As I sit here in my new home for 18 months, I muse on how truly charmed my life has been. I have reliable friends and family, I have never wanted for a good job, I’ve had a chance to travel to interesting places and everywhere I go people seem to like me. Though I didn’t grow up in the most affluent of families, I have never wanted for anything material in my life. I guess I never wanted much in the way of material things anyway.
As you have probably guessed, I have Internet! I called the cable company yesterday morning (Friday). I had had difficulty the night before with their online system and had to call them directly, spent all the money left on my phone (around $2 by this stage). Since I can only really be present on weekends, I have the cable guy coming in on Saturday 12th to install my “cable modem” (ADSL) which will get me 3Mbps download.
In order to tide me over, I walked into Radio Shack (like Dick Smith Electronics) and got a recharge card for my mobile, a “free” $9.95/month dialup CD and a modular phone cable. So, now I can access the Internet at limited speeds for the next 2 weeks, don’t expect me to be too chatty online.
The new place is lovely. It has a view as I mentioned before. My bedroom, lounge and little balcony overlook the lake in the direction of Dallas. The night sky to the west is always ablaze with the lights of the city which reflect off the clouds and the sky, creating the false dawn so typical of cities this size. During the day the vast blue expanse of this lake could be mistaken for a sheltered coastal bay. I think I am going to like it here. Click on the images below for nice big panoramic views!
The dÃ©cor is a little dated: say 1970’s (though it’s growing on me), but what it is lacking in style it makes up for in function. This place is fully furnished with a capital F. I have washer, drier, TV, fridge, oven, HOB, microwave, bed, drawers, cupboards, chairs, sofa, iron, ironing board (thought you’d like that, mom) pots & pans, cutlery, plates, plants, coffee table, coffee maker, mixer, dish washer, linen, toaster and (of course) the kitchen sink. I made a full inventory here. All of that for $950 / month! The utilities are all connected and I have to pay the landlord extra for them (of course) but that means I don’t have to pay bonds or mess about with utility companies.
All this was organised on my second weekend (last weekend, Saturday 29th) just in time to move in when my boss arrived home. The next guy who landed in Texas asked the same real estate agent for a fully furnished place and all she could give him was an unfurnished place. I also organised my car that weekend, my license the next Monday. Now, I don’t believe in luck, and I don’t believe I am the world’s greatest planner. This is all partly due to the fact that I go with my intuition at times like these and tend to make seemingly spontaneous decisions. The other reason is because I have had a lot of prayer and well-wishes coming to me from a great many people back home. Thank you all, I think your prayers have been answered. Most of then 😉
So, now I am all set: I have a place to stay, I have transportation, I have a job, I have a church and now I am working slowly on creating the social connections that will make my stay here bearable.
Speaking of which: one thing I have to say right now is that I have found (on the whole) the people here to be a lovely bunch: friendly, jovial, generous. The 2 systems engineers (analysts doing the design work) for my part of the project took us 3 software engineers out to lunch on Friday. Kind of as a pre-emptive apology for the 40,000 line spreadsheet (among other things) they have created which we will have to code to. Rather than pooh-pooh my hybrid car with 40-50 mpg, they were genuinely sheepish about their 20 mpg machines and marvelled at the idea of the technology. Just goes to show: most people want to do the right thing if you give them a chance.
Everywhere I go, the people just love the accent. Men, women, doesn’t matter. They like to hear us talk and if we’re in a queue they will take a few extra minutes to have a chat with us just to hear the sound of our voices. The accent can be very useful. For example when I was at Wal-Mart and asked to take a picture of the guns the attendant said “I didn’t see you” then turned to the other customers and said “guy comes in with a nice accent, asks a question like that, what can I say?”
I went to Wal-Mart and stocked up on everything. I quite enjoy shopping at Wal-Mart (surprisingly) because I know that if I walk around long enough I will find exactly what I need and the price will be very competitive. Among other things, I bought a water filter so I can avoid having to buy bottled water. I also have all th soaps and washing liquids anyone could ever hope to have, as well as some food for the coming week.