Monday, October 8, 2012

Up All Night

I've battled with insomnia for years but in recent months my sleepless nights have increased in both length and frequency.  I've tried all of the conventional remedies for sleeplessness; a dark room, background noise machines, herbal tea before bed, decreased consumption of beverages containing caffeine, and even prescription medicines.  None have ever proven to be effective.  I've learned that stress is my biggest trigger; when I have a lot on my mind I just can't shut off my brain to get a restful night's sleep.  I don't necessarily think I've been more stressed lately, if anything I feel as though I've settled into a comfortable routine, but apparently my subconscious is telling me otherwise.  The irony of insomnia is that the less sleep I get, the more I think about the need to sleep and ergo, the less sleep I get.  As has been the case for the past two decades, I know this phase will eventually pass.  In the meantime, I'm awake a lot at night and have been spending much of this time thinking.

So what does one do when they are wide awake and the rest of the household is sleeping peacefully (ok, they are both snoring but at least they are sleeping)?  First I listen to the sounds of the night.  Our house is surprisingly loud.  At night, the creaks and groans of the house seem to be magnified by the darkness.  Now that the weather has cooled off we have taken to sleeping with our windows open.  I'm learning that our neighborhood is surprisingly loud all night long.  Street dogs bark almost continually and due to the position of our house, the noise from passing vehicles on the main road seems to flow straight into our house.  The other constant is the sound of roosters crowing.  I used to think that these birds only sounded their alarm as the sun rose but Albanian roosters apparently move to their own schedule.  Whether it is two, four, or six in the morning, these roosters are crowing.

After hours of laying awake and thinking about all the things I need to do; tasks for work, tasks for home, menus for approaching dinners,  and holiday travel plans, I eventually break down and get up out of bed.  I usually end up in front of the computer- and if the stars are aligned, our internet connection is up and running (the nights when it isn't working make each passing minute feel like hours).  During our first few months here I used to spend these predawn hours searching the internet for online shopping deals.  I never thought I'd say it but I think I've reached my internet shopping saturation point.  I have now changed my focus.

I now spend my awake hours seeking out new recipes, planning dinner menus, and wondering how I can turn my passion into a career.  I have a fantasy that post-Navy life will find me owning my own bakery and catering company.  Given the economy, the financial considerations for starting a new business, and the need to save for Sidney's college education, this is probably just a pipe dream but it is fun to think about none the less.  (And it helps pass those long nighttime hours).  As a part of my dream, I've decided to put more focus on writing about my food experiences.  As such, I've launched a "sister" blog to this one.  Albania or Bust:  The Food Files, talks about my thoughts regarding shopping, cooking, and eating while living in Albania or where ever our travels take us.  I will continue writing my original blog but hope my new blog will allow me to focus on the nitty-gritty food details that excite me but bore most people.  Blogs are subjective and in many cases self-serving.  While I started this blog to keep my family and friends connected with our Albanian lives, I will be writing my new blog more for me.  I may not be able to currently live out my culinary dreams but I can try to put my thoughts and dreams onto virtual paper.  This project might not help me sleep, but it will at least give me something to show for all of my late night/early morning waking hours.

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