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How I Hit My Snooze Rock Bottom and Finally Woke Up

Before I could deal with my problems, I needed to ignore them for a really, really long time.

by Tess Barker
11 December 2014, 6:00am

I hit my snooze rock bottom three years ago at the Boston Howard Johnson. It was 1 PM. I had treated myself to a night of drinking Bud Lights in bed alone and was sleeping like the nearly born, floating in an amniotic sac of slumber. Swaddled in the delicious cloak of daytime unconsciousness, my breath made me heavier and heavier, breathing in and out, and...


Not a question. Not an apology. An order.


I sprung straight up and screamed before aggressively lisping through my mouth guard, "Five more minuthes!" As my eyes began to focus, the image of this interloper, this no-nonsense woman in her 60s, grew sharper. She stood with her arms sternly on her hips as she looked down on me. What was she still doing here? I needed her to leave, but I didn't have it in me to explain that every second she stood there she was ripping me away from the mother's milk of sleep that I had so gloriously been bathing in.

"Five more minuthes!" I repeated, and flung my head onto the pillow to punctuate my point. Amazingly, without further comment, she silently backed her toiletries cart into the hall, and I was left to return to the delightful twilight that I hoped to waste away in all day. The first round of snoozing is always the most satisfying because it's a victory over reality—avoiding the inevitable has always been one of my favorite things to not do. 

Throughout my early 20s, I regularly extinguished alarms so that I could sleep through my first day at that temp job I needed, but didn't want. Calls from my student loan company came. I hit ignore and blew my money on skydiving and sundresses. Snooze. I racked up parking tickets and then threw them away. Snooze. My long-term relationship withered and I moved into a cavernous studio made of chilly cement. Snooze. I was worn raw with loneliness and came dangerously close to facing it head-on before binge watching all 200 episodes of Toddlers and Tiaras instead. Snooze. 

I ate peanut butter for dinner, and my fear of failure ate me for breakfast. I fell into a shame spiral over my own inertia that could only be kept at bay by taking a nap and waking up to discover that, somehow, it was October already. Snooze, snooze, snooze. To snooze is to remain, for just a few precious moments, suspended in the blissful state of inaction.

"Housekeeping!" she barked again, and this time, she gripped the handle of her broom to show she meant business.

My nervous system responded on behalf of my entire being: "Five more minuthes!" I hollered, and then folded my pillow over my head to indicate the degree to which this woman was ruining my life by attempting to go about hers.

"I have to go home."

"Then go! For the love of Christ! Go!" I wiped a puddle of drool away from my cheek. Couldn't she see I was busy?

"You don't want housekeeping?"

"Just go away! Pleath!"


And then, I did the unthinkable.

Lacking the proper words with which to express how much I wanted this helpful woman to leave my life forever, I threw my pillow at her.


It didn't hit her, but it didn't matter. As soon as it thudded softly onto the floor, there was a silence in the room that indicated both of us knew there was no turning back from here. Finally, without speaking, she took several brave steps toward my bedside and stared at the empty six-pack that rested atop the Gideon Bible.

"Don't you want to wake up?"

Didn't I want to wake up? Had anything about my behavior indicated that I wanted to wake up? I chomped angrily on my mouth guard and wondered what was wrong with this simpleton. Of course, I wanted to want to wake up.

The calls from student loans grew more incessant, of course, and I considered paying them back before deciding on the much simpler option of never holding one job long enough for my wages to be garnished. I paid a parking ticket on time and then immediately regretted it when my car was booted anyway on account of the six others that remained outstanding. I wanted to get my shit together, just not as much as I wanted to stay the way I was.

Didn't I want to wake up? What kind of question was that?

My phone became a never-ending parade of 800 numbers. My late afternoons became a daily attempt to caffeinate myself out of the fog of sleep. I had to sell jewelry to pay for another boot. Didn't I want to wake up? Jesus fucking Christ. This was almost maddening enough to tear me from the rat's nest of inactivity that had kept me warm for so long.

I sat up in bed. She was gone, but I couldn't even enjoy her absence. I brushed my teeth furiously. Fine. I was up.

It finally happened: The discomfort of avoiding my problems grew so severe that even my beloved state of avoidance was not safe from their reach. I started blowing my paychecks on bills. I got health insurance. Worst of all, I got really into running. I stay informed these days. I eat well. I'm a total fucking nightmare. I am disappointed in how proud I am of the person I've become. I convince myself that I "still got it," and cling desperately to sweet memories of sleeping in cars and throwing up in casinos. I'm digging my heels into the sands of time and being forced against my will into the slaughterhouse of self-improvement.

I finished brushing my teeth and used the phone in my room to call housekeeping.

"Hello?" her familiar voice answered.

"I'm up now," I conceded, "You can come back."

And she did. She was short and much less intimidating now that we were both standing, and I had to cock my head down to apologize. She said it was OK, but I could tell she was still hurt as she pushed past me and begin to straighten up my affairs.

I would never tell her this, but my life is infinitely better now than it was in that delightfully hopeless moment when she first barged in on my dreams. I have traded my dungeon studio for a house with good lighting that I share with my boyfriend, and, thanks to him waking me up with coffee every morning, I am able to get out of bed. It still takes me awhile. I still shrink from each new day, powerless against the allure of the snooze button and its promise that for just five more minutes I can stay here, tucked into the false promise that if I just keep my eyes closed, I can remain in this delicious rut forever. 

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