Fifteen years ago, OnMilwaukee.com came to life and at the time most of the editors had no idea their future would eventually lead them there. Some were working other jobs and already married, while others were still waiting to hit puberty.
Regardless, a lot has changed for all of them in the past decade-and-a-half, so here’s a flash back to the OnMilwaukee.com editors’ 1998 lives.
What was your life like back then?
Oy. How have I changed since 1998? It would be easier to list the ways I haven't changed - but honestly, other than the blond hair and blue eyes, I can't think of one. In 1998 I was nine years old, I couldn't spell Mississippi and I really, really, really (really) wanted to marry Zac Hanson. Like, I was pretty much planning my whole future around marrying Zac Hanson. College plans? Maybe, if Zac will pay for it. Career? Having Zac Hanson's babies. Back-up plan? Marry Leonardi di Caprio (except that part hasn't really changed). I'd like to say that I have a lot more confidence and knowledge than I did when I was nine, but I'm not sure that's true – I have a lot more life experience, but I'm not sure that translates to knowledge. Do we ever really learn, after all? I guess that's a conversation for another article. But I do have an awesome real-life husband now (who is not Zac Hanson, or Leonardo di Caprio), a job I love and the ability to drink legally. So it's turned out pretty well.
It'd be far easier to say what hasn't changed about me since 1998 than what has, but ... I'm more apt to try different foods – 1998 was the year of the cheeseburger – I also go to and enjoy concerts that feature instruments vs. DJ tables and wear collared shirts. Oh, and I don't think golf is an "old man's game" anymore.
In 1998, I was working in a cube in Waukesha writing (among other things) the copy for those little order form cards that fall out of magazines. I was certain I didn’t want children (within six years I would have two sons) and I spent all of my free time with my friends even though I was a newlywed. I wore slips as dresses, carried a metal Strawberry Shortcake lunchbox for a purse and rocked vintage, "grandma," cat-eye glasses. It wasn’t my favorite year, but it was an important time for figuring out who I was and where I needed to go. Fifteen years later, I am living my life a lot more authentically, both professionally and personally. And no longer listening to Alanis Morrisette.
Most everything has changed in my life since 1998, including my job. I'm now a married homeowner, father and dog owner (though they clearly own me more than I own them) who doesn't actively play in a band, but who can – and does – watch baseball on his phone.
What hasn't changed? I'm still an uncle, brother and son who makes a living with words. I continue – unabashedly and unashamedly – to read books on paper and to root for the Mets and Brewers regardless of whether or not they're playing well.
Besides getting married, having a child, adopting dogs and cats and becoming a homeowner, I've slowed down, matured (not too much, though) and become a lot more measured in my world view. Physically, I've gained some weight, lost some hair ... but at least I'm not wearing those boat shoes anymore. OnMilwaukee.com, which was started in my apartment, has moved into a Downtown skyscraper, so I'm more likely to be wearing pants to work these days. But really, I'm the same guy on the inside, albeit a little more gray and weathered. My politics are the same, as are my passions and my hobbies. They say that youth is wasted on the young, and I think that's true. I was perhaps too driven of a guy at age 24, so my ambitions then are my ambitions now. Just with a tiny bit less anxiety and much more mindfulness.
I still have a Milwaukee chip on my shoulder. Although, it’s much smaller than it was in 1998. All in all, I really haven’t changed that much. Sure, I shave my head now and don’t wear khakis anymore. I have an awesome wife, two amazing kids and a much better appreciation for the many blessings in my still young life. I like to ask people to "define success." And, through these 15 years of OnMilwaukee, still one of the best answers came from a Fast Company editor that we had speak at a YPM (Young Professionals of Milwaukee) event. He paraphrased Churchill saying, "going from failure to failure with enthusiasm." We’ve "failed" a lot, but it’s all come together in a very successful and enthusiastic manner. I love that, and thank you for your support. Here’s to the next 15 years!