Travesty Tuesdays On The Road- The Arctic Edition Part Two

I’ve talked about loving Sula more than cheese; when you have that kind of affection for someone, it tends to spill over. Every year before she heads off to the Arctic, I write Sula letters. Last year, even that wasn’t enough, I started writing her crew. Here are two of the inappropriate pieces of correspondence that I penned to her crew.

Dear Luke,

It’s more than halfway through the field season so I can understand feeling a little homesick, so this letter is here to provide you with some comfort. I mean sure civilization is great and all, and yes we do have the internet and thus porn but who needs naked people and videos of puppies learning how to climb stairs when you could have vast open tundra where the entire world has the potential to be your bathroom? Peeing in public is not encouraged down here, and so while we do have images of nipples readily available, you sir, have it much better.

So the next time you are wanting a burger, or perhaps television, simply drop trou and urinate freely to remind yourself of the wonderful amenities of the Arctic. Unless of course you are next to a camp mate’s bunk, that might make you unpopular.

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No amount of GIFs of kittens on pianos could possibly complete with this level of freedom. (Photo Credit: http://www.dreamstime.com)

Sincerely yours,

That lady who has no concept of social mores and writes to random people under the guise of offering comfort but not really.

 

This year was Liz’s second year on Sula’s crew. When I grow up, I want to be Elizabeth- she is the ultimate hippie, living completely off the grid and making art some of which appears on Sula’s blog Northofthegrid.com.

 

Dear Elizabeth,

You can almost see the end of field season, so understandably you might have a touch of homesickness.

Actually probably not. Based on what I hear from Sula, it sounds like the Arctic is your home; it has no running water, you have no running water, the Arctic has no electricity, your house has no electricity. You, my dear, are living out my minimalist fantasies and if my information is correct, I think you may in fact live in the Arctic year round already.

In fact we’re having your significant other and pets flown in to stay here for the other ten months of the year. I don’t think you’ll notice much of a difference. Also it will give you more time to come up with awesome drawings for next year’s camp swag.

 

Yours truly,

The woman who isn’t brave enough to actually live with a zero carbon footprint like you and is also not as committed to science, really if I’m being honest- I’m a bit of a sissy and Elizabeth, you rock.

P.S. Sorry for the long yours truly, on top of being a failed scientist and a bad hippie, I apparently don’t know how to write letters.

 

 

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This Post Is Late But Ten Months Ago So Was My Period and Those Two Events Are Kind Of Interconnected (Apologies to my Uncles and Granddad for referencing menses in the title) Geez this is getting long

 

SPOILER ALERT: I had a baby. Or at least I think I had a baby, it’s hard to tell because I have essentially made a tiny carbon copy of Tex. In my sister’s words “If he hadn’t come out of your va-jay there might be some questions.” Thus I have dubbed my newborn “Mini Tex*”. At any rate babies are super time consuming, thus any posts published in the past six weeks were scheduled posts that I wrote before our new person arrived so this post is late but I like to think of February as the “Love Month” so as long as there are still discounted chocolate hearts in stores, I figure I’m within the acceptable range for sending out valentines. This is why many of you receive “Happy Easter” cards in July.

Before I got pregnant and had Mini Tex, I was all “pregnancy and breast feeding are just another physical feat that one does with their body; I rock at physical feats”. I’m not sure whether to laugh at my pre-pregnancy and motherhood self or slap her for being foolish. I was far from a glowy pregnant lady. I was a nauseous, vomit fountain who was exhausted all of the time, yet despite all of that I enjoyed being pregnant. This was entirely due to how hard my husband worked.

Initially our household arrangement was that I cooked and did dishes while Tex cleaned and did laundry. Early on, it became apparent that cooking was no longer possible because I was too tired when I got home from work and also too ravenous. Tex might have lost an arm if he had asked me to keep to our agreement when I arrived home starving and foul tempered from hunger.

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Tell me there’s leftover lasagna! (Photo Credit: news.nationalgeographic.com)

Gradually even the dishes became impossible, as did my walks home from work. I never heard Tex complain, he merely picked up the slack silently, doing yesterday’s dishes while he prepared today’s dinner, texting me to see when I would need a ride home. He was amazing. The only reason I didn’t receive rides to work was because the lack of exercise would lead to restless leg syndrome and me becoming an antsy anti-Christ in the evenings if I missed my morning walk. But even on those days Tex would massage my legs and bundle himself up to walk with me in the cold winter air of the evening.

Relationship experts advise couples to continue to try new activities together. Until recently, I thought that was all hooey because how could I possibly love my husband more than I already did? I mean he checked all the boxes: Hottie- check, Super Hottie – check, Nice – check, Has a job that isn’t playing the accordion outside the liquor store- check. (For the record musical liquor store Abe, I am not judging you; I merely feel we would make a poor couple.) Pregnancy allowed me to love my husband as someone who I had no choice but to rely on. I pride myself in being independent; carrying Mini Tex around for nine months rendered me the opposite of that.

At nine months pregnant, I thought I couldn’t love Tex any more than I already did. Then I went into labor, and the only time he left my side was when I went into the women’s washroom. Labor is a lot like running a marathon only better because they give you a baby at the end rather than some bling and a bagel.

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I’m sorry cheesy multi-grain, as delicious as you are, if given the choice between your bready goodness and a newborn, you are not even the short straw. Photo Credit: blog.foodfacts.com)

Mini Tex was our marathon, and my husband was my coach who spurred me onward even when I was tired and couldn’t see the end. While I suspected that he could be patient and caring even under duress and fear, he shone brighter than I expected during those long twenty eight hours.

People don’t really talk about it, but breast feeding hurts. Like a lot. Possibly more than the actual birthing process if one were to add up the time and pain and lump it all together into one horrible day of bloody, painful nipples and engorged breasts. Again Tex showed his devotion to both me and his newborn son by placing boiling hot compresses on my giant, painful mammaries multiple evenings in a row. Watching the steam rise from the cloths, I worried for his hands (No amount of heat would ever be enough to hurt boobs with blocked ducts). “Unwashed, I was a blacksmith” he reminded me, replacing the lukewarm cloth with a hot one. I’m sure that devotion was there all along but during those early week when Mini Tex and I were still figuring out how to breastfeed, it wrapped itself around us like a comforting blanket.

I’ve learned to love my husband as a father. Coming from a farm, where from an early age, boys learn how to take care of not just animals but plants and the land, I had high expectations of Tex as a parent. Seeing our little boy listen with all his might to his Dad’s voice as he plays with him and tells nonsensical stories has given me another way to love this man. So for all of these reasons and for all of the ones we will discover together in the future, Happy Valentine’s Day Tex. I’m very glad I said vows with you on Lightninghill last August. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.

*Please note, I didn’t actually name my newborn “Mini Tex”, I feel his life will be embarrassing enough with me as his Mom.

 

Travesty Tuesdays The Arctic Edition – Part One

Occasionally my weirdness can’t be contained to those who know me and I branch off into writing to complete strangers. Happily, Sula, my closest friend is keen to deliver my nonsense to the people that she works with in the Arctic for three months out of the year. Theoretically these letters were meant to comfort her crew members and remind them that the South and civilization is actually not all that, whether or not they accomplished their goal is another thing. Here are a couple bits of correspondence that I penned to Sula’s crew. To celebrate the middle of the season, they open my writing and read it aloud to one another.

Dear Mara,

You’re like a horse that’s coming back to the barn right now. Is that the correct phrase? I think what I meant to say was that you’re on the homestretch, so you are going faster, or time is going faster, or you’re eating hay. Wait, that came out wrong, I’m sorry. I might need to review my sayings. Regardless, it’s like in a marathon when you pass the halfway mark and start speeding towards the finish line.

I’m here to tell you to slow down, the South, it isn’t all that. For starters people have all these unrealistic expectations, like one should wash more than once a week. Up in the Arctic you’re like a fresh-faced, rock star of hygiene if you rub a wet cloth over one or two parts. And smelling good isn’t ever a requirement. Can we both just agree that this particular aspect is awesome? With all the showering I have to do down here, I feel like I’m never dry. Also nobody congratulates me for washing my underarms. So take a moment, stop and smell the mild body odor, you should enjoy the unwashed benefits while you can.

With warmth and just a touch of greasiness,

The person who inexplicably has trouble making friends- they always seem to move away from me when I get close to them.

 

Apparently after Mara read this letter aloud to the crew, Luke one of the other crew members said “Unwashed is so right,” It would seem that I am not the only person who feels society’s cleanliness expectations are excessive.

When Sula gets home, she regales everyone with tales of the tundra. While it all sounds exciting and heroic, I know in my heart that I have never been and never will be that tough. I won’t even take my seat belt off in a car, let alone remove it on a tiny twin otter airplane the way that Sula’s crew does only to then throw their own sense of safety to the wind as they make a human seat belt for the equipment bouncing about in the small aircraft.

 

Dear Leslie,

I get it; home and the feel of those freshly laundered garments are so close, that you can almost smell the faint scent of “Dewy Rain” on your shorts. But before you get too excited about indoor plumbing and cell phone reception, let’s take a second to appreciate the wilderness street cred you’re building here.

Every minute you spend roaming the tundra, is a minute more of life experience that you have to lord over your friends and family. Or maybe you are a nice person and don’t do that- I’m not, I ran marathons for a decade for the simple reason of bragging rights. When you stroll into any party after this you can be all like “What did you do this summer? Costa Rica? Oh how exciting, I just went to the Arctic and kept myself alive on the frozen tundra through a combination of my wit and determination, but you had to sleep under a mosquito net- that sounds exotic.”

Or at least that’s what I would do, if I was brave enough to live in a remote camp, each chilly step of the day would be adding to my tome of “Why I am Awesome and was Possibly Partially Raised By Polar Bears.”

Kind regards,

Someone who once cried because their feet were cold on an overnight back packing trip.

One of Sula’s crew members was a giant. Like Hagrid but only skinnier. Please note, I am only exaggerating slightly.

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Robby after a couple hundred hamburgers and a donut feast. (Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org)

After having seen a photo of the crew’s lodgings with each bunk bed jammed right up next to the following one, like some sort of sleepy game of human Tetris, I pitied Robby and imagined trying to sleep an entire three months in the frigid cold packed up like a folding chair. However, there are some benefits to being the largest human around, so I chose to focus on those in his letter.

Dear Robby,

I know this is exactly what you wanted this morning- a letter from a random lady who has no clue about what it’s like to live in the Arctic. I’m here to tell you Robby, that it’s ok. I totally understand what you’re going though. Well actually not, I’m super short, not so short that I receive sweet, sweet government compensation for my lack of height but short enough that my feet never touch the ground and every shelf is the high shelf. So really our worlds could not be more different.

Getting back to the heart of the matter, the end is in sight, I know, and while it would be nice to be back in civilization, where else in the world would you be king of the smaller people. Here in the Arctic you’re the tallest man around, you alone decide who eats dessert if the cookies are stored on the top shelf. That’s a kind of privilege that should be valued and revered. So yes, home has washing machines and socks that haven’t been worn every other day for six weeks, however it also has NBA players. As long as you are in the Arctic Robby, you are the tallest thing going, because I heard that even the shrubs are bowing to your height up there.

 

Sincerely,

The woman who needs an adult booster seat in order to safely drive a car.