When Is Dinner in Australia?

"I'm fine most of the time during the Fast. I just can't do very creative things." A numbers-oriented professor friend lobbed this into the conversation over a potluck serving table a couple weeks ago. The chatter had turned to the ways various Bahá'ís dealt with the upcoming 19 days of fasting from sunrise to sunset. As his hand reached for the serving spoon to move a crunchy piece of tahdig from platter to plate, he looked up and met my glare ... I mean stare. "Oh. That's probably everything you do ..."

Perhaps it's not everything I do. But with the exception of some strategy work and a bit of editing, most of what I do falls into the creative side of things. While I, too, am usually fine during the Fast, the timing does present some interesting challenges to my usual routine.

My biggest hurdle isn't food. I'm a very light breakfast eater anyway, so it's hard for me to get up super early and inhale a feast before sunrise. Instead, I choose a specific morning menu of small amounts of protein-rich foods and plenty of water, and I stick to the same meal for the duration. Do I get hungry? A little. But no more than if I'd skipped lunch at one of my old office jobs.

No, my challenge is sleep. And this is where the creative issue comes into play. I normally head for bed between 11 and midnight, and get up between 7 and 8 a.m. During the Fast, I rarely get to sleep much earlier, but my alarm goes off between 5 and 5:30 a.m. I can try to stay awake and pound through all of my work early in the morning, but then my energy is used up by afternoon, when I still need it. I can eat quickly and try to catch another hour or two of sleep before really getting up for the day, but that pushes my day later. Or I can split my day into a morning shift and an evening shift, cutting short my night's sleep and trying to catch a nap in the afternoon if my schedule allows.

Throwing a wrench into things is the fact that I'm in the last month of my MFA studies, which means I would have been writing at night and in between professional assignments anyway.

All of this leads me to days like today. It's been dark and pouring rain since before sunrise. I'm up to my eyeballs in my book's sample chapters. Some portion of my core is staging a mutiny after yesterday's workout. I'm operating on too little sleep. And my uncertain schedule as a freelancer remains a constant.

This is definitely when I think to myself: terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. And I think I'll move to Australia.

But then I wonder what time sunset is there and start dreaming of cheeseburgers with guacamole, and decide perhaps I do have enough creative gumption to just get on with things. Which I'll be doing right now.