Playful, elegant, and not above the judicious use of the word “shit."

Thirteen years

In November of 2002 in the days leading up to leaving my home in Los Angeles to move back to Utah, I wrote a post about the music that had serenaded the wonderful years I spent living in California. This was long before iTunes or Rdio or Spotify, and I thought I’d put up some MP3s of my favorite songs to give readers an idea of what my experience in California sounded like. This website was hosted on a tiny shared server at Earthlink, and if I remember correctly my hosting package allowed five gigs of bandwidth a month and cost me $14/month. Over the next few weeks so many people downloaded those MP3s that I exceeded that allowance. By, oh, just a tiny bit. Tiny enough that the bill Earthlink sent me was over $2400.

I was unemployed at the time having been fired because of this website, and you could say that I did not handle my reaction to this bill very thoughtfully. I was then living in a basement bedroom at my mom’s house in Draper, Utah and made such a commotion that my Granny Boone who was living in the room directly above mine suggested to my mother that they might need to call an exorcist. Not one of my finer moments, no, but my twenties were rife with those. As were my teens. And thirties. And yesterday.

I worked with Earthlink for over a month to try to reduce that bill and then set up a Paypal account to accept donations from anyone who wanted to help out. I was overwhelmed and surprised by the support readers showed me when in fact I thought the response was going to be just the opposite. Those who made donations helped me cover the entire bill that I had narrowed down to $1300. It wasn’t my first glimpse at the generosity shown by strangers on the other side of a screen and by far not the last. In fact, the help that I received during that time has been one of the guiding principles I always go back to when making decisions about this space: seek out opportunities to pay it forward.

After paying off that bill I asked around for recommendations for a new hosting company. I needed better service, more bandwidth, and ongoing assurance that I wouldn’t get into trouble like that again. Within a few days I received an email from the late Leslie Harpold, former editor of an early online publication called Smug. I’d been a fan of that magazine since I had begun blogging and had no idea that she was aware of my existence. Starstruck and humbled, I checked out her suggestion and within a week had transferred my entire website to Liquid Web.

That was 11 years ago this month. I’ve been a loyal and evangelizing customer ever since.

liquidwe

Last month my website turned 13 years old, and at some point I’m sure it would be worthwhile to put together a post similar to this excellent one by Grace Bonney given that I’ve been doing this long before ads for blogs ever existed, long before a blog could be a business, long before hordes of people started blogging specifically to make money. But when I sat down to commemorate the birthday of this space with a post like that I chose instead to write about Leta’s piano performance. It made more sense because parenting my 10-year-old was making me happier than the ins-and-outs of the business of blogging.

I’m writing this post because I was recently reminded of some of the early personalities on the web that I have had the pleasure of meeting and spending time with, Leslie among them. And I owe her that early recommendation that has played a crucial role in keeping this boat afloat. Liquid Web has been a responsive and tireless partner of mine this whole time and has seen me move from space on a shared server to a dedicated server to the development of the dooce® Community to the addition of two more web servers and a complicated setup that requires an expertise far beyond my own.

In an effort to find more joy in my life I’ve been making a concerted effort to express more gratitude. Perhaps a better way to commemorate the fact that my website became a teenager than talking about how the landscape has so dramatically changed for those of us who do this is to begin to offer up some thanks to those who have helped along the way. Today I want to thank those readers who donated to my Paypal account to help me pay off that bandwidth bill. I know I would never have continued to keep this up and running without your kindness.

Thanks to Leslie for her recommendation and practical advice on life. The emails we exchanged back and forth I count as one of the highlights of my time online.

Thanks to Liquid Web for managing this behemoth as it has weathered the ups and downs of the rocky terrain otherwise known as blogging. Here’s to navigating more of the map together.

  • Cheers!

  • RzDrms

    Thanks, too, to your other webmasters and database admins; I’m so grateful for those contributions and improvements over time.

  • Happy birthday, Heather.

  • Congrats on an amazing 13 years, friend.

  • Richard Morey

    Great post and I love the photo of the doggies, especially that Coco seems to be hiding her head!

  • it sounds mad but remembering that strife you were in at the time reminds me of how different the ‘landscape’ was at that time. i miss it.

  • Megan

    Aw, Leslie. ;-; I envy you that experience just a little. Thanks for sharing even a little bit of it.

    Happy bday, Dooce.

  • Katie B

    Happy Birthday, Dooce. I’ve been reading you for a very long time and don’t believe I’ve ever commented. Your honor and honesty have impressed me over the years, as well as your humor. It is fun and inspiring to watch you give back to the world, too. Kind regards from Bartlett, TN

  • The story of how Bootylicious almost bankrupted Heather.

  • PhotoCoyote

    I’ve been reading your blog since 2002, shortly after you got fired. I’ve loved every page and photo. You done good, girl. Brava!

  • potat

    The first post I ever read was when Chuck ate a corndog in one bite and pooped out the stick. Needless to say, I’ve been hooked ever since. By the way, does anyone know how long ago that was?

  • Effie B

    This is so cool. You are so cool!

  • genoendicott

    Liquid Web hosted my site/email back in the day. And I second they are amazing!!!

  • D

    Could you clarify whether this post is sponsored by Liquid Web?

  • RzDrms

    She would’ve if it was, so it’s 99% guaranteed to not have been.

  • Heather Armstrong

    This post is not in any way sponsored by Liquid Web. It is, however, sponsored by my butt.

  • kmpinkel

    Happy Birthday, Dooce! I have a friend who works for Liquid Web, so they must be awesome! Do yo uthink your butt would be willing to sponsor a couple of my projects?

  • Jeanie

    I did not donate to your Paypal account, but if I was reading blogs way back then, I would have been happy to contribute. Actually, I’m pretty sure I didn’t have any idea what a blog was.

  • Guest

    Happy birthday! I don’t think I’ve commented here before, but I wanted to thank you for the impact you’ve had. Your stories and experiences make people laugh, think and act– all great things. I started reading your blog about 7 years ago and at the time I was shooting with a tiny, cheap point-and-shoot camera. I was totally taken by the photos you posted and when I read about the camera you were using, I did a little research, bit the bullet and bought a DSLR, which was a huge investment for me at the time. That was two cameras ago– I’ve since won awards and try and take photos every day. I appreciate those who helped you get to where you are today and can’t wait to see where things go from here.

  • Sshoys

    Happy birthday! I don’t think I’ve commented here before, but I wanted
    to thank you for the impact you’ve had. Your stories and experiences
    make people laugh, think and act– all great things. I started reading
    your blog about 7 years ago and at the time I was shooting with a tiny,
    cheap point-and-shoot camera. I was totally taken by the photos you
    posted and when I read about the camera you were using, I did a little
    research, bit the bullet and bought a DSLR, which was a huge investment
    for me at the time. That was two cameras ago– I’ve since won awards
    and try and take photos every day. I appreciate those who helped you
    get to where you are today and can’t wait to see how things evolve from
    here.

  • patches23

    I was just thinking, maybe if we wanted to make a donation and contribute to something to show our love for Heather, her writing, those amazing kids and nutty dogs, maybe we could send a dollar or two to the Red Cross. They sure could use the help. Up here in Washington near where I live we had one of the wettest March’s ever. A huge hill just came apart and flowed down on a town. I see the articles and tweets from people up there and I can’t even imagine it. But just thought I’d mention the need if you are so inclined.

  • FC

    Oh, my. I remember that post. Was my introduction to Ryan Adams who’s been a personal favorite ever since. It’s been a long time, but I can still remember what first brought me to your blog. A short story in a pdf anthology. The story about attempting to seduce your roommate’s future husband. Loved that store. Happy 13th and wish you many more.

  • Christy Byrne

    Heather,
    I have been reading since the early days and just wanted to say how much I enjoy this website. We are exactly the same age and it appears our lives have followed similar paths. I just started reading from the beginning of the archives yesterday, and felt I was reliving similar moments in my life. Whew – I’m exhausted 🙂 Funny – your early posts talked about your cooking “skills” of which I possess the same. Cut to more recent posts where you are posting recipes from the Paleo cookbook….I guess we’re all growing up. I attempted my first meatloaf the other night thinking if you could cook then I surely could throw meat together in a square Pyrex. (ugh I hate it but the family requested). Anyway, I missed the part in the recipe where it was supposed to go back in the oven for half an hour. Yeah – served the family (including new spouse) raw freaking meatloaf! I thought of you and laughed. When my 14 year old asked what she was then supposed to eat (with the appropriate amount of teenage angst) I told her my butt.
    Keep up the good work Heather. You have no idea how much you have touched my life. A true community you have formed here. Thanks again.

  • Happy thirteen!

  • shy

    happy anniversary! happy followere since 2002 – and man, can you believe it’s been over a decade?

  • I was waiting for that. :o)

  • Your writing about the anniversary made me think about how long I’ve been reading, and oh man, it’s been at least 8 years now. Time flies and yadda yadda, but I do feel mighty glad to have been introduced to your blog all those years ago.

  • Alex

    I’ve been a regular reader since 2005 as an impressionable teenager (when it was the only blog address I could remember out of a blog round-up in the local Sydney paper) and don’t think I’ve ever commented. In any event I can’t quite believe it’s already been 9 years of reading for me and 13 years of writing for you! Thank you so much for all your work – it can’t be easy at times, but your posts have alternatively inspired, amused, saddened and enlightened me immeasurably over the years. Looking forward to what the future brings. Happy 13th and best wishes to you and your family. And make sure you visit Australia one day!

  • shy

    just to add – the modesty patch always, always, ALWAYS makes me laugh! i share your modesty patch post with friends and co-workers whom have dogs. one of my fave modesty patch that said “alejandro”. chuck was sporting a pair of lady gaga inspired shades at the time.