October 27, 2008

Smart Machine

The first year Scott and I were married, backing Chicago, we each had an hour + commute in opposite directions. First Scott drove me to catch a train. I rode that for an hour and then walked a mile to campus. Meanwhile our ancient Nissan wagon wheezed its way 90 minutes deep into the corn, taking Scott to his job so he could keep us in TP and Top Ramen. We had to get up every morning before five to make it.

This was our newlywed year, and we did not live together before we were married. That meant we were up late most nights, drinking jug wine and gazing at each other. As a consequence of THAT, we began sleeping through the alarm.

Within a week we’d mastered sleeping through his clock’s polite peepage. Hardly a challenge, the thing sounded like a fluffy baby chick politely clearing its throat. We upped to high volume beeping, and when we learned to sleep through that, I swapped out his peepy-beep thing for MY old clock, which made a horrid cranking buzz noise----sounded like a thousand angry robot bees coming to murder us in our bed. AND YET! We learned to sleep through it. My clock had the option of WAKE TO RADIO, so then we learned to sleep through talk radio and classical, and the mopey college station and hyper-chipped up sexy pop, and finally we were waking each morning to wailing guitar solos on the hair band heavy metal station.

NO ONE can sleep through POUR SOME SUGAR ON ME, no one, NO ONE, so we learned instead to POP the snooze button SO fast we never heard more than half a note. It was like ZOMBIE FAMILY FEUD, as whoever was sleeping by the bedside table lifted one arm and moaned “braaaains” and whanged the button and bought us nine more minutes without ever Actually. Becoming. Conscious. We could pop that button 2 or 5 or 9 times. Nine snoozes = FIRING STYLE late and missed classes.

THEN we put the clock across the room, so one person had to ACTUALLY RISE and CROSS THE room to stop the hair bands, and yet within a month, Scott LITERALLY learned to SLEEP RUN. He would leap to his feet, bound to the clock, SLAP that snooze, and be back under the covers without ever opening his eyes.

So. We went out to Taregt. And we bought ourselves Smart Machine.

Smart Machine is the size of a shoebox. It has a BIG LOUD WOOFERY SPEAKER. It has two staggered alarms, and back in the day we set alarm 1 to make a hysterical shrill WHOOPWHOOP noise 5 am and then followed that with Hair Band Heavy Metal at 5:03. Scott would SLEEP LEAP to stop the 5 am hooting, and three minutes later, before he was properly back in REM, the HAIR BANDS started up, and on the second bound across the room his eyes cracked open and he would go push the coffee button and then then roll me out of bed like an angry log.

Smart Machine cost what seemed to us a BUNDLE in those days. It WORKED but it was worth more than our hand me down television which had no remote and a DIAL channel selector. It may have been worth more than our CAR at that point. It was FANCY! And NEW! And SO SO SO smart. It was CUTTING EDGE WAKE TECHNOLOGY, so so clever that it KNEW when daylight savings time came, and it CHANGED ON ITS OWN at midnight AUTOMATICALLY. At the time, this was HUGELY impressive.

“How does it KNOW!” I marveled. “Smart Machine is SMART.”

Fats forward to NOW, when my cell phone flips times whenever I cross into a new zone and I don’t even blink. Jaded am I about the once wondrous technology of smart machine. Smart machine is now like the backwards inbred cousin of my new Mr. Coffee, who kicks the butt of Smart Machine in the smart department. Mr. Coffee has STEAL A CUP TECHNOLOGY and the ability to PUSH HIS OWN BUTTON in the morning on a timer so Scott can roll me out of bed like a angry log BEFORE he ever goes down the stairs, and yet…COFFEE WILL ALREADY BE THERE. Magic!

SO I forgot that I ever had called him Smart Machine or thought well of him, until SUNDAY. Which was emphatically not daylight savings time. Because, remember they changed the weekend when the time rolls over? Well, no one gave Smart Machine the memo on that, and when we diligently rose at 6 AM on the most overbooked Sunday in the HISTORY of our fifteen year marriage, the whole REST of the world – and indeed, every less self-motivated clock in our house—agreed that it was already SEVEN, and I have been LEAPING forward in a lathery panic EVER SINCE, trying to catch up to that lost hour.

I love technology.
When it works.

Posted by joshilyn at October 27, 2008 1:03 PM

I'm impressed that Smart Machine still works!

Posted by: Beth at October 27, 2008 1:14 PM

i can sleep through Nine Inch Nails. i can sleep through Sonic Youth. and Hole. i am sure i could sleep through Pour Some Sugar On Me. i am confident i could sleep through someone actually pouring sugar on me. maybe not maple syrup straight from the fridge though, nor microwave.

alarm across the room, buzzer, snooze, buzzer, one half of one nanosecond's thought to staying upright and working out before work. poo-poos and return to bed for CD, which is the dog's cue to demand 15-20 minutes of belly rubbing. if i could only live my life in bed . . .

Posted by: debra at October 27, 2008 1:26 PM

You DO know how to build up to a terrific punch-line. Thanks for the chuckle today!

Posted by: Mel at October 27, 2008 2:08 PM

I, too, am an epic snoozer and can snooze for hours and hours if I don't actually have to get up for anything. (I live in 1/2 of a duplex and at this point there is no way that my neighbor doesn't hate me very much if his bedroom is the one on the other side of my bedroom wall)

It is for this reason that I have become entranced by, and I now send to you to also be entranced, this:


(I want it in fabulous 80's hot pink. Because it will make it easier to track by my sleepy eyes)

Posted by: Femtastic at October 27, 2008 2:36 PM

Wow. It's a testament to your relationship that your marriage survived the insanity of such long commutes, early mornings, and late nights. Aaah, Love.

I bought my own not-so-smart alarm clock when I was 11. Got tired of being rolled out of bed like an angry log by my brother, who was an angry log.

Now? Who needs an alarm clock! I have a 7yo who stands beside my bed, saying "Mama" with greater insistence until I actually wake up (no sleep talking will do for that child) to tell her to go back to bed. Then? I have a kitten that wakes me up at 4:45, every morning, meowing at me. And that's too early to be awake, and just late enough to make me mad.

Posted by: Ray at October 27, 2008 2:40 PM

I used to be able to sleep through anything. I could answer full questions with complete sentences that even sounded semi-coherent--loudly, even, from behind my closed bedroom door, and everyone thought I was up and getting ready for school. Until time to leave and there I was, curled in a ball, completely zonked. My dad got annoyed with this and one day went and got ice water. He warned me, I slept through it, some sort of "uh huh, okay, I'm getting up now" muttered into the pillow, and then the cold flash of icy water and actual ice cubes, which remained (a) on me and (b) continued to be cold and I woke up. After that, all he had to do was go into the kitchen and put ice in a glass and I was awake. They need to make an alarm clock that sounds like *that*.

Posted by: toni at October 27, 2008 3:02 PM

My husband currently has our radio set to gansta rap. So I wake up angry, which is good for everybody. I would sleep through Pour Some Sugar on Me. I would probably dream of eating marshmellows or cotton candy or something and really be angry when I woke up.

Posted by: Em at October 27, 2008 3:26 PM

I can slap off an alarm with the best of 'em, but I usually have an internal alarm that gets me up.

But our oldest could sleep through earthquakes, and the only way I found to wake him up and get him out of bed was to roll frozen marbles into his bed. You can't escape them, and they worked.

Posted by: Fran at October 27, 2008 3:27 PM

The same thing happened to us Sunday morning. I wish there was a way to reprogram these smart machines.

Posted by: Jessalyn at October 27, 2008 6:37 PM

I've never needed an alarm clock to wake in the mornings. In the words of Monk: it's a gift and a curse. But I once had the room next to a chef who rose at 4 a.m. whining, "Blow, blow Seminole wind, blow like you're never gonna blow again." That was the first time I really wished I could be like those who can sleep through anything! If I could find that chef I would have him record a sound bite for you. I feel sure it would wake you, though I can't imagine you would be in a very good mood.

Posted by: Louisianablues at October 27, 2008 8:34 PM

My alarm clock is cat standing on my bladder. Works quite well...

Posted by: Lia at October 28, 2008 1:02 AM

I wanted to get one of those light machine wake-up alarm clocks. Instead of noise, a light gradually turns on and wakes you up without ever angering you out of bed. But like Smart Machine, it's expensive and I can't get the hubs on board to pay that much for an alarm clock.

Maybe if I show him this post he'll change his mind. Or at least have a good laugh.

Posted by: nik at October 28, 2008 1:21 AM

Maybe you could train that chipmunk of yours to SQUICK you awake every morning!


Posted by: Amy-Go at October 28, 2008 9:39 AM

Where was that insomnia back when you needed it?

Now I have Def Leppard stuck in my braaaiiin.

Posted by: Brigitte at October 28, 2008 9:48 AM

I sorta wish they would quit screwing around with Daylight Savings. Stop moving it! I was all confused this weekend -- not because of technology, because inside my head I was confused. Oh well...

Posted by: Aimee at October 28, 2008 10:44 AM

For most of the important things in life, my husband corrupted me (like the first time I was drunk). I, however, corrupted him when I introduced him to the snooze button. Before he met me, he used to get up the FIRST time the alarm went off. I couldn't believe it! How uncouth!

Posted by: Linda Sherwood at October 28, 2008 11:20 AM

The moving of DSL made me hate the current occupant of the White House. Can we undo that? I HATE waking up in the dark.
I too want one of those zen-light-chime, thrumming wake-up dodads. But for now, I have an alarm clock that is across the room. I can hear 19 minutes of NPR (or sometimes not-hear it) and then an obnoxious shrill beep, that speeds up exponentially (SP?) kicks in.

Posted by: JulieB at October 28, 2008 1:31 PM

Not really on topic but I was just reading your "Juvenilia" post and those songs are AWESOME. I reiterate a plea to get a book of those out.

As for alarms...I am able and willing to press the snooze button for over an hour. Even if the alarm is across the room.

Posted by: orangehands at October 28, 2008 2:53 PM

DH and I have had many incarnations/variations of the "Smart Machine" but alas they never lasted longer than a year due to the repeated and extremely violent whacking they received at the hands of yours truly.

DH finally wised up and moved the offending object to his side of the bed thereby allowing us to simultaneously:

Keep our jobs and our money in the bank account that otherwise would have gone to a replacement.

Sometimes though, when he is out of town, I relive my glory days.

Old habits die hard.

Posted by: Lisa at October 28, 2008 4:20 PM

I think your family and my husband must be related. I've never seen anything like it. He is Greek, and therefore they have reverse body clocks as it is. I will have to wake him up multiple times to get his tush out of bed.

They now make an alarm clock that bounces all around and you have to catch it. I was considering this as a Christmas present now that he has to take the kids to school. He may kill me if I make such a purchase. Shannon

Posted by: Going Crunchy at October 30, 2008 11:09 PM