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Plan B

A couple of years ago, my supervisor Larry gave me a couple of pieces of advice. The first was that layoffs were coming and I should keep my head down, my mouth shut and do my work. I loved working for Larry just as I loved working for Isabelle, my previous supervisor. My job was my bliss. I was able to work in the lab again and learn new things with Larry and apply what I learned previously with Isabelle. Guys, there is nothing better in this world than doing something you enjoy for your living. It was better than making obscene gobs of filthy lucre. Well, I could go on but you get my drift.

I didn’t always follow his first piece of advice. I’m way too opinionated and when I’m worried, I’m easily distracted but when the layoff came, I was genuinely surprised that it hit our group because we were so freaking productive. So, I fell back on Larry’s second piece of advice: Have a Plan B.

One of the things job counselors will tell you besides the fact that you must sell yourself like Wilbur the Pig without the benefit of Charlotte’s Web is that you should not take just any job. I realize that’s easy for me to say because I saved a wad of cash before my layoff and got a nice severance package. Nevertheless, I’m glad I took my time deciding what my next move would be. I realized pretty early on that I did not want to go back into corporate research. That’s not to say I didn’t like it. It’s pretty clear that I loved it and think its probably the way to go if you want to do world class research in the private sector. Corporate labs benefit from an economy of scale and shared resources. But the truth is that the pharmaceutical industry is broken. I mean Seriously, fatally broken right now and while the grasshoppers are busily eating their seed corn, it’s harder to get research done. Then there is the whole lack of a PhD thing that shouldn’t make a difference when you need an experienced modeler/structural biologist (trust me, experience is essential), but somehow has become maniacally important in this job market.

I was very lucky to get some part time work with some former colleagues of mine who decided to bring industrial research to academia. I love this job too but it’s not going to pay the bills in New Jersey when the stash runs out, which will be in the not too distant future.

And then there is the kid who had a few years of high school left when I was laid off. I figured it was probably best to keep her in her present situation and not move her right away. I think this was the best decision for her because she needed the continuity even if she absolutely hates New Jersey with a white hot passion. Next year, the kid will be a senior and through with most of her AP classes. She can take classes at a local university. She’s ready so that’s a load off my mind.

So the time has come to implement Plan B. And what, you may ask, is Plan B? Plan B is to move back to Pittsburgh and live less expensively and without debt.

To that end, I’ve bought a house. :-)

When I close on it next month, I will own it free and clear. It’s in a semi-urban hellhole and about a block and a half from the bus line that will take me into the city in about half an hour. I’ll be looking for a job there soon and fortunately, because I won’t have a mortgage and won’t need a car everyday, I’m not going to stress over how much money I need to make. The house has a big yard so there will be raised bed gardening happening although I intend to spray the veggies if I have to. Screw that organic stuff. I want yield. Ok, maybe I’ll go easy on the pesticides. I can’t wait to try to grow fruit trees on an espalier.

For a short period of time, I’ll be living in two states. The house I’m buying was a foreclosed property but the bank closed on it months ago. It needs a bit of work but it’s got a nice layout and it’s on a lovely street. So, while I’m having the roof fixed and retaining walls repaired, I’ll be seeing the kid through the last months of school here in NJ.

Then, I’m blowing this pop-stand. It’s been real. Never again will I walk into a house and have an epiphany that the bank owns me and everything I have.

I can hardly wait.

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32 Responses

  1. Congratulations on the home purchase. But a word of advice: I’d strongly suggest having your very own lawyer at your elbow at closing. A while back i read about banks selling houses they didn’t actually have title to, and slipping in a clause hidden deep in the paperwork where the buyer agreed to absolve them of all liability for the fraud.

    • Not to worry. I never sign any final documents without a lawyer and my offer carefully states that there will be a title search.

  2. Congratulations! I love Pittsburgh, too. I have 2 brothers living there and a number of friends. And I have seriously considered living there myself. But my house is paid for here east of Pittsburgh about 60 miles. We go into the city frequently. Have season tickets to the opera. It is wonderful and inexpensive. I think you will love it. And now the “Confluence” will fit even better. Which part of Pittsburgh….N, S, E, W….?

  3. Wow! Exciting! Good for you.

  4. Cool Beans!!!!

  5. Smart. This is what my grandparents did. They never wanted to own anyone because they both had lived through the depression and knew the best way to have a secure life was to own everything you need outright.

  6. Yes, congratulations. For those who have a job, it is clearly good to save as much “Plan B” money as possible, if one is in a postion to do so. Hopefully your future house will have enough yard to make some food gardening possible in case you should ever want to food-garden.

    • Oh, on reading more carefully, I see it does indeed have space for raised-bed gardening. Hopefully we will be reading the occasional gardening post from time to time in due course.

  7. Sounds like a good plan-congratulations on the new house and the new/old city.
    Did you have this in mind when you did all those upgrades?

  8. Happy trails

  9. Congratulations on your purchase! You lost a gallbladder but gained a house :)

    I wish you years of happiness in your new Casa

  10. Your new situation sounds so wonderful. This is going to be an exciting year, I think.

  11. So glad you have resolved your job loss in this way. Sounds like you will reap lots of benefits.

  12. Riverdaughter

    Three cheers for you…

    As long as you don’t leave your engaging blog behind in NJ….

  13. A couple of times now I have taken the Capitol Limited AmTrak train from Toledo, OH to Washington DC. It stops at Pittsburgh and then goes that mountain river valley east (I guess?) of Pittsburgh. Going through there one summer I saw from the train window down in the narrow valley a couple of hercules club trees in full bloom. It made me
    so homesick for East Tennessee for just a few seconds there.

  14. Teresa Heinz Kerry might have just the job for you!

  15. Congratulations, RD! This sounds wonderful. Pittsburgh is a cool city and living debt free is really cool. Best of luck!

  16. Congratulations! Looking forward to your gardening posts!

  17. That’s great RD! Congratulations on your successful efforts to herd all those metaphorical cats so ably.

  18. Congratulations and good on you for having a plan B. You are a smart one!

  19. Fantastic! I love that you did this. I went to NC with the idea of also doing that. Hugs. Great, great news!

  20. Congratulations RD,

    Have you considered having a “virtual house party”
    when you move in ?

  21. Just in time for the Mayoral Election drama. If Summer 2013 is like the past few, you can make a few bucks as an Xtra on some big league movie sets. Tom Cruize, Batman, … Channing Tatum shot Foxcatcher here last month, open casting calls abound.

    • So funny you mentioned movies. A long time ago, my grandmother’s house in McKeesport was used as a film set. I can’t remember the name of the movie. Going Home? It had Robert Mitchum and Jan Michael Vincent, I think. Anyways, one of the days the film crew was there my grandmother asked Jan Michael Vincent to make her a cup of tea, just like he was another one of her grandkids. So he did. She was like that.

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