Returning to the Pole (and no I’m not a stripper)

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Some of you might wonder what would possess a person to visit the South Pole. Twice. Well let me try to explain the method to my madness. I crave adventure, and a challenge and when the opportunity presented itself to cook in the most inhospitable human outpost on earth, I jumped on it. I also saw it as an opportunity to improve myself, or at least get to know myself and my faults VERY very well. As to why I returned, after my last gig down there I discovered that I had made some of the most amazing friends ever (which tends to happen under extreme circumstances. I’ll do my best to enlighten y’all about why I’m returning to the pole.

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I’m a bit of an adrenaline junky. But not in the white knuckle/jump out of a plane/fist fight a grizzly bear sort of way but in more of a life changing/career choice/wtf am I doing with my life sort of way. I found the position at the Amundsen Scott South Pole Station on a website called coolworks.com (which I highly reccomend to anyone looking for a change of pace) and I COULD NOT RESIST applying. Once I get the seed of an idea in my head it gestates for a little bit before sprouting into a full blown need to see it to fruition. I also tend to get antsy after I spend too much time in one place; 12 months is about my limit so after 18 months in NYC I was totally ready for a change. But my sense of adventure isn’t the only thing that is drawing me back to the pole.

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Another thing that appeals to me about being hundreds of miles from my nearest neighbors is the chance to reflect. Without a cell phone, constant internet access or really anyone to socialize with one has A LOT of time to look inside and do some self improvement. Of course I arrived at Pole with a bag full of self help books and a fitness plan and a lot of aspirations as to how I was going to transform myself over the next few months; I changed in many more and different ways than I anticipated. I gained about 30 pounds of muscle thanks to an unlimited supply of calorie dense foods, I got in touch with my life goals (and achieved one of them involving acquiring a little plot of land in my hometown) and I strangely enough became closer with my immediate family by calling them every week and ACTUALLY having someone to talk to. Although I won’t be at pole for 12 months this time, I still have some goals. 1 is to become a master ukulele player, and 2 is to maintain this blog!

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I love people. Specifically, I love people with similar interests, who are crazy enough to want to work in Antarctica. Between November 2011 and 2012 I met some of the bravest, kindest and most interesting people I have ever encountered. It has been said of the work force down there that one must be “crazy enough to want to do it but sane enough to pull it off” which is so true. Everyone involved in the United States Antarctica Program really WANTS to be there, which is more than can be said for most of my places of work stateside. Folks are genuinely excited to be there and share their passion/profession with others. The scientists down there want to show you the experiments they’re working on, the engineers will give you a ride on their snowmobiles and basically anyone in the cafeteria will talk your ear off about what they do if you let them. After 12 months there, I found myself with a family. A dysfunctional, diverse and geographically dispersed family but a family never the less and that is one of the reasons I’m going back.

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It may still seem pretty insane to fly 9000 miles from my home here in the states to flip burgers at the bottom of the world but, honestly, if you were presented with such a once (or twice) in a lifetime experience like this, wouldn’t you take it? I find that the thrill that I get from doing something so out there is totally worth it. Not to mention a chance to get away from life’s distractions and spend some time on myself and learn some sweet tunes on the uke. And finally I can’t wait to see all of my friends and make some new ones. Plus I can’t wait to show off my sweet Antarctica tattoo that I got buck naked on national television (which is a blog post in itself.) What you should take away from all of this is that anyone can be an adventurer and the opportunities to do amazing things and go amazing places and all it takes is a little bit of know how, good luck and elbow grease. Thanks for following me y’all.

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