Monday, October 5, 2009
I'm always tired. It doesn't seem to matter if I sleep 12 hours on Saturday, when Sunday hits and the week starts up again (our weekend is Fri/Sat), I am exhausted. Even without the exhaustion, I have a bit of a snooze button problem. I've always heard that it's best to just get up when your alarm goes off. I try that, but the evil tentacles of sleep pull me back in. So I hit snooze. Then five minutes later I hit snooze again. And so on and so forth until the dreaded digits on the clock flip to 6:49 and I know it's time to drag myself out of bed. I've always been a sleeper. I'm one of those people who can sleep 12 or 13 hours straight and still need my caffeine. People who can sleep 5 hours a night and function are my heroes (incidentally, so are those people who can fall asleep in a minute flat...oh to have that superhero power). My tiredness problem is compounded by life in Kuwait. It's just exhausting. As any of you who have lived in a cross-cultural environment know, cross-cultural living can suck the life energy right out of you. Every interaction in another language is tiring. Even if you're not actually in a multi-language conversation, the mere fact that you're around another language all day (your brain is still trying to process it subconsciously) can leave you stumbling from brain fatigue by the time you get home. Driving in Kuwait is something else that tends to suck the life blood out of me. Shopping is always an adventure. Even church (with it's tendency toward the charismatic) leaves me wanting to take a nap. Add the weather...stifling heat and grainy sand and wind that feels like the world's largest hairdryer...and any energy you might have had when you first woke up is just gone. When I was in grad school, I was going about 14-16 hours a day between school, work, internship and commuting. And if I got to sleep-in once a weekend I could manage. Here in Kuwait, that kind of schedule just isn't possible. It's all about finding balance...go out one night, relax the next. Shop one day, stay home the next. I'm not saying that this exhaustion is always a bad thing. Many of the aspects of life here that suck the energy out of me are also the most interesting and entertaining. Take driving as an example. Even though the driving is dangerous and unhinged, I get an odd sense of exhilaration from surviving from point A to point B. I've learned to embrace the chaos of it all...need a parking spot but the lot is full? No problem...just stop in the middle of the street and put on your flashers while you do your shopping. Oops, made a wrong turn? No problem...just go down the one-way street the wrong direction or do a u-turn from the far right hand lane across three lanes of traffic and yell at the other drivers when they honk at your impertinence. Got lost? No problem...the beauty of living in a city-country on the edge of the water is that if you hop on one of the ring roads, you'll always get to the water (even if you're on the other side of the "country" when you get there). There's a sense of freedom in the danger of chaos...an adrenaline rush or perhaps just the slightly crazed laugh of hysteria. But in any case, it can be fun. So yeah, I'm exhausted. I think that when I do eventually leave Kuwait, I might need to sleep for two straight weeks before jumping into the next grand adventure. But at least life stays interesting. Sometimes it feels like routine, but then I remember that routine here is so not routine. Each interaction and experience is flavored by culture and the nomad in me thrives...even if it means I have to bump it up to 13 hours of sleep on a Saturday. Cheers.