Finally the constant stream of early morning classes and meetings has come to an end and the familiar routine of fall quarter has begun. I’ve survived the rear-end collision of the 4-week “early fall start” class into the beginning of my fall classes, with grading and general clean-up from the first class overlapping with prep for the three classes that I’ll be teaching in the fall. The problems created by colliding courses aren’t completely solved yet, but at least they’re managed.
Wednesday was the first day I haven’t had to wake up to an alarm clock in the dark and commute for an hour or more to get to class or a meeting on time. What a difference an hour or two the morning makes! Instead of 60-90 minutes, it takes me about 15 minutes to get to work. Even though Jasper the cat insists that I get up a soon as it’s light, he wakes me gently, and I’m able to enjoy my morning coffee as I read the news, check my various e-mail accounts, respond to whatever needs an immediate response, and prepare materials for that day’s teaching. I have time to take a long hot shower, put on a little make-up, and actually think about what I want to wear that day instead of groping in the dark so as not to wake Michael up and throwing on a random combination of whatever all-black items first come to hand.
There are times when I complain about my job(s) and my lifestyle, but being forced to keep standard working hours for a month makes me appreciate my usual disorganized schedule more than I could even begin to express. I’m thankful that I’m able to schedule my regular classes at times that are compatible with my natural night-owl tendencies. I’m thankful that I have amazing people working in my university lab who keep things running and provide a buffer between me and the early-rising bureaucrats. I’m thankful that I can do the work generated by my businesses on my own terms, on my own schedule. I’m thankful that I have my theatre group to take my mind off it all on a few nights and weekends. I can’t begin to imagine how most of the world works from 8 AM to 5PM every day of the week. In Seattle, it’s even worse because a lot of people start work at 6 or 7AM. I have no idea why, but that’s a fact.
The real paradox is that I work just as many, or more, hours if I start later, and I always accomplish more, but it feels orders of magnitude easier. My hat’s off to those hardy souls who go to work in the early morning every day of their lives.
[The painting of people escaping from the mouth of limbo (the black fish-monster) is by Jaume Serra, 13th century. All photos are adapted from Wikimedia.]