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Antarctic Diary: November 24, 2002

Silent before the echoes

"I've been up all night. I might sleep all day."
[Up All Night (Frankie Miller Goes to Hollywood)]
-[Counting Crows]-

Hut ten is a two-bedroom ranch house indistinguishable from any house in suburban America. There's a [big-screen TV] in the living room. The kitchen is a little tight, but the bathroom has marble and tile. The beds are bare, military issue.

Hut ten is next to [Our Lady of the Snows], the home of religion on [McMurdo Sound].

You have to take your shoes off before you go inside. When you're inside you feel like you're in [Indiana].

If you lived there you'd never have a party with more than six or seven people. There's no room for you to sit.

Because there is no such thing as personal space in [Antarctica], there were a hundred people in hut ten last night. Me and ninety-nine others. Or maybe there were only sixty.

Outside it was snowing hard. The view over the sound was floor-to-ceiling white, the infinite nothing from which the first life emerged.

Inside we were rocking to [Counting Crows]. Then something more funky. Dancey.

There were six trays of alcoholic jello circulating around the crowd. On a number of occasions a spoon of quivering vodka-laden cherry jello appeared under my nose. And then again.

Bombay gin and orange soda. [Vodka] and [Five Alive]. Canterbury Dark. Speight's.

Someone made pinatas out of cardboard. [Skua] effigies. Ten-thousand dollar fine for molesting the suckers outside. We'll whack them in here.

They blindfolded participants with a [crevasse] marker, handed them a broom handle, and let them wail. Inside was candy. Little elastic bracelets with donuts of colored sugar wound up on people's necks and wrists.

After a couple people left, there was room to dance. I was going to watch and feel bad I couldn't do it.

Someone grabbed my hands. Pulled me out. Showed me how.

She says, "It doesn't matter if you're good. You have to try. Be here for a little while."

I'm trying. [I'm thinking of ice]. I'm thinking outside in all that white is the [deep blue] ice that formed before any of us walked this earth or shed a tear for time long gone.

Everything here is ancient. Everything here remembers when the planet was young and lonely and silent before our voices ricochetted from [outer space] to [shopping malls]. Everything here is free from the glaze we apply to make it seem like home.

Everything here is deadly, fearsome, and cold.

Except [ice people|us].

Home. [tunnel of love|I'm dancing in the living room at the end of the world]. Here is the china. Here is the TV. Here is the carpet. My shoes are by the door so I don't track in the mud. This is the stereo. This is the beer. These are the children, born from the white.