Tuesday, June 15, 2004


The freshman roommate who I mentioned last week liked to be in bed, asleep, by 9pm. Sometimes, wild dormitory hijinks or arduous homework demands might cause him to stay up until 10, or even maybe 11. But our second semester, during finals week, he had some project due that had him up and working at the new-frontier-time of 1:30 am. He turned to me--I was always up that late but that night got to work in my room since he was still up--and he asked, "How late do you have to stay up for it to be considered an all-nighter?" He was hopeful that if he kept at until 2am he'd be able to tell his family that he had "pulled an all-nighter" working on his project.

While I did not gleefully pounce to burst this aspiration, fealty to logic and semantics did cause me to say something about how I thought it was generally agreed that in order to be an all-nighter one had to, you know, be awake until the end of the night, that is, well, dawn. In actuality, my criterion for someone to claim they have pulled an all-nighter is not a matter of just being up until dawn. Instead, I have claimed that you actually have to do something (go to a class, a meeting, etc.) that is officially part of the next day's agenda out there in the world.

Anyway, certainly by the looser standard if not--yet--Freese's Stricter One, I appear to be getting my days and nights mostly flipped around. The cause is not any great burst of occupational or bloggivational productivity, but rather my usual problems with the bane of my existence, sleeping. Really, I seem to be enjoying it thus far. It's summer, after all. I get large chunks of quiet time at night that it's much harder for me to get working earlier in the day. I know some people--a shout-out to Shelley, if she reads this post--who are able to be at work at 5am or before and get a good quiet chunk of work in while other people are either asleep or squirreled away themselves. I have tried that at various times, but it has seemed fundamentally intractably incompatible with my cognitive-diurnal-rhythms. By and large, my focus tends to improve as the day goes on (until I get exhausted, and then the drop-off is a nearly vertical plunge). Anyway, I suppose I am curious to see if these nocturnal hours will continue to be my summer modus operandi, and what consequences that will have for various valued work and social relationships.

Things haven't been entirely quiet here in the middle of the night. I have had a string of e-mail conversations recently taking place between 1-4 in the morning, with others who have also revealed themselves to be among the awake and online as they skulk about their abodes. It feels a little bit like Lost in Translation in one's own time zone, albeit where the sense of cultural estrangement comes not from being in a foreign land but from conducting the whole interaction by staring at a monitor and typing on a keyboard, which, at least to those of us over thirty--and even though we are completely used to it, as a mechanical matter--can still rouse marvel in its ability to allow people to connect with others anywhere, at any time, instantly, and with a remarkable evocative power considering its all just a bunch of text.

I have another friend who I talked to earlier and who has resolved on embarking on a plan of getting up early and getting a good start of hunkering down on some work they much need to hunker down on this week. If you check this weblog before you start your hunkering, good luck!

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