Pieces falling into place

It’s been some time since I’ve blogged. Plans have been up in the air, and sometimes I can’t bring myself to write about things that aren’t yet complete. As Martin wrote in his Going Dutch entry, we are moving to the Netherlands this summer.

This is, naturally, terrifying. It’s been particularly scary for me to contemplate, because I had to find two very important things.

A job
Moving country meant moving work, and that’s a frightening thing. I joined the Royal Bank in 1997 – October would have marked ten years there, and I was thoroughly institutionalised after all that time. It was intimidating to even contemplate finding something else.
A house
Admittedly, unlike the job thing, househunting is for the benefit of entire family, and in theory I could fob some of the weight off on Martin. But I get emotional about my living situation, so it felt like it was really my worry.

So how has it gone, in the month and a half since I quit the Bank and started these searches?


Martin pointed a job ad out to me in late March, before I was even officially out of work. It was for a small company, MediaLab, which makes search software mostly used in libraries. It’s a tiny company, and a deeply cool one, writing interesting software and having fun doing it.

At his urging, I sent them a CV. When we got back from California, I had a phone interview, and made a strong connection with the people I talked to. They invited me over for a second interview in person in their offices in Amsterdam.

That went even better. I enjoyed the conversations and liked the people, and it was mutual. More importantly, from a business perspective, it was clear that my area of expertise and my approach to work will fill a need in their company.

So I got the job.

I start at the beginning of July, which sometimes seems a long way off. I find myself thinking about the work, and about sitting in that bright and friendly office while I do it. It’s been a long time since I looked forward to work.


We wanted to rent a house for a year, to give us a chance to try out the Dutch lifestyle before committing a lot of capital to it. But there aren’t a lot of spacious, affordable houses in commute radius of Amsterdam.

It’s also difficult to search for houses at a remove. (My friend who just moved to New Zealand can testify to this.) After poring over hundreds of advertisements on the internet, we finally identified one that looked nice, in a promising town. So Martin and I went across one rainy Monday to look at it.

It was awful. Cramped, grimy and grim, in the shabbiest neighbourhood. It was also not available for a year’s rental; the owners wanted to keep the option open to sell it (an endeavour in which I wish them luck). We straggled home after a discouraging day, ready to abandon the whole damned effort.

I tried to take a fresh tack on the matter the next few days, looking again at places we had eliminated, sending out emails to emails to estate agents. Then the phone rang.

It was an estate agent, calling based on a profile Martin logged on their website. He had a four-bedroom property, he said, just coming on the market for a year’s rental. In Wormerveer, a town in commute distance from my office. Large workroom as well, was I interested? I made interested noises, and he sent me pictures.

Then I was really interested. It’s a light, spacious place, converted from a schoolhouse. The owner, a painter, is taking his family to the Canary Islands for a year. I flew over on Tuesday to view it and the neighbourhood.

It was fantastic. The town charmed me, and the location of the house was particularly good (it’s right near the market plaza, two schools, shops, and some pleasant areas to walk through.) And the house itself was better than the photos conveyed, with an essential unity of light and design.

It didn’t hurt that I got on very well with the owner, the painter, who showed me round. We talked about aesthetics and the philosophy of art, bookbinding and lithography, history and philosophy (boring the estate agent senseless until he recalled another appointment). Practical matters will go easier with this channel of communication, but more importantly, I’m looking forward to future conversations.

So now I have a job and a house, and frankly, they’re both fantastic. What a good set of prospects to take into a challenging year!

10 thoughts on “Pieces falling into place”

  1. That’s really great news, abi. I know just how scary jumping into the job market and the house market at the same time can be, but, despite all your protestations, I knew you would come out OK. From your description, you’ve come out more than just OK.

  2. Wonderful news! It is very scary to up your roots and move like this, but it sounds like it’s the right thing for you to do.

    I find that you can generally tell when you’re “in-the-flow” because things fall into place, not without a challenge but once the challenge is met – then it begins to fall into place.

    As I said to Martin, keep me posted as you can. I’d hate to lose touch at this late date.

  3. Abi!

    Congratulations for the job! I know what you mean about being ‘institutionalised’ – I realised today that a lot of my ways of thinking only make sense in Policing contexts, and that many of them are created systems and not really required by Statute.

    Bummer re the first house, but Wormerveer sounds good! Do write when you can; like Karen said, wouldn’t want to lose touch.

    Take care, M.

  4. It occurs to me that two of my commentors above – Mark and Karen – might very well get on well.

    Mark, Karen is a Presbyterian minister based on the East Coast of the US (you’re ordained now, right, Karen?). She’s actually an Englishwoman whom I met years ago in the context of Amber role-playing. She’s also been a technical writer.

    Karen, Mark is a civilian employee of Lothian & Borders Police, and over the span of my acquaintance has moved from Hare Krishna to Roman Catholicism (if I got the story straight, Mark, you were confirmed this Easter?). I met him on my old on-line community, Everything2, where he was a Linux god and general very good guy.

    Neither summary conveys the essential wonderfulness of the two of you.

  5. Hey, Abi,

    Pretty good explanation of little old me. Yes, I was confirmed this Easter. It was beauuuuuuuuuutiful!

    I wouldn’t call me a Linux god. I just like it! 😉

    Karen, I would love to write. Am not sure if you can see my email here, but it is markadm at dsl dot pipex dot com.

    Me, wonderful! Hah. Abi, that’s always been you. 🙂

  6. I just saw this introduction…let me make a note of the email address…okay, done. I’d love to write. You can also always find me through my livejournal which is displayed in this post.

    And yes, I was ordained in February. So I am an Englishwoman residing in the U.S.A. and a Presbyterian Minister. It appeals to my sense of diversity.

    I also just took a part time job in a publishing company that specializes in Islamic/Christian/Buddhist spirituality texts. It’s been amazing so far.

    Hope everything is still going well with you, Abi. I haven’t had chance to read your lastest posts yet.

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