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Huckleberries Online

FRIDAY, AUG. 17, 2007, 11:48 P.M.

Vacation Thoughts: Retirement

For the first time in my life, I can see retirement approaching -- in 4 to 7 years, depending on when I take it (62 or 65). Or on the near future of the newspaper industry. I've been working since I was 14, beginning by hauling hay in my Uncle Manuel's alfalfa fields located in the river-bottom half of his 500-acre ranch. I've made a living for the last 37 years and raised a family on the wages I've earned working for 6 newspaper organizations in 3 states. At one point, I thought about working in the news biz until I was 70, so I could say that I'd been a professional journalist for 50 years. I started working part-time at a newspaper in my junior year in college and was working full time and going to school full time during my senior year.

Now, with my profession struggling to survive in the 21st Century, I realize that the end of my career isn't that far off. But I'm not sure that's what I want. I can't imagine life without work. And I can't imagine putting an end to what I do. As I approach age 57, I'm still jazzed when I come to work. The blog has a lot to do with that. We've broken new ground here and continue to do so. It would be hard to give up that interaction. On the other hand, I don't know what my online role will look like next year, let alone 4 to 7 years from now. I'd like to think I could continue building what we have here, even in semi-retirement.

Financially, I've prepared for retirement for years. Emotionally, I've hardly considered it. Realistically, I'll probably continue to do this work until it's no longer enjoyable. Then, stop one day and consider for a month or so what I'd like to do with the rest of my life. That's not a far-sighted plan. But it's one that works for me. As Scarlett said when Rhett left: "I won't think about that today. I'll think about that tomorrow." And if I'm still working as a journalist when I'm 70? Well, that'll mean I simply couldn't quit you.

Question: Have you thought much about retirement?

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Huckleberries Online

D.F. Oliveria started Huckleberries Online on Feb. 16, 2004. Oliveria's Sunday print Huckleberries is a past winner of the national Herb Caen Memorial Column contest.