Our Next Life – (should be Our Life Now)

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One of my blogger friends write a blog about planning for retirement, the earlier the better. They are trying to get a series going. They passed along a set of questions. We are already retired so it doesn’t really apply but I thought it would be fun to do this anyway. So…here it is….

some questions you may wish to answer in your post:

  • what will your transition be like? will you be quitting a job? making a move? how will all of that go down?

Our transition was harsh. I did a late in life PhD part time while raising kids and earning my living as a research assistant, which promptly made me unemployable on graduation. (Note to self, next life get a professional degree, not a PhD.) I had one postdoc for three years and then that was it. I had three years of unemployment during which I attempted to start my own business which failed miserably. I then got a two year contract position as a research associate which was a lot fun with great people but had some issues with poor definition of what my job was. I had just really got going when the contract ended. When the contact ran out, it was not renewed because the funding was not renewed for reasons unrelated to my work. (Such is university life on grant money.) At this point I decided, since hubby dearest was retired, to just quit trying and declare myself retired with him. Hubby dearest had a tenured university professorial job that required he retire at age 69. He could have kept working half time beyond that if ‘the powers that be’ agreed. However a new dean, in a very obvious bid to get rid of what he thought of as dead wood, sent my husband a formal letter on official university letterhead telling my husband he was now on permanent 20 minute “on call” status 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 12 months a year to be available for emergency consultation by students needing assistance or for urgent unspecified committee work. Since my husband worked in a medical department the dean had a technical right to do this but being put on call is normally reserved for medical doctors during times of crisis like three days blizzards. I have never heard of putting a professor on call. In fact, they told all the professors to prepare get out of the way, and leave town if the place flooded, during the great flood of ’97. (They told me my job, if the city flooded, was to report to the maternity hospital and help normal moms with normal babies.) The 20 minutes ‘on call’ meant he had to be able to be back at the hospital within 20 minutes at any time or risk being fired. We could have fought it, but our union said it would take months to fight and meantime we would be tied to the city. He decided to just give up and retire like they so obviously wanted him to. Some fights are just not worth the fighting. He declined to take the emeritus. Emeritus means you work for the university for free, doing stuff they need done, for the prestige and you get to keep your office space which he was not using anyway. Screw that. The retirement agreement required six months notice and the union negotiated stuff like “no being on call, no extra duties, for those six months” and allowing him to keep some of his microscopes and lab equipment. It was actually a really big relief to finally walk away but the ugliness of it all will never leave either one of us. They send us these requests for money as alumni and staff on glossy paper. We laugh and toss those in the garbage. Take home lesson, universities have no heart and no memory. Individuals are nothings, numbers, its. You matter less than the floor tiles and your contributions count for nothing. You are disposable. You can expect no reward but a paycheque and a pension, and you better be grateful for it. You wouldn’t get that if they didn’t have to pay it. My only regret is we both hung on thinking we were valued for our contributions by the institution. It would have been a lot better for our dignity and self esteem to have walked away and left them in a lurch than to have hung on until we had to be forced out as ‘dead wood’. We gave them too much of ourselves. Next time any of you working folks feel guilty about abandoning your jobs in order to retire, remember that.

  • what are the big goals you have for your next life, or just the goals for the first five years or so?

We have just about finished writing a book called Embryogenesis Explained. We began this book a number of years ago and we finally have time to work on it and all of it is written with only polish and editing to go. You can read about it here:

http://embryogenesisexplained.org

We also bought this little house in the country. We have other publications going. Hubby dearest has whole series he is editing with several more books planned, some he is editing and some he is actually writing. I am writing a fiction book that is about 70,000 words now and I have a science fiction book I have written about 25,000 words on but it is currently on hold until the joint EE book is done. I have a big garden. We have a beach nearby to walk on. We are still going south winters. Hubby dearest, being an American citizen is now a volunteer working for Gulf Specimen Marine Lab and they have his official emeritus position. They actually act like they appreciate us and value us. We joined the local senior’s group for local contact. Hubby dearest plays pool with the guys every other Tuesday evening. We take long walks almost every day. I’m so busy now I have to remember to schedule time for lying in my hammock.

  • what are the little day-to-day goals you have for yourself?

I try to get in one hour each on 1) house upgrading (today’s goal start scraping paint on side number two of the house), 2) one yucky job of life maintenance (today’s goal is to empty the tanks on the RV we used a couple of weeks ago), 3) gardening 4) write a blog 5) work on one of the books at least one page 6) get caught up on social media 7) learn one new skill on line (today I signed up Flikr) 8) each day get dishes done, floors vacuumed and plan a nice supper. Some days don’t work out. Yesterday, I spent three hours painting the exterior of the house and did no gardening or writing for the books and we had hot dogs for supper.

  • will you quit working, change what you do for work, or stay the course?

not applicable

  • what will a day in the life look like?

see above

  • how will you manage your finances in the next stage?

For now, our costs are still less than our income so we are saving a bit each month. The house has set us back financially since it needs a fair amount of work and we needed to furnish it. However it is an investment for our future in addition to being a home for us. I worry a bit about the future because our major source of income, Dick’s university pension has no index for inflation so inflation will eat it away. We have some savings for that future point where cost of living as eaten it up and we find we are running short each month. We really like the ability to travel south in the RV for the winter but that depends on our health staying good and the Canadian dollar not going down much lower. I can see us being forced to modify that to trips to Victoria Island in future and then to staying here winters. This is why we are investing in becoming part of the community here and fixing up the little house. The hardest part is trying to balance the idea that we are now retired and that is what the savings are for so maybe we should spend some of it now while we are healthy and happy and not be so frugal. That is part of what buying our little house was all about. We spent some savings and created a nice home base for ourselves for the six months each year that we need to be in Canada. I do love this little house and peace and quiet of this lovely little community.

  • what will excite you about getting out of bed every day?

Some days I wake up and think, “I am retired. I am lying in bed twenty more minutes just because I feel like it.” And I do. Most days I can’t wait to get going and get busy. I fall asleep almost immediately at night most nights, tired in body and mind from a full productive day.

In a lot of ways, retirement is busier than working because when you work, you do what you need to do to get the job done. When you retire and do work, you do only what you want to do. You choose your work. So that work is much more rewarding and satisfying. I am never just putting in time or watching the clock or worrying about a boss.

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2 thoughts on “Our Next Life – (should be Our Life Now)

  1. our next life

    Wow — You cranked this out quickly! Enjoyed reading it. I love knowing that you find retirement so satisfying, and find that you do get to do the things you choose. Your transition out of work sounds harsh, indeed — I hate stories like that, of people getting forced out in all sorts of unkind ways. And I had no idea that “emeritus” meant working for free! Learn something every day…

    Like

    Reply

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