Big Changes (News!)

Isn't Fancy georg

Isn’t Fancy gorgeous? Such beautiful markings.

So, after months of Paralysis by Analysis or Decisional Impairment, I pulled the trigger, and have decided I’m going to NC. I’ll be traveling in February (let’s just leave it a bit vague since this is the internet) to do a couple things. One, hopefully find a place to live, and two, (2) check out the area, and (3) hopefully meet some veterinarians or vet techs that I can just talk to about their jobs, their field in that area of the country, etc.

I’m not sure why – maybe it was the sheer number of vet offices and animal hospitals I found within the Greensboro area, or the fact that my weather app told me it was in the 50s there this week, while we’re freezing to death up in Boston. Maybe it was the prices of homes down there and the realization that I could actually afford to buy something and have it cost less than renting.  Maybe the fact that taxes in the county areas outlying Greensboro have taxes of about one-tenth (yes, you read that right) of what I used to pay for a house in the suburbs of Boston.  I told my sister about some of this and she just laughs. I sound completely amazed and keep saying “OH MY GOD, it’s SO CHEAP!” and she’s like “um, yeah…that’s what it is for most places in this country.” (Remember, she’s in MI, a state pretty much in the shitter, but still…) Or the fact that some of my online research confirmed that there is a large number of horses that can be found in NC, along with horse events. And where there are events, I think they need vets, and where they need vets, I hope they also need vet techs.  And even if I don’t work with horses, there a ton of companion animal vet practices down there as well, and you all know how I love those types of animals too.

And maybe it was the luck that when I looked into flights to get there, I could find a non stop flight for $177 on jet blue, so I can check a bag for free.  (Good thing because little Baby O is going to go on her first flight with me. I’m going to be gone for five nights, and I always miss the furballs when I am gone. Plus, it would actually cost more to leave her at home.  And, believe it or not, but she actually will cost more to go on this flight than I will. For the bargain basement price of $100 each way, NON-REFUNDABLE of course, your pet can fly with you as one of your carry-ons. Yep, she costs $200 while, taking up a human size seat, cost less. Figure that one out…

Anyway, I was able to find a really nice place to stay through airbnb, and it’s actually on a horse farm. So yes, I get to see horses there too! I feel like things are starting to really come together. The lady with the horse farm is married to a real estate broker so he was able to refer a realtor to me who I have really liked working with so far, and she was able to refer me to a few lenders, one of which I contacted the other day and really like. So, I’m already pre-approved for a mortgage.

Now, I want you all to know – my plan is to only buy a place that, if I were to only make 10-12/hour, I can still afford the place and even be able to save money every month. That’s a possibility down in NC.  I REFUSE to be house poor.  Just because I got approved for about 5X as much as I want to spend on a house doesn’t mean I need to spend it. And I don’t plan to. I want a small house, something that is in decent shape, and not too large – a 700 square foot house or smaller would be ideal, as that’s pretty much the same size as my apartment now.  (I think i surprised the mortgage broker too, when I said, oh no, this isn’t just what I want for a few years while going back to school – I want a small home, permanently!)  And in case you are wondering why I am looking to buy rather than rent, well, it literally will be cheaper to own than to rent down there. And I would like to build some more equity in my life in addition to my retirement funds.

I’ll write more about the lending process as get further into it, but so far I’ve found that it’s actually harder to take a smaller mortgage from a lender than a big one – there is a federal law that aims to prevent small mortgagees from paying large fees relative to the amount of the loan. So I may not be able to borrow less than $50K – needless to say, I’m going to do some more research into this.  But I’ve decided, if that’s the case – if I can get a smaller home, with maybe more land, then I would be able to take care of more animals down the line. And that’s hugely important to me.

I’m really feeling like this is the plan that it has rightfully taken me a long time to come across. I know I have changed my mind more times than I can count but with every false step I took in one direction, it taught me more about myself. Small is still great for me. I still love the outdoors, and having a small space forces you into the outdoors. I still want to experience warmer weather during this time of year. And I DEFINITELY want to have animals in my life in a big way. This morning, Max rubbed up against me as I was doing some handwashing in the bathroom, and I thought to myself “how could I NOT want to work with animals every day??!! They make me so happy.”

Well, it’s time for me to get a move on, on this MLK Day. My plan is to get a lot of my letters written up so I can snail mail them tomorrow to vets down in the NC area. Now that I can tell them when I am coming down there, and school starts tomorrow! (yay!), I can demonstrate even more my commitment to the move and to the new way of life.

I swear, she knew I was taking photos of her for the blog - she stood very still for this one!

I swear, she knew I was taking photos of her for the blog – she stood very still for this one!

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Little Things for Which I am Thankful

Some days, you just don't want to get out of bed. I <3 my diva, Max.

Some days, you just don’t want to get out of bed. 

Just so you know, my cat Max didn’t crawl in under the pillows in the above pic. Rather, he refused to get out of bed or from under the covers so I made my best attempt at making the bed around His Highness. I’d say this past Thursday, many of us felt the same way.

I know I haven’t written this type of post in a while but I have not been in the mood to do so.  Not sure why, but when I’ve thought about writing the post at the end of the night, I’ve just felt way too tired. I know I should always be thankful for what I’ve got, so I’ll try to get back into the routine again.

  1. As of the time I’m starting this post, they’ve caught three of the four suspected terrorists in France. Well, killed three of four of them. I’m just thankful they have caught them, and hope they find the fourth.  With all the news reports making comparisons to the Boston Marathon Bombings, which are still fresh in a lot of our minds, it’s a bit depressing, going back to that day in my mind, when my friend Lisa, Mom2Marathon, was running and got stopped just before the 26 mile marker. I remember her saying she was having a crappy run that day, but that crappy run probably saved her life, so I’m thankful she had an off day.
  2. So thankful the heat is included in my rent, especially when it gets so bitterly cold as it did for most of the country this week. Thursday morning, the temp was -2F and it felt like -22F. In a word, it felt brutal.
  3. My cat Bonkers has a heart murmur so the vet suggested he get an echocardiogram before we give him a dental procedure in February. His results? All good, as I thought they would be. Speaking of pets, my friend Penny from PlanetYnnep Photography has a Australian cattle dog who had a procedure done earlier this week to remove a mass. So far, she seems to be recovering from surgery very well. I don’t know her prognosis as of yet, but it seems like she is recuperating very well, and I’m not surprised as Penny is one of the kindest people I know, and also such a great fur mom.
  4. I went to my mailbox at work the other day and was so surprised to see a gift card in my mail from a professor with whom I’ve worked a bit over the past several years and worked on a somewhat lengthy project. It was totally unexpected and the amount of it made my mouth fall to the floor, quite literally. I was speechless. Still am when I think about it, as it’s been put to good use already and there’s still a good portion of the balance left! Since I had found out earlier that day that I have an unexpected medical bill, it kind of evened things out.
  5. I was able to connect via phone with the vet who handles the large animals for the ARL and she was completely awesome! We talked for over an hour on the phone and I am definitely going to shadow her one day, or if she doesn’t have calls, she said she could show me how she takes care of her horses and other animals. Yay!!! We talked about where I was thinking of moving to and she said something that supported what one of my friends was saying the other day. My friend said when she thinks of horses, she thinks of VA and NC first before Kentucky. The vet said most of her clients who have horses move south to NC.

    So I started looking into NC again as an option. I looked at LocalRanchVets.com, and found that there is an insanely high number of vets or vet practices in or around Greensboro, NC. that work with large animals. It’s a bit over an hour from the Raleigh area and in the area that most people refer to as the Triad, rather than the Triangle. (It’s near Winston-Salem, and High Point, etc.) I started looking at job postings on craigslist for vet assistants/receptionists/technicians and wow, there are a ton!  And even better, the cost of living appears to be doable!

    Needless to say, I will do more research but am excited. When I found myself thinking of Kentucky, I was feeling this little nagging feeling in the back of my mind as I saw how many houses were available in a very low price range and was worried it also meant that the job market was extremely bad. I could be wrong. Hell, I could be wrong about a lot of things!  But I plan on making at least one trip pretty soon, maybe even in February to check out areas. Even if it’s only for a long weekend, it’s better to see something in person and do your own research than to rely on other’s opinions.

  6. Earlier this week, I paid my tuition for my prereq classes – thank you to all of you who have supported and encouraged me as I’ve been trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up! :-)

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This is THE year!!

These four have never been together on the bed at one time!!

These four have never been together on the bed at one time!! I call it the Power of the Fleece (blankets). Magnetic.

This is the year that I make the big move. The big shift in my life. When I leave the security of my higher salary for a smaller one, and possibly buy a place all on my own. A friend asked me the other day if I was getting stressed about it. I said no, I was just excited and scared. Scared as hell.

I’ve talked to a couple friends about the choice of buying a condo vs. a single family home. It all comes down to the animals for me, and I know some condos have limits on the number of pets you can have, regardless of how small they individually are.  I realize the ideal thing to do would be to move and rent for at least six months and figure out the area. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think it would be pretty hard to find a landlord willing to rent to someone with as many furballs as I have. Granted, they’re all pretty much senior pets, or close to it, and are not destructive at all, but if a landlord has had a bad experience with a tenant’s pets in the past, they are justifiably leery of renting to more.

By the way, in the photo above, you see from left to right, Bonkers (white), Sebastian (grey and white tabby), HoneyBun in the foreground (orange/buff color), and finally, Callie (calico) in her little princess bed.  Anyone want to take a guess where the other two were at the time I took this?? Yep, that’s right… Max and Osito were sitting on either side of me on the couch in their usual spots, asleep….

I’ve also done some preliminary number crunching and in the Frankfort/Lexington, Kentucky area, if I can find a decent place, it might actually be cheaper to own than to rent.  I also want a small place with no more than one bathroom. (Can I be honest? Cleaning the bathroom is probably my LEAST favorite thing to do. I do it, but I hate it all the same.)   The smaller the space, the less urge there is to fill it up with useless crap, and the easier and faster it is to clean. Less bathrooms equal less places for plumbing to go bad. The smaller the lot (if a single family home), the less maintenance there is.  The smaller the roof may be to replace. The less windows you have overall to clean and replace when the time comes. The less walls you need to paint if you want to make it your “own.” The more in control I would feel about my surroundings.  The freer I would feel as a result. Just as long as it has enough room for my animals to feel comfortable – that’s a big priority for me.

One of my friends suggested I start networking now, as soon as possible. So I’ve been looking up info on animal hospitals in the Frankfort and Lexington areas, and will be sending letters to each of them to ask if someone in their clinic would be willing to have an informal conversation with me about what they do, and their field, especially in that area of the country. I plan to include equine practices as well, and to individualize the letters as best as I can.  And yes, I mean, really send real letters, not just an email. I feel like in this day and age, it’s more memorable when you get an actual piece of mail. (Kinda sad if you think about it, huh?)

I don’t plan on sending a resume, as I think that might conflict with the idea that I am simply seeking information, but I will mention the fact I will be studying for my associates degree in veterinary technology and my volunteer experiences so far.  I will just be seeking information, not a job at this time.  If a job happens to open up with an animal hospital or clinic later on, and they maybe recognize my name, well, that would be great, but I’m not expecting miracles. I’d just like to start making some contacts now.

I’ve also begun looking at organizations/associations in that area to see if it would make sense for me to join them (another thing I’d love to ask people – does it help to be part of the state veterinary technician association? Or is it just something everyone belongs to as part of that career path?) I’d love to know if there are particular conferences/events/symposiums I should be aware of and attend if possible.

Please pray someone takes pity on me and is willing to talk! I know that at least where librarians are concerned, if you ask us about our jobs, you can’t get us to shut up! (Or is that just me? LOL).  And yes, part of my spiel about my current job is the advice to NOT go to law school, especially in this kind of job market for lawyers. I don’t see it as being particularly fruitful for students not graduating from one of the top fifteen schools.  (Needless to say, the students at my school are pretty insulated against the difficulty of that job market.) But that’s another story for another blog post.

If  you have any advice on how to break into a new field or area of the country where you don’t have any connections, I’d love to hear them, so please comment below!

Shhhh....the baby is sleeping....

Shhhh….the baby is sleeping….

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Location, location, location

Fancy, who has changed my life's course. Quite literally.

Fancy, who has changed my life’s course. Quite literally.

I hope everyone had a great holiday – Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, whatever you celebrate! I also hope everyone will have a great new year. My friends and I are in the mood for a mellow NYE this year, so we’re just hanging out at a friend’s house and will have a game night.  Last year was fun, just a bit expensive. Every New Year’s Eve is super expensive in the Boston area.

Melissa, the barn cat (aka "the creeper" because she is skiddish around humans but creeps around to keep an eye on what we are doing in the barn. Super cute.)

Melissa, the barn cat (aka “the creeper” because she is skiddish around humans but creeps around to keep an eye on what we are doing in the barn. Super cute.)

So, before the Christmas break from work (I work in academia so I’m off this week from the full-time job) I was talking with some good friends at work. I was telling them about my plans to move to NC. They were worried that I might not fit in there, and because they consider me super high-energy (to put it nicely, others might think I’m hyper), things might not move quickly enough for me. LOL.  I’m also pretty liberal so they worry I might not feel completely comfortable there – I’ve been told that a lot of the NC coast could be considered to have voted “red.” They asked me about working in other states since I want to try working with large animals, and the subject of Kentucky came up. They also mentioned some southwestern states, and places like the Dakotas, Wyoming, etc. Most of these states, I would love love love to visit. But to spend a winter in Wyoming? No thanks.

Kentucky had already crossed my radar a little while back, for the fact that it is known to be quite beautiful in certain parts, like in horse country. And living somewhere beautiful is definitely high on my list of priorities. I’ve lived in ugly places in the past (sorry, Northeast Philly, but I’m looking at you) and while the living was cheap, I don’t want to do that again if I don’t have to. Then, I spent a few mornings with Fancy, the horse at the ARL in Dedham – see her pics at the beginning and ending of this post. (By the way, she is available for adoption!!! And she’s a thoroughbred.)   And it just hit me. I need to work with animals like her!

I have been thinking of working with large animals already, and when I did some further research, I saw that being an equine vet tech is actually considered a specialty subset of being a vet tech. So that’s my plan as of now. I know I will try to work in a companion-animal vet’s practice during school, and who knows? We’ll see what happens.   As I said to my mom the other day when telling her of my decision, I can’t adopt a horse and bring it home with me, whereas when I am around cats and dogs, I just want to save them all and bring them home with me. :-)  Needless to say, she was relieved to hear that since I already have five cats and a dog! She was also a little surprised though, as she said “you never learned to ride as a kid” and I said, well I’ve always loved horses (she must not have remembered.) And well, I knew we couldn’t afford riding lessons or anything like that so I never asked for them. No use making my mom feel bad about something she had not much control over, which was our finances.

So…Lexington, Kentucky is located within Fayette County, where there are 150 horse farms out of the total of 450 that exist in the state of Kentucky at large. I’ve done some preliminary research and the standard of living is WAY cheaper than in the Boston area. No big surprise there, of course. I was astounded to see what $500 will get you for a rental unit. Then, just for fits and giggles, I decided to look at prices of condos and they blew me away even more! You can buy a condo in Lexington, KY for what would simply amount to your down payment for a condo in this area. It’s completely insane!

Yes, Kentucky does get a tiny amount of snow but it is nothing compared to Boston in winter. So I can handle that. My plan is to go out there at least once beforehand, and spend some time there, observing neighborhoods at multiple times of days, and probably go back out again another time to meet with a realtor and firm something up. My mom has offered to go with me which could definitely help, having another person’s opinions. (Just gotta remember they are my mom’s…)

Close-up of Fancy in the barn.

Close-up of Fancy in the barn.

I hope you will all have a great and safe New Year’s!

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Easy Like Sunday Morning

Callie, asleep in her princess bed.

Callie, asleep in her princess bed.

For the life of me, I can’t remember who sang that song, Easy Like Sunday Morning (and maybe that’s not even the title of the song, but it’s those four words that have been running through my head today. Lionel Richie sang it, maybe?) Anyway… Continue reading

A New Direction

Part of my inspiration for today’s post: 

Instead of my usual thankful post to end the week, I wanted to share some information about some decisions I’ve made about my life. Whereas before I was changing my mind almost week to week, this one has stuck, and when I see videos like this, it hits me in the gut that the decision I’m making now is the right one and probably one which I’ve been drawn to my whole life, but didn’t know how to properly act on.

In case you’re a recent reader, I’ll recap briefly. A few years ago, I thought, well, since I’m so interested in fitness, why not get certified to be a professional trainer? (This idea was prompted in part by many of my friends and coworkers saying to me, “you know, you should be a trainer!”) So I took two certification tests, and also took a few specialization tests, so I could work with a few different “populations” and I got a job at a fitness club so I could see what that life is like from the other side. I really kept telling myself that that was what I meant to do, even as I started to question things as I was studying for the second (and very difficult) certification test. And it started to nag at me that I wouldn’t be able to be outside more if I became a trainer, and of all the hours I would need to spend away from my animals. Then, I thought of living in an RV and doing the travel and workamping thing to support myself, but I realized that lifestyle might not be best for my animals, and also, it would likely not end up costing me less than living in a stationary place. That, and I do like some stability in my life. (This is not to say that I won’t ever end up full time RVing, just not right now.)

Then, I thought “well, maybe I should do some sort of survival program, or even go into organic farming.” Notice, both of those kinds of paths would keep me outdoors a lot. So that seemed to be a theme. I also found that I was happiest when around my pets. Yes, it’s the unconditional love thing at work, I am sure. But it’s also that animals don’t play politics, so we understand each other just fine. Because that’s one thing I just don’t do. Play politics and say yes until I feel like a bobblehead that’s been broken. It’s just not me and I will never apologize for it.

Then there is that punched-in-the-gut feeling I get whenever I read about animals being neglected or abused, or treated like they are just a thing without feelings or souls.  It makes me ashamed for not doing more to help them on a day to day basis. So, I’ve decided I am going to go back to school for an associates degree of applied science with a concentration in veterinary technology. My plan is to go through the formal application process over the next few months with Colby Community College, based out of Kansas. Yes, they are accredited by the AVMA, or I wouldn’t even consider the program. They have been quite responsive to my questions so far. They have just recently been accredited so I am sure they want to really get the word out.

I might be thought insane to do this at age 42, and I do know now that a lot of the job is learned on-the-job but I’ve always felt better also having the book knowledge behind me. Plus, while the program I will be going to will be a distance-based program, there are lots of requirements that will have me learning on the job. An externship/internship will be required, and I’m hoping that the fact that I am going to school for it will help me find a job working for a vet in a new location. And when there is time, I also want to be more involved in animals’ rights issues.

So, since I have been out of school for a while and I didn’t have the foresight as a teenager to take more AP classes than I did, I have a lot of prerequisites to catch up on, like Biology and Chemistry, etc. I will be taking three classes in the spring semester while working, and three over the summer as well. There is also a 1-credit class called Intro to Vet Technology that I have to take, so I’m hoping to squeeze that in by August. This schedule may seem a bit aggressive, or insane, to some, but when you finally figure out what your heart desires or what you really want to do with your life, you want that life to start NOW.  There is also the incentive to start now and take as many classes as I can because my employer will pay 75% of the tuition up to 10 credits taken per semester, even if the classes are not related to my current position. This, and the fact that I will be auditing the Animal Law class in the spring means it’s going to be animals, animals, and more animals for me this coming year!!

Just an aside – do you know how weird it felt to call up my high school last week and ask for my high school transcript? Talk about transported back into the past! Seeing those classes and grades listed again, there are no words….

By the way, I usually don’t get into politics on this blog, but I just have to say, this speech did bring some tears to my eyes and a big shit-eating grin to my face last night. Whatever you think of her, Elizabeth Warren is someone who is not afraid to call Bullshit when she sees it. She is my new role model. I’m hoping her husband’s door is open on Monday morning when I go into work so that I can say a personal thank you for her bravery for naming names and taking numbers. She might be one of the most hated women in certain circles, but what’s that saying? Quiet women never changed history.  And with that, I wish you a good weekend!

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Little Things for Which I am Thankful

Friday, people. It’s Friday. Thank freaking god.

My office mate is now officially gone to her new job on the other side of the country. Although I love having an office space all to myself, it’s just not the same. We shared an office for five years. You get used to the other person’s habits and quirks and we used to bounce ideas and questions off of each other pretty regularly. She knew all the business stuff and she knew the foreign and international treaty stuff so it worked well. I would hear the words “securities, equities, stocks” and start to hear “wa wa … wa wa wa” (those of you old enough to remember the Peanuts comics, just think of the voice you would hear every time a parent was talking) and she felt the same way every time mentioned “treaty” so like I said, it worked. So I’ve been kind of bummed this week, but now it’s the weekend.

Remember how I said I thought I had lost my wallet for good at the Animal Rescue League and I feared it might be in the manure pile?? Well, someone found it, thank God. I finally got my replacement zipcard so now I can actually go to the ARL and retrieve my wallet. And that means I can go and volunteer this weekend again, so yay, back to picking up poop and petting animals!

Not sure why, but two nights ago, I rode my bike home from work around the same time I usually do. I feel like lately it’s been pitch black at night every time, like I feel like it’s midnight, it’s so dark. That night, however, there was a gorgeous sunset and I was able to see it reflecting off of/over the Charles River. Just beautiful.

My list is short and sweet this week – I’ll be very honest, I’m just glad this week is about to come to an end because I’m just super tired.

But, if you have liked this post, please hit like or subscribe or drop me a line letting me know if there’s anything you feel thankful for in your life this week!