Palmdale is a city in the Antelope Valley. It neighbors Lancaster and Quartz Hill. The population is in the upper 200,000's. It's city of weather extremes... you wake up in the morning in autumn and it's 40 degrees out, but by 1:00 PM it could be 90.

I've lived in the Palmdale-area for about 7 years. The people who live here fall into two groups: Those who have money, and those who don't. There is an enormous income-level gap. Most of the people who have money live here, but work in Los Angeles or at Edwards Airforce Base; those that don't have money live and work here.

Palmdale is mostly a commuter city, and this fact affects the people who live here in some very surprising ways. The city has experienced a huge growth-explosion in the past 20 years, and the children of the people who moved here during that explosion are reaching adulthood, and it's causing major problems. All of those commuters have kids, who want jobs, but can't commute, so the local job market is very competitive. Last year a new Barnes and Noble opened, and it was said that they received over 10,000 applications, several of which I submitted myself. People here have to fight to get jobs at places like Burger King. Since the labor pool is so large, employers know they can pay their employees less. They give them marginal raises because it's more cost-effective to fire an experienced worker and hire a new one than to keep them on long-term and increase their pay. Couple this with a horrible public education system and you've got what I like to call a "fly-paper city." It's really very difficult to get out of Palmdale without outside help. If you don't have the opportunity to go away for college, or if you have to pay your own way through college, leaving is a very hard thing indeed.

The people who live here because they can't leave are not happy. You can see the hopelessness in their eyes. Palmdale has soaring teen pregnancy, drug abuse, and crime rates, and the general level of intelligence is pretty low.

Despite all these facts, Palmdale is surrounded by rugged desert wilderness and gently-curving mountains that give it a sort of wild beauty. One can drive 20 minutes and be in complete wilderness, where one can walk for hours and never come across another person. At night, you can see an amazing amount of stars in the sky, despite the city lights. In the morning, you can see roadrunner tracks in the sand, catch glimpses of coyotes running through the desert fields among the Joshua trees, and see mirages glinting brightly in the heat.

Some days, when you can't find anything to do, you hate living here; other days when you go outside and see the blue sky and breathe the fresh air you think you couldn't live anywhere else.