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OC HIGH / Student News and Views : In Comfort of Bed, Waking Up to Reality Doesn't Ring Any Bells

June 02, 1995|SEUNG YI | Seung Yi is a senior at Sunny Hills High School in Fullerton, where this article first appeared in the student newspaper, the Accolade.

When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is groan. The first thing I think about is, "What happened to the alarm?" This is not a silly question.

With three alarm clocks in my room, I should have heard at least one. True, the square one works fine except for the alarm. I keep it for sentimental reasons. But the white one is a windup clock whose alarm will ring until the spring runs out. And the blue electric clock rings intermittently until someone shuts it off. There is even an alarm on my personal radio; I wear the headsets to bed, and I still don't hear it go off.

I purposely put the electric clock far away from my bed so I have to get up and turn it off. But do I hear it? No.

I experimented once, to see whether the alarm worked. It does. I let the alarm ring for 10 minutes, and I turned it off. I assumed that, if it would ring for 10 minutes, it would ring as long as the electric company was supplying my house with electricity. But I still don't hear it in the morning.

The white windup clock works. I know, because it goes off at 5:30 in the evening, when I want it to go off at 5:30 a.m. But in the morning, even with the alarm clock perched on top of my head, I still don't wake up.

It's not that I'm a heavy sleeper. I wake up if my sister tiptoes into my room to steal my stapler. I wake up if it starts raining. Why can't I wake up when an alarm clock is blasting into each ear?

None of my three clocks, two wristwatches or my radio shows the correct time. The clock without the alarm is 40 to 45 minutes fast; the electric clock is 15 minutes fast, and the windup is 20 to 30 minutes fast.

If I'm not sure what time it really is, or if I'm in too much of a hurry or daze to do any meaningful subtraction, the inaccurate times inspire me to do things faster out of fear of being late.

If I really need to know the time, I can rush downstairs and see the only correct clock in the house.

Then there are the good old standby alarms, Mom and Dad.

But even they can be unreliable. As I go up to my bedroom at 1 a.m. and hear them talking over a video that they're only halfway through, I wonder whether I'll make it to school the next morning.

The worst scenario is when you are the first in the house to wake up and it's already 8 a.m. I'm usually torn between the feeling that rushing to get to school would be futile, because I already missed first period, and the sense of responsibility that makes me want to miss as little school as possible.

One night, I happened to be worrying so much about an economics test that I woke up at 4 a.m. As I lay in my bed, I watched my clocks. The white one had just rolled off of my forehead. An hour and a half later, the electric clock went off. It sounded like 4,000 angry bees attacking a honey-coated tourist. I got up and turned it off.

Seconds later, the white clock went off. I threw it on the ground. It stopped. The radio started beeping. I turned it off, and I leaned into my pillow for a 10-minute nap before I would wake up the rest of my family. I was late to school that morning.

I have three theories on why I don't wake up:

1. I turn off the alarms while I'm asleep. If I can hold conversations with my sister while I'm asleep, which she says I do, I suppose I could also turn off the alarms.

2. I have gotten used to the sound. It seems the more I see or hear things, the less I notice them. I never hear the air conditioner or the buzz of the refrigerator. I never notice the students that share my classes. All the lectures in a certain class begin to sound the same.

3. Though none of my alarm clocks has an automatic snooze button, I have one inside my head. Most of the time, I wake up exactly at 6:15, leaving me 15 minutes to get ready for school. When I don't set my alarms on the weekends, I don't get up until my mom nags me out of bed. So it could be my body has caught up with the rest of my procrastinating self and has learned to wake up at the latest possible moment after the alarms go off.

I'm only amazed I get to school in time for my first class as often as I do.

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