Letterpress List No. 74: Wakeup Call

It was time to read the writing on the ceiling.

Mary and Shop Boy had just returned from a sunny, warm week in Tucson, Ariz., gaining three hours on the return flight home. The great state of Arizona refuses to recognize Daylight Saving Time, and so we never had to spring forward, losing an hour of sleep, until right then. Midnight to other folks on the East Coast was suddenly 9 p.m. to us. Party time.

And 6:30 the next morning was 3:30 a.m. to Shop Boy. So, what in heaven’s name was all that racket?

The Day I Tried to Live” by Soundgarden, as a matter of fact. Stunningly appropriate, though Shop Boy didn’t yet appreciate the humor in that as I staggered to my feet and fumbled for the alarm clock button so the sound wouldn’t wake Mary up.

No fear of that.

She’s getting used to the notion of Shop Boy sleeping through the night rather than waking with a start, sweat pouring off me and, convinced I’m late for work, hopping in the shower, dressing and kissing Mary goodbye on the forehead only to hear behind me as I head to the door: “Shop Boy! It’s 2 a.m. Are you crazy?”

As a baby, my mom once told me, an agitated little Shop Boy would rock himself to sleep by flexing and releasing his foot, creating momentum that made the crib sway back and forth. Pretty ingenious for a tot.

Not so for a full-grown man.

“Look at this …,” Mary said one night as we changed the sheets. “You’ve worn a hole with your foot.”

And that was that.

My Valentine’s Day present? An alarm clock that lets me awake to my favorite songs simply by plugging in my iPhone. Oh, and there’s a weird red window on there that beams the time of day wherever it’s pointed. Like the ceiling, where a prone Shop Boy can now see in big red numbers what time it really is.

So there Shop Boy stood unsteadily, rubbing his eyes as Mary snoozed, dreaming perhaps of teddy bear cholla, the adorable, prickly cactus that dots the Sonoran desert. Or the Mexican food of Tucson that has become, ahem, so much a part of us. Maybe the visits to three separate printshops that you’ll be hearing all about.

Or maybe just getting back to our own printing, which is what we love, after all.

See, it’s far too easy — when “rise and shine … breakfast is ready” becomes “get up … you’re late for work” — to lose the inner joyfulness a week away can bring, to forget why you do what you do every day. But this trip was too cool, too filled with memories — and devil’s food cake with white icing and coconut (thanks to Mary’s mom and dad!) — to go the usual route.

Instead of just trying to live, Shop Boy gathered himself, took a breath and one final glance at the ceiling — just to be sure — smiled as another bit of vacation goofiness crossed his mind and toddled off toward the shower.

It was already a good day.

Letterpress List No. 74

How about an hour’s worth of music to wake up to? Choose carefully, as any song — even “Muskrat Love,” say — can be terrifying to wake up to at the wrong volume. OK, “Muskrat Love” is terrifying at any volume, but you know what I mean. Most of these tunes should be available in the usual places. Goofy or great videos are from YouTube.

The Day I Tried to LiveSoundgarden (Seize the day. And the video’s from Arizona!)
Chop Suey! System of a Down (Wake up! … I’ve threatened to use this as my morning reveille. But that would end badly — with the time projected on Mary’s back as she hit the ceiling.)
At DawnMy Morning Jacket (OK, kind of a yawner.)
Enter SandmanMetallica (Tucked in … nice and safe. No sweat.)
New Day YesterdayJethro Tull (Timelessly odd.)
Incense and PeppermintsStrawberry Alarm Clock (Ditto.)
One Man’s Ceiling (Is Another Man’s Floor)Paul Simon (So true.)
Sick and TiredAnastacia (She has been, but she’s a fighter.)
Between the Sheetsthe Isley Brothers (Subtle.)
No Sleep Till Brooklynthe Beastie Boys (Never subtle.)
Situation Under Control the Alarm (Just breathe, Shop Boy.)
Runnin’ Down a Dream Tom Petty (Great commuter tune.)
Sweet DreamsRoy Orbison (Nice.)
Muskrat Lovethe Captain and Tennille (Your brainworm, not mine.)

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