Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Nana Wonders What She’s Up To These Days…Retirement isn’t just one long vacation, is it?

When I run into people who I haven’t seen for awhile, I’m always asked “What are you up to these days?”   It’s a hard question to answer.  The rules of social discourse require that I have a brief one or two sentence reply.  It’s one of those questions like “How are you?” and people expect a simple answer. When I was working the answer was easy. I could respond with the title of my job of the moment. “I’m retired” doesn't really answer the question.  What, exactly, am I up to?

Lately my answer to the question has been “Well, I’ve been traveling quite a bit.” I am filling my calendar with vacations, one after the other. I just decided to go to Texas this weekend to attend my granddaughter's 5th birthday party.  Next week I am going to San Diego for a few days to visit family and attend a wedding (of a cousin who I have never met.) Then I am home for a few days before we leave for a cruise to Alaska. There are a few things on my calendar in September and I need to get back to Texas to see the granddaughters, but then there is nothing…so I’m searching the internet for good deals on travel in October. Because how would I answer the question if I didn’t have a trip planned?

I had what Oprah calls an "aha" moment this morning as I was perusing the rates for condos in Hawaii. I like to travel, but I have to wonder if I’m using travel so I don’t have to think about planning for a life in retirement. Retirement can’t be just about one vacation after another can it?

Real life doesn’t lend itself to easy, two sentence responses. Here’s what I’ve really been up to:

“I got two bags of crap from Woot and now I’m waiting for the next Woot Off.”  It is impossible to explain Woot, Bags of Crap, and Woot Offs in two sentences!  I've had extended conversations with people about Woot and they still don't understand what I'm talking about.  Frankly, it's sometimes difficult for me to understand why I spent so much time trying to get a BOC that included two High School Musical Alarm Clocks and a Marvel action figure.

“Well, I’ve watched every episode of The Real Housewives of New York and New Jersey."   It doesn’t take two sentences to explain this one, but really, even I have a hard time caring about this topic and I watched the shows.

“Lately, I’m all about the blog. I have a worldwide readership of 38 followers!”   This I say with sincerity, pride and enthusiam,  but when I mention the blog to non-bloggers, I am rewarded with a blank stare. Again, more than two sentences are needed.

I’m thinking about writing a novel. Not so much because I believe that I’m the next James Patterson, but because it gives me an easy answer to what I’m up to.

“I’m working on my first novel. It’s a mystery set in a small, rural eastern Oregon town and my main character is a smart, personable retired teacher who blogs.”  How long does it take to write a novel? This response should be good for at least the next year or two. Then I’ll have to start traveling again.


  1. You're right. When people say, 'What have you been up to?' and you say, 'Oh, mostly blogging today', they look at you as if you've been up to something really nasty. And, as you say, trying to explain gets you into all kinds of knots.

  2. I just tell folks that I had more free time when I was working. I can't be much more specific because to explain it would take more than two sentences.
    What I won't mention is that I'm more than two thousand miles from home and recovering from monkey but.

  3. Oh, my gosh. You sound just like me!

    My trips are planned out to January, and then a blank until April. I have schedule so many trips I can't take mediation training until March because of scheduling conflicts. Maybe I'm putting off really being retired. It's almost easier to say "I'm not working right now."

  4. What's wrong with spending a lot of time travelling? But I do understand and know what you mean. Most of us define ourselves with what we "do" for a living (I certainly did). And if we "did" it well, once we no longer do it, it can feel slightly diminishing, can't it?

    I never planned on being a stay at home mum. Life didn't work out that way. I wasn't born the mother of a disabled child, and no amount of money to pay for a nanny could step up in the role needed for that task. Before marriage and motherhood, I had built up a business that pay-rolled over 500 staff. Today? I find it hard to even track of what day of the week I am in. Hey-ho. (Shrug) 'Tis life. It changes, and we should make no apologies for that. Enjoying what we have, which you do, is all that matters.


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