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.