April 28, 2020

…to quote this deep track from The Beach Boys’ Friends album from 1968.

Jimmy Buffett’s “I Have Found Me A Home”, with it’s opening lines “The days drift by, they don’t have names…” pretty much describes this transitional period for someone who was over-employed and someone now not employed. While the days haven’t yet fallen into any kind of predetermined rhythm things are starting to take shape.

So much of life here in the Valley of the Sun is dictated by our two seasons. During the “not” season, all bets are off – you can come and go as you please and do whatever you feel like doing. Now that we’re in the “hot” season, the range of outdoor activities becomes far limited since, by the time noon arrives the sun is already starting to beat down on everything with a merciless pity, and you have to watch your exposure. One of these days the gyms will open back up and I’ll be able to get back to doing some of the things I used to do (and not having a job will certainly make the gym experience far more enjoyable since I’ll be able to go off-hours!), but for now I’ll simply be content to try and get out early enough for a bike ride or to work on my golf game.

But that would mean not being able to sleep in.

Ahhh…sleeping in. One of the true joys of the unemployed and/or early retired. Increasingly I’m finding it hard to believe I did what I did as a normal routine for so long: the 6:20 AM alarm to get the coffee going and the morning bathroom break before hitting the ground running – and I do mean running – with the 7 AM call that more often than not follow right up to my noon. It wasn’t so bad when the days got long on both ends and there was light, but during October-March those early calls were all done while it was still dark outside. But I had trained myself to be able to flip the switch on and off like some electrical appliance, so that what’s I did as a norm.

These days? Well, it’s all so …different.

The alarm now goes off every day at 7:30 AM so I can get up and feed Peach the rabbit his morning snack (dried pineapple chunks, nibble rings, pinch of oatmeal). On weekdays I’ll turn the coffee on for Tracey, check what the morning looks like out the pack patio door, and prepare Peach his breakfast (romaine leaf, few sprigs of parsley or Italian parsley, slice of banana), then wish Tracey a good workday and head back to bed to sleep as long as my body wants.

Some days I’m awake at 9:30, others, like today, could be as late as 10:30. After my bathroom break, it’s out to the kitchen where I’ll grab my watering can and, looking like Ray Liotta in that scene at the end of “Goodfellas” where he walks out the front door in bathrobe and bare feet to grab his morning paper like (in his words, “a schnook”), I stroll out front in shorts and t-shirt to replenish the water in the bird bath and water anything else that might warrant a splash.

Then it’s over to the coffee maker where I pour myself a cup, then over to the home office (not my old work office – that’s been cleaned out and turned into a spare room) where, over a couple of cups of coffee with Peach right by his side of the fence behind me, I’ll check the morning news and various Twitter feeds I subscribe to, give him a scratch or two from time to time.

That gets me to lunch time, where I’ll have a bowl of cereal or a sandwich while considering what to do with the rest of my day.

Right now I’m trying to help my sister-in-law Tammy find a new apartment (she has to vacate her existing living space by the end of October), so I might start checking out housing options, or I might peruse my LinkedIn job notifications. I don’t take these too seriously – it would have to be the absolute friggin’ best opportunity that would allow me to work from home in order for me to even consider it. I’d always said during my prior gig that, when it was all over I would never work in a real business office setting ever again, and unless things were to drastically change in ways I can’t even begin to imagine, there will be no going back. Could I work in IT again? Possible, but it’s not something I’d even begin to consider unless I could work from home most days, and even then, it would have to be a really sweet deal.

As Tracey has told me any number of times, I’ve paid my dues; it’s now time to unplug.

But so much easier said than done. I still feel a bit like (to quote the late, great George Harrison), “not so much of a man than a fish on the sand”. It will come – I have to believe it will change at some time – but right now I feel like I should be doing more than just getting astronomic (at least for me) severance pay every two weeks for doing absolutely nothing. Instead, after lunch I’ll pick out a chore, or chores, to do for a couple of hours.

By, say, three o’clock, I might lay down for a half hour or so. Then, a return to the computer to start looking at legitimately thinkable opportunities for work – part-time, no more than 24 hours a week. If I find something, I’ll draft a cover letter and submit my resume through their website. Right now this just involves stores like Leslie’s (pools), Total Wine and More, and the UPS Store. Nothing I appear to be qualified for, mind you: I find most job descriptions – even the most basic form of retail – require applicants to have 1-2 years of “applicable” real-world experience, as if they’re hiring for nuclear physicists or personal injury law firms. Gimme a friggin’ break.

…I’m sure they do it to keep the dorks and the losers out (I know that because I’ve written job descriptions in my former life), but there’s nothing in these jobs that a seasoned veteran like yours truly couldn’t pick up in day’s worth of time. I’m no dope and prefer not to be treated like one, but that’s the way it is these days. No “real life experience”, completely unemployable. Someone on the outside of employment fence looking in. Just like a Ray Liotta-esque kind of schnook. But that’s OK – I’m in no hurry to do anything right now. As Tracey says, I’ll know it when I feel the itch to get back into the game, get back to work. I trust she’s right.

But I digress.

At five o’clock the computer gets a break. I give Peach his afternoon snack (a few strips of dried apple, a few more nibble rings) then go in to watch Tucker Carlson. I like Tucker – sometimes he’s a little bit over the top but that’s OK, so am I. If it’s not Monday or Tuesday (my alcohol-free days) I’ll make myself a cocktail or pour myself a glass of wine and watch Tucker rail about the social and political ills of the day while making supper in preparation for Tracey’s return. We’ll have supper together, then, with the heat of the day receding I’ll go out for a brisk walk around the neighborhood. Dusk is my favorite time of the day, so while Tracey watches TV I might go out on the back patio with a glass of wine and listen to the birds while watching the evening come in. It’s my favorite time of the day.

[Ed. note: Starting, oh, around next weekend or shortly after that, with the pool in swimmable form, I expect any of the activities mentioned either above or below to be punctuated with a swim; a luxury that will be available right up until the beginning of October. I’m looking forward to that.]

After that I’ll head back into the office to check the same websites and Twitter feeds I did earlier in the day. I might do a blog post or do some reading (presently, Laurence Shames “Florida Straits”), take a soak in the tub, or go out on the back patio for a nitecap. I’ll clean Peach’s cage area and give him his late-night snack (small piece of kale or a few sprigs of cilantro) and call it a day. No going into the old office to check e-mails and load up for the next day as I used to do for years – those days are over. If Tracey goes to bed early I might stay up and do some late-night reading with the back patio door open, the night air and it’s sounds filling the living room. It’s best when there’s a soft breeze with the sound of wind chimes tinkling.

And then it’s off to bed.

I’m waiting for myself to start getting restless, but that time is not now. Right now, I’m pretty content to refill my coffee cup and give Peach another scratch.

You know, busy doin’ nothing.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 12:29 | Comments (0)
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