12 days in

well friends, we made it to Houston safe and sound…and barely sane. the kitty xanax proved ineffective and lola cried 11 out of the 12 hours of the trip. but thank goodness for that last hour of silence because that’s exactly when we encountered our first real traffic jam. an hour (!) to go 8 (!) miles. guess that means we are officially city folk. christened on 288. after that, momma needed some kitty xanax.

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this is how good mommas feed their babies on the road…take the lid off and say ‘dig in’!

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welcome to Houston! (i was at a complete stop when i took this. promise.)

 
we have spent the last week or so cleaning and settling in. it has taken longer than expected and many more trips to Target than expected. like, we have gone to Target every other day. and maybe made a couple of trips to IKEA as well. darn. but alas, the condo is looking great and we are starting to feel somewhat organized.

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i am a nerd. a very happy nerd.

 
i have a million things to tell you about life in our new city, but haven’t had time to sit down and write. for now, here’s a quick list of things i have learned in the last 12 days:

1. rush hour is a lie.

more like rush hourS. plural. one should not get on 610 between the hours of 3pm and 7pm. we are quickly learning the back roads and discovering some gorgeous neighborhoods along the way. bonus! (i actually have an entire list of things i have learned about driving here, but it’s so long that i think it deserves its own post. BUT i promise not to be that cliché city person that complains about the traffic all the time. deal? deal.)

2. lizards live here too.

B says it will be a momentous occasion, worthy of documentation, on the day that i do not squeal when i see one. eeeeeek! i love animals, you know i do, but if it doesn’t have fur or feathers i. cannot. deal. i just cannot. i have given lola the honorary title of ‘official lizard hunter’ should one get in the house (the horror!), but it would probably be the highlight of her life. sheesh.

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lizaaaaard! squuueeee!

3. i might get very, very fat.

there’s soooo much to eat here. i feel a sense of urgency to try it all! it was super convenient to blame my horrible eating habits on the move…we were busy, eating on the road, no groceries, etc. but now that we’re settled a bit, i have yet to rein it in. i did, however, get a membership to the rec center today. baby steps, people. baby steps.

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fat.

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and fatter.

4. i am so grateful that my husband is also my best friend.

sappy, i know, but true nonetheless. other than one meet and greet type event hosted for new medical students, we haven’t really spoken to anyone other than each other for 12 days. i’m often struck at how strange it is to be out shopping or running errands and not run into a single person that i know. i’m not used to that. it makes me feel very small. but B…that fella has been fun to hang with. he has chauffeured me all over this city and pushed the shopping cart on each outing. i am soaking up every minute i can get before i lose him to medical school. hope i have some friends by then. ;)

happiness is…city livin’. lizards and all.

PS. please leave restaurant recommendations in the comments. i’m hungry. *ahem*

moving week

if you follow @thehappyredhead on Twitter or Instagram (and you totally should!), you have probably figured out what’s going on around here this week… #movingweek #goodbyesarehard #movingsucks

yep, it’s here folks. the dreaded moving week. all this sounds a little negative so allow me to clarify…i am super excited about living in Houston, but i am much less excited about the actual process of moving to Houston. because moving is a beating. am i right or am i right? our apartment currently looks likes this…

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packing has been relatively easy this time around…compared to last year’s move anyways. but still, why so many boxes for so little stuff? where did it all come from? i think we just made our fourth (!) trip to uhaul to purchase more boxes and tape.

speaking of uhaul, i get nauseous every time i walk in there. i spoke to my mother about this phenomenon and she said the exact same thing happens to her. that the mere sight of a uhaul truck is enough to induce nausea. too many traumatic moves for the both of us, i suppose.

it has been difficult to say ‘goodbye’ to friends and family over the last week. maybe i should change it to ‘see ya later’. that just feels better. i am also in the process of wrapping up the last few things at work and trying my best not to freak out over the fact that as of tomorrow, i am officially unemployed. gasp! more nausea. i haven’t been unemployed since i was fourteen. literally.

but in between the bouts of anxiety and nausea, i also have butterflies. new beginnings are exciting. especially this one. it is the culmination of several years worth of hopes, dreams, and hard work. i know this move signifies a new chapter to the life we are already living, but it feels like a new life altogether. not one thing will be the same. i can’t wait to get started. i can’t wait to tell you all about it. and since i don’t have a job lined up yet, i will have plenty of time to do so. ha! you will be begging me to go back to work in no time.

well, i am signing off and going to pack another box. and maybe work on some new hashtags.

#uhaulsmakemevomit #heyBthatboxistooheavy #Houstonbound #seeyalater

happiness is…#movingon.

change of plans

in case you are just joining the party, here’s the recap….

after 2 years of blood, sweat, and tears, B was accepted to medical school in Kansas City! YAY!

documented here.

after much wailing and gnashing of teeth, we found a great place to live in Kansas City! YAY!

documented here. the post in which i cruelly left you hanging…

“PS. so here i am, back in Texas decorating my fabulous loft in my head when…we got the news that CHANGED EVERYTHING.

just when we thought life couldn’t get any better (or any crazier), it did. it always does.

TO BE CONTINUED…”

♦♦♦

like i said, Nat and B…sitting in Texas, minding our own business, with less than thirty days until our move to Kansas City when BAM! B got some unexpected news. some fabulous news. life-changing news!

my B has now been accepted to medical school at the University of Texas at Houston! WOOHOO!! YEEHAW!! HALLELUJAH!!

we have been sitting on this news for a week and i still don’t know how to put my feelings into words; however, since i am a writer, i will try. first of all, i am so incredibly grateful for the opportunities this presents for B. he gets to learn in the largest medical center in the world! did you know that? Houston has the largest medical center in the whole wide world. amazing, right? if he wants to specialize in pediatric neurology oncology, he can. which he doesn’t. or at least i kinda hope he doesn’t…that sounds like a really loooong residency. and definitely a fellowship. maybe two. ha! but that’s beside the point. if he finds himself interested in an ultra specialized field, he can gain exposure to that field in Houston. so cool! i am also very happy about what this means for us financially speaking. hello in-state tuition! can i get an amen? but most importantly, i feel so very proud of my dear hubby. getting into medical school is very competitive so gaining acceptance felt amazing, but watching him get accepted to his top choice took this experience to a whole new level. as my mom said over the weekend, “it’s very rare to witness someone’s dreams come true.” as a wife, nothing has been more gratifying than watching my husband’s dream come true. he did it! God did it. i have written about this before, but i’ll say it again…God is the redeemer of all dreams. he can take a dream from long ago and bring it to fruition in a way that is bigger than we ever could have imagined. we are blessed beyond measure.

so, what now? you know all that work we put into finding the perfect place to live in Kansas City? and my gorgeous loft?! waaaah! someone should move to Kansas City just to rent that loft. this time, we looked at a few pictures online and signed a lease via email. we are tired, y’all. and emotionally drained. we still have a hangover from the last house hunt. can you believe it? picky ole me didn’t even flinch. i swear, i am the only person i know who is capable of such a one-eighty. i guess that stuff i wrote about on my birthday (here) really did stick. now is the perfect time to let go, embrace change, and have FUN! and this has been a crazy fun ride! granted, it’s made me a little nauseous at times, but all the best rides do.

‘Goodbye’ Kansas City (we really did love you…expect to see a residency application in 4 years) and ‘Hello’ Houston. in just a few short weeks we will show up with homemade cookies in hand. we will be proud to call you home.

we grew up in Texas. we met and fell in love in Texas. our families live in Texas. B hopes to someday practice medicine in Texas. our hearts belong in Texas.

happiness is…found in Texas.

house hunters- Kansas City edition

have you ever watched the show House Hunters on HGTV and thought to yourself, “that looks like so much fun!”? it’s not. trust me, it’s sooooo not. except for maybe House Hunters International. now, that could be fun. but don’t you always end up hating those people? they squabble over every little detail of their second (!) home and act all disgruntled when option A has an infinity pool overlooking the ocean, option B has a gorgeous vineyard but no pool, and then option C is on it’s own freaking island but waaay over budget. what are they to do?! i’ll tell ya what they do. they pick the island…every. single. time. anyway, back to my own house hunters experience. it’s on a much more reasonable level, i promise.

so, B and i traveled to KC a couple of weeks ago to find a place to live. we knew we couldn’t come back to Texas without something locked down as our timeframe was tight and we needed to move into said place in approximately thirty days. we drove in on tuesday (ten hour drive in case you’re wondering) and started looking on wednesday. wednesday went by, then thursday, and by friday panic set in because holy cow we had planned to head home on friday! after our very last appointment on friday morning to look at what seemed to be the only remaining loft in the entire city, we found ourselves slouching across the street to a coffee shop. i cried into my latte as we tried to have a very rational house hunters type conversation and decide between 3 options…none of which we were very thrilled about.

B wants you to know that he did not cry into his latte, but don’t let the smile deceive you…the boy ain’t happy.

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would you like to hear the options?

A. rent house: bungalow style. very tiny, but cute. yard work required- which B will have zero time for meaning we would have to pay someone else to do it. quiet, safe location- which is good i guess, but i didn’t love the neighborhood. i’m not moving to a city to live in the suburbs. know what i mean? but being that my job situation hasn’t worked itself out yet, the cheap price made this one appealing.

B. apartment: beautiful location- up on a cliff overlooking the city. the last one bedroom apartment available had an awesome city view (which adds an extra $75 to the rent! this West Texas girl isn’t used to paying for a view!) great amenities- gym, saltwater pool, theater room. B really liked this one but i wasn’t quite sold. longer commute. most expensive.

C. loft: in downtown- where i desperately wanted to live. recently renovated. very cool building with nice amenities. great location. the parking situation wasn’t ideal and caused B to have safety concerns- the main parking lot was half a block away and required crossing a street to get into the building. the city views were just okay. reasonably priced.

ready to find out which one we picked?

option D!! wait- hold up, i didn’t list an option D, did i? within literally our last hour in KC, another option miraculously manifested. by the time we finished our lattes, we decided to just pick something and move on with it. so i called option B, told them to hold the apartment, and we would come sign the papers in an hour. (too many things had slipped through our fingers by this point, so we weren’t taking any chances) then i just sat there, downtrodden and sad because this apartment, although nice, was not at all how i envisioned spending our time in KC. B took pity on me and suggested that i make just one more call to a building that we had liked, but didn’t have any lofts available. i made the call and the rest is history. one had become available the night before and the leasing agent was just about to pick up the phone and call us. we ran down the block- yes, ran- and immediately fell in l-o-v-e. so here it is, option D.

D. downtown loft- they are renovating our very loft as we speak. (yay!) we totally lucked out and got a corner unit which means more windows. the south facing windows look out into a spectacular view of downtown. 20 foot heavy timber ceilings, exposed brick walls, and open venting. wonderful location- just a couple of miles to B’s school. there’s also a lovely courtyard out front with beautiful landscaping and a fountain. in a nutshell- it’s totally dreamy.

i’m so mad we didn’t get more photos but by this time we were too exhausted. we took a quick look and said, “yes, we’ll take it. where do we sign?” like i said, it’s being renovated and was mostly gutted so look past the mess. pretty, huh? the loft, not me. i’m tired and weepy.

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these ceilings! i can’t believe how beautiful. i will probably get a crick in my neck from looking at them all the time.

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needless to say, we are very excited! after several days of stress, scrambling, and yes- even a few tears, it all worked out. this loft really meets both of our needs and wants and will hopefully be a comfortable place for us to spend the next four years. it’s a relief to finally be able to visualize what life will look like in KC. i keep pinching myself to make sure this is actually happening. i’m feeling very blessed right now.

now, let’s finish this one off with a few more photos from our trip…

whenever the house hunt became too much to bear, we went to the Cheesecake Factory for yep- you guessed it, cheesecake.

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and maybe a mojito or two…

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did you know that Kansas City is known as ‘the city of fountains’? they are everywhere!

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the two best travel companions a girl could ask for…

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PS. so here i am, back in Texas decorating my fabulous loft in my head when…we got the news that CHANGED EVERYTHING.

just when we thought life couldn’t get any better (or any crazier), it did. it always does.

TO BE CONTINUED…

happiness is…the unexpected. 

birthday thoughts

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one year ago today, i was a basket case. i won’t deny it. since you are a friend, i realize that your knee-jerk reaction is to shrug this off and exclaim, “oh come on, Nat! you weren’t that bad!” but we all know you’re just being nice. and i love you for it. but still…basket. case. i was so mortified at the very thought of turning thirty years old that i had my entire family walking on eggshells. i wanted complete control over the whole thirty thing. no party, no fuss, and certainly no mention of it. it was like the Voldemort of birthdays…the-number-who-must-not-be-named.

but you know what?

i survived.

not only did i survive, i thrived. well, that might be pushing it. i actually floundered quite a bit. but that’s okay too. last year i treated you with an insightful (and silly) list of 20 things i learned in my 20’s. wonder if i can list 30 this year? just kidding! i’m much more tired in my thirties, y’all! but i do want to share just a few little things that i learned in the twelve months between thirty and thirty-one that made me realize that this decade ain’t so bad after all.

let it go. and i apologize if that awful song just got stuck in your head. i hate that movie and i haven’t even seen it. but seriously, my thirtieth year was all about letting go- physically and emotionally. i physically let go of my beloved home. we drastically downsized and entered the world of renters once again. it stung at the time, but now i am so relieved that we had the wherewithal to do it when we did. i realized that stuff is just that…stuff. i also had to emotionally let go of all the preconceived notions of what a thirty year old life should look like. starting over at thirty is difficult. it almost felt wrong. like we were doing something we weren’t allowed to do and at any moment the universe was going to put us back in our place. yet here we are. now that it is all coming together, nothing has ever felt so right.

embrace change. in my mid-twenties i insisted that we would stay in our little home forever. if we needed more room, we would simply renovate and add space! we would have kids there, grow old there, and retire there. who does that? i am in no way insinuating that’s a bad way to live. honestly, it sounds lovely…even now. but who decides in their twenties what life should look like at eighty? it’s impractical. i was impractical. i have learned that more flexibility equals less stress. at thirty-one i can only tell you what the next four years will look like…well, not really because this is all new to us…i guess all i know is where we will be for those four years. beyond that, it’s all up for grabs. the possibilities are endless and i hope we explore as many of them as possible.

have more fun. B and i rarely went on vacation in our twenties. maybe two ‘real’ ones in eight years. you know how many trips we have been on just this year? two! we decided that if it’s important to us, we better start making it a priority. i spent so much time my twenties feeling guilty over having fun. in my mind, we didn’t deserve to spend that kind of money on a trip and have nothing to show for it in the end. in reality, there is always something to show for it…great memories! i also realize that we will have to buckle down in about a month when med school kicks us in the face, but i still hope to drag my man out from under his pile of books every now and then to do something fun. a good life requires balance. i hope that we can continue to create the kind of life that revolves around experiences rather than things. it’s cliche, but life is just too darn short so we better enjoy it.

i will be the first to admit that i still don’t have this whole ‘growing up’ thing all figured out, but i don’t think we are really supposed to figure it out. do you? with each new year, comes new revelations. that way, there’s always a reason to appreciate where we are at in life. and i do. right now, thirty-one is a pretty good place to be.

happiness is…birthday cupcakes.

ps. i started writing this post several days ago when i was feeling all optimistic and proud of my personal growth. then yesterday, i hit a slump. so i took a picture of Beyoncé to my hairstylist and asked her to reproduce the haircut. then we dyed it bright red. i feel a little better now. maybe even fierce. the end.
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restless- part II

somewhere along the way, my emotional restlessness (read about that here) morphed into literal restlessness. i am going on a long stretch of very fitful sleep. bad dreams, nightmares, what have you. even the dreams that are not necessarily bad are so incredibly vivid and stressful that i find myself relieved to wake up and leave them behind every morning. this has proved unsettling because sleep has always been my respite. i looooove to sleep. now, i do admit that i have some quirky sleep habits. i’m practically nocturnal and narcoleptic. i fight going to bed every night with the ferocity of a toddler. but when i’m out, i’m out. and if it weren’t for the fact that i have a real job, i would stay in bed until noon everyday. on the weekends, sometimes i do. don’t judge. this redhead is tired.

so what to do? no sleep aids for me. melatonin actually gave me bad dreams the last time i tried it. i typically don’t drink caffeine after lunch. i am exercising to the point of physical exhaustion. i read. i tried counting sheep and cats.

finally, after seeking some wise counsel, i was told, “you’re a writer. write about your dreams.”

brilliant advice, right? i thought so. you know, that’s how Stephenie Meyer came up with the idea for Twilight. she had a riveting dream about a girl on vampire romance and poof! an entire series was born…along with a creepy human/vampire baby. anyways, sounds like a good place to start. i’ll have a fascinating dream, write about it and sell millions of books! pffft. med school tuition? no biggie. i got it, honey.

guess what i dreamed about? ice bugs. yes, you read that correctly. ice bugs. what are ice bugs, you ask? i have no idea. but apparently that’s how the apocalypse is going down. don’t say i didn’t warn ya. not zombies like i thought hoped. ice bugs. very long story short- my dream took place in an apocalyptic type setting, the city was crumbling around us, masses of people were running and shrieking, B and i were heroically ushering our loved ones to safety as we were attacked from all sides. surrounding us stood huge, blue, robotic-looking creatures. eeeek! just when it seemed that the ice bugs had the upper hand and the world as we knew it was coming to an end…Bruce Willis showed up! and in true tank-top-wearing, gun-slinging, Bruce Willis form, he saved the day. i can’t make this stuff up y’all. scratch that, i guess i did make it up…subconsciously anyway.

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what the heck? sorry friends. as of now, my breakout novel consists of a cheesy apocalyptic action story about a predator no one has ever heard of and a protagonist that everyone has. groundbreaking.

the only thing i can figure is this…we recently watched Die Hard with a Vengeance after a particularly bad day at work because B said, and i’m quoting here, “no matter how bad your day is, it’s never as bad as John McClane’s.” the man had a point. we remedied one bad day with a Bruce Willis movie and it came back to haunt me. literally.

well, i was told to write about it and write about it i did. the jury’s still out as to whether or not this strategy works. so far, my imagination seems to be running even wilder because i’m going to bed with the expectation of an interesting story. the power of the mind is incredible. i have found a way to direct my thoughts, even in sleep. regardless, the dreams are starting to become less stressful and a little more pleasant…or i am just becoming accustomed to them. maybe i’ll just go ahead and get good and comfortable in this crazy head of mine knowing that someday it will level out again. or at least until i get a decent idea for a book.

i guess i’m learning to be comfortable with this kind of restlessness too.

happiness is…catching a nap.

restless- part I

carrie-bradshaw-writing

“and just like that, i was thrown back into my old pattern: greasy chinese, sleeping til noon, and feeling…restless.”

-Carrie Bradshaw

♥♥♥

i am having a Carrie Bradshaw moment. if you spent any time at all watching Sex in the City then you know what i’m talking about. right? i bet you have even tried to peg who the Carrie is in your group of girlfriends. or maybe the Samantha, Charlotte, or Miranda. without a doubt, i am your Carrie friend. there’s something about that darling SJP. i always connected so deeply with her character. we have the writer thing in common, of course, but we’re also both introspective, a tad neurotic…and we love shoes. high heels to be specific.

i recently caught a re-run in which the last line spoken was the one referenced above. Carrie was restless. B happened to walk into the room during the last few minutes of the show and as soon as the words left her mouth, he turned to me and said, “sounds like someone else i know.” to which i could only nod. it was like the female version of dropping the mic. she dropped the mic, walked off stage, and left me in stunned silence. B then meandered to the kitchen, but not before stopping to squeeze my shoulder on the way by. as if to say, “i know, Nat. i get it.”

first of all, don’t judge B for watching SITC with me. i forcefully commandeered our one television. the man had no choice. secondly, how great is that? he just gets me. he always knows precisely how i’m feeling, and after nine years of marriage, he also knows how i cope with said feelings. Carrie, per her usual, was restless over a break-up with Big. again. i, however, feel incredibly fortunate that my relationship is the one thing in my life that i’m never restless about. no matter how messy everything else may be, at least i’ve got my relationship on lock. but the sentiment resonated the same.

i’m restless.

and i, like Carrie, find myself thrown back into an old pattern. it definitely involves greasy chinese (hello beef noodle soup) and sleeping waaay too late (on the weekends anyway). it turns out, my old pattern also involves obsessing over design. wallpaper in particular. what the heck? i don’t even own a wall to put paper on. the psychologist in me (the one who in reality holds a business degree) understands that this is a result of my desire to settle in. i am combatting restlessness with dreams of nesting. for almost a year, everything has been temporary. our lease is even on a month-to-month basis because we have to be out of here by august. when exactly that will be, i don’t know. too many moving parts and lots of logistics to work out. all things being said, i still don’t want to go back to the way things were.

i’m restless but content.

the days of having my very own home (in which to hang wallpaper), two incomes, and a five year plan are over. i am happy about that. stability is great, but boring. restless is exciting. restless means that we are stretching ourselves, wanting more, and creating the room to search for it. restlessness is what made us chase this big adventure in the first place.

it feels only fitting to wrap this one up in true Carrie Bradshaw style. each episode typically ended with Carrie sitting at a desk, typing away on a Mac and gazing out into the dreamy New York City sky. so here i am- sitting at my desk, typing away on my Mac but gazing out into the West Texas sky. instead of twinkling lights, i see a dusty brown haze. instead of Monolo Blahniks, i’m wearing DSW bargain bin shoes. but just like Carrie, i always find myself wondering.

so as i wrote this post, “i couldn’t help but wonder”…is it possible that i have become comfortable with restlessness?

happiness is…change.