Back when I had a job, I could count on one thing: I always had some place to be at 8:30 every morning from Monday to Friday. I didn’t always arrive on time, but the goal was there, cast in stone, more or less. My alarm clock held the key to any success I would have. The clock would beep and whine and stamp its feet, wrestling for my attention, eventually victorious over my World-Class denial. Even though it was unwelcome every morning, it was expected. I’d hear the sound, recognize it eventually, and act accordingly, either with a crushing blow to the snooze button or a deeply aggravated roar from the depths of my hatred. (I know there are people in the world who can’t wait for their alarm clocks to signal the beginning of a new day. I’ve never met such a person, but I’ve heard enough about them to assume they aren’t mythical.)
These days, there is nothing concrete on the schedule. There is no place I need to be at a previously contracted time. Tomorrow morning I am expected at my neighbor’s house at 9 AM to teach her how to bake bread, but to this point, aside from lunch plans, which hardly require the use of an alarm clock, I’ve had nothing on the docket that is inexorably tied to a specific time. There are no imperatives on the order of “show up to work or get fired.” Regardless, I continue to set my alarm. Mind you, I set it four hours later than when I was employed, but set it I do. I’m naturally a night owl and my waking hours have been shifting later and later the deeper I get into this strange phase. I feel that I should try to keep some semblance of a routine, at least in terms of when I wake up and start moving. A funny thing happens, though, regarding the wake-up call when one removes the externally scheduled urgency. That alarm has become the most horrible, unrecognizable sound I’ve ever heard. I thought I knew that beeping intimately well, but now it blares like a klaxon at the gates of Hades warning that there’s been a jailbreak and all manner of Hellspawn will soon pour forth to cover the Earth and there are only a few short minutes to get to the bomb shelters. Every time it goes off, it’s like I’ve never heard it before, even though I experience it no less than seven times each morning at five-minute intervals due to incessant snooze button mashing. The bed covers explode, my body roiling and writhing underneath as I try to make sense of the ungodly sound invading my brain like a bullet from a 9mm. It’s the most remarkable phenomenon.
Anyway, I’m awake now. Good afternoon.