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Marissa Lingen

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Two questions [Dec. 23rd, 2013|10:54 pm]
Marissa Lingen

1. Timprov and I were watching a very silly TED talk, and I wondered: does anybody but Timprov like 4 a.m.? And if so, do you like it from the staying up side or the getting up side?

2. As we know in Dar Williams’s “The Christians and the Pagans,” “When Amber tried to do the dishes, her aunt said really no, don’t bother.” What does this mean in your idiolect? In mine it’s, um…it’s basically “I don’t really trust you, person I barely know, so get the hell out of my kitchen.” (There are other ways of saying things like, “I think it’s more important for you to get time with your uncle,” or, “I have a system that I’d just prefer to work within.”) Is that what it means in Dar’s home dialect/idiolect? What does it mean in yours?

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux


[User Picture]From: athenais
2013-12-24 04:24 am (UTC)
1. 4 a.m. is anathema to me.
2. If someone said it to me I would understand it to mean they don't want guests doing chores, because we don't exist on that level of intimacy as friends.
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[User Picture]From: uneasy_spirit
2013-12-24 04:24 am (UTC)
1. I love 4 am, from the staying up side. The best schedule I ever had was when I worked second shift - I worked 3:30-midnight, came home, and stayed up until about 6, then slept until 2. I didn't even need an alarm clock. It was glorious.

2. For me, that would probably mean "I would be embarrassed at making a guest wash my dirty dishes," though if I really disliked the person, it could mean "I am two seconds away from stabbing you with the meat fork, so you should get the hell away from me." Fortunately, I've never disliked a guest that much.

(Hi! You don't know me. I found your LJ via Elizabeth Bear's and thought you were interesting. She doesn't know me, either; I read one of her books and liked it. And you introduced me to Antje Duvekot's music, for which I am grateful. My life is a series of serendipitous connections.)
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-12-24 04:25 am (UTC)
Welcome! I'm all about the serendipitous connections.
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[User Picture]From: davidgoldfarb
2013-12-24 04:55 am (UTC)
1. I don't know if I'd say I like 4 AM. I'm very often awake then (on the staying up side) but it is around then that I start feeling a bit guilty and thinking that I should go to bed (even if I don't for another hour to hour and a half).

2. Never previously having heard of Dar Williams I have no idea what it means in his or her idiolect. In mine it could vary a lot depending on delivery; I default to something like "I appreciate the thought but please don't take the trouble on my account."

Oh, and on an unrelated note: I got the latest Asimov's in the mail recently, and I notice your name is on the cover! Mostly covered up by the subscriber address label, though. (I always peel that label off, it's a compulsive thing.)

Edited at 2013-12-24 04:56 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-12-24 02:00 pm (UTC)
Yes, we found that particularly funny because my response to having my name on the cover of things is always the Monsters Inc. quote, "I'm on the cover of a magazine!" and of course his face was mostly obscured there too.
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[User Picture]From: pameladean
2013-12-24 05:01 am (UTC)
Four a.m. is good for meteors, and it is good for little birds to start singing in the spring when they are silly.

I would back away slowly if anybody said that to me about the dishes, though I wouldn't necessarily know exactly what it meant in detail.

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[User Picture]From: mechaieh
2013-12-24 05:13 am (UTC)
(1) I don't much like 4 a.m. when I've been roused by an alarm at 3:30 a.m., or when I wanted to be asleep by 11 p.m. But I don't mind Room in the Inn shifts at that hour, or typing/reading in my living room with the dog at my feet...

(2) Hmm. I just figured it was phrased that way mainly to rhyme with "father."

Though, fwiw, I'm more likely to say "don't worry about it" or "please just leave 'em, thanks" to signal system/timing-I'd-prefer-to-work-within.
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[User Picture]From: rushthatspeaks
2013-12-24 05:16 am (UTC)
4 am is fine from the staying up side. I cannot do it from the getting up side; I have tried; instead of attempting it I just stay up.

In my idiolect this would be 'you are a guest and it will bring dishonor on our escutcheon if you do any work (subheading: since this is the major holiday meal and/or you aren't staying here) so sit down with tea already'. Well, now that I think on it, that's just 'no, don't bother', but in the pagan circles I've hung out with, dishes are a communal job and everyone is expected to either help with them or do an equivalent task, so I bet Amber was confused and pushed a little. That's where the 'really' comes in, it's 'no, I actually mean that' with a slight undertone of 'drop it'.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-12-24 02:01 pm (UTC)
But she is staying there. "Jane and I were having Solstice; now we need a place to stay."
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[User Picture]From: desperance
2013-12-24 05:22 am (UTC)
1. I always liked 4am from the staying-up side; I can enjoy it also from the getting-up side; what I really don't like is my increasing acquaintance with it from the middle, where I have no intention of getting up before seven at the very earliest and oh look, it's 4am and I'm wide awake and if I get up it'll disturb m'wife and hey-ho, I'll just lie here then.

2. I am increasingly learning that basically I just hate anyone else in my kitchen ever. It's worse when I'm there myself, but not exclusively linked to that. Leave me alone, people. I will cook the dinner; I will clear the dishes; I will load the dishwasher. It's fine.
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[User Picture]From: arkuat
2013-12-24 06:20 am (UTC)
I like 4 am, and one of the things I like best about it is that it's the time of day that I get to view pretty equally from the getting-up side and from the staying-up side. Getting up at 3 am and staying up is generally considered a grievance (and I agree), while staying up until 5 am is usually considered excessive, but sometimes necessary. 4 am is therefore a nice happy middle ground. And also, all the other monkeys are mostly fast asleep, and I can have some places all to myself that I wouldn't otherwise be able to observe all solitarily. It's that nice happy time of the nychthemeron when even the owls (if they're monkeys) have gone to bed, and even the monkey larks haven't quite risen yet.

What I can't answer for you is whether I like it best from the getting-up side or the staying-up side, precisely because what I like best about it is that I get to see it more or less equally from both of those sides. This is something I can't say for 3 am or 5 am. (Okay, maybe 5 am too in my youth, but that seems to be changing. And anyway, by 5 am, it becomes clear that lots of other people are waking up.)

As for your question about the Dar Williams lyric, it makes me get all insecure and nervous about how I've badly misinterpreted it in the past when people have more or less directly told me to not bother to do the dishes. I'm not familiar with the song, and while your question is very interesting to me, I'd be trying to answer it outside of its proper context.
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[User Picture]From: houseboatonstyx
2013-12-24 06:21 am (UTC)
At 4 am, I like getting up for the peace and privacy. A good time to concentrate on writing.

My reaction to the "really" was similar to yours, assuming the speaker was ... under seventy, under sixty? Or in contact with younger people. For older speakers, and/or those from indirect speech cultures, I wouldn't assume any negative feeling; 'really' at the beginning of the sentence means really, truly, I'm not just being polite, I really mean it. Especially if it's the second go-around, after you've already politely offered once and she's already politely refused once.

If the 'really' comes later in the sentence -- "I really like to do my own washing" -- I might take it as intensive: "I very much prefer."
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[User Picture]From: brooksmoses
2013-12-24 07:30 am (UTC)
I think I would like 4 a.m., if being awake then were a thing that fit comfortably into my schedule. It just really doesn't.

I am fond of 5:30 or 6:00, though, when it's getting into predawn light and often foggy, rather than completely dark. Again, not a time that fits into my schedule very well, but occasionally it does (mostly on occasions involving plane flights), and I have fond memories of 6 a.m.

I think 4 a.m. would be a very different time from the two sides, but I would probably like either of them.

Edited at 2013-12-24 07:45 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: scott_lynch
2013-12-24 07:57 am (UTC)
This is all going to seem very strange and idiosyncratic, but from the perspective of a long-time night owl, 4 AM usually signals the end of the party for me. The hours of midnight to three are generally quiet and dark and empty and full of potential; it's the heart of the night but there's more night to come. After four, the daytime world starts to wake up and the sky threatens to lighten and that magnificent sense of forever that comes from the quiet hours begins to fade. I do like sunrise, but I'm not fond of the buildup to it.
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[User Picture]From: laurel
2013-12-24 09:35 am (UTC)
4 a.m. is one of the best times, IMHO. I've been awake for it a lot of late.

Good things about 4 in the morning:

Late enough there shouldn't be drunks on the road (well there never should be, but you know what I mean). Also not a lot of traffic in general.

It's usually still quiet, with no or very few airplanes flying around out there making noise and/or disrupting broadcast TV signals. (Seriously, one thing I loathe about where we live in Minneapolis is the airplane noise and the interference.)

Is also usually quiet on our street, at last. No buses, few cars or trucks, few pedestrians and bicyclists. Not so many people out on stoops talking on cell phones or arguing or whatever else happens from time to time.

Grocery stores are nice and quiet, I used to often shop Byerlys at 3 or 4 when I lived near one. (Though depending on the store, it can also be awkard finding someone to check you out. Rainbows and Cubs were less nice at that hour, but then that's likely true at any hour.)

I'm generally cool with 4 a.m. from the staying up 'til then standpoint or the getting up then standpoint, provided I got some sleep before the latter. Er.

It can be the time when the cats decide to run around all crazy like, which is amusing.

Birds also start making noise, which can be lovely or can be annoying. At 4 a.m. it's usually more lovely because there's so little other sound.

The internet is usually rather zippy at that hour. Even more so than usual. Download speed-wise, I mean.

At conventions or parties, it's usually only fun people who are still up at 4 a.m. in my experience. It can vary, of course. Sometimes sleep deprivation is at play making people sillier than normal. It's also usually a smaller group, which is what I prefer. More manageable. Though lately it seems like people are fading earlier and earlier so sometimes by 4 a.m. it's too quiet, alas.

Downsides of 4: lots of restaurants and stores and such are closed, so if everyone's faded by then and I'm heading home from a party or whatever at 4am I can't easily grab breakfast somewhere, which is vexing. (Or if there are people who still want to be awake, but a party or whatever has shut down, it's hard to find someplace open to gather for breakfast. Harrumph, harrumph. Not so many all night restaurants as there once were.) Oh and sometimes websites decide 4am is a good time to do maintenance, which is vexing if I'm trying to shop or do online banking or whatever. There were a couple of months where it seemed like every time I tried to do something productive online, I'd hit those windows. Grrrr.

As for "no, don't bother" I am unsure. In the context of the song, I think it fit and that's why it's phrased that way. Actual phrase is tricky. So often "no, don't bother" can mean "actually yes, that'd be nice, but I can't agree right away" but other times . . . not so much. Hrm. Of course my least favorite activity in the entire world is doing dishes so it's hard for me to relate here really as I'm staying away from dishes no matter what anyone says.

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[User Picture]From: sam_t
2013-12-24 10:46 am (UTC)
I've been thinking, and the only way I can fit that in to my idiolect is to count it as angry sarcasm: "I've been asking you for help all day and you couldn't be bothered, but now people are watching you're insisting on doing something?" Personally, I think I'm unlikely to come out with that sentence out of the blue, though - the 'really no' would imply there's already been discussion on the subject.

If said in a neutral tone of voice, it just ... wouldn't make sense. Or would be parsed as a slip of the tongue from someone meaning to say 'don't worry about it' instead of 'don't bother'. The word 'bother' is the key bit, for me.

Other options include "Oh, thanks, but I'd rather do that later. Would you mind taking these glasses through?" or just "No, really, that's fine" + change subject - both can be quite firm.

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[User Picture]From: blairmacg
2013-12-24 11:28 am (UTC)
The older I get, the more acquainted I am with 4am from the getting-up side. It has not been by choice, alas. For someone whose rhythms had been staunchly night-oriented from an early age, it's been quite an adjustment. I like it just fine in the warmer months, when sunrise isn't far off. In winter, I just find it frustrating.

Were I to tell a guest not to bother with the dishes, it might mean, "The dishwasher is still full of yesterday's dishes because I forgot to turn it on, and I'd be embarrassed if you knew just how ditzy I am about that sort of thing," or it might mean, "I'd rather be scrubbing dishes at four in the morning than give up this time to relax with you and a glass of wine."
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-12-24 02:04 pm (UTC)
You know, that's a key question: whether Amber's aunt is doing the dishes by herself and waving Amber off or whether she is leaving them in a heap and going to sit by the fire with cider and Jane and Amber and her own family. There have been times when I've told friends just to leave the dishes because the dishwasher had been filled and we'd take care of the rest later when we'd run the dishwasher and emptied and reloaded it.
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[User Picture]From: buymeaclue
2013-12-24 12:27 pm (UTC)
1) Any routine wake-up time of 4:XX is not cool. I am at this point resigned, but "like" would be overstating it by quite a lot.

Any occasional wake-up of 4:XX is fantastic and magical, like a secret shared between me and the world.

The majority of stay-ups until 4:XX are very dark indeed; I have never found anything but frustration and disappointment by staying up until most of those moments -- except for the very few every year which begin to include sunrise. Then it becomes okay again.

2) That line reads to me as, "It would be terribly rude of me to expect guests to help with the cleaning up." I actually side-eye the narrator, because clearly the correct response is, "Oh, but we're family and it would be terribly rude of me not to help." At which point either accepting the help or declining it is perfectly viable. But accepting the initial rebuttal and going to put your feet up is not.
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[User Picture]From: sartorias
2013-12-24 02:29 pm (UTC)
Four a.m. was my wakeup time when I was working, so I tend to think of it with an inward shudder. Five, great! That's my natural wakeup time.
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[User Picture]From: vcmw
2013-12-24 02:32 pm (UTC)
1. I am not a fan of 4 a.m. from either direction. 5 a.m. can feel clear and wonderful and lovely sometimes. I am useless between 2-4 so I am less a fan from the staying up direction than the waking up direction. My line used to be that there was nothing good about the hours between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., but I've had to get up at 4:45 to 5:15 a.m. for work for the last 4 years so I'm getting more accustomed.

2. Clearing the dishes together was very much a gendered social thing in my house growing up, but then it was up to the host to direct helpers as to how much to actually wash/rinse/etc. So if I assume doing dishes and clearing dishes are tied together I would take it to mean "you're a guest, you're not part of the family." Family are expected to help, guests are expected to chat on the couch. But if I take it as just the washing dishes part, it has no special meaning to me, but I might assume Amber was maybe a bit pushy about doing things in a way that got in the host's way.
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From: thoughtdancer
2013-12-24 02:49 pm (UTC)
Like 4 am. no.

Always waking up then, yes.

Since I was a teenager, I've found it impossible to stay asleep after 4 am. It's evil.
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[User Picture]From: redbird
2013-12-24 03:59 pm (UTC)
I also would need context on the Dar Williams; I'm not possessive about my kitchen that way, but it could mean that the speaker felt intruded on because of the person; that they didn't want someone (or that particular someone) seeing a mess; that the other person was fine in other contexts and did their best, but known to be clumsy, so the subtext was being fond of those dishes or not wanting to deal with broken glass; or even a non-sarcastic "you've done a lot already, you're entitled to sit down for a bit."

Because I can see it as a context where Amber has been the only person to help her aunt set the table, chop vegetables, etc., and the aunt would accept the same offer from any of the other guests.

(I have given up on trying to convince Adrian not to wash dishes, even though we have a dishwasher; it's easy to fall behind with such a small machine, and she finds it soothing sometimes. But it took a while, because my general feeling is that there are tasks that we need to do, and tasks we don't, and she's washing things that the robot could, not just sharp knives and wooden spoons.)
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[User Picture]From: dancing_crow
2013-12-24 04:31 pm (UTC)
I've generally seen 4am from a sudden waking standpoint; first as a person who stood watch on various ships, and then parenting where a staggering amount of it takes place in the dark.

For watch standing the schedule is known, and one tends to sleep before being wakened at midnight or 1am for four hours, welcome the end of watch, and then sleep gratefully until breakfast is served.

For parenting, the same sort of thing tended to occur, with bedtime established, and a sudden waking to an irate or miserable child, followed by whatever it takes to sooth said child until both of you can sleep again.

Four a.m. done infrequently is indeed magical. Done regularly - well, I just can't.

As for dishes, I have to believe what people tell me because I am working on being as straight-forward as possible, and also leaving other people room to be as direct as they can. Thus I truly mean to be useful when I ask if I can help, and in this case what I hear is "Thank you for your offer, no." The interior flourishes of meaning are lost on me.
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[User Picture]From: adrian_turtle
2013-12-24 05:37 pm (UTC)
1. I don't usually like 4am, but it's ok from the getting up side when I'm going to travel someplace good.

2. "No, don't bother," can mean "you're a guest, you don't need to help, this is my job as a host." Repeating with an intensifier after the guest repeats the offer (or taking the shortcut) means "I'm not just saying this to be polite, I really don't want this kind of help."

Why don't I want this kind of help? Usually because dishwashing is mildly therapeutic for both my hands and my OCD. I'm happy to have somebody put my dishes AWAY, but I want to wash them.
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[User Picture]From: miz_hatbox
2013-12-24 06:50 pm (UTC)
1. The only good thing I can say about being wakened at 4am (by a full bladder, a spouse who stole the covers, or a child who had a bad dream) is that if I can resolve whatever-it-is fast enough, I have time to go back to bed and get another REM cycle before the alarm goes off.

If I could manage to go to bed early enough to get a full night of sleep before getting up for the day at 4am, I suppose it wouldn't be so bad, except that going to bed at 8pm is kind of antisocial and doesn't work for my schedule. But seeing 4am from the staying-up side? I don't much like seeing 12:30am from the staying-up side.

2. I agree that it depends on a number of factors. Is everyone else around because it's sort of open-plan? If so, would the clinking and splashing drown out the conversation? Or is everyone in the formal dining room that only gets used a few times a year (because Christmas) or living room and there is a hallway separating the kitchen from the gathering? Is there a dishwasher, and is the dishwasher full? Are these super-fragile (...expialidocious...) dishes that require handwashing, and the aunt is nervous about whether people will load them into the dishwasher by mistake? Is Amber wearing patchouli that is giving the aunt a migraine? Does the aunt want a moment of quiet and a snifter of rum with nobody looking? Is she shooing Amber out of the kitchen so she can prepare a specially-presented dessert and surprise everyone?
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[User Picture]From: sprrwhwk
2013-12-24 08:37 pm (UTC)
4 AM is bedtime for me, mostly, and I both am lucky that my current work schedule allows it and was unhappy when a previous work schedule required it. Mostly because the time after midnight or so should be my time, largely free of distraction from or obligation to other people, and if I don't have that then I grow progressively more resentful of them.

I feel a little guilty about liking it and needing it -- residual received Midwestern farmer ethics, I suppose -- but I haven't yet figured out how to live any other way, so I've brokered an uneasy peace with it.

Getting up at 4 AM is unnatural, although acceptable very occasionally. I love the new-morning world, everything including me fresh and waking up, but it's the love of a visitor, not a resident.

Also breakfast is a meal which is just as good before or after noon, I don't care what anyone says.
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[User Picture]From: arielstarshadow
2013-12-24 08:55 pm (UTC)
1. I love 4am, from both sides
2. It depends on who is saying it.
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[User Picture]From: xahra99
2013-12-25 08:53 am (UTC)
If I'm up at 4am, it means that I've had to get up early because of an emergency, or I haven't been to bed yet because of an emergency. 4am is not a good time either way.
But the dishes thing made me laugh because if my mum or her family said 'no, don't bother' you'd be expected to insist to help. Just one of those unspoken things.If you were a guest it'd be fine if you said no but it'd be appreciated if you helped. Dish washing was always a big Xmas thing. not least because when my mum got a dishwasher free with her new kitchen she used it to store the casserole dishes.
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[User Picture]From: natf
2013-12-25 10:48 pm (UTC)
1. Staying up or rather, I am nocturnal at the moment, my circadian day-cycle is about 26 hours long. 4 am is time for not-breakfast, not-lunch but third-meal, isn't it? Breakfast was at 7 pm for me today.

2. "really no, don't bother": same as above commenter xahra99, "if my mum or her family said 'no, don't bother' you'd be expected to insist to help."

Edited at 2013-12-25 11:08 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: blue_hat_guru
2013-12-26 03:42 am (UTC)
4am: I wouldn't say that I "like" this as a general rule, but it can be tolerable, particularly from the staying up side.

I remember in graduate school there were occasions when I would wind up walking home at that time, and it was actually rather pleasant. Zero traffic to try to kill me. In fact, about the only other living creature I can remember seeing was this elderly Japanese gentleman out for his daily powerwalk. It might have been embarrassing being out-sped by an old man, but I was too tired to care.

I have seen 4am from the get up side once, to make a road trip up to Gustavus (I think it was a summer physics get-together). That provided a great lesson in the subsidy the roads commission provides to the trucking industry. Those rest areas are packed.

For your second question: I'm still trying to figure this out. I know that in the family residence, it tends to be a sign that there will soon be wailing and gnashing of teeth and I had best go hide in my corner of the basement.
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[User Picture]From: rosefox
2013-12-26 04:22 am (UTC)
1. I love 4 a.m. from the staying up side.

2. In my idiolect it means "we've already got a system in place for this, please don't interfere with it".
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[User Picture]From: aedifica
2013-12-26 07:19 am (UTC)
I don't know what it means in Dar's idiolect, but I interpret that section of the song as being about rediscovering and reaffirming family connections, and by that interpretation I take the phrase to mean that Amber's aunt appreciates the offer but chooses not to accept it right now.
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[User Picture]From: lutin
2013-12-27 12:53 pm (UTC)
I like 4am! But only if I get a good night's sleep before waking up to it.
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