Saturday, August 26, 2017

How terribly strange to be 70



The song “bookends” was one of the songs on Simon and Garfunkel’s fourth studio album, which was also titled Bookends. It was released on March 8, 1968. At the time of its release, both Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were 26 years old. Today, they are both 75 years old, and have considerably less hair than they did in 1968.



I have always loved the song, so I would recommend listening to an original recording of it once again:



When the song was released, I was in my junior year of college, and 70 seemed to be an impossibly old age.  Even my dad, and most of his siblings, still had not reached the milestone year of 70 in 1968.

Now, here’s the hard part.

On August 28, I will become 70 years old, an age that I once thought would put me comfortably into my retirement years, but life doesn’t always work out the way that you planned.

Although I have retired 4 times already, that idyllic state just hasn’t managed to stick. However, that it is also true of a LOT of the musical performers that we grew up with. Simon and Garfunkel are still performing, but so is Roger Waters, Mick Jagger, Arlo Guthrie, and Charlie Daniels. Graham Nash, age 75, was in Philadelphia just last weekend. Even Tony Bennett is still performing, and he is NINETY, for heaven’s sake.


Now that I am actually 70, it no longer feels strange, especially in view of the fact that several of my friends and acquaintances have already died of NATURAL CAUSES.


My YOUNGER sister just retired after 45 years of nursing, and is enjoying her time off immensely. In the short time that she has been retired, she has managed to have a meal at Brennan’s in New Orleans, enjoyed a meditation weekend in northern California, and had a slice at Mystic Pizza in Connecticut. Not a bad way to spend your retirement years!


As for me, I will likely work for another year or two (unless my Powerball ticket pays off). If that doesn’t happen, though, I still plan to live life to its fullest, and I am not planning on “checking out” any time in the near future.










Monday, August 21, 2017

I work with Santa Claus



Apart from the fact that working as a substitute teacher pays pretty well for the number of hours I put in, there are 3 additional reasons that I continue to work in my so-called retirement years: 

1) every week, I learn at least one new thing

2) every week, I manage to teach a bunch of students a few new things

3) every week, I meet some very interesting people, both young and old 

When I checked into the office of a local high school on one of the first days of the current school year, I found myself standing directly behind a man who was wearing a bright red shirt, and was sporting a a delightful bushy white beard. Since he apparently would not need a pillow to fill out a Santa costume, my first thought on seeing him was “that’s Santa Claus!” As it turns out, I was exactly right.

His name is Mark. Like most baby boomers, he has held a variety of jobs in his lifetime, including bartender, music venue manager, legal researcher, stage actor, and on-air personality. As a result of his work in the music industry, he had a chance to work closely with a number of famous performers. And, yes, he got a chance to know Jerry Garcia personally. 

In 2012, he started working as a department store Santa during the holiday season. He typically works a 5 week shift, and gets paid VERY WELL for his time, and his compensation usually includes the use of a car and lodging. Since he is just as generous as Santa, he uses the majority of his "mall money" to support his charity work, which is visiting home and hospital bound children and adults in the Tucson area, which he does on a year-round basis.

As you’re probably aware, Santa is very familiar with technology. After all, how else could he keep track of who’s been naughty and who’s been nice? Not surprisingly, a few years before Mark started working as a department store Santa, he started a Facebook page called Santa for all seasons.  

In recent years, he has expanded his interests to include working as a substitute teacher at local high schools. Like most of us, he usually winds up monitoring a class that is not related to his major in college (I have yet to monitor an Economics class). In the Army, people who are trained cooks wind up being mechanics, and trained mechanics wind up being cooks. Somehow, it works for the Army, and it also seems to work for local school districts here. 

Not everyone gets to work with a celebrity on a daily basis, but if you’re listening, Virginia, I have a few words of wisdom for you: 

There IS a Santa Claus!