April 18, 2008
Gone Digital: How it All Started I
I’ve kept a hard copy journal for as long as I’ve been escorting. The decision to go digital wasn’t a difficult one. I wanted to make sure I had enough to keep my readers interested. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Write something worth reading or do something worth writing”. I’m thinking my readers won’t be disappointed.
In promoting the blog I’ve gotten a great response from the folks on twitter. As I’ve been working in the tech industry for longer than I’ve been an escort – still am, in fact – and since many of my clients are in tech themselves, I thought it was a good place to get the word out. So first and foremost, thanks to all of you tweeters who have already visited my blog and have posted comments. And my apologies to anyone who felt I was spamming them by following them. Special thanks to nicedexter for correcting my bad french!
Some of you have been asking how I got started in my little sideline. The story begins where it finds itself now, in tech. I had moved to San Francisco from tout East at a time when the tech boom was just beginning to peter out. 2000. Of course I knew I had a challenge ahead of me because two of the companies I had interviews with called to cancel because guess what? They were closing.
I did manage to get hired by a company that had been around for five years. It seemed to me that they had a bit of stability but even that was a bumpy ride. They rescinded their original offer without really telling me much. I later found out it was because the company was going through a restructuring. Loads of expensive EOs were being brought in to roll out a new product and they were laying off people throughout the company. Certainly not a situation in which they’d bring in a new designer.
I gave up on San Francisco. Went back to my very low paying job back home with a publishing house that was threatening to fold any day. And then I got the call. Come out to San Francisco. The EOs are gone, we’ve gone back to our original management and we want you! I was very excited.
I packed my bags, waited for the movers to load up my furniture and on an early December day I flew to SFO. I started at the new company the next morning.
Now, in my urgency to get myself to San Francisco, I had made the decision to take the first opportunity that presented itself. Probably not the best choice but I was desperate to get myself here. Things went well for several months. But there was a problem. We had no product! And no revenue model to go with no product. The company began laying off people. Three designers were let go in two months and I was the only mac jockey who remained. And then one Tuesday morning, as I was getting ready for work, I watched two jets plow into The World Trade Center buildings.
We all know how awful that day was.
September 11th completely knocked the tech industry off its already shaky legs. And one month later my company closed its doors. Along with many others.
If you were around in those days you know that the job market became deluged with web designers, marketing and hr people, accountants and pretty much anybody whose skill set didn’t include coding. I remember looking through the listings at the time and seeing descriptions like “seeking web designer: must know java, C++, Oracle and will be responsible for maintaining the corporate network. $30K”. Even the businesses that had nothing to do with tech suffered. Restaurants folded in droves. Southpark had become a ghost town. Almost everyone I worked with left San Francisco to go back to New York or Chicago or to attend grad school. I wondered if things would ever be the same again.
How was I going to be able to live? Unemployment didn’t even cover the rent. It was a very scary time for me. I scrounged around for any little design project I could get and adopted the role of freelancer. Took some pro bono work to beef up my portfolio. And when I wasn’t working I spent a lot of time down at the ocean, learning to surf. Which did a lot for my soul but not much for my pocketbook…