The New Neighbors
In our Eden Prairie apartment, Nick and I were constantly at odds with neighbors… well, at least I was. There was the time the neighbors pounded on the wall as I quietly watched TV alone on a Sunday afternoon, and of course the time where the police were called as we watched the Oscars with Jason in 2007. I can’t remember a single neighbor there that we conversed with aside from our actual friends who moved into the complex later on. In Minneapolis, Lauren and I were consistently at odds with the super over her ridiculous new parking lot rules and threats of towing, as well as our French downstairs neighbor who was certain we were out to make his life miserable by “stumping” on the floor, as his angry notes to us stated.

Here in Austin, however, our side of the building has been a very pleasant surprise. There are four units on our side, two downstairs and two upstairs. (By the way, all units lead directly outside, there’s not a hallway like we’re used to.) Probably thanks to walking Baxter, I cross paths with all of them every day. The guy right below us is a Kirby vacuum guy and is always asking us if there’s anything he can do to help us–watch Baxter while we’re out, shampoo our carpet, etc. We have a nice system in order where he can use our wireless internet for free in exchange for some occasional Baxter dog-sitting.

The neighbors across from us are two young ladies in their twenties who also have a small furry pup, who has become good friends with Baxter… or mortal enemies, it’s hard to tell. They too have watched Bax on occasion and been nice company. The other guy in the unit is a man in his 50s who has shockingly lived in this apartment for 18 years alone. At first I didn’t have the most favorable opinion of him as he fed tons of stray cats, which in turn huddled around the building all day and many found our cars as suitable sleeping places. But again, we have struck up conversations lately and I now feel bad for the guy. After 18 years, he’s being forced to leave… apartment management is angry with him for feeding the cats and are raising his rent over $400. So he’s slowly moving out. He mentioned that in 18 years he has accumulated over 450 shirts.

I could easily say that based on my apartment experiences, Texans are friendlier and better neighbors and that Minnesotans are big stupid jerks! But of course the difference is that we have a friendly cute puppy now and people everywhere go out of their way to talk to us. What reason did I have to talk to our neighbors before? None! So let that be advice for you single guys out there… get yourself a beagle pup.

Oh... so that's why we have so many friends at the apartment complex!!

Stuff That’s Happened Recently
Friday Lauren and I took our final step toward Texan citizenship by paying the much-dreaded visit to the DMV to get our licenses. I had unrealistically hoped that I’d be able to go through the whole thing over my lunch break, but of course that was nowhere close to happening. We waited for about 70 minutes for my number to be called. It was a pretty standard process as long as I remembered to bring my last license, my social security card, my birth certificate, my marriage certificate, my passport, my car registration, and my insurance cards. I was finished in about ten minutes, and considering Lauren had the next number, we figured she’d go right in after me. I guess the lady at the desk decided that was her time to take lunch break, and despite having consecutive numbers it took Lauren another half hour to get called. When she did, it was a different guy at the counter and during the process he attempted to recruit Lauren to play on his slow-pitch softball team. Seems odd that government employees are permitted to do that on the job, but Lauren declined and we were on our way.

That night was the company Christmas party at a high-end sports bar. There were a couple private areas rented out and they had casino games set up. The idea was of course to win big and have more chances to enter your name in the raffle for the big prizes. We didn’t fare too well as I attempted to learn craps… even after 30 minutes with a dealer explaining every move, I was still pretty lost. Not that the drinks were helping my concentration or anything. The party was over by 10:30 and a few of us headed over to a co-worker’s house for the after-party. Eventually we took a cab home around 3am and called it a night.

Yesterday was a pretty laid-back day. I cleaned out the cars and plowed through a few more Wonder Years episodes on Netflix. For dinner, we got takeout from our favorite local southern home-cookin’ restaurant, Hoover’s. Super good. Here’s a look at my semi-eaten Jamaican jerk chicken… Mmmm…

Takeout from Hoover's