My husband and I have had a long disagreement about my retiring from teaching. It started maybe six years ago, when I found out that if I worked in the public school system for ten years, I was entitled to a retirement. Age 51 is not a great time to begin strategizing a career that had always felt part-time. Age 51 is a great age to begin dreaming of dusting off those accumulated rejected manuscripts, whip them into shape, and indie publish them.
I liked teaching because it gave me spending money, got me out of the house, made me think about more than just the current novel-in-progress. Writing, if nobody’s told you, is lonely work. Of course being the old lady in a room full of texting young people who do not want to learn to write is not so great either. Hence my life’s dilemma.
I did a short little teaching stint this summer at the college I work for. Six weeks, May into June. I took Fall and Winter 2011 off to get those novels on the internet, and since I only managed to publish two of them, am taking Fall and Winter 2012 off as well. I am adjunct faculty with senority at the top tier of our pay scale (which, believe me, is not saying a whole lot).
Our differences of opinion on this matter of me retiring, if I wanted to put in the time required to receive a pension, has two main prongs. The “how much will I get” prong and the “how long will I need to work” prong. Michigan Public Schools has a great website that let’s you see all this and calculate answers. We did this once six years ago, and have been disagreeing on it ever since. I think I’ll get $100 a month. He thinks it’s much more than that. I think I’ll have to work 3 or 4 more years, he thinks it’s much less than that.
It is long past due for us to go over the paperwork again, revisit the site, see who is closer to the truth. On the one hand, I am right. On the other, he is. I will qualify in as few as two or three semesters, depending on how my classes are distributed, but, after taxes, I’m not going to receive much more than that $100 I predicted.
Al is a numbes whiz. He quickly said “If you live 25 years, that’s $80,000.” I have no idea if this calculation is true or not. He also is worried about insurance. I could “buy” for both of us at a super-reasonable rate if something ever happened with the UAW. I point out that teacher’s pensions and benefits are being chopped just as quickly, but it all really boils down to one thing: will I do this? Al votes yes, but leaves the final decision up to me.
Reader, I think I have to do it. But not until Fall 2013.