“So, class, how are you today?”
“Happy! And you, teacher?”
“Oh, I’m happy, too!”
My students all thought this was because of them. “Awww, our teacher loves us so much. Look at how happy she is to be back!”
Children’s naivete. It’s cute. Had they looked closer, they’d have seen the very large coffee behind me. The coffee that was only barely holding at bay an increasing lag in mental processes that a 14-hour time difference tends to create.
Welcome back to Beijing, indeed.
Last week, we landed late Monday evening. We got home, unpacked our bags and got to bed by midnight.
“Look at this adult responsibility happening,” I said smugly as we set our alarms. “We’ll get to bed on time, wake up at 6:30 a.m., and be set to go straight away.”
And then we proceeded to wake up at 1 a.m., then 2 a.m. and every hour until 5:30 a.m., when we gave up and just waited out the time before Manfriend set out for work.
I, on the other hand, had nowhere to be until 4 p.m. And despite my best efforts, more sleep wasn’t going to happen. My body thought it was mid-afternoon and resisted any attempts at rest. Instead, I did yoga, made breakfast, cleaned and so on. By noon, I set out early for work hoping for something to do. “May as well get something done there,” I figured. My body was still awake as could be.
Then 4 p.m. rolled around. It was 2 a.m. Colorado time, and my body felt it. “Time for bed now,” it insisted, despite my reminding it we still had five hours left on the clock. By 7 p.m., when my class started, it was all I could do to focus on my students. My reaction time dropped significantly, leaving us all sitting awkwardly between their questions and my belated responses.
“Are you OK, teacher?”
Five seconds later: “Yes.”
The commute home felt like a daze, a blur of subway stations until an unsteady walk home. A quick kiss, a cursory, “How was your day?” and Manfriend and I collapsed into bed. Finally, it was time for the sleep we’d been pushing back against.
Just in time for our bodies to perk back up again.
Telling my coworker this, how productive my mornings had become thanks to this time zone hell, he laughed. “Maybe it’ll stick, and you’ll become a morning person instead.”
I gave him a hostile chuckle. “Ha, yea. Wouldn’t that be something.”
That lifestyle was for my father or my grandfather, not me. Not the girl who had worked late ever since university. Not the girl who spent her work week daydreaming about all the sleep she’d get that upcoming weekend.
Nope, I’d kick this productive habit as soon as possible.
I guess my body will let me know.