Confessions of an Early Riser
I’ve always been a night person. Even as a kid, I remember staving off sleep for as long as possible — not because of monsters under the bed or nightmares or anything, but because I just didn’t want to give in to sleep. I’d do everything I could think of to stay awake. I’d read, I’d play with my toys and do pretty much anything else I could do to keep Morpheus at bay.
Late-night television was a special favorite. Back when I was in elementary school, I’d stay up late on school nights watching “SCTV” and “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.” Oh, and “The Saint,” too. I was too young to really understand the humor of “Monty Python,” and “SCTV” was just so… Canadian.
I wasn’t supposed to watch “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman,” but I sometimes did. As with most of the shows, I didn’t understand the humor or themes, but that didn’t matter; it was TV that was on after the news — therefore verboten, therefore awesome. The early years of “Saturday Night Live” are also deeply embedded into my psyche. I didn’t really understand why someone saying “Candygram” was funny; I just knew that it was.
Sleepovers in junior high were rife with staying-upping, so I tried my best to attend as many as possible. The girlish bonding, the secrets, the revelations, the late-night bowls of Cookie Crisp cereal… None of those could have happened had I gone to bed when I was supposed to. All the more reason to stay up.
In high school, I discovered coffee. This allowed for even later nights, more and better shenanigans, and yet another vehicle for ingesting copious amounts of sugar and non-dairy creamer. At the high school I attended, students had the choice of starting at eight or nine a.m.; I always took the later start, even though it meant staying in class till 4 p.m., simply because getting up at seven a.m. was just not an option for me.
One semester, I gave it a try — all of my friends had early classes and I desperately wanted to be able to leave school when they did. There was teenage hooliganism to be done, you see. But I wasn’t able to join them most days, because I was usually in detention for missing my first period class.
In college, I experimented with early rising. I had an apartment that overlooked Lake Superior, and I would get up in the mornings at six to watch the sun rise over the lake. It was peaceful and calm — beautiful, really. And I’d not trade those memories for anything, even though I thought it was just a phase.
When I moved to Minneapolis and got married, I left the early-morning life behind. I got a regular 11-to-7 job and did all the regular people things –- got some cats, bought a house, cooked regular meals. Life returned to normal, and stayed that way for a good many years.
But today, I’m an early riser once again. It took a while for me to come to that realization, and longer still for me to get the courage to admit to it. Sometimes, I feel a couple ounces of shame over it, especially when I recall my earlier years of carefree late-night abandon. Instead of staying up ’til five a.m., I wake up at 6 — on purpose — and sometimes even before my alarm clock goes off. Instead of having my second iced espresso at eight p.m, I’m having a nice warm mug of herbal tea. Instead of tying on a pair of TUK creepers at 10 p.m. and hitting the bars, I’m lounged up in a set of sock monkey pajamas and am dozing off on the couch. I schedule dentist appointments for seven in the morning.
Have to cop to it: I’ve become an unrepentant early riser.