Sunday, December 28, 2014

Behind the Blogger: Leaving Las Vegas, Back to Ohio

[Every so often, I use this site as a personal confessional. That's kind of what "blogs" originally were: personal web logs. Since I haven't written in a while, I thought I'd do one of these, to explain what I've been up to, and where I've been]

It's the end of a personal era. It all began in 1994. Rather, it didn't begin there, but things that were already in motion took off there. I'd been in the amusement industry for about six years, and in 1994 Las Vegas was experiencing an amusement ride boom. Along with several other principal members of the company I'd worked with in Ohio, I made the decision to journey across America, a 2,000 mile trek to the desert. I landed here almost exactly 20 years ago, plus a couple of weeks.

This year's Christmas card (with apologies to Berkeley Breathed)
The first two years were exciting and new. I'd never lived so far away from my family. Prior to this, I was still a 30-minute drive away, and sometimes went weeks without seeing any of them, but it was possible to get together on a moments' notice, or for holidays, birthdays, gatherings or lunch. Now, I was alone, except for my four other fellow travelers.

Initially, we spent a whole lot of our time together, and didn't much wander out of our own little group, especially me. I was the fifth wheel, the perpetual single to the two couples. More than that, I was the gay one, to their straight-married normalcy. And I was also shy and didn't date. So, we spent way too much time at The Rio, The Hard Rock Hotel, and other "new-to-us" gambling meccas. Eventually, I tired of being alone, and dipped a toe into the dating waters. After a few tries, I started dating a guy of considerable charm, but with a dark side.

We dated for six weeks. After escalating just-short-of-violent behavior (and other sketchy behavior), I dumped him. He spent a week winning me back. We dated for six more weeks, his sketchy behavior picked back up, moved to the actually violent, and I dumped him again. All the while, I funded his favorite activity, namely: video poker and pool. I did this--stupidly--to my own financial detriment. But, in a very wise move, I dumped him again. Unfortunately, because we traveled in the same circles, I knew I could not avoid him. So, though we no longer dated, I maintained a distant but not hostile "friendship" with him. Every so often, I'd watch him play pool, though I no longer gave him a dime.

My favorite vehicle, a '98 Jeep Wrangler, owned for 9 years, entirely
here in Las Vegas, now gone for five years.
I had no dimes! They were spent, along with future dimes! And the timing couldn't have been worse. Unbeknownst to me, my (at the time) high paying job was quickly coming to a close, due to malfeasance by a principal member. I had a crucially bad combination of factors: 1) exhausted savings, 2) growing personal debt, 3) an already scheduled Christmas vacation, 4) naiveté about just how bad the work situation was, and how quickly a financial crisis can snowball. I continued to work for no pay, continued to incur expenses, and didn't know enough to drop the job as quickly as I'd dropped the boyfriend.

I married The Other Half in '08, during
the brief window it was legal in California
that year. Now it's legal in Nevada, and in
most of the country. . .but not Ohio!
The new job paid half what the old one did. I inherited a sibling (also down on his luck). And my finances were a shambles. During this time, I pretty much withdrew into my own life and troubles, and my group of friends and I had a lengthy period of separation. Fortunately, we all came back together. But one set had started a family, and remained in a slightly removed orbit for most of the rest of this story (still love 'em, still see 'em, just not as often). I spun off the sibling into his own story, dated a little more, and my job grew into a career.

The story greatly improved the following year, when I met The Other Half. We had a fast courtship, a brief separation, and then a solid relationship and cohabitation, all in just over a year. We've been together ever since, with a relatively consistently improving or steady time of it all along the way. Debt problems are in the distant rear view (where I hope they stay). Two cats have come and gone. A couple of cars, though far fewer than most people. I gathered some friends with the relationship, and for the most part, the two circles have remained steady, and tend to overlap on special occasions.

But there is the pull of family, and of something less tangible. After having been here twenty years (and The Other Half nearly as long), we could both see that both of our very long careers would likely end before too many more years. Our nieces and nephews are growing up fast (some have grown entirely from infancy in this time). Our remaining parents are getting older, siblings too. Family health problems are beginning to crop up with alarming regularity. So, the 2,000-mile buffer has become more abrasive lately then comforting. It's time for a change.

Jinx the Cat came and went, but managed 14 years
here in Las Vegas, 12 of them with us.
It was somewhere about year 13 when I took up hobbyist blogging. It's difficult to believe, but when I moved here, Bill Clinton was still in the first half of his first term in office. In the early days of my relationship, we had The Lewinsky Affair and the impeachment. Next was the 2000 election nightmare, followed by the Bush/Cheney night terror that wouldn't end. It wasn't until Dubya was three-quarters of the way wrecking things when I just was so damned sick of it, that I started this blog as an outlet for my frustrations.

I'd been a keyboard commando since the days of bulletin board services. I can't claim to have gotten too into it until the age of Prodigy, and early AOL though. I'm an early adopter, but not that early. Still, my political arguing skills have been honed online for all of my 20 years here in Vegas. And it occurs to me that pretty much the entire internet age for most people has happened within those same years. When I left Ohio, I had a modem, but it had seen only sporadic use!

The blog started slowly, grew quickly, consumed tons of my time in the first and second years, and then waned on an almost imperceptibly slow decline ever since. I've never gone more than a week without a post, and rarely longer than a weekend. But a quick look at my posting history will reveal that my output here has nearly crashed this year. Life, finally, has gotten in the way lately.

One of several things that didn't exist 20 years ago:
Flat-panel TVs and monitors.
I imagine I'll keep the blog going as long as Blogger is a "thing." I see no reason to kill it off, or make some big declaration ending it. It is rare that a week goes by when I don't have something I want to write. I still enjoy sharing things, and regularly cross post on Facebook and Twitter. But I can't deny that a daily routine is becoming a drag. There's a reason I've almost eliminated blogging late Friday-to-Sunday evenings, and reduced or non-existent posting over holidays. I no longer panic and seed time-released posts when I know I won't be around. If I don't get a post up for the night, sometimes I explain why, sometimes I just don't worry about it. [Story continues below]
BETWEEN 1994 AND 2014

- Flat panel TVs and monitors didn't exist, outside of portables or laptops, and they were extremely small and expensive. They are now ubiquitous. Our household has at least seven. We have no glass tube screens, and used to have at least 5.
- Cell phones were rare, expensive, huge and heavy. They are now ubiquitous, and smarter than any PC from 1994.
- FOX "News" and MSNBC didn't exist until 1996, and the 24-hour news cycle wasn't really a thing yet. CNN was unique.
- We had no idea who Barack Obama, Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, Ted Cruz, Rachel Maddow, Adam Levine, Ryan Seacrest or Simon Cowell were. Or what a Kardashian is.
- We went from VHS to DVD (mostly skipping LaserDisc), and on to Blu-Ray along with instant, streaming high definition, sometimes 3D video. Often over wireless wifi, which would have been indistinguishable from magic twenty years ago.
- Speaking of wifi, our connected world would all seem like magic to a computer user with a 14.4 dialup modem with CompuServe, in 1994. The internet and the many ways we connect to it should amaze us more than it does.
- Google and other search engines have rendered trivial knowledge a useless talent.
- In 1994, Justin Bieber was an infant. So was Ariana Grande. Miley Cyrus was 2. One Direction's entire lineup was 0-3 years old, with an average of less than 1.

And that's probably how the future will go. As we move back to the Buckeye state later this winter, the blog will mostly remain static unless something really interesting/exciting happens. When I arrive at my destination, I'll undoubtedly pick it back up. In fact, at first, I'll probably have the time, and want to post things. But hobbies are a time-available thing, and our time will be in demand, both with the practicalities of moving, and with visiting our newly-close-by families. We'll be looking for jobs (though maybe not right away), and a house. There are going to be other things to do.

So, if you've made it this far, thank you for reading, thanks for stopping by. If you enjoy this blog, know that it isn't going away. Just maybe check in less often, or just expect that I might not have anything new that day. If I ever do decide to end the blog all together, there will be a final post saying so. But I can almost guarantee that there will still be new posts after that! I just can't imagine that I won't want an outlet sometimes.


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