Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Temporary Retirement Chronicles

We arrived at the parking lot to find a huge amount of no snow--and no people. Where was everybody? The snow was perfect! Then I remembered--it's Monday!

This is a parking lot.
Though it's no fun being told that your job and salary are on hold for a higher purpose, this furlough has been eye-opening for me. I have never had this much time off at once. Even as a seasonal worker, I didn't collect unemployment like most of my peers. Instead, I moved across the country to get a winter seasonal job. I've never cashed an unemployment check--mostly because I felt an obligation to work if work was to be had. (There's almost always work.) My co-workers would return with glorious tales of skiing in Peru, hiking in Australia (Wait. I did take the winter of 1988 off to go hike in Australia. I didn't get unemployment though.).

So even though there are financial worries from not getting a paycheck, I get it now. The far off galaxy called retirement is going to be great! I just need to get myself there in one piece.

Which might not be as easy as it sounds. L and I went skiing again, and it was only partway up the climb that she casually mentioned that we would be returning via the downhill ski area. "I don't think I can do that," I sniveled. Going down a run on cross country skis? "You can," she assured me. As it turns out, no, no I couldn't. After terrified snowplowing, rocketing down the slope at great risk to the dogs ahead of me, and finally giving up and carrying my skis down a ways, that is one I can check off the list of Never Again. (L hasn't called me to go skiing again. I wonder why.)

There's the Seven Devils, over in Idaho
Another day I snowshoed up to the backcountry ski hut with some skiers. As the only snowshoer, I was able to keep up with the skiers on the ascent, but the descent was something else entirely. I left earlier than they did, taking the more exposed summer trail. Fifty mile an hour winds threatened to knock me over and had erased our earlier tracks. I staggered down the trail, thinking how this would not be the idea of fun to most.
Skiers getting ready to take on the Hill of Death.
The snow has been so deep that if you only ski on weekends, you can't keep up with making the track (we are at 93% of normal for snow). I headed up the Devils View trail hot on the heels of a snowshoer. I came upon him at the top, giving up and turning around. I was on my own, pushing snow with my skis.

There's skis under there somewhere.
So while I would rather not be dipping into my savings to pay the mortgage, I get why some of my fearless friends have decided to play now, maybe work later. It's strange to step out of the accepted routine--work, work, work--for just a little bit. I have kept myself on a work routine, sort of, by working my second job--writing my next book and promoting the older ones. But freedom, my friends? It's intoxicating.






10 comments:

  1. Ohhh look at all that wonderful snow! I tell people my Fridays off are practice for retirement (hopefully a year from now!) Sorry you're still furloughed but looks like you are making the best of a bad situation. Fingers crossed our politicians end this shutdown soon.

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    1. A year! Nice! I have at least 5. I know I need to stop counting down, that does nobody any good. Better choices when younger might have been good, but too late now. At least there's snow.

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  2. Ha, glad you are enjoying semi-retirement! Although I have to be honest, if it lapses into self-employment, I think you may start to miss the full-time work. ;-)

    Your tales of backcountry skiing with friends remind me of my flailing efforts with my snowshoes and snowboard and some seriously skilled ski friends in Juneau. My one shining moment of glory was a day they were heading up the Dan Moller Trail to a popular basin. I knew conditions were going to be bulletproof Juneau crust, so I took my fat bike. Pedaled alongside while they skinned the tracks, and blasted down the slopes with brakes and a big smile on my face while they skittered. That was a fun day.

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    1. If I were younger I think I'd really take some time to do freelance writing. Now I lack the energy for that much hustle. I've seen the opposite side of that spectrum when we did a bike/ski and the bikes ended up pushing...

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  3. The year I was out of work (not the whole year, but several months and for the first time in my life) I had such a wonderful time. Each day was new and fresh and I taught myself so many things that I hadn't had time for between the actual work and the stress consequences of the work. It's not financially sustainable, but it's still the happiest year of my life in the past two decades. Enjoy it!

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    1. It has been extremely nice to wake up in a completely different way. During workdays, I wake up with a start, thinking, OK when are my conference calls? What are my deadlines? How will I ever squeeze everything in?

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  4. What wondrous snow! Enjoy while you can.

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    1. It got warmer and it is not so great now. But I am going back to work so, good timing.

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  5. I'm so glad you are enjoying your forced time off more than you imagined you would! Hope the snow keeps up for you.

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    1. I'm forced to go back while most others aren't. And feeling jealous, though it'll be good to be productive in a different way.

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