A day in the life of an early retiree

September 23, 2011

I’ve been asked twice this week what it’s like being retired–what do I do all day? Yes, a good question. What do I do all day?

3 a.m. Awaken to the sound of Riley throwing up. Am convinced he is throwing up under the bed. On the carpet. Get up and find that he, being both smart and thoughtful, is vomiting on the hardwood floor in the hallway, which is much easier to clean at any hour, much less 3am. Clean it up.

4am Toss and turn. Can’t sleep. Many reasons, not the least of which is being awakened at 3am by my dog vomiting. Cut a leftover Ativan in half and pop it. Shortly, I feel the most delicious relaxation and then, darkness.

6:30am Hubby wakes me up from a deep sleep –we are due at our doctor’s office at 8am, him for a physical, me for a flu shot. I didn’t even hear the alarm at 6am. I try to shake off my groggy head in the shower. No luck.

7:15am We leave for Palo Alto, arriving at the doc’s office across the street from Stanford at 8am sharp. The lab tech is astonished to see us: his appointment was at 8:30am for a blood draw and flu shot, not a physical. He is NPO so she draws his blood early. We walk over to Peets at Town & Country for coffee so he can break his fast. The line is long. I doze on my feet. We get served at 8:25am.

8:29 Carrying our coffee we approach our doctor’s office. She is walking through the parking lot looking way more put together in her white coat than me and certainly not at all foggy-headed. Hugs and kisses all around. I am on the phone with my nephew about his med school application, so I air kiss. M French kisses her. (No, not really, I just thought it would be funny to write that.) M. goes into for his appointment and to discuss a med change. I sit blearily in the waiting room. I have a book with me but I am too exhausted to open it.

8:45 T, the nurse, comes out to get me for my flu shot. My 16 oz. of Peets has done nothing for the Ativan fog I’m in. “Are you left handed or right handed?” she asks. I present her my left arm. She asks me to sign a release, “saying that you actually let me give you this shot.” She doesn’t explain it. I scribble my name, then close my eyes. The needle is tiny and painless.

9am M comes out. He gets a pneumonia shot, too, and T goes over the entire release in detail with him because he is a lawyer. Our doctor comes out to tell me I am still too young for pneumonia shot but that we will need a hepatitis A shot before we go to Morocco in May. She’ll check to see what else. I ask her questions my nephew had about med school. I am way too tired to enjoy her comment about my being too young.

9:30am We pull up at the Mountain View Walmart to get a few things. I always hate myself for shopping there, but the prices are so good, and I only get a few things. I vow to self-flagellate later at home, if I can find my cat o’ nine tails. I think I left it next to my rosary.

9:45am In car the custom cabinet maker we talked to last week finally returns our two calls asking for a quote. He says he hadn’t checked his messages, but I think it was the firmer SECOND message I left that hinted he might lose a job that was probably his. He quotes us a price that is 35% higher than we expected. But we like him and his work. We ask for him to email it to us and we’ll get back to him. There is no end to the money that can be spent on this house.

9:50am We stop by AAA to pick up maps of Alberta, Canada for next week’s trip.

10:20am Back in Campbell, M. wants to go to Denny’s. I am still in a fog. I order burned bacon and it comes back like sushi. The home fries have absolutely NO seasoning at all. The salt shaker doesn’t work. I pick at breakfast.

11am I sit at my computer and finish some writing due Saturday at workshop. During, I do three loads of laundry. Did I prepare lunch? Who can remember?

2pm Hubby comes in. “I think I want a better name in your book–I want to be called Brett.” I ask, does he really want his name changed? Who exactly would be fooled? He ignores that and keeps talking: “And could you change where we live? I think it would be more fun for us to live in Costa del Sol, in the south of Spain. Or maybe Fiji.” I grin weakly through my Ativan haze and turn back to folding laundry.

3pm The phone rings. It’s a resident at rental condo complex who wants advice we are not going to give him. He tells me that the condo board thinks my lawyer is powerful and they’re afraid of him. I gloat to myself. Those people have tortured my tenant and me since Day 1 and they SHOULD fear him. He IS powerful and I set him loose on them regularly. They deserve it. Grrrr!

3:30pm My property manager emails to confirm he has rented the condo out to a couple that will be a good fit. I am thrilled! He attaches the bill for the interior repainting I had done after I saw it a few weeks ago. I pay it immediately, just like I pay my lawyer.

4pm I run out to Safeway for a few things. PGE has told them to cut back so the place is nearly dark. I can not see the produce or anything in the freezer case. We are all shopping in the dark–it’s crazy. I decide it’s good practice for the end of the world.

4:15pm At the sushi counter, I ask the Japanese chef to please make me California roll with brown rice and no sesame seeds. I wait. He rolls out the rice and sprinkles it with sesame seeds. I look at him. “I can’t have that,” I say. “Ohhh nooo, I just did it automatically, I will make you another.” I tell him I’ll go shop for produce and then come back for it.

4:40pm At checkout, PG&E has generously allowed Safeway enough power to run the cash registers, but my cashier’s hands are shaking. “How are you doing, Roy?” I ask. I know his name because he is wearing a nametag. He says he is nervous because it is his first day on the register. I am reminded of my first hilarious forays into “self check-out,” and I give him a few encouraging words. He finishes without a mistake and I tell him what a great job he did.

5pm At home, M says we have three boxes from Overstock. We bought a dining room buffet that I really like at a fantastic price, but he has to assemble it. We ordered it Monday and did not pay extra for fast shipping, yet it’s Wednesday and already here. Lucky us! We plan to put it together tomorrow. Actually, he and Riley will put it together. I will provide moral support from my office. The house is really taking shape now.

5:30pm I program the DVR for the new season of Sister Wives and watch three old episodes of Sex and the City. It’s still a good series.

7pm M. had a man date with our neighbor, leaving me home with some peace and quiet to write. My head is still not clear. I cut the rest of the Ativan in half again so I’m not tempted to take bigger pieces. I consider the alternative of 420.

How did I ever have time to work?

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