My smiling face is almost completely blocked by my gray-bearded terrier's profile as she sticks her face in mine.My dog has been spending a lot of her downtime in the bedroom these days. But she has the sweetest habit: when she’s been in there long enough, she comes running into the living room to check on me. She’ll come trotting in to make sure I’m still here, make a beeline to the couch, hop up next to me, give me a quick kiss on the cheek, then hop right down again and head back to the bedroom like nothing ever happened. It leaves me feeling all mushy and melty.

It has been a very long time since I’ve published with any regular cadence. As another birthday approaches and I’m reminded of the passage of time and of times past, as the online world continues to devolve into the cesspool that is humanity’s natural dark side, I find myself occasionally nostalgic for the early web. (Everyone likes to call it web 1.0 but, nah. Release cycles strike me as antithetical to the way the web actually develops.)

I’ve become nostalgic for the giddy days when my ongoing discovery of new pockets of this new world set my brain off like pop rocks. None of my friends were much aware of the internet in 1990 (it was an accident that I’d been introduced to it myself), so I was on my own in a wide-open reality without expectation.

When I arrived in California in ‘97, I finally found some comfort in the real world, with what felt like my people. I got a job at a record store, then a jobby job working for friends of my sister’s boyfriend. My bosses would pick me up on motorcycles with the fairings self-consciously removed and we would lane-split our way across the Bay Bridge only to sleep off our hangover under an office desk till the phones started ringing.

I was finally feeling like myself. Confident. I was writing more. My first blog was mainly a rambling snapshot of this new life as the clock flipped from the late ‘90s into the new century, the new millennium. Hosted on Blogger (well before Google swallowed it along with everything else), not even the Wayback Machine has it archived.

That early journaling slowly morphed into blogs with more shape to them, documenting my bartending and my exploration into environmentalism. Then somewhere along the way, things got serious. I built myself a “career.” I lost that early confidence and developed some other kind. I set out to earn a living doing what I love — writing — and I mostly succeeded. But copywriting and eventually UX writing sucked the air out of my creative sails. I just stopped writing for myself at all. For years.

I still struggle with the practice of it, even now that I’ve shifted into strategy work and have returned to recording snippets of bad poetry on scraps of paper and notepads. It strikes me, though, that the act of publishing was what freed me from holding onto the words so tightly. And I haven’t published anything regularly really since my blogging years.

I’ve never been good at separating my personal from professional. So as I became more professional (and you know I use that word loosely), I found myself questioning what I really had to say. I clung to some inflated idea of how the words should be. The pieces I’ve shared here over the years are fine enough but they’re…cautious. And I want to get back to that ephemeral fearlessness of those earlier days, when the web was an experiment, and life was an experiment, and we were all just explorers.

So here we are. Fits and starts. Working on getting out of my own way. As ever. Happy birthday to me.