Kinda dark in that there subterranean lair, Doomie, dontchathink?

My last week at work flew by.

It was full of all of the usual things that you’d imagine someone’s last week would contain. Goodbyes to co-workers.  Explanations as to why you’re departing.  Mixed emotions — relief one minute, excitement the next, then reflection and perhaps a touch of nervousness before the cycle repeats. Waves and waves of this stuff.

But that’s just a very high level way to describe the experience. Once unpacked, textures and small details become visible.

It’s time to explode this compressed ball of memory.

(Note:  My last day was April 10th, 2015 — it’s just taken a while to put this post together.)

Final Project Claw Detach

FYI:  It's not smart to release Dr. Doom into the wild.

Releasing Dr. Doom into the wild:  Not good for humankind.

On Tuesday morning, I closed my final project.

For the tech heads:  I’ve been upgrading this open-source infrastructure application for the past 4 months because the version we’re on has security vulnerabilities, making it unsafe to use.  But there are problems — documentation for this thing is horrible and in addition our company has several customization layers on top of the previous version, and of course, those layers conflict with the new version, requiring updates (merges) to those layers.  Gaaah!

For the non-tech heads:  Imagine you have a car, and there’s a recall-incident on it that needs to be fixed — say, an issue with power steering. But when techs dismantle your ride, they notice that certain internal components directly related to the power steering have been replaced with after-market products.  Suddenly the fix is not simple: it’s essential to evaluate whether the solution to the recall that works on a factory model will also work on your own heavily-modded hack-a-car. Something that was supposed to be easy and straightforward is now a time-suck, and as an added bit of blarg, your car is now stuck in the shop for a while the techs work it out.

I was that tech.

At any rate, it’s all over now:  every project complete.

And ever since, my head has become a lot quieter.

So I mentioned in a previous post that projects are the Gorilla Glue(TM!) that bind me to my employer.  They take up space in my brain — I’m compelled to think about them constantly. What are the next steps?  How will I troubleshoot this problem, get over this roadblock, fix this issue?  Am I on track?  Do I need to cross-train other people so they know how to support what I’ve done? And so on.

I’ve come to think of this never-ending sequence of obligations as the HAVE-TOS. I don’t mind that my brain does this — and if you possess a similar flow of consciousness, you shouldn’t either, because it’s generally a boon.  This internal little guy or gal helps you to anticipate the future, to prepare, and to handle things in stride.   Most people — office workers or no — with complicated, high-stress jobs lives have some form of this train-of-thought chatter going on, although I concede that it’s louder and bossier for some folks than others.

It’s pretty loud for me, personally.  Most days, I can already hear it going while driving into the office.

Okay, I have to do <thing> as soon as I get in.  Then I have to email <person> so that <other thing> starts to happen.  At that point I have to talk to my manager about <political thing> so we can come up with an appropriate response to upper management.  Oh, and I also have to check my calendar. Pretty sure I have to attend a couple of meetings.  If there’s any prep work for the meetings, I’ll have to do that shit too.


You know, I’m not even sure what I was going for here.

By the time I’m seated at my desk, the have-to voice is even louder.  I check my emails, and a few of them ask me to do certain 1-off things.  They get added to the have-to list as well.

You get the idea.

Wednesday, the day after I completed the project close-out paperwork, driving into work, I realized there was something off.  It took me a minute to identify the difference: more space existed in my head than usual (and believe me, there’s already quite a bit of hot air in there…)

The have-to voice was gone.

Just… gone.  Vanished without a trace.

I’m sure this was a direct result of completing that final project — I simply didn’t have anything left to do.  For the remainder of the week, I showed up mostly for a) appearances and b) to answer awkwardly phrased questions from co-workers about why I was leaving (family) and where I was going (nowhere) and what-exactly-am-i-going-to-do-without-income?!?!  (Mug ex co-workers for income.)

During those last few days, I could hear something very soft in the background of my brain as the hours passed in the office.  A different voice — one that I’m familiar with, but I rarely hear during work.

It says:  I want to, want to, want to.


As the week progressed, I became aware of a slowly mounting sense of incredulity and disbelief — disbelief that nothing stopped me from executing my plans, disbelief that no pianos had been dropped from high buildings and onto my head (so far), disbelief that I was actually going to leave not just this particular place, not just this particular employer, but rather this entire industry, this entire way of life — all of it!  Forever!  It couldn’t be true, could it?

Because when you’re planning to do a thing (quit) for as long as I’ve been planning to do this specific thing (quit) you’ll have days when you think it’ll never actually happen (the quitting).  Days when you’re certain your plans (to quit) are a pipe-dream and will never come to fruition.  That things will never change.  (That you will never quit.)

But now I’m here in this different place, this alternate universe where it’s already happened:  I’ve quit.  And suddenly things are changing right before my eyes. Work ties are, if not completely severed yet, then severely mangled, frayed and hanging on by a thread.  Also, my house is under agreement, making a physical move imminent.  The construction of life is suddenly fluid instead of fixed.

Mixed in with the mounting disbelief are small, piercing seconds of fear, momentary micro-panics. These hit me without warning, like the unexpected bite of an insect.

I’ve poked around those feelings and determined that there’s really nothing I can do to stop them from coming up.

It’s like this:  I’m a skydiver on a plane, thirteen thousand feet in the air, just prior to the fall.  I’m wearing the appropriate gear and I’ve completed my training. I know exactly how to open the parachute to slow my body down.  And the thought of taking the leap is exhilarating.  I’ve been anticipating it for a long time. I want to step off the threshold.  I’ve told everybody in my life (outside of work) that I will jump.  There’s even another guy in the cabin who will push me out if I don’t jump myself because I’ve given him clear instructions to do so.  I’ve signed waivers and paid money to make this thing happen — believe me, it’s happening.

And yet there exists an idiotic, primitive part of me that balks, that imagines the chute malfunctioning and failing to deploy, that visualizes a freak storm appearing out of nowhere to slam me with a thunderbolt, that predicts I will have an aneurysm mid-flight, preventing a pull of the ripcord.  These are the insect bites of fear I’m feeling — a natural, mammalian reaction to forcing yourself to jump out of the protective cabin of the plane and into the wide open sky with nothing positioned directly under your legs to support you.  It feels like for sure you are going to die.  (Airplanes, falling, bites — yeah, that’s right, I’m mixing metaphors all over the place today. Lazy, lazy writing from someone who is about to become a whole lot lazier in retirement.)

Over the week, I’ve learned that it’s best to just squash these fears immediately, like the bugs that they are.  And my flyswatter is rationality.  I must trust my research and training — not just my own research and training, actually, but the research and training of an entire community — the FIRE community.

And I also remind myself that I don’t want to go back to my old life.  I don’t want to un-make the leap.  If something goes wrong, so what?  I’ll still enjoy the freefall before I go ker-splat on the ground.

I need to become secure with the new way of things, the no-regular-paycheck way of things, the momentary blips-of-uncertainty way of things.

I’m already retraining my brain to register that fear as excitement.  To feel the uncertainty as freedom.  To sense the brief smacks of panic as simply recognition that I can do anything I like — as opportunity.  When I look at the feelings this way, they become energizing rather than paralyzing.

I will harness this force.  I will use it to power my current and future life.

Who says I’m not a goddamned optimist?


Countdown… almost… over….

I’ve read a few accounts of other people leaving the workforce.  Their last couple of days in the office. Another blogger, Brave New Life, chronicled his own experiences in great detail, and it came down to farewell conversations with individual people regarding his own plans to leave work forever.  He was completely transparent about the reasons behind his departure.

I intentionally avoided most of this.  I’m just not that social at work.  I get along with people quite well, but at the same time I don’t consider whatever it is that we have going to be real friendships, so I don’t discuss anything of substance with them — smalltalk only.  You might say this is lazy on my part, and I could have perhaps ‘reached’ a co-worker or two, but my feelings on the subject are different.

In the end I decided that it would be a sign of respect to my employer to not reveal I’m retiring to my co-workers.  It makes me just another guy passing through — quickly forgotten.  Because if I told them I’m retiring, I’d be remembered. Legend.  People would think:  Ahhh LAF.  That’s the guy that got out.  

And I don’t want to be remembered.  I don’t want other people to be resentful or jealous — not a single person.

I’m aware that retiring early is something to be proud of at the individual level.  I consider it to be quite an achievement.  But I’m also aware that many people won’t see it that way. When I was younger I thought it’d be great to publicize everything, but when I found myself up against the reality of quitting, my opinion changed and I grew more sensitive to what other people might think about someone who bragged about leaving work to retire super-early.  And more importantly, more sensitive to what other people might think about themselves after seeing someone else do it.  Yes, I admit it:  probably too sensitive.

Fact:  If you retire as young as I did, many people will assume that you disliked work unless you take pains to explain that you didn’t.

Because —

Fact:  The only way anyone retires this early (outside of winning Powerball, or receiving a large inheritance) is careful saving, investing and planning.

And —

Fact:  That takes a decade or more for most people. The main reason anyone would be bothered to do something like this over so many years is because they don’t love working — or, related, they want to do something different with their lives. (It hardly matters which.)

The person that seeks this escape is Andy Dufresne, patiently tunneling out of Shawshank with his rock hammer over a period of seventeen years because he doesn’t want to stay in prison forever.  The escape doesn’t happen by accident; Most go to these lengths because they have a slow-burning need to get out.

To clarify a bit more:  I actually don’t care if anyone thinks I left work because I don’t love working.  But I don’t want folks to think that I’ve been stewing all of this time.  That I’ve hated it.  Because that’s not accurate either.

Besides, it’s the next association that I really, really don’t want people to make:  I don’t want people to think that I harbor any condescending feelings like pity or scorn, because I don’t.  Although it is true that I view the “office-life-game” as just that — a game, and one that I’ve figured out how to leave — I don’t want people to feel envious, or resentful, or <insert_negative_emotion>.  Just because I’ve personally chosen to get out of the race doesn’t make working itself undignified or valueless.  I actually don’t see the point of sharing these details — my view, cultivated during a decade and a half or so on this FI journey, is that most people are so set in their ways and thoughts that, even after confronting them with clear evidence underscoring very real possibility of doing something different with their lives via early or semi-retirement, they will still go back to their default lifestyle choices and spend everything they make.

It’s kind of like Narcotics Anonymous.  If you don’t think your addiction to speed is a real problem, you won’t attend sessions.  And even if you did, you’d find the advice to be ridiculous.  Besides, you like getting hopped up!  It’s not a problem!  It’s not as though it makes you type the same sentences over and over again by mistake when you’re on it!  You like getting hopped up!  It’s not a problem!

Look, I just don’t want to be that guy giving unwanted, unsolicited advice — and I figure that by the time someone reaches that point where they do want advice, well, there’s this crazy thing called the internet that you may have heard about.  A few words into google, and I bet they’ll find what they’re looking for, given how many personal finance sites exist out there.

This is the key piece:  Quitting isn’t about me and my relationship with the people I’m leaving behind in the office, anyway.  It has nothing to do with them.  If it did, I’d honestly question my own motives.

Quitting is about my personal decision to leave, period.

Bottom line:  No one at the office needs to know that I’m leaving my industry for good. This is a life-choice that doesn’t involve them.

And that’s the way I like it.


Even SuperVillains Gotta Eat

Late in the week, on Thursday, my manager asked if I would be up for a goodbye lunch.  A team thing.

I asked if it’d be funded by the company.  I asked specifically because the last time I considered attending a lunch outing like this — to say goodbye to a co-worker — it wasn’t funded, so I didn’t go. Instead everyone ponied up $30 or so for the privilege of saying goodbye to some exhausting dipshit-type dude that nobody liked and was leaving because he was turned down for a promotion and needed a ladder somewhere to climb.  Again, I didn’t go myself, but I remember the gossiping afterward. My teammates were less than thrilled when the bill came and — surprise! — they had to fork over some dough not just for themselves but also this toolbag.

No.  Individuals will have to pay for themselves.  But usually everyone chips in to cover the person that’s leaving, so you’ll personally be taken care of.

In that case, no thanks.

Here my manager had the audacity to act hurt, as if my unwillingness to let other people take me to lunch constitutes an act of aggression or is unkind in any way.

But if you’ve been reading this blog lately, you’re aware that my tolerance for these sorts of exchanges has been reduced to something less than zero over the last three weeks.  The cord is cut.  I say what I think.

So I told him in no uncertain terms that the next time he takes his team out for lunch that he’d better offer to pay for everyone, one way or another — otherwise, the excursion can be considered a form of punishment.

Punishment?  What do you mean?

Well, you’re essentially forcing people to spend money out on lunch, whether they’d like to or not.

That’s not true.  If they don’t want to spend money, they don’t have to come.

I stared at my manager like he was a six year old child.  Could he really be so dumb?  So insufferably blind?

Your subordinates are scared to refuse, you know. Your invitations are interpreted as commands. Including attending lunches where spending is mandatory.  Are you aware of this?  They don’t have personal choice in the matter because they worry that they will get on your bad side.  And you control their future lives.

That can’t be true, I always make it clear that its their personal choice.

But it’s not.  When’s the last time anyone refused to go, other than me.

Other than you?

Right, like I said — other than me.

He thinks for a while but can’t come up with anything.

Then I point out that several people on the team eat lunch at their desks every single day.  He considers this bit of information for a few seconds, eventually saying, yes, I’ve made the same observation.

Finally I ask if he’s ever refused an invitation from his own manager — my director — to have lunch out somewhere.

And, finally, he puts it all together.  His eyes widen, and I see the lightbulb go on. (It’s about time.)

Things that I tell people are their choice they just don’t feel are their choice, is that it?

Exactly right, genius.  Because you’re their boss.

What if I get approval from the company to pay for this lunch?

Don’t bother.  The thrill is gone.  The thrill is gone away.

I don’t think he understood what I was trying to say at the end there, but that’s what came out of me.

Apparently I can channel B.B. King now.

Still, my manager told people I was leaving, and some of them did stop by to bid me adieu. Most conversations were short and pleasant enough.  I even exchanged personal contact information with a handful, providing my real email address instead of

I said “most,” though.  One team member was a certifiable pain in the ass.

C'mon, man, we've talked about this.  Be nice to coworkers.

Well, this is very disappointing behavior, Doom.

Late in the afternoon, when I was getting ready to leave, a woman caught me in the hallway and started shouting at me.

She’s the only person on my team I have trouble tolerating — I find her to be immature, unprofessional, and exhausting.

Most of the time when she shouts at me in the hallway it’s about

a) Some political issue she’s taken a passionate stand on, i.e. an inappropriate topic to yell about in public.

b) How she was up late the night before drinking wine and playing Candy Crush while simultaneously catching up on her DVR backlog so she’s really tired and by the way do I want to talk about her viewing experiences for the next twenty minutes?

c) The horrific amount of work she has, how toxic the environment is (mirror much?), how she has to work late and she’ll never, ever catch up, how grossly unfair the world has been to her.

She’s surly and sour, a complete pessimist through and through.  She’s also, in no particular order, an insecure knowledge hoarder, a ridiculous spendthrift, an unreliable teammate, and completely humorless. Compared to her, I am a walking beacon of light — a glowing orb radiating hope, serenity, and good cheer.  I am optimism incarnate.

Anyway, this time when she starts shouting, she deviates from her standard routines.

How’d you pull that off?

Excuse me?

Leaving.  You lucky son of a bitch.

I have family concerns.  I don’t want to get into it in the hallway.

Right, Riiiiight, “Family” issues.    I totally understand.  What happened, you find a better job?  I wish I could find a better job.

No.  But again, really, I don’t want to talk about it, especially right here in the hallway, near the lavatories.  It’s private.

Well, I can see why you want to leave.  I can see why anyone would want to leave. Hell, I want to leave myself.  I hate this place.  It sucks.  I’m so jealous.

It doesn’t suck–it’s been the best place I’ve ever worked. 

If you feel that way, then why are you leaving?  Tell me.

You’re going to have to excuse me, I have to use the restroom.  Besides, I already told you.  Family concerns.

Oh, that’s bullshit, I see right through you and your fake politeness.  What, you don’t want to tell me?  Do you not like me or something?

<At this point, her aggression has done its work:  I sense that I’m about to return the aggression and there’s very little I can do about it.  That’s the way it feels, anyhow.>

You’ve pegged it.  Good for you.  Very insightful — brilliant, actually.  I’m not interested in sharing my life with you. Well done.

What’s your problem?  Sounds like you have a bug up your ass.

Look, I’ll say it in a way that even you can understand:  You’re awful, and I’m glad I’ll never have to speak to you again after this week.  In five years when personality chips are available, I recommend you buy a new one.

I’m smiling as I say this, a big grin riding up the sides of my face, my mouth partially open, upper teeth visible — it’s one of those smiles where you’re not genuinely happy but you find your cheeks lifting anyway because it feels so damned good to just be yourself and say what you really feel.

But she’s not smiling at all. Nope, she’s standing up straight and getting ready to throw a fit. It reminds me a little of when I see one of my young nephews get ready for a meltdown — you can see it coming. The buildup.  The huffing.  The inflated chest, the balled fists at sides, the eyes narrowing, the conscious determination to spend the next ten minutes or more of your life as an incoherent, raging mess.

But instead of hanging around for the show, I duck into the men’s bathroom, just a couple of feet away, chuckling the whole time.

Straightening Up

Here we go again.  Doom, that's really not a good idea.

Seriously, Doom?  Fire, again?  Do you need to be put in timeout?

Early on Friday, my last day, I finally cleaned out my cube.  After 3 years, it’d become embarrassing and gross:  twenty five percent usable computer stuff, the rest items of questionable value.  I pulled a blue recycling bin over to the edge of the desk and dumped stuff into it:  printouts of networking diagrams, server names, data workflows, training materials, unused notebooks.  I yanked a picture of a vending machine with an X through it off my velvety cube wall, a reminder to never, ever buy anything from the evil dispensary of ultra-processed quick-fix pseudo-food.

Next I filled a small box with unused office supplies to be returned:  staples and paperclips, thumbtacks, a stack of 8 1/2 x 11 paper, twenty double A batteries. In another pile went stuff to drop off with our facilities group:  network cables, an extra mouse and keyboard, a docking station, a VOIP headset.

Then there was the trash, the stuff that could not be gifted, re-used, or recycled:  An old plastic jug of peanut butter with a nutty crust at the bottom, pink stress balls with vendor logos printed on the sides, a key-chain, all sorts of other schwag picked up from conferences that was destined for a landfill the day it was created.  One drawer held plastic knives and forks, a stack of napkins, and a bundle of individual-serving condiments: Gulden’s spicy brown mustard, Hellman’s mayonnaise, the items pre-dating my arrival, and I wondered why the previous occupant of this cube stashed these away in the first place.  I left these for the next inhabitant, half-hoping they’d eventually slather this stuff on a sandwich sometime in 2016, and super, super curious about how their intestines would hold out.

It took me an hour to sort through forty-odd months of accumulated junk and all along, I kept thinking:  I will never do this again, I will never be here again, this will never be my cube again, I will never drop crumbs into the crevices of this keyboard again, I will never stare into this monitor again while constructing status updates on projects or updating documentation, never do effort reporting, never hear someone knock against the metal frame of my cube to get my attention because I have my headphones on while I’m coding, never see my manager lean against the wall behind me as he tensely gets me up to speed on some outstanding issue that he is dumping off to me, never this, never that, never never never.

I’ve left plenty of jobs before, but never had these feelings of unreality, because I always knew that I’d be going somewhere else where I’d have similar experiences — another cube, another manager, another set of processes to follow, other co-workers, some of whom I’ll probably like well enough and others who will take the place of Cruella or Cthulhu or the other office-villains who have inhabited my existence at various points.

Because this time is different.

It’s the first time in my life that so many things will never happen again.

After I cleaned out my cube, I walked around the office, fighting thoughts that circled around the lastness of everything. But I couldn’t help it.

Today marks the the last time I stand as part of a circle in the hallway with a few co-workers, smelling the aroma of stale coffee drifting out of the kitchen.  The last time I sit in a team meeting listening my manager droning on about the importance of some initiative, my head nodding into my neck, not because I’m agreeing with him, but because I’m so bored I’m falling asleep.  The last time I glance at the clock and wonder why the hell it’s not moving.  The last time I see Cruella stomping down the hallways, glaring at people.

And I think: Holy shit.  I’m feeling a tiny bit nostalgic for people I sincerely dislike. That’s when I realize that something sick is happening inside of me, perverting my senses.

Even with all of the planning I’ve done, even knowing that this was going to be my date for at least the last 15 months or so, even though I knew I would be leaving at this time, these feelings come at me — there is nothing that can prepare you for it.   Preparing to leave is not the same as leaving; there is no way to build up an immunity.  I’ve had good days here, good days in my industry, good days with my team, good days with my manager, days where people would congratulate me for pulling something out of the fire or making a good decision on a particular project, days when a co-worker would gratefully thank me for covering their ass on something, days where someone did a similar favor for me and I felt something briefly, a connection to them.  Everything here is fake and flimsy, cardboard, but the memories are not.  All of my work-related experiences over the last 15 years of my life — all of the frustration, the intensity, the love and pity and compassion and violence and boredom and backstabbing — they all kept welling up inside of me.

This is why I’ve planned everything so intricately and precisely.  Even when you badly want to leave, leaving is hard.  Leaving takes work.  Leaving takes some amount of imagination, scrawling your future plans into a notebook or an online journal, perhaps sharing plans with a significant other and then working at them, shaping them like a sculptor to reach a final product, over and over again until you have something you both agree looks good enough to justify quitting your job.  In order to leave, you must imagine yourself into your fate, and then execute.  Your vision of the future will guard you against the inexplicable and baffling nostalgia that may creep up on you at the end.

And then you will finally leave, for the last time.

Final Destination

Just to prove that I can, in fact, write using fewer words, here’s the (< 140-character) Twitter summary of the day:

So I cleaned out my cube. And I got all unexpectedly nostalgic. And I said warm goodbyes to a few people and fuck you to another.  Good times!

Just a bit before four o’clock in the afternoon, it’s completely, 99.9999%, now-and-forever over. I have nothing left to do and I’m about to leave.

I glance at my email for the last time and see a message from my manager notifying the company that our team is going to do some late-night stuff — some IT-wide initiative from the previous weekend failed and there was to be a re-try of efforts.  Most of my teammates had to stay in the office to support this Very Important Work.


Don’t hold my manager’s challenges with grammar against me.

I’m not involved.  I wasn’t involved in the previous weekend’s work either.

Because:  Not an Assignable Resource Anymore.

Because: Quitting.

I delete the email and walk out into the hallway to leave the building for the last time.  And I find that most of my soon-to-be-former team is clustered near my manager’s office, which is, in turn, pretty close to the exit.  They’re talking about the upcoming work.

My manager’s there.  Cruella, too.  And three others, people who I actually like pretty well, people who I feel just a little bit bad about leaving behind.  There’s one last goodbye before I walk out.  I shake hands with a few of them and walk toward the doors.

I can feel them watching me as I move toward the exit.

I see my working life flash before my eyes.

The fall into the office cave of darkness.


The wandering.


The search for a solution to the madness — a way out.  The vision of light — the realization I can eventually leave if I cut spending and save and invest enough money to live on the passively generated income.

Blowing up large swaths of my consumerist lifestyle to make the exit hatches appear.


Committing to live underground in order to enable the growth of a large stockpile of funds — a stash that would allow me to live without work forever.  Committing to creating a life worth living inside of the darkness for a decade or more.


Doubling down on work, assimilating into corporate culture, becoming valued — a good teammate, a good leader.  Not just a perfect drone, but also a perfect leader of drones.


Then, finally, pulling back.

Leaving my corporate identity behind, saying goodbye to absolutely everything I’ve ever done here. Goodbye to the imperfect yet comfortable home I’ve created for myself inside of these subterranean caverns.

Goodbye to the ego satiating construct of work.

Goodbye to the misery and satisfaction alike.

I blew apart what I had built.


And as I leave the doors of my building for the final time, and I feel the eyes upon me, it occurs to me that my co-workers don’t have a clue what they’re seeing.

It’s my final escape.


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82 Responses to Daylight

  1. FFA says:

    Congratulations! And best wishes for your new life! Looking forward to read more of your experiences, so hope the “RE” doesnt apply to this blog too 🙂

  2. Erin says:

    Wow. I’ve been waiting all week for this entry, and it was worth the wait — pretty sure I held my breath through most of it. Amazing. Godspeed, Doom.

  3. Congratulations! Can’t believe you got all soft and nostalgic at the end 😉 Enjoy the freedom and can’t wait to hear how life on the other side is treating you. Plus some good ole personal finance posts on how you actual fund FI/RE!

    • livafi says:

      Hey FF – Yes, I do have a few finance-based posts in the ‘ol queue. They will come out probably over the summer. Official move date is set for end of May now and it’s likely that I’ll be completing them after the dust settles.
      >>Can’t believe you got all soft and nostalgic at the end
      I didn’t get THAT soft, did I? 😀

  4. Alex Kenzie says:

    Duuuuuuude. So happy for you!!! This is the achievement of a lifetime. Best wishes for you 🙂

  5. karlos says:

    BRAVO! I’ve been eagerly awaiting your update! Well done!

    I’m following in your footsteps as this is my last week of work (not that I’m really doing anything). I’m leaving after 14 years with my employer so I feel like you’re writing for the both of us.

    Funny that you mentioned the “everyone pays” going away lunch and good on you for saying no to your manager. I hate that shit.

    My going-away dinner with my team will be next week. There will be lots of tequila and YES it will be charged to the corporate card.

    • livafi says:

      Congrats on this being your last week at work. Maybe this (April 24th) is your last day? Incredible.
      Glad to see your company is doing it right and actually, like, paying for your farewell outing. Do what you can to rack up the charges on that card.

    • less4success says:

      I’m eagerly awaiting your follow-up comment, karlos 🙂

  6. TJ says:

    Wow, a great retelling of a great event. Congratulations on successfully achieving your goal.

    Speaking from only a few months ahead of you on this grand journey, the real adventure is only now beginning for you. It’s been about a year now since I retired, but my lust for life only gets stronger each morning I wake up and get to define how my day will go. These days I’m working as hard or harder than I ever did in my corporate job, but I never feel like I’m working. I just kinda feel like I’m living.

    • livafi says:

      Hey TJ. Really glad to hear you’re doing great in your courageous freshly pressed existence. And I love your comment about not feeling like you’re working. Everything feels different when you’re doing it purely for yourself and your family — simply because you want to. Work isn’t work at that point IMO, at least not in the conventional sense: it’s closer to play.
      And believe me, I know – I just finished painting 4 rooms of my SIL’s house, including ceilings, and although the effort expended was considerable, I felt pretty terrific the whole time.

  7. RightBehindYou says:

    Oh, man. Your posts are my new therapy… The HaveToHaveTo train, the stress balls from the conferences, the personality chip, the future cube-dwellers’ intestines… I don’t think I have had so many full unbridled LOLs on any other post ever. Genius. I would happily pay you for this shit.

    And… congratulations! Looking forward to hearing how the emotional pendulum swings from here.

    • livafi says:

      Hey, I’m always happy to provide some unlicensed therapy. No guarantees as to the results, though. Although there’s a Doctor in my title, I don’t have a degree to practice psych in any way, shape, or form.

  8. Nick says:

    Excellent post. I’m so glad I came across your blog. Congratulations, and thanks for sharing.

  9. bilgepump100 says:

    Well done. I vacillate between wanting to talk for hours about why I retired to wanting to duck away in embarrassment. Not sure why I feel embarrassed about it, but I do. Looking forward to reading about your ventures outside the pod.

    • livafi says:

      >>Not sure why I feel embarrassed about it, but I do.
      I have hints of this too, as you’ve probably gleaned from my incredibly lengthy explanation re: why I didn’t want to share the fact I was retiring to my now-officially-former co-workers. The embarrassment has a lot to do with the anticipation of misunderstandings: I feel, in advance of any conversation, that the person I’m speaking with will be either judging me (I’m lazy, I’m abnormal, I’m counter-culture, people like me are screwing up the economy by not spending anything) or themselves (Gee, I wish I hadn’t spent everything I made over the last 20 years…. I’d like to quit, too!).

      At least in the majority of the PF blogosphere, you can talk about it all day and night because we understand the drive completely.

  10. Awesome. You’re a wonderful story-teller. Congrats!

  11. G-dog says:

    Did you really tell her to buy a personality chip? (Please say yes, please say yes)

    • livafi says:

      Yes, I actually, really did that. I’m telling you, I’ve been a different person over those last couple of months at work — closer to the natural, snarky, playfully dickish idiot that I really am in real life. (I also usually don’t think that fast in confrontations, so I was kind of surprised to hear that pop out of me without forethought. Usually I say something more along the lines of me no like you… me go away now. Then I think of the cool thing to say later on.)

      Anyway, it’s nice to be yourself. I’m finding it to be one of the best side-benefits of being FI.

  12. DMM says:

    Enjoyable post — It must have been a great feeling leaving work having accomplished the goal you started so many years earlier. Congrats.

  13. lhamo says:

    So glad you finally posted this. I am right at this minute waiting for my boss to get off a phone call so I can hand him my resignation letter. I’m still not sure if this is the end of working for others for me, or just a hiatus/sabbatical. But soon I will have the time/energy to be thinking more about those questions. Now I just need to do the deed and embrace my freedom.

  14. Frankies Girl says:

    Epic post. Just… wow.

    And can I say I wished I had told the two Cruellas I worked with to f off?
    Slow clap for you for that!

    I wish my “have to” train stopped after I quit, but it’s just transferred over to household things and is currently driving me nuts with the ever-growing to do list.

    • livafi says:

      Hey FG, nice to see you stop by. Sorry to hear that your own train transferred over. Sometimes it’s useful to schedule blocks of time — at least this is how I manage it myself. You know, like: I’m going to allow myself to read for 2 hours and THEN I will do the dishes, mow the lawn, whatever — and immediately following that, I’ll do another fun thing. Pack those important tasks between enjoyable activities. Seems to work for me, anyway.

  15. Lisa says:

    Bravo! Congratulations on your escape!!!!!!

  16. David says:

    +1 to what a lot of folks above have said. I especially loved the personality chip comment!

    Hope the house move goes as painlessly as those can, which is not very. I should send my wife your way. She loves to move!

    • livafi says:

      >> She loves to move!
      Seriously? What kind of creature is she? I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who liked moving.
      But yeah, we could use the help. Particularly with getting rid of stuff. We don’t consider ourselves to be materialistic, but even so, when you move, you always discover you own a lot more junk than you thought.

  17. TIm says:

    So great that you got out. Thanks for sharing it all and inspiring others to build their own way out to daylight. Best of luck on the next phase of your life. I hope you keep us informed on how it goes.

  18. brooklynguy says:

    Dr. Doom, you really have a knack for encapsulating abstract concepts in pithy phrases packed with easy-to-understand meaning. I love the term “the have-tos” (as well as the extended metaphors in this post, mixed or not), which I’m starting to think of as “Dr. Doomisms.”

    Congratulations, and thanks for sharing your story with the rest of us. Hope to join you soon on the other side.

  19. Schaefer Light says:

    Congratulations. Wonderful post. Your blog is the best I’ve ever read about office life and finding a way out. If you never post again (not that I’m hoping for that), it’s been a wonderful ride and I enjoyed reading every one of your posts.

    • livafi says:

      Thanks for the warm comment. I’ll be posting for a while, but I’m not sure about the content yet. It is safe to say that the work-commentary phase is over. Being that I’ve milked that cow for the past 4 months or so, it’s probably time. 🙂

  20. Mucho similar to my experience. I loved this, “But if you’ve been reading this blog lately, you’re aware that my tolerance for these sorts of exchanges has been reduced to something less than zero over the last three weeks. The cord is cut. I say what I think.”

    So true. They don’t warn you that FIRE includes dropping your brain to mouth filter in the dustbin. If you are a more less decent person though it works out. People soon find stark honesty refreshing and endearing.


    • livafi says:

      >>dropping your brain to mouth filter in the dustbin.
      Hilarious and true. Not once did someone tell me that part of the journey to FI and Quits-Ville includes behaving much much closer to your authentic self — even while you’re still in the office. Good stuff.

  21. Robert says:

    I can’t thank you enough for your writing these pieces. I’m 9 months out from my target quit date, and every day you post something makes that countdown a little bit easier. You manage to articulate the emotional component of walking away from it all better than any other writer I’ve come across. Please keep posting! I can’t wait to hear where your journey takes you next.

    • livafi says:

      Congrats on being so close — that’s terrific and is a sign of the effort you’ve been putting in to make a different life possible. It’ll be over before you know it. (Really!)

  22. NotDoom says:

    Amazing post, Doom! Love your writing, like everyone here.

    Why don’t you make your 15 years of job experiences and anecdotes into an ebook? You could even sell it on Amazon. Just gather the best bits and pieces and give it a nice structure and narrative, I think it would make a great book.

    Enjoy actual life now 😉

    • livafi says:

      Believe me, I’m enjoying actual life. After the last bit of uncertainty articulated in this post, I’ve actually been increasingly calm and confident that things are going to work out fine. Because things are already working out fine. It’s been two full weeks and I’m still sort of stupefied by the idea that I don’t ever have to go back to the office. I know, I know, it should be hitting home by now, but it hasn’t.

      BTW, I don’t think this will ever become an e-book. Too many copyrighted images, too much effort involved, and even the potential for previous employers to figure out who I am and get pissed. Besides, who wants to read about the cube-adventures of Just Another Dude?

      • I want to read about the cube-adventures of Just Another Dude. No e-book? Then I’ll re-read your blog.

      • lhamo says:

        I bet if you could find a good artist to work with you guys would RAKE IN THE $$$$$ with a graphic novel. Clearly there is a HUGE market of cube rats out there dying to escape, and the adventure of Dr. Doom is already a classic hero’s epic journey. Very inspirational. You just need some original art to go with it.

  23. Prob8 says:

    Nicely done and congrats! You’ve inspired me to move my FIRE date up.

    I look forward to hearing more about life on the other side. Hopefully the grass truly is greener.

    • livafi says:

      >>You’ve inspired me to move my FIRE date up.

      AWESOME, now that’s what I’m talking about. 🙂

      • less4success says:

        So two commenters have quit since reading your post and two more are in the works. LAF, you may single-handedly tip the economy into recession 😉

      • livafi says:

        Just call me a job creator. Two new openings are about to appear out there in space, and as a side bonus, the unemployment rate just went down by .00001 or so.

  24. Williard says:

    A big congrats! And thank you for your informative and very inspiring blog, which I just discovered. I look forward to reading your prior–and future–posts!

  25. Lisa says:

    As others have said before me, congrats and great post! I am really looking forward to the posts about your after ‘work’ life.

    I am currently in year 3 of my early retired life, and it has been…an adjustment…great, but with some emotional ups/downs. Currently, I am experiencing some work nostalgia – crazy, I know, but as you said it does sneak up on you. I repeat your quote, “Your vision of the future will guard you against the inexplicable and baffling nostalgia that may creep up on you…” I guess it comes down to distance and my human mind remembering only the good parts of my job. It also has to do with that “ego satiating construct of work”, I think. I got to travel, look important to others, pretend I was working for the environment, etc., etc. Thank you for reminding me of the workplace hate I felt too. Do I really want to go back…NO. But I am still finding it hard to say, ‘what I do’ when asked – I share the embarrassment of saying I am retired to others that have to work. It always then leads to me justifying myself because my husband still works and wants to, and I don’t particularly want to discuss my financial position with anyone! Compound this with being a female with no kids and I look like I am a housewife to my husband, and thus of little value in the eyes of others! Should this matter, no of course not, but it does affect me at times. Anyway, my shit to work through. Sadly, the recent MMM post also contributed to feelings of unease because no, I have not found that the income still rolls in or that I am contributing to the larger society. I have a simple life that I wanted, but that article made me feel that I should be ‘achieving’ more. Sigh.

    • livafi says:

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment – you’re one of the few readers who mentioned the more serious parts of the post, which I tried to sneak in between jokes and ridiculous images. The truth is that leaving and transitioning can potentially be a confusing period. Awesome, and exciting, but also something of a loss emotionally. No matter how you felt about work–even if you hated it–you are leaving parts of you behind, including some good memories. It seems that your own transition was a net positive (and I expect my own will be as well) but transitions always have challenges.

      I will say this: You don’t need to justify yourself to other people. (Really!) One of my friends outside of work recently asked me if I felt bad about being lazy and not contributing to society anymore and I just said: No. Not yet anyway. He expressed surprise at my response which told me all I needed to know about what HE thought about my lifestyle change.

      I also have concerns that eventually the achieving bug will hit me again. I’ve spent most of my life — at least since age 9 or 10 — caught in this continual cycle of doing better, competing with others, and producing, producing, producing. Even ER has been a semi-competitive goal at times: Can I really do this thing? Can I “beat” others to the finish line? Luckily my competitive edge has been dulled a bit over the past several years but it’s possible it will come back and I’ll need an outlet after a while. If your own experience is any indication, it might. My hope is to find a pressure release valve for this drive outside of office-work, which I currently feel is impossible to return to.

      If it makes you feel any better, we also don’t have kids, and can’t — I do think that there’s an additional layer of weirdness to work through in our respective situations. If you have kids, you have the whole “What am I retiring TO?” question pretty much answered: You will undoubtedly use a lot of your new-found free time to be a better parent, more involved in the lives of your children. And when you talk to people and explain this, everyone instantly gets it. It’s a socially acceptable answer.

      On the other hand just saying “Yeah, I like, uhh… don’t want to work anymore,” sounds selfish to your average Joe. Hence some of the questions I got from said friend.

      Don’t stress about the MMM post. He’s got an entrepreneur’s spirit and likes to talk about working and constantly earning money. This is all well and good if that’s how you want to spend your time — if that makes you happy. But understand that it doesn’t have to be you if you don’t want it to be. It’s not for everybody. Personally I don’t plan on earning another dime this year. The goal of my existence is currently to support other people, create stuff, learn about and do interesting things, and ultimately live a balanced life.

      BTW, congrats on being retired if I haven’t mentioned it already.

      • Lisa says:

        Thank you for the kind response (and ignoring my spelling mistakes)! I also echo firepaddle’s thanks to you for filling a needed gap.

        Yes, I too have had a couple of friend’s comment on my lack of contribution to the ‘greater good’, in my case the environmental field. I also have not heard from these 2 ‘friends’ in quite some time. Thankfully, I have friends who have stuck around and are supportive too.

        All the best to you, and happy house moving!

    • Lisa, do you have a blog? This is the kind of thing that is churning around in the back of my brain. I’ve got a few more years to retirement, and at 55 or so, it won’t be exceptionally early. But as a lawyer, it will be early. Most tend to work until they can’t any more. When I mention how nice it would be to have the freedom to pursue interests outside of work, my boss admittedly is confounded. Why would anyone ever want to give up lawyering? Why would anyone ever want to walk away from the money? Why would anyone want to skip the partnership retreat to enjoy their anniversary? What is there to do worthwhile, outside being a lawyer? I have lots of ideas, from my current perspective. I hope they still seem as worthwhile once I’ve walked out the door.

      • dude says:

        UB — same here, will retire from lawyering about 5 months shy of my 55th. Don’t ever want to see another legal opinion, case cite or the like ever again after that. Have many, many plans that include a second, “hobby” career. But I also recognize that I will be giving something up that others (many) find valuable, and perhaps even meaningful. It just isn’t for me. I hope your plans turn out to be as worthwhile as you’ve dreamed them to be.

  26. firepaddle says:

    Beautiful. Thanks for creating this blog. It fills a gap in the FIRE community. It’s been a wild ride, and I hope you now breath easier in the mornings. I wish you well in your new life. Keep us in the loop if you have the time:)

  27. Yabusame says:

    Have been looking forward to this post SO much and you didn’t disappoint. Loved all of the comments too; when I finally reach RE I’m sure my choices will look more like Lisa’s above rather than MMM.

  28. What a post, LAF. I kept flashing to the shadows in Plato’s cave. When I got to your exit graphics, I teared up.

    It’s Sunday night. Tomorrow I will dive back into tracking my time in 6-minute increments as I perform various tasks in my representation of polluters. Crunch crunch.

    • livafi says:

      Really glad you enjoyed it, Unconfirmed. I was a twitchy mess doing that last section, could really feel something juicing me up as I re-lived it. (Related: The excitement from finding an issue of the Fantastic Four with Doom escaping from a cave was almost overpowering — when I found the right issue and started leafing though it, I was stunned by the appropriateness of the images and immediately stole them. I am a comic book thief. )

      Loved the shadow connection. Plato believed that most of the prisoners in the cave would, when confronted by the actual objects that produced the shadows (i.e. “reality”), subjectively decide that the shadows were True and the fire and objects were False; they would have trouble with the adjustment.

      After having been unplugged for a few weeks, I sort of understand why he’d think that. I know what I’m living is closer to real life now, but internally it feels less real (so far,) simply because it’s not what I’m used to. It’s amazing how much raw conditioning accounts for how we perceive the world.

      This 6 minute block of my life will be booked to “Blog Maintenance.”

  29. Congrats Doom, and bonus points to both you and UB for the Plato Cave reference! Coming back to the post and reading through all of the comments and responses made my day… I also happened upon BraveNewLife’s post about moving to a farm in Kentucky (, which was an interesting read that took me back to Penelope Trunk’s blog ( – you FIRE’d folks (and commenters) are really interesting people, and the blogosphere is better for it!

  30. livafi says:

    That’s the first time I’ve seen Mrs. Trunk’s blog. I have something new to binge now, terrific. (She has a nice, easy writing style, laced with self-deprecating humor — my favorite kind. Fun.)
    Thanks EV.

    • dude says:

      She’s a great writer, but her financial views are pretty antithetical to the FIRE crowd’s. Congrats on the realization of your longstanding dream/plan, Doom. It’s been really fun reading your chronicles. Good luck in retirement!

      • livafi says:

        Dude: I’m already starting to see clear evidence of your observation re: Penelope’s thoughts on spending.

        Her job-views are also at odds with mine. Example: She wrote a post titled: Hate your job? Here’s how to fix it! And the first suggestion is to befriend the best networked person in the company. (Read: The most popular person, who is also sure to be the phoniest, douchiest, schmooziest, most obscenely oblivious suck-up roaming your walls. This person will be sure to have 400+ LinkedIn connections and will immediately send a friend request to you, a mere 10 minutes after making your acquaintance. Let’s do lunch, m’kay? Vomit.)

        To be fair, she has some good suggestions which will help folks to, ahem, tough out the grind and quote get-ahead, but I think she misses the larger picture.

        And that larger picture is that many of the problems with employment are structural, meaning: unfixable, and inherently unlikable. Bearable for a while, sure, but ultimately defeating. My post, with the same title mind you, would read: To fix your issues with employment forever, cut your spending, save a lot of money and get FIRE’d. Or at least accumulate enough money to responsibly allow you to switch to the pursuit of a passion (homesteading, carpentry, whatever) without transforming your family into a troupe of homeless vagabonds.

        I’m still going to wind up reading most of her blog, though. I’m a sucker for well-written stuff and different perspectives are always fascinating. Exclusively reading articles penned by people who agree with you 100% can get pretty boring after a while and at some point provides virtually no return on your time; at that point, you’re not seeking knowledge, but rather continual affirmation.

      • Yeah, I wasn’t trying to recommend taking Trunk’s ‘Brazen Careerist’ / lean-in’y advice (or financial advice, although I haven’t read enough of her to know where she stands on that stuff). I just like her writing style, pictures, and observations on living on a farm 🙂

        It was pretty hilarious to hear your reaction to her ‘Hate Your Job’ post though 🙂 That comment could be a whole blog post, it would be perfect with some Doom images!

      • livafi says:

        >>pretty hilarious to hear your reaction to her ‘Hate Your Job’ post though
        It’s admittedly a trigger subject for me. I’ve just read so many of those types of articles, you know. So. Bloody. Many. They all seem to pretend that the problem with your unhappiness at work is YOU. Unhappy? Just plug your prongs into the socket a little harder. That’ll fix everything! Still unhappy? Transform yourself into pure current and dive directly into the wiring so you can flow around the coils of your company without ever leaving! You’re just not GIVING enough of yourself to it, try harder! Engage 187%!

        This kind of stuff sounds pretty close to victim blaming to my brain.

        Update from later in the day (post-bingeing): There’s a ton of valuable advice on her blog, including (surprisingly) recognition of some frugal concepts, such as how wanting to buy something makes your average person happier than buying it, because the wanting itself is guilt free and we enjoy the anticipation more than the thing. She has an interesting mix of views, which do not always appear to be in alignment. It was almost disappointing to find so much reasonable content on her blog — it’s so much more fun to disagree and get all worked up.

  31. Edward says:

    Great post–wish I was the main character! When my FIRE day comes I know I’ll be terrified. Not because of change, leaving, or uncertainty, but because I’ll feel like that cop/soldier in an action movie who only has one week left on the job before retirement but gets paired up with the new, cool guy. Even though I’m a programmer, pretty sure I’ll be wearing layers of Kevlar that week with bubble wrap glued on top of it. …And a big ole hockey helmet with visor for good measure.

  32. GreenDragon says:

    I take a month off your blog and then see this, wow.
    Congratulations.. Try to be good on the outside.

  33. Chris says:

    It’s amazing to me how people don’t hesitate to ask questions that are none of their business. (Why are you leaving? What will you do for income? etc.)

  34. Daniel Marquez says:

    still get chills reading this, some great writing for sure. Thanks Doom

  35. Pingback: My Last Day Of Corporate Work: Stepping Into The Light – A Purple Life

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