Recently I have been waking up bright and early sometime between 6 and 6:15 in the morning. “Sure,” you say, “I wake up at that time every day so I can be at work at 9. It’s called an ‘alarm’.” But no! I am waking up at that time completely unaided. My alarm is set for a more reasonable 7:15 which allows me ample time, usually, to snooze (such a weird word) for about 30 minutes, get up, shower, and leave the house to be at work a hair before 10. Totally normal.

But now I am waking up well before my alarm without any desire to snooze. There’s no need; I am rested and awake and ready for the day at 6 o’clock in the morning. Weird.

And then there is the obvious question of what to do with all this extra time. Today I woke up at 6:20, got up, took a long shower, got dressed, cleaned my house, paid some bills, and still made it to work by 9. While riding the M train into Manhattan and listening to the new Fear Factory album, I got to thinking about what else I could do with said time.

First, however, let’s talk about what has changed. Over the last month, my roll has slowed dramatically. I am not sure what caused it, but I suspect my body and sub-conscious got together and were all, “Hey, this isn’t working. Let’s shift some shit around, huh?” I started getting tired at regular human being times and am often asleep for the night by midnight, which means I wake up the next morning well-rested but much earlier than I am used to. And because I got up so early, I am then tired again early that night. The cycle repeats.

It also means that I haven’t been drinking nearly as much. Maybe it’s summertime, maybe it’s some other stuff in my life that’s cleared up, maybe it’s just fatigue, but the idea of sitting at the bar until I can’t has finally crossed that fine line between “good time” and “undesirable”. I mean, I still go to the bar and everything, but I’ll got for just a couple of drinks and then go home at 10:30/11 and be asleep within the hour, sober. And then I wake up the next morning feeling fine. So, I am not drinking as much, and then also not wanting to drink as much, and then too tired to shut the bar down. My body is sending me a clear message about what it wants and needs, and being an unrepentant drunk is not it.

We’re not just talking about days I need to get up for work either. We’re also talking about the weekend, holidays, bank holidays, and whatever other kinds of days there are. Boom! awake at 7 on a Saturday before the majority of Greenpoint is up, much less the late-rising Williamsburgers, and I have no idea what to do with myself. There are only so many errands you can run, so many coffee tables you need to get (read: 1), so many trips to the hardware store before you run out of things to do.

“But Joe, we’ve heard this before,” you say. Indeed you have, my loyal friends and readers. This time, however, it’s not something I am trying to affect but something that is happening on its own without my intervention. Hell, I’ve even tried to do the super late night thing and all that happens is that I get tired, go home, pass out, and wake up after 5 to 6 hours of sleep. Hello 6:30 on a Sunday morning! How are you doing?

My friend Charles is a regular early riser so I asked him today what he does with his extra time.

Yeah, you totally just read that I am thinking about going for runs in the morning. I hate running! But for some reason it feels like a really good idea. Isn’t that terrifying? I even bought an iPod Nano this morning with my Amazon points. I think I am going to go grocery shopping for the first time in months tonight, make dinner at home (!), and go for a run tomorrow morning. Maybe I’ll even make breakfast tomorrow morning! Man, it feels good not to feel sad.

What do you do when you wake up early? Or are you not one of those people? I guess the more important question at the base of all this is, how do you take care of yourself?

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