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11/05/2007

Shackleton and I, we're all over the map

Sometime last week I did say I'd post "tomorrow."  I blame the time change, which has chewed me up so thoroughly and spat me out so disdainfully that I don't even know what day it is, much less what time zone I'm in, much much less what I'd meant to post about when I made that promise eleven years ago from somewhere across the International Date Line, in another hemisphere entirely.

That is a big lie.  I know exactly what day it is.  But that's only because it is one of Charlie's day care days.  Last night he had a difficult bedtime; what with one thing (reassuring pats, loving tone) and another (threats of Babarcide, anguished trumpeting), he wasn't asleep until almost 10.  Then at 5:30 this morning, I heard him begin to stir.  He sang and murmured to himself for a few minutes, and I stayed in bed hoping he would drift off again.  It was, alas, not to be, because the next thing I heard was an excited call.  "Mama!  Mama!  I just ate all my mushrooms!"

And although my immediate thought was, Kiddo, you must have smoked 'em if you think I'm getting up now, I vaulted out of bed, because when an almost-three-year-old says something like that, good Christ, it could truly mean anything.

It turns out all it meant was that he longed for the matchless pleasure of my company.  But two hours before scheduled wake-up, my trademark charm is a little bit patchy, so after telling him it was still night, to lie back down and rest, and to shut up about the motherfucking mushrooms already and don't you ever freak me out like that again, I lay on his floor, pulled a blanket over myself, and did my level best to ignore him, drowning out his fungal reveries by chanting into the floorboards, Two more hours till drop-off.  Two more hours till drop-off.

So, yes, I know it's Monday.  But because of the time change, I am fucked six ways from Sunday.  (As the helpful saying goes, "Spring forward, fall back, bend over.")  Even the house is confused.  I screwed something up when I reset the clocks on the thermostat timers, so when we finally went downstairs this morning, we were met with a wall of cold so impenetrable, a tundra so inhospitable, a landscape so bleak and unforgiving, that I felt like Ernest Shackleton, lodged in the pack ice of the kitchen.  (I feel I should get some credit for the fact that none of our crew members perished, although it was pretty sad when we had to eat the cat.)

After I dropped Charlie off, I had my second of just two monitoring appointments for this cycle.  My God, why didn't you people tell me how easy a donor cycle is?  (Um, if you did tell me, why didn't I listen?  Wait, don't answer that or I'll make you empty the pee bucket.  Oh, come on, you know, the pee bucket:

This matter of going outside at night to relieve themselves was possibly the most disagreeable aspect of their existence.  A man had to pick his way amongst the sleepers by the light of only a single blubber lamp, kept burning specifically for this purpose.  It was almost physically impossible to avoid stepping on somebody somewhere.  Then came the crawl through the hut entrance and out into weather which often approached blizzard conditions.  Frequently a man could scarcely keep his feet outside.  Pieces of rock and bits of ice flew unseen through the blackness.  Rather than face such a prospect, the men came to practice bladder control to the limits of bodily endurance.

After a time, however, Wild [Shackleton's second in command] succumbed to mounting pressure and a 2-gallon gasoline can was made into a urinal for use at night.  The rule was that the man who raised its level to within 2 inches of the top had to carry the can outside and empty it.  If a man felt the need and the weather outside was bad, he would lie awake waiting for somebody else to go so that he might judge from the sound the level of the can's contents.

If it sounded ominously close to the top he would try to hold out until morning.  But it was not always possible to do so, and he might be forced to get up.  More than once, a man would fill the can as silently as possible, then steal back into his sleeping bag.  The next man to get up would find to his fury that the can was full — and had to be emptied before it could be used.

The unfortunate victim, however, could expect very little sympathy.  Most of the men looked on this as a kind of practical joke, and anyone who really lost his temper about it was so roundly ridiculed by the others that he soon gave it up.

— From Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage to the Antarctic, by Alfred Lansing

Hey, don't those guys sound like a fun bunch?  That said, it was probably more fun — or at least "less disagreeable" — than hanging their asses off the side of their heaving lifeboat while the icy ocean roiled below, delivering splash after refreshing splash of Antarctic seawater to each crew member's own personal terra australis.)

Anyway, memories of my carefree days at sea aside, I was thrilled to see that my endometrium has thickened nicely, achieving a measurement it has never approached before.  On the monitor it looked like a fluffy gray sleeping bag, neatly folded.  (Luckily, grayscale ultrasound technology cannot accurately render the fact that if it is indeed a sleeping bag, it is one plump to bursting with bloody, spongy tissue.  Which of course got me thinking of Shackleton's crew, whose reindeer-skin sleeping bags provided, at first, a welcome bulwark against the punishing cold, but eventually began to rot, leading a crew member to write: "Reindeer bags in such a hopeless sloppy slimy mess, smelling badly and weighing so heavily that we throw two of the worst overboard."  Which of course got me thinking, AAAAAGH.)

So that is where we stand right now.  Charlie is at day care; I am still trying to shake a feeling of overwhelming disorientation; my body is, for once, behaving as desired; and for some reason I can't stop thinking of Endurance.  Which might not be a bad thing — if this cycle fails, we might face a frozen transfer.  Then I'll need all the advice I can get.

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