Thursday, December 01, 2011

 In my fierce attempts to retain my antarctic persona I have inadvertently become suburban. Suddenly I find myself in a sweet little townhouse in a beautiful old farm community with jaw dropping fall foliage, ancient and funky strip malls, and millions of acres of exploding Intel factories. It is how I got a job here and why this former rolling farm country is filled with giant brand new houses and spotlessly clean streets. I thought I would miss downtown Portland and I do in some regards...but I love being able to hop in my car and drive anywhere and I want to go. I find the mass transit here limited and slow, and don't use it unless I have several hours to spare. I started knitting and have fallen in love with it and am somewhat obsessed. I've finished one sweater and one set of mitts, and am working on my second sweater. I did a vegan diet for two months and lost some pudge I'd put on when I moved here...and now I lust for legumes and veggies. Ech...I thought I had something profound to say and it turns out I don't. I had Thanksgiving dinner with one of the painters I'd known from a season on the Ice. He just deployed for a short stint and his helper dropped out last minute so I e-mailed the big boss and said hey I'm a pq'd warm body ready to go down for  a short stint! I was excited for a moment, but also realizing that I was kind of digging my little life I'd created here in Oregon. Things are happening very fast...I haven't spent holidays in the states in a while so I am bracing myself for missing the exquisite holiday times at McMurdo. I was at a store selling X-mas decorations and the idea of buying any of that junk seemed totally repellent to me. As I've pared down my possessions more and more I see everything I purchase as something that I'll have to drag with me on my next move or bag for Goodwill. When I moved to Hillsboro it was the first time I'd rented a truck. Every other move was done with my car...and I have this bigger space with only a bed and a loveseat. I had originally planned on acquiring dining furniture and  stuff for the porch - but after a week of living here I decided I was not going to buy any more stuff - this house is going to be bare. I'm sure I won't start cooking here, or becoming more homey - I just turned 51 and despite how the world and culture tells me a middle aged woman is supposed to be, my desires are moving towards a future even more nomadic and unconventional. I meet people here every day who have never travelled outside this state. I used to be shocked by that sort of thing, by people who didn't crave getting as far away as possible from everything they've ever known and going towards something so different and so unknown as to be unimaginable. I am content and happy right now, having new everything around me and exploring a beautiful green landscape...but underneath I am waiting for the day I can be free again.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Way Down Under

Pine Island Glacier, December 2010
Mr. Spock said having is not the same thing as wanting...and pining for something can be even sweeter. To yearn for something and work to make it happen is the great joy of life in my experience. And for some unknown and random reason, what I got was so much more epically grand than anything I had envisioned for myself. When I look at this photo that I took at the end of last year it doesn't even seem real that I was there. That I drove there. On the back side of pining and yearning is memory. I love how time sweetens...everything. And it almost seems that the tougher and more stressful a situation is the more deeply satisfying the memories of it are, as if doing something hard is really worth doing on a level we don't appreciate at the time. I'm so glad there is a maniacal child inside of me who wants things and will keep me up nights on end trying to get my attention. Sometimes my life slows down, as it has now, stateside, but the Hungry One does not slow down. I can keep it entertained and distracted, but eventually it wants me to keep churning forth with ambitious plans that keep me never really able to settle down. I was always very curious about people who wanted to have a family, and it seems that most everyone wants to do it, but I never for one single second wanted that because the daemon spoke to me very early and very clearly. It knew what I was cut out for and having children and a home was not a part of the Plan. It has been very difficult adjusting to "regular life" after driving a farm tractor across Western Antarctica (I can't even believe my fingers are typing those words!). It sounds so unbelievably glamorous and it wasn't, but it was such hard physical and emotional work that it was worth every minute of the grim parts. My biggest hope is that this time of homespun simplicity is just a surface act and that the next big thing is brewing in the loamy depth of my being where there seems to be some sort of perpetual chaos. No wonder I used to self-medicate. Self-medicating is intelligent if you're trying to fit into the straight world. Right in front of me, there is an interesting milieu, a different game to play...but I have to be on guard for settling for something as cheap and easy as pleasure, when the rewards for working for your deepest heart's desire are pretty much indescribable. There is no going backwards.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Missing DFW

mid-day, end of September
Eastward, from my apt. window
The blinding Portland summer is over and the glorious fog and rain have returned. I have a job. I have a bright new yellow Fiesta. My little ancient dog is curled up next to me on the bed and I'm brewing some mint tea to sip while I knit a sweater. A year ago I was driving tractors in Antarctica and would have poo-poo'd the above scenario. I am not sure if I'm happy but I am content [deleted: long, insufferably rambling post about the horrors of going off of medication one needs to be on and thrashing around for months before going back on it, the whole time not realizing that all the horrors and psychosis are from a chemical imbalance and not, in fact, from the notion that life is "over." Also, a very long paragraph about the epiphanies gained in Taos, while being soothed, like a newborn baby, in the arms of forty women in the crone portion of their lives, sort of birthing (felt more like C-sectioning) me into that same humbling period that I was quite ungracefully moving towards. Ramblings about David Foster Wallace, about how sad I still am that he is not alive, while reading his words transcribed from a road trip into a novel. A few sentences about discovering how, when, at the end of thrashing about from self induced misery there is nothing left to do but write poems. Some stuff about atheism, stand-up forklifts, hormone replacement therapy and the consolation of winter. Some questions I was pondering: can one have adventure without getting on an airplane, can the top of one's values list be "excitement", can one be really attracted to someone and sort of repulsed by them at the same time]. So not much to write about at present...will check back in when inspiration kicks in.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Rest of It

For several years now I've been writing about my Antarctic and travel life and not the "rest of it" so much, but lately I've been doing the rest of the stateside life of what people consider to be "real life." I didn't like it before I went to the Ice and I'm not liking it much now. I've been struggling a lot lately with depression and despair as I feel like I'm going back to a lifestyle that didn't suit me then and really feels awkward now. I don't know why I'm having such a hard time adjusting...I mean I live in a gorgeous apartment in a cool city downtown, have a job starting next week and delish fall weather to look forward to, but the despair is hanging over me like a wool cloak. I have been thrashing around emotionally, screeching about not being able to go back to the Ice, feeling like my whole world, my joy and my tribe are there. I've never felt so at home and so alive, and so thoroughly happy with work. Antarctica is where I belong and where I want to be, but I have to take a season off, and I am not doing well emotionally around it. It seems so strange to pay for all these things that are free down there: apartments, food, gas, movies, clothes. I am trying not to resent my little dog, who is the reason I am staying stateside, and I'm embarrassed sometimes that I feel that way. What if I was to look at this another way, and see all the good things that can come from taking a season off - hmm, I'm thinking...oh yeah, I get to experience fall and winter with darkening skies in the late afternoon. I get to ski on my days off on Mt. Hood. I get to live by myself and not have to deal with roommate issues. I get to be with Fergus. I have a notion in my head that I cannot be happy off Ice...I know I was deliriously happy in Taos this past week, and when I'm on any sort of trip or even just in an airport or on a plane going anywhere. It is the daily routine of driving to work, having to think about every meal, and just being isolated so much that really gets to me. No matter how badly things may be going on Ice I am always glad I'm there...I am not able to fall into the pit of despair that I can fall into here. I thought moving from Texas to Oregon would help that, and it did help my reverse SAD symptoms a lot, but at the end of day I have returned to the rut lifestyle I had before I found the Ice in the first place. I am so sick of my bitching and complaining about not being able to go back. I just need to get over it and deal. There is a lot of cool stuff going on here, I have some great craft projects going on, and with my new job I will have alternating 3 day and 4 day weekends...I really need to overhaul my thinking on this or I'm just gonna drive myself crazy. I have been feeling completely insane with grief lately. I will be able to go back someday. It now seems surreal and unbelievable that I even got to do it was some epic miniseries that I was watching...mabye that is what is missing: the gratitude that I have found my place. I just have to learn to wait. Wait gracefully and not kicking and screaming the way I have been.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I have too much time on my hands and there's not enough time for all the mulling it over I have to do. Two friends I've known for over 30 years visited me in the past two weeks and it made me realize that I'm not young anymore. Been hobbling around with plantar fasciitis and had to get orthotics. Have always taken if for granted that I could walk all day forever...many, many friends are deploying to the Ice and I'm trying not to fall into a rat-hole of gloom over it. I can go back someday. Went off of a sleeping medication I'd been on  for 7 years and now am free from any type of pharmaceuticals. I am trying to prove to myself that I can be happy off Ice...I don't really believe it yet but I am going to try and find out if it's possible. I am taking time off to take care of my dog. I'm taking a writing workshop at Powell's bookstore and it is fun. I have too much free time, but a job the job my temp job as a meter reader starts in a week. Summer in Portland is still summer but it doesn't suck as badly as summer in Austin. I have come to the realization lately that if my life is not exciting and jam packed with exciting events, I tend to want to jump off a bridge. A month ago my biggest fear was boredom, two weeks ago not sleeping, and now: not being able to walk. The cycle of life seems slow right now and I like things to go quickly. I accept my situation but I don't like it. There is am amazing homeless lady in the park in front of my house who has very long and exhausting conversations with the air all day. I've been watching her for weeks, and today she was in a long, smiling embrace with a homeless man whose beens sitting on a bench a block away. I felt emotional when I saw them, and wanted to watch more but walked on. There are so many things I could do but I am hardly doing any of them. I am doing so many things but have nothing to show for it. Be careful what you wish for cuz you might get it and then wish you could go back in to the time you were the poorest...but happiest...supposedly. supposebly. I have lived in Portland 4 months and have had three jobs, three roadtrips and three visitors. I hope, that it is true, like Michele said, that there is a benevolent force guiding the universe. The sunset from my 22nd floor window is magnificent. The lights are coming on on all the downtown buildings and I am freed from the day, allowed to fall into the anonymous limbo of night.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


I saw this cartoon last night a lecture at Portland State University about Mel Blanc and his years in Portland, where he went to high school and began his radio career. The lecture was long and tedious at times, but full of incredibly interesting information about Mel, the early days of radio, and the immigrant community here in the 20's and 30's. They showed this cartoon (though Blanc was none of the voices) and I was amazed that I'd never seen it before, but the reason I posted it was because it was so profoundly delightful to me that I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. Being on a college campus in a historic building (the one Mr. Blanc went to high school in), listening to some radio-history nerd experts gush about their topic in a geeked-out crowd took me back to those heady college days of getting to see this kind of stuff every day in class. It was amazing taking radio-tv-film classes (though the great master Ozu was never mentioned!) and the older I get the more I realize what an incredible time those four years were.

I just got let go from my truck plant job. I had done it for 3 weeks and had hated every minute of it. It was so stupid and boring and I was trying to decide which day I was going to let them know it wasn't working for me when my dog got sick and I had to take him to the vet. I was in a probationary period where I couldn't miss any work for 45 days, so they fired me for taking that time off. The dog was very sick, and the job stunk, so it was a win/win situation. It was an intersting 3 weeks though: I was really trying to wrap my head around the idea of what it would be like to stay there the 4 years I'd have to stay to get the full teamster salary, and no matter how many different ways I tried to convince myself that I should do it deep down I knew I just couldn't. I felt like my happy time in Portland was Over - the men around me seemed institutionalized and suffered from very limited thinking. I had left my dock-worker job, which seemed overwhelming and dangerous, to do this material handler job which was mind numbing and crippling to my body. I stood in one spot all day and couldn't walk after work. My knees were killing me.  I couldn't get used to the schedule of having to go to bed by 9:00pm to get up at 4:30 - it just felt so wrong....I know this from the past: it is very hard to stay at a job when I don't really need a job...especially one that I don't get anything out of. I also know what's it like to not be able to quit working because I can't. I've just been pretty fortunate this past decade. I'm trying to decide whether I'm retired or's starting to sound like a good idea, except for the fact that I have no health insurance. I really like hunting for jobs and interviewing for jobs, and being called and told I have the job...but actually doing the job, not so much (exception: Antarctica).

Apologies for the boring missive...I didn't even go into the complicated dealings between the two teamster unions for the two different jobs (short story: spent a lot of money, only got the t-shirt). I have two alternate contracts in my back pocket for the Ice, just because I'm not ready to close the door on it for this upcoming season. As for the title of this post, only one person knows what it refers to. I'm getting better at McBridin', and hopefully someday will be able to do it with perfection - muah! I wanna singa!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Whose Your City?

I've been in Portland now for about six weeks and it has been an incredibly satisfying time. I just assumed there would be various mini-traumas of adjusting to life in a brand new city but it just feels like I'm finally home - home to that part of me that craved and Irish climate. I will always be a Texan at heart but Portland has shone like a bright star in every way. The climate has been a dream: usually about 30-40 degrees colder than Austin, cloudy most of the time, and just downright cold here in late May. I've never loved living anywhere as much as I do this tiny luxurious studio on the 22nd floor. I could be a weatherman up here as I see the storms rolling in from the coast followed by the bright patch followed by the storm..etc...and there could be no exaggeration of how the weather here has positively affected my mood. It is if I gave my soul the cold it needed so my self could start thriving again.

Living downtown is great in ways I'm sure the reader understands, and I've had fun applying for jobs and going on interviews. I came to Portland armed with three "facts" that people told me that I have found to be UNtrue: it is impossible to find a job here, people are unfriendly, and there is no diversity. All of these things have not been true for me AT ALL. I am seem to have a desirable skillset for the timing of the expanding of industrial jobs. People here are extremely friendly...a quiet sort of friendly. Not boisterous friendly like Texans on a DFW-HOU Southwest Airlines flight (those are usually a hootenanny), or practical and helpful like New Yorkers. But everyone I have met here is gracious & accomodting. Surprisingly, the teamsters I work with are the most helpful of the bunch. When I first started my dock job unloading truck trailers I was the only girl on the dock and saw a bunch of blank faces zipping around in the forklifts. This dock is a giant slab on slick concrete with dozens of lifts buzzing around at full speed in total chaos. It can be a very dangerous environment and we blaze in and out of the trailers at ridiculous speeds. We are supposed to do a certain number of bills per hour so we are all sort of racing to see who can do the most trailers on their shift. I am ridiculously slow - but I don't make mistakes or break stuff so they haven't given me the boot yet. I started out needing to ask questions about everything so I asked whatever crusty old teamster was nearest me and no matter how sour-pussed they seemed,  once they realized how grateful I was for their help, then every time we passed each other on our lifts there would be a wave or a smile. I was shocked. During training I was worried we "casuals" would be resented as taking away some of their shifts, but they were all in our position in the begining of their career, and I know how good it feels to show someboday how much you know. Unlike the traverse that I just did in Antarctica (where my teammates wanted to see me go down!), these guys are helping me to succeed. It has been astonishing to be a part of this brotherhood. I've only worked 4 shifts and sometimes it just seems like the job is too macho and dangerous and confusing, and then a couple of 20 year veterans will take time out of their tasking to really help me in a really committed and focussed way. And they are NOT flirting with me. At first I thought there is no way I can do this full time...but I see it is doable. And right when I started thinking I could do this full time I got a call to say I was hired for another teamster job at a different company. So now I have two jobs, and I'll see which one I like better at one is full time and the other I can do on the occasional evening.

I've been doing volunteer work with the homeless with my boyfriend and we are having a great time. I met him in Antarctica and he was the icing on the cake of me moving to Portland. He has been my rock of support since I've been here. I found this city so confusing when I got here...I don't know why but I never knew were NE or SE was and my usual sense of direction had abandoned me. My dependency on my tomtom and Ipad for driving almost needed a 12 step program...but I've weaned off trying to look at both when I drive and just aim towards the tall buildings and know I will get home somehow. I mean, for 25 years of my life I've been driving with a paper map. Now I wonder how I ever got anywhere without these amazing devices.

As for diversity, I don't know if the people who kept telling me it was "too white" here for them to live here were basing that on data they read or on personal observations, but I know more black folks here than I ever did in Austin. My building is very diverse, as is my workplace. I haven't seem many women dock workers but there are a lot of black and brown ones.

My new job, which starts next week, will have a start time of 6:00 am, so I'll get to miss rush hour. I'm ready for full time work, and the chance to go "on the board" and get that big union paycheck. My boyfriend recently commented "it's amazing that you are having such a good time here..." and I realized he was right. No homesickness of Austin (I actually feel relieved to not be living there anymore - I could never say the word "Austin" without the word "hate" in the same sentence!), no second thoughts, no feeling of the other shoe dropping or thinking I was just running away from something. I feel like I've come home. That I live in paradise. That I've found my city.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Visual Journey of Austin-Portland Road Trip

in Llano, a hour outside Austin

Daniel having some Texas BBQ! The best!

Fergus digging the drive from atop the loaded backseat

around Moab

I was doing some scrambling and Fergus decided to follow me

sliding down the rock

our route was almost all scenic byways

all day snowstorm driving day in Utah/Idaho

no wonder people ski here, the snow is amazing

all of Oregon was beautiful


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Room With a View

my new home

view from my couch

water everywhere!

ouch, it does get sunny here

on a clear day you can see Mt. St. Helen's

Friday, March 25, 2011


Soon I will be living on the 22nd floor of this groovy building in downtown Portland Oregon. I am finally extricating myself from Austin in summertime! I went directly to Portland from New Zealand and it was in the 40's and raining the whole week-perfect! I also was curious about hi-rise living and a brand new building was super appealing and it all felt just right. The people were nice, the mass transit was easy and the whole place felt laid back. I've also gotten call backs on a few jobs I applied for so I think my 50's are starting out right, with one more major life goal underway (moving someplace not hot).

I am not planning on going back to the Ice next fall as my little dog is very old and it's time for me to spend more time with him. I would love to see an actual winter again, but I would be fibbing if I said I won't miss going back to the Ice. My seven trips to Antarctica have been the greatest time in my life. And I will go back - just not sure when.

When I cleaned out my storage unit I couldn't believe how many paintings I had. I knew I had painted for almost 20 years, but I had no idea I had one hundred paintings. I planned on selling them all for super cheap at a garage sale and hoping I'd be okay with that - but no one came to the garage sale (it started at noon) and by 1:00pm I was totally bored and wanted to leave and do SXSW stuff. I looked around me at all those piles of canvases and remembered all the trips from the unit to my car to my friends house and I saw them just as piles of stuff I'd have to move I had the bright idea that I would give all the art away! I called a few friends and they went over and filled their trunks with art, and one week later there were about 6 canvases left so I went and got them to take to Goodwill. I chucked a few treasured ones at a friends house so I have a few left. And of course there is the series I painted in '95 that I love and all those are hanging in a friend's home, lovingly appreciated. I feel like whether I sold them or gave them away is really no different. They just belong to someone else now. And I didn't need the money from them anyway. I felt this immense sense of freedom and lightness from getting rid of all those paintings. I just didn't need them anymore. Now instead of living in a dark closet for years, they are spread out at friends and strangers houses all over town. That makes me happy. My ego was never that invested in being an artist. Painting the paintings was the best part of the deal - having art shows and fans and selling them was just added blessings but I never hung out with other artists or really felt like one one myslef. But I think the another reason it was easy to give it all away was because I was much prouder of myself for making a career in Antarctica than in painting all those paintings. Doing the art was fun and easy and something to do, but getting to the Ice and getting to go for seven seasons has been my greatest joy - far outshadowing the painting. And getting to operate equipment has shown me that work can be really fun. So I ended up with one small sack of goodies from a packed storage unit. It is euphoric getting rid of stuff. Now I get to go buy brand new modern stuff for my deluxe apartment in the (dark and cloudy) sky. I start driving to Portland on April 6th. But first, a ski trip in Taos. Life is good!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Visual Journey of the PIG Traverse

This is not a good forklift: one of our 3 traverse tractors

Until I got my 297C I had to load the sleds with this

my trailer coming together - we slept in those red "wagons"

This was the easy part

my sleds and krell tool

our biggest problem day: build a groomer in the field after it fell off the sled

tightening up the straps on my 3K fuel bladders. this is how we fueled our tractors in the field

lots of flat white desert

6 miles an hour for 8 days

parking at night, head into the wind (though there never was any on the trip out)

inside our PIG Polar Haven

after 5 days of storm, racing out to work at PIG camp

spent most of our time in camp digging stuff out. we got BURIED!

the one day where we were not in Con 2

there was a surreal beauty at camp

on the return trip our load was much lighter

Simon switched out with me on the second run. I stayed at Byrd as the Equip. Operator

Friday, February 04, 2011

Some Notes from Season Seven


That's what it felt like. On the hundreds of flights I've been on in my life, none felt sweeter than flying into Mactown from Byrd camp after the traverse to Pine Island Glacier (followed by a month of working at Byrd camp). After completing the first round trip run of the traverse, I remained at Byrd as an operator, while a British mountaineer drove my tractor back to PIG for the second run. It was a win-win situation: he wanted to drive instead of ride out to the Glacier, and I was grateful for something different to close out my season with. But that last month moved glacially show. Each day at Byrd seemed unending and I was chomping at the bit to get back to McM. It wasn't busy enough and there was nothing to do after work and no place to go. My tent was too cold to hang out in so I just sat in the galley until it was time to go to bed. The people there were kindly and good to me, which was  a welcome relief after being on the traverse with boys who thought I was incompetent, but field camp life is just not exciting enough for me. It would be fun for a week or too, as a break from Mactown, but for as long as I was there there's just not enough going on.

People keep asking me how the traverse was and I keep trying to come up with a simple answer. I don't really have one. I can say I'm glad I went but glad it's over. It was grueling. Not one minute of it was "fun." We worked usually 16 hours a day. There was animosity felt towards me that was not disguised, and I was alone in my little world of just keeping myself together while trying to be a stalwart and helpful part of this team that did not want me on it. It was a strange position to be in. I had to work alongside guys who were griping about me all the time. My heart was not in it, and I'd been given an opportunity to get off the traverse before it started (but not go back to my really fun job in mactown), but I felt like no matter how rotten it could get, I may never get this opportunity again and it was just two months of my life and how bad could it be. I tend to like to put  myself in situations to see if I can handle them. I guess this has its good and bad aspects, but doing what's easiest and most comfortable is not the option I usually go for. Doing something for bragging rights is. The driving days were a mixture of boredom, apprehension about cargo falling off the sleds, and the incredibly awkward mealtimes with the 5 of us crammed into to equivalent of a 4 person tent. I awoke each morning bracing myself for the day and hoping for the best: that I would drive all day and not have someone gripe at me about how fast or slow I was driving, that fueling would go smoothly without my part in it being criticized every time, and that mealtimes would not last long. I started eating quickly and then sitting outside or in my tractor talking on the phone. The boys had gotten into a routine of bullying me and I was getting sick of it. I was doing my job well but they needed a scapegoat for whatever insecurities they were going through so I used this situation I was in to practice "not taking things personally." It's one of those concepts that sounds really good but is really hard to implement while something is telling you "you should not have come on this traverse!" Gloriously, I found I could read in my tractor while it was moving! Because there was no escape from the sniping, I had to deal with my reactions to it. I found that it helped immensely, but in general I was just counting the days that this ordeal would be over. The problem was, "the boys" ,as I call them, wanted some old school operator on the traverse an they got me. They thought I wasn't experienced enough and perhaps they were right: I was a first year operator performing a heavy equipment operator job, which requires 6 years experience.  I had to fake confidence in everything I was doing, and I couldn't disappear like I wanted to so I was just (ironically for being in the middle of nowhere) utterly self conscious and  sometimes fumbling. I can only remember being like this a few other times and it was when I was under extreme stress from being around someone who made it clear they thought I was incompetent. Even as I am writing this I am aware that this is not the face I wanted to show of the independent woman who went on an Antarctic traverse, that the reader is probably wanting to hear about the rolling dunes of snow that sparkled for eternity, the absolutely surreal feeling of knowing that we were the first humans to traverse this path, or the scientific urgency of why PIG is a big focus of interest in Antarctic research. The science facts can be googled, but what it's like to be on a traverse is the only thing I can write about. I read Jonathan Franzen's new novel while I was "driving" and that was one of the highlights of the traverse for me. I talked to people on the phone in my tractor sometimes for hours at a time. Pulling into field camps was fun as they all were wowed by us and we got to take showers and get away from the grueling reality of our lives together for a day or so. One guy on the team said after the first long driving day: this is like a prison sentence. I felt the same way. After 8 days of driving we arrived at PIG. It looked like the previous 350 miles of terrain: flat and white. At no time on the traverse was I cold. If anything we got overhead in our cabs, and in the heated cataraft tents at night. We spent 11 days at PIG setting up camp. It was kind of nice to be parked somewhere for a while, and made so much better by the arrival of 3 Mactown friends to help set up camp. I was avoiding contact with the other pigs as much as possible, only dealing with them in a stony professional manner which was how I was coping with our messed up team. I was really looking forward to our trip back as I knew that the break-up of the boys (two of the three were staying at camp while 3 us of drove back) would end the lord-of-the-flies-esque milieu of the traverse. After 5 days of storm, and 5 days of working our asses off, we were ready to drive again, but not before I was to have my one & only screaming fight with one of the pigs. Unfortunately, it was with one that was driving back with me. I don't like fighting or yelling and it has always scared me, but this was provoked, necessary, and primal. I was shaking and hoarse at the end of it, ready to quit, ran to the other side of camp to work with the carps. Didn't think I could ever be around this person again, but the next day we sheepishly drove off in an oddly communal silence. I was relieved  that the world didn't end after the million curse worded screaming match we'd been in, but it had battered what was left of my propped up fake team-player persona. By never telling these guys to f---off, I just blew up in rage. Not pretty but it kind of softened us up and mellowed us out for the trip back. The return had some dramatic sled problems in the first days, but the remainder of the trip was dead silent and free from tension. No radio chatter and three little pigs in their own worlds in their tractors spaced far enough away for privacy. I knew I was going back to Byrd to close out my season so I was happier - not as happy as if I'd been going to Mactown, but that was a ways off still. When we finally pulled into Byrd I saw one of my oldest and dearest friends from the Ice in camp to greet me and I had a great first week there. I had DONE the traverse. I survived it. I actually did a good job for never having done any of this stuff before. And now that it's been a few weeks since it's been done, it seems like the whole trip was done in just a blink of the eye. Snap, and it's over. The only hardship was mental, and I got through it.

The first 24 hours in McMurdo were glorious. I was home. But as I discovered with my South Pole Traverser friend, your are only a celebrity for about 15 minutes...then you just wander highway one, drinking coffee and visiting your previous work center, which seemed underwhelmed by my presence and epic journey.

I had three different jobs in one season!  I got to be in Fleet Ops, go to three field camps and do a traverse, which was everything I ever wanted to do, and even though it was challenging, I am extremely grateful for the chance to do it. Duty fork was challenging in a good and fun way, the Traverse was challenging in a painful way, and Byrd camp was challenging in a fear of being swallowed up by boredom way. My relationship with the Ice is starting to feel like a marriage - I'm stuck and committed...hating and loving her at the same time, slavishly loyal but can't wait to get away each February. And now I'm sitting in New Zealand, missing her. Typical.