Goodbye to 343

The locks have been changed and we are officially out of our old place, leaving it to the realtor and keeping fingers crossed.  This week, we had a crew in to patch up all of the holes in the drywall from the various Ikea crap I installed and then ripped back out, and then had everything painted.  After that, a cleaning crew came in and scrubbed everything from top to bottom, and got the whole thing in like-new condition, smelling of fabuloso and shining.

I went back in the other day, just to make a final round of obsessive cleaning, wiping off little spots and scraping off tiny droplets of paint here and there that were left behind.  The whole thing hit me with a massive rush of deja-vu, thinking back to May of last year when we first got the keys and I spent a weekend assembling cabinets and listening to Rockies baseball on my then-new iPhone.  This was our first home, our first really big adult purchase, and there are so many memories behind the whole thing.

It seems like we’ve lived here forever, even though it’s been just shy of 18 months.  But I was thinking about the various places my cats have lived, and they have been at this place longer than anywhere else in their lives.  And then I thought about it, and I think the last place I’ve lived for a longer period was probably back in Astoria from 1999-2005.  I guess I lived at the Lower East Side place for just about as long, but it’s hard to figure out when I started living with Sarah, since I slowly moved things over a gym bag at a time over late summer/early fall 2005.

Anyway, the old place is for sale, and has an MLS number, and has percolated through all of the various online real estate sites.  I am mixed on posting a link here, as I doubt any of my four readers are actually interested in buying the place.  I am half expecting a sea of junk mail from the listing, more mortgage refinance offers and the whole nine yards.  I am still trying to figure out what to forward and what addresses to change, and that will take me forever.  (If you really need my actual physical mailing address, let me know.)

I have to go back to New York in December.  This will be my first trip back since I left in 2007.  It’s going to be a hurried affair – flying out on a Wednesday, getting in at like ten (getting to JFK at ten, which means probably getting to the hotel by midnight), and then flying out on Friday afternoon.  I will probably be doing company stuff the entire time, and won’t actually get to see anything.  I’m not sure I will bring my camera (the DSLR, anyway) or even my personal laptop – probably just the work laptop and two changes of clothes.  And the Kindle, of course – I will have to load up with plenty of reading material, since I’ll have the cross-country travel days, stuck in the Phoenix airport with CNN blaring from the TVs strapped to the ceiling.

I feel a great need to take a bunch of crap to the storage place, and maybe get a few things out, like a stereo for this office, but I really don’t want to do anything.  I wish I could write down the series of dreams I’ve had in the last few days – this morning, I had this vivid dream of reading this rough draft of Naked Lunch, the whole thing so colorful, this journey that Burroughs took as a kid through the southwest, exploded into pieces in a drug-fueled frenzy and carefully reassembled into this twisted, descriptive narrative.  Maybe I need to buy one of those lucid dreaming machines or get into a sensory deprivation tank or do something that will enable me to capture this stuff and turn it into books.


Four doors down

We moved, sort of.  I mean, everything is in the new unit, but it’s going to take a while to get set up and running.  For one, we don’t have a fridge yet; they ordered it late, or there was a delay or something, and I have no estimate except for “maybe next week.”  I can still go down to the old unit and use the fridge there, but that’s a huge pain in the ass.  We also don’t have our washer/dryer, but once again, they are in the old unit.  (And moving the fridge is not an option; one, the new fridge is a different model, so I’m not paying more to keep the old one and give the more expensive one to the new people, and I’m not scratching both floors and throwing out my back times two and risking damage and breaking door jambs and cleaning out the fridge twice just to have a fridge for a couple of days.)

The big thing is the mountains of boxes and sea of cables and uninstalled equipment and everything else, and it’s going to take me some time to dig out of this.  We lost a closet in the move, and that closet (under the stairs) was a dumping ground for everything, and that dumping ground is now my office, so I’m going to be working out of a little hole I’ve carved among the boxes until further notice.

The move was very nerve-wracking for me.  The Comcast appointment was a comedy of errors involving us giving them our home number so they could get in the building and them disconnecting it that morning.  And then we have no cell coverage at our house, so I’d be hauling stuff back and forth and then realize I had a dozen missed calls from Comcast and never got a single ring.  (I need to get an AT&T microcell.  Better yet, I need to figure out how to complain to AT&T that we’re paying them whatever insane amount for no service at home so they just send me one for free, which I guess some people have done. And yeah, DOOD IPHONE SUX GET A VERIZON but they are just as bad here, plus I would have to deal with some Android phone that Verizon screwed up with their own stink.)  We also had a scheduling issue with the movers; they originally planned to send a team after they finished a move, then when they called to confirm, they said “we’ll be there at 8:00 AM”, and of course when I wake up early on a Sunday to get ready… no movers.  Call to confirm, and they’re at another job blah blah be there at two or three.  Of course.

The cats were a problem, or at least Squeak was.  Loca was very excited about the move, and we brought her over to see the new place on Saturday and she was very happy and running all around and quacking and checking out every corner and room.  Squeak… well, after getting her in the carrier, it looked like I went arms-first through one of those old pre-safety glass windshields.  When we got her to the new place, she basically went catatonic, then ran in a closet and hid all day.  By evening, she came out, walking all low with her tail down, sneaking around behind things and trying to figure out what the hell happened.  She was also hilarious with the new stairs – we have one of those metal staircases that’s just treads (the horizontal part) with no risers (the vertical part) and it took her like twenty minutes to climb up the stairs the first time.  She’s fine now, running around crazy.  The main problem is that both of them especially her, want to climb around the ledges, and that absolutely petrifies me to the problem of full-blown anxiety attacks, because nothing fuels anxiety more than waking up with blood everywhere like a slasher movie and finding a cat with a protruding bone sticking out of their leg, which was exactly the scenario with Squeak a year ago.  She is not the most nimble cat in the world, and is always doing stuff like falling off the couch when she rolls over asleep, so I am not thrilled about having her sleep on a ledge a dozen feet above a metal staircase.  My only choice here is to find a doctor that will prescribe me large amounts of Xanax.

I’ve spent the whole post bitching and haven’t even gotten to the part where I hit my head on the metal staircase, or that it’s a bad allergy day and I can barely see through the teargas effect the pollen’s having on my eyes.  But I am out of time and must go work now.


Let the fun begin

I have keys to the new place.  They just finished painting, and a cleaning crew is going through it right now.  I’m just finishing up work, then I get to make the short trip down four doors, roughly 745,921 times in the next couple of days.  Wish me luck!


Moving (again)

We are moving again.  This will be the sixth time I move in five years.  But, as I said last time, this will be the last time I move for a long time.

Let me first preface this by saying I am not moving back to New York.  I work in New York, but I AM NOT moving back to New York.  For some reason, everyone thinks I am moving back to New York. I AM NOT.  I have a feeling I will repeat that eight thousand times in the next six months.  I am actually moving four doors down in the same building, which is possibly even more absurd.

Here’s the deal: we are out of space in our ~800 square foot loft, and I work from home, and I have no office, and I don’t even really have a desk.  And all of our stuff is crammed together.  And as much as I dreamed about finding a bunch of dual-purpose, European-crafted high-end boathouse furniture that would magically transform my TV center into a kitchen island or whatever the hell would give me a few extra feet, we needed more space.

First we looked into buying the place next to ours, which was in contract for a long time but then went back on the market.  It’s a near-clone of our current layout, and we thought we could just buy it, knock a hole in the wall, and double our square footage.  But this plane was full of huge issues.  One problem is that the left wall of our place can’t be cut open because it goes into the stairs and closet of the next unit, meaning you’d have to do some major surgery in moving a set of stairs or something, which would probably involve tens of thousands of dollars in engineering studies and permits and grief.  There’s also the issue that we’d just barely be able to afford two mortgages, and two HOA payments would total us.  And getting a second mortgage effectively removes all of that first time/primary residence goodness; a second mortgage would not be an FHA home loan, but would be some crazy investment property thing that would involve putting down a third of the money up front.  So no place next door.

Then the possibility came up of buying the place four doors down and selling our current place.  I thought this plan would be fraught with disaster, of me trying to work from home and getting kicked out of the house four hours at a time to show the place, having to put half of our crap in storage indefinitely, all of that.  But the new place is new, never lived in and unoccupied.  So we swung a deal where we’d move into the new place, lease it for six months, and then completely patch/paint the old place and put it on the market, and our close of the new place would be contingent on the sale of the old place.

So we’re in escrow on the new place, we’ve entered a sales agreement on the old place, and life has been a huge ball of stress ever since.  We don’t know when we will move, because we’re waiting on them to install the floors on the new place.  When that happens, I’m not sure how we will move.  Moving companies are really big on weeks of advance warning, so calling them up and saying “get over here tomorrow” is not good.  And we don’t need a truck and a fire brigade chain of people from the street to the elevator, it’s literally a few dozen feet over.  But we also can’t just grab three dishes from the sink, walk next door, repeat 32,734 times.  And I’ll be damned if I try to move that stupid mattress myself.  So we need to get some illegal immigrants or something.

Other crap I need to do, in no particular order:

  • Pack everything, but don’t pack anything I might need in the foreseeable future, which is everything, because the second I box up the, say, printer, I will need to print some documents.
  • Buy a shit-ton of new furniture at Ikea and assemble it.
  • Figure out how the hell to switch over Comcast without ending up internet-less for seventeen days.  And I am almost certain they will make me return all of my boxes and modems to some center in Death Valley that’s only open two hours a month and charge me a $79 return fee so they can then show up and give me the same exact equipment.
  • Get drapes installed.
  • Get a sliding glass door installed.  More on that in a second.
  • Fill out roughly 742 pages of documentation for the loan company, including a seventeen-page HUD document asserting that in the event of alien invasion, we are still responsible for timely mortgage payments.
  • Write another thousand dollar check every single day for another fee or deposit I was not aware of.

So the new place: it is about 1400 square feet, or almost double our current space, at about 30% more cost.  It’s the same rough layout as our current place, with the same front windows and the same loft and pillars and all of that.  But it is HUGE compared to our current place, completely cavernous.  Other big changes include a full walk-in closet; a full bath downstairs instead of a half-bath; a more open-concept kitchen; a second bedroom downstairs (office!), and the stairs are metal instead of wood.  Minuses are there’s no closet under the stairs, and we lose our glorious skylight.  But it’s huge, and I get a god damned office.  Oh, the office area is more like a 9×12 alcove by the front entrance, three walls and open, so the first order of business is to install a set of sliding glass room divider doors, which will happen soon.

So I need to move.  And I need to sell this place.  The move could happen in a matter of weeks, depending on how soon that floor goes in.  Like I said, lots and lots of stress until then.

My desk showed up yesterday.  I can’t assemble it until we get into the new place, though.  It’s a 60″ wide Anthro Fit, with the light grey (“fog”) top, and I added one six-inch drawer.  I may add more shelves after we get situated.  If you’re in the mood for a new desk, Anthro is having a deal in September on the Fit line, 30% off.  Their desks are insanely expensive, but are built like goddamn tanks, and over-engineered in a way an engineer would love.  The one I got even came with tools, and I’m not talking those tiny l-shaped Ikea wrenches the size of a car key; I’m talking about an actual full-sized mallet and screwdriver.

Work at the new/old place is going good, too.  I am surprised at how fast the stuff is coming back to me.  Working on the kitchen table can be a bear, and I don’t have a work computer yet.  But finishing work at 3 and being done versus finishing at six and then facing an hour or two of traffic is huge.

Speaking of, gotta get to it.


Back for the attack

I’m back. I’ve decided to try and get back on the horse again, as far as running this journal. I don’t know if I will have the time, but I need to write, and Facebook just isn’t cutting it as far as getting my thoughts down. I am still busy with work (which I will, as previously, attempt to not talk about here, and keep a tight line between it and not-work life) but I have some time every morning that maybe I should use to update this, instead of obsessively searching for what idiotic blather John “I’m a competitive eater and don’t know it” Kruk has said about baseball the day before.

So now I feel like I need to post about eight months of catch-up. A lot’s been going on, so I will just hit the highlights as I eat a frozen burrito lunch, and maybe I will go into detail in the days/weeks/years to come.

The biggest thing is that we bought a house, and I’ve moved to West Oakland. I now live here. We bought a 1 bed/1.5 bath signature loft, which is a thousand square feet, but feels much bigger, because it’s an open-plan loft, very white, very high ceiling, and a lot of open space. We also have a full wall of windows facing west, and a skylight, which makes things look extremely bright. It’s a loft conversion of an old warehouse, and we purchased it as new construction, so we got to pick the floors, and nobody has lived here before. We’re sort of hedging our bets by moving in to a pre-gentrified neighborhood that’s basically a whole lot of nothing right now. But Emeryville is very gentrified and is just north of us, and it’s slowly creeping south. We currently have to drive to Emeryville or downtown Oakland for basic services, but I imagine by the time we finish paying PMI payments, there will be a Trader Joe’s within a mile of here.

Here are some pre-purchase photos without the floors or other finishing touches installed. And here are some exterior photos of our place, and the neighboring construction site and other stuff. No interior shots yet until we get the place figured out and fully unpacked, which might be around 2012. (We moved in May 2, BTW.) [Photo link gone, sorry…]

I all but totalled the Yaris in April. I was driving in stop-and-go traffic and looked in my rear-view for a split second, and then went from about 40 to 0 into the back of an SUV. I was fine, no airbag deployment, but I did not hurt anything. The car had about $10K of damage, and I was certain the insurance would total it, but they paid to fix it. It spent a month in the body shop, and all of this happened right before we moved – I got it back I think a day or two before we moved in. I got it back with a defective windshield, which looked all wavy and made me think I had some optamological issue, but the shop quickly replaced it. I’m getting the occasional check engine light (something with the evaporative emissions, probably a loose wire) but it’s otherwise fine. It’s actually averaging 2-3 MPG better than before, but that might be my new I-880 commute versus the 101.

One of our cats (squeak, the little one) got a compound fracture of her leg. I woke up one morning and there was blood everywhere and she was huddled under the couch with a bone sticking out of her leg. She had emergency surgery that cost way too much, and has been in a cast since this happened (the week after the car.) We’ve had to keep her in a little tenty-playpen thing to keep her from running around, which is not the easiest thing to do with a two-year-old cat. Her cast comes off tomorrow, and she has been doing much better. She can even deal with the stairs on three legs now, which is imporessive.

My weight loss has stabilized at about 170 now, and has remained +/-5 pounds of that since October. I don’t religiously follow WW anymore or count points, but I pretty much know what I can and cannot do as far as food intake is concerned. I have fears that I will fall off the deep end, but then I get back on track and cut the crap food, and all is fine. Honestly, just keeping on diet soda and avoiding fast food keeps it all pretty much in check.

I’ve struggled with writing. I don’t have the time to do it anymore, and I totally ignore the whole publishing world/blog thing, and do not network whatsoever. I’ve been knocking around two book projects. One is a book a lot like Summer Rain, but about high school. That’s hard to do because I don’t want to make it about my life, but I think the only people who would be interested in reading it would be all up in my shit about the factual accuracy or whatever, and I don’t want to spend the next ten years researching when certain Helloween albums were released in the US or whatever. The other is a book like Rumored, but slightly more plot-oriented. That’s hard just because I really have to be in the zone to write that stuff, and I never am.

I’ll have to post at a later date with a roundup of various media consumption, including books, movies, and podcasts…


New town, new job, new phone

I have moved. Well, mostly. As of Saturday, the place in Playa Del Rey is stripped bare, the shelves wiped clean, and the keys turned in. With the help of Sarah’s dad, we drove the two-car convoy up to San Francisco with no major incidents, feline or otherwise. The new place, which bears a strong resemblance to the old place, now has a new Ikea mattress, a new Ikea computer cabinet, and a bunch of clothes, minor kitchenware, and other crap that came up in a total of four carloads, plus the usual Target and Costco ventures. Tomorrow or the day after, we are supposed to get the big truckload of everything else, which will be great fun.

I got a new job. As per the normal drill, I won’t mention it here, but if you are curious, you can email me. It’s going to be an interesting venture, which means I might not post again for another six months. And it’s 45 minutes away, so even if it was banker’s hours, that’s a huge hit. But I am excited about it, so we’ll see.

Right before we left LA, I reached lifetime status at Weight Watchers. That means I stayed under my goal for long enough, and now I don’t have to pay. (I posted about this in LiveJournal.) I have not eaten as well since, because I have either been on the road or have not had a kitchen available to me. But I think I am still maintaining, and now need to get in the groove of eating correctly in the new office situation. I still don’t feel thin. And I am afraid to go buy new clothes, even though my current ones are hanging off of me.

There are two new phones in the family. Sarah got an iPhone, and I got a Samsung Blackjack 2, which is a Windows Mobile phone. They both have interesting features to me, but the 3G speed is a huge wonder to me. It’s strange to hold a tiny device that’s smaller than a box of cough drops that can download files twice as fast as my first DSL connection. I’m still working on using a Windows Mobile computer while syncing to a Mac, but I have that almost figured out with Missing Sync. I’m almost at the “so what do I do with it?” phase, and I will need to adjust my data hoarding accordingly. The iPhone is neat, and I like the Mac-centric interface, but I can’t type at all on the virtual keyboard. If it had a slide-out, it might be more viable for me. Oh well.

Time to go install more crap I don’t need on the phone. I have almost two weeks off until work starts, and it starts with me flying to Dallas for training. Maybe I should buy a memory card and fill it with ripped and shrunk DVDs for the trip.


Media consolidation mission

Well, I am moving again. This time I will be going up to San Francisco, and in short order – with luck, we will be out of our LA place by the end of this month. Because we are transferring apartments within our current company’s system, it is going faster than usual, and there were no deposits or background checks or whatever else. I looked at places last week, found one, signed a piece of paper, and we are now underway.

My mission as of late is to further compress my life into fewer boxes and shelves. My office has six bookshelves, and my goal has been to eliminate the tallest one, which I got made for me when I lived in Astoria. It is falling apart, looks like hell, and is always in danger of falling over. I also would like to free up that space and reduce my bookcase footprint. A huge pile of books have gone to Amazon for resale, and a bunch more have been recycled or wait to be donated. I also moved a bunch of DVD box sets off of one shelf and into plastic tubs for storage in a closet. I don’t need immediate access to every single DVD I own, and although at one time I felt some need to have every spine displayed of every DVD in my collection, I’d now rather have every single thing hidden in a storage unit of some sort. With that shift, there are now no longer any books on that shelf, and it will go to the chipper soon.

I also have a bunch of “misc” boxes that have followed me across the country ten times over, at least since college. When I got to LA, I had this down to two printer paper boxes and six smaller plastic tubs. I managed to eliminate one of the paper boxes yesterday, which was a major triumph. One of the problems, aside from that I’m wasting entire days trying to eliminate half a cubic foot of storage, is the nostalgia aspect of the whole thing, and how hard it is for me to let go of some things that meant so much to me at one time.

Some of this isn’t hard. I have ten copies of every death metal zine that passed through my hands in 1993, and I really don’t give a shit about any of them anymore, so they all went to the recycler, unless I wrote something in them. I have a lot of zines and papers in which I had a review or short piece in a column, and it was easier for me to tear out that page and chuck the rest than it was to keep hauling around the whole thing. But there were other things. I found this shirt in a box, a polo shirt that I wore a lot in 1992, and I mentioned in Summer Rain frequently. I don’t know why I kept it, except that in 1999 when I was writing the book, it was easy to pull out this shirt and think of 1992. Now, I can pitch it. It’s hard to do, but sometimes keeping just the memory is better than keeping the associated hardware.

I also went through all of my photos yesterday, meaning that every single analog photo I’ve taken from 1982 to 2000 passed through my hands. There was a lot of low-hanging fruit to pitch, like pictures of blackness or a flash against a glass window. I eliminated doubles when I could. I threw out photos of people I never met in person. All of the blurry artistic stuff went in the garbage. All of these decisions were helped by the fact that I scanned in all of my negatives a year ago, and all of this old stuff was in iPhoto. I managed to remove about 25% of the space in my photo storage area, which is huge.

It was also weird. I am an overly nostalgic person sometimes, so to look at all of these photos from 1983 and 1988 and 1993 and 1996 made me feel weird. I had some severly negative feelings about my prom in 1989, but I found dozens of photos from it. In all of them, I looked the same, this deer-in-headlights look, like someone at a blackjack table who just bet too much and watched the dealer with a ten showing turn over an ace. I found pictures I took in 1983 with my Kodak 110 camera of the state Future Problem Solver’s competition, on the big giant metro campus of IU-Purdue at Fort Wayne. Twenty years later, I’d be standing on a beach in Hawaii, trying to shake a long plane ride out of my head, but at that moment, 90 minutes in a stationwagon was like a trip to the moon. And there’s a stack of pictures (and doubles) from a trip to Canada in 1988, my first, in which it looks like I spent the whole trip saying “wow, they have 7-Eleven in Canada! Let me take 100 pictures of it! I wonder if Geddy Lee ever shops here?”

Another task as of late is rating or re-rating thousands of songs in iTunes. I figure I have at least a couple of six-hour drives ahead of me, so it would be good to get some playlists and podcasts and new ratings in my iPod for that. So if you see anything weird in my playlist to the right, that’s why.

Back to work…


The Sopranos were not the dream of an autistic kid in a coma

The ocean isn’t two miles away, as I previously thought. I went for a walk yesterday, heading west, and up this huge hill. At the top of it were all strangely shaped houses of the sort you’d only see on a shoreline, with impossibly-sized windows and turrets and none of the right angles you find on a straight-up ranch house in the suburbs. And just past that, the ocean. And it’s the full-on ocean, not a canal connected to a sound connected to an inlet that eventually dumps into a sea. I walked around a bit, trudged through the sand, watched the sailboats in the distance and the huge planes jetting off from LAX to all points west (i.e. Asia) It’s not a bad walk at all, although the hill part really taxes out my fucked up knee, but maybe doing it more will help.

In a couple of hours, I get into one of those big tin cans at LAX and head east, back to Denver, to rescue the furniture. This will be a weird trip – in today, back Wednesday night. The weird stuff has to do with driving a rental car into the space where I’d normally park a car; having to stay in a hotel for a night because all of my stuff will be boxed or shrinkwrapped; said hotel is less than a mile from my old place, and I used to pass it every day on my way to work. Basically all of the tourist in my own town stuff will be in effect. Not to mention that I will have but a few hours to somehow condense down my Denver experience and eat my last three or four meals at places I will probably never see again. (And in reality, all of those will probably end up at McDonald’s.)

I think the one thing that I will truly, truly miss is Coors Field and the Rockies. I was thinking about this last night, about how I am not one who has ever had some great belonging, especially one full of rituals. Some people have religion, and I tried that and it didn’t work out. But the closest I came to religion was getting to Coors Field an hour and a half before a game, watching the opposing team take batting practice, getting a hot dog, looking out at the field in front of me and the mountains in the distance, hearing the same soundtrack of crappy music they play before every game, hearing Reed Saunders read off the same safety information and where you can buy food and all of that other crap the PA announcers read before the game. I guess having Coors Field right next door was like having a major league ball park in my family room, where I could go down there any time I wanted and catch a game. So I’ll miss that, a lot. I can get stuck in traffic for two hours and go to a Dodgers game, but it won’t be the same. No matter how much you hate some place, there’s always one thing you miss. Seattle: mountains. New York: best subways ever. Elkhart: you always have a new car stereo, because yours gets stolen every month.

I went to a movie at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood on Saturday. We went out with four of Sarah’s old friends, and it’s really damn nice to finally have friends to go out with. (And one was a baseball guy who said we have to go to a game in Anaheim, so there you go.) We saw Jumper, which was forgettable, but it was hilarious to be down in Hollywood on a Saturday night. There was some kind of cheerleading contest that night, so there were all of these 14-year-old girls in cheerleader costumes running around, which was a pedo’s wet dream. There was also a very large hoochie mama contingent bussed in from Orange County or something, and all of the clubber types going to clubs in that area. And Grauman’s is completely over the top, with all of the handprints in concrete out front, and all of the hollywood stars in the sidewalk, and the people dressed up as various famous iconic stars. The vibe of the place was very Times Square, which means don’t act like a fucking tourist, but it was pretty overwhelming.

I finished the last episode of The Sopranos, and that has to be the stupidest ending ever for a TV series, aside from making the whole thing a dream of an autistic kid in a coma or whatever the hell. Bleh.

Gotta shower, eat lunch, pack, get to the airport. This will be a fun one.


Crossing the nothingness of Utah

We’re here, more or less. I forget where the story last left off, but we are in our new place in LA, but our furniture isn’t. My car and a carload of stuff has been waiting here, and then yesterday and today, we drove the other car, a carload of stuff, and the two cats here. I go back next Monday to orchestrate the full-pack movers and get the last couple of suitcases of stuff. In the meantime, no phone, no internet, no TV, and no place to sit down except the aerobed. (I did cop a slow wireless signal from the business center, though.)

The drive was long and extremely cramped, as every square inch of the car had something in it. The first day was about twelve hours; the I-70 run through the pass in the mountains, dropping into the nothingness of Utah and then the I-15 shot into Vegas. The two cats had very different approaches to the trip: the little one cowered in fear inside of her carrier, and stayed comatose the entire time. The big one started crying about five minutes into the trip, so I let her out and she greatly enjoyed watching the landscape roll by. Neither ate, drank, or used their litter pans, so thank someone for small miracles.

In Vegas, we stayed at a La Quinta, which allowed pets. It’s way the hell over on Paradise Rd, kinda-sorta near UNLV. We had a two-room suite, and the cats were fine and dandy once we got set up there. We ordered some really shitty food from the proxy room service thing and watched the Oscars. (After watching John Stewart host, it’s odd that I’d actually miss Billy Crystal’s saccharine schtick.) By the time that was over, we were both out for the night, and that was the extent of my Vegas trip.

Today was a quick drive, maybe five hours, but it still seemed like forever. We stopped in Baker to see the world’s tallest thermometer, but I was bummed to see it was just a tower with a bunch of digital signs on it – I was expecting a giant glass tube filled with mercury. Anyway, we got here, hauled everything upstairs, made a giant Costco run, and now we’re trying to unpack a bunch of luggage and gym bags filled with toiletries and clothes.

I got a new iPod, btw – the 60G classic, in black. Sarah gave it to me for Valentine’s day, but I did not get it until today because it went to the address here. I just synced it up, and that’s ready to roll. I did sell the Mac Mini anyway, and that money will probably go toward a new office chair, or something to make my new home office more habitable. You know, “if I buy this I might write more” stuff.

BTW I just got copies of a new book I am in, called Santi: Lives of Modern Saints. It also includes my pals John Sheppard, Erin O’Brien, Timothy Gager, Grant Bailie (all AITPL contributors) and more. And it comes with a CD, although I haven’t listened to that yet. Anyway, well worth the $25, and also I got a handful of free copies, so state your case or make your best trade offer and one could be yours.

Way too much to do. I think Verizon shows up tomorrow, I need to look into that, too.


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 from 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 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…