Sunday, August 15, 2010

Reality sets in

So, seven weeks after my last day at work, I get it.

I have all these plans - an online ESL course, mediation training, getting in shape and working for Habitat for Humanity. And travel, lots of travel.

But right now? What I want to do is read and declutter, isolate and then wonder why I'm not getting out more and why my cell phone doesn't ring. And pay undue attention to every single tiny muttering of my body until I'm convinced I have a terminal illness - or, if I don't, I will soon.

I have acted this way in the past - between jobs, mostly. In my younger years, when we'd move, I'd tell my then-husband I wanted to stay home for a while. But after three weeks I'd be restless and bored and probably terminally ill, and I'd go find a job.

I really thought I was past all this. But I guess not. I'm still basically the same person, only older and, supposedly, wiser.

So I guess reality has hit. I'm not working and I'm not between jobs. My time is entirely my own, and what I do with it is up to me. My intention is to say yes to what the universe offers, but what if the universe remains silent?

On Tuesday I'm having my eyelids "lifted" - not for cosmetic purposes, but because time and gravity have had their way with the lids, which now obscure my looking-up vision. Supposedly I could be injured by an overhanging tree limb I don't see. That will probably keep me at home for a few days, unless I go out wearing the oversized sunglasses I bought at Fred Meyer last week. I am well aware this procedure is rarely done on people younger than 60, and once again I am reminded that I am no longer young.

On Friday my desktop computer crashed. It's an IMac, and I've been using Macs for 15 years at least, and that's never happened. But now it has. I'm hoping the tech guy can get all my data back - I've got it backed up to three places, but if the data was corrupted the last time it got saved, it may not be useful. And in that data is all my writing and financial recordkeeping, all my planning and analysis documents. Everything I needed to keep my Bag Lady calm.

So I booted up my laptop and got some things done. Then I pulled out the filing folder, put everything in the filing cabinet in the basement, pulled out the old docs I no longer need - paycheck stubs for Art and me, old bank account and credit card statements - and brought them upstairs to shred. And the shredder broke.

So here I am, on a Sunday in August in Seattle, in a heat wave, without the comforts of the computer that provides me with the illusion of safety and security, with a new folder called "shred", feeling like Alfie. You know, "What's it all about?"

I'm an optimist. I guess I thought I'd just glide through this large life transition, unlike everyone else who has to slog through it.

Go ahead and laugh!


DJan said...

I'm not laughing. Really. I am a Mac person too, sitting here typing away on my iMac. Maybe it's not so weird for my husband to have backups of backups, after all. I sometimes worry about losing all my pictures. And yes, it's definitely a heat wave, Linda! Can you believe Quillayute's record was broken by 11 degrees yesterday?? Here in Bellingham by 5 degrees...

Linda Myers said...

DJan, I love the heat wave - Art strategically opens and closes windows and doors, plus we went to the theatre yesterday afternoon and had some air conditioning. I'd much rather have this than a gray and rainy January day.

Thanks for not laughing. When I put my private thoughts out there, it gets better.

Linda Hoye said...

I'm in the Seattle area too, and I confess that I am LOVING the heat wave! BTW I just love reading your blog! I'm three years away from retirement (Lord willing) and it's fun to read the experience of someone who is on that road right now!

Linda Myers said...

Thanks, Linda. You have made my day.

I remember four years ago, one of my passwords was 4yrs2retire. I changed it each year to reflect the correct number. I've been reading, recently, about people nearing retirement for whom the work just doesn't inspire the passion any more. It's so good to know my feelings of detachment were normal.

Linda Reeder said...

Another Seattle Linda checking in. I am not fond of the heat wave. I like to be outside when I'm "resorting", as we retired folks like to call it when we do nothing. But it's too hot out there. I really don't tolerate heat.
I just started reading Eat, Pray, Love and am reminded of the author talking to Italians about the art of "doing nothing". I has been established that Americans aren't good at it, but Italians are experts. They find true pleasure in it, while we need to have a plan and a purpose.
When I retired five years ago, I was at lose ends for about 6 months, and liked to visit my old school, which is very near to my home, often. The second year, not so much. Now I haven't been there for over a year and I don't miss it.
The trick is to have a back up plan of things you can do, but then learn to just take longer doing them and allow yourself distractions that take you in different directions.
This heat has me wanting to eat all of the time which is an indication that I am a bit bored since I am not outside much right now and my heal problem won't allow me to go for exercise walks. But this will pass and I'll soon have more than enough to do again. I just like having a full range of choices all of the time.

Teresa Evangeline said...

I laughed with recognition. My computer, aka security blanket, crashed and burned this week, also, went kaflooie. Man, that was a tough day. Now, I'm getting used to a new one and it is not easy. I went to see "Eat, Pray, Love," yesterday (I preferred the book), cried because I recognized myself in her and asked myself the same question, "What's it all about, Alfie?" Like Red Green says, "Remember, I'm pullin' for ya. We're all in this together."

Linda Hoye said...

Linda I had to smile at you comment about your password of 4yrs2retire. My own password at work is something similar that reflects my detachment from work and attachment to life away fromwork!

#1Nana said...

We need to write a book about the stages of retirement. I went through a clean up and shred period myself, and have had moments where I thought I wanted to go back to work. But next week all the school district people are back at work and I will be painting my kitchen. How lucky am I!

Linda Myers said...

Jann, thanks for your perspective. Maybe we should write a book from the perspective of bloggers coming together on this issue.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

I have six more days to "dress for work." After that I will telecommute for a couple of months, until I retire in December. There's nothing I really want to do to mark the passage, except finish my three big projects and walk away. I guess I should be thinking about goodbyes to a few people I've worked with closely (and still like) but it doesn't seem real just yet. Advice?

Linda Myers said...

I was asked by my manager what I wanted. I said lunch with a few people who wanted to do that. Then I had a few who wanted a one-on-one lunch and I did that. I sent a companywide email about an hour and a half before I left for people who wanted to come over.

It all seemed pretty weird, but it was a passage I think everyone had a chance to mark, if they wanted to do that.

I would have preferred to walk away myself.

Sally Wessely said...

You are right on the mark with this post. I can relate. I love your line about being convinced that you either have a terminal illness or will soon!

I think there is much ambivalence surrounding this retirement thing. I find it to be a true love/hate relationship.

Deb Shucka said...

This was equally poignant and funny. The gift of this time is that you get to finally be still until the noise stops so you can really hear and see and understand. I hope your surgery goes well.