Thursday, January 23, 2014

I’ve a universe to explore – if my back stops hurting …

I’m officially retired.

I won’t hold back. It’s a bit scary. Yes, I have a grand adventure planned for the days and years ahead, but after nearly 45 years in college and the working world, I’m feeling just a bit squeamish.

I took early retirement. Instead of waiting until I’m 65 or 66, I chose to retire at age 62. No pussyfooting around for me. I went for immediate gratification.

Too many books equal back problems.
Well, not really.

By retiring at 62, I get only 80 percent of what I would have been entitled to had I waited to retire at 66. That comes out to around $13,800.

I figure I will soon be looking for part-time work to supplement by Social Security income.

Over the last five years, I’ve had to cope with a body that has been break down. Well, that’s not entirely true … it’s mostly been my brain breaking down.

In the winter of 2010, back covering sports and news for the first time since 1989, I tripped coming down grandstands at a girls’ high school soccer game and broke my hip. Less than a year later I made a bad decision at around 10 p.m. to walk down to the mailbox and get the day’s mail. Now that wouldn’t have been a problem during a typical Southeast North Carolina winter, except this wasn’t a normal one. It had snowed, and the snow had turned to ice. Perhaps if I had walked through the lawn down to the mailbox? Except I didn’t.

No need to create more tension. Most of you can guess what happened and be reasonably correct. I slid on ice and fell. I was grateful that I could rise to my feet even with nearly unbearable pain … it meant I hadn’t broken a hip. Instead, I screwed up my back.

Well, here we are … two years later, and the back still gives me problems. I can no longer take extra-long walks – too much pain. But it’s bearable – at least until last week. That’s when my brain again let me down.

They're selling a few books, maybe I can too later this year.
I decided not to rent a small trailer for my move to Las Vegas, NV. Instead, my plans are to pack a few boxes and plastic bags in the trunk and back seat and head west. That meant I needed to find a home for my books I’ve collected since the mid-1970s. I decided to donate 90 percent of them to the Wallace public library and ship the remaining 10 percent to my intended home in Henderson, NV.

The first box I packed full of books destined for the library I couldn’t even lift up from my bed. So I divided the books up and packed them in smaller boxes. Yea, I could lift them without a problem.

The process worked fine for several days of deliveries to the Wallace library. I was down to the final box of books. Those books were different, though, coffee table picture books, heavy books, books designed to cripple backs and mess up plans.

Again, you no doubt can correctly guess what happened. Yep, I picked up the groaningly heavy books and when putting them down, I strained my back. A week later, the back is still forcing me to take painkillers and muscle relaxers to survive. Not good. Not with me planning to start my trip this Sunday.

The Strip's lights draws me to my future and the completion of my WIP. 
I’m lucky that I have good friends who plant to help pack up the car. Most of the things I plan to take with me are packed up. Still have to pick up some coffee mugs and glasses, and I still have to mail four packages of books to my new address in Henderson.

Once I’m settled into my new home, my first priority is to finish Assassins’ Lair, the third book of my fantasy trilogy, Larenia’s Shadow. I’m leaving behind my computer desk, swivel chair, dresser and bookcases, so I will need to buy a desk, chair, dresser and one bookcase. Most of the furniture I’ve given to Goodwill, so maybe I can buy similar furniture at Goodwill in Henderson. Then I can finish the first draft and start the editing process.

Right now the first draft is only about 20 percent complete, so there’s a lot of work remaining to do. It’s been so long since I last worked on the manuscript that I will need to reread the novel and the outline.
But it’s not just going to be hard work for Mikey. My soon-to-be roommate has been plotting out plans to market my two published novels, The Emperor’s Mistress and Thief’s Coin, at festivals and conventions in Vegas. She’s looking forward to dressing us in 15th century garb and setting up a display of my novels at renaissance faires and SF/Fantasy/comic book conventions. I have to admit … I’m looking forward to those faires and conventions as well. Back when I was still a reporter, I never had time to attend any faires or conventions. Now I have a new “universe” that I can soon start exploring – as soon as my back stops hurting.


  1. Enjoy your retirement, Mike. It's everything it's cracked up to be - and more

  2. What an inspiring post! I know what it's like to have a broken body and to re-injure it. I hope your back has recovered by now. I am also impressed by your simplified life. Perhaps you can tell us the criteria you used to downsize your book collection? I, too, have a large book collection which stresses me, but I'm unsure what to keep or discard. If you have time, please tell us what worked for you.