If I Had a Moustache, and Other Too-Early Morning Ramblings

It’s 4:58 AM and I’ve finally given up on sleep. Since I’m in the mood to chat and there may be a few of you up, an impromptu post.

Of late I’ve been working on a few time-sensitive writing projects that have kept me on the Internet less. It’s good to feel productive again, to trust there’s more than intent behind my goals, but this is the side effect: a brain that won’t shut off.

It reminds me of coping with a toddler. You put them down, thinking, “This will be the night I’ll catch up on my sleep.” Maybe you even get in a few hours. Then your mom-ESP wakes you with a start and sure enough, the scuffling, thumps and light emanating from behind your kid’s door confirms they’ve gone rogue.

What do you find behind your adorable, winsome kid? Well, the precise damage may vary, but in this household it’s been headless dolls, Magic Marker wall art, and most disturbing of all, shredded books.

On the shredded book side of this scenario:

1. All day long I’ll feel jangled and nervous, and I’ll probably look like a few former patients of mine — the ones who drank 2-3 pots of coffee and who smoked 50 cigarettes a day.

By the way, in case you wondered, if I smoked, I would not look like those ad execs on Mad Men, who’ve singlehandedly made cigarettes cool and sexy again and undone the graphic images, education, and anti-smoking advocacy of the last 30 years or so. (Not that I’ve noticed at all.) I’d be more like Walt in Breaking Bad, whose forehead could be used by geometry teachers to demonstrate parallel, perpendicular, and converging lines.)

2. I’ll think I’m being witty and wise, but for the next 24 hours, a transcript of my dialogue will contain a ton of “…” and “–“.

3. Teenagers are not so tolerant of “…” and “–“.

4. Light-bulb moment here, peeps, and probably the only teachable moment in this otherwise rambling post: Teenagers are not so tolerant of anything, so screw ’em.

On the adorable toddler side of the equation:

1. There’s something rebellious and sneaky about an early awakening. In fact, if I had a moustache, I’d be twirling it at this moment, because I stole three hours for myself. And like the icicle used to commit murder in that long-ago Encyclopedia Brown book — remember? — by the time anyone’s around to notice my crime, the evidence has already melted.

2. I get to watch the dawn pinken the trees outside my office window. Since there are maybe 15 leaf-empinkening days left in the next…195, that feels important. (See? What did I do there? A “…”  and two “–” already and it’s only 5:59.)

How about you guys? (And I’ve missed you.) Are you sound sleepers, like the presently snoozing ToolMaster? And if not, what do you do with your wee-hour time? How do you feel about the dawn? Most importantly, if you had a moustache, would you shave it or twirl?

20 thoughts on “If I Had a Moustache, and Other Too-Early Morning Ramblings

  1. Well I’m UP and at WORK but only because I am 3 time zones ahead of you. I have just finished my role in a mammoth grant and am FINALLY ready to sneak a little time blog hopping, so I was happy to see you–it’s been too long.

    My daughter covered herself in marker when she was little–that was the worst of it. I will take your lesson on teens though, and hide for the next seven years.

    And don’t get a mustache… I just don’t see any way you could avoid getting it in your mouth, and hair in the mouth is icky.

  2. Hola, Hart. Nice to see you! It has been too long. Hope life is treating you well.

    Re the moustache: too late. Under the category of TMI, Alex, that’s what happens when you’re perimenopausal and have a touch of Eastern European ancestry. Ho hum.

  3. I sleep pretty darn soundly these days. But then I spent twenty years in a business that considers dawn the halfway mark on the day. In lumber distribution (Chicago-style) trucks had to be in the city before rush hour. Hence were loaded the night before. Prefinishing ran in two shifts, the first starting their day at 5 am. Through that time I took occasional loading-problem-calls till 3 am, truck-driver route issue calls from 4 am, and arrived myself to a usual bevy of start up problems at 6 am. It was sort of like having 60 toddlers. The rest of the day was a blur until 6 pm that evening, when I finally had the next day’s truck routes and prefinishers’ productions schedules done, handing them over to foot-tapping stagers and loaders to start the whole process over again. Yeah, I sleep pretty well these days.

    I do, however, occasionally wake in the night thinking about my characters. But they don’t generally keep me up. I’m revising my black moment today, so it happened last night at about 3. I just thought, ‘Oh, he’s going to be so much more miserable in this new scenario.’ Then I twirled my moustache, rolled over, and went back to sleep. 😉 I miss you too, Jan! Hope it’s going well!

  4. Oy. Your schedule sounds like a family doc’s, Vaughn. I had no idea.

    I used to think it was cool and edgy to stay up all night, but 36-hour stretches in the hospital cured me of that. Did you find the same?

    Woot for blackened black moments! And thank you. I keep waiting for a moment to write a “significant” blog post, but that wasn’t going to happen for a bit. Hence, this one. 🙂 It’s good to be here.

  5. Your light-bulb moment made me laugh, Jan.
    Sleep is a tricky issue in our house. If I awaken at an awkward hour, as is happening more in middle age, my focus is trying not to wake up anyone else. Sometimes I can read. Or, in the interests of mustache eradication, tweeze. But if this keeps up, I’m thinking of stashing my writing notes and a computer in the bathroom.

  6. These days, it’s generally two or three in the morning before I fall asleep but just yesterday morning, I woke at 4:30, jumped out of bed and headed for the coffee pot then the computer. I far prefer to wake early than stay up late. There’s something so soothing about the quietness of the household before anyone else wakes. Under a nice warm blanket, I can cozy up to my computer and write without interruption.

    And if I had a moustache, I’d join a circus and twirl it. 🙂

  7. Whenever I wake up at 4:30, I look at the clock, think happy thoughts of another two blissful hours in bed, turn over and go back to sleep.

    Mornings are not my forte.

    Neither are late nights. So, basically, I’m screwed 🙂

    1. “So, basically, I’m screwed.”

      I really didn’t need to know details of a personal nature, Botanist.


      On a serious note, that definitely poses challenges. You need a lot of sleep, I gather. I seem fine with 6-8 hours, but I have a family member who does better with 8-10. That’s a lot of hours over the years!

  8. I’m a sound sleeper, but I usually go to bed at 11-12 and have to rise at 5:30 a.m. for my job. I don’t sleep so much as I pass out; although, lately, I’ve been a little jealous of the light sleepers. If I could squeeze three more hours in a day I would! 😉

    I hope things settle down for you soon, Jan.

  9. I’ve never been a great sleeper — it seems to go in cycles. And my youngest took four years to sleep through the night consistently (meaning more than two nights in a row) so I’ve gotten used to getting very little sleep. I’ve also lost a lot of brain cells along the way, I suspect.

  10. There’s a four-thirty in the am now?

    If I’m awake at that time it’s either because I’ve had a great idea that demanded to be fleshed out and it’s time to recharge the computer–or the dog has decided the neighbors are making too much noise and she’s yelling (barking) at them to shut up. Then I have to join her (not really.)

    I may yet allow the goatee to grow in.

  11. Not a fan of early mornings! If I could muster the energy, I’d love to get up before the kids and the dog and get some writing done, but I find that late evenings are a better wind-down time for me. Plus, I just can’t muster the energy! So there you go. And if I had a mustache, I think I would put in tiny little braids.

  12. I have a lot to thank insomnia for. That’s when some writers I’ve never even met—like Karen Novak—have written me the most touching, uncensored, heartwarming emails.

    I love those emails!

    We tend to throw caution to the wind in the middle of the night. TI think that’s why so many great writers are known for being night owls.

    1. Victoria, I think there’s something to that. Barbara O’Neal cultivates that state of mind by forcing herself to waken early, particularly in the last push of her first draft.

      And I’d love those email too. How nice that they sent them. 🙂

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