Musings of Navigating The Finite remainder of life from Porchville, with the hope of a glimpse of The Infinite

Monday, September 26, 2011

Houston, We Have A Touchdown

One year ago today, I posted the post that set a train of events in motion for the the concluding chapters of my life. Well actually the post had really nothing to do with it other than announcing to myself through the blog that it was time to consider retirement.

Navigating The Finite, Sept. 26, 2010, Have Enough 

I used a unique approach to retirement, I call it the flying condom method of retirement planning.  The what? you ask.  Yes the flying condom method of retirement planning.  It is based on the old and not too good joke, "Hey did you hear about the flying condom?"  "No." "It got pissed off."

How the FCRP method works, is that you pretend that retirement doesn't really exist.  You make absolutely no plans, consider nothing, ignore the fact that the clock is ticking away and sooner or later you are going to have to make a decision.  Always put that off to some fuzzy date in the future.  Well why would you do that?  Well let's see...first you go to elementary school, then middle school, then high school, then college, and then you get a job, then you get married, then have kids, then maybe another job...and then you retire.  And then you what?  Think real hard...what happens at the end of retirement?  Well you get this really neat party, a beautiful box, and a ride in fancy Cadillac station wagon out to a small piece of real estate that you bought when you were 33.  Yes that's right! It is the end of the road. Good bye Mr. Chips and everything else.  So you see I sort of viewed retirement as the ribbon cutting ceremony on the final chapters of a story guaranteed to not end well.  I would not be heading off to tour Europe or buy a vineyard.  I was pretty much going to go into a state of semi-poverty and race my resources to the grave.  So I had a tendency to handle this like I handle that appointment for a colonoscopy...I am going to jump on that first thing next year or may be in 5 years.  Some time.  And then I got pissed off.  Read the post at the link above.  You will see the condom being launched.  "Houston, we have lift off!"  Yep, that's I go into retirement with as much thought and direction as a pissed off flying condom.

I checked the numbers...they were better than I thought.  I went to a financial planner.  She rigged me up with a good plan, and yes, you can do this.  You have the resources.  My financial planner was a God send!  So then I moped around from last September until May being pissed off at work, being pissed off at being old, being pissed off at mortality, and truth be known being frightened of change.  What if I don't like retirement?  Will I have enough money.  Am I going to be 90 and eating dog food?   Other people look forward to retiring and are in a great mood in their last few months.  Me?  I moped around for 7 months in a pissed off, frightened, depressed swoon.  Why be happy, when you can mope around and make an ass of yourself?

So April 29th came and I retired. Walked out the damn door and didn't look back.  Prince William and Kate tied the knot and off we went in our own little trajectories.  I wrote a post on May first:

Navigating The Finite, May 1, 2011. First Day of Retirement  

In that post I describe being in mid-trajectory in my pissed off flight into retirement.  Where would I impact the Earth?  In the land of retirement bliss or retirement terror?

Several weeks ago my wife said something to me and it reminded me of a guy at work of whom I haven't thought of for a while.  Immediately my mind thinks "Damn I need to get with him about those special gauges."   A moment later this huge sigh or relief floods over me and I thought "No, I don't!" and I started to laugh.  And that was the precise moment when it occurred to me what retirement is like.  Imagine having an open drum of shit, and you have to carry it around 24 / 7.  If you wake up in the middle of the night to take a leak, you pick up this open drum of shit and carry it into the bathroom.  If you make love to your wife, that open drum of shit is next to the bed and you can still smell it.  You go on vacation, you carry that open drum of shit along the beach.  Yep, you are on vacation, but in the background is this constant litany of worries and things to do..."don't forget to make reservations down at Augusta, you have to order that polymer adhesive, don't forget to send the water samples off to the lab, you need fittings, you have to order a 3 1/4 inch socket, place the PO request for the test on the thingmajig, finish the rev of the test spec, oh shit you forgot that quote, hand it in on Monday late, remember to get with Ed for the test this, remember that, don't forget it is rug cutting time on the whosi-whats-it, order the PLC, call the contractors....on and on in a never ending list of demands, needs, ship dates, and quality improvements.  On April 29, 2011 I set that open drum of shit down and walked away from it, and never looked back.  I miss some of the people, but I don't miss that drum.

So I think I have touched down back on Earth, and I think it is in the land of  retirement bliss.  Do I have enough?  Not sure yet.  Gasoline went up about $1.00 a gallon since my post last year.   I notice more money going to super market.  We are not rich by any means, but we are not destitute either.  I think financially we will be OK.  I sleep better, I feel better, and I am not pissed off.  I love retirement.

One thing I forgot to mention above, and would like to do here, is thank several people for giving me some kind words of encouragement both here on my blog and in private emails.  VW Busman and the Old Baguette, you guys were a God told me not to fear, that I would love retirement...and you were right.

You can read all of my retirement related posts at:


  1. I am so happy to hear you say you love retirement. So many men when they retire just don't know what to do with themselves and start to decline.

    I say this from experience as I once worked for 9 years in a funeral home as a funeral counselor and met with several women who lost their husbands and the most common thing between all of them was their saying that retirement was an adjustment their husband couldn't make and that was the beginning of the end. (Plus the fact that the husband drove the women crazy being underfoot all the time!)

    The next most common thing said was by surviving women who didn't have a clue how to handle money as their husband had always handled the finances and they didn't even know what assets and liabilities they had.

    It sounds like you planned well for your retirement and I think it's so great that you hired a financial planner to help you plan and set things in place. My retirement plan is to die a week after I retire as I'll probably only have enough money to live without a paycheck for a week! Just kidding of course, but retirement is scary!

    I love your analogy of the drum full of shit! I've had jobs like that and I totally understand how that feels. I can't wait until I can set aside my drum and just sit back and smell the roses! Happy retirement!

  2. Alicia,
    Funeral home! Ha then you are very familiar with that party in the parlor, the beautiful box, and the ride in the fancy Cadillac station wagon! What you mentioned was exactly my concern, am I going to leave my job and crawl into a grave? My job was not that bad, well until last September. But the one thing that completely amazed me when I retired was how much it had been on my mind constantly when I worked--the drum of shit, and I didn't even realize it. The second thing that floored me was how much I no longer think about it, don't miss it at all, have no desire to ever see the place again. It is almost like I retired 5 years ago. The place never enters my mind. Retirement is just very cool. Yes it is scary and I would not recommend my method to anyone.

    What you don't realize when you are in your late 40s or early 50s is that when you get in your late 50s and early 60s you change. A friend of mine put it best, you change and the change is non-linear. You tolerate shit about the same at 54 as you did at 53. But when you get to 60, you tolerate shit a hell of lot less than you did at 59. When someone starts the "this is a critical path, it has to ship on the 17th or life on this planet will cease to exist" bullshit, you are 5 times more likely to tell them to go to hell at 62 than you were at 61. BTW I quit taking group projects seriously at 53. You will blessedly no longer give a shit when assigned to some idiot group project.

    Retirement is scary but my suggestion is to have a plan, a date, and know what your finances will be. Then do it. Also Alicia get one of those rocks we talked about. Make sure its a good one. Everyone needs one of those.

  3. Sextant, I'm so glad that the first year was a good one for you, both physically, mentally, and spiritually. If I was able to offer up some morsel of encouragement for you, then that's great. As they say everyone's experience is different, your mileage may vary ! lol :)

    Actually you do still carry a drum around with you, only the drum is now a cedar pot and the shit has been replaced with blooming flowers and wonderful fragrances and a beam of sunshine filtering thru.

    I have been retired for over 3 1/2 years now. I can whole heartedly report that it's still all good. Now if I can just make it to 95 or 100 yrs and try and drain as much money out of that pension fund as I can, so much the better.

    For me, I think starting to write a blog has also helped me along in a good way, and to that end I can thank you for encouraging me and guiding me along the way. Just think Sextant, you and I can blog along for the next 35 or 40 yrs.!!! I've been a little tardy on my blogging exploits as of late, must get back to the keyboard ASAP.'ll never guess what I bought last week.? You get 3 guesses and the first 2 don't count. You guessed another car ?'re bang on. Ha...who knew. lol .....That's another thing about get to do all those crazy things you wanted to but couldn't when you were employed. My Chrysler Fifth Avenue collection is steadily growing.

    So what is it that you are filling your days with ? Have you been out and about photographing some old abandoned rail lines ?
    Where you are, in that rolling hilly region with all those trees, there must be some super duper fall foliage colours happening...Yes ??? You must grab some of those and do a post for all of us to drool over.

    Speaking of photos...I'm thinking of up grading my current point and shot Canon G-11 for a Canon T3i or a Nikon D5100....both are Digital SLR type cameras and offer quantum leaps in picture override capabilities and overall better pics, not to mention multiple lens availability. Time to comparison shop I guess.

    Remember, being retired is just like having a regular job. You still have to get up and go to it it everyday, just that you enjoy it so much, it hardly seems like work at all.

    OK Sextant keep trekking down that road less traveled. There's lots to do and see yet. If you done it should be busier now than you were when you were employed.


    VW Busman

  4. Bussman, you are the most unretired retired guy that I ever known. One day of your retirement would kill me.

    Another vehicle! Welcome to The Manitoba Center For Homeless Mopars!

    Yes, get back to your blog. I have missed your latest adventures. The summer heat just killed me for going out, its cooler now so I need to get off my ass and do some exploring. Unfortunately the fall allergies kind of knock the wind out of me. There is something that grows around here that bothers my wife and I. I think its ragweed. Anyhow we feel like hell from August to December every year. When I used to go down to Maryland or Georgia I would straighten out.

    I looked into buying a SLR when I bought my superzoom last year. I just got overwhelmed with choice and the money. I have to say though I am not wild my superzoom. Its great for zooming but kind of mediocre otherwise. I wished I would have got the G-12 for my service award rather than the GPS. I have been amazed with your photos. Of course it doesn't help that I am totally lost if the camera is not in auto.

    Well thanks for the kind words as always. Your encouragement last spring was invaluable. Don't forget, we have a John Jerome thing to do when you get time. We can do it right here on the blogs and bore the hell out of everyone else.

  5. Oh but Sextant...I have been looking for that rock. Unfortunately all I've found have been what we as kids called lava rocks. Great big rocks that look strong and sturdy but they're more like great big dried up sponges that fool you as you can blow them away with a strong wind or a kick across the yard. But that doesn't mean I've stopped looking for that strong, steady rock-solid ROCK!

    Today at work there was all kinds of drama because one of our clients got verbally abusive to one of the account executives and everyone was all in a tizzy going on and on about it. And how she should have told her this and that and I would have handled it this way or that way. I had to laugh to myself because I could care less, I just wanted everyone to settle down and get back to work as they were distracting me and keeping me from concentrating on my work and I remembered what you said in your comment above about how things that mattered at age 30 or 40 don't mean as much as you get older and wiser. I don't have the energy anymore to get all in a "tizzy" over silly stuff like what happened today!

  6. Alicia,
    I sent you a message about rock hunting. Hopefully you will receive it. I haven't had the greatest luck with Blogger's messaging. No great wisdom of the ages, just commiseration. A good rock is hard to find, but worth the effort.

    Yes, tizzies become underwhelming as one grows older. Its kind of cool, how relaxing not giving a shit is. I may have that put on a sampler.

  7. I've had to "retire" in one way or another three times in my life and I'm only 59. And re-create myself. which is a good thing, because in my life I've tried planning and the plans usually blew up just after I began to believe they were working.

    Spinal surgeries, marriage, trying to create a career that would support me part-time, more health crappola. The year and a half leading to January of this year was a time when ALL I worried about was whether I would be on the street in two years, let alone old age. But I chose to worry about old age instead, because it was a little further off.

    It would be nice to have a plan. What I have realized, luckily, is that if I have a plan that I know can work for at LEAST 3 years, I'm cruisin'. Usually in that time I can figure out something else. I've had four careers now.

    Looks as if disability is permanent this time around. I worked my way OFF it twice before. And I cannot do the high-intensity writing I did for Stanford University and other colleges. So. I am beign forced to do what I WANT.

    I wrote in the entry before the last, how it hit me like a 2 X 4 that I am FREE now. My dad talked about that. How it hit him about six months into retirement that he was free. He had absolute choice over his days and THEN he began to revel in it.

    May you revel at having let go of the drum of shit. thank you for coming to my blog. Now I have another blog to follow. I gotta weed out some of mine, because it's getting wild. A whole lot of reading out there. Isn't it amazing the variety of GOOD to GREAT writing in blogspot? And photographers and other visual artists? I won't say poets because that would scare you. I don't wanna do that.

    Wonderful entry.

  8. Jeannett,

    Thanks for following and commenting. Wow, you have been around the block a few times! Sorry to hear about your disability.

    Yes the freedom is great. As I said above, I never realized how much work occupied my mind until I walked away from it. Amazing!

    I am sort of a late comer in your direction. Carol from Giraffe Dreams joined a book club that I administer. Then I found Jo, Alicia, and you from the various comments or links. It is endless and you are right there is some amazing writing out there...including yours.

    Well good luck with your Reinvented Life and I hope all works out for you. Thanks again for following, commenting, the wish for reveling!

  9. Congratulations to making it to retirement, and having a good attitude.
    I retired after a time of being on disability. Now, a year later, I feel better than I have for a long time. I'm more active, and more interested in life. I have new things I want to do (mostly updating old activities). I still sleep quite a bit, but I need to do that.
    Retirement is about rediscovering who I am when I'm not confined by work. Yippie! is a good word for it.

  10. Rob bear,

    Thanks for the well wishes and congratulations on your own retirement albeit with a disability. Sorry to hear that. Never feel bad about sleeping, there is nothing wrong with sleeping quite a bit. Many people can't. Naps are a gift from God and to be honest I never understood why the government doesn't tax them! Wishing you the best of luck with your health, retirement and the 2 dozen blogs that you write. I visited several yesterday, very interesting.

  11. Going into any new phase of life can be very frightening. I would love to retire too. But I'm very poor, so I keep working... But the thought of giving up that part of my life scares me. I love to paint, and folks tell me I'm quite good and could probably earn a living at it, so what is my excuse for not retiring? I don't know.

    Reading your post was very enlightening. Mostly I think I would like that part where I am not pissed off. :-) I'll keep you posted.

  12. Jo
    If you are going to earn a living at painting, establish that fact first. One can get damned hungry living off of "could probably earn"...starving artists and all that. I have a rather good pension, if it was not for that I would still be working and not allowing myself to get pissed off. I think the pissed off part is your Soul saying "hey you can do this you big fraidy cat". Alas the Soul needs no bread for sustenance, but one's bod sure as hell does. Souls sometimes like to get us in trouble...they are not interested in a comfortable life...they seek an interesting life. Beware of the Soul.

    I am not saying not to do it, just be sure that you can do it. You should be able to sell paintings while you are still working and get that established. If you can do it, by all means do it. Good luck and yes, keep me posted.

    Thanks for stopping by, always an honor.

  13. I have figured out how to post a comment. I am the Old Baguette and will, apparently be known hereafter as anonymous. What a blow to my sense of identity. I've written a variation of this comment too many times. Maybe I can comment as NanookMN

    My concern is with that bucket of shit. Do not get rid of it altogether, just a bit at a time. Why? Because that bucket of shit contains the stuff that Blogs are made of.

  14. The bucket, actually drum of shit, disappeared sometime during the first week after I walked out the door.