Thursday, 28 January 1999:

Now It Can Be Told

What new in my life?

Well, quite a lot, actually.

See, I'm going to be leaving Madison sometime in the next five or six weeks, moving to California, and starting a new job at Apple Computer.

As the copy on the Apple Store read around the time the iMac came out: Pro. Go. Whoa.

This has actually been in the works for a little while, when a friend at Apple alerted me to a job opportunity there which he thought I'd work well in, and encouraged me to interview. So shortly before Christmas I went through a phone screen process, and set up an interview. I then spent no small part of my holiday vacation thinking about the job, whether I wanted it, whether I wanted to move, etc. etc.

And, of course, my recent California trip was mainly to go out there and interview, although of course I really did have a fine time enjoying the weather and hanging out with friends.

So the interview went very well, Apple made me an offer that sounded pretty good, and this week I gave notice at work and have been hammering out specific dates and generally working through the logistics of moving.

What will I be doing? Working on WebObjects.

One thing that made me uncomfortable about this whole process was how to represent it to Epic. My first inclination was just to tell them, "Hey, I've got this job possibility that I'm curious about, I'm going to go check it out, and I thought I'd give you a heads-up in case I end up accepting." However, of the few people I told about this opportunity, pretty much every single one of them cautioned me to keep mum until I had some solid results (i.e., an actual offer), mainly I think because it could lead to a difficult work environment if people knew I could be leaving, but maybe/maybe not.

I don't naturally find it easy to keep secrets, especially secrets that are mainly about myself, so I found this difficult and uncomfortable, but the sheer unanimity of opinion in this matter convinced me to follow this route. Which, of course, is why I never mentioned it here.

Fortunately, now that the cat is out of the bag, people at work have been handling it entirely professionally. I guess it makes sense in the case of my boss and of his boss that they've each been in the business for quite a while, have probably worked more than one job themselves, and recognize that people tend to move around in the business world, for a variety of reasons. It's very flattering that people have told me that my departure will be keenly felt on my team. I've been trying to work out a departure schedule that won't leave them completely in the lurch (i.e., with some big half-finished project that someone else needs to jump into).

I hope I've handled it well. This is all so new to me; I've never changed jobs before.

It also helps that Apple has been very enthusiastic about hiring me. I'm actually a little taken aback at that; I am a rather reserved person and don't perhaps 'market' myself as well as some do. But hey, I'm not complaining.

It's nice to be wanted at two places, and the decision was made less painful (although not any easier to make) when I realized that my choice was between two basically good options. How often does that happen?

So why am I doing this? Well, not because I dislike my current job. That's one nice thing about the timing: Things are going pretty well at Epic lately, so I can leave with a good feeling that I'm not going out of spite or unhappiness (I don't think I'd have been so sure if I'd left a year ago). And it's not really because of money, because the combination of Epic salaries and the low cost-of-living in Madison is pretty much unbeatable.

I'm not so much leaving Madison as I am going to California. I have a number of friends out there, including my best friend from high school, Rob, and one of my best friends from Madison, John. Plus, my friend Karen here in Madison will hopefully be finishing up her Ph.D. soon, and will therefore be leaving town - and may even end up in the Bay Area! Yes, I certainly have other friends in Madison, so in a sense this is a wash.

The real reason, I think, is to try something new. To live in a new part of the country, and one which I found rather attractive when I was there last year. To live in Silicon Valley, the mecca (more-or-less) of hackerdom in the 80s and 90s. To once again live in a major urban area (with a major baseball team [two if you count the Athletics]). To just generally have a change and see what I think. I've been in Madison for over seven years, and if I want to try something new, doing so while I'm still fairly young and while I'm single is the time to do it.

And yeah, although I've tried to deny it, I think there's a little of the "Apple mystique" in there. Not many companies really have that sort of mystique, companies that have changed their industry more than once.

When I was a freshman in college, there was a guy down the hall who had interned at Apple for a summer, and he had some neat stories to tell. It was hard to imagine back then, as a freshman with an undeclared major and untrained programming skills, that I'd ever be able to work at Apple. This was in 1987, when Apple was perhaps at the height of its powers. It wasn't just "Apple", it was APPLE!

So there's a little of that.

There are a lot of logistics involved in moving out to California. Fortunately, it seems that getting out of my lease will not be a problem; apparently my landlords practically have people beating down their door to rent their properties.

The big trick, and the big worry, is going to be getting my cats out to California. Movers will be coming to take my stuff, and even my car, and I'll have a place to stay while I look for an apartment. But basically when the big day to leave comes, I need to:

  1. Have the movers cart off my stuff.
  2. Check into a hotel for a night - one which will allow the cats.
  3. Finish cleaning my apartment.
  4. Check out of my apartment.
  5. Hop a plane to the left coast, and ship the cats as freight on the plane, possibly getting them drugged up beforehand.
  6. Get a rental car in California and make sure I have food and litter for the cats when we arrive at our temporary home.
Ideally, all of this will occur in two days. Can I pull it off? I sure hope so.

Everything else should be easy in comparison. There are some bookkeeping matters involved in changing jobs (rolling over my 401K, for instance), and I have to deal with turning off my utilities and dealing with bank accounts and drivers licenses. Not to mention saying goodbye to my friends in Madison. But I don't think any of that will be hard. It's really my cats I'm worried about.

I love my cats. You may have noticed. They're my kids.

So, this is all pretty scary and daunting and exciting, and sometimes I can't remain enthusiastic about it because I've just been tired out by thinking and worrying about it. But yeah, basically I feel that I've made the right decision, and I'm looking forward to it. I've enjoyed living in Madison and working at Epic, but we'll see where this road takes me.

If nothing else, I bet I'll be playing a lot more Bridge.


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