Tuesday, December 25, 2012

6 more full-time days of work

On my four-day holiday, I started cleaning out my paper files at home, which will take days if not weeks. No writing, though. A little depressing. Especially after seeing On the Road, which shows Kerouac writing regularly when he isn't drinking, smoking dope, or taking bennies. He did do a lot of writing.

I had a brief fantasy of my replacement e-mailing me and my boss at work saying that he just couldn't do it, the job would be too much for him. What would I do? I would not stay, no, no, no. I'm leaving for my trip at the end of January, no matter what.

Monday, December 17, 2012

19 and counting...

I've been miscalculating, counting down to the first Monday I don't have to report to my office. But shouldn't I be counting down to the my last day in the office? That's 19, not 21.

My replacement has two weeks to learn everything. He'll miss the week between Christmas and New Year's, but that's only three work days anyway. And he's doing pretty well so far.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Perils of Being a Dilettante

I'm very undisciplined and easily distracted. Unless I have deadlines from others (like going to an office, having specific work to do), it's too easy use up my time doing things I like doing, but that aren't essential to what I want to do. I could easily spend two hours reading the New York Times (in print) and then another hour or more playing Luxor Maj-jongg or Bejeweled, and another hour or more reading Facebook and clicking on the links friends have posted, and another hour or more reading all my e-mail and the various links other friends have posted -- and there you have it: almost seven hours just reading stuff that's interesting (many things are interesting to me) but not focused.

So I have to learn to set priorities, my own priorities. If I'm semi-retiring to write, writing has to be the first thing I do. If it's not supporting my writing, the reading has to wait. Writing, the writing group, reading books on writing, talking about writing: those are priorities. Reading for fun counts, but not online. Reading online is an open-ended temptation, links to links to links. Print books keep you in the book.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

33 Days

My boss is on vacation, I'm doing his job and mine, and the new staff person, the hopefully-to-be-my-replacement, worked today. He seems to be doing okay, at least the questions he's been asking are good and reasonable ones. I haven't checked his work to see whether he missed anything egregious, but the editors whose work he read will doubtless give me feedback. I'm still feeling half in/half out. I need to remember how to do everything so I can fill in the replacement, yet I'm finding myself not caring about details that used to concern me.

Meanwhile, I had to make a phone call about my father's life insurance and only learned a crucial piece of information by using the old journalist's interview technique of asking, "Is there anything you want to tell me that I didn't ask about?" What I learned added an additional step to the process, but simplified another step. I still need to get in touch with my retirement account person and one of my father's accounts, and make some informational phone calls about Medigap and Part D. Retiring is such hard work!

Friday, November 30, 2012

What I Most Fear...

... that when I don't have an office to go to every day, I will just sleep into the afternoon, spend three hours reading the New York Times, go to the gym, and get home too late to make dinner out of one of my many new cookbooks.

When I told this to a colleague, she pooh-poohed my fear. Sleep, she said, read whatever you want to. Your time is your own, and you don't have to do anything. Enjoy yourself, you'll figure it out.

This will be much easier if I can follow her advice. Can I?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Retirement = Death?

That is stark.

But think about stages of living: after high school comes college (often), or perhaps a job; after college comes a job (or maybe graduate school); after a job comes moving in with someone, usually eventually getting married; after getting married, having a kid(s); after working for a while, getting another job, perhaps changing careers if you're lucky enough to have that freedom. After working for a long time, retiring. And what comes after retiring? A new career, yes, that's always a possibility; travel, if you've got the money. But what comes next? There's always something coming next. Until, inevitably, the end. Death. There's no avoiding it.

So retirement makes death feel that much closer. Leaning over your shoulder, perhaps. Breathing down your neck. Poking its hands in your pockets to keep warm.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What day is it?

Keeping track of what day it is, is not going to be easy when I no longer have to go the office. My husband is retired, and he can only remember what day it is by what day I am going to work now. But when we're both retired and semiretired, how will either of us remember what day it is? Will I have to write the day of the week on the medicine chest mirror before I go to sleep each night? Or cross off each day on the calendar in the kitchen before I go to bed?

At my father's retirement village, one resident would announce, at each meal, "Today is Wednesday, November 28" (or whatever day of the week and date it was). So if you woke up that morning and couldn't remember, at least you would be reminded at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

And will it matter what day of the week it is?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


In six weeks, I will leave the full-time workforce and no longer have to go to an office. Right this minute, that feels really good. But there are so many steps that still need to taken:
1. Sign up for Medicare Part B: two forms that need to be filled out
2. Sign up for a medigap policy and Part D  prescription coverage by December 7
3. Make sure my replacement at work will really work out (the first choice didn't at all)
4. Get used to using my to-do list again (I lost track of it the past few years)

There's more, but isn't this enough?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Delay, delay, delay

It was a whole month ago that I said I would work out my feelings and plans for this next stage of my life, semiretirement. And the first step was disappointing myself by writing nothing. I haven't posted here in 31 days. This is not new. Of course there have been conflicting demands. I'm still working. Then we had an almost hurricane, which fortunately did not cause me anything but inconvenience. Nothing like what happened to others in the region. Then work problems arose, which need to be extricated from. NaNoWriMo began, and I haven't done much with that either. 7,267 words in 16 days; at that rate I will have to write more than 3,000 words a day to get to 50,000 by the end of the month. That will never happen.

And then my father died yesterday. So there is the pull to write about that, to write about him, to write about why I feel only relief, or mostly relief. I will never have to call him again on the phone. I will not have to worry about him outliving his money. I will not have to worry about sending him to a nursing home or negotiating with California Medicaid. We just have to wind up his affairs, pay whatever outstanding bills there are -- and since Medicare is very slow about processing claims, I may not be able to distribute the estate until some time next year. Maybe after his taxes are filed.

So my idyllic dream of working a few hours a day a few days a month, and writing what I want to the rest of the time just isn't going to play out.

Let's see how long I go before posting here the next time.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Retirement, no, semiretirement

I'm moving into semiretirement in January, which is a major change for me. Working at home, setting up my own schedule for my own work and for the work for which I will be paid, not seeing other people (except my partner) unless I make the effort to see them -- all this will be new and diff-erent (or should I have written "diff-icult?).  So I will use this space to prepare and work through How to Go About It.

Twelve years ago Carl Klaus, founder of the nonfiction writing program at the University of Iowa, wrote a whole book on preparing for his impending retirement, Taking Retirement. Nine years ago Nan Bauer Maglin co-edited a volume of women writing on retirement, Women Confronting Retirement: A Nontraditional Guide. I doubt this will become a book. But I do invite anyone out there with thoughts, suggestions, questions, pitfalls to chime in. Let's have a conversation about this stage of life without the gung-ho, false cheeriness, and Hallmark card sentiments or the moan and groan of how bad things are now. However, hearty whining accompanied by action prompts are welcome: what can we actually DO about what's bothering us, whether it's the deterioration of our bodies or the deterioration of the body politic.

So, let's go...