Thursday, January 27, 2011

Early Mornings and Borneo Blackouts

Now that my six year old is in primary one, I have to wake up at 5:45 each morning to help my wife to get the two boys ready for school, so she can leave by 6:15, especially during the monsoon season when torrential downpours back up traffic.  For her it’s extra driving into town and then back out to the Free Trade Zone.  For me, since I’m wide awake now, I stroll into my office, turn on my computer and get to work.  Luckily I have a two minute commute. 

Getting up early used to be a big problem for me as I wrote in “Much Ado about Sleep” in Tropical Affairs.  But when your children are schooling you don’t have much choice, and that can be a good thing.

Since the school year started on January 3rd, my logged-in working hours has taken a significant jump.  This is why I’ve been able to revise my novel so often.  Although this does lead to burnout, when I continue to work in the evenings, after reading to the boys and putting them to bed, especially if I stay up past 11, which I’ve done every day this week.  One night last week, pushing a deadline, I was up until 4am, having started at 6:15am, so I worked nearly around the clock.
           
“Are you crazy?” my wife asked.
           
“No, just sleepy.”
           
So last night with my novel out to Amazon, and also needing to catch up on some sleep, I was relieved there was a lightning storm, common this time of the year.  I was in the midst of doing the dishes, and I dropped everything to save the blog I was working on since I hadn’t given it a file name, and shut everything down, and unplugged the computer.  Having heard one too many stories about someone losing their computer (and every file in it) from lightning, I’m now quick to react.
           
As soon as I got back to the dishes, lightning struck again and we had a blackout.  The boys panic since it’s pitch black in our house, while Jenny and I scramble to get some candles lit, using the stove for our fire source.  Only then can we see the batteries to load into our flashlights.  Batteries rot fast around here; maybe since it’s the tropics. 

By eight, with work officially done courtesy of the blackout, we get the boys upstairs where they brush their teeth and change into their pajamas by candle light.  They refuse, however, to sleep in their own rooms without a night light, so we all settle into our bed and after reading them a candle-lit story, get a good night’s sleep.
           
In theory, anyways.  Getting to the boys to quit poking and kicking each other is another matter.  When the power comes back on at 9:30, after moving the boys to their own beds, and with Jenny falling asleep, I sneak back downstairs to post yesterday’s blog, doubly glad I had followed my instincts and saved it.

By the way, do you know how far away the lightning is from you?  Since light travels faster than sound, as soon as you see a lightning flash count one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three.  If you hear the sound, it’s three miles away.  If you hear the lightning even before you get to one thousand and one, it’s pretty darn close.  One recent afternoon I saw this huge flash that looked as if it was just outside by backdoor, and the sound was immediate.  My house and computer got lucky that day, but my modem was destroyed.  
           
Early mornings and blackouts in Borneo.  It’s all a part of my writing routine.

                     -Robert Raymer, Borneo Expat Writer


***Here the link to my website, to MPH online for orders for all three of my books, including my latest, Spirit of Malaysia and for Trois autres Malaisie.

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