Alarming Sounds | Mark’s Remarks


I don’t know when I started using an alarm clock, but I’m pretty sure it was in either junior high or high school.

The alarm clock was digital and it had a rectangular snooze button. I remember thinking that I felt very grown up, able now to wake up on my own. In those days, the local radio station came on when the magic hour arrived. There were times I’d drift back to sleep, having a quick dream that coincided with a news report or pop song playing on the radio. Strange how our minds work, especially when we are traveling along the rim of the awake world and the sleeping world.

Ever since those first days of alarm clock use, I suppose I’ve always grown to dread the particular sound the alarm makes. For several years, I’d wake up to a radio station, and I’m pretty sure I spent several months or even years trying to find a good radio station to wake up to. I tried all forms of music, including classical and jazz, thinking that maybe one particular genre would be easier and better to wake up to.

Perhaps there was some style of music that would be energizing, yet not so shocking to wake up to.

I was a big fan of “The Steve and DC Show” when I first moved to this area, and so for the years they were at the top of the talk radio charts, I would wake up to their conversations, pranks and all the morning shenanigans. As I said, there were plenty of times I’d drift back off to sleep and wind up on the radio show myself, or the people on the radio would somehow wind up in my own life. Again, weird.

No matter what, waking up on many mornings still seemed to be so unpleasant that it really didn’t matter what music was playing or who was talking. It might as well have been someone yelling “Get your sorry tail out of bed!” at the top of their lungs.

The best part of the radio alarm was being able to shut it off on Friday night.

When we had kids, someone gave us a noise machine, and there were wonderful, gentle sounds that would play if it were turned on. Since it was battery operated, we could move it room to room. We could also plug it into an outlet if needed. It also had a timer on it and could be set to come on at any time.

So once again, I started on my quest for the perfect way to wake up. I’d go get the noise machine from one of the kids’ rooms, plug it in, and set it for ocean waves, rainstorm, or bubbling brook. For a few mornings, it was nice. But, you guessed it, after awhile, it didn’t matter how gentle the noise. It was still dread.

There was a period of time I decided just to forget the gentle wake up and just set it for one of those hardcore, noisy buzzer and beeping sounds. Perhaps I thought that a real alarm sound would be OK.

Reverse psychology. If the alarm itself was unpleasant and loud, maybe waking up wouldn’t be as painful. Nope. Didn’t work.

Most teachers will tell you the perfect way to wake up is to a call message that school has been cancelled. I would agree with that, but it rarely happens. Often times, you end up waking up anyway because you can’t fall asleep again. Oh well.

When I finally succumbed to purchasing what I still call my “fancy phone,” I found what I thought was the best noise: a wind chime. Visions of my grandmother’s wonderful back porch and the peaceful feelings one felt when visiting the farm was due in part to the great wind chimes she had in her windows. There was a time when she had two twin beds set up on that porch and it became a sleeping porch on some summer evenings. It was wonderful, as I said.

The gentle breeze, always cooler than the breeze in town, could almost be felt when I heard a wind chime.

I’m sure you know how this story ends. After spending a few of the first summer vacation days sleeping in, I started setting my alarm so that I could get my summer time tasks moving along. Sure, I slept a little later, but still wanted to get up at a good hour to get going. So, I’d make sure the wind chime app was geared up and the clock was set for wake up. I anticipated a long, gradual and peaceful wake up, with my body becoming alert and energized as that sweet sound coaxed me awake.

It would be as if I was on the back porch again. So, 6:30 a.m. Wind chime sound.

My first thought?

“Oh crap. I wish that stupid wind chime would shut up.”

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