True Tales of Unbelievable Social Awkwardness: I Don’t Do Mornings

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I am a notorious night owl. I put the night security guards to shame in college, regularly staying up until 3 on school nights and pulling all-nighters at least twice a semester. I felt (and still feel) most awake from about six in the evening until midnight or 1am. But all those late nights meant I was a zombie first thing in the morning.

I know most of you are thinking, “Oh, that’s me before coffee.” Hold that thought.

When I enrolled for my first semester of college, I found myself stuck taking philosophy at 8am because it was the only section that fit my schedule. (Exactly who is a philosopher at 8 in the morning, I’d like to know? Crazy people and academics, that’s who.) I figured it was one semester. I could do it. I totally could! Right?

As I suspected, it was terrible idea. The class is a black hole in my memory. I have legible notes as evidence that I did indeed listen to the lecture, but I don’t remember a single day of class. I wasn’t about to change my night owl ways, so I looked for every possible way to sleep in until the last second. About two weeks in I discovered that if I ran my hardest, I could get from my dorm room to the classroom in less than five minutes. I also discovered that the clock in the classroom was slightly slow, and my clock was slightly fast. This meant that if I left my dorm room at 7:55, I would get to philosophy class with roughly one minute to spare. Even better, the professor kept the lights off most of class so we could see his notes on the projector, so I started coming to class in my pajama pants. Anything to give me ten more seconds with my pillow. I still don’t remember a single moment of class.

What I do remember is braiding my hair while running out the door at 7:56 and nearly wiping out on the stairs and choking myself with my own braid in a desperate frenzy to get to class because while other people would simply skip and get notes from a classmate, I believed perfect attendance was next to godliness. Still think this is you before coffee?

The professor taught two sections of the course, and he gave us a choice of taking our final with either group. The final was later in the day, so I was actually awake when I arrived. I walked into the bright sunlit classroom that I still barely recognized after four months and saw one of the girls from my hall. Behind her was another hallmate. And another. And another. And another. I stopped in front of them, deeply confused.

“Hey, are you taking the final early instead of with your class?” I asked the girl in front.

She stared at me open-mouthed for a moment. “Laura, I’m in this class with you. I’ve sat in front of you all semester!”

“Oh.”

I never took an eight o’clock class again.

One more important note: if I had ever actually observed my surroundings in that corner room of Montgomery Hall, I might have noticed a certain handsome blond who occasionally wore camo. Caleb was always several minutes early to philosophy. It’s probably a good thing he doesn’t remember me either. Pajama pants and braids wasn’t my best look.

Subconscious themes

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One of the peculiar problems about living on Mars is the extra 39 minutes in each day. If you ignore the complications with timekeeping and synchronizing with Earth-time, the big question becomes “How would this affect human sleeping patterns?” It’s likely most of us would gradually get used to the longer day, like shift-work. What little I remember of research studies on circadian rhythm seemed to indicate your body would slowly adjust to a slightly different sleep cycle.  But there are bound to be people who wouldn’t handle it well for various reasons.

This problem is a background plot line in my novel. As a new mom, you can imagine I’m sleep-deprived, so even though this theme was in the novel long before I was even pregnant, it struck me as amusing in a read-through this week.

Then I realized this is a recurring theme in all of my stories.

In the novel I was working on in college, the heroine researched the effect of sleep deficits on various cognitive tasks. She downed buckets of espresso in the first chapter, and one scene centered around her falling asleep at her lab desk.

In the science-fantasy thriller I still want to finish, the heroine rarely sleeps, and when she does, she wakes up exhausted. Her sleep is fitful and full of nightmares.

In the serial killer novel I shelved a few years ago, the heroine is a nurse working night-shift.

I don’t know what this says about me. Perhaps I should go take a nap.