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New year, new life

I quit making New Year's resolutions a lot of New Years ago--total recipe for failure, in my book--but given that this January 1 will also be the first day of the rest of my life in a more particular way than every other day of the world, I'm giving it some thought.

The thing that has given my life its structure more or less continuously since 1970 is suddenly going to drop away. My external motivation for getting up in the morning, grooming myself, wearing decent clothes, leaving my house, and (in recent years) getting exercise will be no more.

I don't yet have a clue what will replace it. In my limited experience of unemployment, the lack of structure is not my best friend. But the key word is "limited." Will a month of do-nothing nightowl-dom be enough for a more natural structure to start appearing? Two months? How could I know? I've never tried it.

What's more, the fact of having a job has been one of a very few connections I feel to "most people," a broad if rather shallow patch of common ground. Google Plus keeps reminding me to list my workplace in my profile, because without it, I'm only 80% complete.

So, what new scaffolding will I build to keep my life from dissolving into a puddle of undifferentiated time?

I have no idea yet. I should probably be terrified. Maybe I am terrified and I just don't know it. How does one feel at an event horizon?

Crossposted from Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.


( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 29th, 2013 12:07 am (UTC)
How does one feel? Happy, if it's an event horizon that one chose!

And I'd just tell Google Plus to fuck itself.
Dec. 29th, 2013 07:07 pm (UTC)
Well I would, but I'm actually finding it a fairly useful place on two counts: 1) it's become my default photo-storage location and 2) it's a great source of information in my technological areas of interest.
Dec. 29th, 2013 12:40 am (UTC)
I'm wearing those shoes too. Retired now after 30 years at the same company. Wondering how I am going to be a productive member of society (and a happy one) now. I'm glad you're posting your thoughts!
Dec. 29th, 2013 07:08 pm (UTC)
I'm glad I have some company around here!
Dec. 29th, 2013 01:53 am (UTC)
My Advice, for what its worth...
Take a month or two off to just goof off and get a feel of what your natural daily routine is. Then set yourself a fairly rigid schedule of exercise/work/writing/errands, etc.

For example, I am a nocturnal soul. Have been since i was a baby driving my parents batshit. So I am usually up until about 2-3 in the morning, then bedtime until about 7. If I don't set a schedule for exercise, etc. I tend to slack on everything and then it all becomes a big, timeless jumble.
Dec. 29th, 2013 02:59 am (UTC)
Re: My Advice, for what its worth...
That's pretty much the plan--though I don't think I could manage on the 4-5 hours of sleep you mention. Trouble is, I'd rather not be sleeping till 11:00 a.m., either.

But absolutely, for the first few weeks I'm going to follow my instincts and see what takes form.

I spent some time today mapping out bike rides that would each roughly equal my daily work commute, but would take me to other parts of town. Exploring a little will be fun. It's surprising how many little possibilities that never had a chance to take root in the soil of a full-time job are starting to pop up.
Dec. 29th, 2013 03:08 am (UTC)
Re: My Advice, for what its worth...
Oh, I have insomnia lately. The 4-5 hours are about as much as I sleep at once anymore, although I have been known to cat nap later in the afternoon.
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 29th, 2013 03:12 am (UTC)
I definitely recommend setting a time each day by which you have to be wearing actual clothes as distinct from pajamas.
Dec. 29th, 2013 03:15 am (UTC)
That is a level of rule-following and self-discipline that I'm definitely able to undertake. Minimal, but I think a pretty powerful starting-point.

For January, I think 9:00 a.m. sounds reasonable...or maybe 10:00.
Dec. 29th, 2013 03:20 am (UTC)
In my own case--working at home rather than retired--it's rather later. I usually wake up at 8:38 (NO idea why then), stumble from the bedroom to the office (two rooms away), read the night's accumulated e-mails, read the online NYTimes, Wall Street Journal, and the elder law newsfeed, check LJ and DW, and do any other research needed for the day, which takes a couple of hours, then breakfast and, as it were, change out of my tea gown into something suitable for morning calls.
Dec. 29th, 2013 03:31 am (UTC)
Well that sounds civilized.

I think I'm aiming for an earlier hour because in the absence of productive work at home, being in my bathrobe and slippers makes it too easy to veto any inner prompting to go outside and just sit here in front of the internet, unmoving.

If I should find structured and maybe remunerative work I can do at home, well, that'll be a whole new way of life. I like your description of how it works for you.
Dec. 29th, 2013 04:03 am (UTC)
In many ways, working at Book Sale was optimal for me because it got me out of the house and actually talking to people on Sundays. Although for about four months out of the year spending five or six hours away from work and then coming home too tired to be productive was kind of a hassle.
Dec. 29th, 2013 05:20 am (UTC)
Yeah, and that feeling is exactly what I'm retiring to get away from. I'm honestly curious to learn what it will feel like to come home (from whatever) and not have that too-tired-to-be-productive feeling. It's like a Pavlovian response now: lock the bike, come in the back door, set down my stuff, and think, "Damn, my brain is fried."
Dec. 29th, 2013 03:03 pm (UTC)
IIRC you said that you don't read many books, but might want to get back into it.

Not entirely by accident, I live two blocks away from the main branch of the Jersey City Public Library, but I also go to two of the branch libraries in other neighborhoods. Branch libraries tend to have the same number of copies of best sellers but fewer patrons than the main branch! A branch library could be an excellent bike-ride destination, since if you don't like the books they can go right back to the same or another branch! (Although Jersey City is the only library I've ever belonged to that didn't have drop boxes, mutter grumble, so books can only be returned when the library is open.)
Dec. 29th, 2013 06:46 pm (UTC)
Re: Librarbitrage
I'm glad you mentioned this. I've recently re-upped my long-dead membership at my local library. Excellent institution, one whose funding Portlanders almost always agree to extend or increase when library bond measures come up.

There's a tiny but hoppin' branch about three blocks from my house--no exercise at all, but convenient--and another, larger branch right on my two-mile route to Trader Joe's. What's even better (for me) is that they have a whole online thing where you can get ebooks and audiobooks.

I can't imagine not having a drop-box though. Even without a full-time job, I'd be in trouble for not getting books back during opening hours.
Dec. 29th, 2013 07:00 pm (UTC)
Re: Librarbitrage
They have library bonds? I'd like to invest in those!

They usually have at least one late-opening night when you can return books until 8, so after-work is an option.
Dec. 29th, 2013 07:04 pm (UTC)
Re: Librarbitrage
Heh. I don't think there's much profit in them.
Dec. 29th, 2013 03:13 am (UTC)
That's not an unlikely eventuality for me, which is one of my concerns.

One thing I've noticed in the last couple of weeks (which have seen a real winding-down of my job and a consequent ramping-up of my sense of leisure): I talk to more people. Not in an extraverted way, but just, IDK, I feel more at ease and a tiny bit more open. So maybe the hermit tendency that makes me hole up in front of my computer after a long day of work will ease up a little when that stress is gone.

I hope so, anyway. And if not, well, there's always willpower.
Dec. 29th, 2013 04:50 am (UTC)
How does one feel at an event horizon?

Ponderously weighted. Precipitous. Maybe a little vertiginous. But there's a lot of possibility there; I'm excited for you.
Dec. 29th, 2013 05:05 am (UTC)
Excellent description. Yep.

And thank you. It was watching a TED-type talk on the experience of a metaphorical event horizon--going over the edge of a waterfall, for instance--that made me realize I was going to retire now no matter what. Whee!
Dec. 29th, 2013 10:38 am (UTC)
"I spent some time today mapping out bike rides that would each roughly equal my daily work commute, but would take me to other parts of town. Exploring a little will be fun. It's surprising how many little possibilities that never had a chance to take root in the soil of a full-time job are starting to pop up."

Love this idea. Having read what you wrote here, I have to admit to hoping for some sort of a travel journal. (I'm influenced here by the fact that one of the library books lying around this Christmas has been William Helmreich's 2013 "The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City." Not everyone liked (all of) the book, but it was curious how almost everyone picked it up and spent some time with it.)
Dec. 29th, 2013 10:49 pm (UTC)
Is that the guy who walked up and down every single street in the entire city? It sounds like an interesting book.

Since I never go anywhere without my phone, and my phone is my camera, I expect that there will be some sort of documentation--seems to be in my nature. If I'm not running late for work, or constrained to ride after dark on the way home from work, I will be much more inclined to stop and take a picture. The thought of doing something systematic, like a daily walk blog, has definitely cross my mind.
Dec. 29th, 2013 10:59 am (UTC)
I agree with many of the comments already made. I think you should allow yourself an opportunity to relax for at least a couple of weeks after what is (whether you appreciate it consciously or not) a very stressful event. After that, so much depends on your natural rhythms and inclinations. But, for what its worth:

- your idea of bike rides to explore places you've never been is a very good one. I suspect you may find it more difficult to go out just for a ride (as some people do), so having an aim is good! In the process you may discover a route which you enjoy for itself, perhaps because it really reveals the changing seasons, for example.

- I find I have to have a rule about getting dressed by a certain time. Otherwise, the Internet seizes one for the day.

- I always mean to set a limit on how long I spend online, but since I do so many things online that seems arbitrary. It's just a medium!

- Are there places you'd like to travel to? If you can afford to go, really make the trip worthwhile. You have the time now to read extensively, watch programmes online, etc. so that you can research and plan properly. I find that the best preparation after doing the groundwork is to read fiction set in the place, ideally written by someone who comes from there; often one gets a much better feel for what matters to the people, and how they actually live.

- But I bet you'll find that you don't need to go far afield, and that there are a lot of places in your area which you'd enjoy researching and visiting.

- Once you've had a good break, I recommend something which occupies your mind and provides a focus. There are certain books which I always thought "I'll read that when I retire" but somehow they still don't really appeal, so I suspect the truth is that I just didn't want to admit that I was never going to read them. Maybe you're different and really do have books to read!
But what I have discovered which is a truly positive experience are courses for adults - in the UK they call them Lifelong Learning - especially those run by universities. Some are online, but I recommend the ones which include actual face-to-face seminars. It's an opportunity to learn about areas you've never studied before, or to study in more depth something you did learn once. Perhaps you always secretly wished you'd chosen differently at school or college, or had been able to do another subject as well? Or has there been new research on your favourite subject so that it's almost a new one? I have found that I need the intellectual challenge, love finding out about new things, enjoy having targeted reading, and like the people I meet while doing the courses. It also provides structure to the week.

- You don't have to jump straight in to a full course. I discovered that my local museum had an excellent programme of lectures at lunchtimes and in the evenings which had good quality lecturers. They also ran a couple of day courses to look at things in more detail.

Above all - enjoy!
Dec. 29th, 2013 11:04 pm (UTC)
I know just what you mean about the unread books. Having a busy full-time job made a great excuse not to read things that I probably wasn't all that interested in to begin with. So I'm not stocking up on the Russians or anything. (I do find, though, that I can absorb serious fiction and non-fiction through audiobooks, and I was delighted recently to discover that the public library offers quite a few audio editions.)

I'm happy to say that I've never put off traveling, and have done a fair amount of it in my life--enough so that travel isn't the first thing on my retirement list. The ultra-local micro-travel of daily bike rides seems like plenty for the time being.

Over on Dreamwidth someone suggested meetup.com, so I took a look, and found a French conversation group meeting biweekly in a neighborhood I can easily get to, so I signed up.

As to keeping up with research, yes! I'm really looking forward to following certain topics of interest at my leisure (urbanism, transportation policy, housing equity, and exponential technologies are a few that spring to mind).

I don't rule out actual classes at the community college ("Continuing Education," they call them here), but at the moment I'm not feeling drawn to any particular academic subject. What you say about structure is a very important point, though--somewhere to be at a certain time each week--and I can see the need.

Lots of food for thought and good ideas in your comment. Thank you!
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )



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