Operation: Not Be Homeless

Well, as most of you know, Jesse and I were extremely interested in buying a house when we got out here to Dallas. We did a ton of research ahead of time and realized that it’s a definite buyer’s market out here- ripe for the picking. Whenever I told anyone about the cheap prices of houses in Texas, they always said things like, “Well, that’s because it’s ugly out there”, or, “Oh, anywhere with that big of houses- you know it has to be just MISERABLE weather!!”

Well, surprisingly, neither of those is true- it’s flat out gorgeous out here! Just 10 min. north of Dallas are beautiful towns sitting on the edge of lakes, nestled amongst trees. Not only that, but most of the construction (even the apartments) that they do out here is brick, so all of the houses look superb, in my opinion. Plus, they are huge. And I mean huge. For less than $400,000 you can own a house with 3 separate wings (around 5,000 sq/ft). Many of the homes that I teach piano in are actual castles, complete with moats.

ANYWAYS, we were very interested in buying a house- both as a long term investment, and as a place to live in the meantime. Some aspect is real estate law that we had to be concered about, which was dealt with ease with the help of an efficient law firm. However, we came to the long and drawn out conclusion that as good of an investment as this might be, it was not conducive to our lifestyle. For example, the areas that are the best for investing are those with the amazing school districts like Southlake, Grapevine and Coppell. When I say amazing school districts, I mean amazing. Some of this is measured by their athletic teams (Southlake football games are frequently broadcasted on ESPN) with facilities better than most State colleges.

Now, their is no such thing as income tax in Texas. So how do they pay for the schools, you may ask? HEFTY PROPERTY tax (up to %25). And guess which 3 cities have the highest? Bingo. The three that are the best for investing. Now, if we had kids to send to these great schools, it would be worth it. But then…we would have kids. And that’s not conducive to any lifestyle, is it??

Other things that were not conducive to our fast-paced lifestyle included house maintenance. We thought about solving this problem with a townhome, but the HOA dues in the nicer areas are to the tune of $300-400/mo. There was also the option of buying a brand new home on the outskirt of town for around 80k (yeah, for real), but again, our lifestyles include a ton of driving that DOESN’T happen on the edge of town.

So, as investments go, it was a good idea. As far as the way our lives are structured for the time being, it would have been a distraction from the academic reasons that we moved here. So, after three weeks of searching, we turned to renting. We knew right away that we didn’t want to rent a house, mainly because the apartment complexes are soooo dang good around here! They are like mini cities with everything you could ever need. One complex’s fitness center actually included a boxing ring! Most have free tanning salons, a few dry cleaning services, restaurants, grocery stores, and even car washes on the premises.

So, we turned our attention to the nicer, more luxury style apartments, since even these are not comparable to prices in LA. We realized that if there was ever a time in our lives to live it big in something like a loft or penthouse, this was it. I mentioned what we were doing to a few of my piano lesson moms and they got this wistful look in their eye and said, “Man! If I didn’t have kids and could go back and do it all over again….”

Sooooo, we put in our deposit for one today! Here’s the website, iffin you want to see. tuscanvillasapartments.com. Our floorplan is A2 with the optional sitting room/office. We’ve decided to stick with this floor plan for a while, and then upgrade to a two bedroom after 6 months if we decide that we would like more room. There’s also a sweet 24 hr. fitness center right next to the lobby, so I won’t need a gym membership!

Anyways, this completes Operation: Not Be Homeless for the time being. Tune in later for more!

The Texas Conspiracy Part 2

Well, it is time to commence with the end of my story. I will make it brief, seeing as 40 hrs. a week is definetly taking it’s toll!

So there I was, standing outside Dallas Presbyterian without an umbrella. Actually, I should say that I was running, for I heard somewhere that if you run, the raindrops can’t catch up to you. Don’t look at me, it’s Science! (that was for you, Buddy).

Anyways, the interview was everything that an interview should be, probably the best one that I have ever experienced. The doctor was a sweet Christian man who fights abortion in his spare time (we managed to talk about this for like forever!). The nurses were all sweet and courteous. The benefits package was sweet- 100% covered and paid for dental and medical. Of course, this is to be expected when you work private practice in a hospital. This is so they can avoid: “Hi, I’m Kelly. Don’t shake my hand, I have gangrene.”
2 hrs. after I left, the Dr. called me and personally offered me the job, starting at 40k/year. It was too perfect.

And I turned it down! For some inexplicable reason, after 24 hrs. of intense deliberation, God told me very clearly that I was supposed to stay with my prior commitment to Melodie. After talking to her again, it seemed that we could get things situated such that all of my work/driving would be consolidated to Tues./Thurs. days and Mon./Wed. evenings so that I could get a MWF parttime job. Not that I had one or anything, but hey, that’s why it’s called Faith!

When I told Jesse, he was flabbergasted. He had a hard time seeing my rational in turning down what looked like a total Godsend. “Come on Jesse”, I said, “it’s not every day that you get to throw a perfect opportunity in the dumpster!!! Look how fun and totally wise this is!” <insert a toss of the ponytail >.

For some reason, I just knew that I had to trust God’s leading in this area. I knew that He didn’t give me a love for teaching just to go sit in an office on the phone with insurance companies. I knew that He would provide, and that until he did, I would just have to settle with making only five hundred dollars a week for the two of us. We would be poor, broke, but hey, there would be piano music!!!

No less than 24 hrs. later, God handed me the perfect part time MWF job I had always wanted- teaching 11th grade American Lit. I had my interview last Friday, and started on Monday. At first, I am subbing for a teacher who just had a tumor removed from his lung. Once he is back from recovery, they are dividing their English classes in two so that I can teach 3 of them. Here’s the school website, if you want to see it: http://www.bohs.com/

So there it is. I did what was potentially one of the stupidest things in my life only to find out that it was one of the smartest. I have exactly the type of resume building job that I need for my career, and I am now making more than I would have at the Medical Office. Plus, this way I don’t have to work for a Monkey Doctor!! (Gynecologist for those of you that don’t know my strangely acquired terminology:)


Before I continue with what happened in the job saga, requests have been made about some of the more day to day details of our new life. It doesn’t occur to me to talk about them, because they don’t seem as dramaticly narrative:)

As far as friends go, we have met a few that seem pretty awesome. When we went to our new church last weekend, St. Seraphim OCA Cathedral in Dallas, we met this lady named Katy. We saw her the week before at Saturday Vespers when we were with Mike and Courtney, but we didn’t get a chance to talk to her. The next Sunday (a week ago), she came up and introduced herself. It went something like this, but much more bubbly: “Hi, I’m Kaaattty!!! Are you guys Russian? I didn’t talk to you last week because I figured you didn’t know any English!” Apparently, I now look Russian. Maybe you’re right Mom, I am too pale!!!

Anyways, she introduced us to her daughter, Christiana, who is a 15 yr. old high school student who is very beautiful, but a pure Plato nerd through and through. She also knows Latin like it’s her native language. This was very illustrated when we walked out of church and one of the deacons walked up to her and said, “Christiana…..I have a present for you!” and handed her the Vulgate. She stopped, grinned sheepishly, and took it saying to us, “What. This is who I am. Now you know. Don’t judge me!” She explained that she likes to do her morning and evening bible reading in another language so that she can be solidifying two things at once!

Katy also introduced us to her young adult friends and godchildren Benjamin, John, Curtis, and James. After bringing us upstairs to see her bible memory game that she had put together for all of the Sunday school children, she invited us out to lunch at Madeleine’s, this great cafe restaurant chain that they have here. Sure enough, all eight of us went and ordered lunch (every single worker in the entire restaurant knew Katy by name and kept giving her free stuff). And you know what? Five hours went by and we were all STILL THERE! It was crazy, we kept talking about stuff forever, from church to movies to books that we had read. It was awesome, it felt almost as good as home. At one point, Katy leaned over to me and said, “Do you have a cell phone? Can I have your number? You are so new here, you must be lonely!” I nodded yes, and she went, “Ohhh!!! I’ll be your friend!!” It was very cute.

As far as other friends, I still haven’t been able to get in contact with Jeanne Luthi, my old friend from junior high who goes to the University of Dallas. But I will soon.

Other stuff….Jesse likes his classes a lot, although Greek is “kicking his butt” (he says this, but he was in the measly 12% of the class who passed their quiz last week!). The teacher is a former student of Al Geier’s, and is HARDCORE. Jesse says it takes him at least 1/2 hr. after class before his butt cheeks start un-clenching. Uh oh, he probably didn’t want me to say that. Anyways, apparently it’s harder than normal Greek because they are learning all of the accents and it’s Attic Greek. It’s seriously taking him a minimum of 2 hrs./day studying (even weekends- like right this minute!) But they said by next year he should be able to read the Plato’s Dialogues. He is also taking Ethics, and Philosophy of Being, and looking for a job.

Mirabelle is back to her old self again, only a lot more cuddly and lovable. Her favorite new toy, and I kid you not, is a water bottle (something about the fact that she can bite it and it bounces back again…). She also has learned to play fetch with her new feather toy. There was one time that we almost lost her, I opened the door and there was this family of midget cats right outside. They are the weirdest looking creatures ever, a phenomena in and of themselves in that they have no joint in their legs, just 4 inch stumps. They also have phylasoraptor meows. Anyways, Mirabelle heard them and went to kill them like the courageous lion that she is. Only, I picked her up and threw her back in the house.

That’s it for now!

The Texas Conspiracy

Once upon a time, there was girl who had never had a full time job in her life. One day, she moved to Texas, and suddenly , without warning, she found herself amongst TWO jobs which were violently pulling on her all-encompassing sense of duty and exploiting her unquenchable affinity for getting lost on random lonely highways.

Yes, this is the tragic, yet strangely resolved tale of Kelly Marie, who thought she knew exactly what her job was going to be when she got to Texas, but found herself with more than she bargained for.

Her first day of work- roughly only 24 hrs. after arriving in the fair city of Dallas, was one of the worst in history. Mostly because, well, in Texas they like to play cat and mouse with their drivers by fluctuating between two extremes- not enough information signs, or OH-MY-GOSH-WHAT-DOES-ALL-THAT-MEAN–signs. It really isn’t very fair, because most Californians are used to helpful road signs. And Calfornians usually assume that the rest of the world plays nice.


It has to be a mass conspiracy. I mean, why else are there completely inaccurate signs all over the highways? Why else are there four different highways with the EXACT SAME NAME?? Why else would they tell the driver: “Exit to Denton Lane- 45 mi.” and then conveniently forget to ever remind him again?

You probably know where this is going. On her first day of work, Kelly left at7am, with the hopes of arriving at Castle Hills Montessori by 8am. Things weren’t supposed to start until 8:30, but hey, she figured it would be good to double Google Maps estimated travel time, just in case of traffic. Of course, there’s never any of that in Texas! (this is obviously a lie- EVERYTHING is bigger in Texas).

But Kelly could not find I-121 anywhere! She kept looking at the map going, “It says it’s right here! Where’s the sign? When do I enter?”. She drove around like this for 1/2 hr. before buying a map and asking the nice gas station man a few pointed questions, such as “Where am I?”. He responded by saying that the I-121 is actually called the I-183 for the first 4 miles. For no explained reason.

Obviously Kelly is stupid and doesn’t understand conspiracies.

So, she went about 20 miles, clipping along at a good pace on the “I-121-which-is-actually-called-the-183” until she reached the fork in the road. Or rather, the 4 1/2 forks in the road. The 1/2 is for the extra fork that they want you to take so that you crash. The other 4 went exactly like this (and I kid you not!): 121 N, 121 N, 121 N, 121 N.

Kelly took a 1 in 4 chance, since Google Maps obviously wasn’t in enough on the Texas Conspiracy to specify. She was on her own. And she chose wrong.

Now, since it was already 8:15, Kelly called the school to ask them which one of the remaining 121Ns she should take. The secretary took a 1 in 3 chance (the odds were getting better!) and guessed. Only, it was again wrong.

You’d think in a cat and mouse game that the cat would actually give the mouse a little room to fight back or run away, right? Well, not so with the Texas Conspiracy. For Kelly to get back to this particular hellish junction meant fighting her way through 4 lanes worth of traffic funneled into 1 measly frontage road with stoplights. So, to go 1 mi. back to the junction took a little less than forever.

When Kelly finally arrived at the school (at 9:30!!), they had to combine three 1/2 hr. classes into 1 giant 1/2 hr. class to make up for missed time. At first she thought that 25 kids wouldn’t be that bad- all that was planned for the day was learning names and teaching the “hello song”. It wasn’t until they were ushered in that she saw the horrendous truth- they were all 3-4 yr. olds. And roughly half of them were crying the only word they had learned thus far: “WAHH!”.

Somehow Kelly made it through. The rest of the week wasn’t so bad, only a few other minor mishaps. She thought that if I could just make it through one more Castle Hills Montessori Tuesday morning, all would be well. Unfortunately, the next Tuesday ushered in an accident right in the middle of the 121.

So, once more, she arrived at 9:30. And of course, the 3-4 yrs olds decided to break all of her crayons.

On top of that, like yarn unraveling, Friday arrived and she drove to the wrong “Carrollton Montessori”. How could that be? Well, the good ole boys of Texas decided to give 2 schools in the same city the EXACT SAME NAME! Go figure!

That night saw a lot of tears and frustration of the part of poor Kelly Marie. What was she doing trying to defeat the huge Texas Conspiracy? What if she got lost and wound up in Oklahoma? Maybe she should quit her job and find an 8 to 5 knitting.

Then, the strangest thing happened! On Saturday morning, she received a phone call from a Medical Office that had received her application a month prior. Their original response to her resume back in July was, “Well, we actually hope to have the position filled before you can move here, so sorry!!”. But now the phone call went something like this: “Our other employee didn’t work out, and we would like you to come in for an interview as soon as possible. The position is for our Front Office Manager, and we pay 40k/year with excellent benefits.”

True to form, Kelly can never resist the prospect of money. So there she was at 9am Monday morning, in the heart of Dallas, standing in front of the large Dallas Presbyterian Hospital.

Of course it was pouring rain. And also true to form, Kelly had forgotten her umbrella.

What does Kelly decide to do? Which job does she take? Will her tortured heart survive this Texas sized dilemma? Tune in for Part 2 of “The Texas Conspiracy!”