Keeping Strange Hours

This is a season where all caution is being thrown to the wind. No, not all caution, all routine, schedules, or any semblance of an ordered and sane life. And, by season, I do not mean the time of year. I mean a passage of time, a leg of the journey of life. It is 2:06 a.m. early on a Saturday morning. I am not up blogging because I cannot sleep. In fact, I am quite certain that were I to head to bed right now and just stop moving and close my eyes, I would be out in seconds, maybe even nanoseconds. I am not up blogging because it is too hot in my house. The air conditioner performed rather effectively…once I turned it on…and there is a nice cool almost imperceptible breeze filtering through the back screen door. I did not just return from going out nor did I have such a great or lousy evening that I am compelled to record it just to get it out of my system. No, I am up late and keeping these bizarre hours by choice.

There have been a number of changes in my life in the last several years. I take that back. The last seven years of my life, the only constant has been change. In fact, the strangest thing about this most recent year (from early June 2007 till now) is that the chaotic change of the last seven years has slowed and come finally to a screeching halt. The only changes I really deal with now are the seasonal changes inherent in the life of a teacher who works 9 months out of the year and the changes that accompany the normal cycles of a family with three teens and one school aged child. (As if that isn’t enough!) My life now definitely seems more manageable and sane than it has for nearly a decade.

So, why the late hours? What’s up with that. It isn’t like me.
I don’t know.
I suspect some things, but I am not certain any of my suspicions are really valid…or they might all be.

One possible reason is that my home is really, really quiet at night. It’s not exactly raucous during the day (well, okay, it is on occasion, but not often). As I sit here and play with words and ideas and try to scrutinize the pale color of print I’ve chosen for this particular blog, the only sounds I hear are the occasional warming of the laptop, the steady, tick, tick, tick of the kitchen clock I recently repaired and the sporadic hum of the thermostat on the hot tub clicking on, then off,…..then on, then off….(I really have to get that fixed). The house is just more deeply silent than during the day, even if I were alone during the day. There is no sound from the neighbor’s yard, no car driving by, no airplane overhead and no birds. I can concentrate in this kind of silent stillness.

Another reason, I might be choosing to stay up is that I am really, really feeling the need to make a consistent habit of blogging. I need to write daily and get used to seeing my words on the screen and I need to begin putting myself out there for others to read and respond to. I am one of those people who works better by focusing for long uninterrupted periods of time rather than taking frequent breaks or changing tasks often. I can work with interruptions, after all, I am a parent and a teacher of young children. I have learned to adjust and remain flexible. But I prefer to work and focus deeply without interruptions. This time of night assures me that I will not be interrupted.

I think the main reason I am keeping these crazy hours is because I can. It feels almost naughty to be staying up so late, knowing that I don’t have to get up until I want to. And I don’t have to the next day or the next day after that either for about ten more weeks. It feels good to break the routine, if only for a night or two here or there, throughout the summer. This could never be my norm. I will wake up without an alarm tomorrow at about 7 and I will be ready to face the day. I cannot do that for long before I’ll simply collapse. I know this about myself. There have been so many demands, burdens, responsibilities, and obligations that have weighed me down over the last year and a half. The stresses of blending a family and failing miserably (trust me the kids were not the problem), the pain of divorce, the financial stresses in the aftermath of divorce and the daily duties of just caring for a family of five on my own all have left me with the feeling that I’m old and tired and burdened. This staying up late is in some small way, an opportunity for me to have a bit of a “do over”. I get to for a short period of time behave like the young single professional teacher with no encumbrances. I can stay up late, sleep in late, read a book out on the back deck till one, cook eggs at one-thirty, set up my blogspot at two and type till I’m all typed out. I don’t have to endure the hostility of a partner who is angry that I’m not keeping his hours, and the children are already sound asleep so they don’t care. They are nicely trained, even the youngest, to get up quietly and fix their own breakfast if they’re hungry or watch t.v. quietly until I’m up. And, I’m usually up before they are watering the lawn, feeding the dogs and going about the normal daily tasks that define my days. Keeping the crazy hours helps me feel less burdened, more youthful and in a strange sort of way more rejuvenated and revitalized than I would feel had I kept to the normal routine. I don’t get it, but it feels great to keep these strange hours.

Even as I write this I know it is time to conclude. My head is beginning to hurt just a little bit, my butt hurts even more from sitting on this hard kitchen stool now for nearly an hour and a half, and my words have begun to run out. Not that I said anything incredibly profound anyway, but I said it. And I experienced it. I stayed up because I wanted to and because I could with no serious negative consequences at all. It really feels almost like a guilty pleasure to do something weird like that, knowing it won’t matter, and enjoying every minute of it. I mean, it just isn’t really the most responsible thing to do.

I am finally, for the first time in my entire adult life doing what I want to do instead of what I think someone else wants or thinks I should do. It is a gloriously freeing sensation. It isn’t a selfish my way or the highway attitude I’m copping but instead it is an inner confidence based on my own increased self-awareness and self-respect. I know more what I’m about than ever before and I can choose wisely for myself. I like that! This hasn’t always been true for me and life was bleak and dismal because I didn’t listen to myself. I’m filled with more optimism each passing day in this new life of mine. I have more energy and even though there are still stressful times I am happier and more at peace. And if staying up stupidly late on occasion helps me stay in touch with that part of myself well then that, my dear friends, is the best reason yet for my keeping these strange hours.

One thought on “Keeping Strange Hours

  1. Thanks for adding my blog to your favorites list (or whatever it’s called).

    I like this comment you made: “I am finally, for the first time in my entire adult life doing what I want to do instead of what I think someone else wants or thinks I should do. It is a gloriously freeing sensation.”

    For me, it’s always a balancing act. For one thing, what I want to do wouldn’t earn me any money! So sometimes tough decisions have to be made. But if I’m in touch with what I would like to be doing, I make better decisions.

    –Jim Aikin


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