It’s probably silly for me to count days of retirement. The job I just left was a part time one. It didn’t require near the effort that many people put into their livelihood. Being a church musician has always left me lots of time for other stuff I like to do. When I was a child, I watched my Father leave the home and go to the office at the church. It always seemed like he had a cushy job. When I was an adult, I watched an ex-policeman go about his daily duties as an Episcopalian priest with a minimum of effort and a maximum of leisure in the northern Michigan resort town I lived. We called him “Smokey.”
Granted Smokey eventually left his strong willed wife for the wife of a parishioner. But that was not unusual. In the little resort town I lived, there wasn’t that much for people to do. Fish. Hunt. Drink. Go to bars. Dance. Fuck. Take care of the kids. Whatever.
My family and I ran a local bookshop. I played in bars and the local Episcopal church for meager remuneration. Eventually we all had to leave for more prosperous jobs. Prosperous as in “make enough money to live.” This was always the goal And with children there is an added sense of responsibility.
I set my sights on a better church job. At first it was a little church in Westland Michigan. Before I left the resort town in northern Michigan, a friend pointed out tactfully that I needed my musical training was unfinished. This was a bit of an understatement at the time. There was even an outspoken Welch lady at the church who nagged me pointing out that I needed to improve my organ playing skills. I had a few years of studying piano in Delaware, Ohio. One year of college working on my musical skills in general with an eye toward composition. But I was sorely lacking in the skills I would eventually acquire.
So churches paid me to play the organ and conduct choirs. This went on for years. Usually I had a church job as I pursued my college education. I was an old student even then. But so were many at Wayne State. Not so much at Notre Dame. But church has been the way for me to make a bit of money to help support the family. But it’s never felt like a job you retire from.
Eileen and I are doing alright with both of us living on retirement and social security. If it wasn’t for the Covid plague I like to think we would be doing more during this period. We have curtailed airplane flights out of a concern for their safety. This means we have curtailed annual visits to California to see our beloved family out there or to England to be with that beloved branch of the family. The China branch came closer and relocated here in Michigan. So they are easier to see.
I’m pretty sure Eileen and I would be more adventuresome at this time of life if it were safer. We like to travel together. We enjoy each other’s company. And travel has been a part of lives together, one that has been exhilarating and educational.
Eileen noticed that we could get round trip tickets to Dublin for #300 recently. Damn! I would love to return to Dublin and spend more time pursuing literary Dublin sites. But I don’t think that’s in the cards right now.
Hell, I’d like to go to Grand Rapids and go to some of my favorite restaurants and bookstores. This would be easy. But Eileen and I are restricting ourselves to restaurants that provide outdoor seating at this point. I have no idea what we will do when the snow falls. But I suspect we will continue to restrain until it’s safe.
Mt therapist continues to ask me if I want to discontinue therapy now. It’s probably his way of giving me permission to do so. I was telling Eileen that I don’t feel anymore drawn to therapy than I did when I began. But I have found it helpful, occasionally, very helpful. At my zoom session yesterday with Dr. Birky I didn’t have much on my mind but usually I do. So I’m not quitting now.
I have scheduled eye surgery in October to replace my cataracts with artificial lenses. This should improve my life considerably. If we remember, Eileen does all the driving. I can see to drive and still do short trips like to the library or Farmers Market. But if she’s in the car, it’s probably safer since I see distant objects double and blurry.
The physical stuff made my church gig a bit more stressful than it had been. I had trouble seeing the music clearly and my hands are gradually shrinking so that I can’t reach as far as used to on the keyboard. These disadvantages are not too troubling in my living room, but in public they can add a little pressure.
Also, I’m hoping the eye surgery will make reading books and music easier.
I have altered my morning routine to end with writing in this blog. [Sarah, if you’re reading this, you are probably the only one to persist through my bluster. Hi!] However, I have toyed with doing some more directed writing of prose at this time in my life, so I’m sort of using this daily discipline to test the waters a bit.
I remain motivated to keep my daily routine of reading, studying, and playing. It’s what I want to do. Maybe I’ll want to do something else like composer or write. Maybe not. What I am doing now is pretty damn fulfilling.
Linda Greenhouse, the writer of this article, is also featured in an interview in this week’s On The Media. I admire her greatly and try not to miss any of her articles.
On the radio program she makes clear she sees us moving towards theocracy in the US. Both in the radio interview and in the article she mentions that people who support making abortion illegal have dropped the pretense that it is anything other than their religious beliefs. She keeps suing the word, “dogma,” in the interview. I like the sound of that.
Religiosity goes a long way to explain why so many people in the US talk and act as though they have no brains.
This is an article by a writer I admire, Tommy Orange. It’s a good read since he is a skillful writer writing about something he knows. It’s in the Gentlemen’s Quarterly. The pictures of Wes Studi are hilarious. He is a prolific actor, but in the pictures he models fashion clothes. The captions enumerate what he is wearing and the cost, which is eyebrow raising. As below, most of the captions I read said “hat, his own.”