Recently on a Tuesday morning I heard the garbage man outside emptying the big trash container. It makes a lot of noise and usually reminds me it's Wednesday.

But it was Tuesday and hearing the container being emptied sent me into a little bit of a tizzy.

"I couldn't have slept a whole day away, could I," I asked myself, trying to assure myself that it was just a mistake. There's no way I could have slept that long and if I had it also meant I had missed NCIS."

So, I checked my phone which told me it was still Tuesday and still too early for me to get up since I had nowhere special I had to be that day — at least not that early in the morning.

But it made me realize one more time how retirement has affected my sleeping habits. I was never really a "morning person," although I tried to be. But at least I knew what day of the week and what date it was.

I retired nearly 10 years ago and I have learned that retirement means many days I don't have to be up until I choose to get up. Usually I choose by 9 a.m. just because I want to see what's in the Tribune and what's happening in the world. I know I am a "news junkie." I think that a result of my career.

The problem with not having to get up is that sometimes I can't remember which day it is and often I'll awaken with the thought "What day is this and where am I supposed to be?"

If it's very late, I'll wonder if I'm late for something.

I also have realized it's difficult to keep track of the "date" because I don't have to write it nearly as often as I did when I worked 40 hours a week. In fact, often I only have to write the date about six times a month, which means I'm forever asking myself or anyone else around, "What's the date again?"

It's strange when I have to make an appointment for something and the question is, "Is this (date) a good time for you?" My immediate response is "What day of the week is that?" because some days are better for me than others.

Invariably I'll make an early morning appointment because it sounds good to get up and get moving for the day and having to be somewhere gets me moving — and that's supposed to mean I get a lot done that day.

However, the day of the appointment I'll invariably be asking myself, "Why did I make an 8:30 a.m. appointment when I could go any time of the day?"

Most of the time I don't oversleep when I have to be somewhere. But I have been known to do so and it annoys me some.

I probably could get an alarm clock that awakens me with the announcement of "Jean, today is (day) and you should get up now."

If I did, the voice of someone nagging me would probably freak me out more than the sound of the garbage man coming one day early.

Unless, of course the voice said, "You're going to miss 'NCIS' if you don't get up now."

That would get me up in a heartbeat.

There are some things even better than sleeping late.

Jean Shanley is retired from The Meadville Tribune where she was communities and society editor. 

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