Retirement at 90, Part 1

No, not waiting until 90 to retire, waiting for 90 days to blog about what retirement is like. Does that title count as clickbait?

This is not an early retirement as some folks would have it. I’ve been eligible for Social Security for years. But it is earlier than I planned*.

And it’s not at all what my previous lifestyle transitions were like. When I left the military, I already had a job lined up in industry. When I left industry, I was already enrolled in a PhD program. Before I finished my dissertation, I had been hired at EWU. This is the first time I have left one career field without having a firm idea of what I’ll be doing next. Fortunately, throughout my many careers I’ve been selfish and lazy enough that transitioning to a life of selfish laziness should not be a problem.

Herewith, a breakout of what it felt like each month after retirement

The first month feels like any other vacation. Final wrapup of duties. Maybe a vacation trip — in this case, a ten day cruise. My weight goes up because, hey, a cruise. So far, it’s just another Christmas Break.

The second month is when the cognitive dissonance sets in. I have this feeling that I have to be doing something — prepping lectures, rewriting syllabi, correcting homework, something — but of course I don’t have anything like that. It’s not a case of feeling useless, as many retirees reportedly do, it’s a case of not yet having figured out how to restructure my time.**

http://www.sheldoncomics.com/archive/020427.html

Unstructured time

Now and again I get an email from a student — We miss you! The other profs are mean to us! I refrain from getting involved. I’m going to stop by the office at some point, but I’ll hold off for a while. Student sobbing should trail off as the current generation graduates and the new ones never heard of me. Kindof like sticking one’s hand in a bucket of water.

I spend way more time on the computer than I ever did when I was teaching MIS, hitting reload on my 200 345 RSS feeds, reading lots of things I would never have wasted my time on earlier (Air Canada pilot orders 23 pizzas to Halifax-bound plane stranded on tarmac). The tendinitis in my mouse hand is back, so to get away from the computer I start binge-watching One Piece and Sailor Moon on Crunchyroll, and re-reading classic novels like That Time I Was Reincarnated as a Slime. My weight goes up because I’m not spending two hours a day walking back and forth in front of a class, waving my arms, and because, hey, all that food is just sitting there in the fridge. I can’t go jogging (OK, walking) because Spokane is still shivering from a six-week-long cold snap where the windchills are in the minuses and everything that isn’t buried in snow is covered with ice.

What I really want to do is get back to my research (and learning Python, and learning Japanese), but to do that I have to be able to get to my desk and my desk is piled high with books and papers. I’d put them away but to do that I’d have to be able to get to the various bookcases, which are blocked by stacks of coats and backpacks that I need to find space for in the closets, boxes of books from my office and old computer gear that I need to find space for … somewhere else … and papers that I need to put on my desk so I can organize them.

Meanwhile, various tasks cut into my time: patching the hole in the bathroom ceiling where the leak came through last summer, doing my taxes (This year I’m going to be early, dammnit!), upgrading my wife’s computer from Ubuntu 14 to 18, and all the rest of the twenty years’ worth of deferred housework. Since I’m not really a household chores sort of guy it takes an effort, and a strong will, to motivate myself to do these things and hey, they just released the latest episode of The Magnificent KOTOBUKI.

Actually, I’m not getting a lot of that stuff done, either. Mostly, I seem to be frittering away my time. By the time I’m done with surfing, reading, napping, kitchen, and anime, the day is over, and where did it go? I seem to be caught in a basin of attraction, one that’s not really sustainable.

By the end of the third month, things have begun to settle down. I no longer feel I have to spend an hour on the computer the very first thing, so that I get the latest MIS news for my students (I don’t have any students, remember?). So I can make breakfast, and do my various neck and back exercises (see ailments) before I stroll into my office. I’ve got a timer on the computer that tells me to stop and stretch every 20 minutes, and to go take an exercise break every hour. It turns out that I have a couple of neck exercises that take three minutes to run through — just the right length of time to steep a cup of tea.

Outside, the days are noticeably longer (but not yet long) and the weather is definitely warmer (but not yet warm). This gives me a chance to start walking again.

Inside, I’ve set up a table in the Sun Room for seedlings, preparing them for hardening-off in the cabinet-sized greenhouse on the deck. I’m also attacking the various household chores during those 20 minute breaks. It’s a slow job, but things are getting done.***

I still haven’t made any progress on my research and learning.

Since I do have all this time, and since MJ is still busy six days a week with dog training and dog judging and music directing, I get to do most of the cooking. So my weight is going up. Since retirement it’s been going up by about a pound a week.

Next time, we’ll look at the future, and the past.


*I retired because of my health. Not that I’m unhealthy on a day to day basis, but because I can’t be sure what it will be like, day to day. Quite apart from the whole multiple myeloma thing, I find that entropy is beginning to become a factor: high blood pressure, bad back, bad neck, bad hips (bursitis), bad knees; various eye issues (including early indicators of age-related macular degeneration, so I’ve got something to look forward to); gout. Gout? I don’t own a big enough home to have gout.

Of course, the big problem isn’t the ailments, it’s how to pay for them. Retirement has shuffled my health insurance and reduced my options. Plus, the new MyChart system at the local hospital doesn’t seem to be able to bill the insurers properly, and they don’t seem to have figured out what my new status is.  I am paying more now, and getting more things rejected. Part of my now-copious spare time looks like it will be spent fighting MyChart and Medicare and Tricare. So far, every visit has required that I work my way down the chain, again.

Looks like one of the constraints on my overseas trips and dakimakura purchases will be how much of my discretionary income gets siphoned off to pay bonuses to the stockholders of Celgene.

**I sent this comic to a recently retired friend, ex-Army, hard charger type. He said he showed it to his wife, and he thought he’d have to call 911, she was laughing so hard.

*** If a man says he’s gonna do something, he’s gonna do it, and it don’t do no good you go reminding him of it every six months.

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