Dean Clough

January 11, 2023

Portico Darwin: The One About Being Retired


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Today I am reflecting on the great fortune of being retired relatively young.  I've been in my own private Del Boca Vista since October of 2020, when I was 56; I am now 59. 

Is it all it's cracked up to be?  Better?  Worse?  Shocker, but I have some thoughts.

I think it's important to say at the outset that retiring and being able to do what I please - all of the f'ing time - was something I really wanted, pretty much from the start.  In fact, the words of the great George Bailey, in my third favorite movie, It's A Wonderful Life, capture my feelings nicely.

"I want to do what I want to do!"

It happened.

But let's be clear, I meant my New Year's speech here:  I am one of the luckiest people you know, and I also worked my ass off.  I take none of what's happened lightly nor for granted.  That especially includes my better half, Julie, whose fingerprints are on all of this, and especially my option to retire.

So being retired in my situation is perfect, right?

Not quite, and here are 3 aspects of retirement on which I tend to dwell.  Or try not to?

This - easily - is what I miss most being retired, vs. living as a wage slave or business owner.  Simply put, nobody cares much about old, privileged white men that don't work.  Nor should they.

But it is odd knowing that your ability to add value - in a professional capacity anywhere  - diminishes by the day.  Ouch.  I attack this fact in 3 ways.  Plus reading, but that's nothing new.

You're looking at one of them - writing this blog is a singular pleasure for me, one I did not anticipate (at all) when the first rant went out on March 4, 2021.  Indeed - I did not understand the term "flow" until I began writing creatively on a regular basis, and put simply, I love it.  Obviously.

10 Seconds of Seriousness:  you have absolutely no idea how much I appreciate the occasional kind word I hear about this blog, and having any audience for it in the first place.  Thank you.

The other two are easy and obvious here in AARP world:  volunteering and hobbies.  Check this out, and then come visit my Man Cave to see my model building - my workbench is to the left and just out of sight in this photo.

Yes, Schneider Weisse Tap 7, please!

But don't worry:  despite visiting nearly every watering hole, tavern and gin mill recently in Metro NYC (OK, SF, too - but over 31 years!), I'm not ready for everyone's favorite rehab quite yet.  No, I include this section because it's great advice I got from the GOAT retirees, Max "Madras" Ryder, and his bride, Lauren.  

You see, they both really nailed it professionally, and were able to structure their affairs such that they both got off the treadmill in their 50s.  At the time, Julie and I were both grinding away, and looked at them with admiration as we asked what it's like having every day be Saturday.  I think it was Lauren that cautioned:

Well, you're not on vacation, so you can't just party and drink every day like you're on one.  

Winning advice!  Which I mostly follow! 

So despite the massive piss-ups with friends and family and strangers worldwide for which I am (justifiably) famous, on a day-in, day-out basis, I definitely keep an eye on the clock and volume.  Lauren's words were prescient and spot-on. 

Do I have an alcoholic bevie most every day?  Yes, I do.  But it's typically just a Weissβier or two, or perhaps a fine Negroni or Old Fashioned cocktail.  But's that's about it, and the party doesn't start before late afternoon.
(Unless it's the holidays or my birthday or a weekend or I'm watching a game with friends.  What about you?)

I must include this mostly downer of a section in the interest of reality.  I believe anyone that is retired and tells you they aren't afraid of anything is probably far older than I.  The unknowns are these, as I see them:

  • I don't know how long I am going to live
  • We have what seems like plenty, but how much money is enough?
  • I don't know if or when I'll be ready to make drastic reductions in my lifestyle
  • I want to end up in an OK place at the end; what will be available and what will it cost?

Of course, it's all the same for Julie. 

I can hear some (OK, all) of you:  maybe stop spending money on these crazy fucking trips on which you seem to be continuously.   Guilty as charged. 

But you know, there's that first unknown and I've personally witnessed that living into one's seventies (or even sixties) is not guaranteed.  2 very close friends in their 50s had heart attacks, but are fine; a third, in his 60s, had one and died.  We all know that health is the wildcard.

Yet, I don't fear dying itself - I fear not being able to do what I want to do.  Whatever that may be. 

But when that will happen is anyone's guess.

So Julie and I are more focused on today, this week, and perhaps this year and the next 5 or 10, vs. some imagined future that may or may not become reality.

So for now, this is probably about right. 

Speaking of which, and this just came in over the modern telegraph.  Beginning Monday 1/16 we're decamping to Sonoma to an undisclosed (yet glorious) location there for 5 big nights.  Is another, more complete Sonoma Travel Guide forthcoming?  

Maybe . . . I do have the time, what with being retired and all.


I fully expected to hit a nerve with the Michael McDonald fanboy Hunter Deuce when I derided McDonald's Faux soul vocal stylings.  I just didn't realize he'd make it ugly.

". . . the dulcet (many would say nauseating) tones of the crooner Michael McDonald . . ."
Thank you to any one that is reading this newsletter.  Even Michael McDonald fans.


While a deserved inductee into The Everest of Guitars, I'd like to shine the spotlight brighter still on the Killer band Tame Impala.  It's funny how many of these 17 songs are connected in obvious and other ways to retirement, particularly my own. 

I'm sure that's just a coincidence.

Listen to "It Might Be Time" for just one example.  Those lyrics - ouch!  And the ambulance sirens don't help much either.  More Weissβier, please!

About Dean Clough