#819: Early to Rise

GETTING MORE TALE #819: Early to Rise

I’ve been an early riser since my youngest memories.  It probably has to do with an anxiety disorder that was undiagnosed until my 40s.  It happened mostly on weekends.  I’d be so excited for the weekend to begin, that I would be up at 5 or 6 AM.

My earliest memory of waking up early was Boxing Day, the year I received my Lego 371 seaplane.  The set came out in 1977, and that could have been the Christmas I received it.  It was a fantastic set with plenty of slopes, opening doors and two figures.  I got up at 2 AM to take it apart and put it back together again.  I woke up my dad who came down to see what all the noise was.  He wasn’t happy!

My parents didn’t have much choice.  They had to get used to it because I kept waking up early.  Quite often, I suddenly woke up after a cool dream of making something interesting out of Lego.  I would run downstairs and try to make it in real life.  Sometimes I would try to draw pictures of things I dreamed.  Other mornings I was just excited that it was Saturday, or Sunday, with no school.

There was usually not much to do on those early mornings.   In the 70s and 80s, television stations went dark overnight, usually starting the broadcasting day at 6 AM.  Nothing on TV but test patterns or static.  If you waited long enough, eventually the national anthem would begin, to start the broadcast day.  Then came the religious programming.  You had to sit through an hour of TV preachers to get to the cartoons.  I was well familiar with Jimmy Swaggart and many more whose names times has forgotten.

On one occasion, I woke my parents up in glee.

“Mom!  Dad!  Did you know there was a THIRD testament of the Bible?  I wonder when we’re going to learn about that one in school!”

Never, that’s when!  Nobody told me the difference between a Catholic and a Mormon.

Another morning I raced upstairs to tell them more good news I saw on TV.  One of the religious shows was discussing the creation of the solar system, which I sketched out.  But the big part was that Jesus was coming back in the year 2000.  That’s what the show said, and I couldn’t wait to tell my parents.  I was so excited that I actually took notes.

The most irritating of the morning TV preachers was Henry Feyerabend, a Seventh Day Adventist.  He had this condescending smile.  Feyerabend was probably the one who got me all excited about Jesus coming back.  I really grew to hate his face after awhile.  He’d talk about things such creationism, and sing hymns with these other dudes.  I was into science at a young age so the creationism always bugged me.  But there was nothing else on TV.  Not until Bugs Bunny at 7:00.

My early morning TV adventures were not all uplifting ones.  I woke up really early one Saturday, and a channel was in the middle of late horror movie night.  I don’t know the name of the film that I saw, and I’ve never been able to find out.  All I can remember is that there was a mad scientist or doctor of some kind.  He had little voodoo robots that looked like people.  In one scene, one of the little voodoo dolls stabbed and killed a woman with a pair of scissors.

I didn’t even know you could stab a person with scissors.  I wasn’t getting any more sleep that night!  But it would be amazing to find out what the name of the movie was, and see it again.  See how closely it matches my memories.

The last straw for my dad was Christmas Day 1984.  It was the year I got my GI Joe Killer W.H.A.L.E. hovercraft.  One of the best toys in the entire line, incidentally.  I couldn’t sleep.  I went to bed, tossed and turned, and waited.  The adults were all downstairs laughing and drinking.  I waited for that to die down.  Then I could hear the shuffling about as presents were laid around the tree for us.  The parents went to bed, and I decided I had waited long enough.  Sleep was cancelled.  Assembling of the GI Joe hovercraft commenced henceforth.  Once again, my dad trudged down the stairs to see what the noise was.  There I was, ankle deep in GI Joe parts and stickers, so happy to have my hovercraft.

Nobody else was happy, but that hovercraft was the centerpiece of my GI Joe forces for years to come.  It was and is totally badass.


Time went on, I grew up, but early morning rising never really ended.  There were a couple semesters in University when I only had afternoon classes, and my sleep patterns shifted to later in the day, which was really weird for me.  By and large I have remained early to bed, early to rise.

I didn’t think it was much of a problem.  It was “just the way I am”.  When I told a doctor about it in 2012, they didn’t brush it off as I did.  I was having trouble waking up in the mornings on weekdays, but still getting up at 2 AM on Saturdays.  During the week, there was depression.  “I have to go to work.  I’ll just hit the snooze button for 15 more minutes.”  Then I’d hit snooze again until I absolutely had to get up.  On weekends it was the opposite.  The doctors diagnosed me with a bunch of fun things, including obsessive-compulsive disorder.

As shitty as that is, it’s always why I have such a kickass music collection.

I’ve been trying to maintain more regular sleep hours, though I still wake up earlier on the weekends.  I don’t like to wake up before 5 AM on a Saturday anymore.  If I can’t sleep, I’ll get up for a short while, watch some YouTube until I’m tired, and go back to bed.  Sometimes it takes a while to unwind but it’s been working.

Otherwise, on a “normal” Saturday morning you’ll usually find me at 5:30 or 6:00 AM with a coffee in one hand, music in my ears, and pounding out words on a keyboard.  Sometimes Deke is awake, way up in Thunder Bay, and we’ll chat coffee and music.

Mornings are magical to me, much more so than late nights.   Especially Sunday mornings.  There is nobody up.  I can go for my morning walk down the middle of King Street if I want to.  I love going to get a coffee when the drive-thru is empty at 6 AM.  I prefer getting things done in the morning before people are awake.  I’ll do laundry or I’ll review a box set.  It’s just somehow better before the city wakes.

Early mornings aren’t necessarily the best way, but with moderation it works for me.  I’m most creative in the mornings, and I love the solitude.  And my parents can sleep soundly in their house while I putter around mine!

17 comments

  1. I am very similar. I’m usually lights out by 9:15 on most days, usually only a recorded soccer game on saturday keeping me up against my regular routine. But I enjoy that, and that’s what matters

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      1. You are correct. Not a morning person, never have been. I like the outdoors during morning time, the dew, the crisp air, and the way the world is lit, but I usually just feel like shit for about an hour until I no longer feel too nauseus to eat breakfast. So most weekdays I don’t eat it since I can’t wait an hour after waking up to eat.

        I get up around 8:30 AM on a normal weekday, and between 11AM-12 PM on an average weekend. Stay up to about 11:30PM-12 AM on the average weekday, and somewhere between 1-3AM on a weekend. I try to land around 2AM, much past that is where I start to feel I’m pushing it.

        When I was in high school sometimes during winter break I would stay up until 6AM and then get up at 3:30PM. I was awake for about two hours of daylight, haha.

        Last summer I guess I had insomnia bad. There were several nights I just couldn’t sleep at all, so I stayed up all night talking on here with you. Then since it was summer it was really bad because it’s so bright out almost all the time. Only a few hours to get to sleep.

        Usually takes me hours to get to sleep after going to bed. I usually have a lot of energy late at night, energy I most certainly do not have in the morning. I wonder where it goes?

        You and LeBrain seem to be draining batteries. You are at your peak when you get up, and slowly grow more tired as the day progresses. Whereas I am like a charging battery. I’m at my peak after hours, and then I have to try to sleep while I’m not tired just so I’m not useless the next day.

        How in the fuck you guys get up at 5:00 and don’t feel like curling up in a ball and dying, I’ll never know. I’m usually trembling, weak, cold, angry, and just generally unpleasant feeling until I’ve had some time to warm up. I hate the assertion that early to rise people are somehow better though. Like we’re lazy because we sleep in later? We get to bed later too! It’s the same amount of God damn sleep. Who cares when we get up?

        Early bird gets the worm? Not when the night owl is out stalking the worms who thought they were safe in the dark. I just like the nighttime. It’s when the weirdos come out, the world seems more real. Less putting on appearances deemed necessary during the day. Less people around. Quieter, no one is calling, no one expects anything from you then.

        What decade is that movie from, Mike? The one you want to know the name of?

        Well, it’s 12:22 AM here. Gotta go night night.

        Oh, one more thing. Does music seem faster in tempo to you right after you wake up? That’s something that happens to me when I put something on the headphones right after waking up. It usually takes a song or two to adjust. I was reminded because listening to that R.E.M. song felt like it was like 10 BPM too fast, to the point I thought the video was sped up. But nope. The CD is the same speed. My brain is just playing it way faster right now, even though I’m going to sleep, not waking up. I know it’s not just that tune because all the other songs on the album sound too fast as well. My mind is weird.

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        1. I don’t exactly get up that early unless I absolutely have to, but I am still a morning person. I too require hours to get to sleep before going to bed, usually up to at least 2. It’s one of the reasons I go to bed so early. Not sure about the music speed one, I do think I heard somewhere though that the brain does work really fast though when you just get up, so maybe there is some merit to that theory. Also, I’d have to disagree on being an emptying battery. Most of my best ideas come to me when I’m waiting to get to sleep, and then I have to make a call as to whether I think I’m going to remember it or whether I need to roll over and grope for my phone to write it down.

          I really did enjoy those really long conversations we had last summer, though I do feel a bit guilty about enjoying them so much now that I know about the insomnia. I also feel a bit bad about not checking in and replying to them more often, seeing as you were up and waiting for an answer.

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        2. Oh and I don’t know how you can miss breakfast. If I go half an hour past a meal time I’m crippled due to my stomach killing me

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  2. Sleeping patterns are crazy and I hear ya Mikey. 5 am is my wake up call M-F and even on the weekends as you mentioned its coffee and rock talk with ya. I’m so programmed now its not funny lol!

    Nothing wrong with taking naps on the weekend either.

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  3. I’m always up at 5:00 everyday. I go down, grab a bite to eat, watch a little news and then off to work. The only difference is on the weekend, that work is the website. I try to write until about 10am and then everyone should be up by then. It is one of my favorite times of the day.

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  4. Being on the other side of the world this explains how we have been on site at the same time couple of times. These days I need 7 to 8 hours of sleep on work days. So I go to bed early during the week but come friday and I’ll be up late watching a movie and still waking up a bit early in the morning. Always have been more of a night person. At night time it feels kinda like everything is possible, kinda comforting.My favorite time is in the summer early morning when the sun doesn’t go down at all.

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  5. Glory hallelujah! Jimmy Swaggart made some great morning comedy, especially when he went on a tirade against rock music. I have sleep apnea so I can wake up in the wee hours of the morning. Normally I read and that sometimes works and sometimes, I’m not saying this officially but I’ve found smoking a little bit of weed does the trick.

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  6. Well said about how nice the solitude is of being awake & out and about doing things while the city is still sleeping.
    Or it’s also nice you like you said when it’s just you and a TBay resident awake too!

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  7. Yep, earlier riser here too. I remember waiting for the bars and tone to end on the TV before cartoons on weekends. I usually could get away with it if I left the sound off until Scooby came on but sometimes I’d forget to before turning on the TV. The house would be filled with a loud BOOOOOOOOOO for only a split second but my Dad would be putting me back to bed.

    I was always the first one up during the college party days as I could rarely sleep past 7 or 8 AM even if I was out until 2 or 3. Even this past Saturday I was playing Duke Nukem 3D with some friends online and I called it a night at 10 pm. They thought I was bored! Nope, time for bed.

    On weekends now, I usually force myself to get up at 2 AM or so and do something for an hour. If I don’t I’ll be too anxious to sleep thinking about the stuff I need or haven’t to yet. On weekdays I’m usually OK to sleep until the alarm goes off at 5:30. It helps that I have a job that is usually very quiet in the AM so I can do things like reading or writing blogs. Even watch a movie… or two…

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    1. Wow we are really similar. If I wake up at 2 am I’ll kill an hour watching Youtube before I hit the sheets again. I’m just kind of blown awau that you are the same as me. Where were you when I was trying to figure all this shit out for myself???

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      1. lol, trying to figure it out for me! In my case, I’m guessing it is genetic. My Mom gets up at 2AM and watches some BBC show before going back to bed, but I never could relate to her. She is a bit of a hypochondriac and would always put the blame on the ailment of the month.

        But people who hung out with my maternal grandfather would tell me how he as always the first one up. He’d get all of his work done in the morning, then they would find him snoozing away somewhere in the afternoon. He also loved fishing and was always the first on out on the lake.

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        1. That’s me, man. First out on the lake. If I fished. When I’m at Sausagefest I’m one of the first guys up. I’m really to go and do something but nobody else is!

          Ah well. It’s kind of a lonely life being a morning person. I get tired at night but I love the magic morning.

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