Friday, October 14, 2011

Bowie and Seattle.

Last Friday I got up at the crack of dawn and flew to Seattle for a long weekend with my daughter, son-in-law, and their family. I left Seattle on Tuesday with an offer for a nanny position, which I have accepted. I decided a couple of years ago that, when I decided where I want to live next, becoming a professional nanny would be a great way to relocate. My daughter has said for some time that I should be doing just that, but the time wasn't right for me. If you can't see an option as a viable option, then it isn't an opportunity for you. Not at that point in time.

I told the couple who I met at the airport, and who were looking for a nanny for their newborn son, that if it were a year from now, I would probably be begging them to hire me. When they asked why not now, I explained that I bought a home just about two years ago and if I sell it sooner than three years from the purchase date, I will have to re-pay the $8,000 first-time home-owner tax-credit that I received from my Uncle Sam. They said they'd keep my contact information, and asked me to contact them if and when my circumstances changed; perhaps their nanny position would be open again. The position sounded so ideal for me, though, that I couldn't stop thinking about it. The proverbial spark was lit.

I remembered that, although it wouldn't be wise for me to sell my house, I could rent it out. I thought of all sorts of reasons why I couldn't possibly pack up and move to Seattle at this time. Yet with every obstacle that came to mind, a solution was just a few thoughts away. Maybe I could make this work out. I called the couple and made arrangements to visit them at their home. We visited briefly and they showed me their house (which is in the nicest area of Seattle). They are both doctors who are in their residencies, so need a nanny...and one who can live-in, for the times when they get called to the hospital in the middle of the night. The next day, I went back to spend more time with the baby. We strolled to the neighborhood coffee shop, where they told me that they would like for me to be their nanny.

I went back to my daughter's in a fog, and on a cloud. Every time that I've visited Seattle I've thought (and said aloud), "I wish I could live here." For the rest of my weekend in Seattle (which was extended by a day, due to airline flight delays), I walked around in a daze. I realized, "Oh, my God...I can live here! I will live here!"

When she lived in NYC, I once told my daughter that I wished they were still in Seattle, because I really wanted to live there when I left the mid-west. She told me not to let her family dictate where I went. Well, of course not...but when I leave here, I explained, I want to at least be close to one of my kids (the rest of them live in our home-town...where I am not about to live again). Now, there was Janet back in Seattle with two of my grandsons...and my dream-job was on the table in front of me. I would be a complete idiot to refuse the offer. And so I accepted.

I was able to set my start-date for the 7th of November. I need time to get my home squared-away and rented. I need to find someone to mow and snow-blow, and I need a manager to collect the rent. I need to sort and sell most of my belongings; to decide what to take, what to store (if anything), and what to sell...and I have four weeks to do it in, at the absolute most. I haven't decided yet whether I'll fly or drive out. Flying is dirt-cheap right now, but shipping is still costly. I would really love the adventure (sanity-break) of a 1,500 mile road-trip, but I can mull all of that over while I'm cleaning out the basement.

I have a new job in a new city, a big adventure on the horizon, and a whole lot of David Bowie on my mind. Sing it with me! ♫♪ Ch-ch-ch-changes...♪♫

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


(DISCLOSURE: I was a Sprint customer for 10 years and was quite satisfied with their service. My kids, however, had all started their cell-phone accounts as an extension of my ex's account...which was Verizon. After a few years, my primary daytime phone calls were to my adult children, and the necessary usage plan to avoid overages was killing me. When I switched so that I was using same carrier that my kids were using, I cut my cell phone bill by 50%.)

My cell-phone contract is up. That's right, I can finally get a smart-phone, and get it dirt-cheap. Because I am the account holder, I qualify for an additional $50 off the 2-yr contract price of any new phone. In addition, my carrier happens to be Verizon, who is currently offering a $100 Verizon gift-card if you send in your old, regular cell phone. This essentially means that I can get a 32 gig iPhone for $150. I can also get a Droid for the same price. THAT is enticing.

My quandary is not whether to get an iPhone or a Droid. My quandary is how smart do I want to be, and how badly do I want Big Brother to be able to track me? These might seem like oddly simple questions, but they're actually quite deep and should be asked (and answered) by everyone.

Firstly, to smart-phone, or not to smart-phone? Well, there's the issue of an additional $30/mo commitment to my phone bill for the required data-plan. If I have an iPhone (or a Droid, I've been told), I can use the phone for a mobile hot-spot connecting up to 5 other devices to the internet...for a monthly fee, of course, raising my bill by another $20 a month. I could connect my smart-phone to my desktop computer with a connection wire, accessing the internet through my phone's data-plan. No carrier will support this, but I'm told that it can be done. Sounds pretty ingenious. So, what's the problem?

We live in an electronic world; there's just no getting around it. I love the features of a smart-phone. I love that with a smartphone you can access the internet from pretty much anywhere. But do I really need to be quite that connected? I remember the first time that I sat in a room and noticed that there were three different people having three different conversations on three different phones. It is as if the world shifted on its axis with the invention of cell phones.

The world's shifted on its axis again with the development of smart-phones, and not in always good ways. It used to be that people were having different conversations on different phones at the same time...but at least they were having conversations. Now they're on their phones, but not talking to anyone. Any time you have an event with a large audience and you take a photo of that audience, you're going to find at least one person in that photo who is not looking at the stage and not engaging with other audience members, but is looking at their phone. They might be checking email, updating their facebook status, or 'tweeting'. They may even be looking up critical information. The fact remains, however, that they are not fully-engaged with who or what is immediately around them.

I am a technology-provider's best dream. I am a person of habit who likes tech-y gadgets and has a slightly addictive personality. If I were to buy a smart-phone, I can not assure that I would not be on it non-stop. If and when I'm confident that I would run the phone, and not the reverse, then I will give serious consideration to getting a smart-phone. But in the mean time I will stick to my regular old low-tech flip-phone, because smart-phones do not make us smarter. Smart-phones make us dumber by encouraging us not to listen, not to pay attention, not to be in the moment of what's going on around us.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Late-Summer of My Discontent

I've been contemplating just what changes I want to make in my life for some time now, and never seem to come up with anything specific. I've known for years - decades, even - that I want to leave the south, but without a clue as to where I wanted to go, or how to go about getting there. My daughter suggested that I should be a nanny. At that time, a few years ago, I wasn't very hip to the suggestion.

Still, every now and then I would peruse Craigslist and see what was offered. When my daughter moved to NYC last winter I searched Craigslist again and when I saw ads offering $70K a year, I became more interested. Naturally, those listings required second languages and years of nanny experience, and were not options for me. But they got my attention. I looked for positions on Hawaii, in Minneapolis, LA, NYC...and I kept looking for positions in Seattle, wishing my daughter was still there. It's not that I can't separate from my kids. It's that ...well, it's that I don't want to. I realize that I can't live close to all of them, but I want to be close to at least one of them; close-enough to one that I can at least make affordable weekend visits.

In late-winter I exchanged a few emails about a position in Manhattan, fantasizing about living across the street from Central Park and only 20 minutes from my daughter and her family. I wasn't keen on only having a bedroom for my quarters, there was the issue of my dog, and there was the issue of two new infants in my daycare whose parents would have great difficulty finding replacement care since providers are by law limited to two infants under 12 months. I decided that the time just wasn't right for me to make the change. I had too many obligations and too many people counting on me. I was at peace, knowing that I wasn't stuck but staying by choice.

I've lived in my city for a few years now and still have not integrated or assimilated (my area is so cliquey and rigid that I'm not even sure that it would be possible for me to do so). Summer got under-way and I got on my bicycle again. I started getting toned and feeling good. But by August I had circumstances arise that required most of my attention, time, and money...even keeping me off my bicycle. By mid-month I realized that I was sinking into a malaise.

My daughter's family packed their belongings this summer and headed back to Seattle. Could it be a coincidence that my malaise set in at about the time she left? Was I blue because she was gone? No. Could it be that I was blue because I wasn't gone? Oh, hell yes.

And I again started looking at Craigslist for nanny positions in the area. And I found one that read as though it was written for me. I wrote and told the poster that if it were just a year later, I would probably beg them to hire me but that, as it were, I was writing to compliment them on the honest humor with which they wrote their post. They wrote back, thanking me, and wondering why I was waiting a year. I told them about the $8,000 tax credit that I used to buy my house, and which I would have to repay if I sold the house any sooner. But...I could rent it out. The seed is planted.