The Reality of My Retirement

2017-08-10 18.01.40
On the terrazza at the Bencista on the first day of school August 10, 2017.

What it’s been like during the first nine weeks of retirement.

October 7, 2017. When you leave a career you’ve loved for 40 years, it’s easy to worry about what the transition to the retired life might be like, but I am here to report that retirement for me is off to a wonderful start.

Starting off in Italy. I instinctively knew that it would be wise to be no where near Del Campo High School when school began and that proved to be one of the wisest decisions in this whole process.

We left Fair Oaks on Saturday, August 5, 2017 and flew direct from Oakland to Copenhagen. On Monday, August 7 all the teachers had to be back on campus for two days of professional development which, as important and meaningful as these days can and should be for getting the year off to great start, they always turn out to be under planned and deadly. Unsurprisingly there was no sadness about missing these days or even the Wednesday work day that everyone uses to make final preparations for DAY ONE.

August 10, the first day of school, at the Bencista in Fiesole. From the moment I began contemplating retirement, my ultimate plan was always to spend the first day I was not in school at the Bencista above Firenze in Fiesole relaxing all day on their terrazza. We flew from Copenhagen to Bergamo and then drove to Fiesole on Tuesday.

This would be the first day I was not starting school with everyone else since I started kindergarten at Crowell Elementary School in Turlock in 1960. A definite cause for celebration. A colleague back in the 90s had introduced us to the Bencista, a pensione run by the Simone family since the 1920s in a building dating back to the 14th century.

Usually when we are there, we bus into Firenze to take in all the beauty and wonder there, but once before we stayed in the pensione all day to read, relax, enjoy the view, drink a little red wine and eat some cheese and salami. This great day had been floating in my mind ever since and it seem the perfect way to spend day one of our new life.

“Jim’s First Day Advice to All My Teacher Friends.” Not quite sure why I decided to write this, but on the morning of the 11th,  I sat on the upper terrazza as a storm was building to the west and began to write all the things I wanted to say to my colleagues as that first day was getting under way. I posted it on my web site and it took off. By the end of August it would have over 35,000 views.

Storm over Firenze. What an amazing day that first day was. Firenze had been experiencing a heat wave – one day the previous week temperatures had peaked at over 100 degrees. It had been in the 90s when we arrived on Tuesday. So it was very welcome as the clouds began to gather  and the wind began to blow that morning. The forecast has predicted rain and we did get a few drops while we were sitting out on the patio before noon. I was writing and reading my advice for teachers blog post. Then while we were back in the room sometime after one, the storm really cut loose. Thunder. Lightening. They said it had not rained in three months.

After the rain subsided, we spent the rest of that glorious afternoon out in the garden below our room – room 34 – the only room we have ever stayed in at the Bencista. WE toasted the prospects of our new life with glasses of prosecco.

Tour of Italy and Back to Copenhagen. From Firenze and Fiesole we visited Assisi to see our artist friend Massimo Cruciani and buy another of his glass paintings. Next was four perfect days in  Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast – Pompeii and Herculaneum; Positano and Amalfi; Capri, Anacapri and the Grotta Azzurra;  a Sunday in Sorrento. Montalcino with Brunello, the power table and Il Giglio. Lake Como, a bike ride to Madonna del Ghisallo , and another wonderful day in Varenna with Moreno.

Looking forward. Never Looking Back. For many weeks I never even drove past Del Campo on Dewey Drive. I made my first appearance on campus on Wednesday, September 27 for “See You at the Pole” a nationally organized event where Christians around the country gather at their school’s flag pole to pray for their campus. I have been attending this event for close to 20 years so I thought it was the perfect time to slip back on campus

Part time job with Walsworth Yearbooks. Perhaps the greatest blessing of the start of my new retired life is the part time job I now have with Walsworth Yearbooks. I am now a “Special Consultant” and my prime task is to help support the second year of Walsworth’s Adviser Mentor Program. Currently I’m working on my first Webinar which will be live on October 17

Finances. We are still trying to get a handle on where we are, but so far it’s looking pretty good. Even with Christine’s income being slashed,  I think we are going to be just fine. The Visa has been paid off and my Walsworth money is for all the extra fun stuff. Trying to build up cash reserves so all Visa charges can be paid off immediately.

Family. September and October has been an explosion of Jordan family activity. Kate starting looking for a house to buy then bought one near Hiram Johnson High School. Robert finished up his last two chemo treatments and got started as a Lyft driver. Zoë in the middle of her second year of law school at UC Hastings while training the the New York City Marathon. We even had all of them home for dinner on Friday, August 13

It’s much harder on Christine. Retirement has been much easier for me than it has been for Christine. As she only taught for 15 years, her STRS retirement is MUCH less than mine. When she was working she was making as much money as she ever had in our 34 years of marriage. Now it’s a lot less. Mostly it’s cut down on her giving which she loves to do. She also misses the camaraderie of being in the middle of the grind together.

Pluses. You get a check ever month for the rest of your life from the State of California thanking you for your 40 years of teaching service. Even when you die, your wife will get the same amount. You get up whenever you want. If you wake up at 3 a.m., you can go back to sleep at 7. Time to read a book. Everyday is Saturday. No colleague drama. No schedule. Be where you want to be when you want to be there. Doctors appointments anytime. Ride my bike more than just one time per week.

Minuses. No students to guide, nurture and love. Not teaching writing. Most social things you do revolve around food.

The school year is one quarter over now. Let’s see what’s next.





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