My goal was to write steadily for 45 minutes - didn''t quite make that, butI did produce something!
When I retire, I always thought, I will do something useful. Work with children – tutor them, teach them to read, bring in science projects the way I did when my son Chris, now nearing 50, was in first grade. Or take Spanish. What a useful language! All the women who clear tables and fill the water glasses are Mexican. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to ask them where they’re from in their own language? Or write. Finish the book I’ve been playing with for 15 years? And then I learned about OLLI – the LiveLong Learning Institute. What a find! In Center City, a wealth of courses for us old folks: Bach and the High Baroque. History of the Supreme Court. The Strange Sub-Atomic World of the Quantum. Introduction to Improvisational Theater. All for a $275/year membership! I couldn’t wait.
I retired somewhat suddenly, in April. April 18. Laid off, though I’d planed to retire on June 30. It was a bit of a blow. You get unemployment comp, my friends said. Handy, since I hadn’t worked anywhere long enough to grow a pension. But mid-April was an awkward time to be unemployed. The school year was drawing to a close – for the public schools and for OLLI. We – my partner and I – were going to Maine for two weeks in July and South Africa for three in September. October – when we got back – was an odd time to begin a class. I was left with “How to spend my days?”
For a while I made an effort to get out. Went to the Central Library. “My library,” I thought proudly, as I left with my load of books. Didn’t look where I was going, tripped on a some broken sidewalk, fell. A homeless man handed me my books as I struggled up. Another time I went to the Art Museum. Took the train to town, the bus to the Museum. The exhibit I wanted to see wasn’t up yet. That was all before South Africa.
Now what to do? I joined a water aerobics class at my local gym – an hour, twice a week. The rest of the time? I do laundry. Whites on Wednesday, darks on Thursday, just like my mother. (Though mother also had the joy of hanging the clothes out. Outside in the summer, in the basement in winter, leaving a jungle of underwear and sheets that encircled the furnace.) I almost always have an errand to run. Gets me out of the house, to the Acme, the food co-op, the dry cleaners. I don’t clean (someone comes in to do that), but I do get dinner underway – set the table, scurb veg, maybe put the potatoes in.
And then there’s solitaire. When I got my new computer, I took all the games off, knowing the danger of endless games. But alas, the game I’m addicted to, Spider, is readily accessible on the Web, courtesy of the AARP. It’s amazing how many games I can play. “Just 2,” I think. Well maybe three.” It is an addiction.
The other day I heard about Freedom, a computer program that locks you out of the web for a specified period – an hour, two hours, what ever you set it for. – in effect would lock me out of Spider. Like quitting smoking cold turkey!
So I bought it. Installed it. Told my writing friends about it. Haven’t dared turn it on yet, but the very thought of it made me churn out these 584 words.