Mar 22, 2010

Day 742: ½ snooze

So first off, I've clearly given up on daily writing. There's just no time, for a multitude of reasons. But it was fun while it lasted, like when you meet a new girl, hit it off and hang out with her every day for two weeks straight before realizing that she's automatically assuming that you're coming over for dinner after work, which wasn't really a problem for the first couple of weeks because if you choked down her bland attempt at "ethnic food" and pretended to care about her catty co-workers she'd let you put your peener in her bajingo, but now all of a sudden you want to go out for wings with your buddies on a Friday and she calls and says "What do you want for dinner?" and you say "Actually I'm going for wings with some buddies, I guess I never mentioned it" and she says "Oh, ok" and then there's a long pause and she says "Ok. No, that's fine, I guess I'll see you soon" but now there's a certain stilting to her speech because she was trying to figure out if she should say "see you soon" or "see you tomorrow" and there's clearly something wrong and her internal voice must be just SCREAMING at you but she's keeping her mouth shut because come on, it's not like you're a COUPLE or anything, so you don't HAVE to hang out every day, but still an email or a text message would have been enough, and she already bought the sauce from the the ethnic grocery store, the one ingredient she was going to put on the chicken and call it cooking, and she turned down an offer from her girlfriends to go see the latest stupid movie chicks like because she HAD FUCKING PLANS OR SO SHE THOUGHT but don't say that, it's not like he knows that you were expecting him over but still... so yeah, writing was like thata.

Secondly, you can see by the subject of this post that I somewhat snoozed this morning. It was more that I woke up at 6:30, decided while I was peeing that I didn't want to go to the gym, so reset my alarm for 7 and went back to bed.

I don't count this as cheating because I popped out of bed both at 6:30 and 7:00 without hitting the snooze button. If you read back, you'll recall that my problem was more the fact that I was repeatedly hitting the snooze button without realizing I was doing it. This morning I made a rational decision to go back to bed because I'd been up late and I would go to the gym after work because band practice isn't until 8 so I totally have time.

I realize, of course, that an addict will make up any old excuse to momentarily fall of the wagon, and that I'm probably deluding myself by saying it was rational and justified and bla bla bla. I might as well be injecting heroin into my nuts and saying it's for Haiti, it's still not a valid excuse...

But fuck it, I'm reporting to me first, then you second, and you don't give a shit what I do, as long as I make it sound funny, right?

a. This scenario used to happen between me and Mrs. Lefty all the time, but to no one's surprise, I was always the girl. Also, that's how I cook ethnic food.

Mar 11, 2010

Day 16: 0 snoozes

Well, it's official: I rule. I'm a lean, mean, habit-kicking machine. I'm the assassinator of addiction, the sultan of self-control, the badass master of back monkeys. It's been over two weeks of this shit and I still haven't had any slip-ups. Even that one time that I totally forgot to arm my alarm, I still only slept in 16 minutes. Even that time that I caved in and used the snooze button, I totally made up some valid excuse. I am the best.

Here's another addiction I'm trying to quit: the one that makes me write this damn blog every day. Every weekday, I mean - weekends don't count. When I started Snooze By Numbers, I had this idea that I could just write about my adventures in trying to quit my snooze button addiction. I figured it'd be ready-made content, and I'd just have to translate it into ASCII characters. But as we all know from my incessant bitching and moaning for the first two weeks, that never happened. I ended up drawing too soon from the Big Wheel of General Musings on the Topic of Sleep. Not that I'm running out of things to talk about, just running out of time...

At first, I was all "Fuck yeah, I've got all this time in the mornings now, so I can afford to just sit here for an hour drinking coffee and writinga". Soon enough I started putting off the writing and doing other stuff instead, then finally sitting down to write and next thing you know I'm late for work.

The thing about work is, I've got all sorts of free time here (I'm writing from work, as I'll explain in the next sentence). I've realized that time management-wise, it makes way more sense for me to write this stuff at workb. I waste a tremendous amount of work time just circulating through five different websites looking for something new and exciting to be posted. Occasionally I do actual work as well, so that's nice I guess. Anyway, it'd be a better waste of my time if I did something productive while not working, so I'll be tackling Snooze By Numbers at the office from this point on.

The reason I called it an addiction a few paragraphs back is that it feels really good to write. I'm new to this "writing" thing and I'm enjoying it a lot. The positive feedback I've gotten is encouraging, and it keeps me coming back day after day to write about this or that bullshit that happened once. I don't WANT to slow down the writing, but I need to better manage my time, which for the time being means writing when I find the time, instead of making the time to write, at this time, time changes everything, time time time time (that makes ten).

Yes, you in the back?

Q: Why should I care where you write from?
Because it will no longer be a daily thing, that's why, because sometimes I have lots of actual work to do. Not that you care, it's not like you subscribe or anything. If I didn't remind you on a DAILY FUCKING BASIS to read my blog, you'd never visit, you inconsiderate toadstool.

Q: What are you going to do with the extra time in the morning?
Go to the gym, get to work on time. Sorry that's not a funny answer, but I can't be "on" all the time. You try to be in the spotlight asshole, see how all that pressure feels.

Q: Wanna talk about it?

Q: Hug?
No, go away.

Q: C'monnnnnnnnnn
Quit it, Mom! You're embarrassing me!

Q: Ok, call me if you need me

a. I know you're thinking "It takes you an HOUR to write this shit?" but you have to understand it's all one-handed, while my other hand is busy either holding coffee to my mouth or scratching my crotch.

b. Aren't you glad I warned you?

Mar 10, 2010

Day 15: 0 snoozes

This morning I realized the brilliance of setting up the coffee maker next to the bed. It starts brewing 8 minutes before my alarm goes off, and is actually the thing that wakes me up. Then I lie there knowing that I'm totally fine to go back to sleep because my alarm will go off in about 7 minutes. It's sort of like a substitute snooze - my coffee maker is the methadone to my snooze button's heroin.

On a completely unrelated note, my post from day 13 made a footnote mention of my bizarre sleep system, and I thought now is as good a time as any to talk about it, and then everyone can meet Mabel.

When I was a kid, I had a very hard time falling asleep. When bed-time rolled around, I'd read for a bit 'til my parents told me "lights out", then I'd toss and turn for at least half an hour, usually more, before I finally conked out. This went on for a very long time, well into my teens (not the lights out thing though). Part of the problem was that I couldn't stop my mind from racing, so I couldn't relax. For years I listened to music to distract me - it got to a point where I couldn't sleep without some sort of music to help me along. I still do this on occasion, I'll get to that in a bit.

The other part of the problem was that I just couldn't get comfortable. In my waking hours, I'm a pretty restless guy. I'm fidgety, I can't bear to sit in one place for more than twenty minutes, I twiddle my thumbs and drum my fingers, play drums on my belly - I just can't seem to sit stilla. This carries over into bed as well. I've always had a very hard time getting comfortable while trying to fall asleep. It's things like which side to lay on, where to put my arms. At some point along the road, I figured out a very comfortable way to sleep, and became quite dependent on it. Also, I've finely tuned it so that I can fall asleep within minutes of closing my eyes.

It'll be kind of hard to describe this properly, but with a combination of words and photos I'll try. Here's a composite diagram I put together - GIS didn't turn up any exact pictures of what I'm trying to show, can you imagine that?

The half-fetal/half-straight leg position (A) is a crucial first, and is easy to pull off pretty much anywhere, with the exception of some couches with no depth or that are too short. I mean it with that last bit, I can't sleep on a love seat that makes me curl BOTH legs - it has to be one straight, one curled.

The surface I'm on has to be pretty soft (B). I'm very susceptible to the princess and the pea effect - even the slightest ridge from a spring poking up is enough to keep me up all night. I use a foam covering that resembles sound-proofing wall covering, with all the little "egg-carton" ridges.

I sleep somewhere between my side and my front. I guess it's mostly my front, but I need to lean my torso at 30-45ยบ from the plane of the bed, and that's where Mabel comes in (C).
I used to use a second pillow for this, until the wifey-poo bought me this giant ridiculous teddy bear to use instead. She (the bear) is precisely one thousand times better than a pillow because she's squishy and has all these nooks and crannies to wrap my legs and arms around and I love her and I probably need to wash her, it's been an embarassingly long time, and I've started sleeping naked in the last year so... well, don't touch her, that's all I'm saying.

My head pillow (D) needs to be relatively flat, otherwise I get a crick in my neck from having to tilt it upwards into the pillow. Also, my head is positioned on the very edge of the pillow - I feel constricted if my head's in the middle of the pillow, because then I've got pillow touching my face, which I can't stand. My bottom arm (the one not lovingly caressing Mabel) needs to be directly under my pillow and fully extended, as in the picture.

Finally, there's a second pillow (E) to prop up the arm that goes under my head, so that the hand is about 4-6" above the surface of the bed. This is a relatively new addition to the sleep system (I think it started about a year ago), but one that I can no longer do without. I can't explain why, but it feels like my arm is being unnaturally twisted if I don't have that pillow there to prop it up. In fact, there are two pillows, because while I'm falling asleep, I occasionally have to turn over and face the other way, so I keep two pillows on the bed so that I don't have to switch it over every time.

Now I'm in a position (ha!) where I have trouble falling asleep if I don't meet at least 3/4 of these requirements, the most important being C and E. Without those, I might as well stay up all night and watch informercials, because I won't be getting any sleep. Suffice it to say, I don't like sleeping at other people's houses for the above reasons. If I can, I'll actually bring a few things with me so that I can sleep comfortably. Also, although I don't use music to lull me to sleep at home, I'll listen to my mp3 player when sleeping at someone else's house, because it helps me tune out how uncomfortable I am.

When I was touring with my old band, they mocked my "sleepaway kit" consisting of: Air mattress (there's no way I can sleep on a floor or rolled-out foam layer), bed sheet and blanket, 2 pillows and Mabel. Thankfully I'm comfortable enough with my sexuality and manliness that I can bring my gigantic blue teddy bear on the road with me and not be killed by embarrassment of it all. It'd be a different story if everyone saw what was going on between Mabel and I under the covers, what with the whole naked sleeping thing... again - don't touch.

a. I also suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome, and if you try to tell me it's a made-up disease, I will come to your house and show you how restless they are by kicking you repeatedly in the face while shouting "I just can't stop moving them!"

Mar 9, 2010

Day 14: 0 snoozes

Last night's bachelor party = no writing today, so here's a picture of a turtle humping a bird. *THUNK*

Mar 8, 2010

Day 13: 0 snoozes

Over the weekend, I cracked. My weakness got the better of me. I caved, I crumbled, I collapsed in a pile of delightful nine minute naps. Three of them, I think.

I wanted to see what it would be like, to see if I'd truly kicked the habit, and my tired brain concluded that the only way to know if I was still addicted was to do a few lines and see what happens.

Dumb? Yes. Regret? Not really. It was a misguided move, and risky as hell, but worth it in the end. Worth it because it showed me that yes, I'm still very addicted to the snooze button. It took EVERY. SINGLE. GRAM. of my inner strength to get out of bed after the last snooze. I could have gone for hours, and holy shit did I ever want to - and I could afford to, I didn't have to be anywhere for hours.

Oh right, I completely forgota to mention that it was an evening nap, at 6pm. That's the reason I was waking up to an alarm on the weekend, and that's the reason I let myself snooze. I made a spot decision that naps don't count, and if there was ever a time to abuse the snooze button, it's after an evening nap.

Really though, naps should count way more than mornings, because they're so fucking hard to pry yourself away from. As a general rule I avoid naps and try to hold on for as long as possible, no matter how much I'm yawning and zombie-walking - trying to wake up after 30 minute of heavy sleep is literally painful for me. I can only think of a small number of things more painful: nut shot, flesh burn, toe stub, and [pop culture reference that might elicit a chuckle at best].

When I go down for a nap, I give myself a reasonable amount of time, but for some reason I spend half of it just trying to fall asleep. That's odd because I'll have beenb so brain-dead going into the nap, but once I'm in bed, my brain ascends to the next level of wakedness and I have to lull it back to a more relaxed state. Thusly, if I give myself an hour to sleep, I spend the first half of it tossing and turning and only "sort of" sleeping.

In a lot of cases, "sort of" sleeping is actually better for me, but only if there's no "real" sleep to follow it. When I get up from a nap where I didn't actually sleep, I usually feel oddly refreshed. It seems that all I really need is to lie down for a bit, to relax, to reboot my brain or maybe even fool the brain into thinking I've slept. I might fall asleep right towards the end, but it's usually not a deep sleep because of the uncomfortable sleeping arrangements I've made.

See, in order to intentionally not fall into a deep sleep, I need to not be super-comfortablec. To pull this off, I'll either nap fully clothed on top of a made bed (including keeping phone, change etc. in my pockets, to maximize the princess-and-the-pea effect) or sleep on the floor, lying on my back. I frequently have these naps at work - I have a quiet place I go to on those particularly hard afternoons, where I'll set an alarm for twenty minutes in the future, lie on my back on the cold, hard floor, and just listen to my mp3 player and relax. I might not catch a wink of actual sleep, but the whole thing really invigorates me - I highly recommend it.

So if these naps are so much better than a full-on, nude, under-the-covers attempt at sleep, then why even bother with the latter? Easy - it's the same reason people get drunk when they know they're going to feel like ass the next day. It feels good going in, and the whole time during (I assume sleep feels good, even though I'm not awake to experience it), and so we're swayed by the temptation of the thing. That's not really surprising - most stupid shit we do results from an impulsive decision that might not be green-lit if given a second thought.

When I went to have my nap on Saturday, I knew damn well that I shouldn't get into bed, that it would hurt to wake up and that there was no chance in hell that I could resist whacking the snooze button at least twice. I did it anyway, and don't regret a minute of it, but I'm also fairly certain that it's floor-naps for me, from now on. Or street naps, that's uncomfortabler.

a. Lies
b. Pop quiz: what verb tense is that? Seriously, I don't know. Does it even exist? I bet the french have a cool name for it, like plus que parfait
c. See future post about my bizarre sleep system requirements, including giant teddy bear named Mabel.

Mar 5, 2010

Day 10: 0 snoozes, but I REALLY WANTED TO

Hot diggity dog folks, now we're getting somewhere! Today I actually felt like an addict again. This was the hardest day for me yet - my alarm had been going off for a full 8 minutes before I finally even heard the damn thing, and when I turned it off I had to resist an EXTREMELY strong downward pull back into bed. I forced myself to get up and at dem, but only barely made it. All in all, a success! I AM good at making mistakes! Maybe next Monday I'll actually hit the snooze button and go back to sleep.

Back when I was a smoker, I tried several times to cut down on my cigarette consumption. Every smoker tries this, because cutting down is soooooo much easier than quitting. Well, in theory anyway. I found that I just couldn't hack it (ha!) and that the only thing that would work for me was quitting all out. I'm an all-or-nothing kind of addict - when I quit I was smoking almost 2 packs a day, and I found that trying to cut down to something reasonable like 1 pack a day was just torture. All the rules and stress and minute-counting removed the fun and enjoyment from smoking, and I could only keep it up for 3 days tops before I'd go back to 2 packs.

It's not like that for everyone. Just like how with drinking you've got your moderates and your alkies, there are people that successfully smoke just once in awhile. You know, 2 or 3 cigarettes a day, or only on weekends, or only when they out drinking, or only when something stressful happens. I'm INCREDIBLY envious of these people. I still love cigarettes and wish every day that I could find a way to smoke them and not hinder my health or my angelic singing voice or stunning good looks, but I know that the minute I allow just one puff, it's a slow snowball back to 2 packs of tarry heaven. I know for a fact because it happened before.

Awhile back, I stopped smoking cold turkey one day and kept it up for three whole years, and one night a seductress in lingerie led me astray - the bitch was actually TRYING to get me to smoke, when she knew full well that I'd quit. Somehow thinking that taking a puff would get me laid, I took a puff. The plan backfired - instead of hot sexy lovin' I got a 2 month downward spiral with the following highlights:

-"I went a whole week without smoking after that first puff, so clearly I can be a casual smoker and not get roped in"

-"I'll only smoke when I go out on weekends"

-"It's only Friday morning, but I'm going out tonight so I'll buy my pack this morning"

-"It's Monday and I still have smokes - hm, no one to give 'em to, I guess I'll smoke 'em myself"

-"This smoking is getting out of control, I'll take this weekend camping trip, smoke full time while I'm there and get it out of my system and return to the city a non-smoker"

-"Well that didn't work, and I'm starting to get annoyed by having to take smoke breaks in the middle of my gym sessions, so now I have to make a choice - and I choose 'Fuck it all, I'm gonna be a smoker again!'"

Now tell me: is that not the most retarded thing you've ever read? These things actually made COMPLETE SENSE to me at the time, and I'm amazed I actually fell for that shit. Looking back though, it's given me a pretty clear picture of how the addicted mind can fool itself and somehow get away with it.

There's a point to this, I swear. This morning when I got up, my first thought was a voice telling me to hit the snooze button and allow myself to go back to sleep, just once. I was telling myself, "Just one snooze, I've been so good! I've clearly kicked the habit, look how easy it was!" I thought I'd give myself a little treat for being so good. Sound familiar? Anyone that's ever tried dieting knows exactly what I'm talking about. Thankfully I was able to get up walk away from the sexy temptress that is my snooze button - I know the game of the addicted mind, I know its ploys and tricks, because I've been down that road before. As a great man once said:

Mar 4, 2010

Day 9: 0 snoozes, still slept in

I forgot to arm my alarm last night. The coffee maker woke me up, but I drifted back to sleep and woke SIXTEEN MINUTES late. That's all. Not two hours, just sixteen very reasonable minutes. So apparently I'm so awesome at this that I can't even fuck it up properly. Whatever, you and I both know that my number of snoozes is irrelevant at this point. Like a loveless marriage, I'll go through the motions and continue to report the snoozes because it keeps me writing, even when the best thing I can think of to talk about is sleep drool.

Are you mouth breather? Yeah, me too. A combination of chronic allergies plus what I suspect is a deviated septum means I only breathe about 2% of my air through my nose, on a good day. I blow my nose so much, I'm surprised the tip isn't just one big callous.
I have dedicated garbage cans for my tissues so that I can dump them into the food waste bin (this tends to surprise folks, but there are plenty of non-food items that can go in there, including cat litter - there, you learned something today). I think that I'm single-handedly keeping the facial tissue industry afloat.

All this to say that I drool in my sleep (betcha didn't see that coming). Not all the time, mind you, but enough to warrant a mention. Here's one fond memory of sleep drool: I'd fallen asleep in class, as was my way (see future post on narcolepsy), and when I woke up I felt like I'd been slimed. I'd been using my textbooks as a pillow, you see, and there was a copious amount of drool between my cheek and the textbook it was resting on, enough to soak through the semi-laminated surface and forever scar the cover.

Now bear in mind that I slept in class almost every single day, and I made snoring noises - not loud ones, but noticeably heavy breathing - and every time I'd wake up and look around to regain my bearings, I'd make eye contact with at least one student who happened to be looking at me because of the snoring.

On drool day, it wasn't until I sat up that I realized I'd been lying face down in a puddle of my own drippings. As any of us with older brothers know, spit likes to hang onto itself, forming fragile strings when stretched. It was the sight of that string of drool connecting my mouth to the textbook that made me aware of what exactly was going on.

I internally laughed it off, wiped the drool off my face and then froze as I realized that there was a very good chance that one of my classmates saw the whole thing, and was internally laughing at the single most hilarious thing they'd ever witnessed. Suffice it to say, I had a hard time making eye contact with my classmates after that.

(photo courtesy of flickr user aknacer - check out his work, it's pretty neat)

Mar 3, 2010

Day 8: 0 snoozes

Hi, welcome to the stupidest blog in the world. I have nothing to write about today because nothing happened. In a series that was supposed to document the trials and tribulations of trying to kick a 13-snooze-a-day habit, I fucked it up right from the start by being too good at quitting. I feel like a TV news show that spent a lot of time and money making an amazing graphic title sequence for an impending international war, only to have the combatants sign a peace treaty before anyone got shot. It's a good thing and all, but... well you saw my graph from day 3.

Thankfully I foresaw such an occasion, I just didn't think it'd happen so soon. In anticipation of the inevitable lameness of this blog, I drew up a list of things to rap about when I got nothin'. So let's spin on Big Wheel of General Musings on the Topic of Sleep and see where that bad girl lands:

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd I spent so much time making that picture that I don't have time left to write about the topic upon which the Big Wheel of General Musings on the Topic of Sleep fell. Tune in tomorrow for an in-depth look at Sleep Drool. A dick move, I know, but see day 7.

Mar 2, 2010

Day 7: 0 snoozes

I THINK I was able to stay asleep until my alarm went off, it's kinda hard to tell. What I do know is that when I woke up, I was groggy and really wanted to go back to bed, and I think this is how I'm supposed to feel, so it looks like maybe I'm on the right path to normalcy.

I guess normal is "being reluctant to get out of bed, but still doing it". In that context, abnormal can take a few different forms - waking up before your alarm goes off; waking up two hours late after hitting the snooze button [note: calculate 120/9 and stick it here] times; bouncing out of bed at the first buzz of the alarm, fully awake and wide-eyed with a steady stream rainbows and chickadees and flute music flowing from your anus. Until recently I would've said that "earthquake" would be an abnormal way to wake up, but the way things are going, that might be the norm for the next couple of years.

Too soon? My apologies, I can be an insensitive prick in the mornings. It's not that I'm not a morning person - far from it, I love being awake early in the morning. That's the whole point of this mission - I wanted to stop sleeping through one of my favourite times of day (the other being 4:20, when I silently mock all the potheads who think they're cool because they're sparking up at the same time as everyone else in their time zone, which is like totally whoa).

You know how when you start your car in the winter, it takes a few minutes of driving around to warm it up so that it's not making all those crunchy sounds? My brain is opposite of that. When I wake up, I shake off the cobwebs of sleep and almost immediately my brain is firing on all cylinders with a fresh oil change and a full tank of some other automotive analogy.

I've done some of my best song-writing early in the morning, and I have an easier time writing this damn blog in the morning. My mind is clear, distractions don't rile me up into a burning rage, I'm snappy and quick with my thoughts and decisions. Unfortunately this effect dies off by noon, at which point I become a zombie until I get my weird-o second wind around 8pm, then it's go-go-go 'til midnight.

There's a downfall to this hyperactive morning mindset - I'm an insufferable prick to anyone around me, because there's one portion of my brain that's still fast asleep: the filter that keeps me from saying what I'm really thinking. This is the same filter that allows me to be happily married to a non-deaf person, and that allows me to function in a society where I pretty much instantly hate everyone and everything.

I have a near-constant stream of uppity snark and meanie-pants sarcasm running through my head, which is really odd because by most accounts, I'm a pretty nice guy. It's like my mind has a knee-jerk reaction to verbally destroy souls, and I'm in a constant state of trying to shut it up, because my Droopy Dog angel says that's not very nice.

For the first hour that I'm awake, that filter is M.I.A. If it's awake at all, it's verrry slow to respond to my hyperactive mind and trigger-happy tongue, making it more of a hindsight filter. Instead of "Shutupshutupshutupsaysomethingnice", it becomes "Hoooboy, I can't believe you just said that, she is gonna WRECK you". This, of course, is totally useless to me.

Think about the conundrum I'm in - my bad-thoughts filter is off, I say something mean, upset the wife, she confronts me about being a big meanie, and I just start digging my own grave because the filter is still off, so EVERY DAMN WORD out of my mouth is meaner than the last. If the argument lasts an hour, the filter might finally kick in and make things right, but by then I've spewed so much vitriol that I've given her heart a chemical burn.

This is one of the reasons I like being alone in the morning - it's easier to keep my loved ones in a state of loving me back. And if I'm ever in a debate with you and I ask you to postpone it 'til the next morning... well now you know why, and your soul better be wearing a cup.

Mar 1, 2010

Day 6*: 0 snoozes

I beat my alarm again, but I'm not upset. At least this time I was able to lie in bed until the damn thing went off. It was the coffee maker (it's next to my bed, see first blog entry) that woke me up - fuck that thing is loud - and I lay there knowing that as soon as the coffee was done the alarm would go off. I actually spent a little time deliberating whether to or not to intentionally hit the snooze button a few times, just to get this project back to normal, but common sense prevailed and I rolled out of bed at the first buzz.

That's something I addressed briefly last week - common sense. That little cartoon angel on your shoulder that makes sure you (for the most part) do the right thing. Over the weekend I was explaining my angel/devil thing to one of the 6 999 999 997 people who aren't reading Snooze By Numbers, and while talking I stumbled upon a novel way of understanding the feud between those two little buggers, a way that I hope to apply to all the other shit I do wrong throughout the day.

Up until that conversation, I always pictured my angel/devil thing as a debate between the two. I discovered them the first time I quit smoking for good (several years ago, and I lasted 3 years before going back) - it was towards the end of the workday, I'd gone about 18 hours without a smoke, and was riding the bus home listening to two separate voices in my head debate whether or not to give up. They threw the pros and cons back and forth while my mind's eye followed it like a tennis match.

After the debate was done, I did some post-game analysis of how my common sense had kicked the tar out of whatever it was that was trying to make me do bad stuff. It became clear that I could actually personify the two voices in my head. Of course, they'd been there all along, but this was an interesting development because I actually separated them from my own consciousness from this point onward. It wasn't until years later that I came up with the angel/devil analogy.

So back to my life-changing conversation from the weekend: as I was explaining the whole angel/devil thing to this friend, I realized that in the case of waking up vs. snooze button, there's no debate whatsoever because the devil is just too damn LOUD.

In the comics, the angel and devil are often depicted as angel/devil versions of the person upon whose shoulders they're standing. In this case, the devil is 40 feet tall with gigantic muscles and has a heavy metal soundtrack and laser lights and a smoke machine that follow him wherever he goes; the angel is a little balding man with a terrible moustache and a shirt that should never be tucked in but he tucks it in anyway, and his pants are 3 inches too short. When the alarm goes off, he bursts into action, gently poking me in the shoulder and quietly saying "Excuse me" over and over again in his Droopy Dog voice. It's no wonder that I don't hear him over the devil's blast beats and dropped-tuned guitars and death metal screams lulling me back to sleep.

So I realized this weekend that all I need to do to beat the snooze alarm addiction is to let the quiet little angel's voice through, just a little teeny bit. Once it comes through, it self-amplifies FAST, to the point where it can easily win. It only has to come through once, maybe while the devil stops to take a belt of whiskey or throatpunch a nun. After that, we're golden, and common sense prevails. After I put this image together, I realized I can probably apply it to other circumstances in my life where I do stupid things without realizing I'm being an idiot. I won't go into specifics, but trust me there are a lot of things I do that might change if that voice of common sense got a little louder.

I have to give the little angel credit where it's due - he's there to make me go the gym when I'm hungover, pay my bills even though I'm afraid to open the envelope, eat vegetables for dinner instead of an entire pizza, and of course not punching old people that walk slow, like those two old bats taking up the entire escalator at the mall yesterday, then taking fucking forever to get out of my way once they stepped off.

But for so many other things, he sheepishly stays in the background while Death Metal Satan steers me down stupid, stupid paths of various stupid activities. I'm going to learn to actually watch out for the little angel guy, and ask him if he has anything to say before embarking on pretty much anything. Eventually he'll get louder, I'm sure, and Death Metal Satan will be reduced to a pleasant background muzak of self-destruction.

*weekends don't count because I let myself sleep in, so I'll frequently be skipping 2 days in the count

Feb 26, 2010

Day 3: -1 snoozes

The fuck?!?

I beat my alarm by 20 minutes today. The cards were stacked against me too - I stayed up 'til about 2:30 last night. Jeeeeeeeeez. This is both awesome and frustrating. Awesome because it clearly demonstrates how advanced my brain is - apparently, I can literally do ANYTHING if I put my mind to it. Frustrating because dammit, I was gonna make graph!

The geek in me had visions of presenting a graph at the end of the study, showing a steady but imperfect decline in the number of snooze button whacks as a function of time. If this trend keeps up, it won't make for a nice graph at all - it'll make for a stupid graph that I hate, a graph that mocks me with its very existence.

I guess I'm not TOO upset, because I know it can't be real - there's no way that I trained myself overnight to wake up without an alarm clock. Clearly this is still a fluke. I'd be more peeved if the alarm had gone off just once before I woke up. That'd more closely resemble the stupid graph. Instead, I'll treat the last two days like statistical blips, and like any good scientist will do, I'll ignore the data and start over on Monday.

Feb 24, 2010

Day 2: -1 snoozes

Why, cruel universe, why?

Here's a twist of irony only Alanis could dream up: after setting up the automatic coffee maker right next to my bed, and dangling my alarm clock 6 feet in the air off a hook, and going to bed at midnight, I snapped wide awake 10 minutes BEFORE my alarm was supposed to go off. The coffee hadn't even begun to brew... on the one hand, yay because hey I'm awake. On the other hand, fuck. Tomorrow will be different story, there's no way this can happen two days in a row. I shall be redeemed in my quest to conquer this snooze button addiction.

Let's rap about addiction - don't worry, it's not that feel-good "friends of Bill W." stuff, I'll keep it simple.

At it's1 its most basic level, addiction is when people are hooked on something that feels really really good, and they just can't get enough. For me, it's the feeling of collapsing back into bed and letting myself instantly drift back into la-la land. It goes deep too, to an almost subconscious level. It's not like I have a voice in my head saying "Come on, go back to bed, you can get dressed real fast and eat on the road". Most times, I don't even realize I'm doing it, until it's literally too late.

Every morning I repeat the same vicious cycle of getting high on going back to sleep, and then coming down by waking up for good. And there's always that sense of remorse - "fuck, I slept in 'til 8:45 today, Jesus Christ I have 20 minutes to make coffee, eat, shit and leave - fuck my life". It's no different than the "I'll never drink again" mantra we all go through on Saturday mornings, only to hit the bottle again on Saturday night.

About two years ago, I quit smoking - I went from two packs a day to zero, cold turkey with no help from gum or patches or anti-depressants. Just sheer will-power. I've always felt a duality to my personality: the voice that knows what's best for me, and the voice that keeps trying to lead me down a path of self-destruction. You can liken it to the angel and devil on your shoulder, that's the easiest way to understand it.

In my best moments of clarity, the angel2 will come to a firm decision about something that needs to be done, and if I'm really determined, then the voice of the devil just never gets loud enough to sway me from what I'm supposed to do. The devil voice is always there, mind you - I'd KILL for a cigarette right now - but I'm just not allowed, period - there's no choice in the matter. The same common sense that keeps me from punching old people that walk too slow also keeps me from sticking another cigarette in my mouth.

On the odd occasions where the devil wins, the angel is still there with his little pipsqueak voice, I just end up ignoring him. But when I hit my snooze button for two solid hours every morning, that angel is fast asleep, out like a light, down for the count. I don't even have the option of trying to choose in the mornings. That's what's made this struggle so hard in the past - every single shred of common sense I have is MIA when the first alarm goes off, so the damn devil wins every time.

It would be a neat twist if the angel finally slaughtered the devil, allowing me to totally 100% succeed on the first day of my quest. That'd be a neat explanation for today's freak early wake-up - I've finally REALLY realized I need to wake up early in the mornings, and am just going to go ahead and do it.

But in the event that I'm either wrong or have just undone the whole thing by jinxing it, I predict 8 snoozes for tomorrow morning.

1. TenVolt totally called me on an unfortunatuitous grammatiquational grammatiquatical mishap.

2. To be clear, I'm not religious and I don't actually have/imagine an angel and a devil talking to me. It's just the easiest way to explain this concept - the names "the inner voice that knows what's good for me" and "the asshole inner voice that's always trying to fuck shit up" are too wordy.

Day 1: approximately 12 snoozes

The idea for this blog occurred to me on the bus this morning. I normally drive to work, which takes about 15 minutes on a good day, so I'm in no rush to leave in the morning. Sometimes, the wifey-poo needs the car for various girl things, and I'm stuck on the smelly old bus. I don't mind TOO much, but it takes friggin' forever because of having to transfer to an infrequent bus when I get downtown - this means that on bus days I have to either a) rush around in the morning, or b) wake up earlier, which is pretty much the most impossible thing I can imagine.

This morning I rushed like mad to get out the door, only to miss my bus because my stupid 1964 Eterna-Matic Birks watch (grandpa's) loses about a minute a day, making me 5 minutes late for pretty much everything. This made me miss my transfer, so I spent a total of 30 minutes just waiting for busses - this is unacfuckingceptable for a busy guy like myself, so I resolved to finally quit the snooze button. But for real this time, I totally mean it.

I've been wrestling with a snooze button addiction since my second year of university. Before that, I'd pop out of bed at the first buzz, eat some food, then make fun of my sister for hitting her snooze button 12 times before getting out of bed. Now I'm her, minus the boobs. Ok, I've got the boobs, but they're not girl-boobs. Anyway, once the addiction set in, it's been extremely hard to kick.

I once tried getting one of those old-timey alarm clocks, with the very very very loud bells - these don't have a snooze button. Within a week I would turn it off, reset it for "approximately some time in the future" and go back to sleep, and do this 3 or 4 times before finally getting out of bed, late.

Another time, I took my digital alarm clock, opened it and completely dismantled the snooze button components, rendering the button useless. Again, within a week I was waking up and just resetting the little bugger for 9 minutes later.

That's the back story, more on quitting addictions, and how shitty that can be, tomorrow.

(the reason I wrote "approximately" in today's title is because I wasn't keeping track this morning. Tomorrow, hard numbers. But don't worry, no math)