Tag Archives: retirement


Arno is retiring. He and I have shared the bulk of the relief work for the Davies Hall house Stage Electrician (JJ) for the last couple of years. He is not even 65 yet, although he will be next month.

I hate him.

Not really. I envy him, though. He’s planned it carefully and now he is executing his plan. He is an inspiration.

We are working together on the SF Gay Men’s Chorus show tonight and we will likely be working together one or two days next weekend but that will be it. I gave him a card and wrote that I hope the next time I see him after that will be at our home instead of back at the Hall. He’s a great guy and has been an asset to the operation.

When I started in the house electric job at Davies, I felt a lot of confidence. I had 40+ years experience in the business and had been a house man in other venues before. Davies turned out to be much more complicated than I had expected and the first few months I had trouble remembering all of the many details. JJ gave good directions but Arno was usually the one out there with me in the field trying to get the job done. He was unfailingly patient and understanding with me. He had been there for a couple years at that point.

For the last year or so, we’ve become the old salts that are showing the newer people where things are, etc. Only last Tuesday I was leading a crew to clean the canopy dishes and I had to gather all the equipment. I found myself wishing Arno was there too so I could check my plans with him.

It’s a feeling that I will have again, I’m sure.

Thanks for the mentoring, Arno. Enjoy your retirement!

sea change

‘Sea change.’ That’s the phrase that kept coming to me last week. Now that I put it down in black and white, I find I’m thinking about what it really means. I’ve been in boats but I’m not a sailor. I live by the ocean and every time I drive by the beach I look at the waves and think about what it must be like out there. Some days it’s flat and some days it’s wild.

But to imply that the difference between flat and wild signifies something important is kind of a stretch. The ocean is changeable. End of story.

But to me, the phrase means an important change and I feel that an important change has happened in me over the last few weeks. Part of it was my trip to Louisiana. Even though I haven’t done anything yet to follow up on my data gathering, I’ve found myself more able to look forward in a positive way. It’s hard to explain.

SoundBox was a professional opportunity that came my way in 2014. It was a tremendous challenge and has been on the whole tremendously satisfying. I’ve always thought of my career as being in live theatre. A live performance – music, drama, dance – has for me a power like no other art form. And, although we as stagehands are rarely visible, it’s a communal effort that has great meaning to me.

My colleague and friend Denise has been working with me in SoundBox as my assistant for over two years now. She ran the floor, moved the microphones and speakers around, kept track of the myriad details of every show. She’s taken classes and studied and for last week’s production she was in the ‘hot seat’. My original intention was just to let her gain more experience by participating in the pre-production meetings along with actually running the show, which she had done before but as I started the week as her assistant, I found that I was happy in my role. Far from being jealous of her position, I found that I was relieved that someone was there who could handle everything.

Although I had imagined telling her this in a serious heart to heart talk, in the event, it happened on our way out Saturday night in a rather casual way. I told her that I wanted her to continue in the ‘hot seat’ for the April set and furthermore, I wanted her to think about finding someone else to train in the system so that I could step aside completely.

This is my ‘sea change.’ That I have a challenging and exciting job in theatre and I’m ready to walk away from it. The prospect of playing music more, of having more time to help Mom and Dad, of being able to visit new (and old) places is beckoning stronger and stronger. I know it’s called retirement and many people do these things but it always seemed unrealistic. Now it seems less so.


Lots to say, but little of it organized. I got my monthly email from The Compassionate Friends today. Their monthly meeting is tomorrow night. This week is SoundBox so it is not practical to fight rush hour traffic to go down to Santa Clara then come back to work the next morning. I went and looked back at what I’ve written about The Compassionate Friends before and I think it’s pretty good. While my need for grief support has lessened in the last year, I haven’t yet achieved the strength to attend with the rationale of supporting others.

I have a phone consultation this morning with a person from TIAA. Mom and Dad’s retirement funds are with TIAA and I’ve been trying to understand how they all work. With my own retirement looming, I’ve been more motivated to do this.

I spent some time last week looking over my own funds. My broker says they should be balanced in a certain way, different from how they’re balanced now. Should I make changes? Precisely how and when get very confusing very quickly. Is the stock market a bubble that will pop soon? Aiee!

Speaking of SoundBox and retirement, I’ve found myself thinking in the last couple of weeks about giving up SoundBox. I never thought I’d feel that way. Being involved in the SoundBox shows in the last 3+ years has been a thrilling experience. I’ve been stretched physically and intellectually in ways that are really good for a man in his 60s, but I find that my interest is turning to other things. My friend Denise has – at my request – taken on the lead position for this months’ show and has shown that SoundBox audio is in good hands.

Having said all that, I’m not walking away. Denise and I will talk later in the week about who will do what for the April set. Funding for SoundBox is rather precarious so no one knows if there will be shows again starting in December. (Remember that the space is in use by the Opera from May through November so there is only the five month window every year anyway.) Symphony management has a lot on their plate, not least of which is the upcoming retirement of Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas. Planning for SoundBox is a bit further down the list.

Sarah’s quartet had a concert last Saturday night. The Symphony generously allowed me to borrow a few items from their sound inventory to support their performance of Steve Reich’s Different Trains. I found myself worrying about technical things during the performance so I couldn’t relax into the music. The first half of the program, though, I found very moving, with narration about the composer Dmitri Shostakovich’s visit to Dresden after World War II.

The venue was The Hillside Club in Berkeley. I had been there before but hadn’t had the reason to work with the staff. Bruce and Araceli turned out to be very nice folks. I’m going to try to go back for some different concerts.

Tonight is jazz band. The confusion that bothered me last semester has been resolved and I’m having fun again. I’m still sharing bass duties with Steve M. who is good people. It’s a completely different head space compared to playing guitar. Guitar can be looser in big band so that’s a little more fun, but bass drives the bus and there’s nothing else like it. I have to concentrate more but that’s ok.

Next week Mom and Dad will celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary. Mom was talking the other day about doing something special but I haven’t heard any details. I’m planning to be down there.

weekend in Portland

Now it can be told . . .

Actually, I was laughing about it yesterday. I love Mike, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t read this blog. Nevertheless, I was studiously avoiding saying anything about going to Portland because it was to be for a surprise retirement party for him.

It all worked out fine. Mike was surprised and everyone had a good time. I did allow that restriction get me somewhat twisted about writing posts over the last couple of weeks. I hope to catch up this week.

So, Rose’s brother Mike retired. Friday was his last day. He’s the same age as me so I hate him. No, not really, but nowadays I’m a bit jealous of people my age who are retired. I’ve started using the term ‘semi-retired’ to describe myself but it seems that it is more ‘semi’ than ‘retired’.

Well, that’s a post for another day. Rose and I left early Saturday. We had a 6:30 am flight so we were up and left the apartments at 4. Once in Portland, breakfast was a high priority. Rose suggested the biscuit place where we had eaten with Zach and his friend Chris B in 2014. Google eventually revealed that it was Pine State Biscuits so we went there.

The food was fine but being there brought back a flood of memories of Zach. He had come out to California in December then came up to Portland a few days after Christmas to visit Chris. He stayed with us and Mike’s family for a couple of days before going off with Chris. Actually, the breakfast at Pine State Biscuits was the transfer point.

It was my first time back in Portland since that visit so seemingly everything was fraught with memories of Zach. Sitting at those picnic style tables, I actually broke down for a minute. It was at the end of our meal and we shortly after that got up to leave. It wasn’t until I got to the car that I realized I had left my backpack in the restaurant net to the table. Kinda scattered, I was . . .

The back pack was still there and after retrieving it we headed out to visit Mike’s daughter Sarah. She lives on 5 acres just outside of Oregon City with her husband Mike C and their two lovely daughters. Also pigs, chickens, ducks and goats which we all went out to see. Sarah made us deviled eggs from her stock of literally dozens of fresh eggs. Mike and Sarah are not quite self sufficient but they’re close.

Soon other visitors arrived. Sarah’s aunts, Jean and Elaine, had driven down from Bellingham and came over. Then we heard that Mike H was coming. Rose and I hid in a bedroom until he got in the house, then stepped out to greet him. Somehow this was distinct from the surprise party. At this point I was just doing what I was told. Mike had done quite a bit of drinking the night before so he was hungover. He was glad to see us but not trying to hard to connect the dots. Mike and Rose’s brother Steve had come up the night before so I think the story was that there would be a family dinner that night.

After lunch, Rose and I left to check into our hotel and get some rest. The surprise party was at 7 and we were there on time. The bar was open and there was food – what could be better? There were about 40 people there when Mike was brought in by Steve on the pretext of the family dinner. He was gobsmacked so that was good. There were lots of Mike’s work friends there besides family.

The next morning, Rose and I breakfasted at the hotel then went to Mike’s club – he’s an avid golfer – for brunch. His other daughters Caitlyn and Keriann were there along with Caitlyn’s daughter Elliot. Also Sarah with Josephine and Devin so we had the kids corner. I was originally not intending to eat much but changed my mind. It was kind of a lunch. In fact, I didn’t have to eat again until we got to the airport.

Anyway, good food and good conversation. Afterwards we went back to Mike’s house where we mostly just sat around and watched the kids play in the front yard. Josephine set up an imaginary restaurant and went around taking orders from everyone then bringing them their gravel ‘food’. Just like Rosalie!

A good day but eventually it was 4 o’clock and we had to leave for the flight home. There was some problem at SFO so Alaska had to fly us to the San Jose airport then bus us to SFO. There were some silly moments but we got back to SFO about 9:30, about an hour and a half later than it would have been.

I was able to talk to some of the family members about Zach, which was good. I told the Bellingham people about Jeremy’s moving to Washington and promised I would try to get up to see them in July. My angst of the previous week was gone, which was best of all.