I’ve started getting up early. Maybe I should say I’ve started getting up earlier. My standard wake up time at 5am seems to have been early enough to make most people a little twitchy. A morning that starts at 4-something would likely send them ranging completing around the bend.
I don’t hate my slightly early wake up time though. I’ve always had something of a fondness for the early hours of the morning, before the rest of the world wakes up and tries to ruin the day. I generally resent the fact that the human mind and body require sleep at all. Laying there in the darkness for hours at a time doing nothing of note feels like a tragic waste of more than a quarter of the available hours in the day. That’s fertile enough ground that I’ve covered here before.
For the last couple of weeks, I’ve consciously made the effort to be out of bed no later than 4:30. Some people would use that time for working out or making breakfast. It’s what I should do. Of course what I’m really doing is using the extra thirty minutes to read another chapter or two and giving the critters some extra ear rubs before leaving for work.
It’s been good having a reminder first thing in the morning of why there’s value in tolerating monumental levels of fuckery during the day ahead. It helps stifle the quiet inner voice that tells me to load up the truck and just keep driving instead of turning into the parking lot. I’m sure there are plenty of people who would rather get that extra thirty minutes of sleep in the morning, but I’m finding those few extra minutes spent actually doing things I enjoy to be almost invaluable.
Most people wouldn’t see a lot of up side to sliding into work at 6am. I won’t say all those many people are wrong, but they don’t speak for me.
One thing stands out as a real perk of starting the day at an obscenely early hour… and that’s seeing the “end of tour” rapidly approaching immediately after lunch. All things considered, 2:30 doesn’t feel like a bad time to end the working part of the day. If it were an option I could convince any of the bosses to consider, hell, I’d probably volunteer to take that on as a permentant schedule. Lord knows it’s not as if I’d mind going to bed a little bit earlier to compensate.
There are, of course, reasons why that won’t happen – chief among them is the penchant my particular organization has for starting meetings after 4PM… and more than a handful that spring up at 5PM or later, depending on the vageries of when any given uberboss may have some white space on their schedule. For reasons surpassing understanding, free time is almost invariably at the end of the day. Somehow I think I’d be more sympathetic in these cases if suddenly they decided to come in early and stack the extranious meetings on the front end of the day instead of at the tail.
Late afternoons are a time I find myself to be generally less effective. You might be able to physically keep me in the building, but I promise you that once we’ve passed the end of my normally scheduled service day my brain has turned to mush. Eight hours of bureaucratic jackassery is just about all I’m wired to tolerate in a single sitting. A reasonably smart man knows his own limitations and accounts for them. You’re getting my best and most focused effort between the hours of 6 and 11 am. Outside of those times I can still be pretty good, but for every hour either side of “prime time,” you’re getting a deminishing marginal return on investment simply because the world doesn’t exist to accomodate how I work best… which is a pity, really, because I’ve long suspected I could be far more productive in five focused hours than I’ll ever be in eight hours that stretches across and well beyond my natural sweet spot.
1. Lack of attention to detail. Someone on post is advertising a very nice, newly renovated town house for rent at $1700 a month in the Bel Air school district. It looks like a lovely place to live. The only problem is whoever is trying to rent it out has fat fingered my office phone number onto their flyers and I’m now fielding more calls about real estate than I am actual things related to my job. If I were trying to get $1700 a month for something you can be damned skippy that I’d make sure I had the right number… as it is, now I have to tell a lot of disappointed people that the place has already been rented. After enough of those, I’m assuming someone will start wondering why they still don’t have a tenant.
2. Policy matters. I read an article this week that urged voters to remember that the 2020 election is a referendum on President Trump and reminding them that “policies don’t matter” as long as someone else wins. I think it strikes exactly the wrong tone. See, I’m not some kind of moralistic crusader from the right wing. I don’t care if you’re on your third wife and like screwing porn stars. I do care if you support a strong national defense, preserving the Second Amendment, and enforcing law and order on the border. I care if you want to explode income tax rates upwards to pay for a grab bag of “free stuff” promises. Implementing policy and enforcing the law are precisely why we elect a chief executive in this country. Pretending that policy doesn’t matter because you’re desperate to unseat someone who says mean things doesn’t pass my common sense test. Want to win my vote? Start talking about policies I can get behind. It really is that simple.
3. Waking up. I’m mostly over the crud that victimized me for the last three weeks. Everything is back to near normal… except the very tail end of my sleep schedule. Instead of the usual and customary 5AM, my internal clock is now waking me pretty consistently between 4:15 and 4:30. Another few days of it and it may just be easier to start going to be earlier and living with it as the new normal.
Because I’m Mr. Glass Half Full, I can see the positive about my internal alarm being so well set that it likes to wake me up at 5AM even on Saturdays. Aside from the chance to see the sun come up – or in this morning’s case to see the sky go from dark gray to light gray – it’s given me the chance to catch up on some blog reading and commenting that I never seem to have time for. That’s basically how I spent the first 90 minutes of the day; reading blogs, dispensing comments, and swilling down coffee at the rate of about 8 cups and hour.
What all this “extra” time this morning didn’t do, of course, is lead me down to the basement to reacquaint me with the exercise equipment I’ve been ignoring since I jacked up my back this winter. Now that it’s feeling better, I’m assured that I can safely get back to that routine… but keeping up with other people’s writing is way, way more fun. I know at some point I’m going to have to get back to that. 5AM (4:30 on weekdays) feels like it’s probably going to be the only available time to make that happen. Sleep is basically the only thing I’m currently doing that I’m willing to cut out of my schedule in order to add something new. If I get up at 4:30, I’ll still manage to get five hours of sleep every day. How much of that do we really need anyway?
I’m sure this all seems like a better idea while I’m sitting here well caffeinated than it will when I’m struggling to understand the concept of an alarm clock at 4:30 on Monday morning. This plan probably won’t survive first contact with the enemy, but at least it looks good on paper… or at least it looks good on paper if you don’t have any expectation of every getting eight hours of sleep. I haven’t had that expectation in a very, very long time.
Time was I’d drag myself out of bed at all sorts of wild hours just for the possibility of seeing something cool in the night sky. Tonight’s blood moon would definitely qualify as one of those things. Until I started checking out the times of best viewing and doing the math on how much cloud cover there was probably going to be here on the east coast at 3:07 AM EDT. Getting up in the middle of the night to watch something live streaming on my iPad just doesn’t have the same effect. Some things are meant to be done live, preferably with a steaming cup of coffee and a touch of Irish to help pass the time. Since tonight’s show looks like it will be clouded out, I’m going to have to take a pass and satisfy my curiosity with seeing the stream after the fact. It’s a little disappointing that I’ll be missing nature’s big show, but since there will be three more chances in the next year and a half, I’ll roll the dice on seeing the next eclipse, or the one after that, or the one after that. Surely the weather can’t conspire to block out all four of the harbingers of the end of days, right?
If there’s anything I’ve come to expect from myself it’s that no matter how late I go to bed, no matter how blown out my throat is, no matter there’s a dull thump somewhere in the middle of my head, if it’s Saturday morning my eyes are going to flip open sometime between 6:00-6:30. My brain is going to engage and it’s going to insist that I get the day started, no matter the level of protest the rest of me might throw in its path.
This internal alarm clock is one of the reasons I don’t tend to have late nights often. The other reason, of course, is late nights tend to demand social interaction with people… and I think we all know how I feel about people. The weekend looks like it’s going to be dark and rainy, so I’m about to pour on a few gallons of coffee and switch the day to autopilot. If I’m going to be awake, I might as well make the morning count.
One of the parts of being an adult that no one thought enough of to warn me about is that after a decade and a half of getting up for work in the dark hours of the morning, your body might accidentally attune itself to that time. Then you end up waking up at what some might consider “early” regardless of how late you went to sleep. Since I find it aggravating beyond measure to just lay in bed awake, the only thing to do is get up and get on with the day at hand.
I’m not saying there isn’t some virtue in 6AM… especially in 6AM on New Years Day. That virtue? For 90-120 minutes the world is absolutely quiet. Inside. Outside. For a few minutes, it’s like all the best parts of I am Legend. Inevitably, though, the rest of the world wakes up – hungover, but alive, to begin their day.
It’s just after 8AM as I’m finishing up this post. Already I can hear the traffic picking up outside and know that my revels are ended. Even so, it was a good couple of hours. I can only hope that it’s a harbinger of the year to come. And now that the world’s waking up, let’s go take 2014 for all she’s worth.