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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Viva Las Vegas-- Why I live in Sin City

I did not mean to live in Las Vegas. 

I don't gamble.  I'm not a big drinker.  Those are actually good qualities to have if you do live here, by the way.

I ended up during my junior year in college doing an internship in Atlantic City.  I applied for that one because they provided room and board.  They were the only internship that did.  I couldn't afford rent in NYC where most of the internships were.  I also had a strong hospitality background- I waited tables, washed dishes, had done the Disney College program-- so casinos weren't that big a stretch.

When I was getting ready to graduate from college, the HR Director where I had done my internship asked me to work the career fair for them and talk to students about the internship program.  They paid me, so I said yes.  Plus, I really loved it.  It was fun.  New Jersey is a great state.  They treated me extremely well and I learned a lot.  He suggested I talk with the VP of The Mirage who was there.  He introduced us.  We clicked.  Great guy.  He remembered that I had contacted him 2 years earlier about an internship program.  He thought I was quite tenacious.  He also told me while he would love to work with me, he knew I would have my choice of jobs when I graduated.  He asked me to at least come out and visit the property and meet some people.

I did.

I immediately fell in love with the city.  I remember calling my parents and telling them "You're not going to believe this, but this place is great...." 

Unfortunately, the offer package was not.  The start date would have interfered with a consulting opportunity I had with my university to travel through Asia and publish a study.  The salary was half what everyone else offered.  I did the mature thing and said no.  I had student loans and money was a big deal.  And there was no way I was giving up the Asian opportunity.

So I went to Asia.  Loved it.  I took a fancy job at a Fortune 500 company.  I hated every minute of it.  Except the onsite gym.  That was great.

I called the VP.  A job happened to open up.  I jumped at it, took the pay cut, drove nearly 3000 miles and figured I would stay for 2 years.

That was 20 years ago.

I tried to leave 18 years ago.  It lasted 6 months.

I get a lot of questions about how I can live here.  I am amazed that people even need to ask.  It is usually asked in a judgmental tone, too.

As if I take kids to the strip clubs... no, just on Family Night (kidding!).

So this is why I live here:

The weather is freaking amazing.  Yes, it gets hot in the summer.  For about 6 weeks-- not consecutively-- it's uncomfortably hot.  As in stick your head in the oven hot.  That hot.  There is also a lot of truth to dry heat.  I will take 105 ANY day over 85 and humid.  110, however, blows.  The only inclement weather is the heat, wind gusts and the very rare flash flood.

No ice.  No snow.  No tornadoes.

I also think it's beautiful.  You might see rocks, I see amazing desert scenery that changes with the light.  Desert sunsets are breathtaking- the reds, the purples, the blues-- setting behind the mountain range-- beautiful.  And yes, there are mountains so my children have seen and played in snow.  In fact, you can ski here. And go boating in the same day.

I like living in what a colleague at our India office referred to as "the most fascinating city in the world."  The shows, the casinos, the restaurants, the clubs (not such a big deal these days!)-- it's a fun place.  It's Disney for grown ups.  Every celebrity chef has a restaurant here.  It's fun to people watch.  Nothing ever closes.  My husband was fascinated by the concept of last call when we were visiting Ohio.  I can eat steak at 3 am. 

I have great friends.  Yes, regular people live here.  I've been in a book club for 16 years.  I used to sing at my former church.  It's fairly normal once you're off the strip.  Fairly. I'm not going to lie-- it's not a mecca for intellect but you can find bright, intelligent people. 

I love the politics here.  We have a part-time legislature that plows through in a very brief session.  The legislators are accessible as well.  You can go to Carson City and get stuff done.  Very cool.  It's a conservative state with brothels.  Seriously, does it get any more interesting?  No.

My family is here.  I married into a family that has been in town since 1908.  I love them.  They are fun.  It's my husband's heritage- the ranchers, the railroad workers, the cowboys-- it's fun.  So yes, we have normal holidays.  Again, fairly normal.  Is any family event ever completely normal?

It's also diverse.  My kids' classes look like Sesame Street.  They will be able to adapt to any environment.  Racial and ethnic differences don't phase them.  They have friends of every make and model.

And the airport.  We are the 8th busiest airport.  You can always get a flight to anywhere.  Very convenient.

In short, I love it here.  Love, love, love it.  You might scrunch up your nose and think I'm setting my children on a path to debauchery but I wonder "Why wouldn't you live here?'  People are constantly complaining about their weather... today WAS a little cloudy...

I love my town.  I've been here longer than any place I've every lived and I don't anticipate ever leaving.  It has a boom or bust mentality.  It's never boring.  It's vibrant.  It's growing.  It's the best.

Viva , viva Las Vegas!

Elvis sings our theme!

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