Above: Not me and not my dog, but yeah … it kinda sums it up.
On 02/12/2021, after close to 44 years of work, I retired. That word means a lot to me.
After I announced my impending retirement at work, a co-worker and I were talking about something and they said to me,“Well, what do you care? You’re quitting,” and I said, “No, I’m retiring,” and they asked “What’s the difference?”
There’s a big difference. Retirement is a reward for a lifetime of working; quitting is “I’m sick of this job (or working in general) and I’m done”. And that’s the way I’m looking at it: This is my reward time, the time for me to do anything or just plain nothing.
The question I got asked a lot is “What are you going to do?” I learned in my first week of retirement, it’s not so much what I’m going to do as it’s what I’m NOT going to do. No work emails to check. No Slack to log onto. No feelings of I can’t do something because I have to be around in case I’m needed or to justify my paycheck. Believe it or not, I have strong moral feelings that makes me feel guilty about such things, despite the fact that I am neither Catholic or Jewish and didn’t grow up in a religion that fosters such strong moral feelings.
For the first week of retirement (and let’s face it, I’m not even two complete weeks into my new gig), I kept thinking, “Well, tomorrow I’ll go (wherever) and do (whatever), but only after I check email and do some work … waitaminute …“ The first week felt like just a staycation, since even if I had work to take vacation time from, I still had nowhere to go. (Sorry folks, nobody should be getting on a plane and traveling anywhere right now for vacation purposes. Especially not Ted Cruz.)
In my second week, that feeling is slowly fading away, and the feeling of this is what life is like from now on is sinking in. It’s very weird not being committed to doing something after 20 years at a job that was, at times, 24/7, especially right before a big event like Comic-Con or WonderCon, or even smaller events like APE. Being in charge of publications and the website, my deadlines always came earlier than everyone else’s, but there was still always something to do leading up to and during the actual events.
So how does being away from all that feel? Liberating, I guess. It’s liberating to say to oneself, “C’mon, let’s get going,” when you don’t really have to do so. It’s okay if your walk starts at 11:00 rather than 10:30. A nap sounds nice right now. It’s warm out, let’s go sit on the balcony and read for an hour.
That’s life right now: Reading, watching TV, a little writing (like this), spending time with my collection (comics, magazines, paperback, art), figuring out what to have for lunch or dinner, writing a bit on this here blog thing, and then going to bed and reading some more. (I have a daytime book, a real printed book—and a bedtime book, on my iPad, which is much easier to read in bed.)
It sounds like nothing, doesn’t it? It is nothing. It’s like that line from Office Space: “I did nothing. I did absolutely nothing and it was everything that I thought it could be.” I’m sure at some point, it will become boring, but after 44 years of almost continual work, a little boring nothingness is a good thing. The travel bug will start biting once the world becomes a little more normal. It will never be like it was in 2019, when I went six different places, but eventually—hopefully—I’ll find myself roaming the streets of London or Seattle or NYC once again, and that’s something to look forward to.
In the meantime, I have to go eat dinner. See? There’s always more nothing to do.
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