Saturday, August 25, 2018

Practice Retirement Half-Year Review

Come September my wife will have been on her practice retirement for six months, so I think it’s about time for a review.

All in all, it’s going well. There are no more morning rushes, followed by panicked returns and frenzied searches for whatever it was she forgot. It is, as I often tell her, like an endless weekend.

The transition period went smoothly, as well, with only a minor hiccup in my morning routine. Prior to retiring, my wife rose (unwillingly, it must be said) at 6 AM, got ready for work and left around 7. This meant I had to get up at 5:30 so I could be relatively awake, in my office and—more to the point—out of her way by 6.

Knowing that she didn’t have to get up until 8 AM meant I didn’t have to get up until…well, 8 AM. I would tell myself that staying in bed wouldn’t matter because I had the whole day ahead of me, but with my wife home, I never managed to get around to the writing because I’d rather spend time with her than sit in my office and stare at a blank screen for hours on end. Every Monday I made a new resolution to start getting up at 5:30 again, and every Monday I failed. Weeks of this saw me getting precious little work done, so after a month of chronic failure, I realized I was going to have to do something about it.

I wish I could say that I was clever enough to come up with a solution on my own, but I had to go to the web and get a life-hack. It goes like this:

I have my alarm go off as usual at 5:30, but I have a second alarm in my office set to go off—with the loudest, most obnoxious alarm I could find—at 5:45. So, after my alarm goes off, I have 15 minutes to get out of bed, get to my office and shut the other alarm off before it wakes up my wife, and half the people in the apartment block.

That has worked brilliantly, so everything has fallen into place and now neither of us can imagine life any other way.

Over the years, I’ve listened to people talk about their other half’s retirement as something they dreaded. They said they couldn’t imagine them being home all day, they would be in the way, it would be boring, they would get on each other’s nerves.

I’m happy to say that is not the case with us. I like having my wife around all the time and, at least as far as I can tell, being with me all day hasn’t had a detrimental effect on her, either. We go for walks in the park and stop for tea in the cafĂ©. We browse the bookshops, visit the nature reserve and spend one morning a week at the leisure center doing Tai Chi.

There are drawbacks. On our walks, I often run monologues in my head to figure out what day of the week it is. They go something like this: “It’s Tuesday today, isn’t it? Then why is the market in town? It can’t be Thursday already; we just had Thursday. Saturday? That must be it.” Then, in conversation, I’ll casually mention to my wife that it’s Saturday, just to let her know I’m on top of things, and then she tells me it’s actually Sunday.

Also, where I used to have large blocks of time on my own—sweet silence, wherein I could procrastinate, take naps, wander around the neighborhood and, occasionally, do a bit of work—I now am with her almost all the time. Oddly, this has upped my productivity because I need to make the best use of the quiet hours in the morning.

The only other big change to my life—now that I’m under continual, adult supervision—is that I haven’t run with scissors in a long time, and I sort of miss that.

Mostly, however, I am glad to have her here, and it no longer seems odd that she is around all the time, and she openly wonders (as did I after I quit work) how she managed to fit a job into her busy life.

Unlike my practice retirement, which ended randomly when my office called and asked me to come back, my wife’s has a specific Use By date: she has to return to work (or not) on the 1st of April, and the “Or Not” part has to be decided by December, which means she has to start thinking about whether she wants to go back to work (or not) about…now.

At this point, neither of us knows which way she is going to go, but I do know, if she does decide to go back, getting up in the morning is going to come as shock to her.

Maybe she could benefit from my multiple-alarm hack.