No, I do not work an 8-hour shift. The only work I do is housework - and an occasional volunteer job. My days of regular employment ended quite a while ago.

But, I am still a 9-5 girl. I go to bed around 9 and wake up around 5. That has been my schedule since I went to college in 1958.

I discovered that I do my best mental work in the early morning. That's when I write my columns and figure out my daily schedule. That's when I am the most alert and aware. As the day goes on, my mental capacity shrivels up like an old prune.

Mornings are wonderful. There is so much promise in a new day. When I wake up, it is dark, but soon the birds start singing and the sun peeks through our bay window. I make the coffee, watch the news, and read a little or play a computer game.

When I started college at Kutztown State Teachers College in 1958, I took on a job that very few students wanted. I delivered the morning newspaper in our dormitory.

The papers usually arrived by 4 a.m., so I got up and had them in front of the rooms before anyone else was awake. Once in a while during exam time, someone might be up studying early, but most of the time I was the only person awake in the entire Old Main building.

Our current neighborhood is very quiet in the early morning. Most residents sleep late. The first signs of life are the early walkers, who wait until the sun comes up before venturing out. One or two intrepid folks have little lantern flashlights that allow them to feel safe walking in the dark. One gentleman sewed reflective strips on his jogging (not really) pants. Another guy put bright neon strips on the front and back of his jacket.

Once in a while, I will sit on our front porch and watch the morning arrive. However, the mosquitos usually find me and chase me back inside. During the heat of the day, the biting insects aren't as bad. Mornings and evenings seem to be their favorite time to chase me.

Someone recently asked us to a New Year's Eve party. I politely declined and told the person that I haven't seen the ball drop for more than 20 years. Once in a while, the celebratory fireworks will wake me around midnight, but I roll over and go right back to sleep. The days of enjoying late night parties are long gone.

Our good friends know my regular bedtime, so they are not disturbed when we cut a card game short so I can be in bed by 9 or so. It has become an item of teasing for some friends, who say, "Ginny needs her beauty rest." Boy, is that the truth. But, no matter how much sleep I get, my mirror doesn't show any improvement.

Our little granddaughter recently visited us from Pennsylvania. Her normal bedtime is around the same as mine. She was amazed that Grandma was going to bed at the same time that she was. I told her that we would both be smarter in the morning because we went to bed early. I think she really believed me.

So, this 9 to 5 girl has no regrets about her bedtime. Nor does she bemoan her early rising time. The day is beautiful in the morning and when darkness comes, the inside of my eyelids is all I care to see

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If you would like ton contact Dr. Smith, she can be reached at her email address: jsmith1313@cfl.rr. com or in care of this newspaper.