posted 06 July 2007
I arrived in the world 2 weeks late, in the middle of September. By the miracle of caesarean technology, I did not kill my mother in the process. She said when she woke up I was already awake and looking at her, smugly. Thus the tone was set for the rest of my life.
1982 (zero):
Since I was the third baby, my parents had got bored of taking pictures. There's not a lot of record of this period.
1983 (one):
Learned to walk, I guess. My parents do not remember my first words. Third baby.
1984 (two):
Learned to swim. I remember having inflatable armbands, and not needing them.
1985 (three):
A blue cookie monster birthday cake would have been the best cake ever had the icing not been made of coconut shavings, which I hated. My dear aunt who made it for me wasn't to know.
1986 (four):
A red tricycle featured heavily in my existence. It was the "fastest bike in the world".
1987 (five):
I fell in love with a girl. She left at the end of the school year, and I still wonder what happened to her. She sent me a few postcards. Zosia, do you remember me?
1988 (six):
I went from reading books to devouring them. Matilda, by Roald Dahl, was a particular favourite. She was smarter than everybody else and she had super powers. I totally wished myself there.
1989 (seven):
I started building fake computers by getting boxes and drawing patterns of boxes and screens on them. I spent hours and hours trying out new designs for the interface. Seriously. Culminated in inventing a wristwatch computer, which consisted of the plastic cover from a pack of AA batteries with a small paper interface inserted inside it.
1990 (eight):
Trinidad had an attempted coup by a fundamentalist Islamic group. It failed almost immediately, but plunged the nation into chaos. I remember the smoke from the burning capital; the looters walking calmly down the road with whole beds balanced on their heads; a lady dropped to her knees and begging for her life as a policeman pointed a gun at her.
1991 (nine):
Somebody called me "gay" for the first time. I had no idea what the word meant, but it sounded rude. I went to computer camp, and won a scholarship to come back the next year.
1992 (ten):
I stopped going to the playground and started staying in at lunchtimes to read books. I got my first computer for my 11th birthday.
1993 (eleven):
I used my computer to write and very crudely illustrate stories. I went to sailing camp. I was dreadful, but I won the prize for "most intellectual". The long nightmare that was secondary school began.
1994 (twelve):
My fundamental sense of honesty forced me to answer "non" in French class when asked "aimes-tu des filles?" I learned to suppress my fundamental sense of honesty.
1995 (thirteen):
I skipped a grade at school. Suddenly, I was even smaller and less popular than before. The beatings began. This was tempered by meeting and forming friendships with the very small handful of friends I was to have at that school, who shaped my life, and who are still my friends today.
1996 (fourteen):
The Internet arrived in January. Everything, absolutely everything, changed. It was like somebody took a bag off my head and I saw where I was -- namely, very far away from everything interesting. I looked at and thought "Damn, I'd like to work for these guys, but they've already built their site, why would they need another HTML guy?" I searched Infoseek for "gay" and discovered what it really meant. "Seldo" the Internet personality was born to keep a barrier of anonymity between the gay teenager and me.
1997 (fifteen):
The nadir of my life. Crying in the shower, I admitted to myself that I was gay. I repulsed myself. I poured my sob stories out over mailing lists on the Internet to keep me sane, and cried myself to sleep more times than I can count. I planned to commit suicide on my 16th birthday -- I had a detailed plan and a note. On the day, I got distracted. Then I had my first kiss, with a boy who wasn't ready to admit he kissed boys, which gave me something else to worry about.
1998 (sixteen):
I discovered that I liked dancing, and that people liked me when I was dancing. My handful of friends ballooned into a posse of twenty-five. Through one of that crowd, I also discovered sex. School continued to be an ongoing nightmare, but evenings and weekends were much improved.
1999 (seventeen):
The long nightmare was finally over. I spent nine months earning pocket change doing personal Internet literacy training for adults and building websites for various clueless companies. I watched Columbine unfold and was bemused at people asking "how could they do it?". Had these people never been to high school? The wonder is that everybody doesn't do it. At the end of the year I left for London.
2000 (eighteen):
BOOM! Eighteen years old and no experience, but you say you know PHP and HTML? No problemo! Sign on the dotted line! Funded by the irrational exuberance of crazed VCs and a white-hot job market I took cabs everywhere and went clubbing 'til 4am twice a week. I also went on my first-ever "date". I wrote an email home to friends: "Know this: now, if at no other time in my life, I am truly happy". As the boom turned to bust, I entered university.
2001 (nineteen):
At university, I became Seldo full-time. I had my first serious relationship. I discovered that I was not nearly as clever as I thought I was. I went dancing three or four times a week. I got a lot better at it. I also met two people who were to become central to my life for the next half a decade. Al-Qaeda struck the towers a few days before my birthday, and changed the world forever.
2002 (twenty):
I came to the sad realization that the people who ran the world were no smarter than most of the people around me. Meanwhile, my antics had got people calling me "boy-band boy". I pretended to be displeased. In a flash of insight, I scribbled out twenty pages of notes and diagrams that described a new way of the web could work, but with no idea how to implement it. A couple years later, people implemented something that looked a lot like it and called it "Ajax".
2003 (twenty-one):
I graduated from Warwick, and with the job market still soft after the bust, I grabbed the first half-decent thing I could find, which was a dreadful mistake. I also met M, who became my constant companion for years afterwards. We fell in love with London together, and my parents got false hope from me spending so much time with a girl.
2004 (twenty-two):
After a year of hating my job, my boss from back in the boom came and rescued me with a lead to a much better job in an expanding, if evil, industry. My days became filled with the tinny sounds of ringtones and an endless supply of tea but my nights were filled with the sound of violent domestic arguments between a flatmate and his girlfriend, so it was time to go.
2005 (twenty-three):
The year of good music and guest list entry. Two DJs/writers for housemates was a lot of fun; I was not nearly cool enough to live with them. The bombs in July freaked me the hell out for months afterwards, and then Katrina drove me to tears of frustrated rage. A call out of the blue asked if I wanted to work for Yahoo!.
2006 (twenty-four):
A rollercoaster year. My longest and best relationship, followed by the breakup. Job security and house-hunting, suddenly whisked out from under my feet and replaced with an even better job, but half the world away. A goodbye to London and a whole culture.
2007 (twenty-five):
The adventure continues.