Cat Lady, Musings

Six lessons learned from my six months in Houston

Today marks 6 months since we moved to Houston. A lot has happened thus far in 2009… Jason and I moved in together, Jason started work in the real world, I parted ways with a great company in Dallas and landed a new job at Schipul – the web marketing company in Houston doing lots of really amazing good and focusing on growing great people, we felt the effects of the economy when Jason got laid off, brought a new member into our little family, and endured all those day to day adventures inevitable in life. It’s all happened pretty fast. But through it all, I’ve learned a few things. And I thought I would share… you know, to mark the occasion.

Life lessons from my 6 months in Houston

Lesson 1: Branch out

I grew up in Dallas, so when I lived there after college I never really felt the need to take it all in and learn as much as I could about the goings on of the city. In Houston however, I find myself constantly taking notes when people talk about places to eat and things to do (however random those things might be).

Some of my favorite things I’ve done include visiting the Houston Zoo (they’re a Schipul client, and we’re pretty proud of their pretty new website if you haven’t seen it yet), seeing the Body Worlds Exhibit at The Houston Museum of Natural Science, and hanging out at music venues like Warehouse Live and House of Blues Houston. Oh yes, and enjoying the local cuisine.

Spoon at Warehouse Live Houston 2009

Spoon at Warehouse Live in May

Lesson 2: Eat Interesting Food
I love to eat. And as I mentioned, I love to hear food suggestions. Our first weekend in Houston we ate at Cheddar’s on Friday night and Chili’s on Saturday. Boring! I have since been warned to stay away from chains at all costs. And have tried to get in as much of the amazing food Houston has to offer as possible.

Some of my favorite Houston food joints include Sugarbabies for cupcakes, Lupe Tortilla for Mexican Food, Star Pizza for pizza, Ikea for the most food for your money (can’t beat $2.50 for 2 hot dogs, chips, and a drink), The Burger Shack for a burger, Cafe Express for lunch, and Alamo Drafthouse West Oaks for dinner and a movie.

For suggestions and keeping track of my “Wishlist” of restaurants I would like to try, I use Urban Spoon. I really can’t get enough of the iPhone app (if you don’t have an iPhone, you can use the Urban Spoon widget on their site that works the same way).

So… if you have any suggestions, let me know! I love to try new places!

urbanspoon-wishlist

My UrbanSpoon wishlist

Lesson 3: Kittens make everything better
For some people, it’s dogs that makes them smile no matter what’s going on in life… but for me it’s cats. Fat and thin, all shapes and colors welcome. I don’t discriminate.

Little did I know just a few months ago that the arrival of the Lassberg kittens would become such an event in my life. The sweet little kitten we finally decided to call Aeris has balanced out our apartment and brought so much joy to our lives! It’s hard to have a bad day with a little purr machine sleeping peacefully on your chest.

And now I know conclusively that we are doing our part by adopting all of the cats we can fit right now. If I could, I would attempt to save all of them. Believe me. But don’t tell me apartment complex.

For more kitten videos, check out vimeo.com/qcait

Lesson 4: Choose your partner in crime wisely

Me and Jason being goofy 1Me and Jason being goofy 2
Qcait and Jason being goofy 3Qcait and Jason being goofy 4

We are so cool.

Jason and I went from a long distance relationship to living together in a short period of time. .. and I’m not going to lie, I was a little anxious about how that would affect us.  The transition was much smoother than I could ever imagine. I’m no relationship expert, but I can say that our success has come from a few specific things:

  • Candid communication – We talk about everything, even little stuff. When I do or don’t care if he comes with me to meet friends, I’m honest. If it bugs him when I don’t put dishes in the sink, he is sure to let me know. It’s easier to be honest about little things before they turn into big things.
  • FUN! – Whether we are staying home playing Rock Band or venturing out into any of the many goings on in Houston, we always have fun. Being able to laugh and be nerds together is probably my favorite thing about our relationship.
  • Balance – We learned really quickly that sometimes we need our own time, even in the house. A perfect Sunday afternoon often means him playing video games in one room and me watching a Top Model marathon and playing on the computer in another. And that’s ok.

Lesson 5: Take it all in
With all this new-ness … new town, new job, new experiences I am trying to soak it all in as much as I can. I have been reading more, pushing myself to continue bettering myself in my job, and trying to keep up with as much as I can in the world around me. It helps to work in an environment that encourages these things. Sometimes I really miss school – not just the amazing friends but also the constant immersion in new concepts and analysis of the world around me.

I am thankful that I get to spend my week days around amazing people who  love to share their knowledge and point of view. It makes us all better.

On a sidenote regarding reading, here is a list of my favorite books I have read in 2009:

Lesson 6: Roll with the Punches
Right after the decision was made to let me go from my previous company, I got this advice:

“I’d say I’m sorry, but I’m really not”

I wish I could say I'm sorry - on Twitter

I’ve tried to take that to heart. Realize that change is inevitable – and all I can do is roll with it and make the best of any situation. In the case of my job, I ended up in an environment extremely suited to my learning style and my work/life balance is as stable as it has been in a long time. In the case of my personal life, the heartaches and difficult circumstances of the past were all learning experiences that brought me to the amazing place where I am in my relationship today. In the case of my family, my parents are (and have been for over a year now!) happily committed – to other people… and going through their split has made my sister and I stronger people.

Sometimes all you can do is put on your favorite pump up song and hunker down. Do what you can – whatever you can – to get yourself out of the trenches. And remember that even baby steps count as forward motion. And it doesn’t hurt to have someone by your side who loves you – even when you do really embarrassing things like talk about your cats a little too much or buy a High School Musical Dance video game.

Me and the cats

In Conclusion

Houston has been a wonderful adventure so far. I have learned a lot about myself, my relationship, and where I want to go in life. I love this affirmation I got from a recent fortune cookie:

“Stop searching forever, happiness is right next to you.”

It’s been a great 6 months in Houston, and I’m ready for many more!

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10 Comments

  • Reply

    Kerry Gayle

    July 3, 2009

    Really glad that you decided to take Houston by storm! :)

  • Reply

    Holly

    July 3, 2009

    We're happy to have you here in Houston! Hope you stay here for a long time!

  • Reply

    Mom

    July 3, 2009

    How did you get to be so smart?

  • Reply

    Lisa

    July 4, 2009

    Your insights are always refreshing. I miss you, friend. See you soon!

  • Reply

    James

    July 4, 2009

    i love your style of writing. i'm glad you're in houston, and we can be friends again!

  • Reply

    qcait

    July 7, 2009

    Thanks everyone for the love! I'm glad to be here too!

  • Reply

    Brad

    July 7, 2009

    It's really strange how my life has kinda mirrored yours the past 6 months. I too moved to Houston 6 months ago, started a new job/life, moved in w/my GF, the GF lost her job, we only go to local places to eat, also went to BodyWorlds, and I somehow became a dog person. Maybe one day we'll hang out in person =)

  • Reply

    happykatie

    July 15, 2009

    Seriously, it's like you've been in this crazy humid city for so much longer – in all the best ways.

    I'm soooo glad you're a Schipulite – we heart your brains, your sense of humor and your amazing choice of kitten families. I'm not sure that I can completely go with you on the High School Musical DDR, but to everything else – cheers to that, love. :)

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