Yesterday is one for the history book of my life. Not quite "a date that will live in infamy," my 50th birthday was memorable nonetheless.

Wow -- I am now 1/2 a century old! That sounds so much more ominous than just plain old 50, doesn't it? I now qualify to receive junk mail from the AARP. A quick visit to their website revealed to me that by virtue of having completed 50 years of life, I can still be a productive member of society by, among other things, volunteering to help renovate my neighborhood. Now that sounds all nice and good; however, if I help to renovate my neighborhood, who the heck will renovate my house? I also learned that I'm now old enough to become an advocate for the aging and aged, but I'm not quite old enough to qualify for Senior Citizens' discounts at restaurants. That hardly seems fair!

In addition to qualifiying for membership in the AARP, I am now officially eligible for the retirement I've been planning for the past year. I'm still not sure how to feel about retiring at such a young -- yes, I said young! -- age. Retirement shouldn't happen for another fifteen years, under normal circumstances. But these are not normal circumstances; they are times more suited to a Charles Dickens novel:

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."
--Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Now there is something to do during my retirement! I would love to reread the entire body of Charles Dickens' work. If I won't be teaching literature, I can at least return to reading it just for the pure pleasure it provides. Retirement is sounding better with every sentence!

Retirement will mean no more grading stress or irritation when students don't get their work done on time. But it will also mean not sharing semesters with them, discovering their composition strengths and showing them to overcome their weaknesses. It means no more animated discussions about censorship in America's classrooms and textbooks or introducing a new crop of future teachers to the possibilities of parental challenges to books that they know, love, and might want to share with their own students. It means no more expressions of appreciation like the wonderful gift that my students gave me yesterday. We took the photo last week at the urging of one of the girls who is actually from Texas but attending the university in California because her husband is in the military and stationed here. She scrapbooks and really wanted some photos of our class to preserve on the pages of one of those gorgeous scrapbooks that have become so popular in recent years. I asked her to share the photos with me so that I could blog them, but the photos never appeared in my email box. I even included a friendly reminder when I returned her graded research paper over the weekend. But still no photos. Now I know why!

Colorful expressions of good wishes for my retirement, thanks for a great semester, and accolades for my teaching style surround the smiling faces of me and my students. And to think that just last week I was ticked off at them all I could have, as my grandfather used to say, spit wooden nickels! It's little things like this that make teaching the most noble and fulfilling career known to humanity.

I now have a beautiful and thoughtful reminder of my last semester of teaching hanging on the wall just above my computer, where I can steal a quick glance whenever I start to feel unfulfilled because I'm not teaching any longer. To those of you who shared the Spring '09 semester with me and read but don't comment here, I want to say thank you once again. Your generous and giving spirits have made my final semester as an educator one of the most memorable of my career. Oh, and before I forget, if any of you are interested in seeing one of my newly acquired documentaries on J.S. Mill's On Liberty, just let me know! (ROFLMAO!!!!!)

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5 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    First I want to say again I hope you had a great birthday. 1/2 century...I was there 2 years ago and started to see the AARP crap and I bit LOL. What a wonderful post this is. It is educators like you that our society needs more of that care. I know we have plenty but we need that attitude...even to spit wooden nickles.

    Secondly I didn't know you had brain surgery. So I snooped around, something I don't do on sites as I'm too lazy and found out about Malformation. What a scary time that must have been. I'm glad everything is okay. And I thank you for sharing all this information. One can never be to smart and learning something new everyday is something I strive for.

    Thirdly...retirement. Bot I wish I could at such a young age. How wonderful. Now you can go and do what you couldn't do before because of time constraints, etc. even if it does mean getting another job or doing something different. Question I have is why are you retiring? Are you tired of teaching or was it just the right time to go?

    Wonderful post my friend. Aloha :)

  2. Carleen Says:

    So the AARP is your friend now, too? And here I was thinking that I was somehow special, ROFL!

    I actually started this blog as a means of directing my focus away from the bad days that I still have after the brain surgery (mostly from headaches and seizures), but it's become so much fun that I figure a rant every now and then about how I sleep like my cats, having clusters of seizures, or a headache knocking me for a loop is just one way of keeping it real. It is part of who I am now; Chiari doesn't define me, and I'm not about to let it confine me. I deal with it as best I can and just keep going.

    And retirement. . .ah, retirement! The Amazing Egyptian Dude and I have a business (we import products from Egypt for sale here -- mostly hookahs), so I plan to devote more time to it starting this summer. But, I really do want to reread my Dickens library!

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Thank you so much for explaining. You are one terrific lady. I'm glad I found your blog. Happy reading...and yes you are enjoy AARP LOL...they bug ya to death :)

  4. Anonymous Says:

    About that retirement - it's bittersweet. No more nagging and whining and grading BUT no more interaction with the best of the best in our classes (and there are always a few).

    Might I suggest looking into online teaching? It can get pretty intense just like in-class teaching however if you just teach one class at a time (for the fun of it!) instead of a bazillion classes (for the $$), then you can have time to really enjoy the students.

    This past semester I taught fewer classes than I have in about ten years and I absolutely loved it. There's always the grading and I was teaching four classes so it was time consuming.

    But just teaching one online class would be no stress at all!!

    Just something to think about as I know you really love teaching.

  5. Carleen Says:

    Sherlock, I definitely want to look into teaching online. I'm even considering taking some classes at the local community college just so that I can keep The Brain active and happy.

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