It’s Coming Back, Right?…RIGHT?!?

June 22, 2010 at 2:22 am (What I Do)

Temps: -29 C / -20 F
WC: same
Winds: up to 6 kts
Pole: – 64 C / -83 F

Winter Solstice (for we, the Southern Hemisphere folk) has come and gone. The sun has gotten as far away from us as it’s going to get, and we’ve been marginally assured that it has started its lengthy journey back. It will officially reappear for real-real for about 2 minutes on July 29th, as a belated birthday present to me and Brooks one who shall remain nameless.

In keeping with Antarctic winter-over tradition, started by the likes of Shackleton, Scott and the dogs they consumed kept as pets, we had a feast fit for the Ice Princes and Doctor-Princesses that we are. Food and decoration planning has been going on since approximately 1989, and no tiny cherry tomato from the Greenhouse was spared…Because we ate the shit out of every last one of them.

Not to mention all that pate de fois gras.

Suck it, PETA. That shit was delicious.

Invitations were printed and sent out to the twenty-odd other stations, all over the continent. Click on it. You can see my little name! And all my wintertime friends’ names! See, mom, proof!

The Galley was decorated…

There were fancy dresses and ties. There were photos. It was basically Prom, but the wine came from actual bottles and the lodgings were rather more questionable. Photos courtesy of DJ and Karen, Keri Nelson, Cedar Reimer and, of course, the I:Drive.

Me and Brooks. It kind of looks like we’re excited about our impending doom bundle of joy.

That is because we are.

Prom King and Queen, Bethany and Carl. They’re even hotter in Real Life. And, if they weren’t so nice, we’d probably hate them, just like we hated the Real Prom King and Queen.

My date is about to leave me (and our unborn child) for another man. Also just like at Real Prom.

The Kool Cats. Keri, Brooks, Matt, Quinn, Jay, Nathan, DJ, Susan, Genevieve, Tad, Me, Karen, Megan, K-Dub, and Ulsh. Rrrrawr.

Cesar, Brooks, Me and Cedar…doin’ it up right.

Holy shit, they just opened up the buffet line…Beef Wellington, Oven Roasted Cornish Game Hen, and Crab Stuffed Lobster Tail…

Risotto Croquette, Parmesan Potato Bake, and Grilled Marinated Asparagus…

The dessert section of the galley. Who needs seven virgins? This is heaven.

Six kinds of truffles. I am not even kidding you.

Ice cream. Three flavors. Chocolate, butter pecan and a sorbet that would make your grandmama cry. Not kidding you here, either.

Too. Much. Truffle. Booze.

The next day, to sober up, we all did the Naked Antarctic Polar Plunge. Those stories and pictures to come.

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Sumi Masen, Antarctica

May 4, 2010 at 9:53 pm (What I Do)

Temp: -18 C / 0 F
WC: -26 C / -15 F
Winds: 7 kts / 8mph
Pole: -53 C / -63 F

Where I come from, people do not eat raw fish. Which is understandable, given that Oklahoma’s nearest water source is approximately one million miles away. There is now a popular “sushi” restaurant that all the kids go to, but I don’t trust it. Happily, when I got to Chicago, I was introduced to the delicious mouth-gasm that is sushi, and now I eat it at least weekly to stay sane and, hopefully, mercury-poisoning free.

Here in Ice Town, we don’t get raw fish either, though we’re surrounded by perfect oceanic species, just ripe for eating. When we find ourselves scratching our eyeballs out for want of a Sloppy Maki Roll, we simply have to make do. Happily, I have become quite adept at the fine Antarctic tradition of hoarding. No, not whoring. Hoarding. My friend Tree, a summertime firefighter, left me with all kinds of sushi-rolling knowledge and supplies, supplemented by a delightful Japanese shop I found in Cheech. So, a couple of weeks ago, some friends and I got together at Hut 10 to make use of my stash of cream cheese, smoked salmon, tuna, shrimp, lobster tail (seriously!), canned veggies, ginger, and wasabi. I borrowed a terrifyingly sharp knife from the fine folks at the Galley, and we got busy steaming rice, rolling, and cutting.

Brooks, Megan, Cedar and Keri above. Me, Brad and Cedar below.

The best part? The two beautiful, perfect avocadoes I’d had in my refridgerator since the days of New Zealand R&R. Didn’t know an avocado could last so long? It doesn’t, in the real world. But, Antarctica is a little bit like Jesus and the fish. If you will it to happen, and promise to share, the spoils last longer here before they…um…spoil.

Basically, we went apeshit and, between the 7 of us, we had 23 rolls. Plus some edamame I’d pilfered and frozen. By roll 19, we were getting creative and making Surf ‘n’ Turf and Philly Cheesesteak rolls, just for the fact.

Corrine ate up all my cheese (not a euphemism).

The spread. Absolutely not surrounded by candles. Because that would be illegal.

Brad, Corrine, Brooks, Me, Megan, Cedar and Keri, getting our chopstick on.

Dessert brought over from the Galley, which tasted better than it looked and was dubbed “African-American Balls,” because, here in Antarctica, we are well-fed and politically correct.

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Tomfoolery at the Bottom of the World

April 11, 2010 at 4:39 pm (What I Do)

Temp: -14C / +7F
WC: -28C / -18F
Winds: Gusting to 50 kts
Sunrise: 0930
Sunset: 1617
Pole: -70C / -94F

More footage of our Castle Rock hike, taken by myself and Mr. Brooks. Enjoy!

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Madam Librarian

April 1, 2010 at 11:22 pm (What I Do)

Temp: -23C / -9F
WC: same
Winds: calm
Sunrise: 0911
Sunset: 1840
Pole: -60C / -76F

On Saturday, I had my first Antarctic concert, karaoke notwithstanding. We had a Wine Tasting party in the Library, and it was packed to the gills with winterovers, delicious New Zealand wines and McMurdo cheeses. It was so delightful, I decided to sing about it with my friends Kirk and Nathan, utilizing many of the song suggestions you sent me.

The Spread, where I spent the majority of the evening. I’m never sure if I’m lactose intolerant, or whether it’s just because one is not actually supposed to eat two full pounds of cheese in one sitting.

The wonderful Michael Davis, who is also my Tuesday night Dexter-watching date.

Kirk started off playing some classical jazz. He’s pretty boss on the guitar and reintroduced me to John Prine and Angel From Montgomery, which we smoked.

Then, Nate joined me and we sang a little Neko and Sun Kil Moon.

Cedar and Brooks approved.

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She Doesn’t Need to Speak…

February 18, 2010 at 4:02 pm (What I Do)

Temps: -14 C / + 7 F
WC: -25 C / – 13 F
Winds: Gusts to 25 kts
Will the planes fly today and take all my Ice friends away?

Just before leaving Chicago, my lifelong dream of doing cartoon voices was realized when I, along with fellow House Company Members Jake, Burnham and Nate, were cast to do voice-overs for some new Hasbro G.I. Joe webisodes.

I do the voices of Scarlett and Helix, and the very first webisode was recently posted. Click Here to watch. It is awesome.

You’ll notice Scarlett doesn’t need to speak much in this one. I think the outfit says it all. Or, rather, it’s too tight and she can’t possibly expand her lungs enough to get any actual words out.

More will be coming soon…I’ll keep you updated.

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Dear Abby

February 5, 2010 at 7:47 am (What I Do)

Just landed at Hotel So in Christchurch, NZ. I’m afraid I have very mixed feelings about it all. I’m feeling very lonely for Sideways and OJ right about now. When I got to the CDC, they said the flight schedule had changed, and I can stay until the 14th, rather than the 12th, as planned. Or, I can choose to fly back on the 10th. Everyone I adore at McMurdo is leaving on the 19th and 20th, so there isn’t much more time to spend with them before the lonely, hard winter sets in.

If I leave on the 10th, I probably won’t get to see Buck, which would be a shame. He’s flying in on the 10th, so we probably wouldn’t cross paths. And of course that means less R&R for me. And all the people I want to see are working nights back in MacTown and I’m technically back on days.

These extra two days have thrown me for a loop, I’m afraid. What do you think? Should I stay or go back to Antarctica, where, apparently, I belong now? Should I just rent a car and explore more?

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Goal. Met.

January 23, 2010 at 9:57 am (What I Do)

Temp: – 7 C / + 19 F
WC: – 16 / + 3 F
Winds: 16 kts

At the start of the season, as you know, Brody talked me into training for a Half Marathon. Throughout the past few months, he and others have tried to pretend I was going to run the Full Marathon, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to remember one did not make any such promises. Even when, all throughout the days leading up to the race, I had this conversation about a million times:

Some Douche: Hey, you’re running the Marathon, right?
Me: Half!!! I’m running the half.
Some Douche (head cocked and looking as if they felt sorry for me): Ooooh. Just the half?
Me (in my mind): When this is all over, I will squeeze your head off with my thighs of steel.

The Race started at 11am, which meant I was running in the middle of my night, as were Sideways Meghan and OJ. Happily, the weather was pretty good. Overcast and about 25 F, but very little wind until the last couple of miles. A full week later, and my left hip is still not right. If it were getting better, I’d feel more positive and proud about the whole experience. It’s the fact that it seems to be getting worse that is troublesome. I especially like it when I get up from sitting for a few minutes and my leg collapses, causing me to spill my tray of food on someone’s lap. That makes me feel good about being an old lady at thirty.

Some photos from The Race in the coldest, driest climate in the world. You will notice there are no pictures of me. That is because, apparently, I look really hideous when I run.

Onlooker

When you run a Marathon, full or no, in Antarctica, the penguins watch and think to themselves, “People are dumb. Real dumb.”

Mil in Flight

If it helps, you can pretend this is me. Really, though, it’s Mil, who won the Women Under 40 Half Marathon. She got some fancy gift certificates to some restaurants in Christchurch. If there had been any for Sala Sala, the sushi spot, I would have run a lot faster. But there weren’t, so I just took my time.

Skua Attack

The skuas hover, in case somebody drops. They go for the eyes first. Wait, now that I look more closely, that IS me it’s hovering over. See, there’s Jim way on my right, OJ way on the left, Lyle in blue, and I’m right behind that other guy. Yep. That’s my leg, alright.

Double Win

This guy won the Marathon they held a couple of weeks ago at Pole. His reward was a trip to MacTown to run the Marathon here. Which he also won. Some people don’t know how to enjoy a good lifetime of just sittin’ there.

Couch Surf

Now these guys know what it’s all about. Moose, Bear (yes, those are their real names) and friends at Aid Station 2, about six miles from the start of the Half Marathon. Along with the couch and prerequisite water, beer, Bailey’s, Cokes, cookies, and fried chicken. Yes. Fried Chicken. I would also have had a much shorter time had I not spend ten minutes hanging out with them. Then, I had to walk for a few more minutes cause I’d eaten too much.

Yes, please.

Nobody passes up Aid Station 2.

Winner

Kevin and his beard, who won the Skiing Marathon.

Finish Line

And, just as the first runners were coming up on the finish line, some little Adelies got in on the act. They stopped just before the finish, but Kevin explained to them their time would be invalid unless they actually passed the line. They stared at him. They looked at each other. Then they crossed the finish line and started flapping and squawking to congratulate themselves. I am not even kidding.

Grumpy Bear

I have never seen this girl smile. Not once.

Oh yeah, I did it in 2:23:26. The penguins were gone by that time, but I’m pretty sure they were just off somewhere fighting with the skuas over who got to eat at my lifeless body first.

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I’m Dreaming of uhm…More of the Same

December 22, 2009 at 4:20 am (What I Do)

Temp: -5 C / + 21 F
WC: -13 C / + 9 F
Winds: 5 – 10 kts

There’s a certain amount of melancholy in the air, here in Antarctica. People have already begun leaving The Island, those people who were only contracted for half of the season, including Brody’s roommate Meg, who has gone on to be with her man and begin nursing school. I’m not exactly sure why it has hit me this week. Perhaps it’s hitting the halfway mark and knowing there is quite a bit left to go; perhaps I’m sick of all of the food and seeing the same faces night after night; perhaps it’s my new roommate, who is absolutely out of her mind insane; maybe it’s just the monotony of working nights. But the Spirit of Christmas hasn’t really hit me this year. It’s definitely weird not being home or in Chicago, with everyone else.

It’s been snowing here the last couple of days, and people are real excited about it. Because when else would we see snow around these parts? It does look quite lovely, actually, and it has kept the roads cool enough to save the Pegasus shortcut road for another couple of days. We’ve been driving Ivan and the Deltas over it again, but vans are on the long route. Our necks and our backs continue to take really hard hits from going over the huge ruts in the road.

We got a C-17 full of Christmas presents on Monday. Two full pallets of package mail, which means that everyone is walking around the station with their arms loaded and fat smiles on their faces. And the C-17 expected today boomeranged due to bad weather at MacTown, but there are only 2 passengers on it. The rest is cargo, freshies, and more Christmas presents. As usual, I am the most hated in the office, as this is what my pile looks like…don’t worry, Mom. I haven’t opened anything yet.

2 packages from mom and dad;
1 package from sister;
1 package from Sara Russell (some fun Arbonne stuff I ordered for Christmas presents…and some for myself);
1 package from Lisamarie, who promised cheese (I hope it’s not one of those “Christmas-Hams-we-left-under-the-tree-for-three-weeks, thinking-it-wasn’t-really-a-Christmas-Ham” sort of holiday);
Lots of cards and magazines galore.

Also, lest I forget, I got an extremely well-timed package from Fannie and Paul Fagen last week with lots of goodies and treats, including a Cosmopolitan magazine, telling me all about what Fergie enjoys doing with her man; roasted almonds; hand and foot lotions that will make me not look like a dragon lady; books; chocolate; and cards signed by all my Red Nosie friends. Seriously, made my whole week.

For Christmas, the town closes on Friday (Christmas Day) and most everyone is off on Saturday. Not this girl, though. I’ll be sitting and staring at the ceiling, just in case someone needs an emergency ride to the airport to stare at the planes, which will be grounded. Not that I’m complaining, oh no. There will plenty of time for celebrating. The Galley will host another beautiful, delicious meal for the whole town, and Meghan, OJ and I will go to the midnight one. I’m not sure if we’ll dress up for that one, or just wear our PJs. Then, there is a big White Elephant gift exchange and dance party that ATO (Air Traffic Operations, which Shuttles is a part of) is throwing. I think the Shuttles Only party will be January 3ish.

Anyway, miss you guys. I’m gonna go to another run to Pegasus now. And then, I think I’ll drive over to Pegasus and come back. Maybe after that, I’ll think about shuttling some folks out to the airfield at Pegasus. Just a thought…

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I Did It!!!

December 17, 2009 at 8:19 am (What I Do)

I felt real manly today when I changed the oil in the Delta. All by myself. And then I thought, well, I shouldn’t feel manly, I suppose. That’s just sexist. So…

I change oil like a girl.

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Working on the Night Moves

December 8, 2009 at 4:39 pm (What I Do)

The best and, perhaps, only great part of being shifted over to the Dark Side (i.e., Night Shift) is that I’m working with Sideways Meghan and O.J. (Other Jeff). The People will rue the day they thought it would be a good idea to put us together. Basically, all we have done is to encourage each other to become extraordinarily crass. I figure, if I’m going to be up at 4am, I better be downing a bottle of Beam, smoking a carton of Marlboros, or making a sailor blush. I’m allergic to cigarettes, and drinking and driving is generally frowned upon. So I’m left with saying things that garner a lot of spit-takes and phrases like “Oh, my God. But, you seemed so sweet!”

Our little night crew triumvirate has been participating in some fun activities to a) keep us awake all night, b) keep some of our sanity, and c) none of our dignity. Firstly, we have theme nights. As Shuttles drivers, we communicate a great deal over the radio. These transmissions are heard by the entire base which, for some strange reason, likes to tune in. The idea is to be subtle and see whether anyone catches on. There is a point system, but it is sketchy, at best.

Meow Mondays: “Meow, which building is that again?”
Twofer Tuesdays: “Copy that. I copy that.”
Western Wednesdays: “I’m agonna giddyap right over.”
Third Person Thursdays: “Mxxxxx copies that.”
Fast-Talking Fridays: “DeltaPaxhowdoyoucopy?Over?”
Stuttering Saturdays: Um, you ggget the point.
Suggestive Sundays: “MC-1 Amy, permission to get up on your ramp.”

Also, you should know that several days ago, Meghan and OJ each swallowed handfuls of glitter, the goal being to see whether or not they could create sparkly poo. For the record, I would like to adamantly deny that I had anything to do with this little experiment. The main reason is that I was still transitioning on that particular evening and was not present. Looking back on it with some envy, I do believe it was a good thing, as I already have enough stomach problems to deal with. But I would have chosen Blue. Just so you know, it does work and I have seen photographic evidence. OJ has an incredibly speedy system, and it was Gold.

This morning, we played Vague-Rules Scrabble. All was well and good until Meghan played “adge.” There was some argument, but when she used it in a sentence (“I feel funny around my adge”), we had to agree it was legit. Also played: “Oa pooooo.” As in “Wow, I really need to get rid of some of this glitter. Oa pooooo!”

Finally, Delta races. There is one particular run that is supposed to take 50 minutes.
The latest record: 26:56.

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