KingMidget's Ramblings

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Tag Archives: Retirement

Big News!

Ok, maybe not.  It’s my birthday this Sunday.  I’ll be 49.  I’m not one to care much about the number or that it’s my birthday.  These days, my preference is that my birthdays pass as quietly as possible.

When I was a child, there was an ice cream parlor in town.  Farrell’s.  Like a lot of things back then, it eventually went away.  In Sacramento, this was partially due to a horrible tragedy.  There were two Farrell’s in town.  One was down the street from Sacramento Executive Airport.  The month before my eighth birthday, my family went to an air show at the airport.  As we left, us kids begged and pleaded to go to Farrell’s.  Our parents, wise oldsters that they were, took us elsewhere for pizza instead.  About 45 minutes after we left the air show, an air plane participating in the air show slammed into the Farrell’s down the road.  Twenty-two people were killed,  Among the dead were twelve children.  Needless to say, Farrell’s ceased to exist at that location and the other Sacramento location closed a few years later.

A few weeks ago, Farrell’s made its return to Sacramento.  I suggested to my family that I wanted to go to Farrell’s.  Within a few days, I changed my mind.  I don’t need to go to Farrell’s and order some ice cream extravaganza that’s about five times too large.  I don’t need them running around the place singing happy birthday to me.  Now what I need is peace.  What I need is quiet.  Instead, my family of four will be playing bocce ball and then having dinner somewhere.  I’m not sure where, but it will be a place where they don’t have to sing and there will be no hullabaloo.  Why?  Because that’s the way I am.

I took the week off from work.  When I planned for the time off, I had no real plans.  I just knew I would want some time.  I ended up spending a couple of days in the Aptos/Capitola area.  What did I do?  I watched the waves.  I watched the sea gulls and pelicans.  I sat and waited.  Waited for what?  Nothing.  I tried to take a breath and slow down.

I did what I do when I have time off these days.  I practiced retirement.  It’s only six years away for me, unless things change.  I went for a four-mile walk through a redwood forest.  I took pictures of the waves.  I read.  A lot.  I wrote.  More than I expected but not as much as I would have liked.  I took my time and enjoyed the moment that I was in.  A thing I need to do more.

When I returned home, I started a few other things.  I baked some bread.  I planned some dinners.  I wrote some more.  Again, more than I expected, but not as much as I would have liked.

I have this vision of my life a few years from now.  I’ll rise with the sun.  I’ll spend some time catching up on the day’s news via the newspaper or the internet.  Then, I’ll start some bread.  Go for a run or a walk while it rises.  Return to finish the bread and sit and write for a couple of hours.  The afternoons will be filled with a little of this (maybe painting, maybe playing the guitar or sax, reading) and that (blogging, gardening, more cooking).  And dinners will be quiet.  Sitting on the porch when it’s warm, inside by a fire when it’s not.

And, most importantly of all, there will be a view of the ocean, which will also be a short walk away, so I can sit and watch the waves whenever I want.

It’s my birthday Sunday, I’ll be 49.  Six years isn’t a long time, is it?

P.S.  I think it would be incredibly wonderful if you were to purchase one of my books this weekend and write a review on Amazon.  🙂  What a wonderful birthday present that would be.  Quiet, peaceful, supportive.

Why Not Retire?

I work with somebody who has worked for the State long enough to retire tomorrow with her health care paid for for the rest of her life, and a pension that will provide her somewhere in the neighborhood of 88% of her ending salary.  Yet, she’s not retiring yet.  One more year she says.  I won’t go into the reasons why, but it leads me to ask the question.

Why not retire when you can?  What holds people beyond that date at which they’ve earned the right to sit by the pool, travel, volunteer, and spend their remaining years doing what they want?

I know this about me.  At the first moment when it makes sense, I’m making that choice.  There’s a moment in about seven or eight years, when my kids will be done with college, I’ll have health care paid for, and will have a retirement benefit that is only 42% of my ending salary.  When I hit that moment, I’m not looking to maximize my retirement income.  Instead, my only objective will be that I have enough to pay for a life without obligation and responsibility.  I will have paid my dues and will not be interested in paying them any more.

Whenever I have a few days off, I fill my days with the activities that interest me and it’s not nearly enough.  To have days that spread to the end of my life during which I can do as I please (write, read, run, bicycle, bake, garden, see the ocean, nap, volunteer, spend time with the people that matter — I’ll stop there because this list could literally fill a page or two).  Well, shouldn’t that be the goal for all of us?  Work is work.  I envy people who have found an occupation they enjoy.  For me, work has never defined me.  It’s what I do the rest of my day and week that does.  The day I get to be me 24 hours a day will not come soon enough.

I wonder if it’s fear.  Are people afraid that if they stop working, something will change for the worse?  Do they think retirement means they’re closer to death and if they keep working, they may keep the grim reaper at bay?  Is it fear of what to do with all of those years that, hopefully, remain? How do you feel all of those hours that have been filled by another purpose?  I can imagine that can be pretty scary?  Not for me.

I’m Annoyed

I’m a guv’ment worker, which for non-government workers means I’m overpaid, don’t work hard, and have a gold-plated retirement package that is breaking the back of government and taxpayers.  If only any of that were true.

It’s easy to attach government workers these days, particularly when, here in America, corporations and private companies have spent the last couple of decades destroying the safety net for private sector workers.  As they get less and less, when it comes to benefits and retirement, they look at the benefits that government workers receive and want to know why us, but not them.  Rather than coming up with a system that provides safety and security for all, the response is to tear down what government employees have.  We are the villain, we are leaches, we get far more than we deserve, and “they” are tired of paying for it.

Again, if only that were true.  Yes, there are always examples of abuses, but the abuses do not justify a drastic overhaul of the system and the destruction of the benefits good, hardworking people have earned.

Why am I bringing this up?  It’s this.  In this week’s Sports Illustrated, there is a piece about the NFL’s recent lockout of their referees.  Why?  Because while the NFL is offering salary increases to $149,000 this year and rising to $189,000 by 2018, that’s not enough for the referees.  Also, the NFL wants to eliminate their defined benefit plan and replace it with a 401(k) type package, while the referees want to keep their defined benefit plan.

Where’s the damn outrage about this?  Football referees, who work a part time job for about six months out of the year, aren’t happy with a salary that will go from $149,000 to $189,000 over the next six years.  They work games for three hours a week for four or five months a year.  Yes, I’m sure there are classes and training they have to go through, but at the end of the day, what they do, what they are paid for is three hours of work every weekend from mid-August through December, with the best getting to work the playoffs in January.

Where’s the damn outrage about this?  All of the bankers, investment bankers, and Wall Street whizzes who did their best to destroy our economy who have never been held accountable for it.  Instead, they kept their jobs, continued to earn their massive salaries and bonuses and are continuing to fight with massive lobbying dollars any effort to reign in their abuses.

Where’s the damn outrage about this?  Government officials who sanction torture in violation of United States and International law and who are not held accountable.

Where’s the damn outrage?  I just cannot understand a society in which referees get paid as much as they do for a part-time job and there’s no outrage over that while the cost to go to a game continues to rise, to the point where us regular folk cannot attend a game, a society in which the haves continue to get more and more while screwing the have-nots without any accountability for what they’re doing, but where it is OK to attack teachers who barely make enough to scrape by and will end up with a pension that is barely more than Social Security, where it is OK to attack other government works who work for a fraction of their private sector colleagues and, generally, will be able to retire with a pension that is half the amount of the tax credit Mitt Romney got for his horse.

I’m an attorney.  I have almost 20 years of experience.  I could work in the private sector and, easily, make two to three times what I make in my current position.  Yes, the hours would be longer and the expectations may even be greater, but there are trade-offs.  I wanted to be in my kids life when they were younger.  I wanted to have a life that existed outside of my work.  I wanted a more balanced life.  And, as a result, I’ve spent my professional life accepting a salary that is far, far below what I could have earned in the private sector.  In exchange for that, my hope is to have a retirement package — more than half of which I have paid for during my time as a state employee that will allow me a moderate lifestyle in retirement.  That’s the deal most state employees make.  We don’t retire with pensions that leave us rich.  We retire with pensions that will get us through our final years on this planet, without having to beg and scratch and claw for the things we need to survive.  That doesn’t seem to be unreasonable.

But, we’re the villain.  Not the bankers.  Not the private attorneys who charge $600 per hour to do the same thing they’re doing for 12 other clients at the same time.  Not entertainers who make $20 million per movie, or the athletes who make just as much per season, or the damn referees who make all that money for a part-time job for only part of the year.

I’m annoyed.  I’m tired of the attacks.  I’m tired of the criticism.  I’m tired of being a cog in the wheel of a system in which, thousands of good people do good work on behalf of us all, only to be held up for ridicule and scorn and a desire to take away the measly benefits we receive to do what we do.

<getting off of soapbox>

Resume your regularly scheduled activities.

Tear Drop Campers

I’ve spoke, blogged, and thought about this … when I retire, which will be right around when my kids are done with college, I want to sell everything I own and live as minimally as possible.  I’ve talked about buying an RV and traveling around the country.  Spending a week here, a month there, time with friends, time with family, time alone meeting strangers and seeing all this country has to offer.

I’ve also talked about the tiny house movement.  Little, itty bitty houses that are as small as 80-100 square feet in size.

Well, why not combine the two … tear drop campers.  I think I could do this.  So, I wouldn’t have a place to make pizza.  I think I could adjust to that.

Time to add to my bucket list … again.

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