Thursday, June 26, 2008

Phoenix Wrap Up, and my Birthday

Ultimately decided not to buy a house just yet. Too many unknowns with roommates, the market, the area, my income and finances, etc., to be worth adding the stress of home ownership to the first year of law school. I'll rent for a bit and see where things go from there.

I have been unaggressively looking for a place to rent on

My birthday is tomorrow. I'll be 25, which feels depressingly old to me. I realize there are more years ahead of me still than behind me, which is a good sign of relative youth, but looking at three years of school before I can begin work in a very competitive field sort of puts things in a harsh perspective. I'm going to be a late bloomer in the 'financially successful' category, though I'm confident I will get there.

Friday night, some people are coming in to town to hang out for the weekend. Others are showing up Saturday throughout the day. My traditional crab feast is on Saturday, and it looks like we'll get a lot of people passing through, but not a big crowd for the long haul. Too many people have weekend jobs, other things to do that take more priority somehow. Should be good times nonetheless. I'm looking forward to the whole weekend.

I leave for Nantucket on Monday at 2am with Liz and Zack. We're driving up, and then I fly back Friday (making the plans, I didn't realize Friday was the 4th of July). I land at 2:10, and am due at work at 5:30 that night. Nooch.

It'll be nice to get a week off, though.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Phoenix/Tempe: Day 2

House hunting part two was a relative success.

I've narrowed my housing choices down to two houses. Now I have to figure out if I can afford them. I spent some time with a lender at Bell Mortgage and got some proposals worked up. Houses are expensive, apparently. Who knew?

I'm waiting for a few responses from various people before I take the next step and actually make an offer on a house.

As for the rest of the trip, I think morale is somewhat low. We haven't had a lot of time to enjoy the area. It's been all business, and I'm stressed out.

We did go down to Mill Ave last night (the downtown bar/restaurant/shopping strip) to get a feel for it. It's pretty cool. It's the offseason, so I think the locals are a little odd at the moment. When school is in session, I'm sure it will be more interesting. We escaped the heat with a frozen margarita from Fat Tuesdays, then went to PF Changs to eat and watch the Celtics embarrass the Lakers to win it all. I think that game was an embarrassment to the league, the Lakers, and the Celtics. By the time the C's were up by 30, it was clearly over. They didn't need to run the court and showboat like they did. I understand the excitement, but it was classless. I'm happy they won, though.

After dinner, we walked around Tempe some. It was dark, but we tried to get some pictures of Sun Devil Stadium (ASU's football stadium, former home of the Fiesta Bowl, current home of the Insight Bowl). We headed home around 10:30 and passed out almost instantly. House hunting is exhausting. The temperature reached 121 degrees on Tuesday.

We are going to try to enjoy today, relax a little. I have a lot on my mind, but can hopefully push it to the back burner and relax. Maybe tubing or hiking or sitting out by the pool. First and foremost, I'm starving. Breakfast is a priority.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Phoenix/Tempe: Day 1

Our flight took off at 6:50am ET Monday morning from BWI. We were scheduled to stop in Columbus and at Chicago Midway before arriving at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport at 10:50am PT. After minimal sleep the night before, we were beyond exhausted. I slept through almost the entire flight. I hardly remember the stopovers in Ohio and Illinois (we didn't get off the plane). I was awake for the final hour or two of the Phoenix leg, just enough to see America's heartland transform in to arid desert once we passed the mountains (Andes, maybe? I'm no geography major).

We landed two minutes ahead of schedule. The pilot was fantastic. Smoothest landings ever. Announced temperature upon initial descent: "A cool 100 degrees". At 10:30am. But it's a dry heat!

So, we get the rental car. Initially, they talked us up from an economy (no power locks/windows) to an intermediate, with seductive talks of getting a Sentra. We were given a Sebring with an empty gas tank. Fortunately, I noticed the gas light on before we left the parking lot. So, they were very apologetic and put us in a Saturn Aura instead. Soo-weeet.

GPS took us to Joe and Diane's house with no problem (close family friends of Melissa's). Diane and their daughter Sarah was home. She was sunning herself in the pool in their backyard. The house they live in looks like a part of a brand new development. Everything is clean and spotless throughout the neighborhood. Turns out, not only is the development about 15 years old, but they are the 3rd owners of their house. Amazing. Durability is high out here with no moisture in the air, I guess.

So, we grab a quick lunch and meet with the realtors, whose office is five minutes from the Haik's house. Don and Lynda Teehan have been phenomenal so far. They only take business from referrals. Zero advertising, yet they lead their office in sales every year by a significant margin. Don said from the get go that he was going to treat me like his own nephew. So far, it has felt that way. In 3 hours of house hunting, I feel more like they are friends of the family doing me a favor than business associates trying to earn money from me.

We looked at 10 houses on the first day, starting in the seedier neighborhoods Tempe has to offer. The first five houses were nothing special, but the second half of the day was very promising. I may have found the house I want, but it's slightly above my initial price range. Financial discussions will start today. The house is a gorgeous one-story, four bedroom with a pool and hot tub in the backyard. It is only about 5-10 minutes from campus, which adds value to the location. We have another 10-15 houses to look at today, so we'll see what happens.

After we were through, Don and Lynda drove us to the campus and showed us the area a little bit. Mill Avenue is the hot spot in Tempe, the downtown strip where all the bars, restaurants, and shopping outlets are. Looks like a blast. Very pretty area. We hope to spend some time there during our trip.

Back at their office, we sat and chatted about the area some more. They answered all my questions. Showed me nice things to do nearby (hike in Sedona, tube on Salt River, boat at Lake Pleasant, watch MLB spring training). It looks like the possibilities are endless here. I'm very excited.

The best news of the day--and this is laughable whether you know me or not--I made it through 3 and a half hours of house hunting in 110+ degree heat without sweating through my shirt.

We returned home and the Haiks cooked up a feast for us with potatoes, broccoli, shrimp (with Old Bay), BBQ chicken, steak, and corn on the cob. We got a little pool time in and then passed out at 9:30.

I'm about to go shower and grab breakfast before we start over again. Meet at the realtors at 9am today.

Another thing worth noting: within 10 minutes of being in Phoenix, while we were driving from the airport, I passed a car with a Radford University sticker and a VT remembrance ribbon magnet on it. Amazing.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Been awhile

But I was sort of inspired to write a quick blurb last night. It turns out I get lots of traffic here because my blog comes up second on Google if you search "Carpaccio". Weird.

I had a table last night that, when I introduced myself, said "Oh, my wife reads your blog."

I told them I'd post. So, thanks Rob.

I leave for Phoenix on Monday to go house hunting. Very excited. I've been talking with a realtor and she has a route map all lined up with houses I've selected from the hundreds of listings she sent me. I'll definitely write about this trip sometime shortly after I get back Thursday night.