Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Burn the Alarm Clock

One of the very best things about unemployment, I've discovered in 2 short days is......NO ALARM CLOCK!! You can get up when you darned well please. Sweet. And the corollary: you can stay up as late as you want, cuz there are no "school days" tomorrow.

Even so, I'm pretty much on an ingrained schedule. I get up automatically around 6:30 each morning and am in the sack by 10 p.m. But given that 8 hours of sleep isn't nearly enough, I'm working in a nap every afternoon. Ahhhhh!

So at this stage, I'm doing the paperwork dance. I got the forms from the AZ State Retirement System, filled them out today, and will take them back down to their offices tomorrow, completed. The health insurance enrollment, tax withholding forms, etc., etc. The lady I met with down there on Monday was particularly unhelpful. Here's hoping on Wednesday I draw a longer straw.

I've been doing appointments this week: allergy shot, flu shot, chiropractor. By the time I depart I will be thoroughly punctured and twisted.......all right, I've been twisted for a very long time.

A cool techie preparation for this great adventure--I signed up for Yahoo Voice. It's an amazing system for making and receiving calls from a local Phoenix number from anywhere in the world, all via your computer. The inbound calls go to a voicemail box, and then those messages are converted into a sound file and emailed to your email inbox. Slick.

I'm not feeling any pressure, but am just doing stuff as I get to it. When I've got it all wrapped up, then it will be time to go.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Day 2: If a Tree Falls in the Forest...

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

I have no idea, but if one falls in Phoenix, it sure as hell does.

You see, 300 days out of the year or so Phoenix has no weather. Sun, heat. Got it? I've often wondered why the local news stations have meteorologists on staff. It's those other two months where they earn their keep. We call it monsoon season. And it was monsoon season that brought the tree in my front yard crashing onto my front door and roof. It wasn't a very old tree, in fact I had just planted it a year ago. It had quickly grown well over the height of my carport....maybe 15 ft.....with pretty willowy branches. I enjoyed its graceful form and shade every day. But that storm just grabbed up those branches and whipped them back and forth like a hula dancer on speed. I had my landscapers stake it up the week before, when it had lurched sharply toward the street. It was attached by cables on three sides, tied down to steel stakes. It looked invincible.

But it wasn't; it came down with a thud. And I lived for two days ducking under the fallen branches, like some jungle explorer just to get out of the house. On Saturday (yesterday) the same landscapers came back and chopped the big tree down with a chain saw and pick ax. And that was that. Sometimes things that appear solid aren't.

My decision to retire early was like that, too. A good job. A government job. People stick around for 20, 30 years. But for me, I was missing the tap root. For the more finely tuned folks out there, a simple tap on the shoulder from your higher power is enough to get you to sit up and take notice. For stubborn old Germans like my family, we need something a bit more dramatic. Like a tree falling on your house. OK, OK.....message received loud and clear. Time to move on.

This afternoon a question came to mind: How was I able to work through nap time all those years?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

On the First Day, Rod Rested

So this is what retirement feels like.

Friday was my last day at work. Today I feel surprisingly peaceful. It all came about very quickly, although making the decision was certainly tough. It's not easy jumping off the corner of the stage and simply assuming they put a mattress down below.

After years of fantasizing about it, the day is upon me. Strangely, I don't feel too concerned about it. I probably should be a little more nuts about the decision, given that the U.S. economy is in the toilet. It's as if some guy in 1929 heard about the crash of the stock market and decided it was a great day to walk out of his well-paying job.

Make your decisions and never look back.

I hear the little Mother in my right ear, "Rod, what are you thinking? Giving up a good job, right now? Are you crazy?" Well, yes, Mom, if you haven't figured it out after all this time.......

So just why did I leave a government job that paid well with excellent benefits and the opportunity to work on creative projects? Hard to say.
Sometimes you just have to recognize that it's time.

Maybe my father's terminal illness has brought things into sharper focus. Becoming aware that you will soon be the senior generation of the family often is sobering enough.

I wonder if anyone else out there feels the same way?