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From Previous Years:

End of the Second Act

Friday, Feb. 6 2009 UTC

Station as seen through the window of the Ford Gran Neutrino

Almost exactly one week to go, for me. It is sort of the end of the second act, when you think you know what is going to happen, but surprises can still occur, and the final conflict has yet to sort itself out.

Things are going smoothly enough that we (the night crew) were able to watch “The Big Lebowski” in the B1 lounge after midnight. Those who got up early were able to see the Super Bowl (at breakfast, I caught the amazing play just before half-time, which was enough football for me, and got to watch all the Springsteen-style Americana with my German, Dutch and New Zealand colleagues). I cannot actually remember the last time I saw a Super Bowl in the US… but they are entertaining to see here, because of all the Armed Forces Network commercials in between plays, tempting people to reinlist. Hmmm…. Army, Navy or Marines? So many choices….

Actually, it really is like being on a very roomy and safe aircraft carrier in some ways. I haven’t been outside except to poke my head out on the upper deck for a couple of days. When planes land here, comms broadcasts the announcement that “the aircraft is on-deck.” And then there are the two-minute 'Navy’ showers, which I am actually feeling used to. Though I could get used to a hot bath pretty quickly. Fortunately nobody is shooting at us, the pay is better (for some of us, anyways), we don’t have to salute, and, for us summer folks, the tour of duty is mercifully short.

Though at times uncomfortable and stressful, this trip has been quite vivid in a way, with almost a sort of real-time nostalgic feel to it. I feel peaceful about the likelihood that it’s the last time I’ll be here, and I find myself noticing the texture of the station floor, the views out the windows, the galley food, the unwashed heads of hair, the grumbling in my stomach and the smiles in the hallways of people I’ve seen year after year, whose names I have never learned.