Choking on Being Retired
Thanksgiving Day 2006

An Elder Thanksgiving List

PRELUDE: New stages of life are most often begun in hope and joy and marked by ceremony: a wedding, the new baby's baptism or bris, dressing up for the first day of a new job. Some turn out badly; some turn out spectacularly well. A few new stages are begun in sadness, anger and even rage. But they are just as likely to turn out differently.

Once upon a time, a crabby young woman fulfilled her childhood dream to live in New York City. When she moved there in 1969, she was soon caught up in the media scene and was granted many privileges: backstage at the Fillmore East and Woodstock, regular attendance at music and film parties, acquaintance and sometimes friendship with entertainment stars of the day – a result of producing the number one radio show of the day in the Big Apple.

Later, the crabby young woman traveled on corporate media’s dime, producing network television programs with kings and queens and movie stars and heads of state. Awards were presented for some of those shows. It was a heady couple of decades, keeping a bag always packed to jet off at a moment’s notice halfway across the country or the world.

Later still, the now crabby middle-aged woman had a role in the beginning of the commercial internet, a medium that caught her fancy as nothing before. By the time she had gone to work in radio and television, the techniques of storytelling were mostly set in stone; on the internet, she was part of inventing new storytelling methods. It was thrilling.

Another decade passed, and the young turks doing the hiring on the internet weren’t interested in the Crabby Old Lady she had become. She knew she was faster, better, smarter, more knowledgeable than she had ever been. But no one cared.

Crabby Old Lady was frustrated not to be using her skills. Crabby Old Lady was also angry to be forced out for something as stupid as her age. And Crabby Old Lady was scared; so much money going out and nothing coming in.

To avoid penury Crabby Old Lady sold her home, a wrenching decision after almost four decades in her beloved Greenwich Village, and she reluctantly moved to a small town she hardly knew where living is less expensive. She wept when she left New York.

Now, six months later, Crabby Old Lady is as happy as she has ever been and has new kinds of things to be thankful for on this holiday.

  • A lovely, larger home with, for the first time in her adult life, a room for overnight guests who already stop by regularly for a day or two or three.
  • A room for a real library that Crabby has dreamed of having all her life.

  • An ocean only two blocks away to walk beside.
  • Sunrise to watch every morning from her own private deck. And stars to wonder at in the night sky. It has been decades since Crabby has lived where stars are visible.

  • Sky around in all its multitude of variations. New Yorkers know nothing of sky.
  • And quiet. Crabby thought waking in the night was an artifact of old age. It was only the never-ending noise in New York City.
  • The start of new friendships in a new place.
  • Old friendships at a distance now. How grateful Crabby is for email and cheap phone services.
  • After a lifetime of writing in other people’s voices - words for other people to speak on television - Crabby has her own voice and a place to put it each day.
  • Amazingly, some people are interested in what Crabby writes and this Thanksgiving, she is deeply grateful to all her readers. They make her think and laugh and teach her new things every day. Some have become cherished friends.

Compared to jetting off to exotic cities and staying in four-star hotels, these new pleasures may seem tame. Don’t you believe it. Crabby Old Lady is in a different season of her life now and this new one suits her as well as her other lives did then.


How wonderful to read how happy you have become. It has been such a privilege to bear witness to this journey you have traveled these past couple of years. Your life sounds fantastic, not tame at all - one to be envied! I learn so much from reading your blog and getting to know you. So, this Thanksgiving, I am deeply grateful for you!
Happy Thanksgiving, Ronni. And special greetings and wishes to Ollie too!

thanks for a terrific story.

This is a wonderful model for counting our blessings, and you've captured the surprise that so often marks true growth. I love it!

Great post! We should all take time occasionally to really see the balancing act that life offers. The changes you made (as opposed to those thrust upon you) required courage and a creative approach--how nice to see the rewards!

And I'm thankful for Ronni, Crabby & the TGB blog that brightens each of my days. Happy Thanksgiving Ronni! Dee

Seems to me that sometimes we cling to our present life, even if we're not happy, just because we don't want to change. I loved reading about your struggle to change--against your inertia to do so--and the wonderful new life you created for yourself that resulted.

You do indeed have a lot to be thankful for Ronni. And, we are thankful for YOU! For your voice, your insights, your generosity and your humor. May you have a beautiful Thanksgiving filled with love and laughter; and may all of your days be days to be thankful for.

We are looking at the possibility that our local school property taxes (Approx. $6000 annual) may force us out of our home.

It is comforting to read that you cried when you left 6 months ago and are now happy.

A friend and her husband downsized a few years ago and discovered they had gone a little too far down and had to upsize a little. Maybe for some of us it will take more then one try to get it right, but it is do-able.

I loved this story. I think of leaving city life for a life like yours. I just lack the guts, which you obviously have. Maybe one day...

We, your readers, are grateful for you dear Crabby and Ronni. To do new things, to accomplish more, are the best gifts and can come only with matter what stage we find ourselves. I think you have succeeded wildly. Happy Thanksgiving!

Seems like a long time ago, a year now, when I said with absolute assurance that you would be much happier in Portland. Sometimes life just has to kick us in the butt to get us moving.

I'm so delighted that you are happy with room, your own library, silence, stars and ocean.

For TGB, for honestly sharing your
experiences, thank you, thank you dear Roni. Happy Thanksgiving!!

This is a very emotionally moving piece you have written -- as always, the power is in your words, the turn of a phrase, and your being so open and honest.

I have been undergoing some changes of my own, but let me tell you, I'm thankful that somehow the adaptations you've made to life have resulted in my path crossing TGBs, Crabby Old Lady's, and, yes, even yours, Ronni! *smile*

I feel so happy...that you're happy and blessed!Happy Thanksgiving ...from a million miles across the globe.God Bless for the way you've changed my life.My thinking....

This post brought tears of happiness, recognition, and kinship. Thank you for writing in your own voice because I'm hearing it from the vantage point of my own new life since I retired. I'm staying in this area because of grandchildren primarily but am considering options that will get me to places where I feel so good and others not yet discovered. There are so many options now. A friend who retired when I did and I discuss how freeing this is and how much we love what we are not doing now. Brings new meaning to "the best is yet to be" now that I'm growing old with me and love being home. :-)

I just love your blog!

happy thanksgiving!

Thank you for your blog, Ronni and thank you for being you, Crabby Old Lady included! Happy Thanksgiving!

Despite your high volume of readers and friends, it gave me such joy to read this and note that you are personally aware of each and everyone that visits you. I can't help feeling like I do - grateful to be appreciated. And in case electronics don't transmit these vibes, we appreciate you fully and completely as well. Have a grand Thanksgiving!

What a moving piece, it brought tears to my eyes. .I'm so happy that this move to Portland has worked out so well for you.

.As I said at Blogher, " My routine has changed, I have to read Ronni even before I have my coffee in the morning."

Thanks for enriching my life in so many ways.

I am pleased to learn that you are happy in your new surroundings, Ronni, and I hope you have a great Thanksgiving.

And we are all grateful for Crabby's way with words. She and her roommate, Ronni, enrich our lives with every post.

Dear Ronni,

I am really happy for you!
You have perservered and found a new life in a quieter and more friendly place.

You have also set a fine example of turning adversity to your own advantage.

I have just written a post about setting complaints to music. Listen to the Complaints Choirs as you celebrate Thanksgiving!

What an incredibly exciting life you have led, Ronni. I have such great admiration for you and for your beautiful way with words. I find that I am reading your posts before reading my personal e-mails from friends. It is inspiring to know that you have found new joy in a very different life from the one you used to lead. Happy Thanksgiving!

It is wonderful to discover that one still has the energy to adapt and change and discover.

You're a true pioneer.

Wonderful life story you have, and it's inspiring how you've adjusted to you move and found such happiness. Thanks to you, Ronni, for your friendship and this fabulous blog! Happy thanksgiving, belatedly from the left side!

Happy hanksgiving (a day late)!

Crabby Old lady may have to rename herself. Perhaps the "Not so Crabby Old Lady".

This is such a wonderful piece, Ronni! You've been blessed! I'm sitting here trying to imagine having such a satisfying life! I know you've had your disappointments but on the whole you've weathered life's vicissitudes well. I envy you that greatly!

There's something in this story for everyone at whatever stage they are in life.

p.s. Thank you for your email about my kitten. I've found some photographs online and she seems to be a bengal.

You are my elder role model...and a damn good one!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm so glad I found your blog Ronni, its given me the courage to start mine,,and to know that we all have a voice, we all have a story. I was afraid of getting old, and now, I don't look forward to it, but I'm not afraid either. I like the idea of being an 'elder',,,and yes, I have much to teach, and yet much to learn. Thank you.

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