mamculuna: (Default)
( May. 23rd, 2005 02:54 pm)
It's been a year now since I retired, and I thought this would be a good time to consider what it's meant to me. For any who've just recently joined in, I was owned by the state for the previous 30 years, more or less, working mostly as a community college English teacher and administrator--the kind of job that was very an interesting and rewarding thing to be doing, but a wonderful relief to quit.

I had worried in one way that my sense of who I am might mostly come from my work and that when I no longer worked I might find myself feeling unsure of where I fit in the world. That turned out not to be the case. When I first started work, I recall its being a huge identity shift (thinking about my first year of teaching high school at 21) because I went overnight from being a kid to being an adult--from rebel to enforcer, in a way. And when I went back to work later in my 30's, that was an identity shift too, from mom to teacher. Required new clothes (which as Thoreau points out can be a bad sign). Actually maybe that's a clue--at retirement, I didn't so much take on a new outer self as just sort of stop using one that was never quite really me to begin with. I'm just being my Saturday self all the time now, and mostly wearing my Saturday clothes (when I'm not in PJ's till noon and yoga clothes after that--but that was my Saturday outfit!) Clearing out the closet but not so much bringing in new stuff, unless I really want to. But maybe too--after all these years!--my sense of who I am no longer comes entirely from things like what I do and what my job is. Or actually maybe I'm getting to where who I am is not all that important. Maybe.

So then another worry was that when I cut out all the mental, physical, and social activity associated with work, I'd be left with great hollow spaces in my life. Well, no--it was kind of more like digging a hole by the ocean's edge. For everything that I took out of my life, lots more was just waiting to rush in and fill it up. Much more regular writing, more seriously studying Spanish, working harder on meditation and yoga, travelling more, spending time with Lydia, etc. Now Lydia (the baby from China) is leaving, but there'll be something to take her place, too. I don't foresee a problem of nothing to do. In fact, there's stuff I'd planned to do, like getting back to gardening, knitting, and sewing, that I just don't have time for. And my travel plans go on forever.

Last worry was money. I didn't work as long as I could have, didn't get the highest benefits, the extra double-dipping I could have done. I won't know if I regret this really until I'm about 90. But for right now, since I did start getting Social Security soon after retirement, I'm making about what I made before I stopped work, and that's plenty to live on and have a little left for saving or travel (or repairing the old house...). For now, I'm healthy, no big debts, no one else to take care of financially. I'm extremely lucky, here. Good genes and good guidance from Bill--I'd never want to use his money, but I'm glad he doesn't need mine, and I'm really fortunate that he knows so much about money. And what would I pay for such good years of freedom healthy and energetic?

I know people who haven't had such a good experience as I have, and perhaps in the future things won't be quite so good for me either. But I feel fine about having made the choice to do this now. I'm more than lucky to have a good marriage, happy and healthy kids, wonderful old friends and new ones (especially you, flist!) and to in a privileged class in a privileged place where bombs aren't falling on my head.

The one thing I'm beginning to think about more and more is the need to contribute something to the world. It's so nice to live self-indulgently, but I think I really need to get serious about finding some ways to do some worthwhile volunteer work.

I know how many people--how many of you--struggle although you work long hours every day, and reading about your lives reminds me daily that life's not fair--why should things be so easy for me, so tough for you? The wheel turns, and I've been in some bad circumstances, and I know how unfair it is to see someone else having things so much easier. I wish the world were different.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Oct. 4th, 2004 10:34 am)
Sorry I've been absent from so many interesting discussions--I went to the beach for a week, most of it alone without a computer. Also without a hurricane! I haven't spent that much time alone in a long time--even when Bill's not here, I'm seeing friends, etc., and spending lots of time writing or online. I rediscovered how wonderful is time on your own.

I can remember a time, right after my first marriage broke up, when I was terrified to spend the night alone--every sound seemed like an imminent attack (of course in those days I slept in a first floor bedroom on a busy street and several times woke to find concrete blocks stacked under my window. Now I sleep on the second floor of secure houses in quieter neighborhoods). And I'd grown up with so many ghost stories at the beach, for a long time even the alarm system didn't help (trusting all you fantasy readers/viewers will understand that).

Now the nights alone mean drifting to sleep with the sounds of crashing waves and whip-poor-wills, and waking to the misty sunrise and the chatter of blackbirds and cardinals. Days alone mean reading all morning, going for long slow kayak rides, wandering the beach, going to art galleries, painting windows, writing backstory for the bad guy, and sitting on the dock with a glass of scotch, watching the tide come in and the sun go down.

Maybe someday I'd get lonely. Not yet. But for some reason I made plans so here I am, back again, and glad to see Bill, chapter five, and all of you.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Sep. 23rd, 2004 02:58 pm)
I went back, for the first time since I retired, to my former college today, to take the woman who was my assistant to lunch. It was too familiar being there. I didn't feel relief at not having to stay, but I didn't feel longing to stay either. It was just a place I'd been a lot before. Well, maybe I was a bit glad not to have to stay.

Still waiting to hear when we travel to China. At this point it gets a bit irritating, since I have to put all other plans on hold. And if we had some advance time, we could get upgrades to first-class for the trip back, but those will all be sold by the time we get tickets, so we'll be in steerage, for 19 hours, with a baby who doesn't know us. Ugh.

Below are items unrelated to the above!

Poem xposted to [ profile] greatpoets

Last-Minute )

Back to the I Ching: The Army )
mamculuna: (Default)
( Aug. 29th, 2004 11:37 am)
Revolution )

I've been getting some email from some people in my old school. I knew they'd need to contact me sometimes about details of unfinished business, and that's fine--I tried to leave everything tied up, but know that's not possible. But this is different--it's a brand-new problem. The administration made a faculty member cancel a section of the minority lit course that had been publicized as focusing on gay and lesbian literature--not because of enrollment, but because of content.

This totally infuriates me on several levels: academic freedom, free speech, and of course the idea that it's fine to look at other minorities but not these. Having a gay son makes me identify with this a bit, too. Adding to the complexity for me is the fact that the instructor of the course is a guy that I'd really had some difficult dealings with in the past over completely unrelated issues, and in those cases had taken the side of the administration (still think I was right then).

I did help rewrite the petition to reinstate the course or offer it next semester, but have since decided that I'm no longer paid to get tied up in knots over what happens there. I'm able to ignore other things, even including the fall off in enrollment and possible cancellation of the program that was my baby, but find it more difficult with this one. Now is not the time, but I think eventually as a citizen and taxpayer I will find myself at least sending an email.

But another part of me says drop it completely, that's the old life. Forget it.
mamculuna: (Default)
( May. 24th, 2004 10:36 pm)
Well, so far life without work is all I'd hoped it would be. Waking early to the birds in the branches outside my window and not rushing to get up to go anywhere. Kayaking to the next island and taking time to wander, without needing to get back and go somewhere. Lying in the hammock reading my favorite trash (Elizabeth Peters) and no thoughts of doing anything more than pouring another rum and tonic. Yeah!
mamculuna: (Default)
( May. 8th, 2004 10:38 am)

Joyce Sutphen

The second half of my life will be black
to the white rind of the old and fading moon.
The second half of my life will be water
over the cracked floor of these desert years.
I will land on my feet this time,
knowing at least two languages and who
my friends are. I will dress for the
occasion, and my hair shall be
Whatever color I please.
Everyone will go on celebrating the old
birthday, counting the years as usual,
but I will count myself new from this
inception, this imprint of my own desire.

The second half of my life will be swift,
past leaning fenceposts, a gravel shoulder,
asphalt tickets, the beckon of open road.
The second half of my life will be wide-eyed,
fingers shifting through fine sands,
arms loose at my sides, wandering feet.
There will be new dreams every night,
and the drapes will never be closed.
I will toss my string of keys into a deep
well and old letters into the grate.

The second half of my life will be ice
breaking up on the river, rain
soaking the fields, a hand
held out, a fire,
and smoke going
upward, always.
mamculuna: (Default)
( May. 4th, 2004 04:14 pm)
I will try not to be too smarmy about this retirement thing, but my friends are fun. When I walked in the building this morning, here's what I found on the bulletin board )
mamculuna: (Default)
( Apr. 28th, 2004 02:09 pm)
I just got a wonderful early retirement present (May 21 is the big day) from the dear person who will replace me as interim. She worked very hard on e-Bay and found an authentically autographed picture of Sara Michelle Gellar! In a nice frame! (she had to get it shipped from England, so if any of you sold a picture, I've got it now).

If I knew how, I'd be going squeeee!! up and down the hall. It gets place of honor in my office until I retire.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Apr. 21st, 2004 11:24 am)
Doonesbury and Get Fuzzy spoilers for today's strips )

In other news, I seem to be having a quagmire experience of my own at work. Just when I should be cleaning out my bookshelves and taking long lunches, all the nutcases find my office. Sorry to be so short on compassion, but a lot of what I get is attempts at manipulation. Like the ones (and I see them every semester) who turn in papers that can easily be located on the papers-for-sale sites and then try to convince me that it was just a coincidence, or they forgot to cite that as a source! Word for word, and it's a coincidence? Also obnoxious are the ones who think intimidation is the route to go--big guys who stand over me and shout. Like I'm going to say "0ooh I'm so scared! Of course I'll make your teacher give you an A."

And of I can tell it's this time in the semester when I have to keep a box of tissues by the guest chair in my office. "Oooh if you cry, of course I'll just have to give you credit for work you didn't turn in."

And the worst of it is, some of them are faculty.

Clearly it's time to go! Cynicism has overwhelmed me.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Mar. 18th, 2004 06:56 pm)
Thanks for the wonderful recommendations in response to my last post. I expect to be well read, fed, and entertained for the next little while!

Meanwhile, spring is definitely here: )

Also, The Great Escape )
mamculuna: (Default)
( Mar. 3rd, 2004 01:06 pm)
Now that I'm actually able to se the end of working here (May 21 will be last day), I'm having very strange reactions. I thought it would be like moving or graduating from school, that I'd be caught with nostalgia and see only the wonderful things that I hated to leave. Just the opposite. It's as though the only way I could stay here was to blind myself to the realities, and now that I can leave, I'm seeing the truth. I guess.

Anyway, I find myself very impatient with the faculty, the administration, and the students. I also find myself less willing to hide my frustration with some behavior. When students just don't bother to study for an exam, when faculty come to meetings to complain about lack of support from the administration but can't actually cite a case where that's happened, when administrators allow a good person to be fired for personal and political reasons, I really find what's happening is that I'm losing respect for them. And telling them, of course--never one to keep it all bottled up! Not all, of course. In most categories there are still some people who I admire, but I seem to be surrounded suddenly by people I don't respect.

Not that I'm great. I will be first to admit that, and have done it publicly, many times. I wonder if I'm just suddenly seeing this, or if people are changing. It may be too that I'm just learning to be more honest with myself as I grow older.

And then also there's the contrast with the ones I admire. Today one of the adjuncts came in in tears to cancel her class--her 2 year old son is being tested for autism. I couldn't really do anything but hug her and cry too--and I guess the frustration of not being able to help her any way, when she's been such an excellent, responsible, thoughful, committed teacher, made me even less patient with the full time instructor, making ten times her salary, who's having a complete hysterical breakdown because of having to teach one class he doesn't like. I really want to make them have to see themselves the way I see them--but I know I've got to do that with myself first.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Jan. 21st, 2004 06:38 pm)
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

-- J R R Tolkien

Today I was listening to an NPR talk show about American nomads, from the RVs to the trainhoppers, and I had this sudden vision of myself on the road alone--packing a tent and a sleeping bag in my Beetle and hitting the road, just going on to the next place )


mamculuna: (Default)


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Powered by Dreamwidth Studios

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags