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Stand up and get some respect night owls

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Georgia: On Her Mind

By Georgia Green Stamper

The world is divided into two kinds of people, those who rise with the sun and those who don’t.
The morning folks cornered the world market on worms centuries ago, and have the best PR staff in the business. Early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise – oh, their press releases go on and on.
Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the sun come up. Oh, maybe in my youth when I pulled colicky babies through the night, but I lived in Ashland then, in a hilly forest cut off from the rest of the natural world by industrial smog.
Like the monuments at Stonehenge, smokestacks circled my house in the woods. It would be night, and then morning, but the light arrived in the sky without a splash of poetry.
I’ve also driven family members to the hospital at the crack of dawn for early a.m. surgeries, but in my memory it was always sleeting. The sun got out of bed reluctantly, like me, on those mornings, incognito in a raincoat and galoshes.
I confess that I enjoy sleeping through the sun’s salutation, and when I rise, I touch the new day gently, like fragile stemware that will shatter if I grasp it with too much enthusiasm. I do not speak to others. I wiggle my toes to make sure I’m still alive. I look at my husband to make sure he is still alive. (Our mutual aversion to sunrises may have contributed to the longevity of our marriage). I stagger to the kitchen like Dolly Parton to pour myself a cup of ambition. One cup. Two cups.  Sometimes three. One cannot have too much caffeine in the morning in my opinion. I read the newspaper in silence, word for word, from the back section to the front,  and update my worry list about the world. With that arduous task behind me, I drink a Diet Pepsi. I repeat – one cannot consume too much caffeine in the morning in my opinion. Then, maybe, I shower and dress.  On a really good day, though, now that I’m old and retired, I sit down at the computer to think and write, and don’t dress until lunchtime.
The problem with being a slow starter is that the morning people think you are more decadent than you are. When they pop by at noon and find you in your bathrobe, they jump to the conclusion that you’ve succumbed to drugs or alcohol, and stage an intervention.
My mother, bless her, was a morning person. Late in her life, she was fond of calling me at 8 a.m. to recite the long list of chores she’d accomplished that day – getting around on a walker, mind you. Then she would ask in a maleficent voice that managed to sound cheery and innocent, “What have you done today?”  
We late-starters get no points for polishing the silver at 11 p.m. or writing a novel at midnight. Never mind that our list of life accomplishments equals that of most others, that we manage to raise children, put food on the table and cash in the bank. We don’t get it done soon after daybreak – so it isn’t quite virtuous.  
Sigh. It’s our dang DNA, scientists now say. A lack of pep and gusto in the early morning, researchers have concluded, is wired into our biological hard drive. Even my mother conceded that I cried most of the night when she brought me home from the hospital, and then slept much of my first day at home. I have no memories, either, of being one of those annoying toddlers who get up before the rest of the household to dump boxes of cereal onto the middle of the kitchen floor. No, they always had to shake me awake when it was time to get going on another day.
I’m left now with a haunting image of my primeval ancestor staying up late into the night to skin and prep the game some early bird dragged back to the cave at sunrise and dumped on her bearskin bed.  I’m sure she got no credit, no none at all, for her contributions to the tribe’s survival.  
 Unless - could it be – she discovered that wishes made on the “first star I see tonight” come true?
Could she have been the first person to see the cow jump over the moon, or to sing  “Twinkle, twinkle little star … ” and shush the babes to sleep?
Could it be that our circadian rhythm does not define our character?
Could it be that Ben Franklin wasn’t as smart as he thought he was?