Sitting on the Cliff of Change

 ... waiting for the appointed time to jump. Perhaps the best way of describing how Andrea and I feel right now. We have made some big decisions over the last three months.

After another unsuccessful round of house hunting in Toronto, we were feeling beaten. Another period of record growth has outpaced our savings yet again, meaning that relative to our position a year prior, in a very real sense, we had gone backward in terms of what we could afford.

Sitting on the floor, all I could do was lament that this whole process would be so much less painful in other cities. I found myself feeling a good chunk of jealousy for the team we have in Ottawa, when I thought to myself... "Why can't I work in Ottawa?" I couldn't really come up with a good answer. A couple of minutes of research suggested to me the Ottawa real estate market was markedly different than the Toronto one. So, I wandered over to Andrea and casually asked "Would you move to Ottawa? "

After a couple seconds she asked me "Could we afford a house there?". After I answered, that it looked like we could, she said "Sure". I am not sure how serious either of us were at that point.

Yet, here I am, only three months later: a week away from closing on a house, two and a half weeks away from moving to Ottawa.

In only a few days, I had the answer from IBM that there wouldn't be a huge amount of trouble to transfer.

At this point we started the bargaining phase. We started to reason that if we were willing to relocate all the way to Ottawa, surely some suburb of the GTA should also be investigated. We had been pretty against the idea of suburban living, but in the face of an even more dramatic change we thought we had to at least consider it. So, after some research we started looking seriously at Oshawa, which seemed more reasonable price wise. That weekend we took a car and drove out to Oshawa to see the city. Despite it being better than Toronto, it... didn't really feel right.

So, we planned out first house hunting trip to Ottawa. We got connected though a colleague of mine to a fantastic realtor, and we booked train tickets and an AirBnB.

Early May we headed to Ottawa for a weekend. We saw ten houses on Saturday, and in the late afternoon, we saw a lovely older home. A small bungalow, built onto a hill with a massive front yard, the house charmed us both with the immense love of the home you could feel. It had been beautifully maintained its entire life, and every inch radiated with care. After the day of looking, we decided that we needed to see it again, and Sunday morning, sitting in the basement we started sketching out our offer.

By that afternoon, we found out a second offer was inbound. So, our offer was increased to compete, and we were told we would find out after a 7pm offer presentation. Unfortunately, our train back to Toronto left at 5pm.

On the train, after an enormous quantity of refreshes of our inboxes, we had the news: we had been sniped by a couple coming from Toronto, who had made an offer with no conditions for almost the same amount. We hadn't gotten the house.

So, we returned to Toronto, to lick our wounds, and to prepare for our wedding at the end of the month.

After the wedding, we returned for anothertrip, lessons learned, and ready for round two.

One of the earliest houses we saw that Saturday stood out. Brightly light, and flowing, the house was the embodiment of a singular vision. As we kept seeing other properties it nagged at the back of the mind. The fear of getting sniped again was real. That afternoon we put together an offer.

This time we succeeded.

And so, here we are: One week from possession, two and a half from the move, filled with a desire to just jump into our completely changed life.

Soon we will be

  • In a house
  • With our car
  • Living in a suburb
  • Finding our way in Ottawa

I can't wait.

A Thank You Post 🎸

Last year, around this time I was in my parents house, and I noticed behind a side-table a little nylon stringed guitar. This guitar was a bit of a suprise to me, we'd never really had any instruments around the house when I was a kid.

Not thinking much of it, I spent some time that trip with it in my lap, plunking at strings, making noise, and generally enjoying myself. I didn't really think too much of it.

When we got home, Andrea said to me: "Why don't you get a guitar?".

I laughed at the suggestion. After all, I wasn't a particularly musical person. While I enjoyed the thought of making music, previous attempts hadn't really gone anywhere. On my iPad I have a folder full of apps for making music, and in the closet we have an electric keyboard borrowed from my sister, all history of abortive attempts wherein I tried to make music and didn't really get terribly far.

I had come to peace with the notion that I really wasn't cut out for music.

Despite this, Andrea persisted. The trip to my parents house had co-incided with my birthday, and so I had a gift of cash from my my Mother-in-Law-to-be (shortly!). After about the fifth or sixth time Andrea suggested it, I relented. "I'll give it a shot", I said, not really thinking I'd stick with it given my history. So off hunting on Amazon I went, looking for a cheap guitar -- I was way too self-conscious to go to a store, so Amazon seemed perfect.

What I found was this pretty blue Huntington, being sold at the time for 85$, with extra strings, and picks. Seemed like a pretty good deal, and the guitar itself reviewed really well compared almost everything else in that price range. So I bought it. It arrived in early May, and so it began that I started to learn guitar.

Learning Guitar

The early days were really rough. In particular, I found myself strugglng to accomlish basic tasks. I wanted to give up. After all, I wasn't very musical.

Andrea kept at me to keep going. She pointed out that I really hadn't had to practice much in years. She was right!

While I was writing this post, I read this article, which talks about Carol Dweck's work.

Dweck proposes that individuals fall somewhere on a spectrum of self-theories. This spectrum varies from the entity theorist on one end to the incremental theorist on the other. An entity theorist tends to view intelligence as innate and fixed, and fundamentally believes that not much can be done to increase intelligence. An incremental theorist fundamentally believes that challenging problems are a core part of the learning process and that intelligence is malleable: it can be gained through hard work. When confronted with challenges, entity theorists interpret them as limits of their abilities and do not try hard to solve them. In literature, an entity theory is frequently referred to as a fixed mindset and an incremental theory as a growth mindset—owing largely to the underlying motivations of the entity and incremental theorists.

Reading this and I realized that, despite me being an 'incremental theorist' in most areas of my life, I had somehow developed a fixed mindset when it comes to music. I have Andrea to thank for helping me change that. By keeping on me with encouragement, and not letting me abuse myself, I've managed to make huge amounts of progress. Over time, I slowly but surely came to the conclusion that practice works. I have gone from a skilless person to someone who can play! I'm no more than a beginner today, but I am so happy with my own progress.

Thank You

This post is mostly me trying to thank the many people who have helped me on my way.

  • My parents for buying that Nylon guitar that got me started. If it hadn't been for playing with that like a toy at their place, I would never have started
  • My fiancee (very soon to be wife!) Andrea: Above, I thanked Andrea for helping me keep going. More than just that though, she helped me work through my musical complexes and neuroses, and was totally happy with me diving head first into guitar. Without having her as my support, I almost certainly would have never started, nor continued.
  • I am fortunate enough to have a number of musical friends; Chris, Michael, Jon, Gloria, and Pouya, stand out for just generally being excited and supportive of me picking up a new hobby as a fresh beginner. Jon pulled out an electric guitar when I was visiting Edmonton in October, and let me give it a try… a couple months later I went out and bought myself a telecaster. Chris wrote up some lovely tips on guitar buuing for me, and Michael actually came with me when I went shopping for a better acoustic guitar. I was so happy to have his company. That trip was a success, and I came home with a Seagull S6.
  • The vast majority of my learning has been at, and so a huge thanks needs to be given to Justin Sandercoe. His online lessons are really good, and his beginners course is very well put together.

I am very happy playing guitar, and think I will be doing it for a long time. A year in, and I felt it was the perfect time to thank those who have encouraged me in finding something I really enjoy.