Monday, November 12, 2007

Beam Me Down Scotty...

As I careen with slight panic towards a birthday possibly indicating (depending on whom you ask) "middle age" I find myself often agog at the incredible amount of adventure that has characterized my life. In the rare quiet moments here at McMurdo when I greedily fix up an hour or so of solitude, my mind naturally pulls up certain memories and periods of my life, that once reflected upon, have a delicious richness that I had no awareness of while I was actually experiencing them, that seemed banal or unexciting at the time. I wonder if memory & aging have a way of sweetening periods of my life that I considered "hellish" or dull at the time. I think of my 4 years in college and find myself stricken as I contemplate the sheer wildness and intensity of it. I was caught up in an incredible wave of joy, music & tribelike comraderie that I had never anticipated, yet very much needed. Some of the darker times that felt so bereft even years later now seem like an incredible journey that was taken sheerly out of curiosity & id gone wild. I guess the old saying about "regretting the things you haven't done instead of the things you have" has become partially true: I have no regrets about he past - and I especially love that I HAVE a past. I am not old yet, but feel I am at that crux of life where worn in habits that no longer serve need to be dropped & a certain maturity brought in. It feels like a huge relief to say goodbye to the girl obsessed with her weight & her clothes & how many boys want her - I love that I look forward, almost wild-eyed & heart racing, to getting in bed two hours early to read a novel or a juicy magazine. I love that I don't have to waste precious scooter-riding hours having brain hurting conversations about my role as a breeder (I never wanted to, they always thought I'd change my mind). I am finally old enough that it's no longer a topic for discussion.

For my birthday I was sent the entire 87 episode 60's Star Trek television series (thanks mom & dad!) I started watching this show when I was living in New York City, in a basement apt. in Queens, drinking like a fish and wondering what the hell I was going to do with my life, which was not turning out as I'd planned. Instead of becoming a famous film director, I was working temp jobs and standing at gritty, dangerous subway stops, going further & further away from the city, and drinking in a dive bar. Star Trek was on every night at 9:00pm on the only channel I could get, and I started enjoying it so much I started going home instead of to the bar so I could watch it (I had never watched it in the 60's). I will not wax on about Star Trek - those who know, know. The later "generations" don't have the same Proustian like, life-changing effect on me so I'm strictly a 60's purist. I just watched about 4 episodes in a row, and got good reminder lessons on selfishness vs. self sacrifice - letting go of the small "I" for the greater good, and my favorite words from Spock: "sometimes you will find that having is not as pleasurable as wanting". The relationships between the main characters & their world(s) become so compelling, I feel as if I am embedded with this crew. I have about 96 days left here so I'm going to try & watch the entire 3 year series. ST played a vital role in another period in my life in the late 80's when I was going through a painful break-up. I wouldn't leave the house & just sat around for weeks "grieving", then finally got bored enough to turn on the TV and within a week or so of bonding with Kirk, Bones & Spock, I was refreshed & out hitting the town again. I felt nurtured & guided out of my pain as I hurtled through the galaxies with the Enterprise, leaning on my futuristically-garbed friends, learning to embrace each day as new, and to always move forward. A bit of time for navel-gazing is ok, but there are worlds out there to conquer....I also always find the contrast of the heavy themed underbelly of the plot with the utter cheesiness of the sets and costumes part of the show's power.

On the subject of wanting vs. having, in my present job I am having exactly what I wanted: lots of outdoor physical work, the operating of heavy equipment, and a fun & chaotic work center...but, as is always the case, when one gets what one wants, one wants something better...or something different....I find myself feeling like I don't get to outside enough or I'm not getting to drive the loader as much as somebody else. I've been having to step back & tell myself how much better I have it this season than last (when I was in a windowless cubicle!) and not freak out anytime I have to do desk work. Unfortunately, I am very good with details & paperwork & that work is usually entrusted to me. I often think of misfiling things terribly or doing a horrid job of it (which is how a lot of people get out of it down here) but it is not in my a nature: I am hardwired to be an excellent clerical worker even though I can't stand doing very much of it. So, in honor of getting what I wanted, I have attached photos of myself in an IT28 loader of the vintage model we have here on station. We have two loaders in Carp Supply. I prefer "Kathy" while my coworker prefers "Loralee" (all the tractors here have names). One always feels cool driving around station in a loader. This is one of the things I never knew I'd love doing, but it requires a lot of thinking and concentration so it can be very satisfying. When I was 20 years old living in the moment having the time of my life dancing at punk clubs in Austin, I could have never imagined I'd be forking 7000 pound crates around a work camp in Antarctica. Sometimes, having IS as good as wanting....Marsha out.