December 21, 2018.
I quit my job of 17 years and my career of over 20 years in the IT business.
In dramatic fashion.
I told my boss I was taking the rest of my life off, deleted 20 gigs of files from the mainframe that I had built over my career, deleted the config files from the firewall and routers, changed all the admin passwords, logged in as admin to the email system and told the entire leadership of my place of employment to stick it via mass email and walked out of the building.
An hour later I was informed via text message by my old boss that charges were being pressed and a police report would be filed. No matter. I would be on a plane to Southeast Asia 3 days later and unreachable for the foreseeable future. The best part was I still had access to the email system via several dummy accounts and was able to read the entire reaction via internal email. The panic was delightful. The cost in time to fix my little bit of mischief would be significant.
The bridge was burned with napalm.
I changed my mailing address to Colorado and spent the entirety of 2019 traveling and free lancing here and there for extra spending money, and to keep a lawyer on retainer, the one item I had not budgeted for…
Sometimes when you’re log jammed in life, the best way to break a log jam is a grenade. I understood that I could get in trouble for my actions, but understand this:
Every word of this is true, except for everything I’ve written up to HERE.
Well, the date I left my job is accurate. And the part about the travel and free lance.
Truth is, I actually liked my job for the most part. It enabled everything that comes after. I liked many of the people, the problem solving, the camaraderie, and especially having good health insurance! But early retirement was my goal for many years, and it was time.
2019 in many ways was the best year of my life. I did not stay at my job long enough to reach full pension benefits, which I could have gotten by staying 3 more years. But it was not my priority. My priority is to try and squeeze every bit of enjoyment out of life possible for me without bankrupting myself.
I’ve been asked by a few people, why? Why didn’t you stay a paltry three years? And the answer is, it wasn’t absolutely necessary for me to survive and having watched a few people near and far retire and die soon after I was determined not to go that route, God willing.
I wouldn’t trade the experiences of my ‘gap year’ for anything, especially a little extra ‘security’, which is not a real thing honestly.
The story of how I got here financially is not what I wanted to talk about here, though I may discuss that in another post about ‘money’ and ‘early retirement’.
My goal was to find a way to write about my experiences last year and not come off as humble bragging, or attempting to paint a picture of a ‘perfect life’. Some may see it that way anyway, and they are free to interpret as they see fit, or not read any of this. No matter. You’ll be judged regardless so you might as well do you.
The end of 2017 and a lot of 2018 was not necessarily great times for me. I struggled with some things and had to face some hard truths about my future playing music. Many of you may know that music has been the overarching passion in my life since I was a child. In 2017 after a particularly loud gig, I went home with terribly ringing ears and that ringing did not subside for days. I was alarmed and got hearing tested. I’ve known I have hearing loss for a long time, and it runs in the family. My dad is down to maybe 25 or 30% of his hearing, so I knew that day could come.
Testing confirmed some hearing loss and a diagnosis of Tinnitus was handed over. Well… duh.
I took the opportunity to have some custom ear plugs made and purchase in ear monitors, things I should have done a LONG time ago.
It’s a bit of an irony with musicians that doing the thing you love the most, potentially screws up your ability to do the thing you love the most. I really struggled with the tinnitus for the better part of the year, and I know a lot of people near me who didn’t know what I was going thru started calling me ‘grumpy’ during this time. Almost certainly I was dealing with depression. Without going into a long ramble about all of this, suffice to say at some point I accepted the fact of tinnitus and started learning to cope with it as well as possible and above all, protect my hearing at all costs as well as possible.
This means that the guys in my band have to put up with low volume rehearsals and always thinking about volume issues. They have been great for the most part and most of them have tinnitus as well, so it’s in their best interest whether they like it or not!
In fact it was talking to so many fellow musicians who have the same issues that helped me through. Be that as it may, I took the opportunity to pursue other creative passions and think about a life not totally encompassed by performing loud music.
Along with my love for all kinds of creative pursuits, music, art, photography, film etc I’ve also discovered a true enjoyment for writing, and I’m going to try and hone that craft on this blog and who knows, maybe other places. The feedback I received from writing about my travels in Vietnam and other places is truly gratifying, and directly inspired me to start trying to write more seriously.
If you’ve come this far with me and you’re willing, come a little further.
I had to go thru my google calendar for 2019 to remember but here it is:
- December 26-Jan 15 Vietnam & Cambodia
- March 24 -31 New Orleans
- June 9-16 Dinosaur National Monument Utah/Colorado
- July 8-13 Canoeing Arkansas Buffalo National River
- July 14-21 Colorado Hiking with the B’s
- August 4-8 Mexico
- Aug 15-18 Canoeing Driftless Wisconsin
- Aug 29 – Sept 3 – Denver Wedding
- October 9-12 Colorado Home Inspection
- Oct 18-27 California – Work trip remodeling my sisters house in Fortuna
- Oct 28-30 Colorado – fixes for house
- Nov 24 – Chicago Bears game
- Nov 26- Dec 4 – Colorado Remodel
- Dec 26-Jan 4 Colorado remodel
I also managed a couple large construction projects in Springfield, played a dozen gigs, worked half a dozen studio gigs as well as all the regular family goings on. I suppose it would be unfair to say I am retired. I work almost everyday that I don’t have something else going on.
The irony is I left a decent paying job in the construction industry 22 years ago because I was absolutely miserable, and now the majority of my work is construction / remodeling projects. The difference is, I actually enjoy it now. I like remodeling things, and I get to pick when I’m outdoors or in. And it was that base of knowledge that got me started in the rental business, which has definitely helped us towards our retirement goals. It has in fact become, my job after ‘retirement’.
I have to thank my wife, for letting me run all over like a crazy person last year. She was supposed to leave her job last June and for complicated reasons that have little to do with us, she did not. The upside of this situation is this allowed us to purchase a home in Colorado in our favorite mountain town, Buena Vista. We have both agreed that this year I (we) will tone down the travel a bit. For one, we will not leave the lower 48. The Colorado house we bought is definitely a ‘fixer upper’ and is going to take significant time and resources to get going. But it also means we’ll get to spend a lot of time in one of our favorite places in the world, and the surrounding area.
Life is good, but things can change in a heartbeat. I am just trying to enjoy every minute for the moment, and I hope all who read this are doing the same.
Life is also short. Don’t wait to do the things you want to do, do them sooner rather than later, you never know when the day will come when you can’t.
If you could take a year and do anything you wanted, what would you do? Where would you go? Leave a comment below!