Friday, March 30, 2012

Relax. Smile.


 

One of my New Years resolutions was to try to be happier.

People always tell me that I am “so serious” or ask “what is wrong.”  Such speculations bug me, because most of the time nothing is wrong at all and I am actually quite happy.  I suppose that it is years of playing poker professionally that has forced my face into a constant serious expression, void of emotional indications of happiness.  So while I am not sad or angry, I understand that the general assumption from people who don’t know me is that I am.

In general, I would say that I am not sad, but also not overly happy.  Like everyone else, I am prone to bouts of melancholy.  But I am also just as disposed to attacks of pure happiness.  Most of the time, however, I am just leveled out.

In short, I am normal.

But if I am to be completely honest with myself, I suppose that this winter was a bit depressing.  Aside from the fact that I am essentially starting a new career and dealing (no pun intended*) with the drama that goes along with it, I also have been living by myself in a fairly desolate town, so my human interaction has been almost exclusively limited to the depressed degenerates who like to place the blame of their bad run of cards on me.

*Just kidding, it was intended**
**The pun is only funny if you are aware of the fact that I am now a poker dealer.

It certainly isn’t a terribly dreadful time, but I felt that a few touch-ups on happiness would do me some good.

So I do things like listen to classical music, which relaxes me.  I read blogs like Raviolis and Waterworks, which is constantly cheerful.  I read books like The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra which inspire and calm me.  Or I watch shows like The Big Bang Theory, which lull my brain into a blissfully ignorant state.

All of these little things really do add up and begin to promote an overall feeling of happiness within me.

But one of the times that will always make me sad, without fail, is when my alarm goes off in the morning.

Especially on days that I work the 6:30 AM shift.

Not only do I have to wake up at 4:45 in the morning, but I know that nine times out of ten, I am going to be sitting in an empty poker room until 11am, when the first tournament starts.  That means that I have greatly altered my sleep schedule and arrived at work before sunrise, only to go home with an empty tip box for my efforts.

The entire day before a 6:30 AM shift is usually clouded in dreadful thoughts about what a waste the next day will be, which results in two ruined days instead of one.  During the shift itself, I am miserable.  And after the shift is over, I constantly complain about it to anyone who will listen (as I am doing now).

So in the spirit of being more positive, I did something to try to start my day off in a more cheerful way.

The alarm I use to wake myself up is the one on my iPhone.  You can set multiple alarms, naming each one something different.  I opt to use one alarm and simply change the time every day to the time I need.  The alarm is appropriately labeled “Alarm.”

As I kicked the covers around on my bed on Tuesday night, miserably unable to fall asleep, I took a deep breath and tried to relax.  I remembered a quote from something I read that said if you simply practiced the act of smiling, it would eventually come naturally.

With this in mind, I smiled as I reached for my phone to check the time and to calculate the maximum hours of sleep I would get, should I fall asleep at that very moment.

My smile vanished as I saw that it was nearly one in the morning.

“No big deal,” I told myself, smiling again.  The fakeness of it hurt my cheekbones.

Thinking about how sleepily disheartened I would be in the morning, I got an idea.

I decided to change the label of the alarm from “Alarm” to “Relax. Smile.”


These would be the first two words I would see upon waking up, as well as the last two words I see before setting my alarm at night and going to bed.

I thought about what an ingenious device-to-happiness I had just created as I finally drifted off to sleep…

*   *   *

An unknown amount of time later, I awoke.  My eyes were heavy and I did not feel rested.

Strange as it may seem, I thoroughly enjoy these times when I wake up before my alarm.  Because these are the only moments in life in which I am blissfully aware of the sheer awesomeness of sleep.  In these moments, I have not been violently extracted from Sleep Land by an annoying alarm that shrieks the responsibilities, problems, and drama that await me in the coming day.  Instead, I am slightly nudged by the sweet slut that is my subconscious as she whispers for me to come back to her.  And the fact that my alarm has not sounded means that I can drift back to her, guilt free.

This, in my opinion, is pure joy. 

I thought of this as I reached for my phone to obtain the knowledge of how many more hours of sleep were graciously bestowed to me.

5:50 AM.

So preoccupied with altering the name of my alarm, I hadn’t properly set the time.  I had set it for 4:45 PM.

It turned out that my subconscious didn’t wake me up to grace me with the knowledge of sleep, but instead to save my ass from getting fired.

I got to work only five minutes late, but at the cost of not showering or shaving.

“Looks like you had a rough night,” my boss said, half-jovially and half-critically.  I was about to tell him the story about how I mistakenly set my alarm for 4:45 PM, but then decided against it. 

It just didn’t sound believable.

“Yea, I did,” I said, unsmiling.  Then I sat at one of the poker tables in the completely empty room and watched ESPN on mute, keeping my permanent poker face all the while.

For eight hours, I daydreamed of dreaming.  Of pulling into my driveway, running through the door, and collapsing into my bed for an unknown amount of time.  I was not scheduled to work on Thursday, so I planned on sleeping and not waking up until my body told me to.

At 3:30 PM, that time finally came.

I kicked off my shoes, fell into my bed, and drifted off into a glorious slumber.

That is, until 4:45 PM.

I hadn’t turned off the incorrect alarm.

Moaning, I sleepily grabbed my phone, confusedly thinking that I had to go to work.

Relax. Smile,” my phone told me.

Instead, I threw it across the room.


-Youngman Brown

67 comments:

  1. That sounds like a rough time. I like your optimisim about waking up before your alarm, though. I'm the kind of person who wakes up and panics because I only have so much sleep time left, and if I'm not rested I'm useless for the day.

    Your "relax. smile" idea was really good in theory though! It's just too bad it worked out the way it did.

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    1. Hopefully it will work out better in the future :)

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  2. I like that idea. Very Wayne Dyer'ish!!!! Now stare at those 2 words, meditate on them and it just might work!!!

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    1. I will be sure to stare at them for hours. Relax. Smile. Relax. Smile. Relax. Smile.

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  3. For almost two years now (across two different jobs), I have had a shift time beginning before that completely arbitary time known as sunrise. I used to set my alarm to an Oldies station, until the (admittedly fantastic) song "Here Comes the Sun" woke me up. I will not comment as to the scars on my right knuckles.

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    1. That is one of the saddest parts about the 6:30 AM shift -- that I am driving to work before the sun is even peeking over the horizon.

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    2. 6:30 is hard, but pretty standard for me. It's the 5 AM days that eat my soul...

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  4. This is pretty funny. In that ironic, FML kind of way. At least you didn't get fired! I'm the worst at waking up early so my clock is set to 6am and my phone is set for 6:30 and 6:50.

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    1. In high school I used to have to set two different alarms in order to wake up. The second alarm was across the room to ensure that I got out of bed.

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  5. I have multiple alarms, none as cleverly named as yours.

    I like to just turn the ones on that I will need (thus not setting a PM instead of AM alarm)

    Very funny stuff. I suck at poker and there is probably a restraining order keeping me of Atlantic City.

    Currently undergoing a sinus infection that has me far more scattered and feeling unfunny than I want to be.

    WG
    http://itsmynd.com

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    1. Damn man. I just got over a cold myself, I hope you feel better!

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  6. I just discovered your blog this week. Your writing topics and style are very entertaining! You have evoked many giggles from me. Thank you for enhancing these interwebs!

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    1. Aw well thank you very much for the kind words and evoking a smile from me!

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  7. There's a guy at my office who likes to tell me "You're prettier when you smile" to which my only logical conclusion is that I am homely when feeling moody or pensive. This of course makes me think of things that will make me smile. . .like shoving his head in the laminator.

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    1. Haha what a backhanded compliment.

      I am sure that you are never "homely," Jen!

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    2. Damn Jen!

      He did say prettIER!

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  8. I'm constantly grateful that I don't have to work (and never have) shift work. My body hates me enough as is for never keeping regular sleep hours. I'm naturally a night owl and getting up at 630am is hard enough...let alone being there at 630!

    I may visit AC but never gamble...I just look hot and drink...but I imagine that early shift would straight SUCK! Sorry bout that one. Making a conscious effort to be happier is good though. Every now & then it's necessary...then again so is throwing asshole phones! :)

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    1. Perhaps you will have to show up looking hot the next time I have a 6:30 AM shift in order to make me smile.

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    2. Rarely to I manage "hot" levels at 630 AM...but for you? I'd consider it. ;)

      I haven't been to AC since my 30th B-day bonanza at the Borgota. Now THAT was a good time. Maybe it's time to revisit...

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    3. Let me know when and where. I'll be down here for another week or two before moving back your way.

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    4. Somehow I just never pictured you as a poker dealer. When you start reading and talking to other people you get sort of a mental picture of what that person is likes and does.

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  9. "The fakeness of it hurt my cheekbones." This made me giggle.

    Love this post....beautifully written and very entertaining! I think you might likey have enough material for an entire blog devoted to the disgruntled souls you encounter at your place of employment. ;)

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    1. Oh trust me, if I wrote about all of them, the internet would break.

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  10. I don't gamble, but like casino food. That makes me happy.

    I think it's great you want to be happy or give the appearance of being so! haha great post as always!

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    1. Thanks, Tracie :)

      And trust me when I say that the food gets old after a while.

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  11. Waking up before the alarm goes off is a love/hate thing for me. I love that it is not time to get up yet. But I hate it because I am awake and losing precious minutes of sleep.

    That sucks that you had your alarm set for PM. Good thing you didn't lose your job because of it. Bad thing that it woke you from your sleep when you didn't have to wake!

    So did your phone suffer from its trip across the room?

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    1. No, it is the original iPhone and built like a rock.

      Unfortunately, I only hit snooze and nine minutes later it went off again and I had to get out of bed to turn it off.

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  12. I hate when people tell other people to smile. Or use that stupid line about how many muscles it uses...yeah, but I'm not using any muscles to keep a blank face!

    Also? I love Big Bang Theory.

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    1. Of course you do! Because it has tons of Star Wars references!

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  13. I'm the same way. A lot of people think that I'm grumpy or sad all the time, but in fact I'm just thinking. If I am thinking about something funny or happy, I will probably smile more, but unfortunately some of the less happy things require some thought too. Glad you were able to get past the winter blahs, and we're heading your way next spring/summer, so get ready to enjoy a cold beer with us.

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    1. As in a few months? Or a year and a few months??

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    2. For sure in a year and a few months, but it could be sooner. We have friends in NC now, and we have promised a visit, but with the wedding this summer, it probably won't happen right away.

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  14. My husband always looks angry. My sister always looks like she is judging you. I always look tired. That could be because my alarms are named Johnny and Lily. Johnny tackles me, putting eblows in my back and diaphragms and Lily sits her stinky diaper on my face. Not quiet relax and smile, but definitely effective at waking my lazy self up.

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  15. Referring to the beginning of your post, I know exactly what you mean... when I'm happy I don't always show it my laughing a lot, skipping and dancing, I'm just relaxed and ready for banter...when I'm not is more obvious as I get really uptight and subconscious about everything...
    and referring to the middle(ish) of the post, when you described trying to smile, I could almost feel the face pain. I've had the exact same thing...trying to smile when it just isn't natural...it usually looks silly as well.. you can tell when people fake laugh too...
    this job you've just got sounds so rough! Out of interest, why did you take it up?
    M x

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    1. Because they were the only room hiring. For what its worth, I am transferring to a much better casino in the next couple weeks. And that certainly makes me smile :)

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    2. oh that's good news. well do update us on it when you transfer :)

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  16. Big Bang Theory is probably the funniest show on tv right now.

    I have the opposite problem. People are always asking me, "Can't you be serious about anything?"

    My response, "I am only serious at work and they have to pay me to do it."

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    1. Yea people are usually surprised once they get to know me to see that I am not all that serious at all.

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  17. I once tried to motivate myself with a phrase on my nightstand. The first thing I would see every morning was:

    "You are the asshole in charge of your own destiny"
    ~Gunnery Sgt R. Lee Ermey

    It worked for a few days, but stopped when I heard his screaming in my head, all day.

    Maybe make your alarm tone a Bobby McFerrin song?

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  18. Oh, dear...keep in mind that you had the right intentions, after all.

    This is the sort of event that (with enough time) you will look back on and laugh, but it ain't funny at the time. --.--

    -Barb the French Bean

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    1. Yea, it only took a day for me to laugh about it.

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  19. First off, thanks for the plug in!! That's awesome that you thought of me :) Your blog CRACKS me up. Love your sarcastic humor. hahaha

    The story may have ended with a possible busted phone, but I still think your alarm trick is brilliant. Relax, smile may find its way on my phone too. I think you just started a trend! hahaha Have a great weekend!!!

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    1. No problem :)

      And if I am guilty of starting a trend, it might as well be a good one!

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    2. LOL Mine has been changed. You should feel honored :) The only difference is I added "sunshine" to mine. hahaha

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    3. Haha I think that "sunshine" is a good addition!

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  20. I too love that precious time before your alarm goes off, even if its ten minutes, it is just so luxurious...

    Not sure why I was expecting this post to be uplifting rather than a hilariously degrading tale about the blogger, silly me. Still, your heart was in the right place, at least.

    (I'll be fucked though if that damn AM/PM conundrum hasn't snagged me more than a few (hundred) times!)

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    1. Haha yea you should never get too hopeful for an uplifting piece from me. Although I do occasionally have one or two up my sleeve.

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    2. Oh contrare Mr. Young. You are always uplifting at least to me and as far as the damn alarms go, I AM NOT a morning person so in order to get to work by 8:00 (I know that's late for you) but I wake up at 5:00, have my alarm set for 6:00 (and it sits where I have to get up to turn it off) so I've had a good 1/1/2 hours to be awake, watch TV and in general feel I've cheated time in some way. If I wake up late I will literally bounce off the walls getting dressed in a hurry.

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  21. I just name mine UP. I have an internal alarm that wakes me about two minutes prior and I hate that bitch. Then, when it actually sounds, it's like a drill sergeant telling me in no uncertain terms to get my ass up. I'd tip you if I were there, even though I don't play.

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    1. "UP" is a good name for an alarm, I suppose. Although it would remind me of the movie "Up," which makes me sad.

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  22. Oh so funny.
    I hate alarm clocks and happily I don't have to change mine very often.
    Although even when mine is off on a Saturday, I am still usually awake at sparrow fart.

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    1. Haha I can see that! I am up at 6AM EST as well, but just about to go to bed.

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  23. Some people are so rude! Just because you're pensive, it doesn't mean you're serious or upset. In my opinion, Most people are MORONS and happiness is just a state of mind!

    I hate it when I'm late and I'm ALWAYS late! I have a mental block about setting an alarm, because I know I won't sleep, I'll stay up all night, terrified that I'm going to miss it and oversleep! I have a few issues, it's why I drink! I, too, would have thrown the alarm against the wall! :)

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    1. I agree, people should mind their own beeswax!

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    2. Happiness doesn't mean that everything is good. It just means the drugs are working. I heard that recently and thought it was pretty funny.

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  24. I don't suppose it's any consolation to know I was relaxed as I read this and that it made me smile?

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    1. It actually very much is a consolation!

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  25. Your subconscious is a slut too?

    Funny post. I torture my husband with the alarm on my phone. Right now it is a rooster crowing, and I snooze it at least 5 times every morning. Poor guy.

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    1. Oof the rooster would be the death of me!

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  26. Nice idea about renaming your alarm...I might try this... probably with similar results but worth a try

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  27. I should try posting a sign that remind me to "relax. smile" at my workplace, because too often there I am doing the complete opposite. I'm sorry you had such a rough time of things. Were you able to go back to sleep after the tossing of the phone/alarm?

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  28. There's little that will put me in a bad mood faster than someone ordering me to smile or demanding to know what's wrong when I'm actually in a good mood.

    Ellie

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  29. I loved that mental picture of you hauling that phone across the room. The sweet, demure man I had pictured came to life suddenly or went back to his subconscious slut, lol.

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