The Reluctant Retiree has too much time on her hands

John of Paolsoren.wordpress.com suggested I might reveal how my blog came to be called The Reluctant Retiree. Okay, John, you asked for it.
Looking for a job is hard work. All that tailoring one’s resume to suit the job advertisement – and answering selection criteria? Yuck! You have to prove yourself over and over, and after all that, consider yourself lucky if your application is acknowledged. Getting an actual interview? Rare.
A couple of years after the Global Financial Crisis and I still didn’t have more than a few days clerical work a month. A friend was applying to the University of Wollongong to do a Masters in Strategic Human Resources. I had practical experience, and there seemed to be some job demand in my area, but without a degree I had no chance of landing an interview in that field. So, having left school at sixteen, and with no undergraduate degree, I decided to ‘go for it’. What did I have to lose? In the end, something about his residency status knocked my friend out, but I was accepted on the basis of equity i.e. a fifty-five year old woman has as much right to tertiary education as a school leaver. The study year had already begun and the end of the annual financial cycle was looming when I applied. Unis get a bit of government money to assist certain students, and it’s spend it or lose it. They didn’t tell me that is why I was also granted a student loan, but I’m pretty sure my hunch is right. But the textbooks were expensive. As well as starting in the second semester, I lost another two weeks sourcing them on the second-hand market.
The Uni disregarded my night-school Diploma in Export Management, Marketing Certificate, and workplace Management, Leadership, Supply Chain & Quality Control training. They wanted me to undertake a Graduate Certificate in Commerce, and if my grades were good enough, “articulate” into the Masters. ‘Shoot me now,’ I said when they sent me the subjects. Accountancy, Marketing, Economics and Management again. So … I get the required marks and then … they tell me only one subject counts towards the Human Resources Masters! ‘I’ll play your silly game,’ I thought. In the end I came out with a Masters in Commerce specialising in Electronic Commerce. Along the way I scooped in Supply Chain Management.
That last included a report on ‘Sustainability in the Automotive Industry’. That was interesting. I came to the conclusion that the only difference between an Audi TT Roadster and a VW Cabriole was minor body shape changes and the price tag. And the marketing slogan. Other than that, same same. I had originally intended to look at the little Japanese Suzuki Swift as well, but that would have put me over word count. The reason? All the engines are (or were) made in post-communist Hungary. What an interesting social experiment to take Japanese work-to-death ethic and impose it on a just-fill-the-quota socialist manufacturer. But of course, that analysis belonged back in the Strategic Human Resources degree which I was not studying because … well, I already explained that.
The whole thing took longer than planned and I can’t say I came out knowing a huge amount more than before, but at least I now had a current qualification that demonstrated I knew the theory behind my years of practical work.
And I did get a job, but it meant I had to live in Sydney Monday to Friday, and that job ended in nasty circumstances four months later. Least said, soonest mended.
The experience had its upside. I’d been writing for years in my spare time, and now I buried myself in it. I Belong to No One was published two years later, in June 2015. Meantime, I’d started blogging, and clearly I’d been venting to someone about my failed work experience when I wrote the following post in May 2013. Here it is:

The Reluctant Retiree

I have it on good authority that I should rename my blog ‘The Reluctant Retiree’. After all, that does represent where I am in life right now, and what led me to start blogging. Besides which, some say it is a woman’s perogative to change her mind – and I relish the excuse to see if I can still spell that without assistance.

I failed. There is a pesky little ‘r’ that belongs at the beginning of the word, as in pre-rogative.

So that sent me off to my trusty Macquarie Dictionaryto find out – why is this so? Digressing off topic is one of the things you can do in retirement. Suddenly there are no deadlines or people waiting for your meaningful input. You can let your mind meander in various directions, with only the latent worry that if you let it drift too far, the day may…

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27 thoughts on “The Reluctant Retiree has too much time on her hands

  1. Oh, Gwen, hats off to you that you persisted with the university degree, and then hardly used it, before reluctantly retiring. I find it so silly and really very sad that there is more importance attached to pieces of paper than years and years of practical experience. Anyway, you have so much spunk, so perhaps it is a good thing that you had to retire, as that gifted you with a different career as an author. One you definitely excel at.

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      • I guess each project feels like one is starting out new, Gwen. Perhaps with a second book there is even more pressure to get it published. I find my confidence is getting more fragile as I’m aging, and it wasn’t ever that great to start with, so I understand all too well how precious genuine encouragement is. And I mean it. You are an excellent writer. I will read anything you write.

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          • I trimmed that first chapter again, so it is still reflective but slightly more active. I’m about a third through this rewrite/edit and after consultation with my editor am structuring it as one chapter me/memoir voice and the next chapter novelised from my grandmother and great-aunt’s point of view. It seems to be dropping into place, but I’ve thought that on earlier versions that my agent rejected. So let’s see … but as a taster – just for you 🙂 here is the current opening paragraph:
            “A tissue-wrapped package that Steve gave me before his death lay forgotten in my handbag for months after his memorial service. ‘Here,’ my brother had said, reaching in to his dressing-gown pocket. Even that small movement took all his effort. ‘Open it later …’ he paused, ‘… after … ’ “

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          • Oh, my goodness, Gwen. I’m hooked. What a fantastic opening paragraph. Thank you for that gift of a sneak preview. I hope your agent will be happy with this version. I certainly like the idea of how you are alternating between chapters. It is exactly the kind of writing I love to read. Really, I cannot wait for this book. Your family history is so interesting, and I like the idea of combining memoir and and historical fiction in this way. Good luck with slogging through this edit. Or perhaps you are enjoying the process . . . Anyway, happy rewriting, Gwen.

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          • Some days it’s a slog, some days I resent any interruption that prevents me getting back to where I just left off.
            I’m leaving everything else that’s not writing until the evening and right now I have just read your post about the Abu Dhabi souk. My goodness! That has set of my memory neurons! I’ll comment there shortly.
            Thank you for the positive feedback. I can feel the genuine enthusiasm, and you will know how much that means …

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  2. It’s great that you gained the formal qualifications and no doubt it showed you the true value of experience (often what really counts!). Did you enjoy the mature student thing? I don’t know about you, but I found it definitely had both its ups and downs.

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  3. It is amazing how many hoops you need to jump through to get a job. And then when you get one some trumped up little twit who has a more up to date qualification gets pushed in front of you.
    I would have loved to keep on teaching after I turned 65 but the man at the top was such a – I won’t say. Anyway I retired on my actual birthday. But I have been a very reluctant retiree ever since.

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