New Year’s – Antarctica Style

For the second week in a row, the Town is looking at a two day weekend and, once again, the galley folk have been thrown for a loop. Whereas with Christmas, the emphasis was on the Christmas Eve dinner, for New Year’s we’re doing two days of brunch and dinner over the 31st and the 1st, then reverting to a normal schedule. Additionally, on the 31st, our dinner service is competing with the annual Chili Cook-Off as well as a whole pig roast (I think from the Carp Shop?), so there’s no way to get an accurate read on how much food to prepare. On the bright side, while Christmas was generally met with mixed emotions, the station has been fairly buzzing with excitement for the last week and for good reason!

Enter Icestock – MacTown’s answer to Woodstock. In the last week, I’ve watched a stage being constructed outside Southern Exposure, along with stadium seating, a “coffee house” courtesy of the Carp Shop, and booths to house the Chili Cook-Off contestants.

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On the 31st, the event kicks off at 1600 with chili tastings and the first band. The music goes until well after midnight, but with 11 artists/bands performing, that’s not at all surprising.

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And, dear readers, there is some SERIOUS talent down here. But I fear I get ahead of myself…

Because Monday and Tuesday were going to be light days for us in the Salad Room with only dinner to prepare for, our team was looking to get really prepped out for the week ahead. We were also hoping to skip out of work a little early on Monday to hear the first few bands – something to which Russell agreed, provided we make sure everything was squared away and that we checked back in occasionally in case there were any disasters. I kind of feel like he thought he HAD to give us permission to go support the other musicians since he himself would be performing with his band later that night. At any rate, that was our plan. But the night before, Sarah had a little barbecue party for her smoking friends (they’ve renovated the smoking hut – designed to offer protection from the elements to those who smoke but now also apparently a bitchin’ place to throw a party) that apparently went until about 0800 on Monday morning, also known as the time we are meant to be at work. So we made a quick case for her taking the 31st and 1st off as her Christmas holiday (which really DID make sense given that there was no lunch on either day, and thus no sandwich line) and Russell eventually acquiesced. So it was just Rebekah, Liz, and me holding down the fort, but we still got a ton of stuff done for the week and as it approached 1600, I cut them loose. I stayed until 1730 but as everything seemed pretty calm, I checked in with Russell and Todd who were already trying on their “outfits” for the night. They both told me to get out of there.

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So I headed home to change into warmer clothes and grab a beer or two since the concert was 100% BYOB, although the bars would be open throughout to supplement. I didn’t even make it past the stadium seating on my way to my dorm before I ran into Jeremy, one of the bakers, who gave me a beer, put his arm in mine, and led me into the already-sizeable crowd sampling all the different chilis. On stage were Shane and Alicia, two Dining Attendants, and Clint, of B-174, who were totally rocking a Britney Spears song.

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I stayed for the end of their set, then made my excuses and dashed to my dorm where I put on jeans, my hiking boots and wooly socks, a very cute tank top, a very grubby old sweatshirt that was my father’s and then my brother’s and now is mine, and my jacket. Then I stuck a beer in each jacket pocket, a flask of Bushmills in my back jeans pocket, grabbed my camera and a scarf and bolted back out to the concert just in time to catch my favorite band – Tiger Dragon. The lead singer is a Wastie named Kate who is just about the sweetest person ever and has an amazing voice. As I made my way towards the stage, I saw Sarah and gave her a huge hug. She laughed and grabbed my hand and we started dancing and singing along to all the songs.

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At one point, Kate saw us in the crowd, pointed to us, and exclaimed into the microphone “These two women make the BEST sandwiches on station! Give it up for Sarah and Jessa! In fact, let’s give all the galley cooks a round of applause!” It was a really nice moment for all of us. At another point, I was offered $50 to challenge Roger to a dance-off in front of everyone. Once it was established that I didn’t have to win, I only had to participate, I didn’t hesitate to accept the offer. There is video of it somewhere and while I don’t have it to share, I have seen it and please trust me when I say it is hilarious. And in the midst of all this, I distinctly remember Jesse being so intoxicated that he insisted on picking me up whenever he saw me – sometimes like a new bride, sometimes like a sack of potatoes – and carrying me around. When it became questionable whether or not he was going to drop me on my head, Brandon and the others put a stop to it.

Other than that, the rest of the night was a kaleidoscope of music, laughter, singing, and dancing as I moved between the concert and Southern, between my galley friends, my Kiwi friends, my scientist friends, my firefighter friends, and everyone in between. It is likely my favorite night at McMurdo ever.

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As it got closer to midnight, I ran back to my room and got the bottle of cava I had bought at the store earlier in the week – something they only stock the week before New Year’s and there’s a limit on how much you’re allowed to buy. I tucked it into my jacket and made my way back to the stage, where I rang in the New Year listening to an 80s rock cover band called Pink Torpedo, in a circle of new friends who were all exchanging kisses and bottles and best wishes.

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It is probably my best New Year’s memory to date and as we were passing around bottles of not-great sparkling wine I realized I couldn’t imagine how these people weren’t a part of my life six months ago and how much richer my personal community has become for getting to know them. I don’t know if we’ll all stay in touch the way we’d like but I recall something my friend Brittany said to me once, and that I’ve in turn said to my closest friends down here: “As long as I have a roof over my head, you have a roof over yours.” She meant it then and I mean it now.

And now it’s about 2100 on the 1st of January of 2013 and of course with all the fun and games, there’s some drama to clean up – some people drank a little too much and I maybe did a little babysitting to try and keep friends out of trouble and people are gossiping and trying to find out who went home with whom, etc, etc but I can’t shake that great feeling I had as I went to bed last night that I might not be able to pick boyfriends very well but goddamn my choice in friends is the best. And 2013 is going to be an amazing year!

Happy New Year, everyone! May it be a joyful and prosperous year for you all.

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2 responses to “New Year’s – Antarctica Style

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