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24 January 2010 @ 08:53 am
MDRS-88: Grand disjunction  
Woke up in the hotel in Grand Junction, and even though I'm no longer in an isolated station in the middle of the desert I felt very alone. I miss my crewmates. Had another hot shower to the point of wrinkled fingers. Aah.

Didn't have a great breakfast. My waffle stuck in the waffle maker, then I spilled a whole cup of coffee getting the creamer out of the fridge, and by the time I got that cleaned up the torn-up waffle was cold. Fox News was babbling away on the TV, talking about how a nun had been saved from being run over by a train and a dog was rescued from floodwaters on the L.A. River, and I reflected just how much I had not missed the news from Earth. About the only news I did catch was the fact of a horrible earthquake in Haiti, but the news was... well, it was so irrelevant to us that it might as well have been on another planet.

I realized only later that I hadn't had to take full responsibility to clean up the coffee spill. It simply never occurred to me to ask anyone else to do it.

While I ate my cold waffle I pulled out my iPhone to check my email. But as soon as I connected to the network, the very first thing I pulled up was the MDRS webcam. All the new kids were gathered in the kitchen area; looks like they're doing the dishes together. Good for them. Then I read my email, and the first couple of messages were between the new crew and Mission Support (crew members are included on the hab mailing list for the previous and following rotations as well). The crew was asking about how to get the water heater in the kitchen working (it isn't working because there isn't one; we heated water for our sponge baths on the stove) and Mission Support sent them a reminder about getting your daily reports and photos in on time. And while I was reading a trivial little exchange about getting a network hard drive set up on the hab laptop I started sobbing, right there in the Best Western's breakfast room. I can't really describe my emotions at that point. Loss? Homesickness? Relief? Exhaustion? If it's homesickness I'm not sure whether it's for Portland or Mars. Whatever it is, I'm crying again right now as I type this.

It's now 9:00 AM and my flight home isn't until 4:00 PM. I could go to the airport now and try to get on standby for an earlier flight, but that would be a hassle and I'd most likely wind up spending the day in the Grand Junction and/or Denver airports rather than home with my sweetie. I have a lot of things to do on my computer anyway, and my hotel room has a nice desk and fast free Internet, so I'm just going to stay here until my scheduled departure time.

Oz Whiston writing as Oz Drummondbirdhousefrog on January 24th, 2010 04:15 pm (UTC)
Thanks for writing this...I can see how these might be the after-effects of the two weeks in a small environment where you all depended on each other. And then a sense of loss that it now belongs to someone else and you have to let it go.

Was there any difference in folks who had been in the hab before? Didn't you have at least one person who had done it before, the commander maybe?

I think all of you added something...left the hab a little better than you found it.

And good luck to them with that morning jazzercise! That made me giggle when I read it.

Push/pull and conflicting emotions. Hope you can get some work done or at least some writing of your experiences while they're still hot in your mind. They'll be useful to refer back to.

David D. Levinedavidlevine on January 24th, 2010 04:35 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading and commenting! None of us had been to Mars before. I'm sure the dynamic with a partly-experienced crew would be very, very different.
Oz Whiston writing as Oz Drummondbirdhousefrog on January 24th, 2010 05:21 pm (UTC)
I think you're right, that the dynamics would have been different. Possibly your group brought a lot of enthusiasm and not a whit of cynicism. The radio telescope, for example.

Imagine what this does to your ability to write about group dynamics in a closed loop scenario. Wow. Or rather, you know and I'm imagining it. *writer envy*

scarlettinascarlettina on January 24th, 2010 06:36 pm (UTC)
I think you were all lucky to have to learn together. I'm just sorry you had such a hard splashdown, so to speak. ::hug::

My experience in Africa supports your observation that the dynamic with a partly-experienced crew would be very, very different--no question. I'll tell you about it sometime.
David D. Levinedavidlevine on January 24th, 2010 09:29 pm (UTC)
Just because I was sobbing doesn't mean I was unhappy. It's just a bout of strong emotion, which isn't such a bad thing for a writer to experience every once in a while.
scarlettinascarlettina on January 24th, 2010 10:05 pm (UTC)
I didn't think you were unhappy; I understand, really.
Erin Cashiertherinth on January 24th, 2010 04:50 pm (UTC)
I've really enjoyed reading these David. *hugs*
kathrynmicekathrynmice on January 24th, 2010 05:58 pm (UTC)
have a gigantic . . .
. . . virtual hug.

I can't wait to read what the back of your mind is already plotting writing about this whole experience!

(Anonymous) on January 24th, 2010 11:55 pm (UTC)
Welcome back to Earth!

As it turns out the downstairs hot water heater does supply hot water to the kitchen sink after all. We just had to turn up its temperature a little. Darrel fixed the leak in the kitchen sink hot water line by finding a replacement O-ring.

By the way, we "kids" have an average age in the mid-30s.

-- Brian (MDRS Crew 89)
CatJugglingcatjuggling on January 25th, 2010 04:56 am (UTC)
Thanks for all your reports! Welcome back!