I always wondered why in the world anyone would ever in a million years want to wake up before the sun came up – and more so who these strange beings are. I don’t understand how anyone can function without natural light to guide you; fluorescent bulbs are bad enough any time of day, let alone in the middle of the night or morning when there is absolutely no solar contribution to your ocular abilities.
I never really realized what a massive part of the population is what I always thought was “The Myth of the Early Riser” … or maybe I just forgot. I don’t normally awake before 10AM (9, at the earliest), so it seems to be that I thought everyone else on the planet followed my deranged sleeping patterns.
These past few days, I have been traveling and visiting my cousin, Sandy (from Spongebob), her husband Jerry (the snail), and their two kids down in North Carolina and hanging out on the beautiful Duke campus. Just kidding, they’re not from Spongebob… But those are their real names. I also have an Aunt Jill who married my Uncle Jack. Really, no joke.
On Tuesday, I had to arise at the ungodly hour of 6AM to shower and ready myself to leave by 7AM so I could make it to the metro station and subsequently Union Station to catch my 7:45AM bus on time. Here is a screen shot of my alarms motivating me to cancel the trip altogether:
You can also see how stressful this “spring break” week was with the inclusion of the necessary wake-up times of 8:10 on Thursday and Friday; needless to say, it wasn’t so much of a relaxing break so much as a series of errands, travelings, and other general running arounds.
For me to make such ridiculously early plans shows you how important family and also my future (education) is to me. I literally have never in my functional life voluntarily awoken so early for any reason. (That’s a lie – I did one time to go to Move:DC in support of the anti-Kony campaign and the other time to go to this year’s Presidential Inaguration – but those are the only times in my conscious memory.)
By whatever miracle, I actually elected to listen to my alarms and arise at these horrendous times. The second alarm seemed to do the trick as I realized that not being ready on time would really be bad for a meeting with members of a program I have been very interested in; showing up late probably wouldn’t display my interest in a positive light.
I complained the whole time… to myself, of course; my roommate actually took a real spring break like a normal person. Never in my life have I not traveled on a relaxing vacation for spring break – this year was a first. I forgot to undress myself completely prior to showering. Once I realized my sock-related error, I addressed it and followed it up with a rewarding, brief nap in the shower (twice). I referred on dozens of occasions to my to-do/checklist I had made the night before in order to avoid the inevitable forgetting of items. It turns out I just forgot my vitamins – I even remembered breakfast! My constant grumbling at the sun for not being up yet (DANG IT DAYLIGHT SAVINGS) and anger at my heating system (WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE SO COLD INDOORS SO EARLY) probably did not start my upcoming in the best of ways. I was mad at my bag, for being heavy; my bag of cakes, because there wasn’t a rain-resistent power-shield around it; the rain… for being rain. I had no expectations of bad weather and was not pleasantly surprised by the influx of precipitation during my 10-block trek to the metro in my second favorite leather boots.
By the time I got to the metro around 7:11AM (I remember this detail clearly for whatever reason), it was still dark. This is unfathomable to me; I cannot understand 1. Why we still implement daylight savings time and 2. Why people voluntarily elect to arise at a time where there is no sun. I need the sun to function; I am practically reptilian in my cold-bloodedness and require external warmth to function at a human level and expect that all other humans respond to sunlight similarly. I also never understand how people tolerate the cold… I cannot fathom the notion of exiting indoors (despite the fact that I prefer the outdoor environment) when the temperatures are sub-50. 60 is barely acceptable to me; optimal temperatures are about 75 degrees plus.
Another reason why I fail to comprehend early-risers: the morning is cold. Why would you want to leave your warm cocoon of a bed when the air is so frigid? Your blankets provide to you an unconditional loving hug at all hours of the night, and would gladly continue this affection for the duration of the day if you would allow them; let them love you for as long as possible! The day does not warm up until at least 10AM and thus, once again, I see no reason to arise any earlier than that without necessity.
I could not comprehend on my venture to the metro the vast quantity of people, both walking and driving, who were conscious at 7AM. There was tangible street traffic. It was completely unreal. I never in my life knew that so many people had function lives before I awoke; real, substantial fractions of their day occur while I am typically still in bed dreaming of the thievery of my iPad (it hasn’t happened yet… but I suspect it is coming.) There were actual hoards of people; I was fighting my way through foot traffic and could hardly squeeze my beanpole 120-pound frame amongst the crowds of people in my metro car. I even walked the length of the station in anticipation of a fully empty car; I could not have been more wrong.
When I finally arrived at Union Station, I had reached a stage of traumatization. I could not believe how many people traveled and commuted at such an ungodly hour. I could not walk because of the congestion and feared my overnight bag and stash of cupcakes would be swiped at any moment. It was a madhouse; I am honestly not exaggerating. I could not believe my big brown eyes.
Basically, the proceeding day is unimportant for the purposes of this story; I slept on and off on the bus whilst trying to finish some homework and readings, my cousin picked me up, I went on to my meetings, had tea, walked around the beautiful Duke campus, and so on and so forth. We came home earlier around 5 or so and then waited for the kids and my cousin’s husband to come home. Shortly afterwards, we proceeded to a restaurant that I believe may be the North Carolina equivalent to DC’s Founding Farmers called Lucky 32. It was quite delicious and might I say at least in part nutritious as well; I had scallops, cooked kale with beans, and freshly made potato fries – not to mention the yummy appetizers of sweet potato hush puppies and deep fried pickles. They sound scary, but they were AMAZING – especially with whatever variety of spicy sauce we were having with them.
Circa 8:30PM, we arrived back at the house to eat the always-scrumptious Sprinkles cupcakes that I brought down. The kids were super pumped; the cupcakes were very well-received. It was still quite early (for me anyhow) so I headed upstairs to get some work and reading done while (I thought) the kids were studying and my cousin and her husband would be making lunches, etc. It was after all only around 9PM.
However, as I was reading my Obesity articles, one by one, the family members started filtering in to say goodnight.
When the youngest one came in, that seemed pretty normal to me – kids need a lot of sleep, I guessed. As children, my siblings and I always went to bed around 10 – even at very young ages – but that’s not to say there is anything wrong with going to bed at 9. I actually oftentimes wish I had the ability to go to bed so early!
When the oldest child came in around 9:15, I suspected it was a bit early – but then again, he is in high school and thus has a very early waking schedule (high school starts early for kids!) so I shrugged this off as well.
However, when Sandy and Jerry came in around 9:30, I was at a point of semi-confusion. It was only around 9:30PM! I joked around a bit, “Early night guys?” to which they responded something along the lines of “No, actually this is pretty late for us,” in a more serious tone – to which I quickly retorted, “Really?!”
They proceed to explain to me that most mornings, Sandy awoke at 4:30AM or so to get in a work-out before her day started; she got tired by the end of the day and left the hour at 6:30AM or so anyway. This was a real eye-opener.
Jerry elaborated – adding to the conversation that many times he couldn’t sleep beyond 3:30 or 4AM and that he also awoke to exercise prior to the beginning of his day… blah blah…
Not that I was ignoring Jerry – I simply couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Wake up call at 3:30 or 4:30AM? I went to sleep slightly earlier than that every night. My cousins literally wake up every day before I even manage to close my eyes at night. I was completely and utterly bewildered. I was stunned, I was shocked. I need not have any words to say; no message to convey. I was nearly pained that they managed to arise to early every day. Those times are practically unspeakable to me. Had someone asked me to wake up at that time I would have laughed in their faces and told them I would find my own way onto campus in the morning.
Luckily, they didn’t – but I did need to wake up around 6:35AM shortly before my 6:50AM departure from the house. This was all too much for me. They continued with their well-wishes for my night, I exchanged the response, and then laid in bed staring at the ceiling (in the darkness of course – I did have to go to sleep soon) pondering how I shared blood with these monsters. (Just kidding – my cousins are amazing and I had a wonderful time… but for the purposes of this story, they are monsters.)
My mind got to wandering, as it often does, and starting musing about how many other people wake up at this time, and what types of people they are. I had seen that morning in DC the hoards of people crowding the streets, but I hadn’t really had the time to process that they probably did this on a regular, daily basis. These monsters woke up every day before the sun rose and commuted to work every day in the darkness of what I still consider to be the night. It is completely ridiculous.
What shocked me the most, however, was that I simply did not have a functioning knowledge that this phenomenon existed at all. I had no clue. I never knew people woke up so early voluntarily (or what seemed voluntarily at the time – I now recognize that a good fraction of these people were perhaps not awake by choice but as dictated by their vocations). I always have lived under the ruse that people wake when I wake; I always forget that there are classes and jobs and activities that occur during my unconscious states.
I suppose my trip has taught me the following: Americans are crazy. I am grateful to sleep in every day, and I am planning on staying in bed until 10AM forever.
In other news: Happy Persian New Year!
In other other news: My room is so hot that I am actually awake and have been since 8AM. If we open a window, all we can hear is the constant chaos of construction. So I guess I’m awake then.
Sleeping In Forever (From this Point Forward),
P.S. Sorry for the delay – it’s been quite a busy 2 week. I didn’t forget about you though! xoxo
P.P.S. I know you all momentarily though I was a liar about sleeping in every day when you saw my Thursday Friday alarm is set for 8:10… that is just for this week. If you had the ability to scroll down on my phone, you would see that my MTWR alarm is set for 10AM. I never meant to deceive you, I’m sorry.