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!