Friday, May 12, 2006

Notebook on Cities and Clothes

In case you were wondering what I was doing in Houston, I was there for a job interview. I won't mention why I'm thinking about leaving my current job because I don't want to get Dooced. But it was interesting being on my first interview in a while. Now that I actually have some marketable skillz it's completely different from when I graduated law school and was looking for work the way a band geek looks for a prom date. Now I'm the one holding the cards, especially since there aren't a lot of people with my skillz in Houston.

So they booked a flight and flew me out. The flight was coach, but I really wasn't expecting first class. When I got there, it was a different story though. They sent a limo to pic me up from the airport. The driver had a chauffeur hat and a sign that said "Home Improvement Ninja". Well, it had my real name actually. If it had the name of my blog I would've taken a picture of it. It wasn't a pretentious stretch limo like I'm a rap star, but a nice classy limo. Plus the driver had all his teeth. I'm pretty sure that costs extra in Houston.


Now, I shit you not. This is a statue of George Bush Senior in the airport. (not the other one). When I saw it, I thought he had a cape...like Superman. I thought "wow, they really do idolize that family, they even turned that weasel into a friggin' superhero."

Turns out that's a jacket, not a cape, and he's facing the "winds of change". Wow, the symbolism is just so...idiotic.


The hotel was nice, four starz.

I'm not crazy about the decor. That Rococco stuff makes it look like it belongs in a venetian whorehouse.

And what's up with the phone next to the toilet. Do people really make important phonecalls on the toilet?

"Hey Jimmy...guess where I am now? Wait I'll give you a clue...are you listening?"

I think I just threw up a little as I typed that.







The granite tile was nice though. Whoever laid it had some mad skillz. This is actually better than I could've done it. Those groutlines are flawless. I took my socks off and dragged my feets across the entire floor and only found a couple of places where you could noticably feel the transition from one tile to the other. Yes, this is how I spent my free time. No one ever accused me of being normal.



Houston was nice. It was more hot and humid than DC (and DC was built on a swamp). I'm seriously debating whether I should pursue this or not. Most of my family is in Florida, not Texas, but this could be a good gig for more money than I'm making now. Not a shitload more, but you can buy a whole house in Houston for less than it costs for a 1Br condo in DC. I'd have to finish up the ninja fortress QUICK and sell it if I wanted to take it though. I probably wouldn't lose money on it, but I don't think I would make much (if anything) either. All that work! Arrrrgh!!!

The one person I know in Houston said the company I interviewed at is a good company to work for and that a lot of lawyers in Houston would kill me to get that gig. But I also heard that, like L.A., they sometimes have road-rage shootouts on the highway, so apparently they kill people for a lot less in Houston.

The city is way more conservative than DC. I think everybody shops at Brooks Brothers or Jos. A. Banks or some other haven for the banal. The food was good and really nice restaurants charge what you would pay at mid-price restaurants in DC.

The job might also allow me to live overseas eventually. Which I always wanted, but I also always thought that if I left DC it would be for Florida to be closer to my family. Do I really want to make a detour that could be permanent?

Anyone have any ideas about this, or living in Houston in general?

13 comments:

Gui said...

Here is my $0.02...it all depends where you want to be, not next year, but if a few years from now.

You mentioned Florida, so let's say that's your target eventually. The question to ask is, if you take this job in Houston now, what would the next potential job be? An assignment overseas sounds interesting, but what about after that? My point is, every time you switch jobs, you are defining your career. By switching from what you do now (gov?) to a corporation, is that bringing you closer to having the skills/experience that will eventually land you a good job in Florida? If not, then you might want to think about it more.

I know nothing about Houston (other than that you can have pretty bad business meetings there), but it is much cheaper than Washington. I live in Cleveland, OH (we rock!), and at a point in my career I made a choice between the big cities/markets (NYC, Chicago, SF) and the small place in the Midwest. I don’t regret it – my quality of life is MUCH better than most of my peers from b-school, but it’s a trade-off away from the cultural & diversity stuff.

Allison said...

I grew up in Arkansas, and had grandparents in texas. You think it's humid now... Try an entire month or two of temp > 95 and heat index between 105 and 115, with no respite.
I personally love the city, I love walking places, I love having public transportation, I love living in a liberal city. There's no way in hell I would move to the middle of the country again... but not everyone is like me. The big thing I'd think about is how my lifestyle would change - would I do the same things on weekends? Would I have to own a car, or use my car more? Would the weather restrict my outside activity? Stuff like that...

Gary said...

Always have a 5 year plan with your life. Project in your mind where you want to be in 5 years. Then follow a course that gets you there. If Florida is your goal, get there in 5 years. If money is your goal than be where you can be making the most in 5 years.
Be aware that money doesn't equal success or happiness. You are trading time for money when you have a job where you are not the owner of the business.

Dara said...

I've been to Houston a number of times (I usually stay at the Four Seasons when I go for work) and I grew up in Florida. Personally, I don't think living in either place is preferable to living in DC, especially as a lawyer. The only places I occasionally think I'd rather be are Europe and New York City.

That said, if I move anywhere in the next 5 years, it'll probably be back to Florida. Why? Because like it or not, there is some intrinsic value in being geographically close to your family.

Carol said...

Houston is a great place to live...in the winter! Its like a tropical rainforest in the summer- it can rain endlessly and flood everything near its bayous. There are earthquake faultlines everywhere and all the houses are built on slabs that tend to shift (read as sink). The traffic can be a nightmare so live close to where you work. I think Texas is one of the few states that still doesn't have a state income tax. Did I mention the insects? Heheheh. They are fighting with the humans to be the most successful phylum.

You should go if the work is good. There are a few good old nieghborhoods near Rice.

Dave said...

Houston is a cesspit, avoid it unless you just can't resist the job. It's the only city I've ever heard of in this country that has NO zoning controls. Industrial areas and godawful stripmalls snuggle right up in an among neighborhoods. Lots of old neighborhoods suffer mightily from the tear-down phenomenon where new money hicks build huge lot-swallowing houses where there used to be modest ranches wrapped in live oaks. It's hot and polluted and the traffic is horrendous.

As always... Rachael said...

I don't know dude... Im' in the same transitional boat. I'm moving, but not closer to family... and we're not going to make a bunch more money, but our dollars will go farther in the new area...

I still don't want to go. I hope my husband continues his job search. I want ot live near our families, nad I don't want to have to move any more times than necessary. Moving is a pain in the ass.

Hilarious post by the way! I'm gonna have my husband reading it when he gets home. He knows exactly what you're going through and would benefit from yoru comedic relief!

As always... Rachael said...

I don't know dude... Im' in the same transitional boat. I'm moving, but not closer to family... and we're not going to make a bunch more money, but our dollars will go farther in the new area...

I still don't want to go. I hope my husband continues his job search. I want ot live near our families, nad I don't want to have to move any more times than necessary. Moving is a pain in the ass.

Hilarious post by the way! I'm gonna have my husband reading it when he gets home. He knows exactly what you're going through and would benefit from yoru comedic relief!

Stef said...

Oh, I hate hearing about people considering leaving the city I love so much! But it's true, everyone needs to find their own path.

Folks have mentioned good things to consider, along with your own list. But knowing how much DC and our politics drive you crazy, how would a libertarian ninja fare in TEXAS???

HomeImprovementNinja said...

Thanks for the comments everyone. I don't know if that move will get to florida in 5 years, but I think I'd probably have a better chance of getting there doing what I would be doing in Houston than if I stayed where I am another 5 years. So I'm still mulling it over.

Martin said...

Houston? Blech.

I've been to almost every major city and state in America, with the notable exception of anything in Texas. Everyone I know who's been there or lived there has nothing but horror stories to say about it, from the weather, to the pollution, to the general unfriendliness and sedentary lifestyle.

If you want to make career moves, I'd consider another city market, but the best ones are even more expensive than D.C. It's a tough row to hoe.

Law-Rah said...

I am late to the game, but have some opinions on this one. I lived in Houston for a little while and recently considered going back. Then, I snapped back to reality and realized that I actually HATE that city. In architecture school, we studied Houston as a case study in urban sprawl. The traffic and idiot drivers there cannot be helped considering the city is so spread out. You are a slave to your car because 1) there is no real public transportation and 2) you will spend an average of 45 minutes in traffic to get ANYWHERE.

I found a lack of young single 20-something finding themself types that is prevelant here. Houston is a lot more family and couply oriented so I felt a bit bored. (It could also be who I hung out.)

Summers there are absolutely miserable. The heat, the humidity, the smog. You know it's bad when the signs on I-59 actually warn you to keep your windows up because the air is lethal that day.

Make sure the job is THAT GOOD! Cause the city ain't.

from Houston said...

*sigh*

I wish I'd found this post earlier...most of the negative comments towards Houston are from people who know a "friend of a friend that sneezed at Houston on a map ONCE"..

I could go on and on about all the CRAP I've heard about DC but why bother? I only visited there once and how much can you really get from that limited perspective? When you visit a place and stay in a Hotel you do NOT mingle with locals or live where locals live or see what a city truly has to offer then how can you make such comments?

And the comment about the earthquake fault lines almost made me fall off my chair in fits of laughter. Houses on slabs shift in the gulf area because of the soil composition (thin layer of clay sitting on wet sand). Which is why the more expensive method of pier and beam is better for this area...