I have always been somewhat awful at adulting. Not in the obvious, disastrous, off-the-rails sort of way. I don’t shoot up heroin or hang out in strip clubs until 5am selling cocaine. I don’t leave babies and dogs in cars. I don’t set buildings on fire. I am a generally law-abiding boring person who has such an aversion to smoke in general that I never even tried pot in college. (Really. Smoke just kind of closes up all my airways and I have to force myself to inhale and there’s just no way inhaling on purpose was ever going to work.)
No, my big issue is mornings. I don’t function well in the morning. Especially if I have to wake between 5 and 7am EST and I am indoors, away from the sun or it is winter. (Adults don’t live in tents all summer so they can rise in time for work unless they’re camp counselors or park rangers or something.) I’ve heard all the advice: it’s all in my head; just wake up smiling; go to bed earlier; don’t watch TV late; don’t read before bed; read before bed; don’t sleep near your phone; don’t check email before bed; work out; don’t work out… I just need sleep. And that sweet spot between 5 and 7 seems to be when my body really wants to be asleep. Which means if I wake at 7, I’ll be alert and nearly-cheerful by 9. If I wake between 5 and 7, I might be semi-coherent by noon and by 3pm I’ve lost the ability to sit still without nodding off like a drugged grandpa. When I was teaching, this meant after the kids left and I started grading, I’d turn up obnoxiously-loud music on my computer and still wake up around 3:30 wondering if any of the other teachers noticed me drooling on a stack of future Fs. Granted, teaching was an exhausting job for an introvert. There’s that.
I’ve tried being one of those people, like the husband, who can get by on 4 or 5 or even 6 hours of sleep. That always goes fine for about three days and then I either forget how to sleep for about 24 hours or I turn damn-near narcoleptic. (This makes for unsafe commuting.) I’m definitely not one of those people who can run for weeks, months, even years on two or three hours of sleep a night without being a dangerous, cranky, stumbly mess. (People only forgive this, by the way, if you have an infant — generally a human infant that you can prove lives in your house and requires your attention in some fashion.)
I’m not one of those people who has ever found smiling to cure anything. If I’m not doing it naturally, it makes my face hurt. It also makes people think I’m plotting their demise or that I’ve been possessed by an evil clown.
Going to bed early just results in me lying in bed having all the same thoughts I’d have if I were up. Then, I wake up in the morning cranky that I didn’t actually do anything with the thoughts and then I have to find time during the day to cram in those thoughts before new ones happen and it just leads to the added stress of always being behind on my own nonsense in addition to everything else. Accomplishing things with the thoughts helps me sleep easy and not toss and turn all night.
I mean, I admire and marvel at those writers who wake at four or five to turn out pages before day jobs. And I get that it’s easier to get it done before the day and friends and family and work and errands and rising tides intrude. Except, if I woke at four or five, I’d have pages of this:
kk d coffee. kkkkkkkjddjl;lalkjllliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiij iijia;ff398 kthinglsishieqiejsa roewrrooqur oyeie jjhio;w mdnnm, ndjm nldlj ‘9ue9a’ kc ijodija’
And this is a quick and dirty thing I banged out as an example of something at midnight:
Bob ran his hands through his thinning hair and stared at the dog poop. He could not believe such giant turds could come out of a runty chihuahua. “Just you and me now.” He considered using the divorce papers as a scooper, but figured that’d come back to bite him in the ass, too.****Beth gulped down the last of her margarita and threw her hands in the air. “I’m free. No more Bob. No more shitty little taco dog. And if that barely legal busboy is willing, I’m going to christen my new sheet set right.”
I keep waiting for that “when you get older, you’ll be a morning person” promise to kick in. Apparently I’m still not old enough. I worry I won’t live long enough to be old enough since the husband’s “morning person gene” switched on when he was a year or two younger than I am now. I still sleep through alarms. Yes, plural. I need at least four to get me up.
On the other hand, come midnight, I’m wide awake.