It just sort of happened.
It all started when I gave up on the app where you had to scan the barcode on the coffee jar to turn off the alarm. My fingers woke easier than my brain and managed to switch off the app five minutes before the alarm was due to go off.
I tried the app where you put your phone on the bed so that it can monitor your movements and wake you up during your lightest stage of sleep. It wakes you gently. I responded by pressing “snooze” gently.
I tried putting the phone on the other side of the room or outside the door with the alarm on loud so that I’d have to get out of bed and turn it off before it annoyed my housemate. It annoyed me so much that I got out of bed 10 minutes early to bring the phone to bed so that I could shut it off immediately and keep dozing.
Finally I reasoned that the phone itself was the problem. The world of social media never sleeps. I could explore the world of other people’s pictures, musings, articles without becoming vertical. I found myself scrolling compulsively as the coffee my thoughtful housemate made congealed in the pot.
Time to buy a clock.
I read all the Amazon reviews and settled on a silver-coloured one that folded into a travel case with a click and could fit into the palm of your hand. Roman numerals sat around the edge of its handsome face. An analog one that doesn’t automatically adjust time when Ireland springs forward or falls back into Daylight Savings. No snooze button. Perfect.
When it arrived, I enjoyed peeling open the bubble wrapped packaging and sliding open the flaps of the little white cardboard box. The instruction manual was a page in semi-legible English. I set it on the compact bedside stand and smiled as I banished the phone to the living room, alarm set to “off”. Everything was fine until I turned off the light and turned to one side to sleep.
The bloody thing ticked. Loudly.
I adjusted my position and rested my head on my left arm. My brown $10 watch ticked along, lagging slightly behind the silver £9 clock leaving my ears feeling like they were being dragged along by a limping horse. I banished the silver clock to the sock drawer where I could no longer hear it.
The phone returned from exile. Demanding little tyrant!
Mornings were still a problem.
One morning I was scrolling and followed a rabbit trail of “related articles” until I stumbled upon an article (that I can no longer find) about one woman’s experiment to ban all screens from her bedroom for a month. She woke up to a radio alarm clock. I went out and bought one the next day.
There is a hair’s distance between the stations on the little wheel you turn to tune in. Some days I wake up to RTE, other days to Spirit Radio, and one morning: to some people speaking French.
So far so good. Not perfect (flexible working hours have a way of stretching out of shape) but better.
Sick of scrolling at other times of the day, I went ahead and changed my Facebook password to something instantly forgettable and logged out (copy & paste and random password generators are my friends). I’ve never managed to stay logged out for more than a couple of days before. There are ways of seeking out “forgotten passwords”. Why is this time different? I am fed up. Fed up at that false sense of intimacy and time lost to scrolling and my own pitiful lack of self-control. It makes me like the alcoholic who sheepishly reaches for the bottle, again.
This time my fed-up-ness has outweighed my compulsion to check, to see, to know, to post and see who responds.
I still wake up to messages and notifications that demand answers but I feel freer somehow. I find myself pulling out my phone to check- what exactly? Emails ping and phone calls ring- people know how to find me if they want to (I do find unexpected phone calls unsettling, even from people I know and like, but that’s another story).
My clock collection has given me time I didn’t have before- I don’t really know what to do with it. Free time is spent reading (or listening to) books, thinking about how to start writing (not as good as actually writing but a definite improvement). Today I even made a spontaneous plan to meet friends that wasn’t dreamt up weeks in advance and then abandoned by all minutes before it’s due to start. What other marvels could I accomplish?
I can hear the silver clock ticking from its new home in my stationery drawer. If I get rid of it I will no longer have a collection of clocks.