09 January 2008

A meme for Wicked

Wicked Thistle has set me task or a meme (which I really don’t understand except that it’s a bunch of questions)

…she wants to know about retirement... hmmm.

First, I must say that I was touched and moved that this might actually be a topic worth discussing, so thank you.

Let me just prop up my arthritic knee and throw bag of ice on it. You pull up a chair and you can share this fine cheddar cheese and have a wee dram of whiskey. I'll do my best to answer as honestly as possible, although I must admit; if I just wait 24 hours you will have much funnier answers.

1. What do you like best about retirement?
Freedom. Freedom from responsibility, freedom from guilt, freedom from accountability. Were it not for the choice of having two dogs, around whom I my life rotates right now, I could go anywhere, live anywhere, do anything or not do anything. Yup, I'd have to say, freedom.

2. What about it has surprised you the most?
That I would not feel compelled to do or participate in something equally productive. And that my being at home, felt as comfortable as it did so quickly. I'm sure that part of that was due to my working in home health care for the past seven years, and not actually being in an office.

3. Have you been able to shed the burden that this do, do, do culture places on us for producing and earning? If so, what was that moment like for you?

No, "the burden" is still there, and while I don't feel an obligation to hold a job, per se, I feel that I should be doing something productive every day, even if its household chores-which were just part of the landscape when I was working. I make up some pretty good stories to justify reading a book, magazine or blog. Pretty silly mind games.

4. What do you miss, if anything, about working?
The routine. Before home health care, I worked in research with some fabulous office mates (as you well know, WT, having been one). On many a stressful day, I can remember being excited about going to work because of the people with whom I worked. With my last job I did not really make any lasting friendships. And when I retired, I just slipped into fade. It wasn't really an end or a big finale. It was more like... I just wasn't working anymore. Sort of anti-climactic. As I think about it right now it makes me really, really sad.

5. Describe one way that you have changed since retiring.
The very first day after I retired (quite surprisingly) I just didn't make my bed! I went back in later in the day and laughed, because I don't remember the last time that happened. But actually the one way I changed was that I gained weight. I really somehow believed that by avoiding restaurants and fast food, I could magically lose weight. HA! The refrigerator is in the center of the house.

6. How has being on a fixed income affected your lifestyle?
The first six months was a little scary. I was getting a regular amount from my retirement, 401(k) but was not eligible for Social Security for seven months. I had spent at least a year looking at my expenses and crunching numbers over and over and over. I was pretty sure that I could retire early and be okay. And I am okay, but it was hard to anticipate inflation. My parents were Depression Era and I will always worry.

7. Do you ever think you'll go back to working in any capacity?
Yes, I think I would like to have some kind of structure or stimulus. Even if it means being a Wal-Mart greeter-- and I would be in damn fine Wal-Mart greeter! I can’t seem to do that for myself.

8. Do you find it difficult to be around your grumpy, bitter working friends? Do you ever wish you could smack them in the forehead with a flyswatter just to stop their endless bitching about deadlines, stoopid co-workers, and long days?

No, my friend, I don't. I often feel sad that my friends don't have more time to play, and sometimes it makes me feel old, but mostly, I enjoy the stories vicariously.

9. As you look down the road to your continued retirement, what do you want to do with all that luscious time?
My short-term vision includes rehabbing my sore knee (which I injured in my pool- the first week I had it by being stupid.) I would like to continue to swim every day, increasing the time and speed so that I can become stronger and more flexible with increased endurance. The secondary goal would be an increasing my stamina and strength-I will actually lose weight. And then I may be able to participate more fully in some activities with my young friends. Beyond that: I would like to study photography and learn Photoshop, perhaps take a course in dichroic glass making, spend more time in Belize and spend more time with my family. I would also like to do something that would afford me the opportunity of working with dogs-even on a short-term basis like Best Friends.

As for number 10, I would like to spend more time with spiritual, artistic and intuitive parts of my life, which have been sadly neglected. Part of this will include my writing and reading more books.

As I said at the beginning, these answers would be far more humorous if the Wicked Thistle had supplied them and perhaps she will-- we sometimes share a brain, you know. I appreciate her asking them would like to pass this set of questions or meme on to our friend A.Fanny-because I would love to know, her feelings on the subject.


Wicked Thistle said...

Very well said, my friend. Thanks for playing Wicked's Twisted Meme Game. Your responses surprised, humored, and inspired me, and I can't tell you how much I appreciated getting to know you a little better. It's easy to get into a habit of thinking I know everything about my friends when, in fact, I just flat out don't. I think we're all carrying around little surprises inside, just waiting for someone to ask us about them. Thanks for sharing some of yours.

moi said...

Very cool meme, Wicked. And very cool answers Doris! I was especially touched by your sadness at "fading" into retirement. As someone aslo places a great deal of importance on marking major life events, holidays, birthdays, etc., that made me sad, too. But it seems you have so many wonderful plans for the future, I'M excited! Oh, and how funny that you mention a couple times your "young" friends. I don't think we think of you as older than us :o)

A.Fanny said...

But did you know I'd clog your blog with my answer?

First off, congrats to Doris on her 1-year anniversary. Her retirement has been inspiring to me, I'm glad she has a wee bit more time for me lately and I'm grateful for the internet playground we share! Thank-you to Wicked and Doris for the meme challenge.

1. What do you like best about retirement? Sleeping in and reading in the morning. Time for myself.

2. What about it has surprised you? That I feel guilty about it. But that's actually nothing new. Because I did receive an inheritance which blocked my incentive to create my own way, and also because…

3. Have I shed the doo-doo burden? No, I am also still supposed to be productive. My mom used to say, "Every day do something you don't want to do. It builds character." And she was quite a character, as Doris knows. I also miss more involvement with others and do feel "irrelevant" as the years go on.

4. What do you miss? The checks coming in! Also recognition. I was recognized on the street once by a 5-year-old when I was playing "Rat-Face" on the Fudge series. It made my day!

Doris' "fade-out" experience made me think of the final scene of "Prime Suspect" where Helen Mirron just slips away from her retirement party and goes off into her new life. Very moving.

5. Describe one way that you have changed. Less frenetic, more at peace. But also wondering more often what the hell I'm here for. I'm working on a scene from Charles Busch's "The Tale of the Allergist's Wife" with some friends, doing a hilarious character, Marjorie, who is at the end of her rope since her children have left the nest and her novel was rejected by 32 publishers. She rants to her aged mother about all the volunteer work she's done "I have chopped the vegetables, driven the meals on wheels, registered people for the vote, made puppets for the retarded, pushed the hospital cart, stuffed the mailing, licked the envelopes, worked the hotline, sewn the quilt, saved the whales, served everyone's needs but my own. Well, what about my needs, Mother? Who's gonna volunteer to save me?" Mom responds: "Oy, I feel so bloated." This role does speak to me as I do volunteer, but it can get a little old!

6. Fixed income: Our income is comfortable but we do need to be careful. I used to have a lot more $ to throw around. I now wonder how Social Security and Medicare will pan out for us (later this year!).

7. Do you ever think you'll go back to working? I really would like to contribute someway despite the above rant! I wish I could find work I adore that doesn't make me anxious. Show-biz auditioning is a nasty slog – rather abusive with the high heels, panty hose, often no nearby parking, running across streets with cars barreling down on you, the competitiveness; and the bad scripts, so nasty for the world! Then there's the non-profit for which I am secretary, which is applying for a sizable grant. This means I would have to get this fanny back in sizable gear! We would be working with preschool kids, staff and parents, using my hand puppet and training others. I am actually kind of dreading it, but it would probably keep the mom in my head happier.

8. Bitter working friends. They are not pests that need to be swatted. I love hearing about their struggles and agonies and love to advise them to count their blessings and such like. Just fun! They help me enjoy my own indolence. But I DO wish they could retire or find work they adore! Maybe Wicked could do phone sex or pole dancing! She already has the name!

9. Future plans. I feel like hanging close to home. No plans for Africa seeing as I can’t outrun the animals anymore. But Italy and the south of France sound interesting. Also lots of opera always. Then exercise - with Doris – keep on pacing with her even though I'm taller. Swim in her pool – WITH her. Get a digital camera. Maybe do a play, but not sure how to manifest that. Watch old movies. Plow through the un-read book pile – now 2 feet tall. Tend my garden: we currently have peas, kale, broccoli, fennel, onions, dandelions (yes, we eat them), etc. Get 2 kittens and a dog and a mate for our male dove. Can cats and caged birds thrive in the same home?

10. Spiritual goal: Wish I could continue yoga classes, but injuries make it very dicey. I love the communal breathing and meditative atmosphere.

Doris Rose said...

thanks amiga!!

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