Friday, January 23, 2009

Dawn of a New Day---Retirement

No, it's not me retiring. Long time readers may be surprised to wake up and realize that I have been retired over six years.

No, George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the U.S., has retired after serving the maximum term for a president. And, since I have now spent ten percent of my life retired, I thought I'd give him some advice. Oh, sure, you are saying, "He could ask his daddy." In fact, this morning I asked my daddy what advice he'd give George and he said that he'd never been that good at managing other people.

So, it's up to me, I guess.

Piece of advice number one: ignore the critics. Yeah, you pretended for eight years to ignore them or maybe you actually did ignore them. But maybe it stung a bit. Sometimes. I got a pleasant send-off from my last job although I'm sure there were people happy to see me go. (In fact, I later realized the event organizer was probably one of these!) But, dude, living well is the best revenge! You get a salary, a staff. You'd already saved for retirement, huh? You can do whatever you want, within limits. Wake up each day and dig the freedom. Who cares if the people back at the workplace are altering your code (er, executive orders in your case)?

Piece of advice number two: don't fall into being your father's keeper. Yeah, your dad is eight years younger than my dad and he's still got your mom, the Secret Service, various other help. Still, make no mistake, it can be time-consuming to hover over them when they have problems. Try to get Jeb or the twins to do it. You still have your Mom, too. (People will say "You are so lucky to still have them." It's true, but it can interfere with your travel, fitness and time to follow some of the advice below.)

Piece of advice number three: wake up and smell the coffee. In fact, make the coffee. I think somewhere you said you'd enjoy making Laura a cup. Do that. Take yours outside and watch a beautiful sunrise, knowing that you don't have to do a thing you don't want to today.

More retirement advice? Yeah number four: just pretend to write the book. Books are hard, blogging is easy. Take it from me. Since you can get a lot of money for a book, do one. But get someone else to write it. Get Jenna to write it. She did her own book, yes? Let her ghost yours or co-write it. Get yourself a blog. Moderate the comments. You can delete the negative stuff and the spam selling drugs and weight loss. You can say whatever you want, edit it later and pretend you didn't and scoff at your critics. In fact, get a Facebook page. Not one someone else concocted but one of your own. Just collect your real friends here.

Am I done? No. We have number five: learn something new. I don't think you are as stupid as people would have us believe. Nevertheless, retirement is a time to learn new things. Since I retired I've practiced identifying the countries of Africa (harder than you might think: click here), learned a few new words. Left to your own devices with no earth-shaking work (literally in your case) you can research things like history and literature. You can read Ulysses. (Or maybe you can't. I haven't made it to page 700 yet.)

Is there more? You bet. I haven't wasted the last six plus years. (Well, that's disputable but still there's more advice.) Number six: do something at a weird time. Take Laura to a movie in the afternoon. Go to SXSW. Stay out as late as you want and sleep in some morning.

I know you love to exercise, Mr. ex-President, but number seven: change your routine. You have time to add water aerobics or Pilates. You can take up a new sport or one you haven't pursued in a while. Come down to Austin and play tennis with Rick Perry and Andy Roddick. (Well, actually I don't know if Rick plays tennis, but he looks like a player, doesn't he?)

And, number eight on the list is: downsize! I know you and Laura bought a really big house in Preston Hollow (nice timing on that) and you have the ranch. Seriously, though, it's very freeing to dump some of that junk. Do you really need all that space? After all, if it's something sentimental stick it in the library. I wish I'd had a museum to store my stuff in!

Number nine? Travel. Don't just talk about it. Do it. Go to Paris and eat stars. Make the Secret Service follow you and Laura on a driving trip around the U.S. and Canada. You might want to stay out of Mexico, though, especially border towns. Kinda dangerous just now.

And, number ten on the list of retirement wisdom? Spend more time on your finances. Your money was tucked away in a blind trust, but now you can track your own investments tanking and rising. You can struggle to figure out where to get a decent, safe interest rate return. You can worry about your taxes. The muni bond market is weird right now, by the way. But since you're a Texan you don't have to worry about state income tax. Wait until you see your property tax bill, though. But Dallas is better than Austin where we bear the burden of much un-taxed state property. You will be really glad you have a defined benefit pension, I promise. Even though you may think you bought that mansion at a low point you may find that you see comparables in your neighborhood decline in value. But honestly just get out and get into a condo and lower expenses. We have some nice 1200 square foot or so units here at our place.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

For W, I think I'd add the following: Eleven, spread your wings and be your own man. Too long others have let you continue to be an adolescent, dependent on them to bail you out, make your decisions. Here's your chance--finally--to grow up and be the person you always wanted to be. George, go for it!