September 21, 2002
Nobody puts Baby in a corner.

So, it's been a fairly eventful week. Let's see how effectively I can recap here.

When we last left our hero, he was having coffee and breakfast snacky cakes at Jo's coffee house, the cultural center of South Austin. Great wake-you-up fuel, coffee cakes to feed a family, and friendly folks hanging. They also have a weekly biker get together, which I missed, but I'm sure I'll hit sooner or later. One of the guys who works at their bakery across the street looks exactly like Ray, one of our comrades from the Organic days, who recently moved to Denver. Anyway. Coffee. Then off to look for places to live.

There is plentiful cheap housing in Austin. Good neighborhoods all over, for pretty much any taste. Only problem is, most of the houses are for sale, and we're looking for a rental. There are literally five "For Sale" signs out for every "For Rent" sign. I did find a few decent places, but they either didn't call back, weren't really all that interested in renting, or had some kind of trouble with that whole "contractor" thing on the credit check. When you tell a non-technical person down here that you do computer work, they pretty much assume that you're a lifer at Dell or IBM. God forbid that you don't have a salaried position. Me, I've been doing contract work for over two years now, and managing to pay a good amount of rent in San Francisco, and I haven't had all that hard a time of it, despite the whole economy taking a dive thing. You'd figure that convincing people that I can afford to pay about half that down here wouldn't be a an issue. Well, you'd figure wrong. For houses, anyway - apartment managers seem to have a different outlook on that situation... but I'm getting ahead of myself.

So Tuesday, hunting for houses to rent, not having a lot of luck, but no worries - it's early in the week. I give it a break come early evening, and hit a tasty little dinner at a chinese buffet place with Dave and Mel. Good fuel for... roller skating! For those of you just tuning in, Mel has recently joined the Hellcats, one of the roller derby teams here, and we all headed over to Playland to skate with her. Well, where "we" is me - Dave didn't skate. We also hooked up with her friend Lara, who is also a derby girl, and did some skating. I haven't been on actual roller skates in upward of fifteen years, and it's still been a good five or six years since I've worn inline skates. Still did pretty well, but I did take one head-first fall in a feeble attempt to get all funky and stuff. Came out of it okay - I managed to do a full-on forward roll, grab my glasses almost out of mid-air, and pop right back up on the skates - but I did get myself a big old bruise on my right hip (I think I elbowed myself somehow in the process) that's just getting bigger and more colorful every day. It's pretty cool. After three hours or so, we packed up and headed out to get some pie and trade some Organic war stories at Magnolia's, and headed home.

Did I mention that there were about a million really cute girls at the roller rink? Well, there were. This seems to be a general trend in Austin, I've noticed. Maybe it's just the new place, maybe not. Just making an observation. Dave and I got a really good seat on the bench in front of the fan where people went to cool off. Did I mention that I told Mel that I'd go back there with her every week to practice? Yeah.

The next day had a little less house-hunting, but Bernie's been helping out remotely, sending me stuff from the internets, so I had some leads to go on. On Tuesday, we found a really nice little red house in Central/North Austin, right near UT. I went up there to see it - really nice sized place, big yard, barbecue and garage in the back, pretty cute. So, I got the lowdown from the woman renting it for the landlady, got an application, and sent it in. Sounds pretty easy. Well, no, actually. I was still looking around, but we pretty much had our hearts set on this place - I liked it, and was eager to get the house part of the trip over with, Bernie loved it, and it was only a nine-month lease, so we'd have just enough time to settle in a bit, and take some time to take a better look around for a more permanent place. Remember what I was talking about up there about the contractor thing? Well, I'm thinking that was just an excuse. The woman living there was totally nice and eager for us to move in, but the landlady was kind of crazy, and I spent a lot of time going back and forth with her on the phone, faxing stuff, getting the bank to send her things saying that yes, I've got money and credit, and no, we're not felons or deadbeats. It seemed to be sort of going along, but things seemed to start falling apart by Friday morning - she wasn't in the office, not returning calls, all that. Bah.

To take my mind off the growing anxiety about finding a place to live, we took a trip out of town to the Salt Lick BBQ. Well, that, and Dave's been telling us about it forever. And with good reason. Again, not lying. They've got a huge fire pit, they bring you a big old plate of meat with tasty sauce and a bunch of sides, and the owner even made us a pitcher of fresh lemonade when we asked for it. And the pie. My god, the pie. Dave had some sort of cobbler thing, I had the chocolate chip pecan pie. I think that's been the peak of my pie experience down here so far, and there's some pretty good pie. I'm going to get pretty darn fat down here if I don't watch it. After a brief lolling recovery period, we headed back, I checked out a few more apartments, hung a bit, checked email and stuff, grabbed a Magnolia burger later on, and called it a day.

Thursday brought more apartment hunting, more back and forth with the crazy house lady, and a bit of shopping with Mel. Got some toys, a new shirt, and a present for Bernie. Then, more house hunting in the afternoon. At this point, I was feeling a bit desperate, so I started looking at apartment complexes for a backup plan. After driving around town and looking at places I wouldn't ever want to live - and Bernie would kill me if I chose one of them - I pulled into a parking lot and started flipping through the local weekly, the Chronicle. I called one of the places in South Austin more or less at random, and they had two-bedroom units available, and hey, they were right around the corner from Dave and Mel's place. So, I go down, and it looks really nice, for an apartment complex. Nice courtyard, pool, gazebo, barbecue, plants, newly re-done, gas stove, giant closets, laundry, pretty much everything on the checklist, except maybe not as bright as Bernie would like. Anyway, nice enough, and the price was right, so I filled out an application and brought it back the next day. We're in. Haven't signed a lease yet, so if by some miracle an ideal house lands in our laps, we can take it, but I think we have a place to move into. Whew.

That evening, the El Orbits were playing at bingo night at the Continental club, so we met Kyra and Lara there for music, beer, and bingo. Pretty fun. We bailed after the band was done and the games were over; we had planned to go see another band, the Broken Teeth, who I hear are pretty good, but their show was staring pretty late, and we were getting tired. Instead, it was off to the Krispy Kreme to witness the miracle of donut birth on the big machine. The waterfall of glaze is breathtaking. We split a box of dozen hot glazed donuts between the five of us, got a good sugar buzz going, said farewell to our compadres, and headed home for the crash.

I was feeling pretty set up for housing by Friday, so we had a leisurely lunch at Central Market, followed by a brief period of laziness. Then I made a pilgrimage to an arcade on Guadaloupe, across the street from UT and next to the scaaaary scientology center, to play some Dance Dance Revolution. They had two machines there, but one seemed fairly abandoned, so I joined the crowd around the one near the back. So, here's a handy tip: if you go into an arcade across the street from a school to play DDR, and you're wearing ten pound boots, and you've been eating bbq and donuts all week, and it's 90 degrees outside, and you're at least ten years older than the kid at the machine... don't let him choose the songs. I kept up, but I almost died. Really fun, though; I'm getting pretty darn good. I'm telling you, get myself some sneakers, get used to the heat, and work out a little bit more consistently, and I'll be kicking punk ass all over the place. Yeah, let's see that little dude back there in ten years, after he gets good and fat and lazy. Damn kids.

After a bit of re-hydration and relaxation, we headed off to our evening entertainment - a showing of Dirty Dancing with Mr. Sinus Theater at the Alamo Drafthouse. So, get this. A movie theater, where they serve food and beer, and a trio of freaks up front doing the whole MST3K thing. Plus, a little intermission with a little live fusion of Patrick Swayze, The Shining, and inflatable sex doll humping. That's a good time, I tell you what. I'd recount some of the hilarity, but it just wouldn't translate. I was getting a bit frantic reading the schedule for the summer - I'd missed a bunch of killer movies, and Bruce Campbell is going to be hosting a showing of Army of Darkness there on the sixth of next month, before we get down here. Dammit! I have been assured, however, that the schedule is consistently kick-ass, and there is nothing to fear. Watch this space for updates. Anyway, movie, dinner, and back home to rip some new music from Dave's extensive collection of good stuff, which I've been listening to while working at the little Dragnet setup we've got here in his home office.

Today, I was totally off the hook with regards to the apartment thing - the apartment manager told me that unless we're felons, we're in, so I'm just going to assume that nobody's turning up anything. Spent the day hanging out with Dave, checking out the boxing gym that they go to, wandering around the game/movie/comic store, scoping the local Fry's, and digging on the excellent burgers, chili, and pie at the Frisco diner. Tonight, some of the rollergirl crew are coming over for some movie-watching and burritos. Much fun to be had, I'm sure. Then tomorrow, I fly back to San Francisco to do a little bit of work, and start getting our piles and piles of junk ready to get shipped down here. Woot!

Phase 2: Start tricking more people into moving down here. Muaaahahahaaa....

(September 21, 2002 03:00 PM)
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