Saturday, June 9, 2012

Learly Birds

Some days, and by some days I mean pretty much every day of my life ever, I find I can’t manage to fall asleep until after 2am. That might even be considered an early night for me. Sleep has never come easy. I am a creature of the twilight, and reside in a place of transition. There’s a short while in the middle of the night when the days mingle. Yesterday and tomorrow blend together into this amalgamation of now-ness I like to refer to as ‘learly.’

Learly (adj.): 1. Having the quality of being simultaneously late and early; 2. Used in reference to any time between the hours of 2:00 and 5:00 in the morning.

I think I should submit it to Webster and see what happens. Notice to all of my night owl friends: use ‘learly’ often and credit me should anyone ask. If it becomes widespread enough, all major dictionaries shall have to give in. Let the revolution begin!

For a long time now, I’ve thought that I must be doing something wrong. Surely there is an internal clock that I can reset, right? The way I see it, there are two extreme categories for day and night walkers, and I honestly don’t feel like I totally fit into either. Let us examine.

The Early Bird:
The early birds seem to be the ones who get the most out of society as it is. In America at least, businesses open early and, in most cases, close before it gets too late. These birds rise up with the sun and get to work. Peppy and energetic, they seem fueled by the light of day and ready to sleep soon after sunset. It’s difficult to argue with them early in the morning, because while many people are still stumbling into their underpants, these creatures of light are already showered, dressed, made up and ready to roll.

Oh how I cannot even begin to relate. When something calls for me to be awake before 9am, I have to select the most obnoxious alarm on my phone. In addition, I don’t allow for a snooze setting, and I find it helpful that my phone requires I do math problems to shut off the alarm. Even so, I find that getting up early is incredibly difficult. It’s doable under the right circumstances, but it is most decidedly not my natural state. Sleeping is meant to last later into the morning than the early bird schedule allows. Just an opinion.

The Night Owl:
Then you have the night owls. These are, logically, the opposite extreme on the birdie spectrum. If they are even awake yet, the setting of the sun invigorates these creatures of the night. While any other bird might require a second, third, or sixteenth wind to make it comfortably through the midnight hours, the night owl does so with ease. Night owls do best to flock to major cities. There at least they can find opportunity to fit themselves into some kind of working environment that suits their natural sleeping habits.

I’ve always considered myself a night owl, but my recent move to New York City leaves me doubting. It is true that I'm more nocturnal than most, but in this place I find myself surrounded by people far more suited to the nighttime than I. When my putter out into unconsciousness begins (sometime around 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning most days), there is still plenty of activity keeping the city alive and going. Those that stay awake through the night and work the graveyard shifts, those that drive the streets with only the guidance of their headlights for company, those that live among the shadows and night lights only to slink away when the sun begins it’s slow ascent…they are the true night owls. I am a mere pretender.

So where, then, do I belong? What species can I claim as my own? I don’t think that I’m alone. There must be many who fall somewhere in the in between and are left as of yet without a name.

I should like to create a new hourly bird. It is only right that we have something for the in betweeners of night and day. I submit to you, dear reader, that we should henceforth be called Ravens.

In many instances throughout history, the raven was viewed as a creature with transitional properties. It is a bird of twilight that dances along the line between life and death, the living and spirits, light and dark, day and night. With great ease, Ravens are the ones to seamlessly fly through the setting and rising of the sun. We wake later in the day than the early bird but far earlier than the night owl. Long after the early birds rest their eyes, we can keep on going…just not quite as long our night owl brethren.

We are the guardians of twilight and the watchers of the learly hours. Both early birds and night owls alike can rest assured that the world has a keeper for those hours in between.

And that’s all I have to say about that. What do you think, dear reader? Have you another name for me and my kind? Let me know.


  1. Okay, I'll take the obvious bait:

    Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
    By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
    "Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
    Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore -
    Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
    Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

    (from "The Raven," by Edgar Allan Poe, published 1845)

    If you want to forever associate yourself with the bird that knows only one word of doom and makes a habit of haunting lonely people by rapping on their windows and perching forever upon their sills, I support this label. It is actually one of my favorite poems.

    But I think what you're actually looking for is a crepuscular bird (a bird that is active primarily in the twilight hours). Perhaps a nighthawk or a whip-poor-will? Check them out let me know what you think! :o)

  2. You saw bait where there was none. I do like that poem...but I didn't think of it once while I wrote this. Doom and death are only some of what the raven has been associated with over time. And really, death is a transitional thing too. So I think I still like the Raven. Though I do enjoy your use of "crepuscular."