Midweek Check-in: Still Here!

Well, there have been a couple of things happening since my hike in the pressure ridges that mightn’t be of the greatest interest to the general public but they were significant for me and certainly added colour to life here in Antarctica. Unfortunately none of them warrant pictures really, so you’ll have to bear with a lot of text.

As some of you may have heard, I was having some weird nerve-related numbness and tingling in my right arm since I got here. It extended from my shoulder all the way down to my fingertips and was getting really awful, to the point where I was waking up three or four times a night with pain all through my right arm. This is not even a little bit fun. I had thought at first it had something to do with the crappy pillow they give you (another tip for future Antarcticans: bring your own pillow), so I ordered a memory foam neck pillow like the one I put in storage, but mail is very very slow and things were getting very very bad in the meantime. Fortunately, someone tipped me off to the presence of Mel Li, a fuelie here at McMurdo (someone who works in fuel management and delivery) but also a licensed massage therapist. At $90/hour, she’s not cheap but it was getting to the point where if she was good, it would be well worth it to finally sleep through the night so I emailed her, explaining my situation. She agreed to squeeze me in on Sunday evening for an hour and a half after I got off work . While it wasn’t quite what I was used to from JonPierre and Tirzah, it was effective enough that I’m happy to report I’ve been sleeping through the night since.

During lunch on Monday while I was helping Sarah on her sandwich line, some firefighters stopped by to remind us of their party at Hut 10 that night. I still don’t know any of them really so I was a little hesitant but I figured I’d at least stop by after work since Sarah would be there too. I was late getting there as I’d stayed late at work to make sure some side projects got finished so I wound up not showering or changing and just heading straight over. It was like walking into a party at 530 Beacon Street – home of Phi Kappa Sigma’s Alpha Mu chapter. There were a bunch of young guys around the dining table, with some women from Scott Base scattered in between them, playing Asshole. Then they switched to Kings. One guy was dancing on the coffee table. It was like stepping back in time. I wasn’t quite in the party mood, having just finished work and feeling quite grubby so I hung back and helped myself to a beer, refusing all advances to join the coffee table dancing. Just as I was strongly considering heading home, Scott and Andre walked in, joined at the hip as always. The Air National Guard personnel (or ANG) and the firefighters don’t exactly get along very well… I’m not entirely sure why but I imagine it has something to do with rivalry over women. As it turns out, The Conjoined Twins had been invited to the party by one of the Kiwi women, so this had potential clash written all over it but it all actually stayed quite calm. Andre had his hat stolen by one of the women and gave chase and Scott joined me leaning against the wall and we wound up having a great evening sharing life stories and memories of traveling and living in Moscow and Madrid. I finally had to make my excuses around 2300 because I still had to work the next day but I was saddened to learn that Scott and Andre were scheduled to leave in the next day or two, especially after finally having more than a five minute conversation with them! But such is the nature of the beast down here, particularly as the ANG personnel are on shorter rotations (six to eight weeks) than the rest of us.

On Tuesday, the galley started preparations for Thanksgiving Dinner in earnest, as we would be celebrating that Saturday. Menus were discussed, prep lists were made, and basic veg prep was started. I also received my new pillow in the mail that day as well as a double box of Lucky Charms – what a treat! It eased the blow of working a 12 hour day to get my Thanksgiving prep list AND all the regular prep done. We were also due a Freshies delivery the next day which we sorely needed. It’s an interesting balance – when we have Freshies, it’s difficult to keep up with processing all the raw veg (peeling, chopping, etc) because there’s so much of it. But when we run low, it takes longer to cobble together usable veg from what’s on hand. So either way, Sarah and I are usually running behind.

This morning, Wednesday, Scott and Andre showed up to breakfast in their civilian clothes. Scott confirmed they’d been delayed 24 hours which was good news in that it meant I’d see them later at the Coffee House but it was bad news in that it probably meant we wouldn’t see our Freshies for another 24 hours either, since the shipment was probably coming in on the C17 that would be taking them back to Christchurch. It was another long day of playing catch-up at work but I’m finally curled up on a couch in the Coffee House tonight with my hot chocolate and my computer, trying to catch up on a crazy week. And as predicted, Scott and Andre are here playing darts but so are Zach and Kevin and Max so I’m going to go bond with my galley crew for a bit – more about Thanksgiving to come, I’m sure!

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