September 1, 2010--the Indian Summer of my life

The Internet is full of "end of summer," "Indian summer," "first of fall," "back to school" posts and musings. Today happens to be significant for me because it is the first day of official retirement from working at an institution of higher education.

Not to be confused with ceasing to work for pay. I am also embarking on a powered-up freelance approach to paying the bills. Said I.H.E. paid 27% lower than comparable positions in the real world, so I have always supplemented my paycheck doing a variety of even lower-paying jobs--tape transcriptions for Ph.D. dissertations, writing/editing projects, blogging as "The Good Musician," guinea pig for various clinical nursing procedures (pap smears by newbie nurses), filling out surveys, and nearly a year in a local department store flogging infant and children's clothing (read: folding and re-folding, termed "refreshing inventory," ad nauseum).

All of which lumped together were exhausting and served only to bump me up another income tax level. I did make some neat friends and useful connections, most of whom will be getting an e-mail from me alerting them to my changed circumstances and probably asking for Linked-In recommendations.

September 1, 1939 is also the date Germany invaded Poland and triggered WWII. Not that I plan to conquer any countries, however. I do expect to become re-acquainted with living by my wits as well as by accumulated skills and knowledge. I'll be better able to focus on health and reducing stress, allotting more time to nutrition and exercise, and rediscovering the world outside academia.

The idea of Indian Summer has always appealed to me, a romance sparked by the Cherokee blood from both parents. I equate the autumnal equinox with nostalgia--the end of carefree summer (at least as a child) and a return to formal education; sadness and elation jumbled up like piles of autumn leaves. The inevitable seasonal changes--colors, textures, flora, fauna, blessedly-cooler temperatures, new school shoes and clothes--frequently new schools, and a return to large group music making. Enduring marching band and Friday night football half-time routines to blissfully tootle in spring concert band/orchestra, with occasional spikes of pure terror when challenging or being challenged for coveted first-chair seats.

I am drunk with possibilities. The freedom to choose among community service endeavors and meaningful personal projects. Meeting new people, traveling, exploring various fullnesses. 

I've always had to live frugally, and as long as the basic survival bits are covered, with a little for travel and entertainment and occasional computer upgrades, I'm satisfied. I've no doubt that hard stuff lies ahead. No stranger to that. The point is that at this moment, things are pleasant and I feel freer than I have for a very long time.


joared said...

Just catchin' up! So you've retired from the Institution??? Congrats on taking this next big life step. Sounds like you're well-suited to my approach to life of always keeping options open -- never know what or when we may need or want to do in the future.

Keep singin' and bloggin'!