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nestbox margo

Early morning chirping in the nestbox, aside – I want to sleep in. Photo by Margo D. Beller.


Another Monday morning and I’m hungover. Again.

Not from alcohol. From trying to outrun Father Time while cavorting with Mother Nature.

For over three decades, I would rise for breakfast, and rush for a train to take me to an office. About two-thirds of the way through those three decades, my husband and I moved to the suburbs, so that one train became two trains, and the longer commute meant I often had to rise before dawn.

That ended about two years ago.

I am lucky to have a job at my age. It was much harder for an unemployed someone, age 50 and older, to find a job during the recession. And it’s not much easier now, when things are allegedly improving. But I made friends along the way, and one of them found me my current job, for which I work from home.

When I had become a serious birder, I had wished I had more time out in the field – time that was spent working or commuting. But a funny thing happened now that I am home, with a commute measured in minutes rather than hours. I find I still don’t have enough time.

I used to get by on six to seven hours of sleep. Now, like a newborn baby, I crave eight to nine. It is a struggle some days, particularly Mondays, to rise from bed. I hear this year’s house wren busily singing his territorial song at the nestbox every dawn. Part of me wants to rise and see what else is out there. Usually, I go back to sleep.

Except on the weekends. After five days spent mainly in my house, I must get out. I must fit seven days of life into two: see my friends, work in my garden, walk in the woods, drive to another part of the state (with or without MH), and look for birds.

I rise early and walk and drive for miles. I climb. I pull weeds in the garden, and lift heavy pots. The hours fly by. I forget about things like age, and how I’m going to pay the bills.

Then, usually around 8 p.m. on Sunday, I pass out in my chair, spent. Somehow I get to bed. Suddenly, it’s Monday morning. Fifty-plus-year-old knees and back hurt. I’m exhausted, and I’m depressed – hungover yet again.

I don’t know if I am unusual. I see women older than I am walking every day on my street, no matter the weather. Most days I do take a pre-work walk and run short errands during my lunch break.

It’s just Mondays, when I am depressed, that I find that even though I work from home, I still don’t have the time to do what I want. Because this job is a contract position – the new reality for some of us in journalism – I get no paid holidays or personal days. No work, no pay. And so I must use the weekends to the fullest.

Welcome to the “golden years.”