The end of Denver

Well, the Denver gig is up. We are moving again, by the end of this month, to the original Plan A city, which is Los Angeles. And I’m reluctant to talk about it at all, since the stock reaction of most people is similar to that if I told them I was building a machine in my back yard that would turn silly putty into platinum bars. But yeah, we are moving.

Sarah’s job has been less than stellar, working ten hours a day, seven days a week, and dealing with a lot of general lunacy. Then the firm lost their biggest client and laid off half the company. And those of you dot-com survivors can affirm that when half of your company gets laid off, it doesn’t mean your workplace will be just dandy from now on. It’s a lot more like being the band on the deck of the Titanic, except they didn’t have to deal with endless conference calls. Anyway, she talked to her old boss, who immediately found her a gig at their Los Angeles office. She had no real complaints about her old job, just that we were both sick of New York. And working for the biggest ad agency in the company means they don’t start selling off their office furniture when they lose an account.

As for me, I was done with work as of the 31st, last Thursday. I actually will be staying on as a part-time contractor, working remotely, but I won’t be going to meetings, dealing with politics, or driving an hour each way a day. My plan is to cut over to contracting part-time, and working as a developer. Since before christmas, I’ve done nothing but read Ruby on Rails books and work on a few simple projects that I hope to flesh out. I’ve been memorizing Ruby books, reading the Knuth books, reading the Gang of Four, and trying to learn every shortcut and trick tip in Eclipse.

But first, I have a huge marathon ahead of me. Three weeks today, we turn in our keys and leave this apartment forever. And when you look at the place now, it’s pretty much in the 100% functional state. Sarah’s in Vegas for her family reunion this weekend, and I have been shredding papers like I worked for the Stasi in 1989. But no matter how many hours I put in, the place looks about the same. We do have the whole rockstar relocation setup, even more than last time, so the little elves will show up in our last week with their packing tape and semi trailer and haul everything west. But we still have to find a place. A week from today, I drive my car to LA solo, with the back and trunk filled with a redundant supply of clothes and toiletries and whatnot. Sarah flies there on that Friday, and we have a weekend to seal the deal on an apartment, then fly home. We then have to drive out in the Subaru, with two cats in tow (which will be an awesome time for all) and then reverse the procedure on the other end. Between now and then, I have an endless stream of appointments and errands: service cars, go to doctors, fill prescriptions, cancel things, sign up for things, and continue the onslaught of throwing out, giving away, and shredding up.

So, Denver. It has been an interesting year, and there are some things I will miss. I always like when I’m driving and I see the snow-capped mountains on the horizon. I will really miss baseball here, last summer at Coors Field and the incredible run to October the Rockies had. I will also miss walking a block to the park to see a game. I really do like sitting here in my office, looking out at the open area of LoDo, working on the computer and enjoying this apartment. This is one of the nicest apartments I’ve lived in, and everything actually works, which is new to me. Having grocery stores bigger than jesus and Super Ultra Giant Fucking Monster Target has been nice. And hey, best emergency room ever.

Denver has its issues that make it a “probably not forever” place. I didn’t have any altitude problems, but the dry air is a killer. I get so dehydrated, I wake up two or three times a night to get a drink, even if I take enough ambien to kill a horse. Allergies are worse, and most of the lifers here look like they were rode hard and put away wet. The botox people are taking a beating out here, because I see more than a fair share of ladies that resemble the crypt keeper. Yeah, they climb mountains and ski and all of that shit, but come on people, four words: SPF-50.

I always envisioned Denver as some kind of hip, high-tech mountain metropolis, and I guess it tries. There are some nice looking buildings and they try to be urban to an extent. But a lot of people think Colorado is the wild west. And when people think that in Elkhart, it’s idiotic, but here, you could drive into the mountains and shoot a bear with a .50 caliber sniper rifle. So there’s lots of camo, lots of country music, lots of fans of Larry the Cable Guy, and lots of people with pickup trucks that could fit my car and a cord of firewood in the bed.

So it’s really George Bush country up here. And while I don’t really give a shit about politics (especially with the group of geniuses jockeying for the big job later this year), it sets the mentality of the place. Just down the road in Colorado Springs, you’ll find Focus on the Family; down there and in the suburbs out here, you’ll see mega churches that are bigger than casinos in Vegas. The Promisekeepers also hail from Denver. There are lots of jesus fishes on cars, and you can ignore it all to an extent (which you can’t in Elkhart), but it’s like eating in a restaurant where something’s burning on the grill in back: it’s not your food, but it still bugs you.

I think the biggest case in point is the gay situation. I have friends who are gay, Sarah has friends who are gay, and we’re both used to being in New York, where a person being gay is about as unusual as a person wearing a jacket in October. So sometimes if I’m talking to someone, something might come up in conversation where I know someone who did this or went there or owned that, and when I start to talk about it, I find myself pronouning things, which is really bullshit. But if I told a person that I had thanksgiving dinner with two guys who happened to be life partners, I might get dragged off to a reeducation camp. On the other hand, in LA, if I told someone a friend was gay, they’d probably just say, “well, does he know anyone who can read my script.”

Everyone thinks that LA is the great devil, especially people in the Midwest, especially people with the “fuck that, New York is the greatest place ever” headtrip. But I like it. There’s always been some allure to California to me, something that always made me happy or make me think I was in some huge, mythical thing. I can’t say I’ve always dreamed and hoped of living there, but more than once in the last fifteen years, I’ve interviewed for jobs there and had my fingers crossed. Like I said, LA was our first choice last year, before the Denver thing came up. It will be nice to have the ocean, and water. We are aiming for West Hollywood, which isn’t on the water, but it’s close. (And no, West Hollywood is not the one with the tranny hookers and smack dealers, that’s East Hollywood.) There are other niceties, like multiple airports that aren’t a million miles out of town (DEN), we get to see movies before anyone else (except maybe NYC), ethnic food other than just Mexican, and while there are always jesus people everywhere, they’re pretty drowned out by the people who really don’t give a shit.

We already have a network of people out there, too. Sarah lived there for almost a decade, and still has a lot of friends, both personal and in the biz (and both) and I have a couple of old pals out that way, too. Some of our NYC friends who would never visit Denver are in LA all the time, so we get to see those people too. We both have met absolutely nobody here, mostly because the only thing to do on a Saturday night in Denver is go to the mall and watch a movie, or maybe shop at Wal-Mart.

Bad stuff? It costs more, although compared to New York, it’s maybe a bit cheaper. You need a car; we have two. Traffic, but my I-25 drive for the last six months has not been a breeze, either. I don’t know what to do about baseball. Am I still a Rockies fan? I would love to go to all of their games at Dodger Stadium, but I’m afraid if I wear a Rockies shirt, I will be stabbed by a Mexican gang member. The Angels are there, but AL baseball sucks. Who knows, I thought the Rockies were a losing prospect when we moved here, and look what happened. Maybe when we move, the Dodgers will make it to the series. (And then maybe I can get Scott Boras to arrange a deal where I move to some other city with a shit team and get them to the series.)

So that’s my story. I’ll post more when I know it. And hopefully this cessation of salaried work will help me post more. I looked at my paper journal last night, and realized I hadn’t updated it since the day I started this job. Anyway, time to shred…

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