BY: JAMES F. O’NEIL
I have done the “What walks on …? four-, two-, three-feet bit,” as I put my cane into the corner. (I use it for short walks. I do have a four-wheeler for longer jaunts.)
Born in 1941, retired now, after nearly fifty years in academics and education, I find myself more often asking, “Is that all there is?” Rarely, “What’s next?” Well, it has been quite a ride, when I consider how my light is spent, bumps and all, roller coaster and carousel, too. Mostly, mostly enjoyable, some fascinating journeys and trips.
What has been important in these years has been success and money. As a teacher, I always had the first, never the latter. Seriously? No: Family and health, with some good fortune and luck added for good measure. Looking back upon 77 years, I can say, realistically, “It all worked out.” “There are no accidents.” “It was meant to be,” I was often told (or, read, “It’s God’s Divine Plan).
So let me report, let me give an AAR–After Action Review: My Various Systems. HEALTH: I don’t exercise (as I should). Walking hurts. I’m not at all motivated, this coming from a guy who smoked Camels a pack a day for 12 years, then quit, cold turkey; a guy who has been clean and sober for over four years (15-year-old-scotch…ah, memoriesofatime), but who is certified addicted to chocolate. And it shows… Perhaps too much dark chocolate as I am trying to keep myself “heart healthy”? Dove, Sport, M&Ms, Fannie May dark-chocolate-covered orange peels: Celestial.
I am READING less and less, having discarded more books (donated and trashed), hardly any fiction, but filling my Kindle (catching up on some classics, like Proust, Joyce, Dos Passos, and Dreiser; Wolfe, Farrell, and Dostoyevsky. I even captured some Dickens, Conrad, and Anna Karenina, to name-drop a few!)–forty-one classics now, just in case I cannot carry any magazines or books with me into the hospital, should I fall ill.
I am subscribing to TIME, Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, Esquire, and Handguns. I do have an un-read biography of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Umberto Eco’s The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, and the latest book of essays by my favorite, Joseph Epstein, The Ideal of Culture. (Epstein suggests name-dropping when possible.)
My semi-sedentary retiree retired life is fertile ground for movie watching. Not too much “real” TV (Jeopardy, Sunday Morning with Jane Pauley, unbiased factual truthful news stations, like…), but Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO–gifted by kids and grandkids–provide the viewing pleasure to supplement our personal DVD collection of favorites. Rarely do we step out into the dark of a movie-theater-eating-experience, unless for some blockbuster. Rare.
The AIRPLANE COLLECTING I began in 2004 has come to a taxied halt. No more new models have interested me for over a year now. Cost of metals has made collecting a sophisticated hobby; fewer models are being produced. I have enough, a good representation of those I value for their history or their particular insignia markings. (My collection peaked at 125 large models; 50 remain.)
My BLOG (htpps://www.memoriesofatime.blog) postings are becoming less frequent–and take much more time than when I began in 2013. Not that I have no available topics, but just concentrating–and finding retirement time. TIME, for retirees, is elusive, not what it is thought or imagined to be: Too many doctor visits to make me in perfect or better-than-normal health. Other things keep coming along that take up time: laundry, Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, sunset watching, listening to Pandora while relaxing, naps (a MUST daily), journaling, and even time with a great-grandson.
And “So it goes!” wrote Kurt Vonnegut. So it goes, another year in Paradise (the move to Florida in 1980 was best). Another year closer to 80. That’s really a Big One, some believe. No doubt, I’ll have another Great Reflection at Turning 80. Why not?
A writer I do read (name-dropping Joseph Epstein) wrote that he made a pact to give up smoking in return for good health, and wished to live to eighty. Then he would start smoking again. He has made it; he’s been rather healthy. Yet he has not started smoking again. Makes perfect sense to me.
I have an occasional cigar, on my way to 80. Chinese food almost monthly; Chicago hot dogs (NEVER ketchup!) whenever; Greek; Italian; pizza and wings; and Cubans, maybe too often. Of course, along with Sonny’s and Texas Roadhouse, and Ale House. Yet the home chicken and rice recipes also keep us in good health, with good cholesterol levels!
And so it goes, towards “Happy Birthday!” You will not, however, hear from me, “Pack of Camels, please!”
© JAMES F. O’NEIL 21 APRIL 2018