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February 27th, 2022

Notes On Life After Retirement…

Or at any rate, the immediate post retirement.

  • They finally got around to turning off my email access at the Institute yesterday morning. I got the usual notifications that my crons ran early in the morning, but later the iPhone complained it couldn’t get my Institute mail, so I went in to Settings and turned that account off. Supposedly they will send me email when they need to contact me about anything, to one of my other addresses I gave them.

    It’s okay. I don’t need to be hearing what’s going on there anymore because my head will get wrapped around all the work I don’t need to do anymore. I need to train my head to stop going down those rabbit holes now.

    There will be other rabbit holes for me to fall into I’m sure…

  • I figured I’d just take everything in the office back home and sort out what I want to keep and what I don’t later. But my office was, no kidding, a home away from home that I’d built over the years. First the microwave, then the mini fridge, then various other office do-dads and toys, then the coffee maker. Books books books. Dishes and utensils. Salt and pepper grinders. An assortment of coffee mugs. iPhone chargers and spare headphones and ear buds. A plush Grumpy Cat and a plush Opus the Penguin. Some artwork from my Southwest road trips. Disney posters, cartoons, and framed service awards. Now that it’s all in the house and my first day of retirement and I had some time to breath and take a look at everything.  What I’m seeing is it’s going to take me months to integrate the office office into the home office.

    But I’m not even wanting to call it my “office” anymore. It’s my den. It has books, a nice chair for reading with a couple reading lamps next to it. It has my camera cabinet, my computer desk, and eventually the shortwave radio for listening to the world at night. I’m retired. That room doesn’t need to serve business purposes anymore. It’s my quiet thinking space. First thing this morning was I took a look at everything on my dryboard and saw that it was all Institute stuff and erased everything on it. It was all stuff I’d either already done, or stuff I didn’t need to do anymore.

    I just took the mini fridge upstairs and found a good place for it in the office because the office has all my camera stuff and the plan is to use that fridge to store film. But that entire second floor is all on one 15 amp circuit, so I’m going to need to run a few tests to see if the fridge doesn’t trip the circuit breaker if I also have one or more of the space heaters on, plus the lights, plus the ceiling fans.

    The house is a mess! I was so embarrassed when I had company over to see my artwork. I’m probably going to spend most of next week sorting through all of it and trying to get things back under control here. Plus trying to get ready to go to California. But that depends on the weather.

  • As if to put a period on the day I transitioned to retirement, I finally got notice that my application for Medicare part the B is going forward. And the bill.

    You pay for part B based on your income for the previous two years, and I’ve been making pretty good money. The letter I got tells me that I will pay the standard amount, 170.10, plus an income related monthly adjustment of 170.10. So, 340.20. That, plus my STScI employee health plan which I get to keep, at 115.11 a month, gives me a monthly health insurance bill for the next two years of 455.31. But that is health insurance that covers me completely in my retirement years, including drug costs, and yes, I know I’m lucky to have it, and the ability to keep paying for it.

    I’ve worked all this into my monthly budget spreadsheet and it’s okay. The part B premium actually was 20 bucks less than I’d anticipated, so it’s all good. And it will go down next year, or the year after.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Notes On Life After Retirement…

February 16th, 2022

Stepping From One Life Into Another

Step by step…

Got my first Social Security payment today, and it’s a tad better than expected because of the cost of living adjustment they made in January.

I applied back in September, two years after my official full retirement year, so the payment is bigger. The plan was to wait it out until 70 when you have to take it. My work isn’t physically strenuous and I love my job so I figured that would be a piece of cake. The heart attack two years ago (a month after I’d reached my full Social Security age) convinced me otherwise, and I adjusted the plan to retiring after James Webb launch. I’m getting Social Security at the same time I’m still drawing a paycheck because they kept moving the launch date back.

I was afraid some bureaucratic screw up would happen and I’d not see a payment today and have to wade through the bureaucracy to get it fixed. I’m still struggling to get Medicare plan B going. But I checked just now and there it is.

They say Social Security should not be more than a small part of your retirement income, but I did not have the wherewithal to save for retirement until late in life. That factoid you may have heard about gay men having so much discretionary income…? It’s total bullshit! A lifestyle magazine did a survey and got that result which they then pitched to advertisers. But all it meant is having lots of money in the 1990s made it easier for some gay guys to be out of the closet. Most of us had to struggle and it was even worse for lesbians. I had first hand experience with that doing volunteer work for a local gay BBS run by a non-profit, those times of year when we sent out letters asking for donations. I have a string of jobs in my past I got fired or laid off of the instant they figured out what a lavender boy I am…usually because I refused to make up stories about girlfriends I didn’t have.

Something I’ve said often enough is that a militant homosexual is a homosexual who doesn’t think there is anything wrong with being a homosexual, and a militant homosexual activist is a homosexual who acts like there isn’t anything wrong with being a homosexual. That’s it. That’s all there is to it. You don’t have to march in Pride Day parades, you don’t have to do Gay Days every year at Walt Disney World, you don’t have to festoon your car with Pride decals. All it takes is you are fine with being gay, and unwilling to hide that fact whenever those unplanned, unexpected out of the closet moments suddenly tap you on the shoulder. Eventually life teaches you that being truthful is better in the long run, even if it stings at the moment. You get one chance in this life to keep your good name, and the trust of your neighbors. But for us gay folk, maintaining that is a constant struggle against the pressure from every direction to duck the question, to hide. to lie, to put on a mask for the comfort of others, and never mind that it will slowly strangle the person you could have been. 

They tell us to just not “flaunt it” and we’ll be fine, but that’s a lie. You had to bury yourself deep and fake it and lie and lie and lie and lie about every part of your life and just let it corrode your soul and and drive you deeper into self hatred. I refused. I’d fallen in love when I was 17 and it made me stubborn. I saw what the closet did, And Still Does, to so many, and apart from knowing that I had to be careful (I read stories about gay bashings nearly every week, even these days) I wasn’t going there, I was not going to act like I thought there was anything wrong with me when I damn well knew there wasn’t. All I had to do was remember how seeing him smile made me feel back when we were teenagers, and the world was new.

But I was never of the fabulous peacock tribe. I was, and to some degree still am, a kind of scrawny geeky kind of guy, without very much of a fashion sense, and thus I made it past a lot of job interviews, only to later be shown the door for being insufficiently low on the Kinsey scale. I never had a boyfriend, was always single, and thus had no love life to brag about like everyone else in the office. Lots of people mistook that for my being discrete but if challenged on it I would dig in my heels and tell the truth. Yes I am…what of it? And that’s what usually got me fired. I never really saw myself as being brave or having courage, just stubborn. 

So I didn’t have much to save for retirement, until I got the job I have now, with an employer that actually took pains to make me feel safe and valued there, and matched ten percent of my salary and put it right into a 403b (they’re for non-profits). Twenty-two years of that, plus my own contributions now that I had a good income for it, gave me enough of a nest egg that I can retire comfortably, if not fabulously. But Social Security is going to have to be a big part of that, which is why I waited to apply. That, and buying my little Baltimore rowhouse when I did, makes it possible. Oh…and the car is paid for. In ten years so is the house.

I’ll do okay. But for the life of me I just don’t get why so many old people vote republican. They’ve been trying to kill Social Security since FDR created it.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Stepping From One Life Into Another

February 13th, 2022

That Magic Feeling

Yesterday I entered the two week period prior to retirement, where everything is happening according to a set number of steps. You can no longer take any time off, because payroll wants a clean slate to do the final payouts on. There are steps for turning in equipment, and various key cards. Also I have to make sure the people who will be taking on my rolls (I had many) are fully trained and my system accounts are migrated over to them.

It actually began a few days ago, when I had to enter this in the IT support system…

I had finished up a pre-departure interview with HR and was instructed to start this process in the system. There are still things to tidy up, mostly equipment related things and documents to sign and pass around. But…here goes. As of now I am on the two week glide path.

When I leave the building as a retiree, I know what I’ll be thinking…

Monday morning, turning back
Yellow lorry slow, nowhere to go
But oh, that magic feeling, nowhere to go
Oh, that magic feeling
Nowhere to go, nowhere to go…

Those lines from the Beatles You Never Give Me Your Money always played in my mind whenever I was laid off, fired (hair too long, incorrect sexual orientation) or quit (I hate this job I can do better somewhere else). It’s that initially disorienting sensation of suddenly not being on the clock anymore…which you are even on your time off because then the back to work clock is ticking. The clock is always ticking. And then suddenly it isn’t, and you feel a bit weightless. It’s a thrilling, scary, mysterious feeling. This will be the first time I experience it and I’m leaving on a high note.

I loved this job, absolutely loved it. But I can feel my time on this earth winding down now, and it’s time to move on.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on That Magic Feeling

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