Friday, August 15, 2014

fiveday friday ramblefest

I'm listing five things so I can link up because it's fun to make friends, no?

1) Speaking of friends, some of mine made my day this week. I was full of crabitude (crabby attitude, see what I did there?) on Monday due to the house, people in my life, hormones, and other things and expected Tuesday to follow suit. But it didn't. I had an unexpected lunch date and fun email conversations and Kate was finally back to keep my work day sanity in tact and a lot of little things piled up to make a great mood.

2) So pretty much all of my friends were made from work or my blog. Some days I want to not blog anymore because I have nothing to say and what's the point and I get discouraged by numbers and boring posts. And then I remember what it's given me and I read a post unlike anything else and I want to be that person who has that voice whose words you want to read. Probably never five times a week and likely not on a set schedule, but at least the person who you see every so often, like a friend you didn't realize you missed until you get a birthday card from her in the mail. Only I will probably show up a lot more than once a year. At least once a week.

Bauer turned six last week and I didn't even write him a birthday post but you can read last year's about love at first "site" here.

3) We bought a Macbook two years ago and I admit, I have never fallen in love with it. It's pretty and all but (blasphemy) I just find a PC to be so much simpler. I know, I should have confessed this on a Wednesday with Kathy. It was running kind of slow and then on Tuesday night, it gave a grey screen with a flashing question mark. Dr. Google said that meant bad things and sure enough, the Geniuses at the Bar deleted the hard drive which didn't solve the problem, but $60 and a tiny wire did. I know, $60 for a few more years of use out of a computer isn't that bad but come on Apple, I was expecting smooth sailing for at least five years. (Also, back up your stuff, people. I don't think I lost anything too important but time will tell.)

4) Oh! I bet you've been spending every waking moment wondering when my house will sell and where I will live next. Or is that just me? Probably. Either way, it's officially been on the market for eight days and we have had eleven showings. Bauer oh-so-preciously puked on the floor for one and beyond that, the feedback has been about things we can't fix, like the layout and the neighborhood. I am anxiously waiting for the right person to come through the door and buy this thing so I can stop making my bed and ensuring there are no dirty dishes in my sink every night. How do you people live like that by choice?

5) Sometimes I try to de-stress and end up looking like a bum. I decided to spend a nice summer lunch break on my school's 6th floor terrace. I needed a break from my phone, so I went to a mostly-hidden bench and decided to lie down, stretch out, and let my mind wander. School hasn't started yet so the non-smoking side was deserted. Well, if the ability to sleep was a super power, I would be in the next summer blockbuster because I was out almost instantly. It was a nice break from my desk and I got some Vitamin D, but I don't think sleeping on an outdoor bench is going to become a new lunchtime hobby.

Life in five points. There it is. Crossing all my appendages that I have zero time in my house this weekend because too many people want to come check it out and they all want to buy it and a bidding war ensues. Fine, I won't be greedy. All I need is one person willing to pay asking price.

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Friday, August 8, 2014

the scariest thing to happen in a long time.

This week has been all over the place. Here it is, in a nutshell.

1) Thanks for making me feel less alone with my moving weirdness. It really did help!

2) A home stager came and basically suggested we do $6K worth of work to the house. After I told her that wasn't happening, she asked me to get rid of all of my cute knick-knacks clutter before the photographer came that afternoon. That I was able to do. But, our house is on the market! We had a showing appointment yesterday and another on Saturday so I'm hoping that someone wants it, or at least provides good feedback as to why they aren't interested.

3) I got to see some of my favorites, Miranda and Sarah, on Tuesday for dinner. We were all wearing striped shirts and it was awesome (and unplanned). I know on Wednesdays we wear pink, but apparently on Tuesdays, some of us wear stripes.

Apparently I like to not fully open my eyes in photos. And we also forgot to clue Miranda into the statement necklace requirement. And Sarah's bump is saying hi, too!

4) I've been wanting a new vacuum for a few months now and ours finally died. I had been coveting the one Steph posted about last month and was pretty sure I was just going to get it. Then my Costco mailer arrived for the month and there was a Shark vacuum, very similar to Steph's (it has the detachable canister, it's bagless, and it has a pet hair attachment. They may be the same, just different colors.) for $120. I bought it last night, Andrew assembled it, and my floors haven't felt this clean in forever. So far, I highly recommend it.

5) Okay, on to the terrifying story (that I can laugh at now). There's a critically-beloved restaurant that we pass daily on the way home in a not-so-great part of town. Andrew thought it had closed and become something else and, being that he's been getting pretty friendly with food writers in Houston, wanted to have a story before they did. So we drove past and saw a sign for an Afghani restaurant. The restaurant had been Ethiopian, so it looked like suspicions were confirmed. He took a photo of the new sign, then drove back around the parking lot to make sure he wasn't missing anything. We were almost out of the parking lot when a man hit our trunk hard with his hand. Andrew waved him off and kept driving and the guy ran to my side of the car and started banging on the window and tried to open the door, yelling "Why did you take a photo?" Honestly, I freaked out and probably yelled "Why the --- does it matter?" and Andrew pulled onto the private road that would get us on to the freeway service road the and guy stood in front of the car, refusing to let us pass and screaming at us. He tried to open the doors again and screamed at us and said he was calling the police (really dude, for taking a photo?). We tried to yell at him through the window that we just took a picture but we wouldn't roll the window down and he wouldn't move from in front of us. We called the police ourselves. Then another, larger man drove up and caused us to block traffic on this road. We called 911 again because we felt threatened - we were two people in a car taking a photo and this guy had a restaurant full of workers to come help him! At one point, there were five men out there looking at us, taking photos of the car, us, and our license plate. The guy in front of the car moved to one side to motion to one of his friends and Andrew tried to drive forward and just get us away- the guy threw himself on the hood of the car and claimed he ran over his foot (he definitely didn't. The idiot continued to stand there, proving what we already knew). This all took about thirty minutes; Andrew and I pretended to be on the phone the whole time. Finally, another man came out and talked to the guy in front of the car and his other main guy. They looked at us a few more times, and then walked away. I gave that guy a thumbs up and we left. I was shaking so bad and my heart was racing.

A police officer called us about ten minutes later. The man at the restaurant said we had screamed at him. Andrew said we did, but only after he tried to open the door of our moving vehicle. The officer said he told them that that was not legal behavior and they couldn't do it all anymore and told them that all we wanted to do was take a photo so we would have the restaurant's name. I did file something with the police department in case this guy claims a foot injury or something, but the officer who called seemed to believe it was all over.

I was so mad that something so innocent turned into something scary. We had no way of knowing if these guys had weapons or why they were so aggressive. Now, I'm able to laugh a little at the absurdity of it all, but during it I was nauseous and near tears. I really hope nothing comes of it, but you never know...

Anyway, so now that that craziness is over, I can move on with my weekend. We have dinner plans with friends for Houston Restaurant Weeks and of course, the never ending battle of keeping the house clean and streamlining all of our junk.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

my life getting flip-turned upside down

It started innocently enough, but doesn't most everything?

It was Sunday morning. Andrew got me out of bed with the smell of coffee and we both lounged on the couch, Outside the Lines on TV, scrolling our own respective phones.

"Oh wow," I said (stupidly), "I just read an article that homes in Houston are selling at a record pace and for lots of money." It was innocent enough; I was just sharing.

He took the laptop. I figured he was looking up Fantasy Football stats or something. A few minutes later:

"Wow, Lauren, did you know that homes in our neighborhood are going for...?"

And then I knew it wouldn't be "our neighborhood" much longer.

The song will be in your head all day. You're welcome.

He researched and I let him. Remember, we decided in the spring that our current house was just fine and we bought furniture and put holes in the wall and made it a home. I mentioned all of this. But apparently that didn't matter.

"Hey come on," he said, "Don't you want to move?"

I guess? I mean yes. I do want to move. We've been in this house eight years and I would love a little more updating, a better commute, a change of pace. Or would I? There's comfort in having a vet and a dentist and a grocery store you know inside and out. I know which Starbucks have drive-thrus and where gas is cheapest and which streets run parallel to get home in case traffic is bad. This has been my side of town since I was five. It's a stupid, cookie-cutter suburb, but it's mine, dammit.

My always researching, far more practical (and far less resistant to change) husband pointed out the positives of a new area: closer to work and the areas we like to live, trees, a life change that isn't drastic. And he's right. But I'm still clinging to my 'hood. I've told him I could win exclusive access to a castle in Rome and I would second guess if I would like it there, too. As someone who has never had to find a new post office or realize new comforts, my reaction that change is bad isn't as surprising to the casual observer as it is to me. But I'm working on it. At the end of the day, we're going to find the best house in the best neighborhood that we can afford that's available. And I might lose my comforts, but maybe, it's time.

So that's what's going on with me. My screen time has been spent looking for realtors (we found one!) and checking out real estate listings. Evenings are spent making the house just a little cleaner. There's a stager and a photographer coming today and we're hoping to list tomorrow.

Meanwhile, we're pre-approved and looking for a place. I might have even applied to be on House Hunters. Might as well go all out, right?

So here we go. A potential loss of comfort, the start of something new. Let this be a lesson to wives everywhere: think before you share just any random tidbit with your husband. It might make your Sunday a lot less lazy.

Linking up with Kathy because admitting I don't want to move across town 
feels pretty confess-y to me.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

my birthday came early this year gave me a credit towards tickets to write a review of their site, but I was already planning on going to a Giants game anyway.

So you might remember last year when the New York Giants (the team that I "married into") were in a slump and lost a bunch of games in a row and I got to be in the New York Daily News. That was cool, but their crappy season was not. I was all set to go to my first Giants game when we spent Christmas in NYC but since the dismal start meant that the game we could attend was likely to be played by third-stringers, we skipped the game entirely.

And I've been bitter ever since.

The Giants play the Cowboys in Dallas (a four hour drive from my house, but who's counting?) less than two weeks before my big 30th birthday, so as soon as I saw that, I told Andrew we should go. It would be for both of us, but we could call it part of my birthday month celebration. And then reached out to me and offered me a pretty awesome coupon code so the decision was made - I am going to see Eli and Victor in person!

Basically ScoreBig is a lot like, but with a twist. You go online, choose your event, and choose the type of ticket you want (one star to four star, club level, etc.) There's a seating chart that gives you an idea of where you'll be sitting and an average price that ScoreBig users pay for tickets, which you can then compare to the face value (or another site's resale price) of the tickets to see how great the deal is.

So you choose your section, name your price, and put in your credit card number, and then cross your fingers to see if your bid was accepted. ScoreBig gives you an indicator of how likely that's going to be. But, here's the catch - if your bid isn't accepted, ScoreBig makes you either change your ticket level to bid again or wait 24 hours to bid on the same type of tickets. They will also provide an offer for you to just buy the tickets right then, but you have a limited time to accept it. This is great if you're in a pinch and the event is coming up soon, but since we have months until the game, I waited 24 hours - it's all about the savings, what can I say?

When Andrew and I started the process, we went with the absolute lowest bid we thought might get accepted. It didn't. We waited 24 hours, increased our bid by $10, and still nothing. In that time, we noticed that the counteroffer ScoreBig gave increased, too. On the third night, we only increased our bid $5 from the night before and it was declined, but the counter offer was only $3 more per ticket than we bid - so we accepted! I received a confirmation email and then the next day, received an email about how to download my tickets. So easy. And, I checked and I got my tickets for $100 cheaper (for the pair) than I could have on another site!

I thought ScoreBig was easy to use so I will definitely use it to buy tickets in the future. Plus, it's supported by ebates so you can save even more money that way. Wins all around! Now if only the Giants can pull one off in Dallas and Andrew and I don't get booed out of the stadium...

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

tourist in my town: houston's tunnels and the chase tower observation deck

I don't think you ever fully understand what another place is like until you live there. For those of you who have never experienced Houston, we are known for extreme heat and intense humidity. The summer months are meant for soaking up as much AC as possible; our cars, home, stores, everything has AC (most dominantly central air; only really old homes rely on window units). As downtown Houston started really booming in the 80s with oil and energy companies putting down roots, a system of tunnels was developed to go from building to building. Since then, these tunnels have started housing different businesses to appeal to downtown workers - restaurants, salons, dry cleaners, jewelry repair, print shops, chiropractors, and even a florist. Ever since my dad told me that there were tunnels underground when I was a kid (we don't even have basements here, so this was a big deal!), I wanted to check them out. I was so happy that my first job downtown was so close to a tunnel entry point. I like to check it out every so often and see what's new.

In all honesty, the tunnels simply existing is their most exciting aspect. You would never know that there were people having lunch and hanging out beneath your feet, but a quick escalator down in many major buildings shows you the truth. The restaurants below aren't all that exciting (Subway, McDonald's, pizza, delis, even a Gigi's Cupcakes) but they do range from mall food court style to sit-down places. There's no directory to see what's where. You have to learn by trial and error since each part is maintained by the building that sits on top of it. There are maps and signage throughout, but it can be hard to get your bearings since you lose your sense of direction. I've been known to spend my lunch break just wandering around, taking the first escalator up if I get lost to see where I am in town and then walking back to work accordingly.

Detail on an elevator I passed | Some parts of the tunnels look like ugly office space, and other parts look like a mall food court (sorry for the pic taken while walking...)

I knew I needed a walk yesterday, so I wanted to see if the tunnel system would connect to the Chase Tower Sky Lobby. The Chase Tower is 75 stories - the tallest building in Texas - and has a viewing area on its 60th floor that is open to the public (and free to visit!). Due to some construction, I wasn't able to make the trek completely through the tunnels, but the two block walk I had to make on the street wasn't too bad. It also gave me a chance to realize how pretty the Esperson Building is and look at the statue outside of Chase Tower.

The tall building is the JP Morgan Chase Tower | The Esperson Building is so pretty | Statue outside of the Chase Tower

Once inside, I took an express elevator to the 60th floor. There were lots of people up there taking photos and just checking it out. For my Houston friends, you could clearly see NRG Stadium and the Williams Tower. I didn't feel as high up as I thought I would! The view was nice and made me wish that the lobby was open at night - I bet it would be beautiful then. I liked seeing Houston in a whole new way. It's definitely worth checking out if you're ever in the area.

Zoomed in view of Houston landmarks and the non-zoomed view facing toward the Galleria

Do you ever play tourist in your town?

The Sky Lobby | Another non-zoomed view | Proof I was there | Cars below were so tiny