Wednesday, July 1, 2015

California, Here I Come...

I think the actual lyrics to the song are, "California, here I come. Right back where I started from..."

Which is totally appropriate for me because I was actually born in California! Only it was northern California--in Eureka. I think they have a Banana Slug Festival there every year. My place of birth lacks the normal "California" image. But I'm a legit Cali Girl nonetheless!!!

So yes...I'M MOVING BACK TO CALIFORNIA! I moved from there when I was like 3 months old, so they have probably been wondering where I am! How in the world did I decide that I was moving to California from Alaska? I'm glad you asked. So I will tell you.

I left Colorado two years ago, and moved to Wasilla, Alaska. I came to Alaska for work. Work in Colorado was unpredictable and slim--I was being put on call nearly every week. Some of you might ask why that is a problem. When you only work three days per week, and you lose one of them on a regular basis--your bank account begins to notice.

At that time, I was licensed as a nurse in Colorado, Alaska, and California. When work became slim at my hospital in Colorado, I thought that taking a job at a different, busier hospital, would help. So I went to work for one, but it didn't help. And I was put on call every week--again. I knew that I couldn't make ends meet in Colorado as a nurse specializing in labor and delivery. Some of you might say, "But you're a nurse! You could get a job in any area of nursing!!!" True, but the only thing I went to school for was so I could one day specialize in labor and delivery. I would not have gone to nursing school for any other field. I'm not that enchanted with nursing as a whole. I don't enjoy any other field in nursing, and I've always said that if you don't like your job as a nurse, then you shouldn't be a nurse. It's too personal, and your human interactions are too important to not like your job. My calling is labor and delivery--and I LOVE it.

So I had to go. And I had fired off a couple of job applications, and I heard from Alaska first. So I went. Some of you are probably like, "But Whitney! are dating the Cute Alaskan Man! You can't tell us that isn't why you ended up in Alaska!"

Yes, I can. I ended up in WASILLA, Alaska because of the Cute Alaskan Man. But I ended up in ALASKA because I needed a stable job, and they were the first to offer. If I had stayed in Colorado, I would've been eating Top Ramen under a bridge, and my pimpin' ride would've been a shopping cart that I stole from the local Walmart.

Anyway, I moved to Wasilla so I could be closer to the Cute Alaskan Man--who lives in Palmer, Alaska (right up the road from me). But the true impetus for me coming to Alaska was for work. Like Britney Spears says, "You gotta work, Whit!" Actually, I think she called me something else in that song, but it was all about me, nonetheless.

I started my new job in Anchorage, Alaska. I signed a two-year contract. They sent movers, packed me up, and north to Alaska I went! But it wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Do not get me wrong--I have been super blessed to work at an amazing hospital, with as many hours as I want, and I have seen some wonderful things, and spent time with the Cute Alaskan Man. But it has been a long two years for me.

You also know that my kiddos were not uprooted to come with me, and consequently, I have worked tons of overtime to make frequent travel between Alaska and Colorado possible. I didn't even know if I would be able to make it to the end of my two-year contract. The first year was horrible for me up here--I cried almost every day. I was SO homesick. About halfway through my contract, I was SUPER homesick, and my ex-husband had just lost his best friend to cancer. All I could think was, "I'm stuck here, and my kids aren't here, and I could die tomorrow--and I just want to be with my family!"

I freaked out. I probably over-dramatized the situation, but the death of my ex-husband's friend really made me do a reality check. None of us know how long we have on this big blue marble. His friend was a divorced, international geologist. He rarely got to see his child, and all I could think was that the same thing was going to happen to me. And I couldn't take it. I wanted to be with my kids.

So I have worked, and worked, and worked, and not done much else this last year besides WORK. This is so I could fly back and forth between Alaska and Colorado to be with my kiddos. Well now my two-year contract is nearly up, and I needed to make my next move. I thought that move was going to be back to Colorado--but a harsh reality check revealed that wasn't going to be the case.

I started researching housing in Colorado. When I left, I was living in a beautiful 4-bedroom, 2.5 bath house. I have twin girls who are turning 13. They have to have their own rooms. I cannot put these two early teen wolverines in the same bedroom--they will kill each other. So, at the very least, I need a 3-bedroom place. I left Colorado the year that marijuana became legal. Due to the influx of people flocking to Colorado since the legalization of marijuana, they can charge whatever they want for houses now--and it has priced me right out of the market to move home. I cannot find a 3-bedroom place under $1750 that is not in "the hood". And that is a huge problem--because wages in Colorado have not gone up.

I crunched numbers, I researched housing, and I figured there might be one hope for me to move back home--so I applied to the highest paying hospital I could find. And I was offered the job! (Yay!) And then the lady who interviewed me told me that I would likely be on call at least two times every 6 weeks (BOO!). And she told me that was the nature of labor and delivery throughout the Denver/Metro area. And I knew it wouldn't work. Apparently people are too busy smoking weed to have babies.

I was heartbroken. The commute between Colorado and Alaska has been brutal. Realizing that I could no longer afford to live in Colorado was a real blow. I had looked forward to nothing else for the past two years. But it was a reality I had to face head-on.

So where to go next? Well, I work for a great company. I want to stay with them. I got on the internal career site for my hospital, and looked up what my options were. I had options in Washington state, Oregon, and California. I don't have a license in Washington, or Oregon (and it's a pain in the butt to get licensed--not to mention EXPENSIVE). So I looked at my options in California. I pulled up a map of Cali, mapped out all the hospital locations, and picked the hospital that is literally blocks away from the beach. SO I'M MOVING TO TORRANCE, CALIFORNIA!!! I put in an application for the position I wanted, and put in a transfer with my hospital, and I am California bound!

Advantages of living in California:

1.) Cheap airline ticket to Colorado from LAX. I can travel there as often as I want.

2.) Surfing

3.) I will be working for a busy hospital and can work as many hours as I need.

4.) Surfing

5.) I can fly my kids out when they have 3 or 4 day weekends from school.

6.) Surfing

7.) I am going to be about 30 minutes from Disneyland, so when the kids come out, we can go have some fun!

8.) Surfing

9.) I will be able to walk, or ride my bike to work.

10.) Surfing

11.) I will no longer have to deal with winter!!!

12.) SURFING!!!

Can you tell that I'm a little excited?

"But, Whitney!!! There are great white sharks in California!!! Aren't you afraid of getting eaten by a shark? After all, the water is colder there, and you will have to wear a wetsuit that makes you look like a seal on your surfboard!"

I've got it covered.

I have been researching shark deterrent surf gear. Some of you might think I'm a Sally if I'm willing to go surfing looking like a zebra, but I'm all over it. From the research I have done, sharks cannot clearly make out banding with their vision. This is why banded fish follow them all over, and they never get eaten. The shark cannot make them out to make an attack.

These are pilot fish, and they swim right alongside the sharks. The way they tested the shark deterrent wetsuits was to place a bait bucket, covered with the banded material, and one that was covered in regular black wetsuit material. The sharks could smell the bait in the bucket, but could not make out the location of the bucket to make an attack on the banded one. Pretty awesome! So you might make fun of me for looking like a zebra when I surf in Cali, but I will be the one who makes it in with all my limbs! ;)

Also, my girls told me they will surf as long as we sport shark deterrent gear. Although I cannot afford the actual brand name shark deterrent suits, I will be adorning our wetsuits with fabric paint, and call it good. The shark deterrent suits are upwards of $450+. I can buy a quality wetsuit for $100 and paint them myself. I will also band the bottom of our boards.

So, YES...MOVING TO CALI!!! And I'm thrilled. I'm ready for a BIG change. And if I can't move home, at least I can move to a state where I can catch a flight, and be home in two hours. Heck--that's nearly my commute to work right now!

"But, Whitney!!! What about the Cute Alaskan Man???!!!"

Look, I've known this man, and he has been my best friend for 15+ years. I've dated him for 6.5 years. We've had some bumpy ups and downs because of the complexity of our relationship, but we also have dated long distance for 4.5 years, and survived. I don't know what the future looks like for certain, but what I do know is that we are capable of dating long distance. He is supportive of my move, and is flying down with me to look for housing. He will remain in Alaska for now. All we are sure of is that God is the captain of our ships. We will end up together if we are meant to be together. Until then, we will be back to dating long distance. Heck, he has been out of state so much for his job the past year--does it really matter anyway? He can work from anywhere, so I'm sure I'll still see him a lot. Not as much as I do now, but we will figure it out.

"But, Whitney!!!! Aren't you afraid of getting subducted into the earth's mantle during an earthquake, or afraid a giant tsunami is going to kill you--like in the movie San Andreas?"

First of all--San Andreas is a strike-slip fault, which means the two blocks are moving past each other vertically. It's simply relocating California in a north/south direction (geology geek moment). I'll either be on the side of it that ends up in Alaska, or the one that ends up in Cabo (let's vote for the Cabo side of things). I'll be fine--unless it kills me. Look, we can't live forever, and I refuse to live my life in fear. If my number is up in a Cali earthquake, at the very least, I hope God let's me die by surfing on the tsunami wave.

Some of you might have seen my Facebook post the other day about buying 7 new bikinis. Now you know why. Time to pack up the snow boots and put them in storage. ;)

South!...To California!!!