Check out this MSNBC article.
I so agree!
Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity.”– Gilda Radner
A year ago I grabbed the modest retirement I’d earned by sticking to a job for 17 years and achieving the age of 55 years. (Well, over-achieving that latter bit, if you want to be picky.)
And headed out the door into a world quite new to me: life without a full-time job. No pets or people to care for at home, a little bit of money dropping into my checking account each month just because I’m still breathing, a bit of money banked in the “fun and travel” account, and no fixed schedule.
I found it was relaxing, healing, scary, and sometimes I was immobilized by a sense of infinite possibilities or at least more than I could handle. I traveled, I snoozed, I took a lot of pictures and read a lot of books and walked for miles in the parks. I also let my inner lazy slob out to play and gained ten pounds. Ouch. I wish I could say that I embraced life and all its unknowns with verve and style, but I’d be lying. I’ve struggled some.
It’s been an ambiguous time, that’s for sure. Four times, on an airplane, I was handed customs and immigration forms as we headed to a foreign country. All asked me to state my occupation. How I answered depended on my mood. But I think I only wrote “retired” once because it didn’t seem right.
Now I’ve been working again for four months, this time self-employed. I’m happy about it. That ten pounds is gone. And I’m over communing with my inner lazy slob; she can go away forever.
I’m still a little stymied for an answer when asked “What do you do?”
Sometimes I say I’m semi-retired. Other times that I’m working as special counsel on a short-term contract without mentioning the R word.
In a couple of weeks I’ll probably say that I’m engaged full time in housebreaking a Shih Tzu puppy.
My hope for the next 12 months: that I can savor life’s ambiguity.
I’m now working part time. Just in time for snow season.
I’ve got to get dressed and get downtown on a snowy morning. Instead of cruising around here in my jammies sipping coffee.
Sitting here watching the early morning TV news as the snow continues to fall, I learn that a light rail train has just derailed down in the south metro area.
A coal train on the adjacent track derailed and tipped train cars and/or coal onto the LR tracks and the LR train driver couldn’t get ‘er stopped in time to avoid the mess. Nobody hurt, according to first reports, and the LR train stayed upright.
A Channel 9 employee was on the train when it happened, so naturally they are getting cellphone reports from him on the air. Sounds like the driver darn near managed to get the LR train stopped, so it wasn’t a high speed collision, bless him.
The picture above is just one randomly grabbed from the CDOT road cam website. To give you a sense of the morning.
EDITED to add these newspaper/TV pictures of the coal train wreckage (right) and the light rail train off its tracks (below).
Be careful out there.
PS: While I’ve been messing around here, it’s been warming up outdoors. To 19°F. Maybe I should wear my Hawaiian shirt after all.
Further update: It worked out that I’m working at home today. Still have to go out later for an appointment but the traffic madness has abated by now.
Yesterday I went to work.
For the first time in months.
The bad news: working takes valuable time away from blogging.
The good news: my professional skills haven’t deserted me despite my long break from work.
I almost always worked the day after Thanksgiving, because I almost always worked for state or local government agencies who do not observe the day after Thanksgiving as a holiday, and I saw no reason to burn a day of vacation leave on it.
On Thanksgiving Friday the office was quiet. It was the perfect time to catch up on work without a lot of interruptions from phone calls and other things. Like chatty co-workers, because most of them had taken the four-day weekend. I doubt that blessed quiet will survive the Blackberry culture, now that the boss and everybody else can generate annoying email traffic from offsite.
One of the most blessed things about working the day after Thanksgiving was NOT SHOPPING ON BLACK FRIDAY. I do not have the words for how much I hate shopping in crowded stores. For how my gut literally churns when I read the inevitable news stories about innocent kids trampled by sweaty fat adults rushing through the doors of Wal-mart to grab one of the loss leader color TVs.
But here’s another scary thing. According to this morning’s newspaper ads, the stores are opening so early tomorrow that determined shoppers can hit a few selected targets and still get to the office on time. If they aren’t injured in the earlybird frenzy.
In case anyone wants to plan their Black Friday shopping, here’s a schedule of retail store opening times for Friday, November 23:
OPENING AT 4:00 A.M.:
OPENING AT 5:00 A.M.:
OPENING AT 6:00 A.M.:
OPENING AT 7:00 A.M.:
OPENING AT 8:00 A.M. OR REGULAR HOURS:
A few stores are opening this afternoon or tonight. I refuse to give them free publicity. They should let their employees have the day off. Grinches.
If you go shopping tomorrow, be careful out there.
Eight months ago I was freed from the daily routine of holding a job. It’s been fun. Some weeks I slept late and stayed up later. I took some wonderful trips. Played with my new digital cameras at home and away. Read lots of books just for fun. Spent time with family and friends. Blogged more. And watched too much TV. Way too much TV.
All the while, intending that I’m not permanently retired, just enjoying a welcome hiatus from the rat race and expecting to rejoin the world of paid work sooner or later.
That encore I was working up to, is almost here. A nice opportunity has dropped into my lap. For a few months I will work a few days a week. I’m not going to blog about the specifics. Depending on getting the contract signed, I’ll probably start in a week or so. And be done in time for a spring vacation. Sweet!
Sometimes things aren’t what they seem at first glance. My current life, for instance.
A casual observer – although I don’t see anybody else around here – would look at my life these days and say I am lazing around. Goofing off. Maybe even (and chills run down my arms as I type this) Letting Myself Go.
After all, Casual Observer would say if asked, I’m not working at any job or scheduled volunteer activities. I’m not earning money; I’m living on a modest retirement income. I sit up late reading books and magazines with the TV on. I sleep later than I ever did when I had a job, then take my sweet time about getting dressed and leaving the condo. I spend lots of time online, and have devoted untold hours to editing my digital photos – and wandering around town taking even more photos, which I then sit down and edit. I go to movies and plays with friends, dine out with friends, hang out with family. I’ve taken two serious trips to foreign lands and a few road trips in the USA. And so on.
But our C.O. is – besides being hypothetical – not getting the whole picture. (more…)
I’ve always tested out as INFP on the Meyers-Briggs Type Inventory. A personality type that’s not at all ideal for the practice of law. And I’ve practiced law for 30 years. That’s a recipe for a lot of personal growth – and a boatload of constant stress. Someday I may write more about it.
HT to Saintseester for the link.
Oh my goodness. I LOVE being retired. It’s nearly 10:30 on a Monday morning and I’m taking my time getting dressed. I am doing some errands this morning and again this afternoon for our condo building decorating project so it’s not All Me All The Time. But still. I could get used to this. It will be interesting to see what I think in few months, when I look back at this blog entry.
On this date 30 years ago I moved to Colorado.
On this date 20 years ago the Denver Broncos won a big NFL playoff game against the Cleveland Browns, in Cleveland: Elway and The Drive.
On this date last year, my little old dog Dusty died.
I’ve never regretted moving to Colorado.
I’ve had phases of following the Broncos and even going to the games.
I still miss Dusty a lot.
Today I have a routine appointment at the dentist, followed by a routine day at work (I hope it’s just routine). And I have 49 days left until retirement from this job.
Back in the 1960’s a newly-admitted attorney showed up for his first day of work as a lawyer, an associate at a trial law firm.
As he sat down at the desk in his new office that day, he thought of his just-issued law license as a sort of driver’s license. He’d stood in that ceremony, taken an oath and been given an impressive certificate granting him the right to practice law. Now he could take on his clients’ legal matters and manage them down an orderly road to the best conclusion he could manage. Yep, this was special, this was big, after those years of hard work and study, he was IN, he was da man.
But at the end of that first work day he realized that what he’d really been handed was just a learner’s permit. (more…)
Certifiable Princess writes funny. I love that. The latest installment over there chronicles the extremely dysfunctional management at her workplace, in the person of the Office
Manager Monster. Whose felony crimes against fashion are just the beginning of a terrible rap sheet.
Because of the strange US system where employers provide health insurance for working folks, people end up hanging on to jobs they hate (even when they love the work itself). Because they need to keep health insurance coverage in place for themselves and their families. What’s up with that? How did we get here, where a person’s only realistic way to obtain health insurance is through her employer? Why isn’t there a viable option out there where you can sign up for reasonably priced health care coverage independent of your job?
We don’t rely on our employers to get mortgages, educations, groceries, or most of the rest of life’s needs and wants. We go out and rummage around the marketplace for them. Sure, most of us wage slaves have to work at something – usually a job – to bring in money. But except for health care coverage, we spend that money wherever we find the goods and services we buy. For health care coverage, we are chained to our jobs.
How many free email newsletters have I signed up for, only to find I’m deleting the latest installment unread from the inbox? More than I can remember. Mostly because I lacked continuing interest in the subject matter.
But I’m always sure to read the latest copy of Tom Mighell’s Internet Legal Research Weekly – despite the definitely un-sexy title. Because I’m interested in the subject and because he usually comes through with fun little things to brighten the dim corners where we legal drudges sit slumped over our keyboards and dusty files.
I’ve been reading Thomas Friedman’s book The World is Flat 2.0. I’m learning a lot from the book. Technology, outsourcing, insourcing, globalization.
Millions of hungry, bright, ambitious, focused young people across that globe – in Eastern Europe as well as India and China and that neighborhood – studying their buns off.
While American kids coast and play video games. While our government burns up all our (more…)
Specifically, should this lawyer do it?
It’s been on my mind for awhile. Online MLIS programs at some schools make it possible to do this without moving to another city or state.
Am I too old? Could I be admitted? Would it be a waste of time and money if I were? What would I do with an MLIS degree if I earned one?
Comments are invited.
A recent commenter to my recent post about the world of legal temping and law school grads trying to get a foot on the career ladder, here, says:
Tom the Temp’s blog is exaggerated. Some temp assignments pay as much as $40-50/hr sometimes more depending on experience. . . . Tom the Temp just blogs about ONE firm (PW) and makes it sound like that experience is universal (not true, temping has a lot of benefits besides the cushy paycheck).
I also know the blogger from bigdebt,small law. He’s just a very bitter 2006 Seton Hall Law grad with over 100K job [Suz sez: did you mean "debt"?] who didn’t foresee that the job market for new grads is tough and that the average salary is really 45-60K nowadays. . .
Of course, this commenter is as anonymous as anybody else I’m writing about but since it could ALL be just wonderful fiction anyway, I’ll go with it too.
UPDATE on 9/1/06: “Jean Brown” has posted another comment which reads:
TTT’s blog is NOT exaggerated. 2% of projects pay that much. MOST are document reviews that pay much less. MOST of the people stuck working in them are paying off massive student loans to the tune of 100k +. After student loan payments, these people struggle to stay within the middle class; they have to pay their own health insurance, benefits, etc. Worst of all when they finally are able to pay their debts down after several years, they have no marketable skills as lawyers. It is a vicious cycle.
Good explanation of the vicious cycle. For years now I’ve been reacting less than warmly when someone says “my kid’s in college and she wants to go to law school.” Not because I don’t think highly of the kid, but out of concern for just such an outcome after three years of hard study and huge student debt – a JD degree the kid may not be able to afford to frame if it depends on what he/she can earn as a new lawyer.
They are law school grads. I don’t have the figures at my fingertips but for years now, I’ve read that the nation’s law schools keep pumping out JD degrees in numbers way larger than the market demand. Many more newly minted JD’s and newly admitted lawyers than good lawyer jobs.
This weekend I’ve read a couple of blogs from the bottom of that ladder. (more…)
One of my favorite book titles is The Grace in Older Women, a Lovejoy novel by Jonathan Gash. I must admit that I recall not a bit of the plot, a sad fact in light of my personal relationship to the whole Lovejoy thing – I’ll have to explain that here sometime.
Today’s column by Garrison Keillor which ran here in the Rocky Mountain News, reflects the grace – and perspective – of a man looking back at his youthful attitudes with wiser eyes. I enjoyed it hugely and you can read the whole thing here.
Sipping coffee as he thinks about his young daughter’s chalking “I Love Dad” on the driveway, Keillor wonders if he should spend more time teaching her how to work, the way his own hard-working family taught him to hoe weeds when he was still of tender years. He writes:
Work is a blessing. There is enough passivity and mediocrity in the world without us adding to it. . . .
The good people I come from were graduates of the College of the Crash, Class of 1929. They valued hard work and persistence. They enjoyed their coffee breaks, not the $3.50 kind with froth and a shot of caramel . . . but the kind where the waitress brings around the glass carafe and says, “Let me warm that up for you.” It was the work around the break that gave the break its sweetness, not the coffee.
Of course he rebelled against this, seeing his father come home tired every night after work, falling asleep in his chair after dinner and going off to bed – to rest up for another day of work. He told himself, “My life will be different. I will think, I will read books.”
Now in his own late middle age, it looks different and he admits his errors:
We rebelled on the basis of poor information. We considered our people to be “vanilla,” as we used to say, meaning bland, but we were ignorant of vanilla. The vanilla bean itself is not bland or simple, nor is vanilla extract; it’s as rich and complicated as chocolate. If the only vanilla you know is what McDonald’s sells, then yes, vanilla means emptiness. But the emptiness is in you, my dear, not in your people.
So you read books and thought big thoughts and sought a different life, and you achieved it, if you did, by virtue of the very qualities you rebelled against which your dad instilled in you. He may not have hugged you or encouraged your fantasy life, but he taught you to buckle down and attend to business and to thrive on it. It was this persistence that enabled you to become the self-absorbed romantic you are today. And now here you are in your pregeriatric years, drinking $3.50 coffee and worrying about how to bring up your children.
Solomon said, “The thing that has been is the thing that shall be; and the thing that is done is that which shall be done: There is nothing new under the sun.” But he never went to Wal-Mart. I miss the old times . . .
We all went to public schools and we knew certain songs by heart, the one about the E-ri-e is a-rising and the gin is getting low and Dinah in the kitchen and the spacious skies of course and praise God from whom all blessings flow. But then the schools started encouraging creativity and kids wrote their own songs, which were crappy, but teachers pretended they were wonderful so as not to stunt the child’s imagination, and the old songs, which truly were wonderful, got lost, which was symptomatic of a general loss of standards carried out by romantic narcissists my age, some of them friends of mine.
I’m groping for grace in my life these days. I’m sure the clothes I wore in my teens and 20′s were ugly as hell to many of my parent’s generation. So I’m holding my tongue about some of the stuff I see young folks wearing now. Reserving the right to certain basic aesthetic opinions, of course, and my disapproval of the “street ho” look being sported by so many young girls and sold by the industrial-fashion-retail complex.
And call me a fuddy duddy, but I still think the Denver Art Museum Expansion is ugly as hell. The good news is that no terrorists would consider bombing it because it already looks like collapsed rubble so what would be the point?