I got this idea from Becky awhile back and thought this would be a neat way to share a little of my online history with you. I can’t believe that I’ve been blogging, designing, and coding for this long!
A friend from summer camp gave me a link to her Yahoo! Geocities website which had a link to her LiveJournal on it. At the time, LiveJournal was invite-only, so my friend gave me an invite code to start. I was big into Harry Potter at the time, so my username was gryffindorgirl5. I also signed up for the free website package on Geocities and created my own web page. This was when I first began to discover the wonderful world of web page creating and online journaling.
After attempting different layouts and such, as well as changing screen names, my web site(s) on Geocities changed quite a bit throughout the years. Over time I saw many different web pages that inspired me, but since I was still a newbie to the web page creating world, I didn’t have much knowledge since I had just been using Yahoo! Page Builder.
I continued to remain at Geocities for 2 years. I began a web page creating/designing class in high school at the beginning of my junior year and learned all about HTML. After finishing the class in December 2003, I had learned enough in order to create my first real web page from good old-fashioned HTML coding.
Meanwhile, I continued to put my growing coding skills to good use as I began creating LiveJournal layouts for myself and friends. However, having a public online journal introduced me to the harsh world of online bullying, so two years later I closed my journal and opened up another one that was more private.
Before I could even wrap my head around creating my own layouts, I hired a fellow local LiveJournal blogger to create a Knight Bus themed Harry Potter layout for me. I earned the nickname knightbusgirl by a fellow blogger which turned into my second LiveJournal account.
In early November 2003, I decided to move from Geocities since I was tired of the errors and annoying pop-ups that came with their product, and I got myself a subdomain on Sphosting. There, I chose my subdomain name as cenamaria and began working to create my first theme, “Hogwarts is my Home.”
The name, “cenamaria”, was a modified version of my nickname (Cena) from 7th grade, which was bestowed upon me by a classmate. The nickname stuck with a few of my friends (and eventually became a pet name), so I decided to go with that name and adding my middle name (Maria) to create my subdomain, since it was unique to me.
Towards the middle of February 2004, I finally got enough money between my birthday and allowance that I could afford to buy a domain, AND it keep it for a while. I purchased cenamaria.com (because of my previous site name) on February 17th from Register Fly, and upgraded my hosting at Sphosting.
I kept my hosting at Sphosting for awhile, but soon I wanted to do more with my site and realized I would have to switch hosting in order to get more freedom with my site. After looking around, I switched hosting to Dreamhost on October 21st, 2004 and have been a happy Dreamhost customer ever since.
Since I now had my own domain, I entered the world of online Fanlistings, cliques, rings, and trading communities like The Pixel Train and The Quilting Bee. While many of these Fanlistings and communities expired over time, I was a proud member of The Quilting Bee for over 10 years until it retired around 2014/2015.
Two years felt like a lifetime with the screename “cenamaria” so “Darth Cena” was my first attempt of bringing out the geeky side with the feminine side. I gradually moved away from everything “cenamaria” to “Darth Cena” which was a play on Darth Vader and my pet name Cena. I wanted a fresh start and since everyone from school knew where my cenamaria.com site was, so I moved everything over to darth-cena.net and continued doing my thing over there for several years.
Eventually I felt like I was outgrowing public blogging especially since a lot of what I used to write was more suitable for social media. I also had a lot of family drama stem from this blog, so I quietly shut it down in 2011 along with my LiveJournal. By the time I shut it down I was already blogging about web design and school related stuff on my portfolio site LovelyGeek.net, so it wasn’t like I completely disappeared from blogging.
My first initial plus my last name, this was my very first attempt at a portfolio site. I called it “Portfolio” thinking that emphasizing the “o” was artsy or something. ? It didn’t stay up for very long nor did it get a whole lot of love because I wasn’t actively promoting myself as a freelancer at the time, but I figured I needed to have something up showcasing the work I had done. I let it expire in 2009 with the hopes of being able to change my last name in the coming year, plus I was trying to focus more on my brand.
This was our wedding site. I bought it shortly after we got engaged and set up a blog so I could document all the wedding planning plus provide details to out-of-town wedding guests. After the wedding it turned into a “here’s what’s happening with us as a couple” but eventually that grew stale and I didn’t see the need to keep the domain renewed. I did recently snag it back up again for nostalgic purposes, and right now it just redirects to all my wedding-related posts which are all archived on this blog.
I started The Art Institute of California – Sacramento at the beginning of 2010, and since one of my classes was a portfolio class, I had to come up with a portfolio site and branding for myself. I came up with the “Lovely Geek” and transitioned my social media handles accordingly. I began blogging here about web design and recapping all the classes I took during my time at The Art Institute. I went through a couple of layouts before my big reveal at my graduation portfolio show. After graduation it lived on as my portfolio, underwent two additional layout changes, and got me my second and current web design job before I redirected it to this blog.
I was starting to miss personal blogging plus I wanted a spot on the web where I could blog about interior design and whatnot, so I created a subdomain of my Lovely Geek site, interiors.lovelygeek.net. I called it Lovely Interiors, a play off my main domain, Lovely Geek. I blogged there for a few years, but with Pinterest growing in popularity and personal posts creeping back in I could feel that I was ready for a new site.
I took a Creative Writing class during my fall quarter in college in which we were required to have a journal to do our homework assignments in. I rejoined the LiveJournal community as thecreativegeek. It’s still active if you want to read all my random college writing assignments.
After getting married and changing my last name to Robinson, I realized that when Googling “Cristina Robinson” it was difficult to determine which results referred to me. Obtaining CristinaRobinson.net was my attempt to claim on name on the web and keep my blog and portfolio separate, especially since by then I had clients and employers Googling me. This blog was also my way at getting back in to personal blogging, which at this point was being referred to as “lifestyle blogging” due to the nature of the posts I was writing.
Currently where I reside today! ?
I found myself missing my “Lovely Geek” identity plus my blog was already getting referred to as Lovely Geek, especially since the majority of my social media handles were a variation of Lovely Geek. I wanted to go back to that, so that is why I moved my lifestyle blog and portfolio here.
Why TheLovelyGeek.com? Because LovelyGeek.com was taken by someone who had no interest in giving up the domain (believe me, I tried). ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Having a .com felt more official than a .net too. Besides, I am The Lovely Geek, hehe.
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It was really interesting reading about your history and the websites that you have had over the years. I love reading about other people’s histories, I sort of assume most people know about mine but that isn’t quite true. I only have a little paragraph about it on my ‘About’ page.
I started building websites around 2002 – around the same time as you. That was when I really started to get into coding and getting obsessed with iframes. I actually still used them until 2007, which was purely embarrassing really. 😛 I was a big fan of designing huge full-screen layouts with an iframe of content somewhere in the middle of it.
It’s interesting that your website had a variation of your name for quite some time. I really wanted to avoid doing that because I went through a whole phase where I disliked my name and there was no way I was going to use it in my site name. Clearly I have changed, haha. I also went through a time where a lot of drama stemmed from my blog, I used to be at the URL heartdrops.org for a long time but I felt that it was associated with a rather negative part of my life.
I personally think it is a brave move that you moved everything over to thelovelygeek.com. Maybe it was a little easier because you had your social media handles reflect it, but for me I don’t want to change anything because I’m a little stuck! I also worry a little too much about SEO and whatnot. I have bought heygeorgie.co to maybe make it easier for new readers to remember my URL… but I just don’t want to move everything over!
Also, I have been trying to get my hands on heygeorgie.com but the person who owns it has never replied or is uncontactable… it’s annoying because the website is just redirecting to some magazine called Georgie Magazine. ? You can understand my feeling in wanting to get a .com, too… 😛
When I was first doing the whole iFrame/Image Map thing, the cool thing to do was to a create a splash page with a fancy graphic and then once you clicked on it the rest of the site was one giant popup. Oh man, we’ve come such a long way since then!
It’s so cool reading about your history and seeing that you’ve basically been doing this thing for as long as I have!