Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Failing Retirement

My 9th grade Intro to Algebra teacher lied to me. I was given the impression that in my life there would be numerous occasions when I would be required to determine exactly when the blue train would meet the green train, both of them having left different stations at different times and traveling toward each other at different rates of speed. This has yet to happen to me. And it's a good thing, because I had no idea how to figure out when the trains would cross paths, and I still have no idea how to figure this out. If the occasion did suddenly arise, I would have to call my friend Rick, who knows all of this stuff. (I'm trying to figure out what could possibly happen that would cause this issue to arise; perhaps if I were tied to the tracks, it would become a matter of some import to me. I'm working very hard at avoiding such a situation.)

See? Working. Work, work, work.
That's all I do on these trips. (Photo
by Lesley Scher
But all of this is just to say that life never quite works out as we expect. I had planned to be a psychologist. I really loved all the psychology classes I took—and also the related coursework in sociology, anthropology… You know. All of those -ologies. But then it turned out that psych majors had to take a statistics course. This is when I became an English major. (But the joke was on me. When I went to graduate school as an Education major, it turned out that I still had to take a statistics course!)

So, here I am many years later, retired. Sort of. It turns out that I apparently don't know how to be retired. I had the best of intentions. I was going to fish. A lot. I bought new fishing gear, some for freshwater fishing on lakes and rivers, and some much larger, more intimidatingly manly gear for surfcasting. The latter I have never used. The former I've used once, in a muddy river seemingly bereft of fish. (Though I did catch a very nice branch, which I had planned to take home and mount on the wall, until Lesley unplanned that for me.)

We even bought a beautiful little travel trailer; we take it all over and love camping in the beautiful state parks in Oregon and Washington. The private RV parks are a little pricier, but they often have amenities that are lacking in some of the parks. (Boondocking sites—places to park your RV for free or almost free—are often very beautiful, but generally lack all amenities, including showers, dump stations, or bathrooms. Since one cannot dump one's tanks at most such sites, the longest we can stay at a boondocking site is 3-4 days; after that it's time to dump our tanks and take a very long hot shower.) And we do take the trailer out as often as we can. In fact, we're currently planning a 3-week trip, which means that a new editing job will show up in my inbox exactly 6 hours before we leave.
There. See? Working. Slaving away while everyone
else is out hiking, sweating, mired in the mud, being
chased by bears and cougars and angry moose...
Actually, you know what? Never mind. I'm good.
(Photo by Lesley Scher.)
See, even though I do a lot of camping, and in spite of this theoretical "retirement," I'm still working. Even when I'm "camping" I'm often working. All I need, after all, is a cell signal. (Actual Wi-Fi is rare, but it does happen.) So, I've spent many an hour with our trailer nestled in the beauty of a forest of pines, blue skies overhead, the sounds of a rushing river in the background, the smell of fresh elk poop wafting all around—and there I am, hunched over our little dinette table, working away on my laptop, editing a book or writing an article.

In fact, I had planned to start my own little company (doing some very secret, cybersecurity-related stuff), but every time I get a few minutes to think about that project, in comes another editing gig. I'd really like to have another source of income, but I'm too busy working to figure out how to work.

And here's our cute little trailer, stopped for lunch
somewhere on the road. (Photo by Lesley. Or Rod.
Or possibly some passer-by, I'm not sure.)
I can't complain, really. I mean, the money is needed to help pay for Lesley's health insurance and to buy camping equipment and computer gear. And possibly a fully restored 1963 Austin-Healey 3000 convertible. (I just snuck that in there to see if Lesley was actually reading these blog entries. My plan, if she doesn’t read this, is to just buy the car and when she says, "Where—and WHY—did you buy that car, dammit?!" I can simply respond, "But Honey, I told you I was going to buy it! It was right there in blog post #37!" This is a foolproof plan, I can tell already.)

Still, I had always thought retirement would involve more fishing.

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