Tag Archives: retirement

Health Hazard

I am annoyed with Donald Trump.  Not merely annoyed, I have come to the conclusion that the man is hazardous to my health.  It’s getting so I am apprehensive about waking up in the morning to hear NPR bring me news of the latest atrocity committed by Mr. Trump’s administration.

The “national emergency” that he has just discovered at our southern border is today’s latest example.  If there is such a crisis (which I do not believe actually exists), why did it take him two years to find it?  The “crisis” of course is phony.  It serves only as a ploy to circumvent the normal channels of legislation.  He was unable to get a border wall funding bill through Congress.  The sloppy art of his deal was to wait until a quarter of the government ran out of money and then use that as leverage to get what he wants.

This is not negotiating.  This is taking hostages and making a non-negotiable demand.

Of course, this ploy would not work so well were it not for the collusion of Mitch McConnell (and the majority of Republicans).  Mitch says there is no point in having the Senate consider funding the government unless the president will sign the bill.  I must admit that there is a certain appeal to that argument.  I mean, why bother to legislate?  Never mind the Senate’s Constitutional duty.  But in reality, the only thing Mr. Trump wants to sign is the back of a check from the taxpayers for his Great-Great Wall. 

What Mitch is really saying by refusing to consider anything else is that the Republicans are ready to agree to the ransom demand.

If Mitch had any backbone, he would tell Mr. Trump that the only legislation the Senate will pass is a bill that would immediately re-open the government, provide funding for more immigration judges, provide humanitarian assistance to asylum-seeking families who are stuck at the border, and sure, providing some better electronic and technological surveillance on the border.  Next, Congress should take up comprehensive immigration reform.  (Okay, I can already hear the laughter from the invertebrate Republicans.)

A “physical barrier “at the border is nonsense.  Considering the time it would take to complete a massive federal construction project, it can hardly be called an urgent response to a “national emergency.”  As far as I can see, the only ones to benefit are the contracting outfits who would do the construction at inflated “government work” prices.

And that’s just today’s atrocity!  These are supposed to be my golden years, but how can I enjoy them with Mr. Trump in charge of my country?  It’s like having perpetual acid reflux.  My greatest existential fear is dying while he is still in office.  It will take years to undo the damage that he has already caused.  I can only hope that I should live so long.


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  • 65
    On March 2, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he would recuse himself “from matters with the Trump campaign,” including investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The announcement came after news reports that Sessions had spoken with the Russian ambassador at least twice during the campaign. Sessions…
  • 63
    I am starting into my third year of retirement and the second year of this blog. I have been thinking about both things this week, and there are commonalities. I feel like a beginner, still, at both retirement and blogging. Perhaps the most amazing thing about retirement so far is…
  • 54
    This post follows Immigration Part 1: How Did We Get Here? and Immigration Part 2: Establishing Equity. Part 1 covers United States immigration policy and politics prior to 1965. Part 2 examines three decades of immigration legislation between 1965 and 1996 and the recommendations of two blue-ribbon commissions appointed to…

Old Age

I am handling old age pretty well. Yes, I know that some people would say that sixty-eight is “not old.” Some would tell me with reassuring certainty “age is just a number.” Like hell. At sixty-eight, I am not a young man, that’s for sure, and I am pretty sure that I no longer qualify for the category “middle-aged,” though possibly some might quibble.

I feel that I have entered the terminal bracket of “old age.” I don’t know when that happened, exactly. I’ve had a creeping suspicion for the last year or so, at least, that I was getting there. Well, I think I’m there now, and I’m doing okay.

Someone asked me recently whether I was enjoying retirement. Yes. What do you like most about it? How do you spend your time? I can never think of an impressive answer.

I know that old age is not the same thing as retirement and that some people who haven’t retired find themselves in the old age category. I chose to retire five years ago, and old age happened more recently, but that is a technicality. When people ask me now how I am enjoying retirement they might as well be asking how I am enjoying old age. What do I like most about old age? How do I spend my old-age time?

Well, I am enjoying old age so much I don’t want it to end.

I have been taking a mental inventory of the things that I do these days. It is not an impressive list, and I doubt that anyone would feel inspired by my example. Still, I feel that I am doing pretty well. To some extent, old age offers liberation from the desire to impress.

Exposing how I spend my time may serve some educational purpose for those in or near the “old age” category who want to feel they are doing pretty well. To that end, the less impressive what I do with my time the better for others, who may be doing more interesting things by comparison.

This inventory is no doubt incomplete, but it accounts for most of my old age time:

  • I have acquired the habit of taking a walk every day, unless the weather is crappy with rain. I walk about two miles. It is my primary form of physical exercise, along with a morning jaunt on the treadmill and a weekly yoga class. In summer, I go on bike rides.
  • I have more time to read books in my old age. Detective novels are a favorite (James Lee Burke, Ian Rankin, Walter Mosley, Karin Slaughter, Liza Marklund, John Harvey and Tony Hillerman, to name a few favorite authors). I also have read several epic biographies (Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin) and other books about history.
  • I read the local newspaper (old-fashioned print version) every morning. I also follow the news on NPR and PBS—on television and online—and other news programs, such as Meet the Press. Sometimes I search the Internet for more information, and I have written posts for this blog on political issues that I care about. (See the “tag cloud” in the left side-bar for links.)
  • I have been teaching myself Spanish for the last nine years or so, and I spend time every day practicing the language. From time to time on this blog, I post translations into Spanish of earlier English language posts. (See posts in the “Later, in Spanish” category.)
  • Aging in place—in my case, in the house where my wife and I have lived for more than two decades—means time spent cleaning, shopping, handling bills and bank accounts, doing yard work, making minor repairs and so forth. We have done several home remodeling projects (this year we are remodeling a bathroom), and we do a lot of the work ourselves.
  • We take turns cooking dinner, but there is time in my old age to take my turn more often.
  • We watch an hour or so of television on most nights. Because American network television programming is so dreadful, we use streaming services (Hulu, PBS and Acorn TV) and DVDs from Netflix (now DVD.com). We have particularly enjoyed several excellent Swedish drama series (The Bridge, Beck, Rebecka Martinsson).
  • I volunteer some of my time each week in various activities at a community theater and at the local Unitarian Universalist Church. I have been involved with the theater for thirty years and with the church for about five. Two years ago on this blog, I wrote about my most recent acting role at the theater in a post titled Becoming Neil.
  • We have traveled a little bit in the last five years. I have written about our travels on this blog: Savannah, New Orleans, Costa Rica and the American West.

I suppose the point here is that there is comfort in the humdrum. For me, if not for others of old age, doing well does not require doing a lot. But this is not to suggest that the key to old-age happiness is retreat, disengagement and idleness. Old age can be a time of quiet but heightened awareness. It is a time to strip away the need to figure things out so much.

My yoga teacher has a phrase that she uses to guide the class into savasana—the final pose of rest at the end of the class. The purpose of savasana—also inauspiciously but misleadingly called “corpse pose”—is to relax the body and the mind after a series of more challenging positions. The idea is not to go to sleep, but rather to remain fully conscious but completely relaxed, to allow thoughts to flow in and out of your mind while becoming aware of the quiet conscious moments between thoughts. As our teacher says, it is a time when you have nowhere to go, nothing to do, and absolutely no one you have to be.

It is, I think, an apt metaphor for old age.

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  • 69
    In Remembering Anticipation, I talked about the first phase of retirement. Robert Atchley is generally credited with describing the unfolding of retirement as a series of phases. Atchley called the first phase “pre-retirement.” Because pre-retirement occurs before actual retirement begins, one is tempted to quibble whether it is a phase…
  • 67
    In 2010, Ameriprise Financial, a financial planning company, conducted the New Retirement Mindscape II study to investigate attitudes about retirement. The study, based on a telephone survey of adults in the United States between the ages of 40 and 75, updated an earlier study conducted in 2005 to determine whether…
  • 60
    The English version of this post—Optimal Living—was posted here on January 11, 2016. This Spanish translation is my own and may contain errors. I invite native speakers of the language to comment on my errors and to suggest corrections. Aquí está una traducción en español de Optimal Living. Por favor,…