Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Of Pickling and Proust

Today marks one month on Ice. I'm really enjoying my work center - fun people, lots of running around making deliveries, shovelling snow, operating heavy equipment, and some desk work. I don't have a lot of interesting stuff to report but I want this blog to remain "active"(!) and I promise pictures soon. I just finished repacking a milvan with a pickle - it was loads of fun, and a wee taste of the joy of ship offload (in January). I've been reading a lot this season - a satisfying read was "The Year of Reading Proust" by Phyllis Rose. It's the most recent memoir I've read in my past few years of "memoir only" reading. I just tried to break my memoir addiction by picking up a pulitzer prize winning fiction novel, but after about 20 pages I put it down for a mediocre memoir about an uptight priggish Australian woman ("Leaves From My Diary"). I couldn't put it down even though it was a "fake" memoir! So, in "The Year of Reading Proust" I read about another writer's experience of reading Proust and how it changed her life - I needed this book, as I've never been able to get past the first 50 pages of "Recherche du Temps Perdu" myself (Rose also said she'd never been able to get past "the first 50 pages" but made a commitment to read all the volumes in one year). I even organized a "book club" with a friend to make myself read it & he succeeded, but I was frustrated with the tedium & put it down. The idea of reading about someone who read a famous work may seem dull to some, but Rose is a compelling writer when writing about the personal experience - her soul blossoms as she reads Proust, making small & large life decisions based on what seems like a "What Would Proust Do" sort of philosophy - his words become a guiding voice which develops as his work reveals deeper truths to her about human nature. Almost 100 years before the psychotherapy movement, Proust seemed to have his finger (and pen) on the pulse of the soul of man, and the deeper motivations underlying his behavior - & this was absorbed by Rose the writer and human being as she plows through the enormous ultra-detailed descriptions of the minutae of parties, feelings and obsessions which characterizes Proust's work. I could never get past the 500 or so pages of him wanting his mother to kiss him goodnight, but I didn't have to - Ms. Rose wrote a smart person's Cliff Notes of "Remembrance...", and extricated the lush revelations I didn't have patience or muturity to glean for myself. I think I'll be ready when I turn 50 to read Proust's seven volumes (note: Fifty is Many Years Away)...but for now, I have a stack of ordinary person memoirs to read, and hopefully I'll have some Antarctic news soon...!

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Ice - "Season Four"

I'm on the Ice again - my fourth season...each season I have more trepidation than the last. So much is known, so many freedoms previously taken for granted off Ice now appear super delicious (ie: driving, reading in bed til 1:00am, nuggling with Fergus), but, even though I brace myself for 6 months of frozen regimentation, I also feel a huge sense of relief for that same reason. I don't have to make any decisions - I work hard, eat, sleep, watch movies & read books. It's easy. And hard. My first week of work was so physically demanding that I thought I would crack. I shoveled snow, lifted lumber, climbed in & out of loaders til my bones ached. But now, comfortably entering my fourth week, I enjoy the outdoor hard work mixed with some desk time each day. I really need to load some pictures. I work at the Carp Shop this year which is on a hill and has a stupendous view of the mountains during this season of glorious pink light & eternal sunsets. It's still too bloody cold to hike around much, but we are enjoying a much milder winfly than last year. Will & I have our giant room again until we move to our 'permanent' dorm, and this year we put in one of those industrial space heaters so the room is toasty.

I'm writing this bit a couple of weeks later...still no photos..warm enough to walk around without my coat while I'm working. This is the only place I've ever been that I love being outside all the time. If I ever wonder why the heck I came back here, the answer is always waiting when I walk down the hill after work: the sunset over the mountains - and the awe & gratitude I still feel being in this amazing place!