I have no one to blame for my "retirement" except myself.
But it is not quite so terrible, it's just not what I envisioned.
I was hoping/expecting to keep being able to do my job well into my seventies.
For a few brief years in the 1980's/90's I was making almost three thousand a week as a unionized film editor. During especially busy weeks where I was getting outside work I sometimes pulled down as much as five or even six thousand a week, but stupidly I chose to get most of that in cash more often than not, when doing it above board would have helped my Social Security.
The 1989 Leon Russell VHS was selling like crazy, but again I put that in my pocket or sunk it directly into more gear.
Sloppy financials, I didn't bother with expensing stuff properly.
At least my above board union work and above board production gigs filled the gap. Then the union gigs fizzled away into nothing thanks to the rise of cable and satellite. I didn't have enough credits on the experience roster and eventually returned to doing my own work, a lot of music videos and steady VHS duplication jobs. It wasn't three grand a week but it was more than enough.
I put a lot of it up my nose, there's the really stupid part.
That all ended 25 years ago, but I wasted a lot of money.
What I didn't party away I invested in even more equipment, a LOT of equipment.
The 1994 Northridge Quake wiped me out and I fell back on IT work as a substitute. I lost even more money, thanks to Chuck Quackenbush's sleazy backroom deal with the insurance companies.
I got two cents on the dollar for an almost 300 thousand dollar loss.
Most of that equipment was damaged and now worthless.
Finally after leaving L.A. and moving in with Karen (Texas) I started to reinvent as a digital video guy and got back into production and editing again around 2002.
The 2005 Leon Russell re-release on DVD became a steady revenue source once again.
We moved back to SoCal with the idea that I would resurrect a lot of old production connections and it worked for a little while but my health began to sag, specifically my eyesight and hearing. There isn't much market for half-blind/half deaf directors of photography with bad knees and diabetes, so by around age 58 or 59 work started to slowly fizzle away.
My last "real" professional production shooting gig was back in 2016.
At least the Leon show was still selling steadily.
Meanwhile with what I inherited from my mother my brothers and I invested in real estate, so...another small but steady revenue stream.
So together between selling my little DVD and getting income from real estate I have a couple/sometimes a few thousand a month coming in. Together with Karen's VA pension it is enough.
I doubt I will get the full SS amount but I guess it will be a few hundred or maybe as much as a thousand but that's still a couple of years away.
Eventually as we all age and if the market goes well, us three brothers will liquidate our real estate and reinvest in something else.
In retrospect, staying in Texas and investing in a home in Texas was also a mistake. We barely got above water after the 2008 debacle and didn't make very much on selling our starter home down there, whereas had I insisted on bringing Karen and the kids out here in the 90's we might have purchased a home here when it wasn't quite yet outrageous, and by now we would almost have a paid off home worth plenty more.
But the house we have now has appreciated quite a bit so if the day comes where we downsize, we will definitely make a decent chunk on the sale. To be honest though, I wouldn't mind just staying here in this house till the end. It is fully handicap accessible.
Let the kids profit off the sale.
I don't know if the Leon show will continue to be a revenue stream for long, that stuff is hard to quantify. If a generation "rediscovers the old stuff" it may enjoy a big revival and I want my kids to understand how to leverage that for their own edification, but it is difficult to help them understand. He's some old guy with long white hair who plays music they don't relate to at the moment, and the whole thing with the technical aspects leaves them mouth agape. In a few years DVD's will be obsolete so if they sell the product it will probably be a download.
My customers are all pretty old so most of them don't understand digital downloads. Many of them are confused by DVD's and Blu-Ray is a mystery to them.
I've had hundreds of old farts asking me to re-release on VHS over the years, it's hilarious.
All in all though, I consider myself lucky, but I would much rather still be an old fart with a really nice camera and eagle eye for instant focus.