I couldn’t get excited about writing last season, since it was my second deployment and third season at McMurdo, so it was hard to find anything really novel to write about. I did “run” the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot 5K, visit the penguin colony at Cape Royds, and go on my first snowmobile trip, but other than that I just worked a lot and tried to recreate some semblance of the amazing social life I had in the winter.
It was a hard season. There were some beautiful highlights, but I was working myself way too hard. Amazing how much stress and energy one expends when feeling like they have to prove themselves and “earn” their job.
I wish I could say I was coming in to my third year, fourth (!!!) season with the United States Antarctica Program feeling accomplished and energized, but I’m feeling worn out. Again. At least it’s not for the same reasons I was worn out in March. Back in January, I decided to keep my overachiever streak going by starting a 16-month online computer networking Associate’s degree program with Milwaukee Area Technical College. I wanted, and still want, to boost my skills enough to *maybe* someday get an IT job at South Pole or Palmer station. That’s assuming I don’t fry my brain before I graduate next spring.
I also managed to visit eight countries (including Turkey, my first Asian country), read a book almost every week, took some solar installer courses, visited Philadelphia and San Francisco for the first time, and watched every single episode of the original series of Star Trek, so at least I sometimes had fun whilst frying my brain and finding new ways to burn out.
Because I enjoy my job at McMurdo and the structure and stability that comes with it, I’m hoping going back to 60-hour work weeks will actually recharge me in some way. I don’t do well without structure. Getting away from McMurdo for 7.5 months, the longest I’ve been away from the Ice since I started working there two years ago, was a good reset too, if for no other reason than reminding me that McMurdo isn’t the center of the universe.
I was beginning to forget that.