Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Bit of Bubbly

I spent my evening watching "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day" in just the type of mood that made me smile goofily through most of it and then tear up a little at the end. Also, it's made me feel like using the word "quite" quite a lot. It also made me quite inclined to draw myself a bubble bath. But that felt too awkward, so I decided to take a bubble bath instead. Yes.

And it was quite lovely! And I used the bamboo bath caddy that dear Emily gave me as a gift, and it was quite a convenient place for keeping my wine and my bubble bath and my "Pure Drivel" by one Steve Martin, which I am quite enjoying.

So maybe now you think that I just loll about all day long and then soak with Drivel in the bathtub at night, but no! In fact for the last two days I have done some w-o-r-k. That I will be paid for! In dollars! (Though I'm told the conversion rate from California dollars to Texas dollars is less than favorable.) So work is starting to happen, but that's not very interesting so I'll not waste any more of your time on it.

What WAS interesting, quite, was this past weekend wherein our good friend Marcy came to visit. If you are the numberly type, you will have noticed that this increased the amount of friends we have in Austin by 1, leaving us a grand total of... 1! One friend! Of course, if you are like a John Nash at word problems, you will note that when she left on Sunday we were minus 1 friend, and therefore are back to 0 (zero) friends in Austin. But she did bring our cat Mr. Pickles with her, so I guess with The New Math that puts us at .273 friends.

Anyway, I will have to talk more about the funness of our weekend tomorrow, because now I am tired. Quite.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Week One!

The internet is here, the internet is here! Finally!

Also! WE are here! Here is Austin! Here we are! And there are exclamation points!!! Wheeee!

It has been just over a week since we arrived here last Wednesday evening. It was a super duper weird feeling driving into town knowing that we were coming here to stay. As we drove into Austin proper and got nearer and nearer to our little house, we both experienced a sensation that is something like this: the impulse to dry heave + pulling into the parking lot at Disneyland + OH SHIT + mid-terms + peepants + HUH? + trampoline + YES! + OH HOLY SHIT. That sort of begins to cover it.

All we could say for a few minutes as we parked in front of the house was:

Me: Oh my god.
Him: Holy shit.
Him: Ho. Ly. SHIT.

And then we kind of bounced up to the front door, and Mikey scooped me up and carried me over the threshold, saying, "I know you're supposed to do this at another time, but I wanted to do it now." Did you just vom a little in your mouth from how sweet he is? I'm sorry. He is SO sweet. I love him.

But it wasn't all fairy dust and rainbows as it turned out. The house hadn't been cleaned after the previous tenant, and also the gas wasn't turned on. What this meant was mouse poopies on top of the fridge, a carpet made of dog hair, icky toilets, and random bits left behind including a can of soup, one leaf of dry lettuce, a purple kiddie pool, a pile of pennies, powdered vitamin supplement, a conch shell, and various and sundry other curios. This was sort of ok because our stuff wasn't arriving for three days, so we'd have time to clean before moving it all in. But who wants to move into a dirty, hairy, poopy house?

In a wonderment of bad timing, no one could come turn our gas on for a couple of days, and Austin suddenly experienced its first real cold snap of the season. When we drove up, it was a balmy 74 degrees. By the time we went to bed, it was about 30. So Mike and I huddled together in our sleeping bag on our air mattress on the floor, waiting for the Lowe's to open so we could rush out and buy a space heater. But at least we had a couple piles of dog hair to keep us warm in the meantime.

And when the gas man DID come, Mike had to physically restrain me from frenching him. Because not only was there no heat, there was also no hot water. No hot water + freezing cold house = no showering. And we also hadn't showered at the ranch in west Texas, because the house was so rarely used that the water had become sulfuric. This amounted to about 5 straight days without showering, so you can imagine the condition we were in after being cooped up in the cab of a Ford Ranger across the second largest state in the union and then sleeping on the floor. Not pretty.

So, not very auspicious beginnings. But! We're getting things in order, and the place is starting to feel really good. Cleaning it was definitely more of a project than in the tiny old Venice apartment. I could vacuum every inch of the old place from a single plug... this place takes a little more doing. But it was all worth it when we came home from happy hour one night last week, and we were able to head to separate bathrooms. "I'm peeing at the same time as you!" I had squealed with the special kind of glee that only two toilets can bring.

So there you have it. We're here, and things are happening. We have a Christmas tree up and we're showering daily. We are like REAL adults.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Back at the Ranch

On Monday evening we arrived in Snyder, TX, population 10,000. This is
where Mike's family has had a ranch for generations - his great
grandparents homesteaded the land way back in the day. It was a long,
flat drive there from Santa Fe, past fields of cotton, many cows, some
giant wind turbines, and a lot of west Texas oil wells. I didn't know
oil wells stunk so much, but I guess if they're on your land it's just
the smell of money.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Cave With a View

Feathers Not Dots

After the nuclear bomb shrine, we got prehistoric and visited some
ancient Indian cave dwellings at Bandelier National Monument. It was
crazy to think that 600 years ago there was a tribe of people living
in this pueblo in the canyon, hunting with bows and arrows. It was an
amazing place.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

YES Learning

We arrived in Santa Fe on Friday night and decided to extend our stay
here since we are having so much fun. We spent most of yesterday in
art shows and galleries, in between spicy meals. Today we went to the
Bradbury Science Museum in Los Alamos, which is where this photo was
taken. YES Learning? YES please! Except it was really less 'science
museum' and more 'creepy homage to the atom bomb.' Government
propaganda is alive and well!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

More Science, Please!

We made a detour to see the petrified forest - trees from millions of
years ago when the Arizona desert was actually a tropical forest. I
was slightly disappointed to find that it's not a forest of standing
trees, but a plain littered with big chunks of petrified log bits. It
didn't stop me from dorking out, though... I have a soft spot for
ancient stuff. This guy was the biggest - it weighs 44 tons! The tree
was heavy, too, I think.

Have You Slept in a Wigwam Lately?

After Meteor Crater (again no 'the'), we made a brief stop in 1962.
Sadly, we couldn't stay.

Giant Hole #2

After leaving Grand Canyon, (they don't say 'the' there - it's just
'grand canyon'), we set out for Santa Fe.

On the way, we stopped by the cleverly named Meteor Crater. This is
just what it sounds like: a big hole caused by a big rock from space.
Because I am a huge dork and prefer to do as much learning as possible
on my vacations, I loved it. Bring on the science! But really,
couldn't they have come up with a better name?

Friday, November 28, 2008

It IS Grand!

We woke up early this morning, and the weather had cleared. There is
no way to do the thing justice in photos, but here is one anyway. More
to come...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A White Thanksgiving

I have lots more photos to post from the last two days, but I can't
figure out how to do more than one at a time on my iPhone. Also, it's
hard to write much. But here's pretty much the best view we could get
of the Grand Canyon in the blizzard that came along last night while
we were sleeping!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Part I

A couple of months ago, when I was taking my memoir writing class*, I began to write a piece about moving out of LA. I didn't get very far, and as my writing teacher pointed out, the piece "remains very sanguine - it doesn't give the reader a sense of what is at stake." That is the much more difficult part to write: the sad, scary part. It was easier to write the light-hearted bits.

But I thought I would put it up anyway and call this bit Part I. I still need to write the hard part, Part II. Hroo.

Part I

More and more, I am faced with undeniable evidence that I am an adult. I thought this was so after college, when summer breaks and cushy student loan checks were replaced with unpaid overtime and enough "insufficient funds" notices to wallpaper my stuffy studio apartment. But the real proof of my adulthood came a few years later, in my changed relationship with home improvement television shows. I can remember my parents wanting to watch something on TV about how best to insulate your house and me threatening to take a melon baller to my eye if they didn't change the channel. But now I spend so many evenings watching HGTV, I could evaluate your current insulation system, recommend three to four more efficient alternatives and install them myself by Monday.

I don't know which came first, my obsession with remodeling shows or my fantasies about owning a house. Either way, I spend most of my spare time watching TV shows like "Property Virgins" or reading articles about what it takes to get a mortgage now that we are in The Great Depression, Part Deux: now in technicolor! One thing is clear -- as long as I live in Los Angeles, my property virginity isn't going anywhere.

I've lived within the same 100 mile radius my entire life, with the exception of some months abroad in college. I have the kind of mixed feelings for LA that a person can ony have after more than 25 years in one place. When I fly into other cities, I press my face to the tiny window and blink quickly, confused by the green hills or blue rivers surrounding towns full of parks and baseball diamonds. I marvel at the luck of these townspeople and their ample access to fresh air.

As my plane descends back into L.A., I squint to try and find the end of the vast concrete slab that stretches from the coast to, well, perhaps infinity. Somewhere visible only by Google Maps or God. I always wheeze for a few days after I've been away, as my lungs reacquaint themselves with the smog. I bet if you were to peek at my lungs, they'd be the same color as the tangled freeways, the hazy air, the dry hills and the shoddy apartment buildings that make up this city -- a sad gray-ish brown. Or brown-ish gray, depending on the season... of which there are two. I hear some places have four seasons with charming titles like "spring" and "autumn," but here in L.A. we just have "fire" or "mudslide."

Of course there are things about Los Angeles that I love desperately. Recently I was running along the beach as the sun set in the distance over the Malibu hills. I was so overcome by the scene that I actually misted up and had to pause and pretend to tie my shoes while I collected myself. I marveled at the perspective you get from staring at the ocean and trying to comprehend how far away the other side is. I felt like a totally undeserving recipient of the universe's generosity, because how many people can just trot over to the Pacific Ocean whenever they feel like it? I felt like the geographical equivalent of a trust-fund kid.

However, since I lack an actual trust fund, I must survive on a salary of warm, fuzzy feelings, since that's practically all my non-profit job pays me. In order to afford Los Angeles living, I share a tiny, two-room, one-closet apartment with one fiancee, one cat, two bicycles and about 874 shoes. It's a little cramped, but it's only four blocks from the beach. The least expensive house in this neighborhood is a bargain $750,000 -- we're lucky just to be able to rent a sagging, smelly apartment here. So when I see a soon-to-be-homeowner twirling gleeful circles in a walk-in closet on my favorite house-hunting TV show, all I can say is, "SIGH."

About a year ago, my fiancee (then boyfriend) and I began to talk about moving. I've always felt that if I didn't live somewhere besides L.A., at least for a while, I'd be cheating myself. Even after so many years, I'm continually finding things that delight me about this city... wouldn't it be a joy to discover all the many fresh and delightful things about someplace new?

Whenever we'd travel to other cities, our inkling to move would become stronger. In San Francisco, visiting his brothers, I'd marvel at how much flowering and sprouting and blooming was happening, like, everywhere. "Babe! Babe! Stop the car! That magnolia tree is EXPLODING!" I'd screamed.

When we visited Austin, we were a half hour or more early everywhere we went. We'd become so accustomed to the L.A. habit of budgeting an extra 45 minutes for every excursion, we were confused when we didn't need it. You can get across town in 25 minutes? During rush hour? You can find a parking spot? In under 20 minutes? For FREE? We drove across town five times in one day, parking here and there, just because we could. Also, people smiled a lot there, and I can't help thinking that it must be easier to smile when you're not living under the constant threat of a parking ticket.

The grass was definitely beginning to look greener. Even more so when we discovered that in Austin you can buy a really cute house with a yard and more than two rooms in a really cool area of town for around $250,000. Like, you don't have to be an oil tycoon or a movie studio executive or a mobster to own a home. This concept is so confusing to me that I often have to nap after considering it.

The list of "pros" for moving out of L.A. was growing longer and longer -- getting away from the smog, the traffic, the expense, the attitude, the scraping by, the "scene" and getting into a real house in a real neighborhood with friendly neighbors started to sound really, really good. But one big fat "con" was the look on my friends' and family's faces when we told them we were thinking of moving...

*I know, I know - I'm only 28, and I'm not a former child star or recovering drug addict or anything, it was just for fun.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

One Last Rodeo

On Saturday we had our official going-away party at my Aunt Gayle's house. Of course we had to make it a Texas-themed party, because my heart beats for theme parties. I know other people probably have a vague sense of dread around theme parties, and having to think of an outfit and all that kerfuffle. But me, I hope when I die my funeral will be one giant theme party, with me buried in the most theme-iest outfit of all.

But anyway. I was very excited to find the perfect Texas-y square-dancing dress (red, white and blue, no less!) and to tease the bejeezus out of my hair. I am still coughing up hairspray. Because I was so theme-focused, it helped me to kind of forget that the party wasn't just a chance for me to wear a silly outfit (and when I say "silly" I secretly mean "awesome and twirly"). It was actually a chance to say good-bye to a lot of our friends. Umm, buzzkill! So, I'm still not really thinking about that part of it.

But man, it was a pretty fun party. I was particularly enchanted with the two tiniest party guests - Rico the dog and EJ the adorable 2-year-old. Rico and EJ were pretty enchanted with each other, too, being very size-appropriate playmates. There they were, running circles around each other, the best of friends... until. Someone decided to take the relationship to the next level. Rico got a little humpy, and EJ got a lot freaked out, and it was a rapid end to what had been a beautiful friendship. But, really, can you call it a party without some ill-advised humping and a few tears?


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mobile Home

I just treated myself to a moving present from Etsy. I'm planning to hang this adorable pin-up mobile in the bathroom. If you want a mobile home, too, check out Salty and Sweet's shop here.

I think it will go perfectly with my "Bathina" shower cap from Benefit!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

In The House

One of the very most exciting things about moving to Austin is the fact that we are upgrading from the world's tiniest 1-bedroom apartment to an adorable 2-bedroom HOUSE that is dripping with charm. Like, I need a giant sponge to mop up all that charm. Also, the backyard is bigger than our entire apartment.

Here is our new landlady eyeing my hookerishly short dress from the porch of our new house.

Here is the living room, crowded full of the current tenant's stuff, but isn't it lovely? Look at all that hardwood!

Off to the side is the first bedroom -- isn't the paint color delicious? Mike is scribbling something apparently very serious in his little notebook. Probably something about lumber. He knows a thing or two about lumber. Actually, he knows a thing or two about a lot of things. He's kind of a lumber-jack-of-all-trades.

I love the white built-ins in the kitchen. I'm imagining sweet little bud vases and vintage recipe books on them.

Terrible photo, but the back bedroom is b-i-g and OH, those windows!!

Aaaaand did I mention the backyard?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Now With New Blog Smell

And lo, she created a new blog to go along with the new state (red??!) and the new address (not ending in an apartment #!!) and the new job (hopefully!) and the new weather (HOT) and the new bug bites (many) and the new beers (even more many) that await her in Austin, Texas.

Armed with nerdiness and a love of puns (or maybe they are the same thing?) she set out to take up a non-systematic study of Texans in their natural habitat, so that she may live among them in peace. Thus, Texanthropology was born. And then she punched herself in the face for being such a dork and for referring to herself in the third person.

P.S. When we were there last week during the election looking for a place to live, the city was completely wallpapered with these signs. That and "Turn Texas Blue." It was very awesome!