Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Year, New Plans

It is a brand new year now, the days and weeks and months of 2010 stretching out in front of us full of the unknown. 2010 really is full of unknowns for us, and we are planning on some big changes. If all goes as planned, Rob will get a new job and we will move away from Dallas! Rob currently has a grant that pays for 3 years of fellowship and usually 2 years of junior faculty funding after that, so we moved to Dallas thinking we would be here for definitely 3, probably 5 years. Things have not been a good fit since we have been back in Texas, though. Rob hasn't been happy in his research and has discovered that academic medicine isn't the best match for him, and I have had a hard time being back. Things have taken a turn for the worse as my parents moved away from Texas and Rob became ever more certain that he does not want to do what he is doing for the rest of his life, and eventually we got the point of being ready to make a change.

It turns out that Rob's program will let him complete his fellowship and take the board exams after 2 years; this is the normal length of an allergy/immunology fellowship and will be finished this coming summer. He can finish! We can leave! You may be reading this thinking, "Duh!" but this was a significant mental adjustment for us; we've both spent our entire working lives in academic environments with jobs that have predetermined lengths, an environment where it would be insanity to say "no" to grant money. That is just what we're going to do, though, as soon as we figure out what else our family can do. I am pretty flexible, as I see myself going back to teaching as an adjunct in the near future and can do that in most cities with a couple of colleges, universities, or even community colleges. That makes the following the big question-- what will Rob be when he grows up? The current frontrunner is regular old doctor. A shocking development! We've discussed the possibility of Rob doing another, different fellowship, but for right now Rob is focusing his energy on looking for private practice allergy jobs. We both think this will be a good option for us as far as "lifestyle" (doctor-speak for working hours and conditions, as well as money) and for Rob finding contentment and fulfillment in his career.

The next big question is, of course, WHERE. Where should we live? There is a higher burden on this decision than there has been at other transitions in our life because this is probably a permanent-ish, settling-down kind of a move. Grace will start school wherever we move and Rob will be starting a real job in a practice. There are a lot of things we would like (pedestrian-friendly, short commute for Rob, not suburban vibe, not too much serious winter or summer, culturally fun/interesting place to be, hopefully racially diverse, etc) and we are thinking through a lot of those things. We are leaning toward the Pacific Northwest and the Rocky Mountain states right now, but have considered other pockets across the country. Things are pretty up in the air; Rob will find a new job possibility and I will scurry across the internet researching schools and home prices and neighborhoods.

This means we have to sell our house. Nooooooooo! The pain and stress of selling our house in Connecticut is still too fresh in my mind for me to approach another real estate transaction with anything but dread. And nothing actually dreadful even happened to us in selling our house there, aside from losing money on that house. We had a contract within a month of putting it on the market and everything went reasonably smoothly, all things considered. It is just not a fun thing to have to do, but rather a SUPER STRESSFUL OPPOSITE-OF-FUN thing to have to do. We will have been in this house only two years, so our chances of financially coming out in the black are pretty slim. Stupid housing market! We don't have a definite schedule for getting the house on the market yet but I am predicting that a good chunk of my spring will be spent cleaning our house and keeping it tidy for showings and whatnot.

Also, this means that we are putting our adoption plans on hold. We had gotten a little bit into the homestudy process-- the agency had run background checks and we had turned in a giant stack of papers and whatnot. If we continued to move forward right now and then moved out of state this summer, there would be a lot of legal and logistical complications. It's not that we couldn't still adopt through this agency from out of state, but it would be complex and messy. We are not financially very invested in the process yet with this agency, so we have decided to wait until after our move and then start all over again with a new agency. We feel bummed about this. We had gotten excited about adding a new little person to our home and felt like the timing was right for our family, so it's a letdown to close the door on it for now. I remind myself that we are not closing the door forever on another child, though, and there are definitely benefits to letting Violet be the baby for a while yet and having kids spaced further apart. We were shooting for Violet and baby #3 being ~2 years apart, so now it will be more like 3-4 years. Not unreasonable at all, right?

So yeah, this is what is up with is as we begin 2010. I mostly feel excited about the new possibilities, although with a pinch of trepidation thrown in. We'll see what this coming year holds for us!


Recovering Sociopath said...

Northern Virginia definitely has its drawbacks, but the DC area can be VERY fun and interesting, and my very favorite thing about it is the cultural diversity-- there are people here from every country on earth. I bet you would love Falls Church or Arlington (or even the District itself). Shoot, *I* would love Falls Church or Arlington, but we cannot afford it.

Colleen said...

Wow, all these new things sound very exciting! I have never pondered choosing a place to live just because I wanted to live there; that decision has pretty much always been made for me. What a neat thing to research! And also overwhelming, I'm sure. Will look forward to hearing about your decisions!

Kimberly said...

I second Sherri's remarks.

But I am more focused on the idea of "going wherever you want to go". I can't imagine living much farther away than we do now, because my parents are just not getting younger, etc.

But, the world is your oyster! How fun!!!

Willyanne said...

Sounds so fun to choose Julia! If you ever look this way, Northampton is nice (five colleges there) and is almost as cool as New Haven in terms of dining and culture- and the environmental consciousness is right up your alley. The town itself is expensive, but there are some nicer rural areas around it. We just signed purchase papers for a house in West Springfield- too suburban for you I think but it has its plusses- 3 childrens museums, zoos, beautiful parks for hiking, lots of farms stands, and a great rec dept. Our property borders on conservation land so that is nice to have in the backyard, and there is a playground down the st. Just FYI, Portland , ME is quite cold but such a nice place to live. The city is small but a dining paradise and it is glorious there in the summer and fall. Lots of small colleges too, and some towns (like Saco) are very quaint and outlaw places like Walmart. If you go to the NW, I have family in Seattle that can give you the scoop and friends from Oregon.
Finally, for Rob we have found a lot of things important about choosing a practice. There were lots of jobs but the right fit is really important. Do you like there people in the practice? How is the call schedule? How many hospitals does he cover? Is it a family (i.e. father/son) practice that he would be the odd man out? What are the ethics of the practice? A lot of pharm reps and other docs in the area would know, and problems in that area were more common than we would have thought. We miss you guys and glad you are all feeling better!

Eva said...

Wow. Once recovered from the surprise, I have to say that it all does sound very exciting. Any plan that takes you and Rob to a place where you are comfortable, is a good plan. I am very curious to find out what will be your ultimate decision. Good luck!

Kiki said...

I'm very excited for you!

Change is fun. Anticipating change is fun. Planning for change is not fun.

Have fun!

Sharon said...

You pretty much described the San Francisco Bay Area, but as you didn't mention it in your post I'm betting you're aware of the steep (steep!) cost of living out there. Great place, though. I miss it.

Anyway, I'll note that Louisville, CO (where Jon works) was rated the #1 place to live in America. I'm happy to espouse on Colorado further if your research takes you this direction. Most importantly, you'll need half the amount of hair product if you move out here. I know that my curly hair has never looked better :-)

Carlie said...

(Yay!!! I can leave you comments now that I am a Blogger member!!!!)

I'd go for Portland or Seattle....Vancouver is supposed to be really cool too but I suppose an international move + career switching is in bad taste! Good luck! Sounds exciting and exhausting...may the excitement overwhelm the exhaustion 10:1!