12/08/2006

A Narcissistic Exercise in Premature Nostalgia

FORTY TWO DAYS TO GO: The first two weeks on Mt. Boreas were brutally cold, and it wasn't until several days into the experience that I realized the smart money fires up a Coleman stove in their tent in the evenings. This is taken only about four or five days after we arrived. I look like I am well ready to leave already; I'm stunned and shocked by the prospect of another month and a half in my icebox and look as if someone has hit me in the forehead with a rock hammer.


FORTY DAYS TO GO: A couple of days later, by which point I probably had a stove going, so that I seem to have been warm enough to remember to use the flash on the camera, and make this unique, absurd and abortive attempt at personal grooming. Trust me, after I saw this self-portrait I never made the same mistake again. We had no water to wash with and in fact did not wash, other than with the occasional alcohol swab, for the entire six and half weeks we were out in the field. This greasy combover look I have going on right here puts Rudi Giuliani to shame.


THIRTY-THREE DAYS TO GO In full on mountain-man mode, with a face full of snotsickles.


THIRTY DAYS TO GO This is from the evening after we moved camps, perhaps the most brutal day of the entire shoot, with endless hours of schlepping under a sun that blasted through the still-present ozone hole. I got scorched, with my lips swelling to double their normal volume, and then a few days later cracking and peeling. It was not pretty, but in this first bee-stung stage I think it makes for quite an attractive look. I rather resemble Angelina Jolie, don't you think?


TWENTY FOUR DAYS TO GO I'm grimly focussed on just making it through. By now the outside world has receded into oblivion; life outside of the camp is as abstract and difficult to imagine as a black hole, or the big bang. The occasional visitors look at us as if we were Papuan primitives with nose-bones, sitting down next to them at the Metropolitan Opera.



TWENTY DAYS TO GO This is around the time when my camp-mates stopped laughing at the Ali Fatah Morgana jokes. If it is possible to "go native" on an uninhabited frozen plateau free of all natives, then I have by this time done so. "I don't give a damn. Who cares if they try to come get us in one of those McMurdo helicopters? We got guns, we got granola, we got gorp, we can hold them off for months." Around this time I had the fantasy that I would to hike down to the nearest neighboring camp, inhabited by a couple I had never met, and then pretend I only spoke Arabic, meanwhile consulting my GPS as to the proper direction of Mecca. I really thought this was a good idea and that it would be really funny.


FORTY FIVE MINUTES TO GO I finally consented to get in one of those helicopters and head back to McMurdo, which is what passes for civilization around here. But is that thing for real? An enormous red hedgehog seems to be biting my face off. I'm trying to hold out so I can ceremoniously cut the whole mess clear on New Year's day, but that means another three weeks of growth to go. I don't know if I can hack that through the upcoming holiday season. If any wiseacres up in New Zealand start making Santy jokes, I guarantee I'm going postal on them with a cricket bat.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

You're right: narcissism hits a new low in this one man rogue's gallery

They say it's a cold world said...

I hate to delete comments but the following:

"Matt said...

I think you're losing your shit, Richard!

Nice beard, though, dude. You do look like a Satanic Santa/Irish jihadi." left at 17:38 including a link to the sort of material that some of my readers might find objectionable... contents of message preserved, link not...

hectic said...

jumping jihad rich - come to Africa and chill.