I had just about finished a number of paragraphs of deathless prose about life, the universe, and everything when the neighborhood was hit with some sort of power surge and kablooie, everything dissolved into electrons and transported itself into the ether. Now my immortal phrasing and the one paragraph that would have won me a Nobel in literature are gone and I have no idea exactly what I wrote so I shall never be able to recreate it. I know I should write these things in Word and save as I go and then paste them into Facebook to prevent this from happening, but I’m too lazy. I just open up my social media on my laptop, do some scrolling and, if I’m inspired, I just start writing. I should have written something last night to keep to my once every four days schedule, but after finishing up collecting everything my accountant is going to need for taxes last night, a rather heroic task that I am grateful comes but once a year, I just wasn’t feeling it and went to bed early.
The deep dive into my finances that I do annually told me that I can afford to retire as early as age 62 if I so choose. I doubt I’ll do that as that date is uncomfortably close and I don’t feel like I’ve gotten old or run out of steam quite yet. When will I retire? It’s likely to be in stages, dropping down from full time to part time for a while, jettisoning the more draining parts of my job. The last piece to go is likely to be my UAB outpatient clinic. I’ve invested a quarter century in making sure it can continue and I have such a deep relationship with so many of my patients and their families that I just can’t see putting up a ‘Gone Fishing’ sign on the door there until the very end. When that will be is going to depend on a lot of things – working conditions at UAB and the Birmingham VA, the continued effect of the pandemic on healthcare, new stresses as the aging Baby Boom begins to knock on my professional door, and my personal physical and mental health (which has taken something of a beating these last few years for various reasons all too familiar to my readers).
I do have to begin phase one of retirement in the next couple of months. I must officially retire from the University of California, an institution from which I have not drawn a paycheck in nearly a quarter century and from which I parted on not good terms due to internal political battles over funding of geriatrics programs (but not before vesting in the retirement system). The plan stops accruing on my sixtieth birthday, less than three months from now so it’s time to become an official retiree. I suppose I’ll need to go to McDonald’s for my morning coffee and start wearing shorts and sandals with black socks. At least I don’t have a front lawn from which to chase the neighborhood children. I love watching small children at play. The previous house was across the street from the neighborhood park and I could see them out the windows and hear them while doing housework or writing. Like all gay men of my generation, I have to watch from a distance unless invited as there are too many who would ascribe nefarious motives to my wanting to be close to children. It’s not fair, but it’s one of those things you recognize if you’re gay, especially in a culture as judgmental as the one of the deep south.
We’re more or less over the omicron wave. I’ve been looking at the numbers and the national and local numbers are back where they were earlier in the fall before omicron swept through. Our inpatient and ICU numbers have come back down to manageable levels. It’s not gone by any stretch of the imagination and there should still be a certain amount of caution exercised. The mortality figures still remain high with more than 2,000 people a day dying. It’s going to take another month for those numbers to go down as the small percentage of those (mainly unvaccinated) who became extremely ill with omicron lose their battles. What’s reasonable as to behavior at this point? I think it’s fine to go out and to go into indoor space with others, but I would still remain masked for both yourself and as a courtesy to others. It’s not that difficult to keep a mask in your pocket and slip it on at the door. As long as you’ve been vaccinated and had a booster, you should be fine.
People have been asking me about the need for a second booster. There are no official recommendations for this yet for the general public of any age. Studies are ongoing. For those with significant immunodeficiencies or who are undergoing medical treatment that cause immunodeficiency, it’s reasonable to do. You should check with your physician to see if he or she thinks you fall into one of those categories and would recommend a second booster at this time. I believe a general recommendation for second booster is coming eventually and we’re likely going to need additional boosters at some yet to be determined schedule going forward. We deal with annual flu shots. We can deal with Covid boosters.
I’ve been lying on the bed going bleah most of this week when not at work. I haven’t been feeling physically the best, something in my weird gut is out of sorts. Generally I find that if I don’t eat a lot and get plenty of sleep, it works itself out. Given the close intertwining of gut health and mental health, I think at least some of it is due to the fact that I don’t have any particular joy to look forward to for a while. Since Tommy’s death, I’ve found I do best as long as I have about one thing a month – a performance, a weekend trip, a vacation, a visitor from out of town – that sparks a feeling of happiness. There’s just not much on the calendar at the moment. I have a theatrical project coming up that I’m looking forward to but that’s not until June. The Alabama Symphony Orchestra Chorus is gearing up again with Beethoven’s Ninth but that’s not until May. I like singing the Ode to Joy. Tommy and I were both in the chorus the last time I did it. He did it a couple of times prior to that before I was a member and I have a very nice photo on the wall of the symphony and chorus from one of those performances. The only issue is that Izcaray Carlos tends to take that last part at tempo di bat out of hell and I have a hard time turning the pages fast enough to keep up. I have an out of town weekend on the books in April. I need to find something for March. I also got hold of my travel agent so I can start thinking about the big trip for 2022. Likely September. No specific destinations in mind yet as I’m still, like everyone else, trying to figure out what Covid’s next move is likely to be and how the world is going to respond.
In the meantime – vaccinate, hand wash, mask up.