Early Riser

Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.  ~Benjamin Franklin

I’ve always hated that quote.

It sounds so bossy and goody goody to me. I’ve never been a morning person. Night, when everyone has gone to bed, has always been my time, a time to read, reflect, and rest. I always get my second wind around 10:00 or 11:00 P.M. One of the reasons I went into academia was the possibility of setting my own hours, not being chained to the routine of 8:00-5:00. Because if there is anything I hate more than getting up early, it’s having to get dressed and drive somewhere early.

Recently, I’ve decided to revisit the possibility of getting up earlier. For me, it’s a process of trial and error. I’m finding that I absolutely love getting up at around 7:00, and I’m going to experiment with 6:30. For those of you who have to get up earlier than this for work, I sympathize and apologize if my quaint resolution fills you rage. I offer you this consolation: as a teacher my work is never done. There is always a pile of papers to grade or another class to prep. My inbox is always packed with student emails and advising questions. These things press on me even after I get home from teaching. I often fantasize about having a job that has no homework. A flexible schedule is nice, but it also comes with a price.

6:00 or 6:30 is my ultimate goal, because this will give me about two hours of solid writing time before Oscar gets up. This morning I got up at 6:55 and wrote nonstop for an hour. It was an astonishingly productive time.

Steve Pavlina recommends 5:00 A.M., as do many other self-help gurus, but I find that getting up too early ruins me for the rest of the day. I’m completely exhausted from about 10:00 A.M. on and can barely keep my eyes open after supper. So far, 6:30 is great. I haven’t pushed myself to get up at 6:00 yet, but I will. That, however, will be as early as I go.

I changed my mind for a variety of reasons. Most of the successful writers I know get up before their children. Sylvia Plath called it “the blue hour.” She wrote her best poems between 4:00 and 8:00 A.M. I can see why. I have found that this is really the only time when I can write without interruption, and constant interruption is death to good writing.

There’s another quote from Benjamin Franklin about the early morning. This one I like:

The early morning has gold in its mouth.

Four Months Along: I Feel You Baby

Sixteen weeks! Every week feels like a huge celebration to me, especially because after a stressful first trimester (spotting, bleeding, cramping, and three ultrasounds to confirm viability) I never thought we’d make it this far. Our journey to create a family over the last five years has not been easy, and someday I might write about all of those ups and downs, but today I am simply happy.

Happy. Exhausted. Elated. Nervous. Queasy.

The best development over the past week has been movement. Just little pings and squiggles. I remember these first little movements from my pregnancy with Oscar, and how strange and miraculous it was to feel something alive and moving in my belly. Before that, pregnancy seemed so abstract. With Oscar I didn’t feel any of this until around week twenty, but this is my second pregnancy and I’ve heard you feel movement sooner the second time. Also, Oscar had an anterior placenta, which masks some of the early movements until the baby is bigger.

Early movement is not the only difference between this pregnancy and the last one. I am also experiencing horrible morning sickness. The first trimester was brutal. With Oscar I spent the first trimester on the couch watching the summer Olympics. This time around I’ve been working, teaching, traveling to see student teachers, trying to write a book, and raising a toddler. I was hoping to be past the worst of it after the first trimester was over, but afternoons and evenings can still be torture.

Many people have asked me if I have a preference for a boy or girl, and I can honestly say I don’t. I felt this way with Oscar too. It’s hard to have a preference when you’ve been faced with the possibility of not having a child at all.

One of the best things about this pregnancy is imaging Oscar as a big brother. He loves kids so much and I know he’s going to be a wonderful brother, in the same way that he is a wonderful son. Funny, interested, and loving. He’s already somewhat aware of the baby, but how much he understands is beyond me. Sometimes he spontaneously greets the baby or hugs it or kisses it. I’m sure when I start showing a little more, and he can feel the baby moving, it will be more real to him.


Fall is a season of harvesting, and giving thanks for the harvest. I am lucky to live with a gardener who brings all manner of wonderful vegetables into our home, after all of his hard work through the spring and summer.

I am also harvesting a lifetime of studying and working, having applied for tenure after five years of being tenure-track and after over ten years spent earning degrees. Now I wait, as the final decision for tenure won’t come until spring.

I am still working on my book about using new media in the language arts classroom. It’s a long, tedious, difficult learning process. I am lucky to have a kind, patient, and helpful editor.

Finally, we are expecting another baby in the spring! We are thrilled, but also anxious and hopeful that everything will go smoothly. If there was any child in this world who was meant to be a sibling, it’s Oscar.

I’m 14 weeks pregnant and due April 30, 2012.