In November 2016, I retired after more than fifty years in Academia.  I’m still doing research, however, but now with a focus on the ageing academic and academic memoir writing. In other words, I’m using my current life situation as the point of departure for my emeritus research.

I’m lucky to have a formal emeritus contract with my former school (University of Copenhagen). I’m allowed to keep my email account and can keep my files on the university servers. I have no administrative or teaching duties, however, and of course no salary. Basically, I’m a free-floating intellectual.

My daily life

I work at home five-six hours a day, Monday through Friday, in our little house on Strindbergsvej in Valby a few kilometers from the Copenhagen city center. I live there with Anna and our two children, Johanna (born 2008) and Jussi (born 2011). (My oldest daughter from an earlier marriage lives in Switzerland with her husband and two children.) I love my peaceful neighbourhood, Författerkvarteret (‘The Authors’ Neighbourhood’), so called because the two main streets are named after the famous 19th century Scandinavian authors Bjørnstjerne Bjørnsson and August Strindberg. We don’t have a car, but a transport bike.

I very much enjoy my routine intellectual work life immensely. After finishing the daily writing around 3 pm—including a break for lunch and the Swedish public radio news at 12:30 pm—I pick the kids up from school and spend the rest of the day with them and doing household chores. I have very few spare-time activities.

My personality

After taking a few online psychological tests, I become convinced that I have a pretty introverted personality. I have learnt to hide it, however, and sometimes behave as if I were an extrovert:

I like getting my energy from dealing with the ideas, pictures, memories, and reactions that are inside my head, in my inner world. I often prefer doing things alone or with one or two people I feel comfortable with. I take time to reflect so that I have a clear idea of what I’ll be doing when I decide to act. Ideas are almost solid things for me. Sometimes I like the idea of something better than the real thing (quoted from here).

This is probably why I prefer to continue my life-long habit of reading, thinking and writing—now about my life course, and about autobiography, memory, self-therapy, and graceful ageing—instead of just doing all thosefun extroverted activites that senior citizens are supposed to do together.

When I don’t work …

I spend at least an hour a day on Facebook, discussing university politics, world affairs and the bleak future of humankind with interesting ‘friends’. I’m not on Instagram or any other platform (I used to write a lot on Twitter, but not any more). 

I never watch television, never go to concerts or theatres, rarely go the cinema, and try to avoid downtown Copenhagen. I have no urge to paint, make furniture, or take care of the garden. Nor do I watch or engage in any kind of sports (hey, healthy ageing!?), but I do some press-ups to improve my muscle strength, and I also take a daily brisk walk in the beautiful, green neighbourhood.

On our annual summer vacations, I take a couple of weeks’ break from reading and writing altogether. I like to drive rental cars, take long walks in the woods, sit in small cafés, visit quirky museums, discover well-kept botanical gardens and delapidated cemeteries, and read staples of pulp crime novels. Or just sit outside watching people or the sunset.