorating magazine, paint that room. Instead of thinking of baking, do up a cake. Run, walk, bike. Put that self help book down and pick up yourself.

Let go of the snark, your worries, your anger and fear and give into possibility, action, joy and life. Do. Do some more. Stop thinking about you. Stop blogging about just you and your kid and your pet. There’s a world out there to connect to, really connect to. Being of use is more important than being popular. Think about the lady down the street, the person at the drive through, the man fallen in the street, about politics, the environment, healthcare, another country and then do something about it. Never stop at thinking.

Dream big, work harder. Have lots of fun, lift a finger, do something for someone else. Cheer your friends on. Cheer yourself up. Celebrate as much as possible. Enjoy everything. Right now. It’s OK to want more and do more but be present with where you are or who you are with. Don’t rush the situation – even if it’s bad. Move on when you can. Don’t settle. Try everything you can and get over everything holding you back.

Go outside. Go outside yourself. Make a difference, make some change. Don’t complain about someone unless you’re talking to that someone. Don’t complain about a situation you’re not willing to make better. They don’t have it better and you don’t have it worse. Don’t make excuses. You’ll never see possibility if you do. And you’re smart and worth more than settling for a life of complaining and limitation.

Hope. Hope more. Give someone else hope. Get healthy and contribute to a healthy environment. Think about everything you do, you buy, you say. Only be lazy on Sunday and even then, be conscious. Rest is useful, giving up is not.

Play. Remember what it’s like to be seven. Remember to listen to a seven year old because you just have more words and life experience, not necessarily more wisdom. Have more questions than answers and don’t put everything into words. Sometimes just feel things and be. Be quiet more often, listen harder, talk exactly as you mean to.

Strive for your best and not what you think someone elses’ best is. Follow through. Don’t let others’ down. Don’t let yourself down. You are better than your circumstances. Ask for what you’re worth. Make magic happen don’t wish for it. Don’t envy others’ lives, envy yours. Live it fully. Teach by example how to live well, how to be treated, how to be kind, how to be alive.

Do. I can’t stress that one enough. Take action on your life. Make the change. No more sulking, waiting, thinking, reading, talking about. It’s time. You’re ready.

Everyday Words

No Television

May 29, 2008
television

I didn’t grow up with a television and have never owned one as an adult. The reason for this is quite simple: I’m very guarded about what comes into my life because if I’m not, the wrong things can easily take over.

For example, a few years ago my friend, who also had always lacked a television, and I had a girly weekend at the Ritz in Los Angeles – Club Level. At our disposal was a spa, swimming pool, trails, bikes, and privy to Club Level, a lounge with several (free) food servings each day. We had a sprawling two-room suite with an amazing balcony that had an unbelievable view. And in our room were two of the largest Sony televisions we had ever seen.

Since we’d both gone without TV, we turned one on and showing was the story of a 500lb man on the Discovery Channel. We. Could. Not. Stop. Watching. We said during commercials we’d go out once the show was over but that didn’t happen. For the two tonne twins came up after that. And after that was some other show on obesity.

After three hours I turned off the tv as with both laid lifeless on the bed.

“Do you want to ride bikes now?” I asked.

“No, I don’t feel like it. What about swimming?”

“I can’t get into my bikini! I feel fat!”

We had become so absorbed by other peoples lives that we were unable to lead our own despite the fact we were in one of the most incredible settings for the sole purpose of having fun.

So that is why there is a lack of TV in my home and always has been. This has, at times in certain groups, made me somewhat of a social outcast in America since so many references and inside jokes seem to be TV lines (it was only a year ago thanks to YouTube I got the whole “No soup for you” thing). But I get away with not knowing a lot because I didn’t grow up in America and because I actually know more than I should by paying attention to all the conversations that people have about pop culture (I can tell you a surprising about of random TV facts).

The point is, I’ve managed really well without TV in a TV world. Then I realised that my TV was the Internet and that was bombarding me and my subconscious far too much without any useful benefit. It was, instead of me feeling inspired and creative, was making me feel like I was watching bad television and feeling unfit to do anything about it afterwards.

Since being online since 1995 I’ve seen all the trends of the web world and have been a part of a lot of them. I’ve been web famous several times (it comes and goes), created lots of communities, hung out with the geeks, the cool kids and followed all the web pages, news and dish that’s gone along with it.

It wasn’t until over a year ago that I began to really question the internet and how it affected me. The internet and I were in one of those tumultuous relationships where we’d break up then makeup with fervor. We were codependent yet I’d never thought to ask why since I figured it had to be in my life – since most of it seemed to have replaced my life.

But last year I was recruited by a company to build community for its sites by writing content and connect people I knew (writers, artists, leaders in their industries) to the sites. I was suspicious but not enough to say no; I loved a challenge, I loved the idea of doing what I did on a bigger scale and I loved the idea more of helping people I knew get more exposure.

However I quickly learned that the company was more about page count than useful content. They wanted to be the “biggest distributer of content” on the internet – even if it was (by their own admission) very bad content. They wanted page views and sign ups which in my opinion, is not community. It didn’t get people helping people and it didn’t get people living life. IAnd in my efforts I was being asked to abuse personal and professional relationships that took me years to develop for their sites and gain but not for that of the writers or the community. Instead of being a voice of service in verticals I was passionate about and helping people I knew gain exposure, I quickly became a high-paid talent manager for bad sites and disgruntled friends.

After a lot of internal discussion to get my job to be like the actual job description I wrote when I agreed to come on and the company doing everything they could to keep me from doing that description, I realised that the company didn’t work the way I did and I had to quit.

And that left me to wonder, where in the web world do I belong?

Continue Reading…

Everyday Words

Happy Birthday: 34

February 17, 2008
alex the girl turns 34

Today I turn 34 which I’m so very glad for as I must confess 33 was, for lack of a better term, ass. But tonight I’m at an estate built in the 1600’s as a summer residence in a beautiful part of Ireland. I’ve had champagne and gluten free cake with two sets of flowers in my hotel apartment. So far, 34 is promising.

The photo is blurry, I know, but I think it just captures how I’ve been lately – always in motion. People always ask how I do so much and wonder if it’s a sugar daddy or magic pill. The truth is it’s just a love of life and lots of doing because I believe life is made up of choice, not circumstance and I choose to do anything and everything I can think of.

There are so many things I want to do, places I want to see, people I want to know that I am always busy either trying to figure out how to do things or doing them. Which often makes for some blurry times but I kind of like it that way. I couldn’t be happy just thinking of ideas and wondering how they’d turn out. I wouldn’t be happy feeling like I wasn’t able to do something because of something else. By choosing not to focus on circumstance or what others say is possible, my life and all that I do is possible.

And it leaves me with this wonderful blurry thing called life.

Everyday Words

We’re Always Young

January 15, 2008

Almost every day I see the same gentleman (who is in his 80’s) walk very slowly down the sidewalk. Until he takes notice of me (or any other young woman around) he is supported by his daughter (who is in her 60’s). But as soon as he sees me he shoo’s her away, stands a little straighter and walks on his own trying to be proud and nonchalant. He always says hi to Jack and I and then once we’re passed and I’m out of sight, he returns to his daughter’s side. Sometimes I’ll hear her say as though she’s an embarrassed 16 year old, “Oh Dad, really” when he lets go.

In the video above, I was seventeen years old and now the video is seventeen years old. I can remember every detail of those days – the heat, the way the grass felt, the butterflies in my tummy over crushing, the weight of the trunk on our heads, the beach, her laughter, putting on lipstick for the first time and eating McDonald’s French Fries.

Recently I showed this video to my mum who giggled through the whole thing whilst saying over and over, “you haven’t changed. Listen to how you giggle, look at those movements and that cheek! So much the same!” When we went through her photos at the same age, I could say the same things about her.

And when we look at the seventeen year old girls we were, we don’t see any non-physical differences between the (almost) thirty-four year old woman I’ve become and the (almost) sixty-four year old woman she’s become. Despite there being all those years between us and our younger selves, there’s actually none at all. We have the same heart, the same mannerisms, the same ideals, the same sense of fun, the same of love of life. We’re just young girls who dream big, hope for the best but are just a little older and a little bit physically changed.

A man in his 90’s once said to me, “I’m just a 22 year old guy caught up in this old man’s body. I’m not so wise and put together as everyone assumes I am just because I’m old. I’m not stuffy or boring. I’m fun, alive with dreams, too and I still want to chase the girls. I don’t know how to be in this body. I just know how to be 22. And I miss it.”

I think of that every time I meet someone in that age range – that they’re just young people in an older body but who we are is who we are. This has given me happiness in the past little while for I thought I was getting further away from myself when, like Dorothy, I was there all along. I just, for awhile, became someone else I didn’t recognise. Luckily, I do now.

Everyday Words

Parking Lot Sign

January 13, 2008

The Santa Monica Sunday Market is always busy making parking – which is already rare – even more of a premium. I turned off main street to park in the public lot behind, hopeful that I’d find parking so I could run into my favourite pet food store to pick something up. I usually do because I don’t focus on the full lot but on one spot to open. And it always does.

As I turned in, a man about 50 in an expensive, flashy convertible stopped in front. It looked like he would get a lucky day as one car pulled out of a very full lot. However, as the car was getting ready to pull out, I noticed on the other incoming side a car of women who also thought they were going to get that spot. When convertible man saw this he began to yell not very nice things to them.

The way the parked car pulled out ended up blocking convertible man and in went the car of women. Convertable man was not happy about this and kept his car stopped so he could continue to yell not so nice things to the women. As he did this a woman walked past him and said, “Sir, you can stop, I’m pulling out right here.”

And that should have ended it. But he was angry and had to be right.

So while he waited for the other woman to pull out, he kept yelling at the all the women that pulled in – including a 6 year old child. He was so busy yelling at them that he didn’t notice the other woman pulling out but he did notice another car from the opposite side pull in.

Now he was very angry.

He had been screwed over once, and rather than let it go he focused on it so much that when a second opportunity presented itself, he couldn’t take it. All he could do was park his car, get out and chase both parties down to yell about how they were all his spot.

So there he was, standing still, unhappy, looking ridiculous and without parking. One spot taken, another missed. So busy focusing on that which made him angry that he kept himself from seeing something that he needed open up right in front of him.

Travels

Carmel CA

January 10, 2008

My secret beach in Carmel had beautiful, tall trees and flowers that kept trying to grow amongst the white sandy beaches. It was quiet, peaceful and beautiful. I’d go here when I needed to feel the same.

Then last week rough weather approached and for a few days the secret beach was dark and clung to desperately to its winter beauty. The clouds rolled over the regular beach, too, creating massive waves and ominous skies. But the beach, though darker, was unchanged. Although the winds and waves were kicking up, the white sand tried so hard to stay, hiding things underneath while letting selective things grow. It wasn’t ready for the change and tried to pretend nothing was happening.

It’s just winds and waves said the beach and those who came – this is how it always is. You think something will happen but really, it doesn’t. We pretend to ooh and ahh and watch the show but truthfully, it’s just show.

But then a storm really came; trees were down, power was out for two days, hurricane winds pelted down over 6 inches of rain in 24 hours. The view from my flat was usually beautiful but I couldn’t see through the rain or clouds and at night it was pitch black with no solace from a candle. It was an isolating, scary and humbling three day period because no one was really prepared.

When the worst of the storm was over the dog and I were itching to walk and so to our beach we went, expecting just to see some big waves and dark skies as before. Yet when we arrived we found the beach very much changed.

It was bare – there were no people or beach; just new cliffs with a small bit of sand below full of seaweed. It wasn’t safe to walk on, it smelled bad from everything washing out – then back – to shore. It was in transition and no one – and nothing – wanted to be there. And so we left wondering if it would ever be the same as before.

Of course it wouldn’t. Nothing stays the same after a storm.

New Beach

A few more days later I went back to the beach and found it once again transformed but this time, into something much more beautiful and interesting. The cliffs were still there but now gave way to a new kind of beach. One that lacked all the comforting soft white sand and instead now had boulders everywhere that were hidden for who knows how long. They were beautiful, mysterious, filled with life in all their nooks and crannies.

And they were slowly being discovered by people who had returned after the storm and wanted to see the beauty of change.

New Beach

Usually it’s a quick walk on the beach but today the dog and I lingered, even played. We got trapped on boulders, walked through the cold water, talked with some surfers who loved the new waves. I marveled at how quickly it had changed.

Even though the storm was scary terribly scary to be in and the transformation of the beach was hard to watch at first (I was sad to see my struggling flowers die), it produced a dramatic change back to what it once was. It just did it; no gathering of people to dig away the sand, no permission to get, no questions asked if it was ready – it just did it.

New Beach

And that doing produced an old beach that had been hidden for so long and made it new again for itself and those who came to it. It became a beach that truthfully, was a little more fun than the last.

Smile

Everyday Words

January 6, 2008

Fall Layers

It’s not in me to wear a yellow slicker during storms but I still go out in them. I prefer not to wear hiking shoes whilst hiking yet have been to the top of more mountains than anyone I know. I don’t like pants when using power tools or putting up dry wall. It’s just not in me to be in anything other than a skirt or dress.

But people are often uncomfortable with this. I have friends who, for years, have tried to fit me in jeans or make me “hip.” Girlfriends who think because I wear a dress that twirls I’m prissy when I am only wearing one layer to their 5 (who put more thought in and worries more? Not I). There is an assumption because I dress like a girl, I must be limited to phrases such as “princess” and only wear pink. I have never used the word princess and I don’t own anything pink.

My adoration for dresses and skirts come for my love of pretty and my laziness. They’re easy, versatile and simply, me. And they’ve made me a target of a lot of people’s jokes, assumptions and insecurities. But that hasn’t ever changed how I feel about them.

Besides, wearing them on blustery days has given me great reflexes.

Everyday Words

Signs

November 12, 2007
signs

It seems as though everyone looks for “signs” as whether to do something or not. Let the stars guide me, they say. They’ll randomly flip through passages of books to find “words of meaning” and direction. They’ll count to 10 and if a bell rings they know to move forward. Everyone just wanting reassurance from some other super force that they’re on the right track.

But what I’ve noticed is when people look for “signs” they’re really only looking for the “yes.” No one really looks for the “no.” If they don’t get a sign, they try a new trick. Show me a sign that he loves me! I need a sign if I should move! Give me a sign to take that job! But if nothing happens, almost no one every takes it as a no. They just simply look for another sign.

I’ve always believed that when you ask advice, you’re really just looking for confirmation of what you already know but you’re just not ready to hear it. Sometimes I wonder if all the “sign seekers” already know the answer, too, but just aren’t ready to accept that they already have the answer and the power.