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It’s All Downhill from Here

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This year marks the first time Baby Boomers will be collecting social security. The gates have opened and the deluge of old people begins.

While I’m not yet on the cusp of senior citizenship, 2011 marks the year that everyone in my high school class will turn 55. It’s only January 24, and I’ve already seen a huge group of my friends celebrating their double nickel birthday on their Facebook pages. (I have opted to stay clear of birthday notice apps.) My own milestone is just around the corner. Double nickels; it’s a bitch.

Like my parents before me, I like to disregard my birthday. Completely ignore the day. Crawl into my hole and sleep. Ever since I turned 16—the best freaking year I ever lived, for the obvious reasons of no responsibility and plenty of good times—I didn’t see the point of a yearly celebration. Cake is fattening and parties make me uncomfortable. For many years, I would not work on my birthday, thus avoiding the cake/party mess altogether. I pray for people to forget. I don’t need presents, although boxes of Godiva will never be turned down. I’m the type who needs a peaceful, quiet environment in order to contemplate the fact that time is marching on without me. However, turning 55 is a milestone for me.

This is because I told my children I am living until I’m 109. (I also told them I’m spending their inheritance in an effort to keep myself alive until then, but that’s another story.) Double nickels means I’m at the halfway point, signaling the fact that it’s all downhill from here.

It should be all downhill from here, but it’s not. With the economy as it is, I probably won’t achieve a fully retired state until I’m 108, meaning I will have less than 12 months to enjoy myself. I’ve already resigned myself to the fact that I’ll be working until I’m older than dirt. I know that social security benefits will be all chewed to hell in the next 10 years, so I’m not counting on that either. Our health insurance sucks, so I am steeling myself for a life of no teeth and no doctor appointments.

My 401K is worth nearly 201K—up from 101K—meaning I won’t achieve my dream of living in a two-room mother-in-law apartment in San Francisco (10 blocks from the beach) and writing all day long, for fun. Our house is worth nothing so the pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow is looking a bit tarnished and quite empty.

While not celebrating with ticker tape and hoots and hollers, I do have one thing to be thankful for: although rickety, I’m still in an upright and locked position. Living, no matter the circumstances or the hardships, is better than the alternative. So while my downhill slide might be littered with bumps and objects of mass destruction, I’m just glad I can still scream.


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About Joanne Huspek

I write. I read. I garden. I cook. I eat. And I love to talk about all of the above.