On November 8 it will be a year at my current job working exclusively in the veterinary ER. I used to consider myself more of an ICU tech, but I gotta say: I'd rather work 12 hours straight running around on my feet than do the constant get up/sit down/kneel/crouch/roll-around-on-the-floor-with-the-patients-for-12-hours drill. It was a million times harder on your body.
The move to the Northeast was epic, and worth talking about again. In case you weren't following the blog at the time. :)
While living in Puerto Rico, I always said that if I ever left the island for the continental U.S., it would be to go to a place with seasons. Four well-defined seasons. Like these, taken throughout the course of this year:
Well. Charles was living in Tampa when I moved in with him, so so much for that.
|Clearwater Beach sunset.|
The Gulf Coast of Florida has THE BEST sunsets, bar none. The sunsets are so spectacular that the whole world stops to watch the sun dip behind the horizon. We saw this in action in the summer: crowds of people playing in the ocean and the beach, and everyone would pause to watch the sun go down. Every.single.person. It was beautiful to see that humanity is still able to appreciate moments like that in nature.
The sand at Clearwater is so white that shadows are blue. We liked going to the beach in the winter to freeze while walking on the sand and pretending it was snow.
|Charles at Clearwater. He was staring at the sunset in the photo above. :)|
We weren't immune to the spell, either!
|Tampa was good for my soul.|
For the first 3 years there, I had to give up horses entirely. We struggled financially and I had a really hard time finding a job in my field: graphic design. So I switched careers to vet tech while Charles finished his nursing degree and we settled down. Ish. Every year when it was time to renew apartment leases, we would debate moving. Something would always happen to keep us from moving out of that part of the state, or we would choose to stay because we wanted to see how something in our lives at the moment would pan out. We slowly crept north in our apartment choices, until we were right at the border between Broward and Palm Beach counties.
6 years later, during the middle of one very hot summer after a non-existent winter, while dealing with Lily's anhydrosis, barn drama, mean people overall, THIS NEWS, surviving a minor hurricane with an inept barn manager, work drama at both of our jobs, the fact that our town house's AC had broken down yet again in 115 degree heat and the leasing office wasn't doing anything to really fix it, the fact that Charles's student loan payments and cost of living continued to go up but not our salaries, Charles and I looked at one another in the eye one afternoon while sweltering in the house, and at the same time we said, "THIS YEAR we get out of here."
|Enough of you. Mkaythanksbye!|
He applied directly with a couple of different hospitals in the areas that we were interested in. Orlando was the first attempt and it was a huge fail. And then Charles signed up as a travel nurse with FIVE different companies, and we sat back and waited. Our lease was up in November. By the end of September we were chewing our nails. We gave notice at the leasing office, telling them that we were definitely moving, we just didn't know where to. Not even what state. The girl at the leasing office hated South Florida as much as we did. She laughed with us and said to just let her know when we knew. We just needed to give them an address on our move-out day. It was the craziest thing we've done as a couple yet: we set a move-out date, but we didn't know where on earth (literally!) we were moving to!
So the way travel nursing works is that the nurse interviews first with the agency. Pretty much the only requirements are that you have a minimum of 2 years of experience in the field that you want to work in as a travel nurse. Charles had exactly that, plus brilliant recommendations from his peers. There were two agencies that were his main focus: American Mobile and Onward Healthcare, two very, very good, reputable agencies, both of which had hired Charles. Hospitals have contracts with specific agencies, so it's just a matter of the agency calling up their hospitals with available positions to see if they are interested in their candidate. Charles paid nothing for this; it's the hospitals that pay for this service. Once a hospital decides they want a specific travel nurse, the travel nurse interviews directly with the hospital. If the hospital likes the nurse, they seal the deal with the travel agency and the contract is written up. Contracts are for 12-16 weeks (3 to 4 months). If the hospital really likes the nurse, the nurse will be offered to renew the contract at the end of those 3 months. The agency offers 2 options in terms of housing: they have furnished apartments available for free, or you can take a living stipend (a good agency will give you a reasonable stipend based on the cost of living for the area) and live wherever you want. If you play your cards right with option #2, you can find a cheap apartment and keep whatever is left over from the stipend, tax-free. We initially chose to go with option #1, so we wouldn't have to worry about apartment deposits and where the hell we'd live in an area that we didn't know.
American Mobile was the first to find hospitals for Charles.
Charles interviewed with a hospital in Maryland (actually, the same hospital he's working in now!), but they took forever in getting back to him. By then Georgetown University Hospital had hired him through the agency. It only took one phone interview. I had wanted to be in the Virginia area, so this was placing us a lot closer to DC than I had personally anticipated, but Charles was SO.EXCITED. He had visited DC before and he promised I would love it.
That happened exactly 2.5 weeks before our set move-out date.
Over those 2.5 weeks, we had (most of) our entire house packed into a tiny U-Box, a date for the truck to be picked up by an auto transport company, and Lily shipped to a barn in Maryland about 40 minutes outside of DC. Charles had gotten his DC RN license, and I had gotten myself licensed as a tech in Virginia. When Charles was first hired, all we knew was that we'd be living somewhere within a 30-minute radius of DC. VA was the one state in this area that absolutely requires you to be licensed to work as a tech and there were a lot of veterinary hospitals there, so the chances of me ending up working in VA seemed pretty high at the time. I was certified in FL; I contacted the VA Veterinary Medical Association and did the paperwork to have my credentials transferred. It was a surprisingly easy process. Some states require that you take a state exam so you can take their credentials. Not Virginia; they just required that I have completed an Associate's in Vet Tech and passed my Veterinary Technician National Exam (you have to take that test when you graduate if you want ANY credentials, regardless of state.) So yeah: done and done.
|Our entire lives went in this little box.|
We initially lived in Alexandria, VA, in one of the agency's apartments (a really nice apartment complex, btw). But I ended up working in MD, and of course Lily was living in MD. I was travelling to MD 6 days a week! A 70-mile round-trip each time. After giving Charles the tour of the area, we decided to take option #2 for living arrangements when Georgetown renewed his contract at the end of January, and moved to our little apartment in MD. Charles worked with Georgetown for 9 months - they renewed his contract twice, and eventually offered him a position working directly with the hospital. However, he had interviewed directly with a MD hospital where the pay was higher and he'd be able to work in the ER, his long-term dream. They hired him.
And that's how we ended up with our entire lives in Maryland.
If you want to read the details of the move, go here (about the move itself; I had posted NOTHING about our intentions to leave FL up until this post, AFTER we had moved! All the details of how I prepared Lily for her 30-hour trip are there...along with the obvious stress that went along with the preparations), here (that one's just about our Frankenstorm Road Trip! It really was a Frankenstorm Road Trip...like I said, we drove up here with Hurricane Sandy hot on our trail!) and here (our first time seeing Lily in her new barn. Go see it-I'm still astounded I found such a nice barn based EXCLUSIVELY on internet searches! I quite literally sent her to a place sight-unseen and then crossed my fingers and prayed to every god and goddess that everything would be ok. It was).
Charles was right: We love it here.