Archive for September, 2014

how many cans?

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

1. 10 Brookline Boulevard, Haverford, PA to 5 Brookline Boulevard, Haverford, PA (1971)

Born and raised in Philly, my mom told stories of me running out to the intersection near our house to direct traffic in my diaper when our local fire station’s alarm bells would go off. I don’t remember 10 Brookline Boulevard at all. I remember 5 Brookline only in small snippets: our pet rabbit biting me and stealing a Christmas cookie is my earliest memory of all. Conflicts between my dad and brother. And just before the big move, a flip out my old man had when we couldn’t find the photocopy layout of the Wilmington apartment — he was sure I had it last, but I couldn’t remember where I’d put it, and when I shruggingly suggested that I might have thrown it out, he tossed my teddy bear in the garbage. Bear was never the same to me, but we eventually found the map under my parent’s bed — and herein lies the seeds of my massive problem with authority, because the old man never once acknowledged that he was wrong or even sorry. It just wasn’t in his makeup.

2. 5 Brookline Boulevard, Harverford, PA to Wilmington, DE (1974)

Wilmington was weird to grow up in, a nice area, but we got up to a lot of trouble and I did a lot of acting out. There was a lot of conflict between my dad and brother, and one spring vacation my brother took off (“ran away” was what it was called back then). There were lots of kids in and around the area, lots of memories, not all of them great. Chris McHugh and his brother Mike lived in the same apartment complex — Chris and I got into a fight within a week or so of us moving to Wilmington. I bit him in the ass during that fight, because he had sat on my head. Still, it was probably the right move, because no one ever fucked with me after that (and I was in full-on birth control glasses and was a burgeoning geek that almost assuredly would have been fucked with had I not cemented a somewhat untethered reputation almost right away). Dad’s store, Record Museum, was in the Concord Mall. Mom took a job a couple years into our arrival in Wilmington, and there was some period in the midst in which she took my brother and I to stay with a friend of hers, presumably somewhere in the Philadelphia (King of Prussia comes to mind, but I have nothing explicit on which to hang that). Baseball, Boy Scouts, BMX were all a big part of my life at the time. The kids that worked at my dad’s store were always super cool, pulling me onto their softball team during summers and generally treating me very sweetly — names like Rhonda, Larry, and Doug all come to mind. The New Years Eve parties my parents would throw were always epic.

We moved right before my brother’s senior year of high school — I remember there being a lot of conflict about that. Also, Chris McHugh and his family moved on the exact same day, down further into Delaware. But we’ll get back to that.

3. Wilmington, DE to West Trenton, NJ (1979)

This is why I self-identify as a Jersey Boy, because New Jersey is where I spent my formative years. It would be exhausting to try and list all of the people here who had a big impact on me, so I’m going to stop with that part of this narrative (not even really sure why I started it). However, it does serve to mention that a couple of years into living in Jersey, Chris McHugh’s family moved to Lawrenceville, NJ, and we hung out a lot before graduating high school. Chris was the last person I saw when I left Jersey for good in 1989. I wish I could find him now that I’m back in the area, but he apparently has left no data trace, which isn’t really surprising, but kind of is when one thinks about the world today.

4. West Trenton, NJ to Chicago, IL (1986)

I went to college in Chicago, so this qualifies as a move in both directions.

5. Chicago, IL to West Trenton, NJ (1988)

Home after college.

6. West Trenton, NJ to Hamilton, NJ (1989)

Newly married and trying to shack up. This was possibly one of the worst periods of my life, trying to go from just being an asshole that lived in his parent’s house to being a husband and a father. It culminated in an almost break-up of the marriage, with me leaving New Jersey with JM to join several folks we knew who had all hoved off to Phoenix, AZ.

7. Hamilton, NJ to Glendale, AZ (1989)

Crashing on RG’s couch, my first real programming “job” with Phase III Commercial Factors.

8. Glendale, AZ to Mesa, AZ (Apt 1) (1990)

A one-bedroom apartment, and K coming out and us deciding to get back together and try and make a marriage work without the toxic influence of her mother.

9. Mesa, AZ to Mesa, AZ (Apt 2) (1990)

A two-bedroom apartment in Mesa, AZ.

10. Mesa, AZ to Mesa, AZ (Apt 3) (1991)

A better two-bedroom apartment closer to work in McKellips Gardens, with space for C’s imminent birth. This was in response to great successes happening at Phase III. Unfortunately, there was also a lot of mail fraud going on at Phase III, and soon after moving to McKellips, Phase III got shut down by the Postal Inspector in 1990, and after a few months of freelancing (including producing Easy Register) and working with Pacquin Associates (who moved offices right after I joined, and then shut down not six months after that), we were soon close to eviction. We ended up having to move into the then-newly married D & R’s two-bedroom apartment, with them living in the spare bedroom and all of my family sleeping in the big master bedroom.

11. Mesa, AZ to Phoenix, AZ (1992)

Yay homelessness! Four months of pure hell, and the absolute bottom of my personal and professional career. Climbing out of this particular pit required first the Amex terminal project, and then  University of Phoenix (which is where I met BG, and that particular intersection in my life put me on a very strange and long trajectory that only in the last couple of years has resolved itself — but that is not a story for here…).

12. Phoenix, AZ to Indian School, AZ (1992)

A six-month interim house that we took mostly to get us the hell out of D&R’s place. It was a cinderblock hell hole that soon after I converted from contract to full-time at UOP we bugged out immediately. All too often, our nights would be interrupted by choppers flying over head — and one night, when we’d wandered out into our yard to see what the hell was going on, we got pegged by a spotlight and a megaphone voice telling us to go back inside. That was enough.

13. Indian School, AZ to Chandler, AZ (1992)

The UOP gig got us back into suburbia, and J started school. This was a short period that was mostly freighted with the extent that I was overworked by T and RS.

14. Chandler, AZ to Hopewell, NJ (1993)

At the end of the summer, K took the kids back to see her folks in NJ, and after a short period of really intense work (UOP was submitting for accreditation with NCA, and it was a hugely stressful period), I was so fried that I told K to stay in NJ. I packed up the Chandler house, told UOP that I would be working remotely for a while, and left Phoenix on September 25. I drove through straight through for 26 hours to arrive in NJ on C’s 2nd birthday. I remember the moment after I pulled in — C was sitting on his mom’s lap and I came in. He looked at me shyly and then came running over to me — I’d made it.

15. Hopewell, NJ to West Windsor, NJ (1993)

Living with K’s parents was miserable but I soon found a job at QSSI and was able to get us out into our own place. The commute was hellish and the work wasn’t much better. A couple of skeletons had worked their way out of the closet, and not long afterwards it became clear that we weren’t going to be staying in NJ much longer. One key point here is that while in West Windsor, my mom ended up moving in with us, and was along for the adventure for many years to come (even though that was never really the plan).

16. West Windsor, NJ to Fairfield, IA (1994)

My first Internet job! I found a posting on comp.jobs.computers, and the whole Telegroup/Fairfield story is in itself worthy of multiple beers, so it won’t be covered here. After failing to grow an affinity for the small midwestern college town, and the gold rush being on for the Internet, the next destination was all-too-obvious.

17. Fairfield, IA to Mission Viejo, CA (1995)

DAZSI and the Zippermans, Mike Korns and Solar Turbines. The Internet Gold Rush was on, and DAZSI seemed not the least bit interested in actually capitalizing on it. BG came back into the circle, crashing on the couch of a corporate apartment I had in San Diego, and ultimately joining DAZSI and moving up to Venice Beach to GB Data (another weird trajectory, BG was full of ’em). Lots of consulting, including the process consultancy, eventually culminating in EPIC Solutions and the MOJ contract in Western Australia. But in the interim, there were a couple of Solar Turbine jobs that took us to:

18. Amsterdam, Netherlands (1996)

19. Brussels, Belgium (1997)

20. Mission Viejo, CA to Perth, Western Australia (1998)

18 months in Perth (really, City Beach) in Western Australia. I think C and I had the best time, but it clearly was hell for J and K. Again, this is a multiple-beer story that should be covered elsewhere. Ultimately, the contract resolved, the new system rolled out and it was time to head back to the US. Of course, it couldn’t be easy, with EPIC almost closing and bailing on many of the obligations that were part of their end of the expatriate contract. I ended up having to return to the US just before Thanksgiving of 1999 and in short order, find a new job, a new house and try to get my family back in the country before the holidays. The good news is that I succeeded. The bad news is that it put together the ingredients for what would eventually be the end of my first marriage, as the place I ended up crashing during my short time looking was with L&J — as it turns out, my ex was intensely jealous of L, and was certain that we were sleeping together (and no, it never happened). But so, that’s why I list Mission Beach before La Costa, as I had to move first to MB, and then all of us to La Costa.

21. Mission Beach, CA (1999)

22. Perth, Western Australia to La Costa, CA (2000)

I thought this was going to be a good place for us, but the schools were awful and K was bent on going back to school, leaving us with a dependency on good schooling. The rumor was that those good schools were in Poway, so off we went.

23. La Costa, CA to Poway, CA (2001)

These fucking people were crazy. Ohmigod: uniforms on public school kids, endless hours of after school programs and in general, the ever-present White Suburbanite Nightmare. It didn’t help that Stellcom was spinning out of control (eventually becoming CalAmp), and I got caught in a shitty battle between Stellcom management and Hewlett/Packard — HP offered me a great job, but Stellcom blocked me from taking it, causing me to leave Stellcom and strike out to learn how to raise money for my own ideas… Thus began the Venture/Bridge adventure, which drew us down into Point Loma (to reduce the commute).

24. Poway, CA to Point Loma, CA (2003)

Here’s where my first marriage went to die. K finished her Veterinary Technician schooling, only to finish just in time to figure out that she didn’t want to do that anymore. And this was only one point in a whole constellation of things that were making her unhappy. After a truly dismal holiday season, we agreed that we would split up New Year’s Eve of 2004.

25. Point Loma, CA to El Cajon, CA (2005)

I moved out to El Cajon into a truly horrid little apartment on Mollison Avenue, so Sunshine and I could be together. That first year of our relationship was rough, with lots of stupidities and interfering factors. It really took us a while to find our stride — but find it we did. The Mollison apartment was always slated to be short term, and when the complex finally started remodeling to condo-ize the units, I moved out to Mission Beach.

26. El Cajon, CA to Mission Beach, CA (2006)

I truly loved this little apartment, and I look back on 2006 as an all-time high mark in happiness and satisfaction. Maybe because the band was doing so well, maybe because I really wasn’t working all that much, maybe because of all of the great sunny summer days Sunshine and I spent bobbing in the waves, enjoying the breezes and riding our bikes up and down Mission Boulevard just digging the living. This is where this blog gets its name, and the simplicity of this period of my life is something I return to often. But, like all good things, the band faltered, the bank accounts dwindled and jobs were needed. A return to reality was necessary, and in the ensuing transition, Sunshine and I moved in together in my favorite place in the world — Ocean Beach.

27. Mission Beach, CA to Ocean Beach, CA (2007)

I absolutely adored living just a half-block from Dog Beach (and so did our dogs). There were some high-water marks in careers and it was here that Sunshine and I made our first really strong attempt at making big changes in our lives from a health and diet standpoint. We did a lot of hiking, shot a lot of sunsets, and spent inordinate numbers of weekends loving the walking lifestyle. We started to think that moving way out to east county to get ourselves a bit more of a relaxing lifestyle would solve some of our satisfaction issues, but we never found a workable situation. After Sunshine’s grandmother had to be moved into a home, we decided to give it all up in the hopes that a reduced financial footprint would enable us to save and achieve that rural lifestyle faster.

28. Ocean Beach, CA to Spring Valley, CA (2009)

This was a tougher period — both Sunshine and I faced serious challenges at work. Hers were all stress-related, with her employer demanding enormous commitments out of her and her team, at a severe cost to her health and happiness. For me, it was the standard dwindling startup problem, with the reduced paychecks and spiking stress of layoffs. Ultimately, I convinced Sunshine to quit that crazy fucking job, and after a few months of filling a drool cup (and a job change for me that was effectively out of the frying pan and into the fire), she got a great opportunity to help run a trapeze school down in Jacksonville, Florida. So off we went.

29. Spring Valley, CA to Jacksonville, FL (2011)

This was an awesome adventure — Trapeze High FL, Jacksonville Poker Association, and the general weirdness that was Florida. But it ran its course, and the job prospects few on the ground for me. Coupled with Sunshine’s disillusionment with the trapeze lifestyle and a growing love for glasswork, it is really no surprise that when the Comcast opportunity presented itself, we decided it was time to move once again. Admittedly, I was wary of returning to the place of my birth, as I often used to say that I was never going to return to the the East Coast, no less the tri-state area. But the job was a really great chance for me to move firmly into the mobile space, and the schooling opportunity for Sunshine made the choice a serious no-brainer.

30. Jacksonville, FL to Collingswood, NJ (2013)

So, not long after moving to NJ, Sunshine and I finally tied the knot, and have since been living in wedded bliss. These last couple of years has been the first time in a very long time that I’ve been as satisfied as I have been with a job, and Sunshine has just begun her second (and final) year of school. There are many opportunities in front of us, not least of which may put us all the way out in…well, I don’t want to telegraph that punch yet, so I’ll stop right there…

Thirty moves in 46 years. Wow, that’s a lot of shuffling shit around the world. And really? At any given time, I could have easily just lit a torch to the pile of shit that I was moving and just bought some new stuff. Funny thing, this moving thing. Mebbe this next time it’ll be different.