Sending Up the Bat-Signal

Last night, in the middle of the wee small hours, when the demons like to crawl out from under the bed and from the corners of my mind, it dawned on me that I only have eleven and a half weeks before it’s time to move. I knew this logically, but it emotionally settled like a weight over me at 3 am when I was powerless to do a damn thing. Of course.

That’s just shy of three months to finish school— seventeen units this quarter— pack up a house, plan the logistics of such a move, figure out what to do with the kids, have a moving sale, find a place to live in the DC area, find a job and oh yeah, graduate. Middle of the night panic attacks are so much fun…

So many of you have asked what you can do, and I think its time I have to ask for some help. I need some leads on jobs, and on somewhere to live. My program at GW is at night, and I will have to work at least part time to keep us afloat. I’ve been twelve years out of the professional field, but I have a ton of skills and any company would be lucky to get me- I just need a crack int he door to pursue. Design, technical writing, purchasing, creative work, illustration, and management are all hats I’ve worn. Before I stopped working to be a full-time mom, I was the head of the purchasing and importing arm of a Silicon Valley company. I’ve got skills…

As far as a place to live, I’m disheartened by Craigslist. Almost all the listings for NoVA are massive complexes, and I don’t think this is the solution for us- we don’t need fancy. I can’t shake the feeling that the answer lies in a private person who has a rental property they’re looking for a good family to take. If you know anyone, or can think of anything, please keep me and my kids in mind. Obviously wards and schools are important to me, but I also know I have to be flexible. A single mama grad student doesn’t have the luxury of cherry-picking.

I’d like a place with some sort of outside access- Bean really needs it. Three bedrooms would be best, but we could make two work. We’re not necessarily quiet (three kids, come on!) but we’re good people, and I can provide references and anyone who wants to vet me can do so in a hundred ways.

So folks, I’m wide open. Give me your suggestions, your ideas, or just say hi. One way or another this is gonna happen, and I’m trying to be excited for the adventure awaiting, and not paralyzed with fear. The best way I know to do that is to take action.

I guess I need a Batman shirt to match my Superman one. I do prefer my red cape though…

23 thoughts on “Sending Up the Bat-Signal

  1. I only have a few contacts around DC – but I’m messaging them all today. Also – Renn still wants to fly me out to help with your move. Do you need a driver?

  2. Wow Em- I don’t know yet. Nothing is set, I’m trying to price out the cost of driving myself vs. that of doing a LTL load with a mover that I’ve packed myself. I won’t have that much stuff- but I have nothing solidified yet. I’m so grateful for you and Renn!

  3. Your wish list for housing will probably be much harder to fulfill than getting a job. Are you at all familiar with the market? Also, what are your childcare plans for when you are in class at night? I am picturing that you would like to have as short a commute as possible to cut down on babysitter time, but that places you in DC. There is a wide variety of housing there, of course, from very up to very down, but I’m gussing that is the school system (of the surrounding Prince Georges, Montgomery, Fairfax, Arlington, and Alexandria) in which you would actually be LEAST interested. Living outside of DC puts your commute to school at a minimum of 30 minutes one way, I would guess, and from some parts of FX or PG, much longer. Most importantly: what is your housing budget?

  4. Since I don’t have a job yet, I don’t know- but with grad school and student loans and part/full time work, obviously the more economical the better. I’m well aware what an uphill this is to do it as a single mother, but I’m determined, and the rest of it hasn’t been easy either. Why start now? ;)

    • Please take a look at Silver Spring, Maryland and Takoma Park, Maryland. You may find a small single family home with a yard that is affordable. And Montgomery County Schools are very good.

  5. I know there are LDS DC listservs on which local members hawk goods, seek housing, etc. It would be great to get on one or more of those–chances are good that someone will be leaving before their lease is up, etc, and it could be the easiest way to get in. Also, lots of the wards there have a “housing specialist” called–see if you can grab hold of a few of those e-mails for pointers. There is ALWAYS a student population coming in and out of the wards, so you are not alone on that, but your family is a bit more established, so perhaps less flexible. I’ll see if my sister can pass on some relevant emails from her ward.

    Last time I lived there was 2003-2004 and I lived in PG county. It was the most economical, but I did have to live in one of those complexes (FYI–one bedroom, more than $800 a month rent). I realize they lack charm, but I am guessing that a free-standing house, even a small one, on a limited budget would be at least an hour from your school. Try Alexandria or the western end of PG county for houses.

    As for a job: I have no doubt that you would both be a great employee AND that you will be able to get a job. I just don’t know how you would do that from afar.

  6. There is a listserv for the young single adults in the DC area (well, there are several listservs but I’m only on one) that often lists various housing and job opportunities. I’m not sure how helpful it would be for housing (most of it is single girls/guys looking for a 4th roommate or whatever) but it never hurts to keep an eye on the job opportunities that come through. You can subscribe by sending an email to: colonial-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

  7. Heartfelt love and prayers for you, Tracy! I know none of this will be easy, but as you have witnessed before, people will come out of the woodwork to do whatever they can to help!

    Have you had a chance to think through your route when you move? Any chance you’d take I-80 through Reno? Because we’ll be in Carson City by then, and we’d love to give you a free “hotel” night’s stay or a meal in Reno as you pass through…

    • Michelle, alas, Reno is about 1000 miles out of the way from the direction I’m heading– and while I love you all, that’s a detour I just can’t make on this trek. ;)

      • Alas, we completely understand impossible 1000 mile detours. . . We’ve missed seeing friends during cross-country moves or vacations because of such detours. We recognize the impossibility of such a visit, but we had to ask and hope!

  8. I live in the most fabulous place in northern Virginia called Clifton. We live in a neighborhood called Little Rocky Run and the elementary school is in the neighborhood. The middle and high schools are close by, too. It is an amazing place for kids – very safe and friendly with tons to do. I am not Mormon but know tons of people in my neighborhood who are. I know there are a few houses for rent and a few for sale in the neighborhood. I can give you a name of a realtor who is awesome if you want. She is soo easy to work with and knows the whole area of NOVA very well.

    Good luck – Dana

  9. I have been quietly reading your blog for several years now. I only have one contact in that area, my brother in law. He is actually the brother of someone I think you know in Spokane, Sandy Ross. Anyway, if Sandy hasn’t contacted them yet, I will. Best wishes and good luck in these last weeks of school.

  10. Alicia, Sandy is one of my dearest friends, and she and Perry are the family I cooked dinner for last week when I put the recipes up! Josh is my algebra tutor and Jacob is who gave Bean his bugle. Small world, eh? I don’t know that Sandy has contacted him- I’m not turning down any contact help whatsoever, so I’d be delighted with anything you feel inspired to share.

    • Their family is the best, I miss them like crazy. I’ll talk to Karl and Karen and let you know if they have any leads :)

  11. Blog lurker here (I hope this isn’t creepy!). I currently live in Arlington, Va, but I’m a DC lifer who’s lived in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties in Maryland and Alexandria, Va. I’m happy to try to answer any questions you have about housing or wards or DC area in general. Please feel free to email me.

    One thing you might want to decide up front is how important it is that you’re Metro-accessible… that will affect a lot of location/price decisions.

  12. One think you might want to try looking at is South Arlington. I know you’ll be at GW, so being right on the other side of the Roosevelt Bridge in Arlington, or the Memorial bridge in crystal city etc. would be location ideal. Rent is steep in North Arlington, but south arlington is more of a mixed ethnic/mixed socio economic bag, and there are probably some options. You are probably looking at 1400 or 1500 minimum, though. You’ll have to get pretty far outside the city if you want cheaper. I’m all the way out near the beltway, and I don’t think the prices are much less here. If you do decide to live well outside the immediate GW area, you might try and figure out off commuting hours (i.e. work part time starting at 10 or 11, and come home after class in late evening) and you’ll miss a lot of the traffic. That will make being outside much more livable. I live in Falls Church (fairfax county, but inside the beltway) and I work about two blocks from GW, and I plan an hour for my morning commute in. (I only live 11 miles away from my job). Takoma park etc. in Maryland are nice, but you have to come through the city to get to GW (it’s right on the edge of the potomac across from Rosslyn VA) so the commute could really be a bear even though it’s geographically not far away.

  13. Check on lds.org’s Stake and Ward Meetinghouse locator. Pray about which Stake President or Bishop to contact. Call someone at that level and explain your situation. Ask for their advice.

    We’ve done that every time we’ve moved cross-country – and this move to Carson City is our 5th such move. It’s worked for us. I hope it works for you.

  14. Here are a couple potentially useful Yahoo Groups to post a request for housing/job leads:

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CapitolHillLDS/ (I love living in DC, but with kids you’re better off in the suburbs for schools. Nevertheless, someone might have a housing/job lead anyway.)

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DCAreaMoMid-Singles/ (31+ singles; though you’re going to want a family ward with kids, posting to the mailing list for leads might still be helpful.)

  15. It will all work out, you’ve see it before. So many are rooting for you with prayers, thoughts and even practical ideas. It’ll be okay-

    Are you in a Title I school now? Don’t be afraid to send your kids if you live within a TI school’s boundaries. They will have many services available that might make your life easier.

  16. My dad’s all time favorite addage:
    How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

    I’m totally useless in the help with a home/job… but as a single parent of 5 (but 3 at home) kids, full time student, full time employee, I just moved into a place of my own. Here is what helped me:
    I sat down with a spiral notebook & with my calendar, and listed what I wanted to get done before the move. I kept the calendaring simple like “Dec 4th – box linen closet, bookcase, and top of Lou’s closet.” and “Dec 8th – Organize toybox”. Every single night, I sent my timer for 1 hour when the kids were up, and 2 hours after they went to bed. The hour when my kids were up we packed as many boxes as we could of theirs, then when the timer went off… we stopped. Evaluated. I’d say “More?” If they felt they could- we did another 1/2 hour or 1 hour depending on how they felt. If they were done- we were done. Yes we lived with boxes in corners for almost 2 months, but I was WAY less frazzled, and I was able to do it while still balancing work and school.
    I’m not gonna lie- it was stressful.
    But mapping it out let my mind settle down and I was able to rest knowing I had a good plan.
    Hang in there gurl. You got this.

  17. Yet another blog lurker here! *smile** Found you and adored you through FMH. Wishing you the very, very best on your journey. Our family is in Dayton, Ohio if you need a free place to land for the night, bonfires, drumms to play, and chickens to pet! Strange, I know. But what a wonderful way to meet other LDS Mamas that are making a difference!! You go girl!! Blessings!

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