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.
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.
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.