*Originally published at Altoonamirror.com
I have always wanted to be a morning person. It's something that has appealed to me for years. It must be pretty rad to be able to wake up to an alarm clock on your cell phone and not want to hurl it across the room before you curl up into the fetal position and start sobbing uncontrollably. I want to be that dude from the Folgers commercials who smells coffee, sits up, stretches and smiles.
But, sadly, I am not of that ilk. I was not wired that way. The beeping sound of an alarm clock severely depresses me. Every time I hear it, I have the exact same reaction as I do when I hear "Soul Sister" by Train. It's like this: "Oh God, not this AGAIN. Why would you let such a sequence of sounds be INVENTED?" And then I shake my fists at the sky.
When I look at that sentence, I think about how I'm definitely looking at things the wrong way. I should be thanking God I get to wake up again, but when it's that early in the morning I'm not usually capable of forming such rational thoughts, especially positive ones. I'm not a morning person, and so by default I'm not a positive person in the morning. Come to me at 8 p.m. with a worry about your girlfriend who hasn't texted you back for a few hours, and I'll say that maybe she's lost her phone or the battery has gone dead; I'll tell you not to worry. Come to me 12 hours later, and I'll probably whip my mobile phone at you and then proceed to tell you she's probably hanging out somewhere with a guy who is much better looking than you, who was probably wearing a shirt with a popped collar...until a few minutes ago.
I'm not sure when I started hating getting up early, but I'd guess it was probably when I got to middle school in sixth grade, when the powers that be thought it'd be a great idea to have a school day for growing adolescents and teens start at 7:30 a.m. If I was going to get the sleep I needed back then, I was going to have to hit the sack before "Smallville" was over, and that was not going to happen. My family -- with the exclusion of my Dad, who often wakes up earlier than I even hit the sheets -- is not a clan of morning people. One of my most memorable mornings from the high school years was one day when I rolled out of bed and crawled into the bathroom to the shower, narrowly beating my older brother. I got naked and was checking the faucet for warmth when he came in and, in his bad early morning mood, decided he would not give up first shower without a fight. He literally choke-slammed me into the bathtub while I was in the buff. If it had been like three hours later, he probably would've just given me a high five and told me to go ahead and take the shower while he fired up the griddle and made some pecan pancakes.
This has gotten worse since college, when I would often arrange my schedule so I didn't have to wake up until at least 10 a.m. It has gotten worse still since I started work here. I don't come into the office until 1:30 each afternoon, which is awesome. But I've found that my pension for sleeping late extends until the moment I have to get up for an obligation, of which I typically have none before work beyond showering.
Many times in the past seven months, I've gone to bed early enough to get a solid eight hours before I'd wake up at the time I specified on my phone's alarm. I'd have plans, too. I was going to go to the gym, then I was going to start writing a novel that'd make Junot Diaz want to be my friend. At some point in there, I'd whip up some egg whites and read the paper.
Usually, though, I'd turn off the alarm. I'd just lay in bed until like noon, then I'd get up, shower and have enough time to really only read the paper while I watched Sportscenter and ate a banana while hating myself for being so lazy. I pushed the limit for the amount of time I could remain horizontal while the sun was up.
I decided recently it was time for a turn around. I want to wake up in the morning and feel like P. Diddy, to quote the great American poet, Ke$ha. I mean, who wouldn't? P. Diddy has clout, and his life is pretty sweet (well, after he beat those murder charges anyway). This is the dude who was able to make a group of hip-hop-hopefuls walk miles to get him cheesecake, because he just wanted some cheesecake. He actually had a reality show that centered around him training for a marathon. That's right, people tuned into MTV to watch a man jog a lot. If I were to start training for a marathon, my Mom might care a little bit, but that's about it.
Also, I bet his linens have a really high thread count, so that probably doesn't hurt.
I'm not big on New Year's resolutions, but I figured it was as good an opportunity as any to start waking up and being a little bit more productive than I'd been in recent memory.
I had to start at the very beginning. There is nothing in the world that will ever make me enjoy the sound of an alarm clock. Okay, that's not true. If it becomes a daily Pavlovian signal that Blake Lively has just shown up at my door with a large order of house special lo mein, I'll probably start to enjoy it. But the odds of that are slim, so I took that stupid noise out of the equation.
"Scott, what sounds make you happy?" I thought to myself. Almost immediately, I came up with two ideas. The first is the song "Circle of Life," from the very first scene of "Lion King." It starts with the sun coming up -- which was fitting -- and some tribal dude screaming, "Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba. Sithi uhm ingonyama." According to LionKing.org (yes this really does exist) it translates to, "Here comes a lion, Father. Oh yes, it's a lion."
Honestly, I don't care what it means. It just sounds nice, so I like it (kind of like a Radiohead song). So I downloaded that as a ringtone on my phone, and set it up as an alarm.
Next, I obtained a compilation of music from the television show "Glee." I threw that in my CD player alarm clock, and set that up. (If you are too cool and don't dig "Glee," I suggest substituting it with the song "You Get What You Give" by The New Radicals. It's probably barely edges out "Mmmbop" as my favorite pop song from the 90's. It's very happy. I don't know how I feel about everything I just wrote in this parenthetical sequence; not very manly, is it?)
I staggered these alarms within 15 minutes of each other. This way, if the music from "Lion King" didn't do the job of waking me up immediately, the kids from "Glee" would chime in a few moments later telling me that any way I wanted it was indeed the way I needed it, and that I was just a small town girl who was livin' in a lonely world. (They were heavy on the Journey throughout their journey to the regionals. Count it.) If I was already awake and reading the paper before I left for the gym, I would get a pick-me-up from that gang of adoreable misfits.
Right before I walked out the door for the gym, I'd fill my new Gatorade bottle with some water or green tea. It was one of those squirtable ones professional athletes use. I figured that somehow I could trick myself into thinking my running on the treadmill was part of some important team activity.
Whilst on the treadmill, I listened to a lot of music by Explosions in the Sky, an instrumental band that plays probably some of the most powerful music I've ever listened to in my 23 years on this earth. (They did all the music for the "Friday Night Lights" film and television show.) I can't explain why, but their songs make everything you're doing seem like it is vastly more important than it justifiably should be. I like to listen to them while I fold my laundry. It makes me feel like the most domesticated man since Michael Keaton in "Mr. Mom." And that came out in 1983.
Next, I'd jump in the pool and try to swim some laps, something I haven't done much since my Mom made me join the swim team in fourth grade. (It ended like piano lessons : I complained until she didn't make me go anymore. Now I regret doing that in both instances.) That'll wake you up for sure.
So then I'd come home and shower and try to write something for a little bit. That novel hasn't really gotten off the ground yet, so Diaz is going to have to wait if he's looking for new up-and-coming literary pals, but I don't think he minds. I do get a lot more reading done, though, and that's good for the mind. Especially those Junot Diaz books. Dude can write. (Yes, I'm hoping he Googles his own name a lot and decides he wants to e-mail me. So what?)
So far, it has worked for me. At least on two-thirds of the weekdays in 2011. We'll call it a start.