2012 BANG!

Ack! 2012 has started off with a bang. This must be what runners and racers feel all the time….except we are sprinting through January instead of December. So, here’s a collective update.

The Move

Last year, our rent went up almost 10% and added some fees, too. We knew it would happen again (we heard rumors of $100-$150 increases in 1/1 units!), so we started shopping around. It had to be a Perfect Storm in a lot of ways. It’s not worth moving unless we can stay close to the same total expenses, get more space, get nicer fixtures and stuff, etc. Well, when we started looking around, there were a lot of ways we could make this happen. So, on 25-Feb, we’ll have a new place to live. We have until 22-Mar to get out of Riata, but we’re hiring movers so we can leave early in the hope that they can flip our unit quickly like they did for our neighbor. We have been quite happy at Riata. Unless they screw us over on move-out, I’ll give them a 5-star rating on Yelp. But, when we got this “shoebox” shaped apartment, it was an amazing deal we just couldn’t pass up while we still had a mortgage. We were so happy here that when the lease came around, twice, we just stayed. Now, we’re ready to face moving again to go for bigger/better.

We looked at ~20 places and had a very strong Top 5 list. I fell “in like” with two leasing specialists, one where an acquaintance of ours lives. We found: a lovely town home, an ├╝ber quiet place up the road, hardwood floors, door-to-door valet trash service, amazing views, and a couple of places with a lot of rugrats. All of the options gave us more space (so I can use Daddy’s desk again!), better amenities for our lifestyle, garage options (so we can stop paying for a storage unit primarily for Daddy’s desk and “junk”), better fixtures, and a better layout.

Just like we did when house hunting, we made a matrix of all the “stuff”. And just like most brides do with a wedding gown, we ended up at the first place we wanted to see: Villas at Stone Oak Ranch. We have good/affordable access to a game room and a 30-seat movie theater. There is a “gift wrap” area full of paper and tape and scissors. All the standards are there too: gym, pool, business center, etc. We have a detached garage, a square balcony, “Romeo & Juliet” doors off the dining room (which I’ve re-named Rapunzel doors), garden tubs, a kitchen that is open on two ends, an excellent pantry, and data ports in all the rooms. The only things we didn’t get: gas cooking (REALLY hard to find) and a fireplace (again? dammit!). But the deal was just too good to pass up compared to the other places in consideration.

Aside: During the process we met an amazing woman named Wendie. She gave us the low-down on why so many communities are doing away with their hot tubs. Turns out, some really scary (as in: there is no known cure) stuff can survive even in 104?-temperature chemical-treated water. The report is new and we could not find it online, but it’s scary. Do not, I repeat: DO NOT get in a public hot tub. Feet only. No “sensitive” areas allowed. eeeeeewwww!

Don’t worry friends and family: we’re hiring movers. We are also cleaning out the storage unit and holding a big moving sale in their parking lot. What doesn’t get sold is getting donated. Goodwill is going to LOVE us! LMK if you are close and care about the few big-ticket items we’re selling.

Oh! And we were able to surprise a friend with the referral fee paid to REALTORs. She’s a single mom and a cancer survivor, so she was elated with the news.

(The) Grandaddy

Grandaddy is quite frustrated and bored. His hip is so messed up from the botched “Paris-effin’-Texas” surgery that he can’t sit up. He’s been laying down since Hallowe’en. The Longview/Tyler doctors have deemed all surgical options too risky. Health care is a joke from the beginning; but in a small town that is 20 years behind the times, 1 hour from an interstate highway, and 2 hours from anything you’ve ever heard of, it’s nothing short of tragic. Mama Bee is still fighting the residuals from the beotch who called APS on her (the witch has since apologized), but no one wants to take Grandaddy on as a client. They claim he’ll have a stroke if he stays in bed too much longer, but they won’t come help her get him the physical therapy he needs to get out of the hospital bed. It’s heartbreaking….worse so to be physically and financially powerless to help. If I could wave a magic wand, I’d care-flight him to one of those fancy-schmancy places in Dallas where he’d get all the help he needs. Again, I need to win the lottery for that. I don’t know what those places cost, but even the crappy Paris nursing homes are $6K per month…and for terrible care compared with what my Grandmother can do (even at her small stature).

The Fraud

In the midst of The Move, we got a call that we’d have to pay rent with “certified funds” like a cashier’s check or money order. We’ve been on auto-draft, so this would be a real pain in the butt. Today, I called the “ladder” of people to find out the cause. Some jackass spoofed my Texas driver’s license number when writing a bad check at Walmart in a town I’ve never been to in Oklahoma. Telecheck reported it to credit on my DL number without checking any facts like the name. So, now, I’m in the middle of yet another fraud mess. I’ve lost count of how many times this has happened. So, to all the people who gave me shit (my sorority included) for wanting to protect my SSN, DL, DOB, mailing address, and other “credit” information, Fuck You! THIS is why. Less than $300 of stupid means we have to get a money order for rent every month? Are you kidding? Since Emil was just frauded over Xmas, this is just another reason to try to get off the financial grid. I haven’t even owned checks in years and I’m still dealing with this kind of bullshit.

Dear Walmart: stop taking checks. They are not money. They are only theft.

“Dear” Telecheck, this a’int our first rodeo for something completely out of my control. I already don’t shop at any store that posts they use you. You have needed better processes since ~1993 when I bought <$10 worth of socks from one of your client stores. Your sign in the window means I don’t shop there. fuckers. Oh, and if you think I’m alone in my opinion, search “telecheck” on Twitter. You need to learn/use social media, too, BTW.

The Fun

Austin is about to ride the big wave of fun that is Spring. Right after we move in, we’ll have RISE (free workshops for entrepreneurs) and the four South by Southwest conferences. I’ve been invited to return tot he photo crew for SXSW. And, I’ve been selected to wrangle for another all-time favorite photographer at Texas School in May. It’s a fun ride, but it’s a sprint, so jump on board fast if you want to hang with us!

Oh, and for those of you close by, look for a party in April or May. The party room at the new place is stellar (pool, poker, shuffleboard, music, swimming, etc.)