Two Years

This week marked our two year anniversary back in Phoenix.  It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long, but it has. After all, two years ago we still had adults in the White House.

I’d be lying if I said there weren’t things about Denver that I miss—especially at this time of year. It doesn’t help that I stream KUVO (Denver’s jazz station) on many a morning and afternoon commute and hear the high and low temps. I’m sure I won’t feel the same way in six months once the snow starts falling, but right now it sounds wonderful.

But there’s this…

Ah yes, the Denver commute from hell. Such fond memories of driving the 25.

And then of course this…

…are all that’s needed to snap me out of any nostalgic longing I may have.

We also just signed another two year lease on our current domicile. It’s not perfect (we’d both rip out the 69-year old bathroom and kitchen and replace them in a heartbeat if we could), but the house remains a good fit for us at this point in our lives. We still don’t have use of the third bedroom, filled to the brim as it is with Ben’s mother’s crap, but we’re planning on getting some sort of outside storage set up for that in the coming months to get it cleared out.

And then there’s the back yard. It’s 5500 square feet of weeds in winter and nearly dead lawn no matter how much water we throw on it in summer. Several months ago we proposed to the landlords that we cut the lawn down to a small patch directly to the west of the patio (that’s shaded and protected by a large elm tree) and lay gravel down in the remainder of the space. Throw a couple drought-tolerant mesquite trees back there, a paver walkway from the patio to the back gate, and call it done. Surprisingly, they just agreed to it—assuming of course, that we pay for it.

So that’s not gonna happen any time soon. But who knows…we could win one of those HGTV giveaways we keep entering or strike it rich with the Arizona lottery!

Going Through Photos

When I worked for CNIC, I used to pass this forlorn little building whenever I traveled between our Denver and Colorado Springs offices. It intrigued me, sitting out there in the middle of nowhere, so one day while on the way to or from the remote office, I stopped to snap a few pictures. I’m glad I did. I really like these.

In case anyone’s interested, it’s on Greenfield Road just east of I-25…

One Year

As of today, we’ve been back in Phoenix exactly one year.

I wish I could say my employment situation has improved since leaving Denver, but as we all know, it hasn’t. I remain optimistic. It usually takes me two or three false starts each time I change cities to get situated somewhere that I like and that lasts for more than a few months, so we’re coming due here pretty quick.

Other than the employment thing, life has been good over this past year. I love the house we’re renting, I love the ease of getting around Phoenix, and though I learned over during the four years we lived in Colorado that I prefer being cold and dry to being hot and dry, I still love being back in warm weather.

And while photos like this…

Photo courtesy Erik Rubright.

…get me feeling a little nostalgic and make me realize how little of the state we actually saw during the time we lived there—all I have to do is think of the cost of living, driving in the snow, getting stuck while driving in the snow, working at DISH, and the appalling insanity of Denver drivers, and I’m cured of any nascent longing instantly.

Ready For This To Be Over

It’s not just the wall-to-wall clutter. It’s also the anxiety. Once again I find myself stepping off that cliff, trusting in the Universe that employment will be quickly forthcoming once we’re back in Phoenix. I’m somewhat reassured that I’ve been getting lots of emails from recruiters after simply updating my profiles on the various job boards, but there isn’t really much I can do about any of it until I’m actually there—other than acknowledge their receipt and ask their patience. (So far, everyone’s fine with my timeline and have told me to get in touch once I’m there.)

I’ve also reached out to previous coworkers, who have forwarded my resume to their respective managers. Hopefully networking the good relationships I built over the seven years I spent at Abrazo will come in handy before I have to do any cold interviews.

In any case, we’re down to less than a week, and I just want all this—at the very least, the physical moving part—to be over.

Next Saturday at this time we’ll be packed and on the road, beginning the next chapter of our lives with Denver and it’s bipolar weather and heinous drivers rapidly fading into memory.

Four years ago we wanted an adventure. We got one. It’s now time to go home.

The dogs are anxious; they know something’s up. Normally well trained, they’re both peeing everywhere now. Sammy is barking at every sound outside, and even the heretofore quiescent Bobo has developed a voice.

My stress is manifesting in the return of an old friend I haven’t seen in nearly seven years, plantar fasciitis. Thankfully I still remember how to deal with it, so it’s more an annoyance than anything else, but I wanna say, “Really dude? Now?

Monday is my last day at  ██████. My exit interview is scheduled for 4 pm (I normally leave at 4:30), and anyone there I care about saying goodbye to leaves at 4, so I’ll have time to do so before the meeting with HR and being shown the door. They’re going to get an earful, even though I know nothing I say will make any difference whatsoever.

#ThingsIWillNotMissAboutDenver

        • SNOW
        • bipolar weather
        • Denver drivers
        • cracked, broken, concrete streets
        • suspension-destroying potholes everywhere
        • not being able to keep my car clean for more than 24 hours
        • stop lights that impede the flow of traffic rather than facilitate it
        • Colorado Boulevard
        • the constant smell of burning garbage…I mean pot
        • continually dry, cracked skin
        • being totally winded after climbing two flights of stairs
        • dealing with a horrible commute going to a job I absolutely loathe
        • grooved pavement that makes me think my steering is going out
        • all of my coworkers except two
        • people who don’t know—or don’t care—what a solid stripe of whatever color on a road means
        • tornado watches/warnings
        • Canadian flying rats…er…geese
        • daylight fucking savings time
        • fast food restaurants that have no clue about what “fast” means
        • water at every public restroom faucet being freezing cold
        • the intersection of Abeline and Alameda in Aurora
        • freeway onramps designed like a drag race (no, not the RuPaul kind)
        • traffic lights that have no consistent pattern (sometimes left turn before green, sometimes after) (red light, followed by red light, followed by red light)
        • a stop light at every intersection on a street
        • businesses with only one entrance to their parking lots
        • parking lots where you can’t get from one side or the other, requiring you to exit the parking lot to get back in, or drive in front of the store to get across (Target on Havana, I’m pointing my finger at you)
        • every street being curved and hilly
        • one way streets (yes, i know Phoenix has some, but not like Denver)
        • dreading the arrival of autumn instead of celebrating it

And lastly…working for ██████.

Going Home

After much discussion, Ben and I have decided to move back to Phoenix later this year.

We had originally planned on staying in Denver another two years (to pad his retirement account a bit more to use for a down payment on a condo when we moved back to Phoenix), but for many reasons the Universe seems to be telling us to go sooner rather than later.

I can’t say I’m at all upset by this decision. It’s no secret that I have been—to put it mildly—dissatisfied—with my employment situation since arriving in Denver, and both us are done with the cold weather, the snow, the ice, and the level of abject stupidity we seem to encounter at every turn on a daily basis in this city. When we were back in Phoenix for our belated wedding reception last September I think it was painfully obvious to both of us how much we missed it. As I Instagrammed at the time:

We always viewed moving to Denver as an adventure, but we’ve had our fill of adventure and it’s time to go home.

 

Chihuly at Night, Take 1

Last night Ben and I attended Chihuly at Night at the Denver Botanic Gardens. I was really torn as to whether or not to take my DSLR or just my new iPhone 6 to photograph the exhibit.

I decided on the iPhone to put it through its paces and see if it really lived up to all the shooting-in-low-level-light hype.

It didn’t. I was sorely disappointed. The evening wasn’t a waste and I had a good time (it’s been far too long since Ben and I had a date night), but I really wish I’d brought my DSLR along because the iPhone camera simply wasn’t up to the challenge.

In addition, Ben also had issues with the flash on his 6 Plus washing out entire scenes.

Granted, Chihuly at Night is a difficult subject to photograph even with the best equipment. But it seemed I got much better results with my DSLR when the exhibition was in Phoenix several years ago.

Thankfully, the exhibit continues in Denver through the end of November, and we’ve already purchased tickets to return. This time I’ll bring the DSLR and a tripod…

All that being said, out of approximately 80 shots, I did manage to capture of a few decent—not good, but merely decent—pictures:

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Dear Denver Drivers…

I know it’s a problem worthy of a degree in rocket science, but a solid line on the pavement means DO NOT CROSS OVER. It does not mean DO NOT CROSS OVER…unless you’re in a hurry, or DO NOT CROSS OVER…unless you have to get in traffic ahead of someone else, or DO NOT CROSS OVER…unless you weren’t paying attention and need to get off now, or DO NOT CROSS OVER…unless you’re high and don’t even know what the fuck you’re doing.

It means DO NOT CROSS OVER. Period.

Thank you.

Moving

In a little more than a month, Ben and I will be moving.

Again.

No…not out of Denver (that is still two years away), but simply into a smaller, cheaper apartment.

While I’m looking forward to the monthly cost savings this move will provide, just thinking about the actual process of getting from here to there has me wide awake and blogging at 4:30 in the morning.

Like most young people, when I was in my 20s it seemed that I moved every six months. And to be honest,  I loved it. It was an adventure; a new place, a new neighborhood. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to loathe the whole process. Once I’d moved back to Phoenix from San Francisco, I moved only twice—and one of those moves was simply to a different unit in the same complex—over a span of eight years. I like being settled, but with the arrival of our annual $100/month rent increase notice a few weeks ago, the cost-to-benefit ratio of staying in our current apartment for another two years simply didn’t make any sense. Both of us are already stretched financially; we’re no longer using that second bedroom, and its Pepto-Bismol stained carpet is a constant reminder that we need to get out of here and into somewhere that’s totally free of the bad juju of the past year.

We looked at several other places. We wanted a location about halfway between both our jobs, but it seems everything built in the Englewood/Tech Center area of Denver was designed with ridiculously overpaid urban professionals in mind; a demographic that apparently owns nothing more than a love seat and a twin-size bed and doesn’t mind paying an exorbitant amount of money for living in an oversized coat closet.

I’m sorry, but we have stuff. Not an inordinate amount, but even with a bit of extra room that would be available in a separate garage, we need more storage in the unit than what is being offered these days.

Fortunately, we finally found a place that met all our requirements about a mile and a half from our current location. It was built only a few years ago and the rent is what we were hoping to pay. It’s not perfect; we’re back on the third floor and we’ll be giving up our current faux-wood floors for a return to carpet throughout, but it’s gotten excellent online reviews (in stark contrast to our current complex), and it’s conveniently located adjacent to a light rail stop for my snow day commutes.

Rant

If you’re tired of hearing me complain about Denver, you should probably just move on, because when I wrote this last night, I’d had a very bad day and was in a foul mood.  Instead of hitting the publish button right away, I decided to let it percolate overnight and give it 24 hours to see if anything I wrote was merely the product of the day I’d had.

It wasn’t.

So you’ve been warned. Proceed at your own risk.

When that day finally comes and we are leaving Denver for the last time, I can say without any reservation whatsoever, that I will not be shedding a single tear.

When I left San Francisco back in 2002, there was sadness, but I also knew it was time to go. I still hold many, many fond memories and friendships forged during the sixteen years I lived there, and will always treasure the time I spent in The City.

And if I hadn’t left SF, I never would’ve met Ben. So there’s that.

But the same can not be said of the godforsaken hellhole we now call home. Granted, over the past three years, there have been brief periods of happiness (usually only in response to acquiring some new toy or last year when Ben and I got married) and there was an initial sense of elation at escaping the Arizona summers, but on the whole, that deep-seated happiness, that joie de vivre, has been absent from my life. In many ways, last two and a half years has been nothing more than one disappointment after another and at times it feels like a daily battle to simply keep the demons of full blown depression at bay.

And that’s not even taking into account the last fourteen months with the drug addict living in the guest room.

There is nothing about being here that I will miss after we leave, and I am reasonably certain that when looking back upon it I will refer to this period of my life as “Five years in Hell.” There are no fond memories of this place aside from simply having spent it with Ben, and no real friends to prompt a return visit at any point. When the truck is packed and we are heading down I-25, my parting gesture to this city will be a rigid upturned middle finger from both hands.

Since there was some major reorganization happening and my department pretty much scattered to the four winds during the year after I left Phoenix, I can’t say with any certainty that I’d still be working for that particular employer had we stayed, but if we did I’d be making $12K a year more than I am here—and paying half of what I am in rent, both of which are constant, unwelcome reminders of what I sacrificed—albeit willingly, and by conscious  choice—to go on this adventure.

The two jobs I’ve had in Denver, both taken out of desperation (the first because I’d run out of money after we moved here and the second because after 3 months of contracting I simply didn’t want to face being out of work again and having to interview) were both unwilling to pay the average salary that every payroll survey in the country says I should be making in this location. At least in Phoenix I was being paid what my skills and experience were worth.

And the weather? Yeah, the summers in the Valley were getting to be a pain, but at least you knew when to expect them to begin and end. Arizona doesn’t follow daylight savings time, but the old schedule (April thru October) at least corresponded pretty closely to the time you turned the air conditioning on and off there. In Denver, the weather is completely off the rails, and the only two months where there is absolutely no snowfall on record are July and August. Two fucking months. Even Arizona’s heat didn’t screw you over like that, and when it was done for the year, you knew it. Not so in the Mile High City. I’m getting very tired of seeing “clear and sunny” as the forecast for the next five days, washing the car and then waking up the next day to see that 3-4 inches of fucking snow had come out of nowhere overnight. I might as well just feed fifteen dollars into a shredder for all the satisfaction I get from a car wash.

And speaking of high, I’m convinced pretty much most of this city is stoned out of their minds—if only when they get behind the wheel, because no one seems to know where the fuck they’re going until they’re a half second away from making their turnoff. Or they aren’t paying attention. Or maybe it’s because there is no logic whatsoever to the way streets are laid out here—forcing people to make the asinine moves that have become a regular and expected part of my commute—or timing of stop lights, or the fact that street names seem to change on a whim as you go from one point to another. I’m rapidly reaching the point where I simply don’t want to go anywhere any more because I can’t deal with the stupid that invariably crosses my path within two or three minutes of leaving the house.

I know I’m not the best driver, and if anything I’m overly cautious at times, but MY GOD, at least I follow the rules of the road that were taught me in Driver’s Ed. I don’t remember drivers in Phoenix—or even the Bay Area being as horrible as they are here!

There are four things the majority of people driving in Denver seemingly have absolutely no understanding of:

  1. Stop Signs
  2. Speed Limits
  3. Solid Painted Lines on the Pavement
  4. Proper following distance

Stop signs? They don’t even attempt rolling stops here. People just regularly blow through them; a tap of the brake lights if you’re lucky. I’m honestly surprised there aren’t more collisions.

Speed limits? It’s either 20 miles an hour under, or 20 miles an hour over whatever the sign says.

Solid lines? IT MEANS DO NOT CROSS OVER, ASSHOLES. You see that traffic on the freeway is slowing down? Cut across three lanes and half of the gore point to get off and exit because it’s all about YOU.

Following distance? Forget the three second rule. Denver drivers don’t even follow a one second rule. Leaving enough room between yourself and the car in front to stop in an emergency is an open invitation for some asshole to force his way in because his lane is going too slow.

Denver has dual lane metered freeway onramps, like many municipalities. But unlike Phoenix, where the stop light alternates from one lane to the other, in Denver they both get the green light at the same time, so it’s an instant race to see who gets merged into traffic first because it’s all about MEEEEEEEE!

And with each passing day it’s more and more obvious that traffic engineers in Denver don’t want to facilitate the flow of traffic; they want to impede it as much as possible. Why else would one stop light turn green—and just as you start moving, the next light—half a block away—turn red? Why is there no consistency anywhere with left turn signals? Some are before the light in both directions, some are after. Some are before the light in only one direction, while others are after.  IT MAKES NO FUCKING SENSE.

The only positive thing I have to say about Denver is that we’ll be leaving in approximately two years. And believe me, I’m counting down the days. The only reason we’re still here is so Ben can fulfill his obligations to the Denver Teacher Residency program and get about $17K worth of student loans paid for, no small chunk of change and something I would never disallow him.

I Am So Ready to Move Back to Phoenix…

…or Tucson, or or any fucking place where it doesn’t snow.

I’m ready to go back to 115 degree summer weather. At least in Phoenix you know when it begins and ends. In Denver, the weather is absolutely bipolar, and you never know when winter’s going to end. Last year it lasted through May. It was 60℉ earlier this week. It will warm up again over the next couple days only to have snow again next Thursday. I’m sick of it.

Yes, Another Rant

Just skip this if my bitching offends you.

OH MY GOD it SNOWED this afternoon. Less than 2 inches. AND because it never does that in Denver, IT HAS BROUGHT TRAFFIC IN THIS ENTIRE FUCKING CITY TO A NEAR STANDSTILL.

It normally takes me about 25 minutes to go the ten miles to and from work. Today it took nearly 2 HOURS to get home.

If we ever have the fortune to win the lottery in a big way, we’re paying off Ben’s student loans (the only reason we’re still here) and then GETTING THE FUCK OUT OF THIS PLACE.

I Hate Snow

image

The honeymoon with Denver is definitely over. At this point I am more than ready to go back to five months of 115° temps in Phoenix rather than spend one more day driving in snow. Hell, at this point I’d even be willing to move back to earthquake country rather than deal with this crap!

When my folks divorced, my mom moved back to Wisconsin where she was born and raised. She lasted exactly one winter before returning to Arizona. Now I know why. (And Denver winters are mild in comparison!)

Back in the 80s when my tribe relocated en masse to San Francisco, not all of us took to the City or embraced it the way I did. I could not understand how Lee—my best friend in the world—didn’t love the place the way I did. Now I do. Some locations are a perfect match for your energy and some aren’t. For me, Denver has proven itself to be in the latter category. I cannot wait to get the fuck out of here and away from the stupid-ass weather and the fucking insane drivers.

There is nothing about living here that I will miss. NOTHING.

Unfortunately, leaving Denver right now—as much as I would love to—is simply not an option. It will be three more years and three more fucking winters before we can leave. But rest assured that when that day comes and the truck is loaded and we’re heading out of town, not a single fucking tear is going to be shed.