11 November 2010

oops. sorry it's been so long.

It's been almost a month since I last wrote.  And it's 6 days shy of my 3 month mark. 
But, see, I have about 100 great excuses for why I haven't had time to write, and a few of those reasons are captured in the photos above.  My life has been so full and rich, I barely have time to think, let alone try and write words so that people out there can even begin to understand.  It hasn't all been good; life is more a roller coaster down here then ever before.  But the highs are utterly unbelievable, and they're so often and so mind boggling.  And so much has happened.  Dance crew, Halloween performance, winning the costume contest and therefore a trip to Cape Royds, a boondoggle (special morale trip instead of working), iceberg frozen into sea ice, seals, observation tube, 24/7 sunshine, so much love, amazing crazy nights, bluegrass, dance parties, etc, etc.  I wish I had time to sit here and describe all of it, but I only have time to upload pictures today, and better pictures than nothing!  I hope the shifting of seasons finds everyone happy and healthy, and I will try to get back on soon to explain a bit of what life is like down here. 

18 October 2010

jano life: by rickey

I thought I'd pop in and share some of the awesome pictures that I recently acquired from a guy headed to Pole.  He takes amazing photos and hung out with the janos for the past week, so he captured some great shots of the people I love most down here.  These are definitely some real slices of jano life.  I'll post some pictures of my first real hike soon!  I also have a video that he shot of me juggling lemons in Antarctica!  Yes!

11 October 2010

8 weeks!

Ahh!  I swear I've been trying to post for so long, but things always pop up.  Like right now, I planned all day to do a long, thorough post this evening, but I only have 15 mins now, since I got signed up for a massage class, and got coerced to have wine and girl talk later this evening.  So this is going to be pretty quick.  This is a picture of some of the glorious ladies I work with, and the amazing sunset that lasts for hours and hours during the middle of the night right now. 
I have been extremely busy lately with all of the activities I've gotten involved in.  Last week the janos defended their championship title in dodgeball, which was so much fun... I was the "token girl" on the team of 5, and the rest of the janos made up most of the audience.  The other teams were really intense, cheated, and yelled, but we had a blast, giggled the whole time, and still won.  I've also been doing dance practice 3 times a week, since some of the janos and I are dressing up as different Lady Gagas on halloween and doing a surprise dance performance to "Telephone."  Choreography and I have never been friends but I'm learning fast and find myself doing the steps while washing showers during the day.  This past Saturday, the janos had a big Hut10 party, which is like the little party house on station, and we all had to bring hand puppets... the creations people came up with was so hilarious and fun.  I work with an incredibly creative bunch of people who all have an insane sense of humor which keeps things exciting all the time.
Here is an infamous jano cuddle puddle.  We take part in these as much as possible.  We've even done one while drenched in sweat after playing basketball.  Janos are known for being incredibly tightknit, and even a little exclusive.  The last part isn't entirely true, it's just that we all like each other so much that we want to hang out together all the time.  I've officially been here 8 weeks today, and the past few days I've felt it.  Yesterday, all I wanted was to sing my heart out in private, but there was not one place to do it without having an audience.  But I still giggle all day, am having a blast, and love it down here.  But goodness gracious, I would love to go shopping right now, I'm not gonna lie.  Ahh I'm late for massage, I promise I will post again soon, and actually take pictures of Antarctica, not just the crazy social events that take place inside down here.

15 September 2010

one month!

Like how all of my entries are named after how long I've been here?  It's just because it's completely shocking every time I take note of the time that's passed... "it's only been a month?!  it's already been a month!?" It has flown by and yet I feel like I've been here forever. 
When I first got down here, it was almost totally dark except for maybe 3 hours during the middle of the day.  Now it's already light until 9:30 or so at night.  The shift has taken place so quickly, because apparently there are 45 more minutes of sunlight everyday.  It felt like it went from dark to light overnight, and two days ago I had the sun shine on my face for the first time in almost a month.  It completely caught me off guard, and I had sun spots in my eyes for a good 5-10 minutes.  But now every time I round a corner and find it shining on me, I have to stop and bask.  But you know how when you stand in the sunshine at home and it warms you?  That doesn't happen here - at least not yet.  It almost feels fake because you can't feel it at all.
The other thing that caught me off guard was seeing my REAL shadow for the first time since getting down here.  Sure, I've seen my fluorescent shadow, but not like this.  I had to stop and take a photo... it was like realizing that I really was a human, not just a big red coat wandering around.  That's Ob Hill in the background, which I haven't hiked up yet but will soon.
Occasionally, when the weather is right, you can see mirages out on the sea ice.  This picture does not capture the mirages, but what happens is that right below the mountains, it looks like there are huge cliffs in the ice.  Today I was walking around station with my coworker Sue, and she got all excited and pointed them out to me.  It's crazy!  The sea ice is totally flat, and yet there are these huuuge looking cliffs.  This place, I'll tell ya...
Last night I was the captain of a jano dodgeball team and we won!  We all dressed up pretty crazy, I wore my silver sequined dress with pigtails and lots of silver makeup.  That's me, the third from the left... shiny right?  It was such a blast, and we took down teams of big scary fleet ops men.  There were 8 teams, and the last 2 teams in the championship were the 2 jano teams.  Janos rock.
The food here is not great.  I mean, I suppose that's not completely fair because there haven't been freshies for weeks now.  But I'm completely spoiled by all of the amazing food I was surrounded by growing up, so I definitely haven't been eating that much.  What I have been eating is the really good fresh baked bread, and gummy bears.  So many gummy bears.  Because in 007, which is the jano's main closet/meeting space/etc... there is a big box full of them.  Don't worry, I'm taking vitamins.  I don't think I would get any from eating the 4 years expired mushy frozen cauliflower anyways.  Sometimes we play a game where we go into the store and see who can find the most expired food.  Apparently 2002 is the current winner for this year.
And of course, I'm still having a blast.  Everyone has started joking about how this Saturday is my last before my mom gets down here and I have to start behaving.  I don't think anyone behaves down here - except maybe my mom :)  Janos have 5:31 breaks every once in a while... we get off of work at 5:30, and then meet up to drink some ridiculous concoction.  Today's 5:31 break was beer with emergen-C packets in it.  Ridiculous.  This past Saturday there was party for the fuels truck that burnt down the week before.  Everyone dressed in funeral garb, and there was even a man dressed as an angel lowered from the ceiling.  People in Antarctica will find any reason to have a party, and know how to do it right.
Things are good, so good!

07 September 2010

3 weeks!

I swear I didn't mean to go this long without posting!  Every evening I have had good intentions to go to the library and make a blog entry, but the nature of this place is that you're bound to run into someone with fun plans.  Like last night.  On my way to the library, I ran into a friend who wanted to go hiking to see the stars.  And bam!  There I was, out on Hut Point, having my mind blown.  But I'll get back to that. 
I am officially having an amazing time.  I absolutely love my job... the actual scrubbing of toilets is mehhh, but I wouldn't choose any other job on station.  Mostly because of the people.  I haven't laughed this hard in a long time, and the days are flying by because I'm having fun all the time.  At the same time, I feel like I've been here for years now and today officially marks 3 weeks.  It feels impossible that I've only been here for 3 weeks.  I could write on and on and on tonight but I have to meet a friend for tea, then go watch some friends who are in a dance crew practice, and then pop into the bar to visit a friend who is bartending for the first time tonight.  And it's already 8:30pm.  There is far too much going on to be ever able to do it all.
I did have a mishap this week... a somewhat hilarious one at that.  I had been working on a special project over at SSC, and got a splinter while mopping.  I pulled most of it out and continued on my way.  I had heard that things don't heal as well down here, but learned the hard way.  Two days later my splinter had turned into a big festering wound that made my entire left hand swollen.  I had to go to medical, and get a "procedure" done which involved 5 shots to the hand which left it numb all day.  And then, to make matters worse, I was told I had to wear a splint for the next 4-5 days.  Yep.  So when people would ask me what happened, since I had the lovely bandage pictured above, I would have to mumble, embarrassed, "splinter..."  So silly.  And when I would mop or sweep, my middle finger was splinted out, so I constantly flipped people off.  It was ridiculous, and people are still calling me mop hands even though the splint is long gone now.
I've been working on lots of special projects during the afternoon with fun people, like carpet cleaning with Juicebox, or scrubbing floors with Mike.  This afternoon I got to buff highway 1 by myself, and I'm kind of a buffing pro now.  Work does take a toll on the body, since we work from 7:30am-5:30pm, six days a week.  But the one day off, Sunday, is so precious.  I've spent my last three sleeping.
The people are really what make this place incredible.  I've been having too much fun to remember to take pictures so this is only a very small handful of the crazy people I spend all my time with. 
I've gotten really used to having my own room, and especially a large 4 person room.  This is my cozy nook in the corner, completely boxed in by large blue metal dressers.  The rooms are very industrial and poorly lit, but I did score some xmas lights from skua today.  Skua is the greatest system ever - there are bins by all of the recycling centers (several in each building) where you can put stuff you don't need or want anymore.  Then somebody else comes along and finds a use for it.  I've also gotten a neck gaiter, a flannel shirt, and a mirror. 
My hike last night with Rachel was one of the most incredible things I have ever done.  It's only a half hour walk out to Hut Point and back, but you get past the station lights to where it's truly dark.  Take my word for it - you have not seen stars until you have seen them in Antarctica.  The milky way was so bright, like swirls of milk in coffee.  And there were green auroras, and the stars were blinding.  It was shattering, completely exhilarating to look up.  The black of the sky and the white of the snow blended together so that it felt like the stars were up, down, all around.  I felt as if I had been cracked open, in a way that could only be done at the bottom of the earth.  And I had an epiphany - this is the place to be person I have always wanted to be.

27 August 2010

antarctica: up to day 10

Oh my goodness, so much as happened since I last posted.  Hence the lack of posting.  Lots of ups and lots of downs.  Well, actually not too many downs because I've been refusing to think about anything negative, but once I let my consciousness beyond the walls of the building I'm in, the loneliness is rather suffocating.  Yet at the same time, I'm with all sorts of people everyday, alllllll day.  Sometimes I forget the reality of where I am, and it feels like there was an apocalypse and the only people left are here.  I found out today that I will be having no roommate for the rest of winfly, which means I get the room to myself for the next month.  This is basically unheard of in McMurdo… basically only the highest head honchos get a single room.  Apparently there was a glitch in the system that made it look like there were 3 people in my room… I totally lucked out.  After socializing with people all day every day, it's such a relief to go home to silence.  This evening I finally decorated my room, but it's so dark in there that it's basically impossible to photograph, but it's certainly a lot more cozy now.
Today was my 10th full day here, which is crazy.  It's one of those things where it feels like I've been here for EVER, but at the same I feel like I just got here yesterday and I still have no clue where I am.  
[Atlee getting way too close to the "cake"]
I finally settled in with an awesome group of friends, and had been doing far more than my fair share of laughing, dancing, singing, and enjoying some good old debauchery.  However, just two days ago, all four of my closest friends got moved to the night shift for the next month.  So now I'm feeling friendless and like I'm starting all over again.  It's been difficult lately, but I also know how much fun life will be once mainbody starts in a month.  
We got to take a tour of the waste treatment plant during work, which was hilarious and fascinating.  Currently, they are able to treat all of the waste and put clear, clean water back into the ocean, but once mainbody starts up and the station is at full capacity, they often have to dump raw sewage.  Needless to say, it reeked in there, and taking a tour with 10 immature guys made it far funnier than it should have been.
There was a crazy storm a few nights ago… they set up ropes between the buildings and we all had to stay put unless we agreed to take snacks with us in case we got stuck somewhere.  The bars closed (this was a big deal to everyone), and events were cancelled.  You could hear the wind screaming from deep within buildings… I have never heard wind so angry.  This is a picture during the day, before it got really bad… you could barely see 20 feet to the next building.
This is a picture of where I spend a lot of time everyday, in the laundry room of dorm 211.  We haven't officially gotten our building assignments, but I have cleaned this dorm for the past 5 days, and it would be really cool if I could stay here since this is where Mom and Scott will probably live when they get here.
The big blue building is 155, the heart of McMurdo.  This is where I live, where I meet for work in the morning, where I eat, where I spend about 80% of my day.  I've been cleaning the halls in the afternoon, which is a social overload since people are streaming through constantly.  The other day I was buffing the floor with a machine and several men offered me money to sit and spin on the machine as they passed by.  Nice.  You also end up seeing the same people again and again and again, and saying hi every time gets old fast.  But it's also fun to be able to visit with people while working.
It's still mostly dark, so when I walk to the dorm I'll be cleaning in the morning and take out the trash, I get to see some gorgeous lighting as the sun thinks about coming up.  All three of these shots above are morning light, my favorite.
While I haven't actually seen the sun yet, it does get very bright for about 4 hours everyday now.  Today was the first time it's been clear out, as it's been so stormy, and the view of Ob Hill was stunning.  Scrubbing toilets and mopping floors inside so much, I forget where I am sometimes until I step outside and see the Royal Society Mtns across the sea ice and feel the sharp sting of frigid air in my lungs.  It blows my mind every time: I'm in freakin' Antarctica!
Finally, this is the sunset from tonight.  I was using my crappy camera, so I didn't capture the nacreus clouds very well, but the sky was glorious orange, with some shimmery pink nacreus clouds nestled at the horizon.  I had probably my worst day yet today, but when I saw this view as I was dragging linen across town, I instantly felt better.
This place is completely crazy.