It’s actually a thing; Polar T3 Syndrome – usually attributed to a lack of a specific hormone that’s repurposed in the body- diverted from the brain to the body as a response to the cold and darkness of an Antarctic winter. The less obvious symptoms are forgetfulness, poor concentration, grumpiness, depression/ anxiety and a few other delightfully disabling psychological conditions.
To my ex’s – see I’m not an asshole after all! It’s not my fault, it’s a disease! 🙂
For the people here unaffected by this syndrome, assholes excluded, alcohol seems to serve much the same purpose. In the wee small hours, it all comes undone.
Breakfasts here start with cereal, black coffee and a long silent stare out the window, past the flagpole and out towards White island. There are many variations on this breakfast theme first thing in the morning here, from the bleary eyed new arrivals, to the red rimmed eyes of the insomniacs (unable to sleep with the bright 24 hour sun beaming through every crack in the blinds like million watt searchlights); and hungover barflys who partied ’til 4am and stumbled into the Mess hoping the smell of alcohol isn’t too apparent after the short 3 minute shower.
I’m just happy to silently stare out the window into the distance and plan my day. Its less of a long stare and more of a ‘fuck off’ stare (complements my resting bitch-face)
My eyes aren’t bleary (this is my third rodeo and I have a plan); they arent red (I barely drink down here), and my blind is taped up tight so my room is pitch black (I’m getting plenty of sleep).
Getting towards the end of my third summer season now, it’s getting easier to spot these little red flags in people though and it makes it easier to avoid these ticking timebombs at breakfast before the shutters come up and the crazy gets hidden away. (Hell. I may even be one of them – but I’m not crazy if i know I’m crazy, right? tick tick tick 🙂 )
The summer team here at Scott Base is starting to break down; getting ready to go home in a few big chunks over the next 14 days, the first big group of which leaves tomorrow. It’s a tough time of the season to be honest: to see the the people that you’ve trained, lived and worked with for 6 months leave – some of which you may never see again outside of social media posts. Personally I’ve found that purposefully not forming close relationships down here is the bestest way of dealing with this separation anxiety.
Crash and burn relationships? Me? … 🙂
Anyway, apart from a few people that I like/respect that have actually managed to see past my thick layers of bullshit, I’m happy to let most of my crew go this season. Being in a different country actually helps a lot, and living as a gypsy for the past 4 years has kinda locked me in that mindset. The job here has made it super easy actually, as the Science Tech role has me working alone at odd hours in remote locations – a social death sentence actually but it lets me avoid the pointless drunken parties and annoyingly chatty group excursions. It seems I’ve manage to find a career that fits me like a glove! 🙂
Previous negative posts aside (which goes more to my inability to adjust quickly enough this summer) , this season with the New Zealand services has been pretty damn good and I’ve both learned and done more than I’d ever expected.
NEVER had I ever thought I’d get Antarctica at all, let alone to the incredible McMurdo Dry Valleys and spend four days in remote wilderness areas that humans have never set foot on.
NEVER had I ever expected to experience the relics of the Heroic Age of Exploration – to live and work where Scott and Shackleton lived and worked and get a glimpse of their world.
NEVER did I think that I’d get to see again pods of wild Orca hunting and playing, elusive minkie whales playing in the melt pools outside my office window, or watch a Weddell seal give birth and Crabeater seals chase each other like playful dogs out on the ice shelf.
I learned how to maintain pulse radar systems and Ionosondes, measure atmospheric ozone with a Dobson photospectrometer, Bruker infrared laser spectrometer and radio telescopes and theodolite mounted proton magnetometers (grrr geomag obs suck!). I got to do geological fieldwork and help with some some solid scienceing; manage laboratories and play with chemicals; be a volunteer firefighter and a bartender; ride in helicopters and Hagglunds (but not on quad bikes grr); walk on frozen oceans and wilderness trails but more importantly spend time alone with my animals.
I really miss my animals when they aren’t around. Seals, Penguins and now Orca again are in my dreams at night which makes a nice change and a pleasant surprise.
More surprising though was that people here cared about me and what I thought – my opinions mattered! My sarcasm stung! WTF is that about! New Zealanders really are lovely hobbitses. After 6 years bashing my head against a wall with the NSW Police bureaucracy, this year I finally realised this was something important to me – a chance to be seen and heard despite me constantly trying not to be.
To be seen, heard and valued. Jesus.
Who are these New Zealander people?
I LOVE THEM.
**the Internet access is shit here so I cant load any new pics. 😦