Saturday, October 18, 2008

WTF Moments

When you're driving a zodiac boat through large swells, weaving in between bergy-bits and full-sized icebergs, pushing through brash ice and trying to stay warm, you don't have time to think about how strange it is that you're in Antarctica.

When you're wandering around on the islands around station, and a group of penguins waddle up to you, squawk curiously, and waddle off, you don't think about how strange it is that you're in Antarctica. You're too obsessed with the cute and silly.

During the workday, when you're walking around station fixing things that are broken, or preventing things from breaking, you're mostly just thinking about how long it is until lunch, or if the weather will be nice enough to go boating after work, or just hoping that the wind doesn't pick up.

When you're trying to walk from building to building in 60mph winds with frozen sea spray getting ground into your skin, it's pretty obvious that you're in Antarctica, and you don't really think about it, you're too busy holding onto the railings and trying not to get blown away.

The times that it hits you, really hits you that "This is nuts, I'm in Antarctica" is at the most mundane and random times. When you're walking up the stairs. When you're sitting on the toilet. When you're standing in line for dinner. When you're just laying in bed at night. The more typical and generic the task that you're doing is, the more likely that something taps you on the inside of your head and says "Hey! You're in Antarctica! What the heck are you doing in Antarctica?" It's when you're doing the most normal things, in the most abnormal environment, that you just notice everything. The wear patterns on the floors where so many other slightly toasty and bewildered people have walked, that one little bolt on the Bio-Lab stairs that isn't quite straight, the clean and almost clinical cleanliness of GWR vs the older, but slightly homier feel of Bio-lab.

It's those little things, tiny things, that make me sit back and realize how lucky I am, and how strange this all is.