Saturday, November 21, 2009

Homeward Bound

I've been in McMurdo a little over two weeks and have been so busy at work, that even without housemouse and GASH (extra work at Palmer) I feel like I have less free time. I had No Idea how spoiled I was having wifi in my room at Palmer, and the slowness of the internets here is incredible. I have tried on several different days to upload pictures to this blog & do a posting, but I have finally given up & have decided to just blog without photos. I have posted nice photos on my facebook page, so if anyone who reads this want to see those photos feel free to "friend" me.

I'm so much more comfortable and relaxed here...I have very sweet memories of my time at Palmer & the things that were good there were Very Good...but here I feel like I'm at home. I get enough walking in in a day that I feel like I don't have to work out, and there is always places to pop over into if I want some company. And on the nights my roomie goes to work, I have a blissful 4 hours of reading solidtude in my room. I'm totally loving my kindle reader, and continue to read voraciously on it.

Working at the Heavy Shop is fun and fast paced. This is the first time I've returned to a warehouse I've previously worked at and it's been enough years that it feels fresh again. There are the familiar faces and many new mechanics as well. The parts counter where I work has a line at it all day, and I don't remember it being this busy when I worked here 4 years ago. Most days I do a repetitive walk from the counter to the warehouse behind the building, back and forth so many times that I'm surprised there isn't a rut carved into it. I finally got my pickle (M4K forklift) training, and driving Elvis again is a joy. I'd forgotten how fricken' hard it was to see out of the front of this machine, but compared to the Skytrak I drove at Palmer (where you can easily see the forks), this is much more fun in general to operate because it articulates.

Now that I've been here two weeks and my routine is deeply entrenched, I need to ponder my future in Antarctica. I am in my 6th season on Ice and and on the fence about whether I'm going to be a "lifer" or not. This lifestyle is so amazing but it is also so amazingly weird: I forced myself to go out last night to hear live bands when all I wanted to do was lie in my cave & read books. I ended up having a really great time and staying up late, but it always feels like I'm a freshman in college when I go out here. The people you see every day are liquored up and hanging on each other - and as a sober person it can be a very entertaining show to watch. I am so safe without alcohol! I cannot imagine getting drunk here on Saturday nights in a town this small. By midnight the clubs look like pens of animals getting ready to or hoping to rut. I get to walk out the door utterly clearheaded and crawl into my cozy walled off bed and read until late as I don't have to get up early on Sunday. At Sunday brunch you can see the hangovers & excited energy of those that had a wild night..and I get to enjoy the stories I hear from these big party nights.

I picked up my 17 year sobriety chip here when I first got here and it seems like just yesterday I was getting a one year chip. When I first quit drinking I never intended for sobriety to become a way of life...I was just miserable and had tried everything else so I was going to go on the wagon for a while. Now most of my dreams have come true, and some I hadn't even known were waiting for me have come true also. In the midst of some of the bitterness and crankiness I can get into in this place (the Ice), it is still an incredible place for life to press upon me in ways that I don't experience off Ice: whatever stored up anger or resentments I have will force me to deal with them. I will have strong reactions and will have to take care of them myself quickly because "perception" is "reality" down here & I want to be perceived well. I don't drink or get into trouble, but I can be mouthy and squawk about the system and when I hear myself being this way I make an effort to reign it in the next day. In short, I have to be a grownup here (but in other ways, you never have to grow up here!).

There's nothing new here. No epiphanies or see-God-now experiences to gush on about. Coming back to McMurdo after a year off was like putting on comfortable old slippers & settling into an easy chair. When I first got here so many people said "welcome home," and that is what it feels like: a sort of tribal home for oddballs, misfits,  and people like me who are both and especially like not having to feed or house myself.