While I was scrub-a-dub-dubbing in the shower this morning, at least a dozen topics for blogging flew through my mind. The ideas seemed to be at least marginally interesting or entertaining, but my monkey brain quickly jumped along from one nugget of an idea to the next.
Now, a few of hours later, I’d be hard pressed to recount even one of those inspirations.
I’m thinking maybe I should move Alexa into the bathroom to record my random thoughts. The poor, neglected dear does need a job. Right now she is perched on the desk behind my laptop, gathering dust. She mostly just hears my dogs barking, and they never woof, “Alexa!” so she probably (who knows?) isn’t paying attention. If I don’t move her to the bathroom, the next step may be seeing if she’d be happier keeping my treadmill company in the basement.
Last week most of the funny writers I know personally (sadly, I don’t know David Sedaris or Tina Fey, but they weren’t there, anyway) converged on Dayton, Ohio, for the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop. I’ve had the pleasure of attending two of these workshops, which are held every other year at the University of Dayton, Erma’s alma mater.
I bought this mug when I was there two years ago. The legend is that when Erma submitted her first essay to the priest teaching her English class at UD, he noted “You can write!” on the paper. The rest, as they say, was history.
In my case, adding the post-it note is a disclaimer (excuse?) to the encouraging message. Maybe I can write. But being able and then actually doing so are two different things. In fact, I may stop this very minute and come back later because I’m distracted by the guys servicing the air conditioning unit in preparation for summer (it’s snowing at the moment, by the way).
Okay. I’m back.
And now I remember one of my shower inspirations: last week some of my work friends and friend-friends and (directing the festivities long distance) my adorable son threw a surprise retirement party for me in Las Vegas. I was there working on my seventeenth annual Rite Aid Foundation Charity Golf outing. I helped the company create the first event nearly eighteen years ago and it’s been a long and satisfying relationship with some wonderful people. I sometimes had to deal with difficult and cranky people, too, but I will focus on the positive (even if the cranky stories are funnier).
I could write volumes on this event and the people I’ve worked with to produce it, but I’m an “in the moment” kind of gal and my thoughts are more focused on the RETIREMENT element of the story.
They surprised me with champagne and a cake and I truly was flabbergasted. Never saw it coming at all. Here’s a picture of some of us in the bar afterward with our cake and copper mugs full of yummy Moscow Mules. Such fun!
But retired? Me?
In the spirit of my new status in life, I decided to visit the local Senior Center, which I actually joined a few years ago. I’ve been a card-carrying (actually, card-on-a-lanyard-wearing) member since I moved to Willoughby, but I’ve not yet been active there. I bought a pie from their Thanksgiving fundraiser once, but that’s about it. I figured I really should take advantage of some of the exercise classes (rather than pie sales), if nothing else.
But here’s the thing: although I am years beyond old enough to join, on the few occasions I’ve visited the facility, everyone else sure seems to be a lot closer to my mother’s age than to mine.
Where are the “seniors” that are my age? Why is there a Henry Mancini album on the table of stuff people are giving away instead of Led Zeppelin? (Yes, there is a table with stuff you can help yourself to, or where you can drop off your own junk in case someone else might want it. I always have junk I could get rid of, but I didn’t see anything remotely worth bringing home to add to my own stash of crappola.)
The nice lady who showed me around recommended signing up for a monthly Mystery Lunch where you show up, get on the senior bus, and go to an unidentified location for lunch. She said sometimes they go as far away as Lorain or Geneva, which I suppose could be exciting, depending on the restaurant and how you feel about riding in a bus. In January they went to Friday’s in Mentor, which pissed people off because they can go there themselves any old time. Given the unpredictability of January weather, having lunch down the street seemed like a better choice than possibly having to cancel due to bad weather and treacherous roads. But I get it. I’m not piling on a bus to go to Friday’s, for sure.
There’s also a Red Hat club for ladies of a certain age. I think they do a lot of lunching, too, but at least they don’t pour off a bus into a Cracker Barrell parking lot en masse. However, I’m not up for wearing a red hat and purple boa to eat a chef salad at Applebee’s, either.
I don’t mean to make fun. At least not in a nasty way.
It’s just that my brand of Old may know who Henry Mancini was, but only because our parents used to play his music on the hi-fi when their friends came over to smoke a gazillion cigarettes and guzzle highballs while we gently coughed ourselves to sleep upstairs.
I may feel more comfortable about embracing Senior Center activities when the background music is the Stones or the Temptations and the jeans-wearing members wonder when Ohio is going to get around to legalizing recreational marijuana.
And now I’m going to circle back to Erma’s message on my You Can Write mug and how that relates to being retired.
While I’m a little foggy on what retirement is going to look like for me, I do know that writing will continue to play a major role in the next chapter of my life.
Writing has been a part of every job I’ve ever had. The ability to communicate effectively in print has played a significant role in what I’d call a satisfying career. I’ve written ad copy and speeches, lesson plans and magazine articles, marketing materials and press releases, humorous stories and even a training manual some years ago.
I started blogging after my first Erma conference six years ago and that has evolved in a couple of different directions over the years, as well.
I started a novel last year that has been languishing on my external hard drive for months. I don’t know if I’ll ever finish it. I’ve always said that writing fiction isn’t my “thing,” and I’m not sure now why I even started it. We’ll see. But never say never, right?
I do have an idea for a nonfiction book that I will begin fleshing out soon. It’s a topic that is fascinating to me so I’m really looking forward to researching and writing about it. The key here is that the topic interests ME. The objective is to have fun working on it. And if anyone actually wants to publish it one day, well . . . that will just be the bacon on my cheeseburger.
So today is a start. I didn’t make it to Dayton this year to join that fabulous crowd of talented, funny writers. But I’m writing. I Can Write. And “retirement” is going to be a great time to do it. Sometimes.