My First Day of Retirement

Monday was my first day off since 1978. Sure, I’ve had weekends, even three-day weekends. And I’ve had vacations—one of them for three weeks. But this was the first day off I’ve had when I wasn’t thinking about having to go back to work, the first day with an expanse of unencumbered days before me. The Italians have a word for it:  pensionato.

I am so pensionato.

So this is the undiscovered country, the Mighty Sargasso, the wrinkle in space-time wherein—so it’s been rumored—the retired are refreshed.  I feel compelled to report back to you on my experience.

Here are some of the things I did on Monday.

I awoke.  This was the highlight.

I ate breakfast.

I showered.

I did nothing further of consequence until lunchtime.

I ate lunch.

I thought.

I had a snack.

I began to feel as if I should do something useful.  This soon passed.

I checked my voicemail at the office and discovered that I’d been removed.

Toward dinnertime I began to think of the things I had sworn to do beginning on my first day as a retiree. I would:

  • Load Rosetta Stone into the PC and study Italian for one hour, every day.
  • Faithfully do the stretches my daughter Lizzie taught me—regardless of the fact that they remind me of Mel Gibson’s death by torture in Braveheart, and how the very fact that I need to do them confirms that I am a captive passenger on the train to glory, like that old Kingston Trio song about poor old Charlie, the guy who couldn’t get off the MTA.
  • Systematically clean the den (and the master bedroom, which has become a kind of annex to the den) that I have filled to impenetrability with literary and nonliterary clutter and sworn to clean for two decades.
  • Restart—from scratch and with some forethought this time—the 300-page manuscript of the novel I put aside four years ago on grounds that I needed more free time to work on it.


I thought about these things, and I decided one need not rush into them. I would, however, do a household chore. I would go downstairs and clean the cats’ bathroom. Known to some as the Forbidden City, it is home to the ecstatic excretory rituals of Ted the Cat and his step-sister Juliet, and it is not for the weak. Unwitting guests have strayed into the cats’ bathroom and never again been seen again. Lined wall-to-wall with unfolded sections of the Washington Post, it is the Emporium of Effluents, the Fortress of Fragrance, the Palace of Pee.

And it is here that I made myself useful. I cleaned up after the cats, changed the litter, and laid down fresh newspaper.

I ate dinner.

I wrote this.

The adventure begins.

9 Responses to My First Day of Retirement

  1. El Tigre, the Envious Jan 5, 2011 at 8:24 am

    Retirement is like a plate of pasta. It's a good, but plain meal. Add a few truffle shavings and you'll savor it all the more. We wish you the best as you begin this adventure.

  2. I'm reminded of the Cheech & Chong skit "Sister Mary Elephant" where a student is asked to read his essay on what he did for his summer vacation, something like this:

    My vacation
    what I did on my summer vacation

    The first day of my vacation I woke up
    Then, I went downtown to look for a job
    Then I hung out in front of the drugstore

    The second day of my summer vacation
    I went downtown to look for a job
    then I hung out in front of the drugstore

    The third day of my summer vacation, I woke up
    Then I went downtown to look for a job
    Then I got a job, keeping people from hanging out in front of the drugstore…

    you can hear it here http://www.ebaumsworld.com/audio/play/80511611/

  3. This is great, Lario! Thanks. I may have a future, after all.

  4. Yes… keeping people from hanging out in front of the drugstore ;D !

  5. Your meditation on how much you missed your colleagues at the office was heartwarming. At our staff meeting, we looked at your empty chair in the corner with the little crutch next to it, and wept bitter tears.

  6. Recommended flic: About Schmidt, the scene where Jack Nicholson returns to his office to offer helpful advice to his successor.

  7. Hi, i worked in a magazine here in Brazil, and i wonder if i can use this photo as a background in my office to make some pictures to my magazine…


  8. Lol, i still work..sorry i got confused..=)

  9. Thanks,, this made me smile as I noted your list and knowing that I made one too to make sense of this 1st day of unseasonal A/L which is the precursor to my being retired. It’s good to know that others do the list thing too. I have an unopened sewing machine and loads of stuff I promised myself,, but right now as I sit aimlessly looking at the bouquets and good wishes,,,its just enough that I’ve got up before office hours begin, done some activity and that my husband went to work with a prepared lunch that he hasn’t had to do himself for once!
    Best wishes to all,,,Georgie

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