Posts Tagged ‘retirement’

A Heartfelt Gift

By now you all probably know I’m retiring in a few short days.  Days!  I can’t believe it.

My boss asked me if I wanted an agency retirement party and I came right out and said no.  She pushed and pushed, so I finally agreed to have an open house of sorts ~ a cake at my cube offered to anyone who would like to wish me a fair farewell.  Not a lot of pressure of me to perform, treats for the whole agency whether they know/like me or not.

But I’ve been encountered with a number of people in recent days who have wished me good luck and a wonderful retirement without the reward of cake.  One person offered me a link to a publisher friend of hers when I offhandedly mentioned I might finish that novel I’ve been working on.  Seriously?  I felt like she cared about me, like, as a human being, not as a worker in the same agency.  If I knew the regard people paid me throughout my thirty-five-plus years of service I might not even be leaving.  Okay, maybe I won’t go that far, but I wish I’d known these people were so interesting and that they thought I was a little interesting.  I might have actually formed some relationships with the people I work with!

There’s one person who I know appreciates me, and I appreciate her too.  Margaret.  Margaret works in the mail room and routes mail to all the units throughout the day.  Every morning at 6:40 she comes to my cubicle bearing some mail or cases for me to work on.  Or not.  No matter what she has or doesn’t have for me she chats about her life with me.  I nod and offer a comment or two, but I realize I’m just someone she can talk to.  People often ignore Margaret because she’s, well, from the mail room.  I appreciate Margaret because she’s dependable and such a hard, hard worker.

When I told Margaret I was retiring she was very excited for me, and said she’s give me a present.  Of course I told her that wasn’t necessary, but a week later I was presented with a gift, wrapped in a plastic Walmart bag.  Handmade plastic canvas nested boxes.

Margaret is a gift in herself.  I’ll think of her often and I hope she has a chance to enjoy retirement soon.



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Yesterday after work I ran straight to my hair stylist and got a haircut.  She chopped an inch off of my wild mane and it felt great.  She could have gone another 1/2 inch, but I’m satisfied for now.

When I got home I was like a ball of fire.  I had a smile on my face and lots of chatter to spew at Husby.  He referred to me as the Anti-Samson.  Instead of my weakening with the loss of my hair I gained strength and vigor.

Husby was glad to see me chatty and smiling after being at the day job.  I haven’t been chatty and smiling for a couple of weeks now, so I must be getting back to myself again.  Chop off my hair and I’m good to go.

Today I’m having lunch with Mary Ann.  We’ve known each other since high school and when we both got big girl jobs in the big city of St. Paul we started having lunch once a month.  For the last twenty or so years we’ve had our monthly lunch at the same restaurant.  They know us.

Mary Ann has been retired for two weeks now, and I’m getting ready to launch that rocket on December 1st.  Today we’re having our last “downtown” lunch.

Right now I have only six more days at the day job.  It’s surreal.  It’s glorious.  It’s just a little bit scary.  But mostly it’s an admirable milestone and the beginning of a whole new episode.

I’m glad I got my hair cut yesterday.  It’s given me the energy to boldly move into retirement life.  After all, I am the Anti-Samson.


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Every day I wake up with a song in my head.  Sometimes they’re so obscure I have no idea how they got there.  Other times it’s very clear what teeters on the very thin line between my subconscious and consciousness.

Today I woke up with Tom Petty singing in my head.

The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you see one more card
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part

I’ve been waiting on two things lately, one good and one not so comfortable.

Retirement.  I’ve been waiting on this one for years.  Now that I can almost touch it the waiting is even harder.  It’s like waiting for a big party someone’s been planning for me ~ I know it will be a great time, but I don’t know what’s really in store for me at the party.  What kind of games will we play?  What kind of food will be served?  Who will be in attendance?  Being retired will be great, but the details of how my life will actually be are still a mystery to me.  Waiting to find out.

My dad’s recovery.  This is the not-so-comfortable kind of waiting I’ve been doing.  It’s the kind of waiting all people have to do at one time or another, or lots and lots of times.  And when I have no control over how the story progresses, waiting for the outcome is nerve wracking.  I’ve been waiting for information from doctors, waiting for phone calls, waiting for signals for help, waiting, waiting, waiting.  It all kind of makes me want to sit in a corner and suck my thumb because I feel so helpless.

The thing about waiting is it never goes away.  We’re always waiting for something.  Once we’re done waiting for this we’ll start waiting for something else.  They say we should live in the present, but the hard facts are that there’s something beyond this moment in time, and waiting to find out what that is can be really, really hard.  In fact, it’s “the hardest part.”

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“Don’t get so officious, you’re not yourself when you’re officious.
That’s the curse of a government job.”

~ Maude

Dame Marjorie Chardem, better known as Maude, is a person who guides me through life with her enthusiasm and wisdom.  She lives in the movie Harold and Maude, my favorite movie of all time.

Maude has a penchant for stealing cars but doesn’t have a driver’s license because she doesn’t “believe in them.”  That’s what she told the police officer who pulled her over for speeding.  With some prodding the police officer found out that not only had she been speeding but had also stolen the truck she was driving, as well as the little tree and shovel in the back of the truck.  The discourse between Maude and the police officer prompted her to comment on officiousness.

“That’s the curse of a government job.”

I have a government job and I know all about officiousness.  I’m professional with my coworkers, supervisors, and the clients I meet nearly every day.  The thing is, I work in an area away from most of the people I work with, so they don’t see me rolling my eyes at the ridiculousness of government protocol.  They don’t hear me swearing under my breath about mistakes I make in the midst of the overwhelmedness of my workload.  They don’t know I’m burnt out and resentful of our clients.  I’m a professional.  I’m officious.  At least in the eyes of those with whom I work.

But as Maude says, “you’re not yourself when you’re officious.”  How true that is.  If that’s the case, I can only assume “myself” is hidden for ten hours a day, five days a week.  That can’t be a good thing, and it sucks a lot of energy out of me.  But if I were “myself,” I would have been fired from my job a long time ago.

I’ve been trying to balance officiousness with my true self for over three decades.  Psychologically speaking, that’s a heavy load to carry and can’t be too helpful in the quest for self-actualization – too much cognitive dissonance.  It makes me wonder how much I’ll flourish after I retire from the day job and only have to be myself.  My guess is…lots.

Maude ended up distracting the officious police officer and stealing his motorcycle to get on with her business of replanting the little city tree in the forest.  When Harold and Maude reached the forest and planted the tree Maude said, “The earth is my body and my head is in the stars…who said that?”  Harold replies, “I don’t know.”  Maude smiles and says, “Well, I guess I did.”

I’m so looking forward to trashing my officiousness.  I want to be like Maude.  I want to be myself.


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It’s the beginning of a new week, and an interesting week it will be.

I’m glad I began the week (or ended last week) with a very wonderful Saturday and Sunday.  One very fun thing that was available to me was a thirty-six-hour binge of Dark Shadows on one of our local TV stations.  I remember rushing home from school oh so many years ago (grade school – Catholic grade school!) to watch this macabre, supernatural soap opera.  I’m surprised my mom let me watch it.  Seeing it nearly fifty years later was hysterical.  Not only did it have the dialog of a soap opera (generally pretty bad) but the lighting, the pace,  and the “scary” subject matter were really fun to watch.  Jonathan Frid was a pretty schmaltzy vampire, but he got me hooked on the genre at an early age.  Plus I have a ring just like his because of my great affection for Barnabas Collins.  Luckily I didn’t incorporate his hairdo .

I did lots of yard work and winter preparation at my parents’ house.  I finally got some cleaning done in my own house – I haven’t spent much time with that since before my vacation in August.  Dust bunnies were breeding like crazy!  I did laundry and cleaned toilets, along with may other tidying and cleaning up.  It was a very domestic weekend and it felt great.

I listened to FoJo’s radio show yesterday.  For those of you who haven’t kept up, Fojo is my nephew.  He’s the foremost radio personality on the U of M Morris radio station,  presenting a show every Sunday on KUMM.  It’s always fun listening to him, and I even called in a music request – a very obscure one at that.  Mel Brooks singing High Anxiety.  Fojo tracked it down and played it for me.  The song was running through my head all of last week.  Gee, do you think I might be a little high strung these days?

High strung, probably because it’s the beginning of a week at the day job that will be quite interesting.  Today I’m going to meet with a couple of people to see what’s really going on at the Agency of Free Handouts.  I’m angry and frustrated about what’s going on concerning my replacement once I retire; on the other hand, why do I even care?  Because I’ve got nearly thirty-six years invested and have become enamored with some of the people I’ve known for nearly as long, that’s why.  Red tape and secret practices are a bad thing when it comes to government employment, and I plan to blow the situation sky high if I can help it.

I’ve developed a lot of nerve now that the end is near.

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