Let’s shift the focus from Atlanta back to Seattle for a while, since I live here, after all (but we’ll be shifting back to Atlanta shortly, but for other reasons).
Somehow, I have myself playing in 4 musical groups, taking up the evenings Monday - Thursday for rehearsals. This is certainly excessive for a trumpet player of middling talent who’s not getting paid. It all started 4 years ago September when I joined the Rainbow City Band with Tuesday night rehearsals; then a guy I was taking trumpet lessons with said a community band he was playing with in Shoreline on Thursdays needed trumpet players, and I thought, why not, since going somewhere to play real music was preferable to creeping down to the basement to practice scales; then a couple years ago, I was offered the opportunity to sit in with RCB’s Purple Passion Swing Band, which rehearses Monday nights. I grew up with my dad’s Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw and Harry James records (I’m a child of the 40s, after all, even if it was only the last 2 months of 1949), and getting the opportunity to play music from that genre was irresistible. Then a woman in the Thursday concert band who plays in a symphony orchestra said a couple pieces they were playing needed an extra trumpet this quarter to play Elgar’s Enigma Variations, and there went my Wednesday nights.
It’s fun and challenging, but Friday night, with no organized rehearsal, begins to look like safe landfall for the Wreck of the Hesperus.
I’m still working full-time as an accountant/accounting software consultant and mostly enjoying what I do. I have a nice set of clients who are amenable to my jeans-wearing faux-eclecticism, and they’re all good people doing good things. I spend a majority of my time these days with this manufacturer/distributor of goods to the outdoor industry (can you believe that I’d have an affinity for such a place?). I still do work for my client in Milwaukee, a supplier to the construction and DIY industry who has weathered the vicissitudes of the Great Recession, as well as my clients in two of the four major food groups (wine and pastry), and consult with an interesting company that builds elaborate and creative signs for malls, resorts, airports, etc.
Increasingly, people are asking me how long I plan to work. From the questioner’s standpoint, it’s a perfectly reasonable question to ask a 64-year-old, but each time, the question jars me, mired as I am in a self-image of a much younger man and a self-employed status that brooks a lot of financial uncertainty. People who have a defined benefit plan or are working for a single employer have to confront this question as a matter of course, as a response to stimulus from HR. If I’d stayed with my first post-college employer, the Big 8 accounting firm Ernst and Ernst, I would probably be in possession of multiple emails apprising me of this and that, and requiring decisions. I remember receiving a notification from the E & E pension system a few weeks after hiring on with them in 1972, something to the effect that I would be eligible to retire with full benefits in October, 2014. 2014! I’m sure I rolled my eyes and probably denied the possibility that I’d even be alive in 2014. And now, here I am staring down both barrels of of that unimaginable future (except the part where I’m a beneficiary of the E&E pension system).
I like what I do well enough to keep doing it, and I like my clients and find them interesting, so I’m not planning on a sudden devolution to a life of budgets and waiting for the Social Security to hit the bank. But if I thought I could, I’d forget with alacrity whether it’s the debit or the credit that’s supposed to be toward the window.