textpattern ♥

[written 02/23/11]

when i first started mellowtrouble, in 2002, it was as a geocities page. remember those? i had decided a few years before that i wanted to learn html, especially after seeing a cousin’s page devoted to shakira. she was 13 (the cousin, not shakira) and all i can remember is that the site had a background of purple bubbles and boy was i jealous. so, finding myself spending a lot of time at ucla’s young research library without actually being a student there (yet), and getting a little tired of writing down all my web bookmarks in these little folded books i’d make – not that they aren’t cool, i love them still – i grabbed a couple of html books from the stacks and started learning what an anchor tag is, what’s the difference between the head and the body, html-wise, etc. of course i wanted a free site for all these newbie attempts, and wow just remembering how annoying geocities admin section was – so buggy! but it worked and was just annoying enough that i couldn’t get too intimidated to keep trying. silver lining, see?

within a few months, i had a bunch of pages all set up and i started writing little journal entries so that my family, who lived far away on the east coast, could keep up with, or at least not worry so much about, my life in california. i had started reading by that point a handful of blogs that quickly expanded to a dozen and then two dozen. i was happy with my site but was starting to feel frustrated by the lack of feedback from anyone. at this point i had bought some space on a server ( & was quickly frustrated with my hosts) and registered mellowtrouble.net. with the bit of coding i’d learned, i tried ‘rolling my own’ comment system, and it worked.. kinda. i think i used dotcomments – no disqus or openid back then. it was wonky and i had to figure out fast some php stuff, but i was thrilled. for the moment.

i knew there were various other options, like the even-then-ubiquitous blogger; moveable type and typepad were getting big then too. i wanted something that would run without a whole lot of daily maintenance from me but that, at the same time, would allow me to get under the hood, so to speak, and fiddle around to my heart’s content. i’d learned in that first year or so that i really enjoyed coding, however basic mine was. i also was starting to appreciate and look for good code – semantically logical code that was browser-friendly. i enjoyed the logic of troubleshooting and just feeling competent with computers and the web. i didn’t want to give that up. i looked at wordpress – for some reason their version of the dashboard (wayy more basic back then) just didn’t appeal. i looked at lots of little cms software that don’t exist anymore. and then i found textpattern.

that was back in the summer of 2004 – and i’ve been using it since. every once in a while, i’ll check out this or that new cms, and sure it looks shiny and kinda fun… but then i try to get under the hood, and it’s a big ol’ mess. usually i can’t make heads or tails out of how it’s pieced together, or else there’s too many limits on what can be done, or, i’ll admit i’m a bit ocd, the code is just uuuuuugly. now, textpattern isn’t perfect and there’s big news up ahead in terms of development that is exciting, even if i don’t quite understand what it’s all about (yet)… but there has always been and there remains an elegance to it, even after all these years. i’ve added many a plugin (dozens, though currently i probably have.. well let me check.. 19!) and even that hasn’t diminished the simplicity of it. every time i upgrade, i actually understand what’s happening – which means if something goes wrong, nine times out of ten i can figure it out. i love that.

i’ve taken a lot of long breaks from this website the past couple of years but i always intend to keep this site around. made that decision a long time ago. (doesn’t hurt that i have lifetime hosting via textdrive, who i supported when they were first starting up.) so, when i was moving and finding it very hard to leave l.a., when i was frustrated with a particular knitting project ;), when my dad was sick, and then with the recent move to bolivia and the way-too-soon-to-be-here baby news.. it’s always helped a lot to write about it. here. a big part of that help comes from just putting my thoughts down in words. i haven’t quite figured out why i do it online – and there’s loads, as any blogger knows, that never makes it online and never will. it’s a selective privacy that one day will make sense to me, i hope. anyhow, it has also helped to get that much-wanted feedback, from comments to emails and more. most commenters i’ve never met but we’ve been communicating online for almost a decade now! that’s amazing. and yet another definite satisfaction is from feeling like there’s a tiny part of the internet that’s all mine – that makes sense, that makes me feel consistent and efficient when i log in, that i can fix with my own bare hands (and laptop), and that remains a steady fixture in my life after seven years.

so here’s to another seven years .. times seven. or more! and thank you, as always, for reading. these baby kicks in my belly (yes, it’s really my uterus that’s being kicked but whatever) are getting a bit more active so i’m off to putter around the kitchen, see if that helps chill baby out. happy end of february ~ ~

p.s. have you checked out the waybackmachine lately? ahem. they upgraded it and wow, it’s even better. yet another score for the internet archive. yay librarians. ;)