Lucinda Williams, the enormously talented singer/composer, says she gets up at around ten-thirty in the morning. I have an equally talented friend who is up by five a.m. every day, and another who sleeps until noon. I envy all of them. Not for the hours they rise, but for being so calm about it. They just accept that they are early or late risers and feel no need to justify it.
I, on the other hand, require a full eight hours sleep every night, with a ten-hour night of hibernation thrown in at least once a week. Otherwise, I’m useless. Furthermore, I apparently have some kind of inner battery that has to be charged by sunlight. If I have to open my eyes before the sun is above the horizon, I feel zapped all day. That means that if I go to bed early and sleep until around seven a.m., I’m ready to get up and get things done. At least that’s how it is in theory. In practice, it’s not quite that way.
Before I get out of bed, I do twenty minutes of the Hu-Breath, a breathing exercise that has the cardiovascular benefit of a full hour of aerobics. Since aerobic exercise has been shown to be more beneficial in preventing heart disease, diabetes, and cancer than any drug, I figure my twenty minutes of exercise is time well spent. Then I spend about fifteen minutes writing in my journal. That’s quality time too, because I unload all my mental snarls onto the pages, work out plot problems there, confess my hopes and dreams there and get mentally charged. So now I’ve spent twenty minutes breathing and fifteen minutes writing. It’s getting close to eight o’clock, and I’m still in bed.
Then I read an inspirational passage to lift my own thinking to a higher level. For about fifteen minutes, I read and consider how the ideas apply to me and my life. Now it’s after eight, but I’m still not ready to get up until I meditate. I spend about thirty minutes in meditation every morning. There was a time when I had interesting experiences during my meditating time, but I outgrew that stage. Now I just meditate, but I find that my life becomes bumpy if I stop doing it every morning.
When I finally get up and make my bed, I’ve been awake and busy almost two hours. By the time I shower and dress and leave my bedroom, it’s past nine o’clock, and I feel like Bat Woman coming out of her Bat Cave. Yes, I’ve tried doing all those morning things at night, but it doesn’t work. I have to do them before the day begins or I’m off-kilter.
If I were a tea and toast kind of person, I could whip through breakfast in a trice — whatever a trice is — and get to work right away. But I’m an egg and toast and juice and coffee kind of person. The juice gets protein powder stirred in and the stuff is like powdered glue so it takes forever to mix it. Even though I’m far behind any normal person’s schedule then, I go ahead and read the morning paper while I eat breakfast. Sometimes I do the crossword puzzle too. Manuscripts are waiting. E-mails need to be answered. Phone calls need to be made, and I’m still lolling around with a second cup of coffee.
All of which is the reason why I am envious of people who look you in the eye and say, “I get up at noon” or “I’m up before five,” and you can like it or lump it. I always feel slightly defensive about the time I leave my Bat Cave, and if anybody asks, I always say what time I wake up, not what time I get up. The truth, of course, is that nobody gives a gnat’s heinie what time I get up. It all goes back to having parents who believed that lying in bed past sunrise was a sign of moral degeneration. I know that’s not true. But no matter how many books I write or how much I may overcompensate, deep in my heart I feel like a slug if I don’t get up before the sun.