Condition One

Condition one means I can't go outside. The wind will tear me from the ground and drag me somewhere south. Minna Bluff. Black Island. White Island. Out where Scott died. Add this body to the roster of those lost (for what?) in this place. I'm here till it stops.

You can wait your life dry and nothing happens. Drunks die in gutters clutching paper bags and empty bottles. Fathers and mothers struggle in life dissolving jobs waiting for luck to change.

It can. No one knows why. Lightning strikes. People have been hit, burned through their clothes in scars that look like trees. But it probably wasn't you.

Six numbers can change your life, super state lottery. Meteors have hit people sleeping soundly in bed. Chunks of friction-warm iron plowing through roof from somewhere beyond the asteroid belt, knocked out of orbit by visitors from the Oort cloud. So far away where they live the sun is just another star and it goes through the Beautyrest like it didn't cost fifteen hundred bucks at Sleep Train Discount.

People have fallen in love at first sight, and second. And people have come to realize they'd been in love all along even though they were crying themselves to sleep nearly every night for the loneliness of never knowing who might have loved them.

Maybe life works that way on purpose. Easy has no meaning except in contrast. If we had to live in Antarctica we'd think it was easy everywhere up north.

Condition one means stay where you are while the earth takes care of business. Balancing pressure. Equalizing. Stand clear. It's going to be big, too much for you little boy.

I'm writing this having been nearly blown off my feet walking from dinner to the lab. I'd seen pictures of it being like this. Never been in it for real till now. Everything shakes. If I didn't know this building's stood worse, I'd think it was coming down. Sounds like airplanes going by outside. Fine particles of snow creep through rubber seals like tiny animals, get everywhere. Sixty-mile-per-hour wind tearing over the land as if we were on Venus and there was no ground that mattered. Like the earth wants to wipe itself clean of life.

For a while, we live anyway. Maybe dying is the wrong thing to worry about.

I'd take a picture, but it's easier for you to simply think cold and white than for me to transmit bits that convey the same lack of visual stimuli. This sort of thing has been happening since before people. It hasn't mattered, and except for me depending on the artifice of shelter for survival, it doesn't now.
Either. I wonder if I shouldn't have been what I was.

I should have worried about something warmer and closer. Never too late they say. Every minute you're breathing is another you're not gone forever. If I wasn't here in this storm I'd be home sleeping, waiting for another weekend to start. Pick up the newspaper and walk the dog. Warm up the oatmeal and cut a banana. Pray for the faithless whom God loves as much as the ones who pray.

All those Sundays on my knees might have meant less than the thanks for the wondrous things, children born and songs rehearsed.

It's white and strong out. This is why we're here, I suppose. Luck of the draw.

Understandibly, morale improves in a killer storm.

McMurdo Station - October 23 2005