Nine Minutes in Heaven

With my new alarm clock, I don’t even have to touch the actual snooze button to get my extra nine minutes—touching anywhere on the top of the clock triggers the snooze, so I barely have to be cognizant of the fact that I have fingers or that buttons exist, which is good news. Even when the clock is hidden under the balled up t-shirt that I put over it when I go to sleep—as if it is a canary and can be fooled by the artificial darkness—it still senses my hand and turns off giving me another nine or eighteen minutes, whatever it takes. The makers of this clock are obvious enablers, toying with my snooze addiction, probably sending out negative subliminal signals that make me want to stay in bed forever, “Go back to sleep, dear. You are probably going to die homeless and alone anyway.”


Every morning I feel devastated about the start of a new day, especially since I am already twenty-seven minutes behind, but I don’t hate my life. I barely even hate my mornings. There is coffee. I get to eat something, which is almost always enough to keep me interested in showing up. I even describe myself as a morning person but mainly just by default because I usually go to bed at 9:30 p.m., so I cannot possibly be a night owl. What I really am is a lunch person. I am almost always awake for lunch.


When that alarm buzzes there is a fleeting moment of clarity about the meaninglessness of life that makes me question my will to live. This is one of many reasons I do not sleep with weapons under my mattress. (The other reasons are all closely related to the street scene in Indiana Jones where the swordsman demonstrates his impressive sword-handling skills and Jones casually pulls out his gun and shoots him. I am definitely not going to be the Indiana Jones character in this scenario, especially in the middle of the night, but I’m probably not the swordsman either. I am most likely the hysterical bar maiden hiding in a laundry basket with a monkey, but I still find it best it best to keep weapons out of the bedroom.)


Maybe it is the carnal act of sleeping—an act based on biological need—that makes me question my mostly artificial life choices, like why I shave my legs, straighten my hair, wear high heels, drive 30 miles to teach high school students to write poems against their will, rush to a gym where I ride a bike really hard in place, and then sit on the couch watching people cook food on television, while I try to convince myself not to eat that last piece of pizza. Holy shit. Push the snooze!


I started snoozing in high school. My mom bought me an old fashioned alarm clock in an effort to help me break the habit, one shaped like an actual clock with two giant bells on the top. The noise from the alarm was loud enough to wake up the entire neighborhood, so eventually I just stopped setting it because I was exhausted from waking up by blunt force trauma to my ear drums. I was late to school a lot, until I finally caught a break and graduated. In college, instead of organizing a schedule around my inadequacies, I kept optimistically assuming that I could change. My mom bought me one of those alarm clocks with a radio, but it did not have a good antenna, so my alarm would just be static, like a white noise machine. It took me nine years to graduate from college.


I have started setting my alarm clock back in time so that I am not late for work, even if I sleep an extra thirty-six minutes. Every few months, I set it back a little further, so eventually I will just be sleeping for a series of nine minute intervals continually for the entire night. The feeling of turning off the alarm and drifting peacefully back to sleep—covers pulled up to my chin—is one of the most euphoric feelings on earth. Every morning I become more addicted, and I think at least briefly that I may never be able to get up. Why bother? I could quit my job. My kids could figure out how to pour their own cereal. It would be worth it. After about forty-five minutes of snoozing, I usually check my phone to see if anyone texted or called me while I was sleeping, and maybe I just didn’t hear it even though I sleep with the phone inches from my head.


The good news is that from there my day can only get better. It is similar to the way I like to start the new year—with a massive hangover. When I give up snoozing—almost every single morning—I have already overcome a major hurdle. I will eventually swing my legs over the side of the bed, curse, and grumpily wander to the bathroom—fifty-four minutes later. When I get out of the shower, I will still hear the alarm buzzing because I never actually turned it off. Usually one or both of my kids are in the bed sleeping peacefully through the sound of the alarm, snuggled up under heaps of downy covers, little tufts of hair sticking up like middle fingers, mocking me.


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  1. Bill Bielecky · June 3, 2014

    As your editor I might have questioned the use of “carnal” to start that otherwise perfect paragraph. It brings to mind sexuality, which “sleeping” can also invoke, although not in this context. See, eg, Carnal Knowledge, a great movie written by Jules Ffiefer who became a great cartoonist, starring Art Garfunkel as the cuckolded buddy of young very young Jack Nicholson. (Also starring Ann-Margaret’s tits, which for those carnally disposed, makes it a must-see movie on that feature alone.)

    But you wised me up. Like the new versions of ITunes (which I do not want, I just my simple easy to use old old version), I will not update my alarm clock now. Ever. I don’t need a clock that senses my desire to snooze in.

  2. ringhillary · June 3, 2014

    I thought about that word a bit, and I was hoping it would work as sort of a comparison, another physical need. BUT I will consider revising. Maybe.
    P.S. — You know this is a public comment and not just an email to me, right? (I am carnally laughing)

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