In the first few months down here, I witnessed some “bizarre” things. Nothing particularly pops into my head at the moment, but there were plenty of moments where I found myself thinking “man, that’s weird.” After the first few days, I kept these moments to myself. The response was always the same.
Typically, the folks who have been here for a few winters (“the old salties”) would instruct me to “wait til it gets deep.” They were intimating that once we got into “deep winter” that things would get much more bizarre. Well, it’s now deep winter. And, though things no longer seem bizarre, abnormal or out of place, I understand what they meant.
Not long ago, when people would try to explain away mental lapses or poor judgement on “winter brain,” the typical response was “man, it’s too early for that.” Now having reached July, the month when, I have been told, people really start to lose it, folks just nod in agreement when a person claims “winter brain.” Actually speaking in agreement often takes far too much effort. Winter brain.
I watched as various friends suffered through the children who refused to sleep. “Jet fuel up their ass” was the common expression. These were kids who kept their parents up all hours of the night. Sleep was as elusive as leprechauns and unicorns. I recall a picture that went around Facebook of a person who had put her coffee in the breakfast bowl and had a mug full of cereal. As a childless person, I was amused, but couldn’t relate.
And now, I will make a bold statement. Wintering in Antarctica is like having children. Parent With Newborn Brain and Winter Brain are apparently the same affliction. The other morning, I followed my usual am routine. Brushing of teeth, putting in of contacts, checking the weather to see how many jackets I would need for the day. A routine developed over decades. Except the “how many jackets.” That part is obviously new. Mid-way through putting on my shoes, I realized that I had no pants on. My morning routine, one that is essentially muscle memory, was in the upheaval of winter brain. I got one shoe completely on, tied and everything, before I noticed.
Needless to say, I’m double checking all my drug dosages these days.