An ode to the morning people

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Morning people are worthy of our admiration. Oprah Winfrey, for instance, gets up at the crack of dawn to exercise, eat a healthy breakfast -- prepared by her personal chef, of course -- and then run her massive empire.

My boss is out running before dawn's early light and in the office before 7 a.m.

And now I find there's a Rotary Club in town that has a weekly meeting at 6:30 a.m.

Morning people are just so darn productive. They use phrases like "quiet time for myself" and "newspaper with coffee" and "it was on the 'Today' show."

Those are phrases I'd like to use, instead of "I'll be there in 10 minutes," "Yes, I know I've got a sheet mark on my face" and "You want to meet at 8 a.m.? Um, I think I've got something else scheduled. ..."

I mulled an invitation to address that early morning Rotary group. It took about a minute to envision my presentation.

ROTARIAN: Next, I'd like to introduce Heidi Hall, managing editor of the Southeast Missourian, here to speak about the newspaper's role in the community. Heidi ... ?

ME: What?

ROTARIAN: We're ready for your presentation.

ME: Presentation? Who are you people? Where am I?

ROTARIAN: I guess we'll just move on to our financial report.

ME: How do I get home from here?

At 6:30 a.m., I'm typically wrapped up in blankets and lying next to The Other Half, who is wearing earplugs and shivering under about a square foot of sheet he's been left in The Great Cover Theft.

My alarm sounds at 8 a.m. I've set it for that time with the hope that magically I'll only require six hours of sleep since I've stayed up until 2 a.m. -- again -- watching HBO, eating "lite" microwave popcorn and waiting for Mr. Half to get off work so we can see each other awake.

I slap the snooze button at least twice, which takes me to 8:18 a.m. Then I put on my glasses and ponder the dust bunnies blowing in the breeze created by our ceiling fan. (How do they develop on the ceiling, anyway?)

That takes three or four minutes. If it's a good day, my knees aren't killing me, so I negotiate a steep flight of stairs to obtain the paper right away. If it's a bad day, I give my knees a little time to get lubricated. I read the paper in the car on the way to work while applying lipstick.

I am one of those drivers you despise.

Sometimes, for long periods, I become mesmerized by CNN Headline News, particularly the Jeanne Moos segments on stuff like rats in New York or an Elvis photo tribute. This is the equivalent of sleeping with my eyes open.

Then there's the two-minute shower. Shave my legs? No time. Thank heavens I'm a blonde and can tell myself quarter-inch hairs are not visible ... unless they catch the light. Plus I'm prone to butchering my calves in the rush.

And finally, I walk into work.

There are two people who sit at the bottom of the stairs that lead to the newsroom. One faces the staircase. In civilized society, this requires a greeting.

"Good morning," I blurt out as quickly as possible.

This is how you can test whether you are a morning person. If you find it almost physically impossible to utter the words "good morning," you are, without a doubt, a night person.

Other evidence:

You've asked yourself at 11:30 p.m. whether it's too late to call your child's teacher to set up a conference.

Early bird? What early bird? And who wants a worm, anyway?

You routinely hear the words "last call" ... in Illinois.

You curse A&E for canceling its 2 a.m. "Law & Order" reruns.

It's Thursday, and you're just now reading this.

Heidi Hall is managing editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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