Well, it's been 2+ weeks since I arrived home. It sometimes feels like I never left, while other times it feels like I've been gone for months. It truly is a Time Warp - cue the Rocky Horror music and costumes. Getting adjusted to a sleep schedule was actually not too bad. I arrived home on Friday and stayed up to almost 9:00 pm. I was up at 3:00 am on Sat morning, 4:00 am on Sunday morning, and then was ready to go when my alarm went off at 5:10 am Monday. (Even creating this Journal has been an experience in time shifting. I started drafting this final entry my first few days back during my prep period while avoiding random administrative emails detailing new policies. That weekend, I flew (after 2 canceled flights and 3 cities) to Oregon to see my daughter Ellie, returning home on the red-eye and heading right into work. Sleep schedule?!? What sleep schedule? Today, Daylight Savings Time ended, so I got another hour back, but now our entire family has to remember who is in what time zone - Arizona is always the problem because they don't switch, so know we've got them all covered except for Alaska and Hawaii.
I arrived home Saturday, October 22 to a very warm welcome by my wife and the cat Murphy. Our dog Lucy was more interested in sniffing my luggage, but then she quickly warmed up - she is a 13 lb lap dog trapped in a 77 lb Rottweiler, Australian Shepherd body.
When I got back to school, many people were happy to see me, and I was amazed by the number of people who followed along on the journals and on Twitter and Facebook. My department colleagues were very excited to hear about geeky science; many of my non-science colleagues were more interested in hearing about the ship; some of my administrators didn't even realize I was gone (one of them asked me when my trip was - thanks for the support).
My students were glad to see me. I met several of them for the first time because they transferred to my class after I left.
Many of them wanted to know when Mr. Ochoa (my long-term substitute teacher) was going to be back - I have a thick skin and was glad that they embraced him so much and that he was able to keep up with the curriculum. He deserves special kudos, as he was not a science major in college, but he was able to learn the biology and the physics necessary to not only follow the lesson plans, but to help the kids truly learn. I am very lucky to have had him.
We've spent the last 2 weeks working on projects and doing labs, We've moved our desks out of rows and back into grouped tables (the students are actually farther apart than before). We celebrated Halloween (I don't think the administration realized the irony of the "no mask" policy for costumes. Someone just copied and pasted the old policy), and we even reviewed for an Exam with Kahoot.
I spend a lot of time thinking about the trip. I miss the Science Party - I wonder what they are doing, how their work is going, and am still surprised when they are not sitting at my breakfast table. I am still a little "traumatized" by the color green in nature - the only green I saw was the deck of the ship - and many of the leaves here still have not changed. I am loving fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat without sauce. I am still surprised by being able to read all the signs that I see. I miss 3:30 pm tea time (especially the ricotta-like cheese with sweetened condensed milk and sour cream), but not the mediocre instant coffee. I am still relieved when rooms and hallways don't occasionally move up and down and side to side. I find myself searching for the vast, still, extreme, light-intense expanse of the Arctic.
I was bitten by the "Polar bug" 12 years ago and had been looking for a way to return to the Arctic. PolarTREC allowed this to happen, and I know that the experience for me personally and for my students has been a profound one for which I will always be grateful.