Saturday, July 27, 2013

Waking up is hard to do.

You’re not awake when you wake up. You struggle to remember who you are or why you’re here. Suddenly, a bright and shining angel in a green Starbucks apron hands you a Quad Venti Mocha Macchiato, and beams of heavenly light part the dark clouds of the morning at the first sip, imbuing you with power and energy.

You know what I mean?

Good for you.

Now imagine living in a world where your body can’t handle caffeine, where a single can of soda before noon can keep you up half the night.

I live in such a world.


Mornings are seriously the worst part of the day. I begin with many false starts, using four different alarms on my phone all with the snooze option on. Sleep scientists say you can’t achieve REM sleep during short naps, but I remain unconvinced as I have had full and epic dreams in the ten minutes between snooze alarms.

It feels like my eyes have been taken out and rolled in the litter box. I’m sore for no reason, congested without cause. I don’t remember who I am, or where I am, or why I feel as if I’ve been abused and left for dead in a God-forsaken alley in the lawless back streets of Hong Kong. (I have no idea what that actually feels like by the way, but I’m sure it’s close.)

I spend long, writhing minutes in bed coming to terms with the inevitable: No, I actually have to be awake now. Because reasons.

I never remember what the reasons are, but I know I have them.


My husband always wakes up first. He insists he’s not a morning person: he’s says it’s just that I’m more of a “mid-afternoon to evening” person. He may be onto something.

“Here, hang on,” he said once when I joined him at the bathroom sink. “You know, you could hold your hair up to your face like this…” and I stood there helplessly, still too tired to respond, while he did so, “and then you have a mustache! Oh, you’re adorable.”


Some days, I moan long and mournfully as I drag myself reluctantly through my morning routine. I moan as one hauling oneself hand over hand across the desert, fingers scraped and bleeding in the sand, crawling toward an ever-receding oasis, lips and throat as dry as the dunes. I moan like the unquiet dead craving brains because I can’t get my own to start up.


One day I decided my motto for the morning would be “Bah!” I liked the sound of it and felt that it aptly expressed my feelings as re: mornings in general. I lay in bed reciting it to myself over and over, practicing many different inflections.

“Bah!” I said as the third alarm went off, “Bah!” as Matt turned all the lights on, and “Bah!” as he placed his hands on my cheeks to kiss the top of my head.

He pressed his hands in, smooshing my lips. “You look like a fish!" he said, excited.

“Bah!” I said, unable to say otherwise with his hands on my face.

He said, "No really! Watch me! Bah! Did you see? Here, I’ll do it again!"


Another day, I woke up roaring, but not with any dignity like a lion or other jungle king, a small, squeaky, strained “Rawr,” lacking both emphasis and rage.

“You know,” Matt lectured from the shower as I lurched into the bathroom, “rawring at the day doesn't actually make it go any faster.”

“Yes, but it scares it,” I said.

“Sure, because you are fierce and intimidating.”

“The day cowers before me and I step on it, like so,” I said, stepping on the scale and sighing regretfully at what I found there.

From the shower, Matt said, “Are you getting in here, or should I turn the water off?”

I climbed in gracelessly, stepping on his toes. “See, you have to step on the day. Like this.”

“Shouldn’t there be more heel-grinding?” he asked.

I tried to demonstrate but slipped. “Rawr!” I said as he caught me.

He sighed, picked me up by the armpits, and deposited me under the water. “That’s right,” he said on his way to get dressed. “Rawr at the day. Step on it, fight it, or scare it away.”


Another day I whiled away the morning wallowing in bed and sighing loudly.

“You sound so excited,” Matt said as he put on his shoes.

“I was so excited,” I told him, “and I just couldn't hide it, so I killed it and buried it in the yard.”

He grabbed his wallet and keys and kissed me before he left. “Well, I know I know I know I know I know you want to, so have a good day,” he said.


Some mornings there’s pleading. Some mornings, there are tears. Some mornings I find myself at the breakfast table and don’t know how I got there. Some mornings I can’t remember if I’ve put on my colorless odorless deodorant or not and apply it again just to make sure. Some mornings I’m aware that I’ve applied my deodorant three times already. Some mornings I put my glasses on over my contacts and wonder why everything looks so fuzzy. Some mornings I can’t find my bra because I’m wearing it. Some mornings I don’t realize until I’ve dried my hair that I didn’t actually wash it while I was in the shower.

Mornings are terrible.

That’s why, comparatively, the rest of the day is so awesome.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Perchance to Dream

(To compare this soliloquy to the slightly more famous one, click here to read Shakespeare's full text on Wikipedia.)

To wake, or not to wake: that is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to sleep in and miss the whole thing,
And by sleeping be rested? To nap: to sleep
some more; and by a sleep to say we miss
The crankiness and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to before consuming
Any coffee. To nap, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, that sounds nice;
For in that state of sleep what dreams may come?
When we have shuffled off this blanket coil
To go to work and earn respect,
We face calamity of so long days.
Who would bear the whips and scorns of bosses,
The oppressive customers, the proud Man’s contumely,
The hunger pangs of working lunches and technological delays,
The insolence of office mates and the spurns
That try one’s patience in unworthy ways
When we instead could nap in some quiet place
With footy pajamas and a teddy bear?
We grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But in our dreams in sleeping after work,
Undiscover’d countries stretch before us,
To travel as we please, experiencing the thrills
Of things we can’t do in real life
like fly, and other epic shit like that.
Thus consciousness does make cowards of us all;
And thus the nasty call of the alarm clock
Rings thickly o'er our ears and fills our thoughts,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
Drag us out of bed to start our day,
And lose the name of napping.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

False Alarms

Sometimes, when I’m having a bad day, I like to ask myself, “How does today compare to the day the batteries died in the smoke detector?”

Usually, that’s enough to cheer me up considerably.


Once when Matt was out of town, I woke up without the alarm. This almost never happens – I can wake up tired after ten uninterrupted hours – so I knew it was going to be an amazing and wonderful day. After much leisurely stretching, I rolled ever-so-slowly over and squinted at the clock to check the time.

Fifteen extra minutes! I thought. Fifteen minutes in which to do whatever I want! What will I do with it?

I know! I’ll take a nap! So saying, I wrapped myself in my favorite panda bear blanket and settled in like the world’s happiest egg roll.

Then the smoke alarm went off.

I don’t know how I ended up in the floor. Smoke alarms are designed to get your attention, and this one was serving as a fine example of its profession, but I imagine that in that moment of sudden panic my mutant powers manifested for the first and (so far) only time and I teleported like Nightcrawler. Regardless of how I did it, I fled the room, tripping over my terrified cats as I checked the house.

“I’m not on fire!” I cried after finding no smoke, triumphant at what most people do not consider an accomplishment, but my triumphal elation soon withered under intense feelings of betrayal: my smoke alarm had gone off for no reason, and now continued to do so. This could not be allowed to persist.

Back in the hall upstairs, precariously balanced on a hastily fetched chair while trying to cover both ears with one arm, I fumbled at an obvious button on the smoke detector, successfully hitting it on my third attempt. The alarm stopped. Ears ringing in the sudden silence, I said, “Now I need yoga,” in the same way that other people might say they need Jesus.

Cross-legged on my yoga mat in the bedroom, focusing on my breath, I tried to relax, making good progress on that score right up until the smoke detector started beeping again, not in mutant-backstory alarm as it had before but in tiny, shy, clipped beeps, one every minute with staggering regularity, each beep causing me to cringe a little more, collapsing in on myself in increments like a mummy withering away in a tomb. Yogic focus all but forgotten, I began plotting the smoke detector’s untimely and violent demise. Tomorrow, my house might burn down without warning, but today there would be glory for Sparta.

However, back on the chair, I found that the battery compartment on the side of the device remained stubbornly out of reach. I stretched, grunting, my fingers just brushing over the latch as the beeping continued at intervals, taunting me a second time.

I don’t have time for this, I thought as I returned the chair to the kitchen. I don’t have time for this either, as I fetched the ladder from the garage. I most certainly don’t have time for this, I thought, assembling and climbing the ladder while trying not to fall off it and die. Balanced thusly, I easily ripped the offending battery from its little compartment and cast it to the floor before me, crowing in unblemished delight.

Short on time now, I started my shower, then quickly turned off the water. I waited, soaked and horrified, like Janet Leigh in Psycho. Was that a beep?

It was.

It was the beeping of that hideous heart! Come back to haunt me from beyond the— No, wait, hang on. If it still beeps when there’s no battery in it, could a dead battery perhaps be the cause of this morning’s alarm?

Wrapped in a towel, I fetched the battery from the floor where I had discarded it. Nine volt, I noticed. Seeing it was approaching its use-by date, I decided my theory had merit.

We’ll soon get this sorted out, I thought, pulling the battery box out of the linen cupboard. We are techie people, Matt and I, with a dedicated box to hold the batteries we have for our gadgets: video games, stereos, portable speakers, flashlights, alarm clocks, RC helicopters, and other assorted toys we’re too old for. AA, AAA, D, C, a whole alphabet soup of batteries!

But did we have nine volt batteries? No.

And now the smoke detector continued to beep at me, igniting the crazy nerves in my brain and fanning the flames toward the saner parts until I declared, “No more! This far and no further!” Looking at the clock, I knew I could make it to the store before work, but only if I left RIGHT NOW. I dressed quickly in whatever was hanging at the end of the closet, grabbed a comb for my still-wet hair, and left.

I can salvage this morning, I thought in naïve hope on the drive to the grocery store. I have not been relaxed, I have not done yoga, but I can still treat myself right. I can get a healthy muffin for breakfast. Maybe pick up a nice organic juice from the health food aisle. I parked crookedly, ignoring glares from other shoppers as I rushed inside.

There were no healthy muffins. I waffled between chocolate chip muffins and chocolate chocolate chip muffins before deciding, Screw it. I’ll get a donut. That’s what I wanted anyway.

At the checkout stand, ringing up one donut, one non-diet soda, and $50 worth of nine volt batteries (because this shit was not happening to me ever again),  the bright cashier smiled winningly at me, despite how I must have looked. “And how are you today?” he said.

In the voice of Death’s spinster auntie, I said, “Don’t ask me about my day.”

He shrank back from my malicious glare, his arm stretched long to hand me my receipt, keeping himself as far from my hateful disease as possible.

I sped to work with the windows down as a makeshift hairdryer, scarfing my breakfast of champions as I went. Mine was the last car to arrive at the library, but the clock showed that I was still on time, if only just. I ran for the conference room where my coworkers were gathered for staff meeting, sliding into my seat with less than a minute to spare. “I’m here,” I said. “Go.”

My coworkers stared at me, saying nothing, at which time I remembered the comb I had left in the car, unused. “Is there anything like a hair dryer in this building, anywhere?” I asked.

“No,” Karyn said. “Not really.”

I cursed.

“Did you sleep in this morning?” Carla asked.

“Absolutely not,” I said. “Apparently, this is what happens when I wake up early.”


Now, ask yourself: did your smoke alarm go off today?



And are you on fire?

Not just now?

Okay, then. It’s obviously going to be an amazing and wonderful day.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Adventures in Quantum Mechanics

"I texted Sarah that I was feeling depressed," I said one day in mid-April. Winter had held on and on and it was getting harder to stay cheerful at my very public job. "And I asked if she could give me something to cheer me up. She said 'This is the year we finally caught footage of a live giant squid in the wild.' And I said, 'yeah, that’d do it.'"

Benjamin nodded sagely. The two of us worked methodically, removing library DVDs from their cases and putting them in the binders at the front desk where we keep them until they're checked out.

"You know," he said eventually, "if we ever win the lottery or whatever, instead of wasting our fortune like other people do, we should invent a submarine especially for finding giant squid."

Our boss, who had chosen just that moment to walk by, laughed for no reason. People often laugh for no reason when Benjamin and I have serious conversations.

"I’m down with that," I said. "I have no other plans for my imaginary fortune. Well, except for building myself an illustrious hobbit hole."

Benjamin hissed out a breath. "Oh yeah, a friend and I have a pact to buy matching luxury sports cars. But after that, nothing's stopping us."

"Yes, if we ever become filthy rich, I think it’s a great idea," I said.

"Because that could ever happen," Benjamin sighed.

I patted his shoulder. "Hey, according to quantum mechanics, there’s a universe out there where it already has."

Our boss, walking the other direction this time, again laughed for no reason.

"It might be easier to travel to that dimension where we’re already rich than to become rich here," Benjamin speculated. "How would we go about burrowing between these dimensions?"

"It's not necessary," I said, "because technically we’ve already done that too. In fact, there's a universe out there where we've already found the squid. Just think of the adventures we've had!"

Benjamin sighed. "I guess this is just the universe where we haven’t done that?"

"Don't let it get you down. it's sort of comforting. I see into other dimensions all the time. Like when I’m at the store and I’m thinking of buying something, I often imagine the universe in which I’ve already bought the thing and lost interest in it, and it’s sitting in a heap in the bottom of my closet and I’m thinking 'Why did I buy that thing?' and then I don’t buy it in this universe."

There was a long silence, then Benjamin said, "That’s not seeing other dimensions. That’s predicting the future."

I shrugged. "You say potato."