In June of ’99, while working at JPS, I got an email from Big Al – who had since moved up to his home state of Washington. He had gotten a gig at Microsoft, and had been working as part of the Macintosh Business Unit’s marketing team up there for a while.
I was shocked to hear that they had an opening on his team, and that he thought I’d be a good candidate for the job. He said that I should apply. I was pretty stoked at the idea of even having a chance at something like that, so I jumped on it. Apparently they needed someone to start right away, so I wasted no time at all. I tried not to get my hopes up too much, though.

The biggest ‘catch’ was that if I were to get the job, I would have to move – immediately – up to the Seattle area, a place I’d never even visited before.
I was extremely hesitant at first, given the fact that my girlfriend and I had been talking about the idea of getting married. I hadn’t been expecting a crazy opportunity like this to fall out of the sky, but it had. It was fairly unlikely that she would move to Washington with me, so I had a big decision to make.
After a lot of soul searching and prayer over the issue, I ultimately decided to go for it and see what happened.

Anyway, after submitting URL’s or my work and my résumé and all that, I had a phone interview with Big Al’s boss. The next thing I knew, I was told that the job was mine – if I wanted it.
I thought it over for about a half hour, and finally accepted.

Jaime came down the following weekend to help me pack up all my junk. After all was said and done, we had a medium-sized U-HAUL full of furniture, clothing, records, and guitars with the Ghia on a car trailer behind it. This was quite a sight to behold, and I must give Jaime some large props for being such a buen hermano and making it all possible. For the record, Jaime is one of the world’s foremost leading experts on the art of efficient moving. He showed up and conducted the whole project like a symphony, and it went a lot more smoothly that it would have normally. If you ever need someone to help you move, give him a call.

* * *

The job was really cool. I was working as an extension of the marketing team for Microsoft’s Macintosh Business Unit (MacBU). The MacBU is the entity within the company through which all of Microsoft’s Mac software is made.
The MacBU has a main website called Mactopia, for selling products and offering support, for which I worked as the main designer on.
MacTopia was our whole reason for existing there, and we were basically charged with the daunting task of keeping the Mac community happy by providing downloads, updates, support, links, interviews, and all kinds of other stuff. It was a huge challenge, but it was fun. There were many all-nighters there, usually the night before MacWorld or a major product launch.
I remember getting up at 4 AM to go in to the office and working with Big Al to release Internet Explorer 5 to the world. There were a lot of interesting and unique things like that to experience there.

My boss was a very close second to the previous one. He was like a cross between Han Solo and Captain Kirk, which was cool. We had mandatory ping pong tournaments every day, which made the job a lot more enjoyable for
everyone. He’d often do weird stuff, like suggest that we all get wetsuits and swim across Lake Washington. Sometimes he’d award a free day off to whoever could beat him at foosball. He was a really funny guy, and also a good boss.

Microsoft itself is an incredible thing to experience. I worked right there on the main campus, and it’s really hard to explain what that’s like. MS is like a huge, well-oiled machine that works very efficiently – and is hugely successful because of it. Working there makes you feel like a tiny cog in that machinery – but still important nonetheless. Although things there aren’t necessarily perfect, there’s a prevailing sense of efficiency, practicality, and coolness about that place. It’s pretty amazing to work in a place where everything’s nice because the money’s there to make it possible.

Unfortunately, thr girlfriend situation had pretty much fizzled out due to my moving away. I threw myself into my work, sometimes working up to 16 hour days… It was a pretty gross, unhealthy time for me. My attitude was sour, and the lack of sunlight was starting to affect me even more. I was like a flabby, overweight version of Gollum, living nocturnally in my office.
In retrospect, it may have been a bonehead move to abruptly move away like that. Nevertheless, it ended up being a good career move – and I am now engaged to marry that same girl, so maybe things happened that way for a reason.

There were many adventures had there, and one cool thing about the area is that Guillermo lived in Seattle. Fortunately, Paco and his girlfriend moved up there as well… so we all hung out quite a bit. Seattle is a LOT of fun to hang out in, and remains my favorite metropolitan city.

* * *

After a year or so I decided that I wanted to see the sun again, so I decided to move back to California. I hate to sound like a weenis, but the lack of regular sunlight was slowly killing me. I felt like a houseplant that had been stuck in a dark closet for a year; gradually withering away. Even when I went outside, it didn’t feel like I was ‘outside’ – because I never saw the sun, and the low overhanging clouds never let up.
The pivotal moment for me was when I flew down to Chico for my sister’s wedding in late spring. It was 85 degrees and sunny in California, but everybody in Washington was still wearing sweaters and raincoats. The second the plane broke through the clouds into that glorious sunlight, I knew I had to come back.

I left MS in August of 2000 after accepting a job with a company in Petaluma, California. Once again, Jaime came to the rescue. This time he drove the U-Haul, and I drove the Jetta. The night before we left, we took a break from packing stuff up and went to look for some walkie talkies to use on the 8+ hour drive from Redmond to Redding. We couldn’t find any decent ones that didn’t cost a fortune, so we went to Toys-R-Us and bought some $16 “SPACE PATROL” headset walkie talkies. They were rad, and we wore them the whole way down. Jaime had some guy get mad at him just for looking like an idiot, but aside from that they greatly enhanced our trip.

I’d consider moving back up there with my wife someday, provided that I bring a few sunlamps, a treadmill, and plenty of vitamin D with me.