jesshartley: (Default)
[personal profile] jesshartley
I'm glad it's only the first part of March, not April, otherwise folks might not be believing me.

Our lives are going to be taking some huge changes in the next 5-6 months.
Let me lay a little groundwork.

For the last year, Autumn's been having some serious health issues. She missed 5 weeks of school (not straight, but being in school only one or two days a week) just after the first of the year. We're still researching causes, but the docs are leaning towards a combination of bad allergies and psychogenic/stress. The stress, in part is due to continually worsening conditions in her school. Teachers are leaving and being replaced by "bottom of the barrel" folks who shouldn't be teaching at all. Parents are fleeing town for places where they can make a decent living, and taking their kids with them. Three out of five of Autumn's close friends have left town in the last year, and her best friend Lizzy is moving at the end of the year. Next year, her school is cutting down to four day weeks, and they're talking about cutting all the arts and music programs, just to keep the schools open.

Thi is, as you can imagine, not an ideal situation for a kid who wants to go on to college and lives for art.

However, at the same time, the economy has dumped in the year and a half since we bought our house. We cannot hope to sell it right now for what we still owe on it. And, Pat really loves his job here... Not only that, but having picked up and moved to Massachusetts three and a half years ago, and then moved here a year and a half ago, he really needs to put more time into his job here before he can really think about relocating, without ending up looking like a total flake who leaves his job every two years (He's the CIO/Director of Technology for the county here, so it's not like a call center job or the like where short-job-runs might be more acceptable.)

So, we've been looking at options.

After lots of consideration, we've come to a conclusion (we think) that, while not ideal, is the best scenario that takes all of the factors into consideration.

As of July 1, Autumn and I will be getting a small apartment in Chandler (about 3.5 hours away from Bisbee) and she will start school there on July 27th. The high school we're targetting is amazing. Hamilton High is in the top 5% of high schools in the country, rated 10 out of 10 by, has an extensive arts, science and extracurricular program. (Check out their course catalog! It's better than a lot of colleges I've seen.) It's also got 3000 students (That's half as big as our entire town), so the "all my friends are moving away" thing is less likely to happen. It's a newer school (10 year And they have all kinds of fun clubs, including... a scuba diving club, a Super Smash Brothers Club and a DDR Club. It's got its own pool... with a waterslide.
(Okay, the waterslide is just icing on the cake, but... waterslide!)

We considered several options, such as having her and I move back to the Pacific NW and Pat stay here (seeing him once every month or two just wasn't a good option for a 3-4 year plan), home schooling (I really think it's important that she gets the socialization high school will provide), or looking for other schools close to home (there's nothing with above-average ratings within a daily-commuting distance from Bisbee.)

Living in Chandler will mean that we're close enough to get together with Pat every weekend (or almost every weekend) either there or here. We'll be close enough to provide support for each other in case of emergencies, and Autumn can stay in contact with her friends who have moved to Tucson over the last year. Autumn can flip back and forth between the two houses during the summer and breaks, and Pat can be there for support when I've got to be out of town for a convention or such. We have a lot of new and wonderful friends in the Phoenix area, and there is a plethora of cultural and recreational activities to keep us busy, including libraries, museums, the zoo, games, shopping, etc.

On the down side, I'll need to find a full time (daytime, no weekends) job to afford the apartment, which is going to cut severely into my writing time. But I'll continue to write in the evenings (it'll keep me busy) and it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make to ensure she gets a good education and a good spring-board to college.

So... If you're reading this and have any advice/insight/think of something we haven't, please feel free to drop a comment. We'll start looking for apartments and jobs up there in a month or two, but we'll be scoping out ideas/neighborhoods/honing my resume, etc between now and then.

Date: 2009-03-04 03:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm sure you already have plenty offers of help, but since I was new to the area less than a year ago and you need help?

My skills are at your service.
As is, I am sure, the girls.

As for job, what sort are you looking for?

Date: 2009-03-04 03:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Well, because I'm going to be essentially single-parenting up there, my first criteria is Weekday, daytime.

My skill set (other than writing really awesome roleplaying games) includes end-user computer work, customer service, office administration, reception/phone/secretarial. I ran a small real estate office here in Bisbee for the last year, although I quit in October to go back to writing full time. I excel at diplomacy/customer relations type work, and have experience processing real estate and medical insurance paperwork/documentation. I'm not tech-oriented (from an IT rather than end user perspective) although I'm extremely proficient with computer use/data entry/database/text file work.

I'd love to find something that would put my writing to work, since that's a big chunk of my recent resume, but I don't know what types of jobs in the mainstream market might utilize them.

Date: 2009-03-04 03:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Even though you're not tech-oriented, if you don't mind the challenge, look into helpdesk jobs. When we started a brand new team, we got quite a few low-IT-skills people with fantastic customer service skills, and they're really doing a great job

Date: 2009-03-04 05:28 am (UTC)
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
From: [personal profile] ckd
Agreed. Some of the best helpdesk folks I've ever worked with had very little formal computer training, but really had the customer service attitude. I was more than happy to spend time helping them improve their technical skills, because that part was a lot easier to teach than the mindset is.

Date: 2009-03-04 07:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I totally agree with that! Technical skills are easily taught, but "touchy-feely" things like customer service are really difficult to teach people.

Date: 2009-03-04 04:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah, unfortunately while UoP is hiring there is no guarantee of at all of day hours.

I will keep my ear perked though. . .

and given that me and the girl (along with quite a few others) live in Chandler we can help there.

Geoff and M'cori have a fantastic realtor that also does rentals if you needed extra help.

Date: 2009-03-04 04:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
With her only being 14 and the hubby being 4 hours away, I can't really commit to regular overnight hours, unfortunately, but we'll see what turns up.

Thank you!

I've written M'cori, hopefully she'll be able to give me some advice as well.

Date: 2009-03-04 08:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yep, our realtors are awesome. (The Mooney crew used them too I think)

The area around Hamilton High is pretty nice. It's maybe five miles from our place and the only complaint I've had is the distance we are from the rest of our friends.

Job prospects may be painful though, I'm still seeing jobs opening up and getting filled, but a bit slower than usual. I've been pretty impressed with the Cammie job network though.


Date: 2009-03-11 12:02 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Hey, Jess~

I work in HR for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. We're always looking for great claims / phones / etc. people. Plus, the environment and benefits are absolutely amazing! We even have goals to see 1/3 of the workforce telework.

I'm happy to help in any way I can. Just shoot me an email on FB and we can chat.

Janet (Derr) Allen

Date: 2009-03-04 03:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Wow, big changes in store. I wish you luck with them. *hug*

Date: 2009-03-04 03:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I have no advice, but I wish you the best of luck.

Date: 2009-03-04 03:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Good luck, Jess!

(The schools are going to four day weeks? WTF?)

Date: 2009-03-04 03:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Chandler's beautiful. If David and I had stayed in the Phoenix area, I know we would have eventually migrated that way. It sounds scary, but I kind of feel like Providence has a special place for mothers who sacrifice for their young. If there's anything we can do to help, don't hesitate to shout out.

Date: 2009-03-04 03:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That's pretty heroic. I have no useful advice, but best wishes and good luck!

Date: 2009-03-04 03:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
No useful advice but HUGS ALL THE WAY AROUND.
Hard choices but just wish all of you luck and best wishes.

Hroswitha and I care.

Hopefully you can find some work.
Take care.

HUgs and kiss all the way around.

Date: 2009-03-04 03:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I will certainly ask my parents if they know of any openings that might suit your skill set. Once I am down there, I will certainly be available to help in any way or even just to hang out with :)

Date: 2009-03-04 04:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'll ask one or two friends I know in the area if they've got any suggestions regarding jobs (although knowing said friends, I'm afraid we can't expect too much there). That said, it sounds like you've got this planned out as best as you can, and I wish you the best of luck as well as hugs and GoodThoughts.

You are amazing!

Date: 2009-03-04 05:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
What a huge sacrifice, you guys are awesome to consider this plan for Autumn's benefit. What a great gift to her.

No real advice other than be sure and take some time to spend some 1:1 time with Pat when you can. You both deserve it.

Keeping your family in my prayers.

Re: You are amazing!

Date: 2009-03-04 05:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
oh, it just occurred to me. To help with costs, have you considered seeing if you could rent a couple of rooms from another single parent or share a house? Rob's mom did that when she was in school.

Date: 2009-03-04 06:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think that sounds like a really sensible plan, and I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for you all. I have faith that you'll make it work out. *hug*

school days-

Date: 2009-03-04 08:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah, saw that in a news article out this way, and had to pick my jaw up off the floor, too. My first thought when I saw "Bisbee" was "Wait, but... The Valkyrie goes there! I know them through LJ!"

For anyone who wants to see, I posted the whole of the article when I saw it...

Date: 2009-03-04 09:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

You seem to be thinking through it all very solidly and thoroughly though...a good foundation for all new enterprise...

Best of luck with these changes! I hope they bring what your family needs.

Date: 2009-03-04 12:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*hug* Are you sure there is no way to entice you back to our neck of the woods? ;)
Lots of thoughts and love your way hon. This is a brave things you all are doing for Autumn's sake and if there is anything I can do for you from way over here please don't hesitate to ask.

Date: 2009-03-04 03:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] so awful. What a tough situation! *hugs*

You guys are in our prayers. If I get an ideas I'll let you know.

On the job front...

Date: 2009-03-04 05:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I would seriously suggest you consider full-time temping. Since you're not especially interested in a career (as you already have one as a writer), and you need something that is 9 to 5, M to F, and a lot of companies are using temps in this poor economy, it can be decent work. Most temp agencies do actually offer benefits if you stick with them long enough. Just have a serious conversation with several agencies about whether they can actually keep you working 40 hours a week.

Plus, temping gives you great flexibility.

Date: 2009-03-04 07:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Dang, I don't want you to leave. I miss that area though. Tempe is where i lived, but Chandler is really nice.


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