Aurora Australis

This is my heart
This is my heart laid bare by historic cold
Four days and ten-thousand miles of
Ice and razor black peaks
Wind-stripped my years erased
And now nothing to no one
All happiness the lost dream of lovers separated
By impossible place
A distance unbelievable
A truth denied
Can geography dissolve love?
If I'm forgotten forever upon
Desolation's plain of white and blue
My heaven's gone missing
And I've lost my way to hell
This miniscule flame fluttering before death's bitter blast
When all is done and everything said
Memory's kiss keeps the stars apart
Rising luminescent, smoke from the coal black wick
Aurora austrailis
I pray that you'll look up into your night and see
This is my heart
Without you.

I have been flying for four days. San Jose to L.A. L.A. to Auckland. Auckland to Christchurch. Christchurch to McMurdo. McMurdo to here.

Here is Pole. I'm one of 258.

Descending from 24,000 feet to Pole station, this is what you see from the window of the LC-130 skier plane: flat white below, extending forever in all directions, cutting the sky in a razor line between blue and ice. And upon what seems like a bank of clouds that never ends, a black spot the size of dust. A grain of sand become a marble. And then you see a building. And then two. And beyond, purgatory as far as you can see or imagine.

I have come back to this amazing nowhere.

So far from everything I ever think or love.

The current stats: outside temps, -27.2F/-32.9C. Barometric pressure 688 millibars, which yields an equivalent altitude of 10,324 feet. The wind is 9 knots along grid line 124. Wind Chill is -50.9F/-46.1C

I have been at pole station for about eight hours. Had time to sleep off the initial shock of cold and altitude. This time it's 25 degrees warmer. My body handled the altitude much more effectively. I don't feel like I've had a six-pack of beer. No headache. I'm able to function mentally.

Went outside and photographed the dome, which they're getting ready to dismantle. The new station has been certified for complete occupancy. The gym is complete. Game room. TV room. Comms has been moved to a high-tech, up-to-date command center. LCD screens line the walls and desks displaying the output of observation cams. Remote radio control. Maps of the earth showing the terminator, weather, world time.

I have a room with a window. The sun circles over head. Outside I see the white polar plateau and the adjacent wing of the new station, which they're beginning to cover in gray panels.

That's all for now. I need to rest. I hope to node again before the satellites go down.

A few weeks ago, apropos of nothing, I mentioned to a friend that I couldn't imagine my life without one of my parents - I simply could not conceive of a reality in which something happens to either of them. Not long afterwards I jokingly told someone that my life recently has been almost too good to be true; a great job, enough money to live well, a wonderful holiday in Mexico, a loving husband who himself has a new and challenging job, new friends... I was waiting, I quipped, for the other shoe to drop.

How could I have been so stupid?

Last Friday I was told that my dad has to have a valve replacement surgery with a possible concurrent bypass. He's having keyhole exploratory surgery next week to ascertain whether there are any blockages or other potential risk factors, after which a date for the main prcedure will be set.

It's so easy to put it clinically like that, or to retreat to the safety of cliches like "but he was always so strong" and "it's terrible when your parents suddenly get old on you". Well, he was, and it is. But... Somehow none of the platitudes from the vague musings in women's magazines can capture just what turmoil something like that throws a family into.

I've gone through the loss of a parent with my husband (not that my dad is going to die, tfu-tfu-tfu!) and I thought I was, well, you know, supportive. Understanding. Bollocks! I couldn't possibly have known even the tenth part of what he was going through, nor is he in turn capable of entering my mind; which is I suppose a clue to why external advice and other people's experienced are so stupidly pointless when you're living through something like this. Each family is unique, even inside a family the relationships between any two members are their own special and closed universe. Nobody, by definition, can ever really understand.

I'm not really sure what to write about this any more, to be honest. Enumerating the positive factors that constitute the silver lining in this situation would seem so Polyanna-like as to deserve bitch slapping. Wallowing in self pity is not an option.

guess I had better just give it to myself stright:

My daddy is very sick. He has to have a big operation and I'm scared that he will not be the same after it. Or that he will not be around. And I don't know what to do about it. I feel useless stuck here, away from being any good to any of the people who love me and need me most in the world.

I want this to not be happening. Please.

Well, if TheLady's post hasn't depressed you enough...

This morning I found out that this 3-year-old little girl that is at my son's daycare/sitter with him has cancer. Poor little girl had a high fever yesterday and went to urgent care to find out why. They didn't find a reason and she was sent to the hospital where x-rays found the cancer around one of her lungs.

Now they're deciding on surgery or chemotherapy.

Surgery or chemo?

Chemo or surgery?

I hope I never have to make such a decision for my son. Chemotherapy for an adorable little 3-year-old girl. God. Well it's either that or cut her chest open. Man. That just ain't right.

The saddest part is, this little girl, the sitter says her parents would let her take her on the weekends if she was open. When I have days off, I spend them with my son. When they have days off, they bring her by the sitter's anyway. And they let her stay the very latest the sitter will allow it. They don't pick her up straight from work. They go home first for a while. I can see doing that every once in a while. But I wonder how much time these people actually spend with their daughter.

I wonder now how much they'll regret how much time they didn't. Or.... maybe they won't. *sigh*

I hope she'll be all right. That they find out it's benign. But I do know this. I'm going to appreciate the time I spend with my son a little bit more after today.

Go hug your kid.

Yo Wilson,
have to tell you about halfwit admin assistant upstairs. She is weird and psycho and I have it on good authority that at some company party or another she put her arm around the waist of my (female, short-haired, but decidedly hetero) boss and said “I’d really like to get together sometime.” Which was weird for many reasons, not least being that my boss is very high-ranking and the halfwit admin is a halfwit admin. OK so. Today I had to let her know about a meeting that was going onto her boss’s calendar as an FYI only.
Gruner: I’m just calling to warn you it’s FYI only. I’m about to send out the confirmation email with the details.
Halfwit: Well, I’d better write it in his calendar right now. What is this meeting?
G: Well, it’s all in the email.
H: No, you’d better give me all the information. (We go through process of detailing meeting info—three minutes of idiocy)
G: And remember this is FYI only. He doesn’t need to attend. But I’ll still send you a copy of the confirmation.
H: How am I going to know it’s only FYI?
G: Well, that’s what I’m calling to tell you.
H: Well, you’d better write a note at the bottom telling me it’s FYI only. Otherwise I’ll put it on his calendar again and he’ll think he has to go to it.
G (giving up): Okay, sure will. (in fact I take her name off the email entirely.)

Then I had to call her later to get room numbers for a couple of meeting locations. Had to absolutely baby her through it:
G: Do you see a meeting on his calendar from 1 to 3 today?
H: No. Well, there’s a staff meeting from 1 to 3.
G: That’s it, what’s the location? (she tells me) Okay, is there a meeting for 4 to 6 today?
H: Well, you know, there’s so many meetings, I just can’t tell you what’s there unless you’re looking for a specific meeting by name.
G: Um, you can’t tell me whether he has a meeting for 4:00 today?
H: No. Well, he has a project meeting from 4 to 6 today.
G: Yes, that’s it.

Argh! Argh! On top of this I just had extended debate with woman in office directly across the hall about the spelling of my name. Not my last name, Wilson, my first name. She was trying to send me email that did not go through. She called me in to her office, helpless. I looked at her screen and said, You need a T in there, and an N. (Blank look.) It’s Stephanie, with a T and a N. You have Sephaie. No response! She just looked at me. I tried from the beginning, You need to fix the spelling of Stephanie...I spelled it for her—more blank looks—more discussion—finally I walked away, trusting that this woman, who earns three times my salary, would figure it out on her own.
more later. have to go on killing spree.

Gruner –
If you ever come down from your clocktower, I thought you would like to get a taste of Goldman’s email to me:

I will definitely get you the numbers of good shrinks as soon as I possibly can. I consider the situation an emergency. Not because I suspect you’re suicidal or anything, but because you’re killing me. I never know from one conversation to the next whether I’m gonna get the funny, relatively intact Wilson or the quasi-vegetable Wilson. Not to make you feel guilty or anything. It’s just that at this point I need to consider my own mental health, and a good dose of happy pills for you would probably make a difference in my life.

Hope you enjoy. May have to come up with my own religious cult and impose isolation of self in conjunction with various soothing and cleansing rituals. Perhaps could create some sort of religious sanctuary in Dad’s backyard. On a somewhat unrelated topic, how do you guys know I like you? Lack of verbal abuse? The fact that I have life to my tone when I speak to you? The fact that I speak to you at all?
Life is futile

OK Wilson,
Do not for any reason tell me Goldman’s first name. I have now found out it starts with G. Am having horrified fantasies of what it might be. No clues. I do not want to think of him as anything but Goldman.
Yes, he writes good email. That is the true test of character, isn’t it? Are you any closer to Prozac? I am worried about side effects. I don’t know what they are, but I fear for your health. Do you think I have been exposed to the quasi-vegetable Wilson?
Religious cult: I am allllll for this idea. Please reply with details, belief system, materials used in sanctuary, etc.
Still not sure you do like me, but hopeful. Frequent email is a good sign, right?
Over and out

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