I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
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Sleep is a mysterious companion. Generally I have taken sleep for granted; I usually fall asleep quickly, especially in the years since I started riding my bike, and sleep fairly soundly most nights (excluding the occasional sleep-walking type activity, which it turns out I do when I’m disturbed about something). Ian takes longer to fall asleep, but when he’s asleep, it’s like he’s died. Little short of a cannon shot — or the 1812 Overture — would disturb him. I’ve made smoothies without disturbing him.
All this has changed, of course, since Ian started working graveyard shift. I think they call it that because you feel dead when you do it, or maybe because it kills your relationships. In any case, Ian now sleeps while I work, and I sleep while he works. We can tuck each other in and give each other a good-night kiss, and the one or the other of us goes off to work.
For me, Ian’s working night shift has been oddly anticlimactic. I sleep poorly when Ian’s away. Even when I sleep all night I don’t feel as rested when I sleep alone. I’m sure that will pass eventually, though, and aside from that Ian being on night shift actually works out remarkably well from my perspective. Ian is home when I get home from work, and I sleep through most of his absence. He gets home about 10 minutes after my alarm goes off, and we talk about his “day” as I get ready. Then I leave and he sleeps. About 2:30 pm, Ian wakes up and emails me.
I’m most worried about Ian’s health during this night-shift stint. Some quick internet research reveals that working swing shift or night shift tends to make you more prone to disease, not just colds but serious things like diabetes. In addition, you tend to eat poorly and oddly, and it’s really remarkable how much your body relies on sleeping at night to keep you sane. Two weeks gone and Ian hasn’t started foaming at the mouth yet, but he definitely comes home more exhausted than he would from a normal daytime job, even though he doesn’t do more work during night shift. The good news, though, is that Ian is now officially on third shift all the time — no switching to second shift as the original plan dictated. In this his management actually listened and reassigned people based on their preferences. I think that will at least let Ian keep a moderately standard, if not normal, sleep schedule, which should help lessen the potential health issues.
We seem to be adjusting to this new change. It’s not fun, and it’s uncomfortable for me and miserable for Ian (who has refrained from complaining hardly at all, for which I think he deserves several gold stars), but we’ll come through this, too. I hope it won’t be for too long — too long being even a couple months, honestly — but however long Ian is forced to be nocturnal, I’m confident it will just draw us together closer in the long run. God uses trials to refine us. This is a refining time.
As Calvin’s dad always says, “It builds character.”
PS – If this seems incoherent, that would be because I wrote it in bits and pieces over the course of three days.
PPS – Speaking of building character and bikes, I rode through the first thunderstorm of the season this evening. It was pretty scary, actually (I have ridden through plenty of other thunderstorms without worrying, but this one the lightning seemed to be right above me), and left me acutely aware of how little cover my normal route provides. It made no logical sense, but I cowered down on my bike even though I know it makes no difference. I also spent a good amount of time thinking about the conductivity of titanium, and wondering if a carbon fiber bike would present the same lightning-rod issues (update: some internet research suggests that carbon fiber may be able to conduct electricity), and trying to determine the probability of being struck by lightning while riding a bike.
When I got home and handed Ian my dripping wet shoes, he commented, “You could keep a fish in these things!” That might have been hyperbole, but it would not be inaccurate to say that I could not have gotten wetter wading through a river.