On a fateful day in 2009, a 12 year old boy who had been thrust from his hometown into the city had a broken Xbox. He had this laptop that he had won back in 06 as part of a raffle for being eligible for food stamps and free lunch in his towns middle school. So as he was short of friends and free on time. He opened the laptop and pressed the power button.
During one scarily hot summer, before he had yet chosen the name his future friends would come to know him as, he ended up on a youtube binge watching folks open boxes. After going through games related content, he ended up on people opening boxes made by Apple. A couple weeks of watching videos about all kinds of computers, he then ended up on a youtube channel by the name of “thisweekinlinux.”
At the same time, the boy was meeting with a therapist who came to his home once a week. This therapist failed in their goal to open the boy up to the emotions within, but always let the boy play with their iPhone. They had a jailbroken iPhone 3g, which the boy found wild amounts of inspiration from. The boy maybe couldn’t find their heart, but found a new hobby:
On the youtube channel, there was a video talking about a recent update to an OS called Ubuntu. The 9.10 update. His curiosity peaked and he decided one day to install it. Something went wrong during the installation and he asked in the comments how to fix it. One person responded: “It’s a little bit complex man, but if you have the time hop into our IRC channel at #twil on freenode. I’ll be glad to help in more detail there.”
He was faced with a login prompt and chose the first name that his friends would come to know him by. Little did he know at the time though, that there was a freedom in which choosing his own name gave him. He was freed from any of the assumptions anyone had ever made about him.
A couple of months later, he met two folks. They both weren’t fond of him at first, but his consistent nagging and chatter eventually had them tolerating him.
Thus the closest thing to a friendship was born. His first in many years.
They were both more knowledgable and skilled than the boy, he was making jokes while they were actually building and working. But he looked up to the both of them.
When he was 14, he said he wanted to write. He was given an account on a blog long forgotten. The words were not crafted particularly well, and the grammar was left to be desired. The traction was low, but it was fun for the boy.
When he was 15, he once again said he wanted to write. He was given some hosting space and he threw up a placeholder site. A couple of months later, he had taught himself basic design and made a site on Tumblr. Some time after that the site began to have a nascent following and a couple of appearances on some larger sites.
That site was a blog about computers with a focus on open source software and the newest OS of the time Android.
The shock value that any kind of success could be attainable for the boy put bolts in him. And he found himself in a place of doubt because no one had really believed in him, and any sense of success did not seem genuine. The concept of genuine success and praise was foreign.
“The only way to break out of writers block is by writing about writers block, which in turn forces me to write something, which then causes for a short burst of joy when I know there is something new for you, dearest reader, to read.
I wake up, have the best conversations of my life in the morning shower, and then go to a school. Upon arrival of my home, I have no want to write. That isn’t to say that I lack a topic to write about I have a plethora of those the issue is one of pure corollary. It’s the same issue I have with trying to keep a consistent linkblog, I wrote the same opinion linking to another piece a month back, I don’t want to just sit here and rehash opinions.”
“I suppose I should run on a new startup for hosting, an open source CMS that is everything wordpress doesn’t stand for (preferably running on rails), and drink my fresh coffee while enjoying the loquaciousness of my keyboard.
But, I am not, nor do I think I will ever be.
I have been thinking about what this should be, or more specifically, what entails a modern day blog on a modern day publishing platform. Direct writing will always be there of course, but what about different mediums? Photo essays, shared videos, quotations, and various other content types have generally been traditionally replaced by a linked list, in the blogs of the last decade.
I came to the conclusion that I should indeed, strive to post much more than words alone on this blog, using web standards to intensify the meaning of the content, RSS be damned.”
The boy, now 16 had seem to fallen out of love with writing. He still had love for words. Little did he know however that these phases would continue on until adulthood. Photography, coding, music, and writing were all tasks he took upon himself to learn and then promptly put aside when something else came along.
The boy stopped creating.
3 years later, the boy found himself working shitty jobs. He was led by teachers to believe he was not fit for colleges or even worthy of success. A teacher in high school had laughed when someone asked what college he was going to apply to. Another had said everyone would consider him an asshole in the workforce if he acted the way he did. The local community college he found himself in was just to pass time, a place to spend his day before work began.
In that community college, he found himself surrounded by folks who were more talented than him. Folks who had their paths and purposes laid out for them. Folks who knew the right path to successful. He felt he was lucky enough to even be in the same room as them.
For you see the boy came from a world where college is not the norm. He was first generation. He came from the ground. His first word was hustle. Making money and staying afloat is how success is judged in that world, education is just wishful thinking. Families selling food out their kitchens while cutting folks sons and daughters hair to make ends meet. Trips to the government offices were always biweekly.
He did not have any path laid out in front of him.
When faced of the choice of what path to follow, he froze. The echoes of the past came ahead when he scrolled down the list of majors. He had threads in photography, coding, music, and writing. The threads were faint by this point and had lost the emotional ties they had once had. He cowardly chose no path. Work overtook school and he had once again, chose not to be creative.
As moonlight disrupted the day, he found himself still awake. Working. One night he realized that no one had been searching for him. He had been working when the moon was out and sleeping when the sun came up, so every invitation had to be declined. His two friends from that linux channel were still around, but he was failing on his end. He didn’t talk to them. He didn’t talk to anyone.
The boy found himself alone once again.
There’s an island that one can sometimes find themselves on. Surrounded by fog and harsh tides, you find yourself crying and trying to stare out into the distance. There isn’t a lighthouse though, you realize that you’re all alone. You can wait for the fog to clear and the tide to subside. You can wait for someone to come and save you with a boat. Or you can try and build the boat for yourself and make your way of the island.
At his very lowest, he took a moment to place himself in his world. He was on the island. Nothing in his life had balance, he was seeking purpose in the city. No one was going to come and bring him the boat. The fog was never going to clear. The tide was never going to subside. He felt like there was nowhere for him, he decided to buy to go back home.
Back home he found that nothing had changed since he was a child. Some folks he grew up with had overdosed and passed, others were in jail for petty crimes. Now this wasn’t the first time he had been back home, an extended stay during his teens and various visits had found himself in that town.
The town felt stuck in time, waiting for his return. Folks who had been peddling food stamps on the street were still doing that. Those who were out until dawn peddling drugs were still peddling drugs. And those in uptown who could completely ignore the projects were still just as ignorant.
He spoke to his mother about what it truly meant to find your place in the world. She told him that he what he lacked was commitment. It isn’t that the path you chose is the proper path, is isn’t important that the path you chose is the clearest path. What matters is that you chose a path forward and stuck to it. What makes you an adult isn’t the success you find for yourself, what makes you an adult is being able to make decisions, stick to them and face the consequences of your actions.
The boy (who at this point was starting to show signs that he maybe wasn’t a man) decided to pick computers and make a life for himself up north. He picked up another job while coding through the night. He was sleeping on the floor, bouncing from a different town to a different city. The town he was working in was working poor and white. The city he sometimes found himself was rich.
While he improving as a coder, he wasn’t improving at a rate fast enough to make it his breadwinner. He was still alone, as even though he was on a different island, he thought if he devoted himself to work he could build the boat off the island. It turns out that even thought some boats can be purchased, they often sink. The best boats are built with others.
More months passed and he found himself at another crossroad. His housing situation was about to end and he was faced with the choice of either finding housing in the hole he grew up in or to just head back to the city. The city that he thought had nothing left for him. He decided to admit defeat. He’d head back to the city, but this time he’d do things on his terms.
Another fight had also been waging on within him. The boy had always been around folks who had blossomed into the people they were meant to be later in life. Folks who told the binary to fuck off and went upon their own path. This person found themselves at a crossroad similar to the same one faced by others. In what world did they fit in? Where in this world was their place?
Gender is just a construct, but it’s one that can be of use to people. For better or worse. The boy had made the decision one day while laying on the floor. The boy was a person, but the person was not a boy.
This person now 20, may be heading back into the same abyss they were in a year earlier. The difference is this time they had ambition. There’s a better life out there for them and they now saw that they had to build it for themself. Success had to be fought for. Having meaningful friendships had to be fought for.
They was starting from zero, but this time they had a path they laid out for themself.
During the late spring of their 20th year alive. The person had found a new hobby. Around the time they were 18. They had started a podcast with one of their friends from that linux channel. It had been going off an on for three years. Mostly off because a lack of commitment from them. But on a whim one day, they decided that it would be a fun idea to start a podcast network.
It’s been six months since then. This story is still being written, this telling of the story is missing out on things. In one version, the perspective of the older brother who has spent their whole life fighting schizophrenia was taken. In another the older brother who had abandoned his family was taken. And in a certain version, the perspective of the mother who allowed for people to come in and harm the person once known as the boy was taken.
This story isn’t over yet, and there’s more to be written.
I’ve spent too many years wallowing over what I want to do with my life. I was born in a family where there were no expectations besides hitting the bare minimum requirements of being an adult in America. Anyone who has read my blog knows that I’ve written extensively about it, and if you’ve known me long enough to have read technoticRaccoon then you surely know I have a problem with making up my mind. I know I’m late. Even if I get discouraged and sad sometimes I know that I can make something out of my life.
I might not be amazing today, but I’m still better than I was yesterday and that truly makes me happy. Writing swift is fun, making websites is fun, podcasts are fun. Creating is fun. And I know with enough work that I can make a career out something. These things might not come today or tomorrow, but I have to believe that good things are meant for me.
Right now I’m making a podcast. Tomorrow it’ll be a blog. One day it might be a book, I’ve accepted that I’m not going to fall into one trade as The Thing that I do with my life. I’m going to live a long time and I intend to do well with that time.
I might not be there yet, but I got people who care about me1 and we’re all working on it.
This might not be how I wanted the blog to launch, but I learnt long ago that you start with the content and build the platform later. For the third time in my life, welcome to my new blog. Welcome to the new computer boys.
You know, I still vividly remember the first time I hopped onto IRC and met both of them. I don’t think I tell them how important they are to me as friends enough, so I want this to be in the piece. I’ve had people dip and ghost me, but I can always hop onto EntropyNet and be met with warmness by both of them. I can even hit them up with some of my most wild ideas and they still listen. Friendship that can last years and transcend locations are rare. I’m better for having both of them in my life. ↩