November 26, 2016

Up at 5:30, 5 morning posts published by 7.

I put on my hat and coat and walked downtown. 35°. Black coffee at the State Street Colectivo....

50186157174__F5E7DF1D-810D-444F-9144-797E77FC1406

... used that green-and-black fountain pen to make 4 drawings in that little Moleskine. (Amazon links added to remind you to show some love for this blog — if you feel any — by using my links and my Amazon Portal.)

Back home by 10, having walked 3.8 miles according to the iPhone app. The town looked pretty deserted. Few signs yet of the football game that hits the neighborhood at 2:30 today. A couple of folding chairs set up in a parking lot ready to accommodate tailgaters. I see Nebraska lost yesterday, which means the Badgers have clinched the Big Ten West title whether we beat the Gophers today or not.

It's the second to the last weekend of the semester, my last semester, and I'm going over all the retirement-related paperwork. I fret about getting that right but have no anxiety about the looming prospect of not working. I wonder how much to write about how I feel. Maybe this is a subject to be discreet about, because other people need to work. But what about the people who are hanging onto work? Eh! I can't assume their experience would be like mine. Some people like the structure of work or need some kind of affirmation that comes from participation in the workplace. A retired colleague once said to me, very sadly, that if you retire, you become "irrelevant." I don't remember what I said. Probably just something nice, but I've thought about his remark and his sadness, and the funny thing is it's irrelevant! I don't remember ever arriving at the idea that I was relevant in the first place, and losing relevance feels like a strange thing to worry about. If I examine it from an angle that suits my frame of mind, it looks like liberation.

70 comments:

Sebastian said...

"it looks like liberation." But then, you liberated yourself long go.

Original Mike said...

"A retired colleague once said to me, very sadly, that if you retire, you become "irrelevant.""

For the first time since childhood, you own each day.

FleetUSA said...

It takes one or two years to adjust to the different lifestyle even though you'll continue blogging. Actually that will make it seem similar, but you'll still drift away from friends, students, and all that involved in classes and grading.

Good luck and God's speed. It is an adventure.

Jim Grey said...

I write a blog in which I post six days a week, and I'm lucky to write one post between 5:30 and 7 am (my normal daily writing time). I don't know how you write five!

Kathryn51 said...

I don't remember ever arriving at the idea that I was relevant in the first place. . . .

And this is probably the #1 reason why your blog is the first thing I turn to every morning. What a contrast to the Election Night exploding heads of the Pundit Class who believed with all their heart that they were "relevant". Joke's on them.

rhhardin said...

Irrevelant never forgets.

Goldenpause said...

I have been semi-retired from the practice of law for three plus years (still working about 25% of the time). I predict that soon you will be so busy with things you want to do you will wonder how you ever found time to work. Embrace and enjoy your new freedom.

rhhardin said...

I still did the same stuff on retiring, just for a .org instead of a .com.

Telecommuting since 1987.

Francisco D said...

Looks like a Pelican 800 - good pen. (Made in Germany)

Have you tried Aurora (Made in Italy) and/or Sailor (made in Japan).

It's an American invention, but they don't make them (e.g., the old Parkers) like they used to.

madAsHell said...

I once worked at Boeing. The statistics showed that if you retired after 30 years at Boeing, then you would last 18 months in retirement. At the time, Twain came to mind "Lies, damn lies and statistics."

I remember the Don H. retirement party celebrating his 32 years with the company. He died exactly 18 months later. Some people don't do well when all the structure is removed from their lives.

DKWalser said...

I think (most) men and (most) women respond to retirement differently. Typically, a man's sense of self is closely related to what he does. A woman 's is more often related to her relationships. So, retirement is typically a much bigger thing for men than women. At least that's been my observation from the past 30 years helping clients plan for retirement.

I'm sure this gender difference just illustrates, again, the basic superiority of women (or their oppression).

sunsong said...

My mom always said retire to something not from something. In other words you need a reason to get out of bed in the morning - a positive purpose. That certainly doesn't have to be a job.

Ann Althouse said...

"My mom always said retire to something not from something. In other words you need a reason to get out of bed in the morning - a positive purpose."

I get out of bed to write the blog every morning. I've done that for more than 12 years straight. I want to retire in part so that work obligations don't break up the pace I want to set.

I have many other things I want to do. I've had the summers off -- 3 months every summer -- for a long time, so I'm well-practiced at handling myself in an obligation-free way of life.

Ann Althouse said...

"I'm sure this gender difference just illustrates, again, the basic superiority of women (or their oppression)."

I'm sure it also has a lot to do with how people think about what other people think of them. If a man is looking to others for his self-respect, he may be troubled by what he imagines them to be thinking, which is that he's out of work. But a man like that IS concerned with relationships -- with his standing in society as he imagines it.

The truth is that other people are not really spending much time AT ALL thinking about you. It's something you do to yourself. The biggest waste of time in life -- and it's so tempting -- is thinking about other people thinking about you. It's absurd, because THERE YOU ARE, thinking about YOURSELF. That's what other people are doing too, thinking about themselves. They're not thinking about you, except perhaps in terms of what you are thinking of them.

bagoh20 said...

Relevance is a prison, a ball and chain, a curse, but only if you are relevant to people you care about.

David Begley said...

1. Nebraska did not just lose. They got crushed by Iowa. Iowa! And the loss of the cherished Hy-Vee Heroes trophy to boot.

To make matters even worse, a black Iowa player has accused a white Nebraska player of using racial slurs during the game. But this Iowa kid has a history of activism, so a credibility problem.

2. Althouse begins to write and draw her magnum opus starting in 2017. The wider world will soon discover the brilliance of Althouse. Tom Wolfe's literary heir steps forward.

Michael K said...

I retired after a 14 hour back surgery 20 years ago. I have been working and teaching most of the time since. I just can't do surgery anymore. As long as I sit, I'm fine. Tomorrow, I will drive 5 1/2 hours to Phoenix, work three days there and then pick up my wife at PHX airport, drive to Tucson and do a lot of paperwork on buying a new house there. My kids are very annoyed with me as I am too old to move to Tucson. I don't agree.

And on we go with life, Satchel Paige said, "Never look back. Somethin' might be gainin' on you."

John said...

Altexit, I love it.

dhagood said...
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dhagood said...

@GoldenPause: I predict that soon you will be so busy with things you want to do you will wonder how you ever found time to work.

this.

@sunsong: My mom always said retire to something not from something. In other words you need a reason to get out of bed in the morning - a positive purpose. That certainly doesn't have to be a job.

and this.

i've been retired for 2.5 years now. come on in, the water's fine.

i also spent a number of years as a systems engineer in the aerospace industry, and didn't want that quick death to happen to me (i know several people died very quickly after retiring in what seemed like perfect health). so, i spent the last 18 months before i retired deciding what i was going to do with myself such that i had a reason to get up in the morning (a la sunsong's mom). my wife and i now have a small cattle ranch southeast of denver and i plan turning a 1970 plymouth valiant into a road shredding beast.

life is good :)

Patrick said...

Someone fretting about losing relevance after retirement probably over estimates their relevance while working.

William said...

The plus side of being irrelevant is that you get to sleep in. When younger, I never got to develop my full potential for laziness.......Too much sleeping in, however, can ruin your afternoon nap. It's good to get up early and get in some exercise. It leads to a much more enjoyable afternoon siesta. It takes a certain amount of self discipline to be productively lazy......People like to pretend that they are significant or competent or powerful or decisive or wise. Some jobs foster these pretensions, and people enjoy such jobs. Perhaps that's the reason why Supreme Court Justices stick around so long. As a general rule, though, work sucks. Doing nothing is a rewarding activity, and a high bar to surpass.

wildswan said...

"For the first time since childhood, you own each day."

So true. And I like to have long term projects that extend on all sides of the present. For instance when I first retired I read all of John Gunther's "Inside" books - like Inside Europe, Inside Africa. They were out of date but that made them interesting because Gunther tried to define trends and predict directions. When I read them I saw how it all came out - for instance, Gunther's discussion of how Egypt had become secular and the irrelevance of The Muslim Brotherhood; his accounts of how many Africans had university degrees in different countries in the Fifties - that number was in the 10's and 20's in some countries that achieved independence in the Sixties; his discussions of Soviet economics. What he said then is being said now. History may not repeat itself but it gets repeated over and over.

Michael K said...

" i spent the last 18 months before i retired deciding what i was going to do with myself "

The most spectacular example of this I know was Eli Callaway.

When he was CEO of Burlington Industries, he decided he wanted to do something agricultural with his retirement. He hired a wine expert and this guy found a perfect area in San Diego County near Temecula for wine grapes. Long story. Callaway spent years planting vines and buying equipment. Probably good tax treatment, too.

When he retired he moved west and started to make wine. One of his chardonnays was a winner of a blind tasting in Paris and the reputation was made. Eventually, he sold the winery and took up a new industry. Golf clubs.

Callaway golf is a huge player in the industry.

He died at age 82 after a life well lived.

SukieTawdry said...

Welcome to retirement. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have (I often wonder how I ever found the time to work a 50-hour week). Relevance is a state of mind. Will Meadehouse stay in Madison?

mikee said...

A wise friend once said, "Living well is the best revenge."
Have a wonderful, busy, exciting retirement and only if you so desire should you even note, let alone taste, the deliciously salty tears of your former coworkers at the University.

retail lawyer said...

Keep writing about your retirement thoughts. I love to hear them.

MayBee said...

Will you have health insurance when you retire? If not, make sure you sign up soon. The open enrollment window is closing (you'll have 2 months after your retirement date to sign up)

Martha said...

If you stop blogging you risk becoming irrelevant to those of us who look to you to put the day's happenings in some kind of order and perspective. We need you! Even the Linda Greenhouses and Jessica Valents of the world need YOU to set them straight.

RigelDog said...

I'm taking early retirement in a little over a year, and am surprised to find I can anticipate maybe "feeling irrelevant." It's not that my identity is tied up with my career title; it's that my identity is tied up with being smart and being able to exercise that ability in the larger world. Starting to realizie that I need to work at not working--I'm an introvert who likes to interact with other people every day, and without a regular workplace, that's going to be a challenge.

HT said...

You don't think training future lawyers is relevant?

shake-and-bake said...

People ask me whether it was difficult to retire after so many years of practicing law. I tell them it was about as hard as checking out of a Motel 6.

Jupiter said...

I have had jobs I hated, several of them. But I don't look forward to not working, not having tough problems to solve. I suppose I could buy some surplus servers, build a small supercomputer of my own, and solve some problems in molecular dynamics. It doesn't feel the same, though. Maybe you're right, it's a social thing. I need that pat on the head; "Good Dog, Jupiter! Atta boy! You saved the day!".

I dislike the sorts of people who naturally tend to end up in charge at large organizations. So it has been a slow and unwelcome realization that my skills require the resources of a large organization to be useful. But I have realized it, there it is, I am never going to be my own boss. And while I would like to have more free time, I really can't see *not working*. That would be like going, "OK, I've been thinking hard for 65 years, I guess it's time to stop now. No more ideas for me, I'm just gonna sit here and watch the surf."

EDH said...

A retired colleague once said to me, very sadly, that if you retire, you become "irrelevant."

Unfortunately, due to the politically correct orthodoxy on most college campuses today, retirement from the academe oftentimes is the first opportunity to be truly... irreverent.

Carpe impium!

Bay Area Guy said...

You are certainly relevant to us! Good luck in your retirement, but don't retire from this blog. Ever!

Francisco D said...

Michael K,

I will retire to Tucson in about 16 months. As a psychologist for over 30 years, I cannot listen to people complain anymore, without willing to try and change their lives. This political season was stressful. Most of my colleagues and long term depressed/personality disorder patients are avid Democrats. One of my colleagues came in the day after the election and stated that "there is always assassination to hope for." I am done with this crap.

Tucson seems like a great place for an active retirement. There are great hiking and biking trails. My girlfriend (a long distance runner) often places in Midwest races for her age (54). She checked the times for the Arizona Classic last March, and was amazed at how much faster women in her age group are. No more medals for her unless she gets a lot faster.

We will be looking in the Oro Valley area. I will be happy to ditch snow blowers, lawnmowers and down coats. She will be happy to run year long without ice, snow and freezing temps.

EDH said...

"My mom always said retire to something not from something. In other words you need a reason to get out of bed in the morning - a positive purpose."

Unfortunately, for men, "relevance" is a two-edged sword: we have to maintain our relevance in order to get out of bed -- and also to get into bed... with a woman!

Unattorney said...

Most law professors I know retired when they got tenure. As a government lawyer, I retired decades before I stopped coming to work.

coupe said...
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Jupiter said...

Francisco D said...
"Most of my colleagues and long term depressed/personality disorder patients are avid Democrats."

Interesting observation. Do you think that's 'cause conservatives don't do crazy, or 'cause conservatives prefer to keep their crazy to themselves? I suspect the latter, myself, but you are probably in a better position to know. "Avid", you say. How depressing.

LYNNDH said...

By all means speak up. I have been retired since 2004. Have never looked back. Some people are defined by their jobs. I think that you are too some extent that way. But you have Blogging and that is a new "job" title to assume in a full time way.

Francisco D said...

Jupiter,

I think most conservatives and libertarians are more self-sufficient and try to fix problems rather than feel victimized by them.

One of my patients refused to vote for Trump because he was a sexual molester and she was fondled by a boss 35 years ago. She revels in being a victim to the extent that she (a very bright teacher) cannot see the irony in being a big Clinton supporter.

ALP said...

If you think about life in terms of making yourself useful and contributing somehow, instead of focusing solely on how you draw a paycheck, the transition to retirement should be seamless.

Also if you are, like me, one that prefers smaller town/rural living, the freedom to live away from a major job center is something I look forward to eagerly.

Jupiter said...

Francisco D,

Well, I suppose we all have our troubles, and there is something to be said for picking a problem you are comfortable with and suffering from it for as long as you possibly can. Whatever comes next will likely only be worse.

FullMoon said...

Beware of "spouse in the house" syndrome.

A problem for some retirees is going to bed at night with no particular reason to get up in the morning. Doesn't seem to matter how trivial.

AA has a reason to get up, good for her, and us.

KathyP said...

I don't think that it's a matter of relevant or irrelevant. If a retiree wishes and can return to work, it's often about wanting to make a contribution to the institution or company or other venture but doing it at their own pace,or on their own terms. The corporate rat race is over, but there is still knowledge or ideas to impart on the next generation(s). Whatever floats your boat.

Meade said...

Irrelevance means you never have to wear, say, your sari.

Ann Althouse said...

"And this is probably the #1 reason why your blog is the first thing I turn to every morning."

Ha ha. Thanks. It is my special point of view.

Sebastian said...

"They're not thinking about you, except perhaps in terms of what you are thinking of them." After retirement, they won't even do that.

But your colleague's lament is simple and true. We need to matter to other people. After retirement, we matter to fewer than before. Teachers who mattered, day in day out, to dozens or hundreds, just by showing up, must suffer a relatively big drop. They can compensate, and focus on things that matter more, but it takes work and they will never be as "relevant" as before.

Unknown said...

A Moleskine isn't the best paper to use for good fountain pens. I'd give Tomoe River notebooks or Leuchturm notebooks a try. You should notice the difference. Moleskine's have a tendency to make your ink feather. Look for A6 size if you like the smaller notebook.

https://www.amazon.com/Leuchtturm-1917-Cover-Pocket-Journal/dp/B0141KDS94/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1480199208&sr=8-10&keywords=a6+leuchtturm+dotted

Ann Althouse said...

"The corporate rat race is over..."

I was never the rat race kind of person.

I remember once walking in on a discussion of law review editors (at NYU law school) who were on the topic of how all of the law review editors were "Type A" personalities. When I walked in, somebody immediately observed that I was the exception.

Ann Althouse said...

"A Moleskine isn't the best paper to use for good fountain pens. I'd give Tomoe River notebooks or Leuchturm notebooks a try. You should notice the difference. Moleskine's have a tendency to make your ink feather. Look for A6 size if you like the smaller notebook."

Thanks. Will try it.

Meade said...

I love irrelevant Althouse.

Danno said...

Meade, how about irreverent Althouse?

Meade said...

Mmm... believe it or not, she's actually pretty dang reverent, Dan.
Brave, clean, and reverent.

iowan2 said...

I am also looking at retirement the 1st of the year. I've been the last 3 years searching for part time work, to replace over forty years of working 5 days week. 10 hours a day in the 'off' season and 60 to 70+ hours and 7 days week in season. I have found it. 40 hours a week, part time. 1500 to 1800 hours a year. Not retired, but retired from the grind. 40 hours a week will seem like perpetual vacation, in relative terms. Very much looking forward to living like most of the working world.

Harold Montgomery said...

In my expeerience, it takes about 15 minutes to adjust to retirement.

rcocean said...

Some people live to work, other work to live.

I'm in the 2nd category. I like my job, but I could retire tomorrow and be very happy.

My wife on the other hand...

Michael K said...

"We will be looking in the Oro Valley area. "

We are in escrow with a house in Oro Valley just by a resort called "Mountain Shadows." It is pretty central but close enough to the I 10 that I can work in Phoenix a day or two a week.

When I was in practice, my partner used to say "I hope they never find out I would do this for free!"

I had to quit as an old back injury got slowly worse. I like to keep a finger in medicine. There is a VA in Casa Grande, not too far from Tucson. If you wanted to do something with veterans.

Christy said...

Sounds like we need to schedule a virtual retirement party in a couple of weeks. I can bring a couple of jugs of apple pie moonshine. Bet you could talk both Chip and DBQ into bringing amuse bouche. Who wants to do the music?

Francisco D said...

"There's a VA in Casa Grande ..."

I worked for the VA for a year. I have never seen such dysfunctional internal politics and incompetence in my life. Note that I worked as a consulting organizational psychologist for 17 years. Nothing compares to my VA experience. I feel terrible for the vets.

Robert said...

Here are two items of advice that stuck with me as I planned for retirement.

A retired senior manager told me to make a clean break from work. Never go back to the office. Don't drop by. Don't go to work events or celebrations. You'll realize that you don't belong there anymore.

The second item was at a retirement planning seminar. It sort of went like "... and you know that you'll be spending more time with your spouse". The audience laughs at that remark. The response to that is the key item. "No. Seriously. You need to know that you will be spending more time with your spouse."

Michael K said...

Nothing compares to my VA experience. I feel terrible for the vets.

It is a mess but I suspect a new broom is coming.

coupe said...

My personal opinion (as a retired Vet) is that the VA should be limited to treating combat or accident injuries (friendly or unfriendly) while on active duty.

I think veterans should be allowed to use the facility for their first three years after discharge (because in theory you could be recalled).

But the VA is no place for veterans who haven't been in the military for 30 or 40 years, and served their whole tour stateside.

Just because your divorced, homeless, and unemployed, is no reason to demand free health care. It's no way to run a military.

Instead, these people need to have a minimum health care, subsidized by the government, and not in a VA facility. I'd let them go to a Urgent Care clinic, and see the PA.

If they are dying of cancer, then by all means, send them to a civilian doctor and charge welfare. The VA was never designed to be a welfare benefit.

Oso Negro said...

@ Coupe - Interesting thought. What would you do with my Dad? Diagnosed with severe PTSD a few years ago. This, my mind you, a good 60 years after his time in the front lines of the Korean War. Having survived just one of his mornings in the Battle of Outpost Harry, he had to make his way BACK to the MLR and had trouble finding where to put his feet without stepping on a corpse. At 86 years, he is sliding into home, as my brother says. At soon as the sun goes down every night he is still waiting for the Chinese to come at our lines again. No worries for you, though - this one's on our family.

LYNNDH said...

Oso Negro, peace be with you.

coupe said...

Oso Negro said...Interesting thought. What would you do with my Dad?

PTSD is a combat injury. There's no time limit. Same with a helicopter crash back injury in Vietnam, showing up at age 60. That's exactly what the VA is for.

coupe said...

EDIT:

My personal opinion (as a retired Vet) is that the VA should be limited to treating combat or accident injuries (friendly or unfriendly) RECEIVED while on active duty.

I wasn't clear. But anyway, this is just an opinion. No one agrees with me, and why should they, we can still print money.

hhhhh said...

You need to put, & label posts like these with, a tag that says "retirement". Or, maybe you don't like that word, and the negative connotations & bad vibes associated with such a tag?

ligneus said...

In answer to the late Norm of Normblog's question, How would it change your life if you came into a large amount of money?, one fellow blogger answered, I would stop selling my dwindling supply of days and keep them for myself.