Australia is an interesting country. In the business and market place, it’s as progressive as any place you’d find in the Western World. But when it comes to every day living, you will find relics of the 1930’s still alive and strong.
Take environmental control, for example. Homes built before the 1990’s do not have central heat and air conditioning – something that I’ve always taken for granted. Even our little Baby Boomer tract house in New York had central heating. Of course, people do install reverse cycle air conditioning to upgrade their residences, but since we are currently renting, we have no such options.
Australia is also unique in that it has a desert climate in most of the country. This means that during the day, as long as the sun is shining, it’s relatively warm in the winter. At night time, however, it dips to freezing.
I can’t sleep when the room’s cold. I shake and shiver, and it doesn’t matter if I put extra layers on. I can’t breathe when the room temperature is low, as the ol’ sinuses swell shut as if to protest being bathed in icicles.
Enter Ye Newe Room Heater. The room heater is a little electrical device that you could fry eggs on. It glows red hot and warms up the room. Since it has no temperature sensor attached to it, it’s on a timer and goes on just before I go to bed, turns off in the middle of the night, and comes on again before the room has a chance to get really cold.
This is where being a person who can’t sleep through the day, is a pain in the ass. Even though, consciously, I know it’s the glow from the room heater that brightens the room at 3 am, my body is convinced that it’s sunrise and that I’ve overslept. This doesn’t happen on weekends. It only happens during the week, when I have to be up in a couple of hours. It’s almost impossible to get back to sleep. I fall back asleep a half an hour before the alarm goes off.
I wake up at 3 am, cursing the room heater and cursing the fact that’s it winter and I need to have a room heater.
I complained to Dan about it.
“Damn stupid body thinks it’s morning when the heater comes back on,” I moaned.
He did what any self-respecting man would do. He laughed at me.
“I’m going to turn it to face another direction and maybe it won’t shine right into my eyes,” I declared.
So, the next night, after Dan was asleep and after the heater clicked on, I decided to move it and point it away from the bed. Clever but for one small detail. The heater has an emergency shut off and if you move it when it’s on, it shuts off.
The room was cold. I couldn’t sleep. I tried flicking the switch on and off. I checked the timer. I checked the cords. That heater would not come on to save my life.
So – what should I do? Wake up my husband, who was sleeping soundly?
It was the only thing left.
So, I gently nudged him and said “Babe, the heater shut off and I can’t get it to come back on.”
He mumbled something and then told me that there were two switches on it and to turn both off and then back on.
So, I did that. Nothing.
“Babe, it’s not working.”
Mumble. Grumble. Dan gets out of bed and tries the same things that I had already tried. Nothing worked.
Dan is such a patient husband. He wearily stumbled to get the backup heater, a huge monstrosity that sucks more electricity than Godzilla, and set it up. That’s when he noticed a button on the bottom of the small room heater – the one marked “Reset.”
“At least I got a kiss and cuddle for my efforts” Dan declared as he wearily stumbled back into bed.
We won’t have a drama with the heat tonight, but I’m sure to wake up at 3 am, my body fooled into thinking it’s sunrise.
I can’t wait for spring. No doubt, neither can Dan.