American in Spain

Genius Insomnia

December 5, 2006

Not everyone is cut out for the kind of work I do. I may be the only full time transatlantic telecommuter. I work alone from home with no supervision and a six-hour time difference between my coworkers and myself. Like all scenarios, mine has its pros and cons. It takes me less than a minute to get out of bed, get dressed (I work in long pajamas), and get to my office. I don't care what you do; my daily commute is shorter than yours. This is both a blessing and a curse, as you shall see. My job requires a lot of self-motivation and the ability to survive with relatively little social interaction. I have productive and unproductive days just like anyone else. I've learned to recognize and harness my productive spurts when they or night.

If I'm working particularly intensely on something, and I don't watch at least an hour of television to clear my mind before going to bed, it's quite likely that I will wake up in the middle of the night with some insight about how to continue my project. I lie there for five minutes, working out the details of my insight, and by this time I'm fully awake. At this point, I convince myself that it's silly to be here lying in bed when I could be down in my office implementing this idea. So I make the 50-second commute to work and start hacking away...

On Sunday, two days ago, I woke up from a stereotypically-Spanish afternoon siesta with idea of how to write the best javascript drop-shadow library ever, and, boosted by the nap, I ended up working on it until 2:00am. Fully aware of my need to let my brain idle a bit before turning off the ignition, I watched a BBC documentary called Supersense - Sense of Timing, which, ironically, was about animals' biological clocks. It was all timelapse and high-speed photography, so, if you like that sort of thing, I recommend it. I was in bed by 3:00am.

At 7:00am on Monday morning, I sat up in bed and knew how to get my javascript library to work in the Evil Browser. By 9:00am it was done, and I took a two hour nap.

On Monday night, I went to bed, quite tired, at 10:00pm. But, wouldn't you know it? At midnight, I'm wide awake with the design for my current project figured out. My biological clock is definitely fubar. Good thing I don't have a set time to be at work tomorrow!

To explain the title... In all my humility, I like to think of my problem as something that creative geniuses like Beethoven, Einstein, or Tesla might have suffered from. In reality, I think that it's probably pretty common to anyone that doesn't have a clear boundary between work and leisure time, works too closely to bedtime, and has relatively easy access to get from bed to work.

Oh well. It's almost 1:30am. Better get to work!