Tuesday, April 23, 2013

BoomerGirl's Guide to Retirement: The Prequel

Here's the advice nobody gives you about announcing your retirement: Prepare to be peppered with incredulous questions. It's been three weeks since I made my decision official and I've fielded approximately 100 such questions: Are you OK? What happened? Is everything alright at home? You're not sick, are you? You're not really retiring, right? What are you going to do? What now? Now what?  My standard answer to the last three has been: Whatever the hell I want, which I rather enjoyed saying until I realized it might be translating to: None of your damn business, and I never want to be rude. The people who ask the questions are probably just surprised because a) I am a little young to be retiring; and b) I've been in the public eye almost as long as I've been living in this town. Won't you miss it? No! I am looking forward to voluntary seclusion. Of going days, maybe weeks, with absolutely no sense of purpose. Or, taking an exercise class at 9:30 in the morning, followed by a trip to the grocery store - sweaty and stinky, yes! - when the aisles are blissfully empty and the parking lots clear. I think many people are afraid of having a clear schedule, although I'm under no illusions that will be the case for me every day. Still, it occurs to me that I need a better answer to the Now what? question. Since it's William Shakespeare's birthday today, I think I'll quote the Bard: To be or not to be, that is the question. That'll give 'em something to think about.

14 comments:

Steve Finnell said...

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Carol Starr Schneider said...

How about, "It's top secret." Or, "If I tell you, I'll have to kill you." Or, "Becoming a Rockette." Or, "Perfecting my trapeze act."

Cathy Hamilton said...

Good ones. I considered "Grandmommy porn," but that won't work because I don't have grandkids yet.

Anonymous said...

Hi,
Read your blog frequently - really enjoy it. I suspect we are close to the same age (I am 60) and I was delighted to see you are retiring and are totally unapologetic about it. I retired last Wednesday...Day Six today. And I too have heard most of those comments...I find it so strange...so many people dream about retiring yet when they are told someone is retiring or retired, first thing they say is "what are you going to do" - just strange. I got a feeling that is an American attitude. That life without a job is not really a life. Well, we will prove them wrong! Congratulations!

Cathy Hamilton said...

Anon, congratulations and Happy Day Six! "Life without a job is not really a life." Well put! That does seem to be the prevailing attitude. I think that's at the core of the "mommy wars," too...the resentment between moms in the workplace and stay-at-home moms. I think we're both very lucky to be able retire. Apologies aren't appropriate, only gratitude. Cheers to you!

A Fan said...

When you decide to retire "early" - before the traditional 65 -- I think it raises more inquires. I am facing the same. Work in the private sector and for planning purposes, I have voluntarily told my boss and a few colleagues that I plan to "retire early" in a couple years. This early announcement will be helpful to finish some projects, and help with future planning in my area. (Companies rarely ask about retirement dates and really shouldn't as 55+ is a protected class under Federal law.) My voluntary discolsure about this prompted all of the same reactions you are getting and the one I love the most - "I had no idea you were that old!" Love it.

Cathy Hamilton said...

Wait! We're a protected class? Like manatees and bald eagles? I've gotten "you're not old enough," but, more often: "How old ARE you?" which also blows my mind. Good for you, to plan ahead and give everyone the heads-up.

Cathy Hamilton said...

Oops! Sorry. I was thinking 'protected species.'

A Fan said...

Yes, Federal law - under the Equal Employment Opportunity Act - Age Discrimination - passed by Congress in 1967. And I was wrong -- the law protects anyone 40 or older. That is why on a job application/interview they can't ask how old you are and to protect workers from age based discrimination of any kind, such as proding/encouraging someone to retire so they can be replaced by a younger employee.

Anonymous said...

Good for you! I retired at 55. Best decision I ever made. Watch out though. The calendar fills quickly.

Cathy Hamilton said...

Fan (that's very flattering, by the way), I knew about age discrimination laws, just didn't know when they kick in. Doesn't 40 seem ridiculously young anymore?

Nebraskim said...

My spouse retired "early" at age 64, three years ago. He is incredibly busy, still mentoring students through grad school, working on several writing projects, tons of garden work, tending our dogs, etc. When folks ask him what he does all day he says "I'm exploring wonder." He has also traveled quite a bit (and the first year, his mother was still living, so he visited her several times before she died). He says retiring was the best thing he ever did. I still work to maintain our insurance.

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Cathy Hamilton said...

Kim, your hubby is doing everything I plan to do - except the mentoring grad students part. Think I'll try "explore wonder" next time and gauge the reaction at the Rotary Club! Anon, I'm not really interested in dating older men since my husband is old enough, thank you. But, I appreciate the implication that my readers and I are "younger women."