Monday, March 7, 2011

Beam me up, Scotty

I remember an old episode of Star Trek -- the old series before Captain Kirk got all red-faced and perspirey and started selling Priceline.Com. In this episode, something went wrong in the transporter room and Kirk and Spock got trapped between the Enterprise and the planet surface, swirling around like blobs of static.

That's how I feel with less than a month to go before my "retirement." I've grown to hate the word "retirement" and yet I can't stop saying it over and over. Bringing it into every conversation.

"No, Officer. I'm afraid I don't know how fast I was going back there. But I am retiring at the end of the month."

BUTLER: "You realize that "perspirey" is not really a word."

Report me to Webster's. I'm too busy trying to figure out who I am.

BAGMAN: "Come on, Bro! You know who you are! Once we're retired, we can lock up Butler for a change!"

Yeah yeah. Sure. Whatever you want. But you see, one of gems of wisdom that spout fountainlike from my mouth has always been: "What you do is not who you are."

BUTLER: "Ahhh. The ancient existential fountain of personal awareness."

BAGMAN: "I don't even know what that means! I just like getting all perspirey."

These days I just float around like a ghost or a lost transporter beam. And everybody that I talk to...

BUTLER: "How can you talk if you are a beam of light?"

I don't know. I guess I make a hissing or buzzing sound. But everybody I meet says one of two things. If they are retired, they tell me how much I'm going to love it. If they are not yet retired, they tell me how envious they are. I mean, like it's some big huge thing like getting married or going to Disneyland. I don't even want to talk about it!"

BUTLER: "And yet you bring it into every conversation."

I pause to think about that.

BAGMAN: "Yeah!! Like this one!!"

I realize that I have paused but am not actually thinking.

From somewhere, far away, Scotty's voice calls down, "Hang in there, Captain! I'll have you out of this in a minute!" The word 'this' sounds more like 'thish' and I can't tell if it's a Scottish accent or Sean Connery. But I look down and part of my sparkly column near the bottom is trying to form a foot.

BUTLER: "But thinking about not actually thinking is actually thinking."


BAGMAN: "Hey! There are reruns of Star Trek tonight at 2:00 a.m.!! We can make popcorn!!"


  1. Perspirey is perfectly good word (unsettling that I usually side with Bagman on such things). I think you're going to kick the stereotype of "retiree" to the curb. Go eat some popcorn! ;-)

  2. Yes, it is a big deal...and like having children, it will change your life and you cannot predict in what ways until you are well into it. Watching a marathon of Star Trek sounds like a good procrastination method to me.

  3. I felt the same sense of dislocation and "who am I" when I was no longer a wife. It takes a while to reset your compass, no matter how much you pay lip service to We Are Not What We Do or The Roles We Play.

  4. I was apprehensive about retirement, also, Mark. But, here I am, almost 8 years into it and am having more fun than I ever did working -- and I loved my job. You'll find places to use your talents and after a couple of months, you'll have a new pace and experience a satisfaction you never knew in the work world. And you'll learn new things about yourself every day.

  5. There is more worry and questions on retirement than that first job. Wonder why? When young we have no idea what is down the road, just waiting for an adventure. Plenty of time. On retirement we look at the statistics and you know what they say. Just keep the mentality of still looking for an adventure. Mark you are so creative you will be fine. One more month, 30 days er 28 er 31.

  6. I can tell you that retirement is really nice; the only problem may be to make it last!

  7. Oh god I would love to watch the old star treks until 2 in the morning and eat popcorn - butter and all. very good analogy - excellent. because I am reading you out of order - I see that what I wrote about last - you already understand. Oh well.
    when you look down do you see your hands on the key board. I can see the article - series already - living in retirement with Butler and Bagman....