Mid Winter has finally come and gone. I can’t believe remembering how this seemed like such a long way away. In a way it seems like I have been down here for a long time but I still feel like I don’t get it, that I am still learning the routine and the way of things. Actually, Mandi and I were discussing this this morning. We were remembering back to crazy pranks we had heard other people play. I told her how I had wondered what sort of crazy place this was as I listened about popcorn and various lewd messages taped to doors. This was during the same conversation in which Mandi and I were talking about needing to go return to Skua for another supply of underwear. We suddenly realized that we were instigating pranks we had previously been disturbed by.
Mid-Winter Dinner seems to me to be a whole lot of work and preparation. I wonder how it affects the rest of the community. I know they come and take part but the meal planning is going on for weeks. One thing that the cooks and baker have to put into consideration is how the food is stored. The warehouse is so haphazardly packed that food ordering is a hit and miss procedure. If you run out you put in an order and hope they can’t find it or if it’s buried amongst the pallets you just don’t get it. Christina said that she had been ordering things specifically for Mid-Winter 8 weeks ago and some items still hadn’t arrived. Right now half the condiments are buried. We are on the last bottle of A1, Mustard, Dijon Mustard and we haven’t had Tabasco for about 3 weeks. Ben finally found some Tobasco last week but it was in gallon jugs. Luckily, some Tobasco enthusiasts scrounged up one regular serving bottle.
The cooks worked like crazy for the meal and Christina (the baker) was at it as well. The fun part about the desserts was that part of our week is in the bakery helping Christina. She let people make their own contributions. She and Mandi brewed up some liqueors and used them to make amazing truffles, Simone made a cheese cake, Emily a flourless chocalate cake, Karen made something and I got to do my decorating.
The dining hall was completely redone by the Mid-Winter committee. Absolutely beautiful. There were lights, plastic plants, hanging stars, linens, floating tea candles and it was just so elegant and so beautiful it immediately made me home sick. I still don’t have a complete grasp on all that is absent down here but when I saw the transformation I realized that formality is definately not usually here. I’m not very comfortable in formal situations but any form of elegance is completely non-existant here. Not even the ambiance of a nice restaurant, or nice things. There’s no knick-nacks or beauty to admire, natural or manufactured. I didn’t even realize it till I saw it. I thought of weddings, dances, church, dates, a night out, and I missed home. It also made me feel giddy because for one night I was going to have all those things.
The meal was fantastic, stuffed this and that. Lobster, beef tenderloin, avocado stuffed crepes but the best was the salad. We had CUCUMBERS and TOMATOS. I heaped up my plate twice, I could have had a third helping. All that other stuff can be reheated just fine but salad. . . mmmmm. It’s what everyone raved about as well.
At first I thought I would feel guilty for having my day off fall on the Mid-Winter meal. I would see all my fellow DAs hard at work while everyone else had a blast. I stopped in during set-up just before the Galley staff was about to break open a bottle of wine. I guess I didn’t need to worry. The girls were given a long break to go change into something nicer and before long volanteers were being rotated in and out on half hour shifts. It was great to see people washing dishes with a glass of wine. Most of the work had been done the previous day, another day that I am not a DA. I guess on Friday there were so many pots they didn’t get out till nearly 9:00. Ouch. Part way through the meal some speeches were given and the Galley staff was brought out and cheered for. We all gave them a long standing ovation. Mandi was in the middle of the group being honored and she ate up the spotlight nodding graciously, sweeping arm gestures. I thought it quite humorous since she had previously plotted how to drink that night without detection. I was wondering about her earlier meal in the dish room. Actually, the DAs had others bring them wine since the Station Manager.
Besides great food, great swing music and everyone in a happy mood, I had a regular flow of ego boosting going on. Everyone loved the backdrop. It really did make the mood of the place, they put a blue light on it so it glowed and everyone used it for a prom picture. I had really hated it as I worked on it in the paint barn but when I was able to finally hang it and see my problems I was able to fix it rather quickly. It’s not a masterpiece or anything, it’s all right but it’s the size of it that overwhelms the flaws. Nifty.
I’ve put up a couple pictures of people. There’s a group of couples, I don’t know the history of most of them, just Alia and Sam on the far right. Alia is my “sister” Alia Sorensen. She wrote Southern Exposure about her time on the Ice last year. Sam and her are an example of couples that have met up since getting down here.
Do you remember me talking about the McMurdo Most Eligable bachelor and bachelorette contest? I think I told you who the winners were, Jana and Sky, well, with “prom pictures” going on it was the perfect opportunity to get the offical pic of the lucky couple. They coordinated so well together it was pretty humorous. Interesting to realize that they both took Kung Fu for umpteen years.
I was surprised how quickly they kicked us out of the Galley. There was barely time to dance. I suppose the dancing was the biggest let down. A very minor letdown, the music was great swing dance but I didn’t find anyone that actually knew how to swing dance. That and I didn’t really feel like hunting down a dance partner, I think that sort of kills the mood. I did ask Chad to dance, him and I had done a dizzying endless swing move at a Hut 10 party one night but it turns out that he’s more of a country two-step. Oh well, the natural place to continue the party was Southern. Then a shout about auroras had everyone scattering. I was all giddy and jumpy, I reverted to my solo travel days and immediately lost track of all my friends. I was down behind the dorms in a few minutes with groups of other parkas staring up into the sky at a green cloud. I guess the town lights take away from the effect, I was not impresed. Sure, I saw green in the sky but it was just a blob. I found Jana out there then I left her so she could gaze a bit more. I just wanted to be every where and see what everyone was doing. I came back into the Galley to find it empty except for a table of seasoned folks chatting away about their highschool sweet-hearts and all that. It was such a peaceful and homey way to end the evening.
Then a girl in a helmet came charging into the Galley and slung a leg over a rail. Behind her soon followed Jana and Jason who were hunting me down. It was time to move on to the party. In the end Jana tried once again to get left behind like I had left her under the auroras. This time we didn’t take no for an answer. Jason tackled her and slung her over his shoulder and I followed the two down the hall, out of 155, down the stairs and to Southern. Of course I got plenty of pictures. I hope I can find them.
Southern was absolutely packed and it was like a New Year’s party.
Everyone was greeting each other, laughing and talking, sometimes there was money on the bar, sometimes I was writing messages on erasure board for photos greetings to send back home. The bartender was swamped, all my friends were there. It was just a blast and then the hours wore on, people dwindled, the hard core partiers stayed on and then in the background I heard wild cheering that wouldn’t stop. Usually some wrestling match occurs or maybe a drinking challenge but the moment passes. This time there was something that was really gaining attention, when my curiousity finally got the better of me I went and found a table surrounded by spectators viewing girls arm wrestling. I had found my evening’s purpose. I glided over, hovering closer and closer silently begging to be included so that I could pummel some arms. I was trying to appear innocent and not too eager and they fell for it. In another moment I was arm wrestling the winner of three matches. I was just so excited to be testing my strength I was finally going to see how strong I was “for a girl”. Alissa’s arm was down so fast she wanted an immediate rematch and it just went on from there. I really wish I could remember how many matches there were, someone said I wrestled 6 but since then I’ve recalled. . .7 and feel like I’m forgetting some. I finally lost to Melissa the fire fighter but it was just so crazy everyone was cheering me on, every time there was immediately a new challenger and I would beat them. For the most part it was no contest Susan and Tonya were a challenge. Susan was very hard to beat and I
really didn’t want to lose to her. She’s so skinny! How can someone so skinny beat me? Anyways, I had the time of my life. After that my arms were spent, I had also wrestled some left handed matches but I lost every single time which is very odd. Melissa bought me a drink for losing, she insisted the whole thing was unfair since I had been at it for awhile. We said we’d work out together and have a rematch. I also missed out on Jacinda. Her and Melissa wrestled later and it was a tough match but Jacinda is tall, thin and a mountain climber. I think maybe I can beat Melissa but Jacinda has the leverage and the muscle. I think it would be a sad match.
Well, after all that drama I was nowhere near going to bed. The bar closed down, we went to 155 smoking lounge then other people came in and the party continued in Dan’s room. Dan has an electric fireplace and an electric grill that he’s famous for making quesadillas on. There was some ice spitting, someone was reading Calvin and Hobbs and Chris talked in metaphors using traffic jams for visualization. By the time I crawled into bed I didn’t bother finding mine and I crashed in Mandi’s room, which always open for the weary wonderer. Happy Mid-Winter all.