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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


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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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