Le jour se lève
How to start off your day on the right foot
Dear readers, what time is it in your corner of the world? In Japan it’s 8:56 a.m. which means I’ve already been up for two hours. I’ve just read Mark Mendez’s post about his daily routine, and being notoriously uninspired when it comes to thinking up new story ideas, I decided to copy him and write about how I usually start off my day. Mark, by the way, is a chef and restaurant lifer, and you should definitely check out his newsletter.
As for the title, Le Jour se leve (The day rises, also known as Daybreak) is Marcel Carne’s tragic film from 1939 starring the great Jean Gabin.
When I wake up, I can usually feel all my back bones crackle and squeak. I know them all, one by one. I’ve even given them nicknames, like the Seven Dwarves.
After climbing down the stairs (in reverse, so I don’t upset my short-tempered knees), I visit the toilet, do my thing then climb back up the bloody stairs and boil some water for the first cup of tea of the day.
I’m a morning person. Up by 7:00, 7:30 at the latest, these days I’m lucky if I can stay awake until midnight. I often fall asleep while reading, slumped on a chair or the sofa. Or, even more embarrassingly, in front of the computer screen. It’s rather sad.
While I’m neither a glutton nor a gourmet, I look forward to having breakfast. I struggle to remember what my breakfast sessions looked like in the pre-internet era. I guess I ate my food in the kitchen, like anybody else. Breakfast in Italy is the lowest-ranking meal of the day. It may have to do with the fact that many Italians have big dinners at a relatively late hour, but most people wake up with their stomach still half-full. Many just gulp down a coffee - the short, strong, bitter variety.
I used to have something sweet, maybe a few cookies. Only after moving to Japan I discovered the joys of a bigger breakfast. Nothing fancy, mind you. My morning staple food is “pizza toast,” and ingenious concoction I learned to make in Japan.
It’s simple, quick to make, and satisfies my endless craving for pizza. Not the real thing, but very tasty, especially when you add a few capers.
Now comes the shameful part: these days I always eat my breakfast while checking my email. Quite undignified, I know. And I know I’m not the only one. Why can’t people spare a few minutes to savor their food without staring at a computer?
I spend the next hour checking the football scores (that’s soccer for my Yankee friends), watching a few sports highlights, reading bits of substacks and, like Mark, playing videogames.
I don’t know why I’m writing these unflattering things about myself. Is it a form of counter-exhibitionism, perhaps?
To redeem myself, I’m going to end this post with a little gem. It has nothing to do with today’s story, but I just love this song, and I love Lol Coxhill. This song also appears in Frank Sinatra’s famous album, In the Wee Small Hours. Frank’s performance is masterful, but - call me dumb, if you want - I still prefer Coxhill’s version. Lol’s workingman’s voice is raw, real, unvarnished, honest and sincere. On top of that, Bruce Beresford’s subtle piano adds a new layer to the melody. Please give it a try.
So how do you spend the first couple of hours after getting up? Do tell me.
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