I’ve often had to wonder, like I’m sure we all have, just what kind of person I am. Am I the happy type? A fun person? Someone who always sees things in the best possible light? Or would it be better to describe myself as a negative, darker sort of person? You know the type – am I sullen? Do I brood? Sometimes even I’m not sure.
When you think about it, oftentimes the kind of person we are depends on the time of day. Find me in the late afternoon in a leafy park, for example, when the sun is shining, children are playing, and birds are doing their what-not all around me, and I’ll probably look pretty peachy. I may even be barefoot, skipping through the grass. Who knows?
Other times of the day, it turns out – maybe I’m not so chipper.
For example: when you have a job like mine, you often find yourself having to pull shifts you’re not used to, shifts that you wouldn’t call “normal.” For the past couple of months I’ve been coming in for six AM, which means waking up much earlier, in the dark, and I have to admit it brings out a different side of me. A side that, it turns out, is just the right fit, at least in terms of meeting my daily requirements of emo-type thinking.
I may seem a barrel of laughs during the day, but it’s probably true that I’m the kind of person who likes to spend a good amount of time alone in the dark, brooding silently. This could be why I prefer winter time. When you do the math – loads more darkness. In fact, I’m beginning to think that daylight is overrated. I imagine it’s because that’s where most of the people tend to hang out.
So yeah, I wouldn’t turn down a couple extra hours in the dark, particularly in the morning. There’s always nighttime, of course, but I’ve found that the PM hours are more conducive to things like rocking back and forth with your head in your hands, or standing in front of the refrigerator replaying the day’s humiliations over and over while eating a good percentage of your body weight in soft cheeses. So waking up before 4:30 AM, when I don’t have to leave the house for at least an hour, is actually much better for me. A fresh start, if you will.
The problem is all of this early-morning brooding winds up taking its toll on the old psyche. I don’t know about you, but once I get settled into a dark room at 4:30 AM with my sage green Weezer Snuggie and a hot cup of the previous night’s Avgolemono, sad and weird thoughts start to present themselves. Turns out it’s quite lonely being alone, and add darkness to the mix and there’s no telling where the mind is going to wander. Me, I tend to visualize myself in another, entirely fictional life, a life with no family whatsoever and a job doing something sad and mildly terrifying, like minding a haunted lighthouse or editing YA novels.
It doesn’t end when I leave the house, either; the drive to work in darkness is an extra half and hour of brooding. Of course in that case there’s usually musical accompaniment, as I’ve got a whole bunch of sad and weird things to pop into the CD player to help me along. There’s the Fiona Apple, Radiohead and Bright Eyes kind of stuff, but if I’m really interested in feeling lowdown it’s hard to beat Tom Waits. I’ve been partial to his record “Alice,” which I highly recommend if you’re driving to work in the morning and also happen to be wondering what it might feel like to lie bleeding to death in a rotting pumpkin patch by the light of a full moon, surrounded by faceless, laughing strangers. Just listen to “Poor Edward.” You’ll get the gist. The song “Watch her Disappear” is actually my favorite, because it manages to convey an achingly romantic and sexy sense of longing for someone unattainable while also making me want to die in a pumpkin patch.
And speaking of moons, well that’s just another thing I love about waking up so early. As it happens these last couple of months have blessed us with what seems like an endless number of freaky lunar phenomena. January alone had two Super Moons, and let me tell you – if you haven’t driven up to the hills of Santa Cruz at 5:15 in the morning with one of those babies leading the way then you really haven’t lived. I know it’s out of character for me, but I was even inspired, after a particularly moon-lit commute, to dash off a spot of poetry about the whole scene. Wanting to write poetry is of course a pretty big flaw in just about anyone’s personality, of course, and usually leads to no good, so ultimately I gave up after only one stanza. Take a look and you’ll see why:
If I could sing while I follow the moon
to work this morning, while in blackness blooms
a single crocus breaching soil
to spar with passion’s perfect foil
I’d sing, oh love, I’d sing…
Boy, would I fucking sing. But you see why this poetry stuff is such a bad idea, even if it is darkness-inspired. It’s crap! I couldn’t come up with something more poetic to be doing while this freaking moon washes over me than driving to work? I mean, one doesn’t have to be on a desolate cliff overlooking the moonlit sea or anything, but at least get out of the goddamn car if you’re going to write a poem. And where did that crocus come from? I shudder to think what’s even going on here.
Bad poetry aside, though, I really did enjoy these solitary mornings in the quiet dark. I use the past tense here because as of this week my hours have changed, and I’m up with everyone else now and driving to work in full daylight. Yeah, I know, it’s a pretty big change for me, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it. I may not be skipping through the grass, but there are people everywhere, birds singing, and lots of sun. I’m even kind of happy. It’s just…not the same.
I guess I’ll manage. At least until that job at the lighthouse opens up. Until then…