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Farewell Peaks, Hello Skyscrapers – My (Woefully Undramatic) Journey Northeast

Different skies

If you’ve been paying any kind of attention to my Twitter feed (@courtneymackweb, but please don’t feel bad if you haven’t. Hardly anyone does), you may have picked up on the fact that I have relocated.

That’s right. The view out my window used to look like this:


And now it looks like this:

A Chicago Skyline

(Uh…car window, that is. My office/home windows have never been quite so dramatic).

There is a long and convoluted explanation for my recent move from Mack Web’s homebase of Fort Collins, CO to the Windy City (that’s Chicago, just in case you didn’t know), but it’s actually not that interesting.

I know, I know. It seems like it should be, since it’s fraught with interpersonal dynamics, long-lost friends, miscommunication, and mosquito bites, but…in the end it boils down to this:

Courtney has itchy feet.

Courtney likes her job.

Courtney has trouble reconciling these things.

Until I was presented with a fantastic solution: keep my job and move away.

That Mack is a genius, I tell you.

An incredible journey (but only through space. My dreams of time travel are yet unrealized).

So, Mack offered me the opportunity to open what is, essentially, the first satellite office of Mack Web Solutions. (Or as I like to call it: Mack Web Chicago: An Army of One).

So I packed up all my belongings and drove the 16 hours from Fort Collins to Chicago. I was supposed to document the journey for you, possibly with a small garden gnome as companion, ala Amelie.

But, quite frankly, 16 hours of corn and wheat fields is frightfully dull with or without a garden gnome. (And, honestly, a little eerie).

So I didn’t.

Though I learned something very, very important:

Contrary to popular perception, Nebraska does end.

I never knew that before. I assumed it was like the island in Lost or a vortex in space and time, consuming all who pass through and depositing them at random points throughout history and leaving them to wend their way back home as they can.

But I made it out in the end. And without having lost a significant portion of my personal timeline.

(I know, ‘cuz I called my mom when I made it to Iowa, just to make sure I hadn’t pulled a Rip Van Winkle and lost a hundred years amongst the corn. I could actually hear her roll her eyes over the phone).

So I made it to Illinois safe and sound and prepared to set up shop as Mack Web’s first remote location.

We currently operate out of my best friend’s guest room, but that’s not really the relevant point here.

An imac in a borrowed room.

The current offices (and officers) of Mack Web Chicago.

A surprisingly natural progression

The point is that one of Mack Web Solutions’ central tennets is that you can build and foster communities online.

That it is possible to create and sustain productive and mutually-satisfactory relationships without sharing the same physical space.

That through the wide variety of digitial media now available, you can make friends, find partners and mentors, brainstorm and co-create with peers and colleagues, from whereever you happen to be.

(A message, incidentally, also preached by the suppliers of said digital media, but…we’re less self-interested than they are. And also funnier. And prettier. So you should listen to us, even if you ignore them).

Of course, occasional in-person follow-ups are helpful and we’ll be partaking in those, too.

We’ve preached this and we’ve practiced it with some fantastic folk external to our company.

Now we’re trying it out a little closer to home. (Or, really, farther from home, depending on how you want to look at it).

Proving the Theory!

See, doesn’t it sound better couched in terms of scientific inquiry than wanderlust?

And thus far, it’s working. (Not surprising. It was our theory after all).

It’s a little weird not being there to bug my co-workers in person, but I’ve found ways to retain my status as office nuisance via chat and copious, copious emails and Google Hangouts that get completely out of hand.

Pirate hats and facial hair, the imaginary escalators and carefully-mimed isododecahedrons (no, Nat, I will never, ever believe that was a cube): these are the stuff that great virtual meetings are made of.

A nuisance deferred

And of course, all those co-workers are eager to see me succeed, so that they too, can scatter to all ends of the globe and work digitally from, say, Paris or the Caribbean.

(No pressure, Courtney).

Wait…what was the point of all this again?


All of this was to say: Stop your weeping. Be not alarmed! I’m still here, though I am gone.

If you should notice that I no longer appear in pictures of Fort Collins, if you should hear references to my absence, if you should feel the slight chill ebbing off the office itself with the loss of my beaming smile and warm heart…

Don’t. Panic.

I’m not going anywhere.

(Uh…except to Chicago. I did go there. But, um…oh, you know what I mean).

So wish me luck and maybe, if you happen to be in town, I’ll see you around.


Author Courtney Brown

More posts by Courtney Brown

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Saundra LaLone says:

    Welcome to Chicago!!! Hope you find yourself not missing those peaks too much : ) LOVE your writing style!

    Saundra (from the northern suburbs of Chicago)

    • Courtney says:

      Thanks for the welcome and the kind words alike!

      So far, so good. But I’m finding it difficult to navigate without them as a reference point. (Which is why I can only say that I’m currently in suburbs to the South? West? Southwest?)

  • ronell smith says:


    I am glad you are NOT leaving MWS. Besides, where on earth could you ever find a better boss?

    Now to the good stuff: How in the hell did you get to Chi-town in 16 hours? That’s not fair. Oh, the luxury of driving through flat, personality-less country, right?

    I’ve driven through Iowa and South Dakota and Minnesota before. Not the best topography I’ve even seen.

    Glad you made it safely.


    • Courtney says:

      Thanks, Ronell. I’m pretty happy to be staying put, too. (Metaphysically speaking).

      Yeah…the last time I made the drive from Colorado to Chicago, it was only 13.5 hours. But with age (and speeding tickets) comes wisdom. And who knows, maybe there *was* some time distortion in Agraria, USA. I was pretty glad to arrive one way or the other.

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