Friday, August 19, 2011

Am I retired?

Here is a picture of my office space. I'm not working at the desk because I'm behind the camera!
I don't think a day goes by that I don't make a new acquaintance in town who asks me if I am retired. My first thought is, "Do I look old enough to be retired? I'm only 52." Then I think, "Do I look that at loose ends that surely I most not have anything meaningful going on in my life?" A combination of defensiveness, denial and self-awareness compete in my inner brain when this is going on. Maybe it started because I didn't want to "retire" from UW. I just wanted to pick my job up and do it from Iowa. So it rankles a bit when people there mention my retirement. That wasn't my plan, that isn't my sense of myself. I have another 15 years at least of "work" ahead of me. It just has taken a quirky turn, pretty much in keeping with how the rest of my life has gone. Anyway, back to meeting new folks. No, I'm not retired. I work part time. I freelance. I work for an employer 900 miles away. I'm writing a book. I'm taking a personal sabbatical. It all sounds thin and un-considered. Especially with so many people in the country unemployed but not by choice. What am I doing walking away from a perfectly good job if it wasn't part of my plan to retire? I better come up with something tangible to show as proof of my viability, and soon. Or else just say yes, I'm retired, please have no expectations of me because I have none of myself. I only look 52. Really, I'm 70 and deserve a break.