Tag Archives: retirement

What I Did During My Midlife Crisis


Even chimps have midlife crises.

Mea culpa. I want to apologize to all the middle-aged people whom I mocked, behind their backs, for what they did during their midlife crisis. I rolled my eyes at the $60,000 kitchen renovation with a Sub Zero refrigerator and an integrated wine storage system. I snickered at the $45,000 red Cadillac sedan with French leather seats and a Bose sound system. I said “She should have had a brain implant instead of a boob job” in reference to a less than stellar co-worker who got a big cup.

I take it all back. Somewhere out there someone I know is “tsk-tsking” me for having top surgery. It is payback. What I am doing fits the profile of a midlife crisis as much as taking skydiving lessons or buying a Harley-Davidson.

Midlife can hit you hard. Particularly when you are set in your ways. Same job. Same partner. Same apartment. Same therapist. Same non-conforming butch gender stuff. And then boom, you look up and you are in uh-oh land. The land of possibilities that you did not let yourself think about every time you pulled on your Levi 501’s, buttoned your L.L. Bean flannel shirt, and laced up your Timberland boots. Continue reading

The Paper Chase

All week-long I’ve been singing snippets from Alice’s Restaurant; Arlo Guthrie’s long shaggy dog song about being inducted into the Army. I got processed to go back to work part-time as a consultant at Transit.

Elvis at his Army physical, 1958. Photo by Don Cravens / Time Life Pictures / Getty Images

Elvis at his Army physical, 1958. Photo by Don Cravens / Time Life Pictures / Getty Images

It took four months for my paperwork to crawl through the bureaucracy and get approval from the ethics board. It took another month for Human Resources to give me an appointment to get processed. As Yogi Berra said – It’s deja vu all over again.

My first day at Transit was my worst day on the job. I was a self-conscious chubby 22-year-old out of the closet baby butch lesbian. It was my first day out of jeans. I did my best to dress for success. I wore clean underwear and a normal bra, a pair of grey wool slacks, a pink Oxford cloth button-down shirt, and a tweed blazer. I wore a strand of pearls to make sure everyone knew I was a girl, even if I wasn’t so sure about it myself. Continue reading

On Not Starting Yoga Class

Butch-WeightliftingBefore I retired, I put up three goals on the white board in my cubicle; to get my 401K/457 accounts maxed out,  to get my weight down to 140 lb., and to reliably bench press 75 lb. I hit the first two goals, but I got stuck at bench pressing more than 65 lb. I considered hiring a personal trainer to see if I could do it, but it seemed like cheating. As I tried to get past 65 lb., I realized that not all goals make sense.

I also made a list of things I wanted to do with my free time. So far, I’ve only learned how to work out with kettlebells. I haven’t started the second blog I want to write, I haven’t attended introductory yoga, and I haven’t cleaned up my room (I straightened out and rearranged the piles).

I’m an obsessive person. I try to divert myself from binge overeating and compulsive shopping by taking on new projects (paradoxically every project requires purchasing some books or equipment). If you looked at the stack of books by the couch, you could figure out my current project is revamping my gym workout. There is also a book on hoarding, and another on Afghanistan.

It took me ten years to get bored with free weights. I like how butch it feels to use dumbbells and barbells. It separates me from the women at the gym; they mostly use the circuit machines and rarely use the benches. They go to yoga and dance classes; the studio is always full of pencil thin women in their thirties.

Working out helps me manage my gender dysphoria and feel strong in my body. I don’t compare my muscles, or how much weight I’m lifting, to anyone else. Some women are scared to work out because they don’t want to look muscle-bound; I wish it was that easy. I accept that if I don’t use testosterone my body will never look ripped. I will never be able to lift significantly more than I do now. I can master the form. I can get compact and sturdier. I can feel more powerful. Continue reading

When the Best Label is Dog Lover

Sweet Corner Bakery on Hudson Street

Sweet Corner Bakery on Hudson Street, sidewalk service.

Thanks to Brannen’s post on Undefine Me!, I now proudly claim the label of Dog Lover (more on sustainability and labels in another post).

The day that I adopted Gracie, I told her to be patient. I told her that when I retire we will hang out on the couch and read, go out for long walks, head up to the dog run, and take naps together.

It hasn’t exactly turned out that way. I’m a little too anxious to just relax and hang out at home. I’m restless. When I’m not on the computer, or in the kitchen cooking, I like to keep moving. It is not easy to take her with me when I run errands. Gracie’s behavior in public spaces is not impeccable. There are only so many places you can take a dog in New York (food trucks, banks, and bookshops are the best). When I want to fulfill my promise to her I fill my thermos mug with coffee and we walk.

I grew up in Manhattan and I’ve always walked wherever I was going. It is not unusual for me to walk eight miles in a day. It is good exercise and it clears my head. I’m a brisk, heads down walker. It is my thinking time, unless I have Gracie with me. When I’m with Gracie I am on dog time. She wants to stop, sniff, and socialize. Continue reading

Not the Retiring Kind


Avenue H Station, Brighton Line. The rocking chairs are real and I will not be sitting in one.

Avenue H Station, Brighton Line. The rocking chairs are real, but I will not be sitting in one.

I put in my papers to take early retirement from New York City Transit. I’m embarrassed to write that sentence because I barely feel like an adult, much less one eligible to collect a pension. Six years ago, right before July 4th weekend, my boss called me into his office to tell me I was being involuntarily re-assigned. While he was talking I started thinking about retiring.

The demotion caught me by surprise. I had gotten myself into trouble with the President of NYCT; he was making unreasonable demands of my unit (Subway Schedules). I patiently explained why I disagreed with him. I was respectful and on-point. I did not defer to him, but I was not insubordinate. We took an immediate dislike to each other. My queerness did not help matters. Continue reading