Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year

Somebody on Facebook posted a "what were things like10 years ago" questionnaire, and it made me think.  What were things like 10 years ago?  Specifically, what was true 10 years ago that is no longer true?  Well, ten years ago today:

I still had functional knees, or thought I did.  In fact, they were fated to blow out over Memorial Day weekend, but in January I thought they were fine.  (I have perfectly functional knees now, but not the ones that came with the set.)

My mother, Mary Jean Henderson Ivy, was still alive.  This was another situation about to change; she went into the hospital on her 88th birthday (Jan. 12) and died before the month was out.

I was still working for a paycheck.  This continued for another 7 years; but on Jan. 1, 2000 I was still working as a technician, I hadn't become an "architect/system designer."  In fact, I spent New Year's Eve 1999 on an intercontinental conference call, as Bank of America technicians all over the world watched their systems roll successfully past the date change in real time, just as they had in all the endless time-machine tests we'd done over the previous year.  Our department boss had promised to sing Auld Lang Syne on the phone call but he got cold feet, so I sang it.

My mother-in-law, Florence Ringland, was still alive.  She died in 2003.

I'd never been to Wales, or New Zealand, or Banff.  I'd never gone on vacation in a remote resort and had a forest fire start the day I arrived.  (Yes, now I have, and someday I may even get the photos posted.)

I hadn't exercised regularly in 15 years.  Boy, has that changed, and for the better.

I'd neved had private singing lessons.  I took a few weeks of private singing instruction last summer and enjoyed it thoroughly.

My husband drank only socially.  Now he doesn't drink at all, which is a vast improvement over the period where he was drinking unsocially.

So where am I now?  

I'm retired, which means I don't get a paycheck; but I don't have to get up at oh-dark-hundred every day, either.

By most measures, I'm now definitely a "senior citizen," although I still don't qualify for either Medicare or full Social Security.

I'm managing 4 non-profit web sites, on 2 boards of directors, and volunteering at the Food Bank.  I'm the techie-in-residence for LifeRing Secular Recovery, managing things like the office network.

I exercise regularly and walk enough that I've bought a pedometer. 

I could stand a more human contact.  Most of the communicating I do is either through email or on FaceBook, and while I love my FaceBook friends, reading a post on a computer screen isn't really a substitute for a chat over a cup of coffee.  (Tea for me.)   I may need to do something about that this year. 

I may sign up for more singing lessons, too.  I'm beginning to get that old urge to stand by the piano and sing 20th century standards (Kern, Gershwin, Porter, Berlin), if only in retirement homes.  If I can find a pianist who'll work for free.

I'm not sorry to see 2009 go.  Let's all work to make 2010 better than the last year; come on, that's a very low standard to exceed!


  1. Boggart10:25 AM

    Whoa, human contact... Consider that a priority. This last June a friend of 30 years duration moved in. She is old enough to be my mother, and acted as a grandmother to our child. She was, or used to be, a cheerful, upbeat person who was always involved in something. She volunteered, and as a retired professional secretary she had lots to offer. Expecting she would want to continue being involved, I researched the senior activities and volunteer needing organizations available locally and found a wealth from which to choose.

    However, she choose to sit and watch television day in and day out punctuated by the occasional trip to a doctor or to go shopping. She turned down the opportunities to get out and be involved. Eventually her entire focus became the television and me. Mind I work full time, and my schedule is varied and flexible. Quite often there are late afternoon meetings that mean I don't get home until six. I also have recreational activities that I am unwilling to give up in exchange for watching game shows, cop shows, and the food channel.

    The change over a period of almost six months from an outgoing, vital individual to an inward, starved for attention, needy person was gist for a lengthy academic shrink paper, for which I have neither the background nor the time to write. It was simply amazing. Before she left, as I felt my mental health was being compromised, she was an entirely different person than the one I had known for over 30 years.

    The good thing, is I learned that the low touch of human contact is vital. She was email computer savvy, and wrote both snail mail missives as well as email. They did not provide the depth of human contact needed for mental health. AS we age, it is essential that we make the effort to get out and talk face to face over that cup of tea.

  2. Wow, boggart, what a cautionary tale! And what a sad way to lose a dear friend.

    Something of the sort happened to my mother, I'm sorry to say, after she fell at her senior residence. She didn't break anything, but she wrenched her thigh badly and had to use a wheelchair for awhile, and by the time she could walk again she had lost the confidence that made her reach out, go on trips, and participate - she had been the treasurer of the residents' association. It was all downhill from there.

    This issue is one of the reasons I took 6 months to decide to retire, and what I would do after I retired. In the last 8 years I spent a total of about 6 months, in two lumps, where I was recovering from knee surgery and couldn't get out much. I didn't watch television because I DON'T watch television, but I was glad to get back to work both times; and I knew that I wouldn't be happy just sitting at home. It still bothers me that there are days when I'm working on computer problems and I don't get out of the house - I have to remind myself, you can always take a walk. But I definitely feel I'm not getting enough face time. I just haven't decided what to do about it yet.

  3. I can't imagine retirement. I tell people these days I'm retired, but that's a lie. There are so many things I've wanted to do in my life, and I've done quite a few of them, but I'd need to live to be 120 to feel anything like satisfied.

    Books to read. Photographs to take. Fish to catch. Food and spirits to taste. Girls to watch. Exotic places to visit. Poems to write. Blogs to compose. People to meet. Stocks to trade. Cars to drive. Gardens to plant. Music to hear, and to compose.

    My god! Retirement? No way!!!!!