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Guest column

Young and restful, till (ugh, yes) 5:30 a.m.

Published May 11, 2005

Today Neighborhood Times begins a new column written by teenagers. It will appear occasionally. With final exams starting this week, high schoolers will soon have a summer off from getting up so early. Graduating seniors, including the author, may not have to get up this early for a long, long time.

* * *

SEMINOLE - As you might or might not know, public high school starts at 7:05 in the morning. That means thousands of Pinellas teens - like me! - arise at absurdly early hours just to get to school on time.

We all have our own bizarre little rituals to get us going because, face it, at such an early hour no one is thinking. It's all autopilot all the time.

Though I live only five minutes from my school, it's not that simple. No, no, no. Here's my routine.

Beep. Beep. Beep. It's 5:30 a.m., and the alarm is sounding off loud and clear. I'm tempted to hit the snooze button. But no. If I do, the morning will fall apart. I must not toy with the routine.

5:30 to 5:35. I lie in bed rubbing my eyes and doing simple stretches.

5:35 to 5:50. In the shower singing It's Raining Men.

5:55 to 6:05. I'm lying in my bed snuggled tight in my robe, my hair neatly wrapped in a towel. I place a pair of warm socks on my chilled feet, and now, comfortable, I reach for the miracle works: my makeup bag. I apply carefully, making sure the colors match my outfit to a T.

Looking in the mirror, I begin to apply a heavy gloss to my lips, trying desperately to make them look like the latest lips on the cover of Teen Magazine. Once I'm satisfied with my looks, I quickly glance at the annoyance, I mean, the alarm clock. It reads 6:05.

I quickly move across the hall and into the mess of the century, my brother's room. Though he's in the ninth grade and attends the same high school as I, I still have to wake him. After turning on the dim lights in his room and hearing him squirm for the closest pillow to shade his eyes, I scream, in the nicest way possible, of course, "Get up!"

Walking back to the cleaner side of things, it's time for hair, the most dangerous part of my morning. Watch the fuses because in a second a blow dryer, a hair straightener, a curler, a cell phone and a radio will be pulling current at the same time. It's the only way to make a masterpiece out of frizzy, wavy blond hair.

First come the round brush and blow dryer. Then it's time for the straightener, followed by the curler, which is vital. A 17-year-old must have, or at least look as if she has, healthy, bouncy hair. To make the look last throughout the day, I apply four squirts of hairspray.

Finally this disaster of frizz is now a relative masterpiece.

6:25. The attire phase. From top to bottom it must match, including accessories. All accessories are important, but the purse is the most significant. It must tie in every color and texture. After I pick the purse, I must fill it. It will hold my lip gloss, small hairbrush, the social calendar and a fun colored pen. Since my outfit is picked out the night before, it only takes 10 minutes to finish this task.

6:35. The coffee era. Normal blend with Half & Half and Splenda. Sipped while watching the Local on the 8's. I watch the weather just to be sure my outfit will last the whole day.

By this time my brother comes stumbling down the stairs and on to one of the kitchen chairs, where he sits and eats his breakfast. This is my cue to start the car.

I gather my books just after putting the last touches on my homework and head to the car. Since I'm responsible for my brother's getting to school, I wait for him until he's done downing his unhealthy-looking breakfast. I'm fortunate to go to a school only five minutes away. Before we go, there's one last stop: the stable, where Buster, my horse, stays.

It's my responsibility to feed him before school. Dodging manure and filling the feed bucket and hay rack, I finish with just enough time to park my car, swing by the locker, and say a few hellos.

After the hellos comes the biggest annoyance of the morning, the warning bell for school to begin. Everyone at this point is rushing to their classrooms, stopping at the soda machines for caffeine and sliding into their desks.

7:05. That's what the clock reads. The final bell signals that the day has been activated.

Now that all the rushing and caffeine high hit a peak, we are told to sit still and listen to the monotone of the teacher. Trying to stay awake, and keeping an extra Coca-Cola close to my side, I repeat the words "I'm here to learn. I'm here to learn. Christine, stay awake!"

I make it through another morning.

Christine Marie Dailey, 17, is a senior at Seminole High School. This fall she will attend St. Petersburg College.

[Last modified May 11, 2005, 00:46:18]

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