Well, I eagerly read all my e-mails and just as I was getting ready to send out another update I was kindly interupted and offered a chocalate by a stranger. This week just keeps getting better and better, that is my whole message for right now. Everything is just such a blast. Hey, do any of you think that I might be a tad bi-polar? I was wondering about that tonight as I gleefully scrubbed down the pot room.
I’ve got my music, I’ve got my new room in Building 207 like I wanted (haven’t seen it yet), the package that I mailed to myself is waiting for me, all the winter DAs are here and are awesome, and I think I am going to get my way on everything. I have been assured all Saturdays off, I get to have pm shift all winter, I get to volanteer at the library and I get to do pinsetting! Next week we’ll actually be starting our GA jobs (General Assisatant). Oh, and today I also found out that there is so much fruit that it will rot before it is eaten so we have actually been encouraged to make all the smoothies we can! Awesome.
Sunday was such a hilarious day. The last of the winter DAs had arrived including our lead DA, on Saturday, all the summer DAs were off getting ready to fly out (ie. getting drunk) and it was all of the other boss’s day off. So, that left Troy, Mandi, and me to teach all the new people. We are the same 3 that arrived the same time. Sunday was my 5th day of working in Antarctica. I got to train DAs all day. It was great,we kept talking about our seniority. All they had been told was what time to show up. They had been flying across the world, across time lines and the date line with only one night in New Zealand. It was just crazy. The best part was an hour long meeting that we were all scheduled to have with our lead, Simone. She found out about it by reading about it on our schedule. See, everything is all high tech and computers. Every day there is 2 pieces of paper taped to the dish room wall, it’s a spreadsheet that spells out the entire day, hour by about hour. We have to write this all down in our green brain. I should explain that our green brain is a hardy little pocket book. I guess everyone on base is issued one and they are priceless. I am seeing people pull them out when they are in the bars. Hey, there are 200 or so people here and there are 2 bars, Gallaghers and Southern.
Anyways, Troy, Mandi, and I celebrated surviving our first week of work and we had a little house warming for Mandi as she recieved her winter room assignment and moved in immediately. I have no room mate any more. Then there was Monday when the last flight was canceled and then there was Tuesday when Last Flight really did take off.
Last Flight is probably the highlight of the week. All work stopped on base. Everyone went to the chalet were a semi-circle of country flags are raised around a bust of some famous guy. Everyone was handed a glass of champagne and then we were ushered outside (around the flags) for “7” minutes which was really at least half an hour. The winter weather had showed up as well. It was FREEZING. Our champagne glasses iced up, the champagne in the narrow stems froze. It was cold. And it was a white out. There was a sea of red parkas standing in snow drifts on a very expansive deck. Like any cook-out deck – except for all the flags. This deck looks over the Ross Ice shelf and there are mountaints behind that.
The C-17 was going to fly right across our horizon. The take-off was finally announced over radio, people within ear shot cheered and then we watched for our last touch with civilization to leave. At first you could only hear the plane and I was afraid our last glimpse would only be a noise but then a grey shape emerged from the clouds, The C-17 tilted her wings and then began a slow curve away. The experienced people were at first pretty unimpressed with the slight tilt and said so but the arc grew, the tilt grew and we realized that the pilot was actually making a circle so as to come flying right over us and he DID. Right over the top of these crazy workers who hadn’t left when they had had the chance. I was able to get quite a few pictures before my camera froze up, it’s ok, everyone had a digital camera. They did the fly-over, went around Observation Hill then came out of the clouds and buzzed the chalet again. It was just awesome.
I was standing at the railing, in the full wind, in pain from the cold, all I had to focus on was the oncoming plane and the ice in front of me. That was my moment of panic as I realized that the plane was going to New Zealand and that there would be no more until August. I was actually trapped. “We are really wintering over,” Mandi said. That didn’t help. It’s only when I turned around and saw the sea of parkas that I was reminded that I wasn’t alone. All these people are here as well. A lot of them came back for this. Once the plane was out of sight and everyone was done howling and cheering someone made one last toast,”To telling the truth on our psych evals!” Here, here.
Things have just been random. Tonight I was left a bunch of Antarctica postcards and stamps. I don’t know by who. Mike gave Troy, Mandi, and I a bottle of Tequilla to share. Troy took care of that before we even got off work. So much for that but it was a generous offer. Probably one of the sweetest things was to come home after a full day of work and find that my load of uniforms that I had left in the dryer had all been neatly folded.
I am hoping to take a huge advantage of all the skills people have to offer this winter. Emiily knows computers, she’s going to help me send out pictures to you guys, Simone is fluent in Spanish and is a wonderful and patient teacher. She’s giving me a crash course in “street Spanish”. Jana’s (pronounced Yana) first language is German so we were in Deutsch dialogue oneday as we wiped tables. I’m hoping I can remember to talk to her in German at all times. I’m still working on what sort of workout schedule I want Troy to make up for me. Did I mention that he was a personal trainer? Mandi had so much fun picking on him. When Simone had her meeting with us, you know, the one that she didn’t know about, we had to do the usual and introduce ourselves and tell about our work experience. When it came to Troy’s turn to share he casually told of his experiance managing bars. “What kind of bars?” Mandi innocently asked. She had recently found out that it was stripclubs that he had previosly managed and she didn’t let up until everyone got to hear about it.
Speaking of bars, the baker is evil. I think everyone agrees. Everyday is a new wonderful irresistable dessert and not just one but many varieties to try. Everyone has the same message for her. Make something bad! Today was a variety of cookies and “extra” fudge brownies. You work around that all day. How do you resist? Seriously, any suggestions? Other suggestions I am looking for: Hand treatments. My knuckles are already red and scaly and this is only the beginning. I am hoping the store has vaseline, Simone and others have suggested wearing that under gloves at night. The problem here is availability (hey, another chocalate! Score). Anyone know any kitchen remedies? I have full access to that. I also plan on taking advantage of the kitchen access. I am planning weekly olive oil and weekly mayo wraps for my hair. Nice. Hey, don’t think I am only taking and not offering any services of my own, I just learned today that people who had offered $50 and $60 massages were fully booked all season. That Thai Massage might be paying off again. Heh, heh.
Party plans are already under way. There’s a ladies’ get-together on Sunday, an “all hands” meeting on Friday, and Troy is talking of his own risque theme party. I don’t want to really say what it is because of some of the more delicate readers out there so I will just say it’s called something like, “Pimps and their lady friends.” So far the sun is still up past 11:00 pm but it’s snowing more and the wind has been blowing pretty steady. Kimmy was getting after me for not talking about the weather. It’s Antarctica, what sort of weather are you expecting? I think on Tues, the day of the flight, the high was 10 and the low was minus 4 but whatever the windchill was had to bring it down at least 20 degrees. We were all frozen. Did I say that before? Well, we were. Definately frozen.
All right, last thing I can think of, I had to tell you about Simone, mostly for my mom’s benefit. Some of you don’t know my Mom but she’s 4′ 11 and one half inches tall. That’s 60 inches, Simone’s inseam is 40 inches. Oh that’s funny! I just did the math on that now. I wish you were here, Mom. Simone is already claiming to be the tallest woman to ever visit Antarctica. I hope she’s right. We’ll check it out. She’s the only one that was allowed to wear her own work pants. She had planned on this, the provided uniforms didn’t even qualify as capris. Tell you what, there is a Thai lady here, if she’s close to my mom’s height I will try to get a picture of them together. I also plan on taking advantage of Simone’s height. Most of the sinks and what-not for the hard labor tasks are way too low for Simone. In the pot room the bottom of the sinks are mid-calf on her. As for me, I love working the pot room and Simone is happy to trade to save her back. Win-win for both of us. Today was also Ego Boost for Me Day. Two of the new DAs were thouroughly impressed with the way that I loaded Bertha, the dishwasher, with my lightening quick speed. Yep, that comes with the 5 days of experiance. The pot washer is called Slim, by the way.
Oh, and I already found theme songs for this trip. For the DA job the dish room and pot room was easy, that’s “Little Room” by the White Stripes: “When you’re in a little room and you’re working on something good, but if it’s really good you might need a bigger room,” accompanyed by pot and pan banging percussion. Of Montreal has a song called, “Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games” which makes no sense but the chorus is: “Let’s pretend we’re in Antarctica, Let’s pretend we don’t exist.” How cool is that? Jason (New DA) says he has 3500 songs on his computer. Hey! I think my music library might be expanding soon! All right, I really need to stop talking. I will try to find time to e-mail everyone that wrote. It’s so nice to keep in touch. That’s another event this week, the system went down. I saved the e-mails from that, here’s one:
This is an email to update you on the status of the network outage we are esperiencing. ALL off-continent IP services are affected during this unscheduled outage including off-continent phone calls, ATM, Internet, and E-mail. . .We will inform you once services are restored.
I think that covers pretty much every way to reach the outside world. I wonder how long that service could stay down. It was out for maybe 2 days. I think it was part of the reason Last Flight was delayed. Well, I’ll talk to you later. You know where I’ll be.