HTT: How To Morning

In the summer of 2011 I noticed something weird.

The weird thing I noticed is that everytime I would get up from a sitting position I would get this shooting pain in my lower back that made it really tough to stand upright. I didn't give it much thought, cause, well, getting older sucks, and there was a good chance I just wasn't getting enough sleep. There was also a good chance I wasn't getting enough exercise, that I was eating and drinking too much and that my posture was terrible.

My bad.

The pain drifted a bit. There were good days and bad days, but, for all intents and purposes, I am a boy and it would be a least another year before I decided maybe it was time to see a doctor.

The doc didn't have very good news for me.

Bad body mechanics had worn out a disc and was now pressing on my sciatic nerve. If you don't know what that is, it's the big nerve cluster at the base of your spine that connects to everything below it. Imagine hitting your funny bone on a kitchen cabinet door, that sharp pain followed by hours of dull ache.

That's what it feels like for me getting out of bed.

Except instead of just my elbow screaming, it's my hips, knees, calves, ankles and toes.

There are lots of fix-it possibilitites. There are exercises, and drugs, and injections. The is acupressure, acupuncture, chiroprators, therapists, and steady handed surgeons. There are even shoes.

None of that has worked yet, but I'm still hopeful.

And trust me, I'd much rather deal with my pain than deal with yours.

You people have some serious issues.

But the challenge isn't necessarily the pain, though that sucks; No, the real challenge is that I wasn't much of a morning person to begin with.

Case in point: I spent 15 years getting up before the sun and never not once ever has my internal clock reset itself. 15 years, five to six days a week, and I still need a forklift, a pot of coffee, and several quiet hours before I can be confused with an actual human being. I've slept through storms, earthquakes, crying two year olds and in the winter of 1997, I might have slept through the worst flood in California's history had my roommate not dragged me out of bed to help sandbag the front door.

So when I say I'm not a morning person, I mean that literally.

I am not a person in the morning.

I am cranky and puffy faced and racked with pain. I am unpleasant, impatient, and nothing like my chipper afternoon self.

But I have learned a few things.

A few things that might help those of you, who, like me, have never said "Good Morning" and not meant it ironically.

And in the immortal words of Bob Fosse "I can't make you a good dancer, but I can make you better."

Step One: A reason to get up.
You've got a job to do, you've got people counting on you, your car is underwater. Whatever. If you don't have a reason to get up, you have to manufacture one. Maybe develop a crush on the local Weather Girl, get hooked on an a.m. soap opera, maybe set a new rule that you can eat as much bacon as you want before 7:15. If any of that fails, as a last resort, drink a bottle of water before you go to bed each night. A gallon of urgent pee can be a life saver.

Step Two: A cold glass of water.
This one is actually scientifically sound. A glass of water not only hydrates you from eight hours of sweat loss and lubricates all of those dry bones and muscles, but the thermal exchange between your belly and some ice cold H20 actually jolts up your metabolism in preparation for chasing down leopards on the Sarengheti.

Step Three: Get into the shower quickly.
Some people might suggest a cold shower. But fuck them and the horse faced Tony Robbins they rode in on. Hot is just fine. It relieves the dullness, works out a few of those aches, and spending time with your naked body reminds you that you are indeed both alive and still have some work to do. It also forces you to put on some clean underwear afterward. A showerless morning = A skidmark plagued afternoon.

Step Four: Marry a morning person.
That may seem as preposterous as a cold shower, but it's actually one of the saaviest moves you'll ever make. First of all, morning people aren't bad people, think of them like border collie puppies, they're just excited to be alive and impatient for you to get on their level. Just open the door and throw the ball. And just like puppy ownership, you have to be firm, but kind. You have to draw the line of what is and what isn't acceptable morning behavior and you have to be careful not to hurt their feelings. I called my wife "Chatty Cathy" this morning, but I said it in a soft funny kind of way. She knows she was two seconds away from getting the hose again, but she also knows that I think she's pretty. And besides, if you marry someone like yourself, who's gonna make the coffee? I owe half of my life to that beautiful woman for her percolating skills alone.

Step Five: Simple food preparation
This morning I wanted to send my wife off with a healthy, nutricious breakfast, so I cooked up a kale, kidney bean frittata. This was a mistake. It required chopping and rinsing the kale, opening cans, scrambling eggs and playing with fire. There were too many sharp objects and way too much timing involved. Gotta eat? Keep it simple. Bagels, bowls of cereal, something you can eat and read. If like me, your low carbing it, consider a pre-made shake or something equally filling. You don't taste anything anyway. But, if like me, you wanna eat good solid, non-GMO foods, then consider just making it the night before. This morning may have been a mistake, but the leftovers will slide us through tomorrow with the greatest of ease. Next week, I'll know better, and frittata the night before. That won't be a challenge at all. Hell, I've started novels at 2 am, I think I can handle a pan of eggs.

Step Six: Consider Commuting to Work
Not traffic commuting (road rage will get someone killed) but like a nice thirty to forty minute drive, off the highway, maybe along the coast, or wine country. A thermos of coffee, windows cracked, NPR on the radio, or if it's August through December, ESPN. The return home won't be all that great, but consider a cup of hot chammomile, light classical, or stopping off to the side of the road midway through to hit some golf balls at the driving range. I spent a year with a fifty minute commute and I can positively tell you that it was the most pleasant, most productive era of my life.

Last Step: Consider becoming an artist.
Or any job really that bases your performance on output and not scheduling. Alarm clocks are like nine tenths of why we need gun laws. Now it won't make getting out of bed any easier, especially if you've been cursed with a ninety year old man's spinal column, but it does spread out the urgency a bit and allows you to be at your best when you are at your best.

No, you will never be a morning person. Not gonna happen.

But maybe, just maybe, you can get through this, homicide free.

And live to dance another day.   

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