Friday, April 25, 2014

Wrapping Up

Well, that's it.  I'm done. Finished.  Kaput. Cashed  in my chips.  I've hung up my dialectics; I've parked my doctrines and principles in a rented shed.  Which is to say, after 45 years. I have taught my last class.  I'm over it or, or as we say in the trade "retired."

Well.  Like all such bald assertions, this one is a grotesque oversimplification.  I actually signed the papers 10 years ago but they've let me double dip.  I also am,  I admit, booked to go back into the classroom next Fall but that's a volunteer stint in a different place and so it doesn't quite count. As far as the University is concerned, it is for real in that I suspect I will never again take the King's Shilling to impart knowledge/wisdom  in one of his schools.  

So in the narrow sense, yesterday was the last day.  My Chinese grad students gave me a bottle of wine--"we don't know anything about wine but this one was expensive," they explained (I assured them  that Mrs. Buce and I would quaff it with enthusiasm). Also pictures: I am memorialized in a number of cell-phone photos, by now ensconced (I suppose) in other cell phones all up and down the East Coast of China.  A good bunch, these Chinese grad students, even if I don't have the foggiest notion whether they are (were) enjoying it most of the time.  I choose to assume they must have enjoyed some of it; else they wouldn't have sprung for the wine.

Meanwhile--of course I like to think of myself as unique but I open this week's Economist and find that I am part of what the E calls "a striking demographic trend."  That is:
… for highly skilled people to go on working well into what was once thought to be old age. Across the rich world, well-educated people increasingly work longer than the less-skilled. Some 65% of American men aged 62-74 with a professional degree are in the workforce, compared with 32% of men with only a high-school certificate. In the European Union the pattern is similar.
Well, that would be me, sort of.    I haven't been working full time (only four months a year).  But I'm even older than 74 (in base 12, I'm 65; I feel about as old as my Volvo, so in Volvo years, I'm 20).   But I have been doing it for the sheer fun of it, thankyouverymuch, and the bald truth I might have been  willing to do it even if  I had had to do it for free.  Day to day, I still enjoy (did enjoy it). But the plain truth also is, I'm tired. Moreover, I can tell I've been winging it; too many war stories, never a good sign.

Do I have a bucket list, they ask? Well, sort of, except that most things on my bucket list, I have already done.  I am willing to do some of them again.  I do have a few other projects in mind, and I do enjoy being free to read any damn thing I want. For the moment, I suppose my real bucket list is a coffee shop with Wifi.  Meanwhile, there's this:


Anonymous said...

I kicked over the traces 12 years ago. Had great fun spending the King's nickle for 30 years at NASA. I would have stayed longer but I was just taking a position that a younger person needed more than I.
Yesterday I took 3 firsts in my class at a sailboat regatta. Two more races today. The sailboat has taken two days away from riding the horses and that will have to be corrected next week
Retirement has been good for me. One of the lucky few.
Good Luck To You In Retirement, if it can be called retirement.

The New York Crank said...

Congratulations, Bruce, I suppose. I continue working at the age of 74 in part because my ex wife's matrimonial attorney saw to it that I would never retire, and in part because I don't know what the hell I'd do with myself all day if I didn't work.

But the truth is,the market for old advertising guys is a little bit thin, as they say, and I'm having a harder and harder time even getting myself arrested. If I knew how long I'm going to live, I suppose I could self-annuitize the my pitiful stash my wife overlooked and go gallivanting around the world now and then, but then if I outplay the statistics and live past 82, I'll be one doddering financial disaster.

So I get up each morning, drag myself off to the office I rent, shake the trees vigorously, and occasionally a somewhat prune-ish plum drops onto my computer – a TV spot here, a book jacket there, now and then but with increasing rarity, a book ghostwriting job or an article for an obscure business publication.

It's my own fault. My parents told me I should become a doctor, but Noooo! I had to became the great American writer. Phooey!

Yours very crankily,
The New York Crank

Ralph, Class of 2000 said...

Hard to believe that one of those iconic King Hall fixtures says farewell. You will be missed.