[2009-01-12] Living in a world out of synch
I don't believe I've mentioned this here on the blog before, but I work what might be defined as the night shift. More accurately, I work eight hour "days" in the time zone of my (de facto) employer, who happens to be in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. What this translates to is a seven hour time difference (with the exception of daylight savings, where for one week we're only SIX hours apart... but that's another blog post), and it effectively means I work from 8 PM to 4 AM every weekday.
Why, yes, that does mean I work Saturday mornings. It also means I don't work Monday mornings. No big difference, if you ask me.
Anyway, the major problem with doing all this is, as pretty much anyone who's ever worked night shift will tell you: other people. More specifically, having to function in a world where pretty much everybody (that matters) works on a different clock than you do, which means they're not going to think twice about calling you at 10 AM to ask you if the online order you made at 2 AM the previous morning was still valid, and if so, to tell you how long it's going to take until delivery can be made. And they shouldn't have to think about it, really, since you're the edge case here and they have to optimize for the common cases.
But, what this also translates to is a situation where it's very possible to not be able to sleep (or at least, not be able to sleep long enough), especially if, like me, you have trouble falling asleep again after having been woken up. Which leads me nicely into a very short story: last week.
Last week, the winter holiday period ended, and a lot of people went back to work. This effectively meant that the two online orders I'd made over the holidays finally got some human attention, and those humans were very interested in getting the backlog of orders cleared up. As a result, I got an average of six point something hours of uninterrupted sleep last week. Now, I know people generally tend to vary a lot in how much sleep they need, and I suspect I'm off to the side of the bell curve here, but I generally tend to need about nine hours of sleep per day, or else I get... slow. And being slow makes me cranky, because my brain isn't processing information as fast as it should, and it pisses me off. To all the people who've ever had to deal with me in this state: I sincerely apologize for taking it out on you. I promise, if you weren't sure, it was never anything personal. I like you guys, and I appreciate you all.
But that's just one of the problems I'm facing, and if it were the only one, I could deal with it very simply (as I usually do, actually): by making fewer purchases, and lumping things together as much as possible. Unfortunately, the really big problem, as highlighted very nicely just now, are the neighbors.
Let me make a little aside here and explain my living circumstances: I live in a two bedroom apartment I share with my mother (for two simple reasons: 1 - she'd be basically alone now that my Dad is dead, and 2 - I don't have to pay rent), in an eight-story building of over 100 such apartments (some smaller, most the same size), facing the back of the building, which is shared with three other very similar buildings (which creates an almost square enclosure -- come to think of it: my house, let me show you it). We also have a high-school on the other side of the square (that C-shaped thing with partially shiny roof in the picture (it's all shiny now, if you're wondering)).
What all this adds up to is an enormous opportunity for noise. At night, when all the kids are home and (probably) asleep, and all the people in their respective homes are (almost definitely) asleep, it's so quiet you could hear a pin drop eight stories below. During the day, on the other hand, it's madness. Now, I'm happy to enjoy some pretty damn good windows (the physical kind, not the Microsoft kind), but even with them, if I haven't made it to sleep by 6:30 to 7 AM, I'm going to have a hard time falling asleep with all the noise outside.
And that fails to mention the (very many) times the neighbors decide to do some home improvement. For the most part, once I've managed to fall asleep, it takes a lot to wake me up again. Unfortunately, most home improvement seems to involve some very loud power tools, especially drills, which not only make an incredible amount of noise when you're around them, but which also make noise that tends to travel through the walls, because that's what the drill bit is being applied to. The end result of this has been innumerable times that I've been woken up by the horrible noise of drilling, accompanied many times by a desire to use that power drill on the neighbor's head. Unfortunately, this being Romania, that kind of activity is not as rare as someone from a civilized country might think it is. Instead, it's almost a daily occurrence during the summer, and at least weekly during winter (WTF?). Sometimes I wonder how long it's going to be until the building itself, having been drilled so full of holes, is going to crumble under its own weight. But I digress.
The conclusion of all of the above is that going against the "rules" of society, be they the simplest ones like what time it is, or the really complex pseudo-religious wars of abortion and gay rights and all that other stuff, is not for the faint of heart. It's tough, in that it's very difficult, and you may often be pissed off at the world around you just for being the way it is. But if you think it's working for you, keep doing it. Just, don't forget to vent once in a while.
This has been another post in the hopefully long series of "personal experience" posts, wherein I detail the things I've learned and how that learning came about.
The previous post was Blogging For The Perennial Lurker, a somewhat meta expression of my experience as a habitual information consumer rather than producer.
Why did I rescue this?
Well, I don't have that job anymore, but my sleep schedule is even more fucked up nowadays. To illustrate this, let me paste out of my sleep log application:
Awake: min: 3h 3m max: 37h 17m roll_avg: 15h 17m total: 6363h 13m avg: 19h 27m
Asleep: min: 1h 44m max: 18h 26m roll_avg: 8h 26m total: 3555h 47m avg: 10h 52m
To put it another way: I have, on average, days that are 19 hours long and nights that are 11 hours long. That's right, I live on a planet where the day cycle is 30 hours. As you can imagine, this comes with plenty of opportunity for my sleep times to overlap both external night and day, so all of this still applies. In spades.
And yes, I did once sleep for 18 hours and 26 minutes. No, I'm not sure how I managed it, either. I think I was sick at the time.