Retirement Update @ 3 months

As I am now 3 months into my retirement journey, I thought it would be appropriate to assess my status and whether my mantra “It is now our time” is still appropriate.

The morning after my last day of work I awoke having had two dreams:

In my dream, I was going to my first day of an internal medicine “fellowship” training program but I arrived 1-2 days late and did not know where to go and could not find the program director.

In my second dream, I was going to take a train somewhere. Before I boarded the train, I wanted to purchase something. Apparently the items were not on the shelf and the store personnel had to find them in the back of the store.  I decided I could not wait any longer for them to return with the items, as I only had minutes before the train left. I was running down a set of stairs trying to get to the train platform and board the train. But I awoke before I either missed the train or got on the train.

As to whether these had any deeper meaning beyond the obvious, I will leave to others.

About two weeks after my last day of work,  Gail and I went on vacation to Kauai, a trip that was booked long before I decided to retire. It was with a group of people, the “Vanderbilt crew,” whose company I immensely enjoy.

Beyond that vacation, what have I done in my first 12 weeks of retirement?

Hobbies/Entertainment: Woodworking

I have done a lot of woodworking. I made several similarly styled frames for Gail’s Covid self-portraits series (more on this below) which have a unique joinery and a brass insert that adds a sparkle of light and makes the paintings look great.


Detail of walnut, maple, and brass picture frame
Black Jacket, Gail Zwerling, 2022

I designed a rocking chair but it has not progressed beyond the MDF prototype stage. I really like the design and it will look interesting with a seat and back from a single slab of walnut with oak runners. I haven’t figured out how to build it, yet.

Rocking chair prototype, adult
Rocking chair prototype, child

In the process, I learned the basics of Sketchup – but I really need to take a class as Sketchup is so I can master this software.

Hobbies/Entertainment: Intellectual stuff

Writing for my blog has provides an intellectual activity. 

When I am on Twitter, I find that it is frequently appropriate to re-tweet a link to one of my blog postings so as to make a point which can’t be made in 280 characters.

I was thrilled to see that a senior Harvard law professor re-tweeted a tweet of mine in which I referenced my article about the Supreme Court. 

Lessig’s retweet on Twitter

I have been active on my blog

This posting

I have made a point to attend or listen to lectures. I attended an interesting lecture in Kendall Square by an MIT professor discussing the James Webb Space Telescope. The Harvard Kennedy school has an interesting series of lectures on politics and I recently listened to Abigail Disney discuss her attempt to pressure Disney World into compensating their employees with a living wage.

I am listening to audible books on my daily walks, or reading them, sometimes both. 

I recently read (or started reading but did not finish):

  • South to America, by Imani Perry. Excellent
  • Songs of the Cell by Suddhartha Mukherjee. Excellent
  • The Philosophy of Modern Song by Bob Dylan. Only for music geeks.
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville. Glad I read it
  • Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes. Glad I read it. Don Quixote has always been one of my role models.
  • Sum by David Eagleman. OK
  • The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua. Not for me, unfinished.
  • Mount Misery by Samuel Shem. Too much like House of God, unfinished.

I am now listening and reading War and Peace.

Hobbies/Entertainment: Theater and Museums

I tried to attend a lot of theater, usually it is within walking distance of home. (I love living Somerville!) Gail usually does not attend the more esoteric performances. (rating 1-5, 5 best):

  • American Repertory Theater: The Wife of Willesden (2/5)
  • Central Square Theater: Alma (3/5), The Chinese lady (4/5)
  • Broadway: Leopoldstat (5/5, prompted me to write my articles on fascism)
  • Actor’s Shakespeare Project: August Wilson’s Seven Guitars (3.5/5)
  • MIT Museum: a reading of Machine Learning by Francisco Mendoza (4/5, deserves to be produced as a play)
  • MIT Theater Arts Building (W97): The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Baggage, an experimental opera at MIT (2.5/5). Heather (2.5/5), and finally there was MIT student play about the harassment of a woman who created computer games. (4/5).

I visited:

  • The MIT Museum more than once including a evening social event
  • The Whitney, NYC: Hopper exhibit (I do not appreciate style of painting)
  • Harvard’s Glass Flower Museum (a must-see for visitors)
  • MOMA, NYC: “Picasso is still my favorite” (Girl Before a Mirror)
Girl before a mirror, Pablo Picasso, 1932

I also try to frequent the local, bar-music venues but, unfortunately, Gail sometimes does not join me.

I recently read that the average retiree watches 33-48 hours of TV a week. I average about 7-10 huors/week, mostly news, Youtube woodworking, high-tech and biking videos.


According to my iPhone Health app, I now average 4.5 mile/day, up from my pre-retirement average of 3.1.

While walking, I always listen to an audiobook or music and I usually take 1 or both dogs. One is easier than two.

Spousal Enrichment and Family

Gail continues her part-time job, mostly working from home but occasionally she travels to a job site. She loves the work. 

I think it is important that we have “spousal experiences” together as the key to happiness is joint experiences.

Toward that end, I arranged to get her self-portrait paintings displayed in the Davis Square “Inside Out” Gallery and we have created a layout and “theme” for the display. I think we might be able to get this series of painting into another gallery, TBD.

Tentative design for the Inside Out Gallery

I was planning a multi-month cross country drive with Gail, with the intention of arriving at our son and daughter-in-law’s house about the time of the birth of their daughter and our first grandchild. My plan was to stop a sculpture gardens, historic sites, and parks along the way with no planned route. Our daily destination would be chosen on a day to day basis. I thought this would be an excellent automotive bushwhacking experience but Gail is not so enthusiastic about this adventure, partly because she is concerned about spending too much time away from her job and she dislikes of my Tesla. In talking to another couple in which one member is fully retired and the other is not, this discordance of priorities may be a more common problem than I realized.

Social Interactions Beyond the Family

This remains a weak area in my retirement plan despite being an important priority. As I know that one’s longterm happiness is a function of the number and strength of one’s social bonds. Unfortunately, retired men tend to lose their social circles as they age.

I have attempt to increase/maintain my social contacts. 

I have managed our neighborhood’s semiannual pot-luck dinner schedule for the last decade. These dinners are very effective in creating a “community” of people who know about, are interested in and willing to help each other.

I have just created a monthly brunch with two other nearly retired/retired men which I referred to as my “Rembrunch” group (relatively elderly men’s brunch.)  The others seems committed to the idea and we agree we want a total of 4-6 members in the group. The others want to limit membership to Somervillians and I want to diversify the group beyond white jews. We haven’t yet figured out how to accomplish either goal.

Gail and I participate in the activities of the MIT Club of Boston. We recently did their “tour of New England cheeses” and we’ve done several hikes with the group.

I attended one Somerville Council on Aging’s Senior Friday walks. There were only two women and we did a 2 mile loop over about 45 minutes. I  probably will try it a few more times before making a decision whether to do it long-term.

There is also a monthly Somerville Council on Aging “Men’s Group” which I will try next month.

I still have not figure this out!

Volunteer Work

I like the freedom to do what and when I please, but I am feeling guilty that I “should” be doing some type of volunteer work to “make the world a little bit better.”

I’ve reached out to the Somerville City government looking for opportunities and they stated they needed operational assistance e.g staffing shelters at times of cold spells and the like. However, I am looking to get involved in strategic planning, but currently have concerns about the amount of time I would need to dedicate to these endeavors.

Once a month I provide advice to Manny, the founder of a start-up health app called “Healthful Data.” I think Manny has a good idea that may help many people get healthier in the long run, so I am willing to give him my insights on healthcare and IT issues.

Financial Issues

I have decide to let Gail manage our investments because it does not interest me and it will obviate a source of conflict (we have different investment strategies). Financially, we will be fine.


In my first article about retirement, I stated that I was going to adhere to the mantra “It is now our time.” I have been true to this plan.

I now know that I need a creative outlet on a near daily basis and my woodworking and blogging meet that purpose. 

I need to be kept busy and between theater, music, and museum events, that has not been a problem most of the time.

My loss of sense of smell, (“anosmia”) has been an issue for 3 years and began about 2-3 months after I was vaccinated as part of Moderna’s second clinical trial. (I am certain the vaccination prevented a more serious health issue.) The anosmia greatly diminishes my sense of taste and this decreases my ability to enjoy Gail’s cooking and restaurants.

I’ve also have become aware that I become hyperfocused and oblivious to the world for 2-3 hours at a time while I am working on a project. This is a blessing and a curse.

Three months into my retirement journey, I remain happy about my decision to retire. However, I am only in the first phase of retirement, vacation, and, barring an unexpected event, there is a long road ahead.

As to the future, time will tell.

Hayward Zwerling

15 March 2023


Addendum 3/17/2023: Editorial changes made for the purpose of clarity and grammar.

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