It’s around 4am. No matter where you are in the world, you’re usually awake around 4am.
This time you’re awake thinking of something Bob wrote on Twitter about arriving at Patheos blogs from FreeThought blogs:
Then you start wondering if you have any photos whatsoever that could reflect this comment for real and the only thing you remember is a photo from Japan, around 2006:
Not quite the same. But it’s 4am and it’s always the same.
You could be in an airport hotel in Manchester, the floor speckled with orange light from the Vacancies sign. You could be in the Melbourne Hilton, where the window blind bisects an awesome view of the Bolte Bridge. Or maybe it’s your own home, where the laundry basket cradles your snoring half-Siamese ginger cat. It doesn’t matter. It is cold and it is night.
Usually this means you go quietly to the bathroom, find the book you left next to the bathtub and read for half an hour… or at least until you start getting sleepy enough to head back to bed for another hour or so.
If this doesn’t work, you turn on the computer and start on emails, checking out the RSS feeds and looking over the plan for the day. Over a dozen blog-posts and sites have updated in the few hours you got some sleep. Some you highlight for reading and reviewing later, if you have the time. A few may become useful classroom resources; you wish there were more posts like those.
By the time it hits 6:30am, you’re answering the ten or so inquiries about your most recent blog – post / email / social – networking debate. You draft an idea for a new interview and download a relevant science paper. You check your university email account and discover that you have an assignment due at the end of this week, not next week. You set iTunes to download podcasts while you get ready for the day. Because you’re studying radio, you add a helping of some of the recent commercial shows.
Then you discover that the ginger cat was in fact sleeping on the shirt and pants that you were going to wear. You settle for dumping the feline out the front door and give everything a thorough shake to remove the fur.
Shower and then apply lipstick as you find a headband to tame your uncontrollable hair, as you mentally review today’s lesson plan. One shoe is on top of the television, the other perched in the flowerpot near the door. Don’t stop to ask why, otherwise you’ll be late. You toss a chocolate bar, a diet soda and a banana into that expensive bag you keep abusing and bind all of last night’s grading into a manila folder with the other arm as you lock the door behind you with your foot.
Multi-tasking, you has it.
You drive the half-hour it takes to get to work, listening to either the most recent downloaded podcasts or one of your own shows – episodes that need to be edited. At the traffic lights, you make mental notations as to the time-stamps for edits. Upon arriving, you park as far as you can from campus and yet still be within walking distance, in order to escape the worst of the traffic.
Half of the students appear to be cakewalking to the tunes of Berlin-era Bowie in antique lace and the other half are impersonating Lady Gaga trapped in a fire-ant nest. You head to one of the many cafes in the area, order something cheap on the menu and look through today’s paper or a film magazine… while ignoring the notes you have for this morning’s audio documentary on Elvis (shoved under the sugar bowl).
By 8.30am, you are checking work email, and drinking mint tea. Classes starts and you alternatively focus deeply on editing or jump up and down about fellow students’ opinions. You may be using the studio or conducting vox pops on the streets of the city… you honestly never know until class starts for the day. Then you head to a former-classroom-turned-storage-cupboard in the main hall and review over the slides for the tutorial you’ll be delivering later that evening, adding clarifications and additional notes.
You start to draft new worksheets and send out more links and information about the topic to another teacher, as you drink the soda you put in your bag. Before leaving, you do a final check over your email account and select a book from the tiny library in order to phase out. Today it’s “Is That It?” by Bob Geldof – you notice a little anecdote about Freddy Mercury meeting Sid Vicious and make a mental note to read up to that part tonight.
By 5pm you find parking at the far end of the sprawling university campus and hide in another former-room-turned-storage-cupboard with your folder of worksheet drafts before class. Edit, amend and review. You find a handful of relevant papers for your next assignment and try to highlight and annotate as much as you can before heading off to teach for an hour.
You suddenly remember to eat the worse-for-wear banana you took for lunch, as you stuff all the paperwork back into your bag at the end of the tutorial. A text-message reminds you of tomorrow’s dance class. Where did you leave your tango shoes again?
By 7pm you’re on your way home while munching the chocolate bar and listening to podcasts while stuck in traffic. Upon arriving you accept a cup of tea, a kiss and hang a sign on your office door: ‘RECORDING – DO NOT DISTURB THE LEOPARD’.
You connect via Skype and do a half-hour to hour interview with someone amusing and brilliant and hope that your audience will not only find them fascinating too… but will forgive that your next episode is going to be another week late. Again.
Taking last week’s audio, you check all the time stamps from your notepad and begin to edit a show together, in between mouthfuls of dinner. It’s difficult not to include all the out-takes and you promise that one day you’ll find the time to make a special show where people can hear just how weird things can get. You check your blog and draft the first half of a post, referring to the science paper that you got earlier that day.
Open and answer more emails and do a brisk look through all your RSS feeds. So many views and opinions, a continual struggle to articulate ideas and convince people as to what is right and what is best. Many boats, same direction – you hope. You post an update to the 365 Days of Philosophy site and a funny YouTube video to the blog, while despairing that it’s all you really have time for today.
It’s around 10pm by the time you head to the bath and start reading the Geldof book you took home. Half an hour later, your concerned cat is trying to fish you out of the bath with his paw. You take the book with you to the couch, but end up watching the late news or some comedy program instead:
It’s now close to 12pm. You put your tango shoes in your bag, write a reminder as to what tomorrow will involve on the bedside notepad and switch off the light.