Friday, September 12, 2008

The Secret Evil Plan, Revealed! (Sort of...)

"Tomorrow's getting harder make no mistake.
Luck ain't even lucky
Got to make your own breaks..."
--Bon Jovi, "It's My Life"

This entry has been a long time coming. It's one that I've written a thousand times off and on in my head... and I must confess that most of it was supposed to go in a different direction than what it has. But, here we are.

I've told my story many times before... I've made no secret about the bad choices that I have made here and there over the years. From ennui to bankruptcy, a failed business venture to a stellar comeback, a breakdown and breakup to building a family together... it's all been quite a ride.

Two years ago, on New Years Eve, The Secret Evil Plan was born. We had to find a way to dig ourselves out of our mess once and for all. Partly financial, partly emotional, partially professional... we had to find a way out of the rut that we were stuck in.

The professional part was easy; I vowed to either start loving my job, or leave it. I accomplished that by transferring to Peel and then moving over to Brampton Civic when it opened. Almost a year later,
I'm part of an amazing team of people, have recharged my batteries and have rediscovered my desire to learn. It most certainly has it's moments, but all in all, it has been a good move.

My family is also in dire need of a house: one with a yard in a good neighbourhood where my son can grow up to be a productive member of society. Oh yes, one that we can afford as well. That part is also important. I've talked to many people about this since the creation of The SEP and it never ceases to amaze me how many people a) have seemingly not had to work for everything in their lives and b) how little others seem to understand about life in an apartment, especially with a toddler. I guess it's the circles I travel in, but my goodness, y'all have no idea. A lot of my pay  cheque is wasted on what I call stupid spending, such as buying in small quantities or picking up dinner on the way home. This drives me a little batty, but is the sad reality when you live in an apartment with a nurse. No storage to speak of and a schedule that makes both sides of the clock scream, makes for bad spending choices. Then there's the hauling of the laundry out once a week or so, which adds up very quickly (especially when the little dude needs twice as many clothes as the average kid to go to day care in the first place... his room looks like a store). Our rent is also more than many people's mortgages as well, and for what? Two bedrooms and a livingroom full of toys to trip over. We have to drive across town to get fresh air and to play in a park or in a friend's yard. We have a storage unit on the other side of town that holds some of our stuff. Daily we fight with the elevator, or the stench from the neighbours cooking, the neighbours fighting/partying/building stuff at weird hours... it's all a bit much. We just want a quiet, simpler life.

So, what was the answer?

Simply this: move. Find a town with a Schedule 1 facility that I could work in, find cheaper housing... find a place where my paycheque would go farther and our money would work for us. We did find such a place: Peterborough. My parents relocated to Buckhorn when they retired so we would be closer to them and we would have a little more help with Quinn. They were to open a shiny new hospital in June and since I had participated in one hospital move, I figured I would be more than an asset to their team. Housing is (on average) $50, 000 to 100, 000 cheaper there; we would certainly be able to afford a beautiful home with a decent backyard that I could while away my hours gardening in. There is a university and a college in town... both of us have educational needs that desire fulfillment (not to mention professional obligations in my case). We are also planning on more children, so once #2 came along, Sean was going to happily become Mr. Mom and figure out what he wanted to be when he grew up. The Secret Evil Plan was a dream come true. We would live the good life.

Little by little however, The SEP started to erode. In January I was told that although the new hospital was to open in June, they were not going to expand the Mental Health department until the following January or February. At one point, some admin was actually quoted in the Peterborough paper that they were not going to make "the same mistakes" and would hopefully "avoid the problems of" Brampton Civic. That meant one more year in Brampton. We were depressed, but initally decided to wait it out.

Lately, there have been quite a few signs that if we are not already in a recession, than we are well on the way to one. The banks tightened up lending practices, interest rates are climbing... and hospitals are making more cuts. In some cases, nurses have been laid off. Toronto East and Rouge Valley were the first to cut nurses. In my own hospital, each department has had the budgets cut back, and we are still trying to fill gaping holes in the schedules. Nursing is very cyclical, like the economy and fashion... and right now I fear we are on the downward arc. With this in mind, do I have any business getting a job in another city, moving there and buying a house only to be laid off later as I have no seniority? Where else would I find a job then? Contrary to what my parents think, I can't just go pick up a few hours at a nursing home. In Brampton, I have over six years in with William Osler at this point, which means I can "bump" back to Etobicoke if I need to, or seek employment at the myriad of other hospitals within my reach. We also have Sean's job here.

This pretty much killed the SEP in it's original form. Thus ensued many hours of alcohol consumption, discussion and often flat-out arguing about where the family ship was headed now. We needed a safe harbour. Where else then, but home?

As fate would play it out (as it is too often in my life), once we made the decision to stay, everything just seemed to fall into place. I was searching the MLS at work one night and a co-worker just happened by and gave me the name of a mortgage broker. A friend's mother is a real estate agent. I found some really cool listings at work while trying to stay awake and a friends daughter recommended a lawyer. In fact, this same friend and I saw one house in particular and remember looking at each other and saying "wow" at the same time... I also have a line on an exciting new position in my hospital. It all is coming together.

Yesterday, we closed the deal on our house (yes, at work!). On October 27th (barring a bad inspection), we take possession of our new home in J section. It's close to work, closer to friends and much closer to living the life we want. It's not perfect, it has a grass throw rug for a yard, but it is ours. We bought a house, without help, without chicanery... we did it ourselves.

They say that good things come to those that wait. I can say, that in this case at least, "they" were right for a change.

Amor fati. It's all good..

I has a house!!!

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