Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thanksgiving Break, twenty-three down, two more to go: from an old fool in a sentimental mood

I retire in 2019. And I am beginning to realize that. I know how fortunate I am. My partner and I will be able to leave when we are willing to leave. Few people seem to be a position to do so. I feel fortunate—to have this job, tenure, promotion, salary and benefits, an office, and time. I know that. Yet more and more I feel most thankful for the work.

For all the annoyances, disappointments, frustrations, and outrages from the tasks of my job, once I'm gone, I will miss the work.

I have realized that I will miss one aspect in particular: that time before my eight am classes, from six until seven thirty. The building is mostly empty and quiet, and I am here alone.

That quiet time I am alone getting ready for class: reading these texts—old chestnuts on and new additions to the syllabi—so interesting, so worthy, so stimulating, and then revising, revamping, rethinking last year’s lesson, to keep it fresh, relevant, current.

Before the first email of the day with reports of illness, car trouble, emotional turmoil, before the committee meetings, before addressing various tasks from newly created offices demanding my time, before the stack of ungraded essays guilts me into attention, before colleagues in the hall breathlessly chin-wagging about the provost, the dean, the vice president, etc. I do work I love.


  1. That quiet early-morning hour is, indeed, lovely, even if one is answering the emails that came in overnight (reacquainting myself with texts both familiar and new would be even more lovely, but that's not what my teaching schedule offers). I haven't seen as much as I'd like of it this semester (because I've had a schedule which hasn't forced me to get up so early -- a blessing in other ways). One reason I'd like to move closer to campus is that I would see more of it.

    Enjoy the work. I suspect a bit of nostalgia adds relish even to less pleasant tasks. And may you enjoy many early mornings (and late mornings, and afternoons, and evenings) with texts both familiar and new in retirement.

  2. I really hope you enjoy the last few years of your career.

    It's a time period I often think about, although I have a way to go yet. In terms of pension and other benefits, my recently retired colleagues seem to be in a fair position; mine is just about OK; but for younger proffies, the situation does not look that good at all.

    I believe I will least miss the online aspects of the work - office mail and LMS, specifically. Of course, by the time I go (c.2030) there will several worse, entirely fresh hells.

  3. Congratulations on making it to the home stretch. I have 20 years to go and it feels like an eon until I remember that I've already been working more than 20 years. So I'm more than halfway there.

    Even if you adore your job, I encourage everyone to kick in as much as possible to your retirement plan as being old and poor sucks worse than being young and poor.


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