Moving Parts

Someone I once interviewed for HBS commented that the situation he’d had to handle was “…kind of like being in a car wash– pretty hard to find something to grab onto.”  I liked the quote at the time, because as a casewriter you’re always looking for colorful comments by the protagonist.   This was Geno Auriemma, by the way, the legendary UCONN women’s basketball coach.  And now that I have four kids and a dog (plus the husband) that’s enough for my own basketball team– so I understand a lot better what he meant.  When everything is fluid and slippery, and all the parts are moving at the same time, how do you get a grip and influence what’s happening around you?  Inside a carwash, you’re meant to just sit there passively and ride it out, but that’s not so good in real life– or in basketball.

I’ve been in the carwash called “MOVING TO LONDON” since December.  Moving parts– rollers, brushes, hoses, suds– everywhere.  It’s hard to know where to jump in to tell you about it, but I’ll start with the first part that seems to have settled into position (apart from Clay’s job, which I’ll mention later).

School.  After a scramble to get complicated application packages turned in by Feb. 1… followed by the realization that it can be difficult to find places for primary school kids in London’s private schools… followed by further scrambling to identify and begin the application process to some reasonable alternatives… We finally got word this week that Chloe, Claire and Quinn all got places at our first choice, the American School in London (ASL)!  It’s hard to explain what a relief this is.  First of all, just to have the issue settled is a fantastic relief.  Whatever else may happen, the children will be in a great school.  And it is a great school by any standards– I know this from the dozens of school inspection reports I read during the course of our research.  Second, it’s an anchor for everything else we decide.  We needed to know where the kids would be in school in order to figure out where we might reasonably live in the city.  How are we willing to commute to school (walk, bus, car, tube?) and for how long?  Does a tiny bit of me feel a tinge of regret that the littles won’t be in a British school, with uniforms up to and including the coats and hats, and a proper phys ed unit on cricket?  Well, yes, maybe a bit– but I know ASL is by far our top option.

Work.  Clay is already spending a fairly significant amount of time in London, or at European client sites.  That will continue to ramp up over the next few months.  We miss him, but try to really appreciate the time we have together when he is home.  And I also want to say– since the two or three of you who will read this are family and close friends– that when I accompanied him to London last month I saw that his colleagues clearly view him as an asset.  I’m very proud of him and the reputation he has.  I know he has earned it.

Housing.  While I was in London, I explored neighborhoods within commuting distance of the American School, as well as some neighborhoods we just thought we would like to live in.  The school is in an area called St. John’s Wood– west of Regent’s Park.  I had never even been to that part of London, but I liked it.  It has more hills and winding streets, with surprise aspects (some good, some not) around every bend or rise.  That’s where we’re concentrating the housing search right now– if it can be called a search yet.  Given that we won’t be ready to take a place until at least June, the things on the market now are not likely to still be around when we can execute.  Still, it’s addicting to look.  One real estate site has floorplans, photos, and maps with aerial views.  It even has something called “bird’s eye” view where you can actually take a virtual walk around the neighborhood using real photography.  It’s fun to explore, but absolutely crazy that you can see everything that well.

As for our house here in Marblehead?  My imaginary therapist begs you not to mention it, as it is likely to trip an all-out panic attack.  I break out in a cold sweat, sprout hives, start shaking, faint, cry, and head straight to my bed for a nap at the mention of putting our house on the market.  But we’ll save those histrionics for a future post on A Fresh Cuppa.  In fact, I’ve become bored with this summary, so I imagine you are bored as well.  I’ll sign off for now, with a promise to return bearing stories and photos of the family…  Till then, cheerio!

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