Monday, December 31, 2012

Three in the morning,and nobody cares

Few things get done at three in the morning.

If you are in a hospital, three is about the time someone comes around to take your vital signs, awakening you in the process from a sleep that had transported you miles from the hospital.  Even at that state of being made aware you are in a hospital, there is little for you to do except allow the taking of your signs.  Fine enough for the nurse or intern, but a matter of passivity for you.

Your good fortune is expressed in your not having been awakened in a hospital at three in the morning for nearly ten years, but this is mere wordplay; you are on occasion up at three in the morning, sometimes for the simple purpose of being roused by your bladder, other times by the direction your dreams are taking, other times yet when there are in fact no dreams, no rapid eye movement sleep, noting but awareness of the moment.

When you were younger, three in the morning was a time for coming home from a revelry of the night before, possibly even being celebrated by an early breakfast that would last you until the eleven or twelve hours you'd then sleep to, sated, comfortable, filled with a youthful disregard for the mosquitoes of middle and advanced ages

Up at three, you have a few options, including trying to regain sleep, reading from a book or magazine, reading from something you'd written earlier the previous day.  In desperation on one three-in-the-morning situation, you hauled out your iPod, plunked in your ear phones, and listened to a few chapters of a recorded book.  But this, too, was three-in-the-morning stuff because the recorded book sounded so competent and engaging--because you cared more about it than the thing you'd written.

The most basic circumstances of the universe are at play when it is three in the morning in your time zone.  This means you are in a bubble.  Most persons you know are likely to be asleep.  Hearing from you at such an hour would not cause them to think kindly of you, might in fact set off an avalanche of referred irritation.  "You know what that crazy Lowenkopf did?  Fucking called me at three in the morning.  Had the nerve to preface the conversation with the hope he didn't wake me up, like I'm always up at three in the morning, waiting to hear from him."

Two in the morning is not much better, although there have been times when you were up at two, not because you couldn't sleep but because you were so into what you were reading or writing or listening to music or making love that you were only then preparing for the sleep that would take you out of harm's way.

Those early morning hours are harm's way and there you are, in the midst of it.  Nothing gets done except brooding and the sense that Reality is a jigsaw puzzle with one missing piece.  Often the thoughts left to be dealt with came as a result of something that could be dealt with at a more sensible time, say six or seven, possibly even eight o'clock.

You read somewhere--and what you read may be nothing more than urban myth, dressed up in a journalism suit--that people often die between two and five of a morning--something to do with shifts of metabolism, their waxing or, in this case, waning.  You take careful inventory of your vital signs, arguing yourself into the fact that you will not, in this particular three of a cold, gray morning, die merely because you were awake rather than asleep when the roll was called up yonder.

On some occasions, when you were up at two or three with no reliable sense that you could soon recapture sleep, you thought to check in with your dog, who made it clear she was putting up with you, but did not encourage this uncharacteristic solicitousness from you.

You could and have gone into the kitchen, where you prepared various concoctions such as warm milk, herbal tea, or a bowl of cereal with raisins and sliced bananas.  You could, and have, indulged the game of returning to bed, lights out, then trying to concoct a story boring enough to put you to sleep, but this approach invariably produces enough mischief and interest that you are somewhere close to a note pad, doing things you are able to do at all hours but would rather not be doing at three in the morning.

From about five o'clock onward, individuals begin drifting to work; bakers bake bread, mothers of schoolchildren make sandwiches which will be traded off in sophisticated lotteries where the rules and rates of exchange are known only to the young.  Coffee drinkers will set to boiling, steaming, or reheating dregs of yesterday's coffee.  Tea drinkers will set on kettles.  Toasters will come into play, and the world of your time zone will begin to essay the forthcoming day.  From about five o'clock onward, the world begins to take on a more reasonable,even rational approach to breaking various types of fasts, preparing for industry, sliding into a mindset where things are given priority.

From about six onward, the entire aspect of Reality takes on more of a sense of reasoned, comfortable enterprise.  Writing seems less a hasty proposition of despair and more a possibility of addressing solutions that seemed so remote at two or three.

Things you'd written in your twenties and thirties were trying to get the attention of Reality by telling it to go fuck itself because that was how you went at things then.  You'd had scant experience waking up at three in the morning back then.

Now, it is your experience that when you are up at three in the morning, nobody cares.  When your recorded books sound better than your own, nobody cares.  Your agent has told you the latest draft is still shy of being issued a boarding pass, and nobody cares.

You need the experience of being up at three in the morning,feeling these things, understanding them, waiting them out until the time arrives when others are up, dealing with bladders, cats wanting in or out, dogs wishing to be scratched, coffee awaiting your making, the toaster being turned on.

Nobody cares until they are up and you make them care.


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