Much Needed Chillaxin’

Let’s see…. I left off on Friday just before I headed to the bar… I had a few laughs with the guys at the bar – Josh had zeroed in on a cute scientist but was far too drunk to know when to back off so we were all trying to help him out. Unfortunately, in his state, it just kind of aggravated him so we all just shrugged and let him go and hoped for the best. I got to see Sarah and gave her a birthday hug and bought her a birthday drink and then headed home at a decent hour to get through my final day of my extended work week.

On Saturday, as I was working the sandwich line, I learned that we were expecting a particularly distinguished visitor that day at lunch: the New Zealand Prime Minister. I took a glance around the service area of the galley and cringed inwardly – of course it had to be pizza and totchos day. Welcome to America, eh? But he did stop and take one of my sandwiches – I had decided to keep with the Italian-esque theme of pizza and do Italian-inspired deli sandwiches. The meat option was salami, pepperoni, provolone, olives, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, sprouts, with a squirt of Italian dressing on top. The vegetarian option was almost exactly the same except in place of the salami and provolone, I made a smokey, chorizo-tasting chickpea spread and some Italian sausage-style seitan sausages which I then sliced very very thinly on our deli slicer to look like deli meat. Talk about a hit! I really hadn’t thought I’d be very busy since it was pizza day but I was kept hopping all through lunch!

It also snowed nonstop all day so by the time I got home, all I felt like doing was blogging, reading, drinking hot chocolate and looking out my window – which I can access now thanks to rearranging my single room – so that’s exactly what I did! It was actually quite entertaining as the deep snow turned everyone into children and there were lots of snowball fights and tackling of each other as they trudged between 155, the bars, the Coffee House, and the dorms.

Hello daylight! With my single room arrangement, I can more easily remove the window shade!

Hello daylight! With my single room arrangement, I can more easily remove the window shade!

The view from my window - the blue building is 155, the bars and Coffee House are off to the right.

The view from my window – the blue building is 155, the bars and Coffee House are off to the right.

On Sunday morning, I woke up quietly and leisurely, enjoying the delicious sensation of not needing to wake up immediately and the luxury of being able to drift in and out of sleep for a bit…until my phone rang at about 1000 – the firefighters from B-shift were off work, back from Pegasus and wanted brunch now so I’d best get my hindquarters down to the galley immediately!

I, of course being too stubborn to give in to anyone’s demands, took my time putting on clothes, etc and made my way over at my own pace. The guys were mostly done by the time I arrived but they hung out for a bit to keep me company while I lingered over coffee. Roger, Josh and I made plans to meet at the gerbil gym around noon to hit the treadmills which would give us all time to digest our brunches and conveniently also give them time for a few rounds of their video game.

The run was good and I’m glad I went but I’m definitely going to have some catching up to do when I get back to Sadie! As we cooled down, we agreed to go home and shower quickly so we could meet at Crary Lab at 13:50 so Roger and Josh could finally do the Crary Tour. I felt a little bad for them doing the tour so late in the season after most of the scientists have left and most of the experiments have been packed up. I had seen some of Stacy Kim’s group in the galley during the week and they had reported that they were all ready to leave on the 21st and sure enough, as we headed into the aquarium on the lowest level of the lab, almost all the tanks were empty. So the tour was maybe not as interesting as it could have been, both because there wasn’t really anyone around to talk about their projects and because the tour guide seemed kind of bored too, but the guys got what they could from it. As we were leaving, I ran into the scientists of Super Tiger who were off to take a picture in front of the station sign to celebrate their long duration balloon achieving the longest flight duration of any project in the history of the facility (which I promise I will tell you more about soon!). This reminded Josh and Roger that they had wanted to get pictures in front of the station sign as well so off we went for photo time.

As the photographer, I was adamant that they at least keep their boxers on!!

As the photographer, I was adamant that they at least keep their boxers on!!

Then it was back to Roger’s dorm room and CouchBed for a movie. Have I not told you about CouchBed?? Well, this will surely demonstrate the extent to which it truly is the little things that can mean so much down here… Basically, Roger and Phil have a nice little sitting area in their room with a couch in front of a decently-sized flatscreen tv they got from the Housing Department. Some time ago, while we were playing video games in their room, Andrew had the most brilliant idea to take the extra mattresses in the room (which is supposed to sleep four I guess but only has Phil and Roger currently) and stack them in front of the couch and cover all of it with extra blankets from Laundry. Ta dah: CouchBed! The night after it was created, we crammed five people on there in our pjs with pillows and blankets and watched The Hobbit – it was awesome. So since then, Roger’s room has been the default for movies because of CouchBed. In fact, now, when someone wants to ask if the others are ready to go watch movies or Top Gear, you just ask, “CouchBed?” So that’s what we did until about 1745 when it was time to get in line for Burger Bar at Gallagher’s.


After burgers and drinks with the firefighters of B-shift, the guys headed over to Southern to play shuffleboard but I spotted the men of Super Tiger in the corner so I invited myself into their conversation which turned into an extremely good time. If being friends with KC Huang has taught me anything, it’s that you should never discount physicists as dry and boring. My favorite moment came when John E, the Donegal man, was trying to make a joke about attempting to abduct me and said something about using a “chlorophyll”-soaked handkerchief. I corrected him, which led to a table-wide stunned silence and then uproarious laughter. So I stayed to talk and laugh with the table full of physicists (and one Italian engineer) for a bit but, inevitably, everyone ends up at Southern because it’s much cozier than Gallagher’s, so we all trooped over for more laughs over drinks.

John E very much dislikes attracting attention to himself...

John E very much dislikes attracting attention to himself… and apparently sitting on my lap does exactly that.

Ryan was told to watch someone's drink. So he did. Whoever thought a physicist would be so literal??

Ryan was told to watch someone’s drink. So he did. Whoever thought a physicist would be so literal??

Once the bar closed at 2300, we all exited to make our way back to my dorm room for a few more beers I’d squirreled away in my fridge. But as I’d mentioned, the snow had turned people into children and the firefighters are pretty much just big kids anyway so they fell victim to the influence of giant snow drifts and had to engage in some rough-housing first….


Once we were all situated in my room, I was somehow talked into a rendition of “The Sick Note” by the Dubliners which I have been known to do on occasion, aided by a moderate consumption of alcohol, complete with horrendous impersonation of an Irish accent. My audience was completely charmed which I attribute to their blood-alcohol content, which was considerably higher than mine… then they skittered off back to their respective beds and I curled up quite cozy and content with my day.

Monday was my second day off so I slept in a bit until, once again, a phone call from Roger roused me from my bed to maybe go for a hike or play video games or watch another movie or something…and that’s pretty much exactly how Monday went – a late start, lunch, video games, a hike, dinner, a movie and in between there were stories exchanged about life and our jobs and our families and laundry got done. So yeah, pretty much just your average weekend in Antarctica.

I will also say that with the lack of external distractions to fill time down here, I’ve discovered what former Antarcticans have mentioned in their blogs about having far more intense and personal discussions with people than you otherwise might be inclined to have in “normal life”. Or maybe it’s just that the people that come down here tend to be more open and willing to connect. I’m not really sure which way the causality runs or if it’s simply a correlation instead of causation but it’s definitely a benefit to living here.

But yeah, a very relaxed weekend and after the angst-y week I’d had, it was exactly what I needed.


2 responses to “Much Needed Chillaxin’

  1. Hey Jessa!
    I’ve been reading your blog and I have a few questions. I’m coming to mcmurdo in October and I’m so excited about it! Is there somewhere I can email you? Thanks!


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