Somewhere in April or May of 2015, Rowdy reached the end of his rope with living in California for a lot of reasons, including the lack of personal liberties, high taxes and cost of living, and a general need to move around. Ten years in one place was more than he could bear.
Unfortunately, this caused a lot of strife. I was perfectly happy in San Diego. I was in the perfect job--I loved the people I worked with, my work schedule and the kind of work I was doing. Let's face it, I spend as much time at work as at home, so that was important to me. I also loved my ward family and my other friends. Rowdy made it clear, though: he was out of San Diego by May, 2016, with or without me.
So I cried. We argued. I have moved before, so I knew that I could find friends and make a new life, but the thing that really scared me was finding a new job. I'd gotten pretty cozy and complacent where I was, and I didn't think that I'd be able to get a job that would bring in the same level of income and be something that I was happy doing.
Blah, blah, blah. This probably isn't in chronological order, but we did struggle about this for weeks. One day, Rowdy said, "You know, in the ten years we've been married, we really haven't made a habit of praying and reading scriptures together every day. I'd really like us to do that." I think that was the real turning point. We humbled ourselves and asked Heavenly Father where He needed us to be. In addition to improving our daily prayers and studying the scriptures, we fasted and went to the temple more than we had before. If you get nothing else out of this post, I hope that you get that Heavenly Father loves his children, we can have personal revelation to know what path we need to follow in life, and the way to get answers is to humble yourself, pray with real intent, and be willing to listen for that revelation and follow the counsel given by the Lord.
Rowdy suggested that we both make lists of places we would live, and we would compare the lists. The final list was:
1) Austin/San Antonio, TX
2) Raleigh/Durham, NC
3) Boise, ID
5) Little Rock, AR
Our main criteria were:
2) proximity to family
3) good cost-of-living
4) good quality of life overall
Rowdy was surprised to see that I had listed Little Rock. I had never been there, but he had been several times and was always complimentary of the area. Since it was somewhat close to my parents in Austin, and Rowdy had the greatest opportunity to improve as a shooter there, I thought it was worth a look.
I enrolled in a couple of job search boards through professional associations, contacted some recruiting companies and looked into teleradiology groups. I had a couple of phone interviews with a practice in Ogden, Utah, but I wasn't right for that practice, and they certainly weren't right for me. Recruiters called with opportunities in Texas, but we had the luxury of not really needing to pick just anywhere. Beaumont and Amarillo just were not in our plans. Nothing really turned up in Idaho or North Carolina. I cold-called a practice in Little Rock, but they weren't sure if they needed an Interventional Radiologist.
Finally, I decided to sign with vRad, a teleradiology group that provided overnight diagnostic radiology interpretations. The company itself is really outstanding. I wasn't thrilled about the prospect of working from 7 pm to 7 am, but they were very accommodating and offered me a 2 pm to 10 pm shift. I also wasn't thrilled about not having the opportunity to interact with patients and do procedures, but I was hoping that there would be a way to find a group that would be okay with me coming in on a part-time basis.
So once we decided on that, we both felt that Little Rock was where we needed to be--where the Lord needed us to be. We scheduled a trip to Arkansas in November to look around at homes and the town in general. Meanwhile, I was still wanting to try for an IR job, if possible, but I thought that maybe my cover letter needed revamping. My friend and co-worker, Danielle, graciously took a look at it and made some very helpful suggestions.
Rowdy and I took a trip to New Jersey for our grandson's first birthday, then spent ten days enjoying Spain the last week of September/first week of October. Sometime near the end of the trip, the ACR job board posted an IR position at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock. I thought that was about the nuttiest thing in the world. I really wasn't thinking that I wanted to be a full-time academic radiologist--I wasn't sure that I would have the skill set they were looking for, and I was sure that they would not have much to offer in the way of income, but maybe they'd be the kind of place that would let me just be a part-timer.
The details of this whole experience are a little fuzzy, but it seems to me that it went something like: we got back from our trip on a Saturday, Sunday evening I sent of my new-and-improved cover letter and my CV, and first thing Monday morning, I got a call that went something like this:
Mollie Meek, MD, UAMS IR Section Chief: Hello, is this Diane Bricco?
MM: Uh, uh (splutter, silence)
Me: Can I help you?
MM: (incredulously) Are you really moving to Little Rock?
Me : Yes.
MM: (still incredulous) And you're really an interventional radiologist?
Me : Yes.
MM: Well, uh! Wow! Okay. Do you know Mike Beheshti?
Me: No....(Like, should I? I don't know....)
MM: Well, he trained me and he's amazing and the nicest person ever and he's the Chief of Radiology over at the VA right now, but he's just the best and HE'S THE BISHOP OF ARKANSAS!!!
Me: (chuckling) So you mean to tell me that he's LDS? (I have my affiliation with Mormon Women in Medicine and my experience in stake and ward callings on my CV.)
MM: Yes! And he will be so excited to meet you!
Mollie and I talked some more. I told her that we had a trip to Little Rock planned for the following month. She asked me if I wanted to come by to see the place, or maybe interview. I figured that I might as well go interview, if nothing else to get experience and to let them know that I'd be interested in working part-time.
But the interview ended up going really well, and I was offered a job pretty much at the end of the day. [I did have an interview with Dr. Michael Beheshti, AKA former Bishop of the Pinnacle Ward, AKA Little Rock Stake President (at the time of my interview, so I got both a professional and stake president's interview) and currently Elder Michael Beheshti, Area Authority. He is a really good guy, and also happens to have graduated from Bountiful High School the same year as my friend Sharon's brother, David. Small world!] My prior experience with interviewing at academic centers was that their salaries were far below what I was making at my current job, but Mollie offered me something that, particularly with the difference in cost of living between San Diego and Little Rock, really wasn't much of a pay cut. Of course, I would have to be full-time--no part-timers allowed. And they didn't seem to be that bothered by the fact that I hadn't been doing a lot of the stuff that they do regularly.
Long story short, it just felt right. Rowdy gave me a Priesthood blessing before I went to my interview in which I was told that it would take time and work on my part, so I figured that meant that getting the right kind of job would take that. But it seems that the real counsel was that I was going to have to put in time and work to succeed at that job. Which is okay by me, and I have had the opportunity over the last six or seven months to really prepare, study and get up to speed on some things. Plus, my offer letter from the University stated that my success was important to them, and they make sure that I had what I needed to do well. So I think it's going to be a little stressful at times, but ultimately really good for me and my progression as a physician.
And more importantly, this move is going to be really good for Rowdy and his progression in his field. He's already shot more matches and had better opportunities for good training than he had in San Diego. There are probably lots of hidden blessings in this move that we have yet to uncover.
We are both adjusting to life here in Little Rock, but we are loving it. Even Mr. Oliver Hammond is getting happily settled in our new home. I will probably write other posts about the process of buying a home and selling our SD home and land (an amazingly simple process, as it happens), my experience living with my sweet friends for five weeks while I was working out the end of my contract with SDPMG, the many "tender mercies of the Lord" that I received during this experience, the drive out to LR from SD with Ollie and my sweet parents, and our adventures in Arkansas.
So, that's basically the story from my point of view and how I choose to recount events. Trust me, I shed a lot of tears about it. It hasn't been easy for me, but I know that it's the right thing.