Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Kinda Like Home

As I wake from my bed with another bad nights sleep I curse my bed and my blow-up pillow. But what did I expect, I'm on Mars, I should be happy with breathable air everyday. Right? I've come to adore this place. It feels more like a home than a research expedition. I've come to have a meaningful and genuine relationship with the hab and the people I share it with.

You would think that the fact we have two working sinks, one toilet, zero usable showers, and enough dust in the air to infest your lungs with silicosis that I would be overjoyed in the thought of leaving this place in four days. But that's not the case, not by a long shot. Even my rover, which nobody else will use for some reason, I have grown attached to. It hit me today as I was watching District 9 on my computer, that this place, my surroundings, this habitat, is not that different than what I consider comfortable living.

Some people call it being resourceful. My roommates used to get on me for mixing beans in with my pasta, I saw it as an easy way to get my protein and carbs, without wasting money on chicken and pasta sauce. It’s practical, it's my engineering mind taking over. I've come to realize that one does not need much to get by; it's funny to think that I have played football for the last 16 years of my life, and I don’t even know what's going on in the NFL playoffs. This place has that kind of effect on you. When everywhere you look you see sights that you've never seen before, every sight, every sound, every experience is novel and unique.

A lot of my buddies back home are giving me a lot of crap right now for blogging, and putting my thoughts out there for everyone to read. There are even those who have said, "Paul's going to space camp", and "Paul, it's a simulation", and then they would laugh as if it was a joke. I thought this place would be a great experience for me. Little did I know that it would be more of a relationship than an experience. I enjoy getting up in the morning and being partly responsible for all three rovers working properly, I have become somewhat responsible for the continuous running and maintenance of the hab. I know I'm only the assistant engineer, but I feel like I have learned the ins and outs of this hab, and I'm proud of that.

As we head down the home stretch, a light has been switched on in my head. You would be surprised when you sit down and think about what is really important. There's no tv out here to cloud your mind with what others think to be important. When you can only use the internet for important emails, you see how much precious time is wasted seemingly staring into oblivion. So much of our lives these days consist of taking in what others have to say, and following the standards that others have set. Out here there is no one telling you their thoughts on what is important, people are just working together for a common goal. How many times in life do you see that? Listen to this, no one here will ever benefit monetarily from the work they did here, many will never return to see the positive impact that they and their crew had on this habitat. Yet, everybody does there job, and does it well. We actually pay to be a part of this.

I know this is only a simulation, but I am at the point where you need to stop looking at what you've accomplished, and what you have to do, and you need to take in the moment for what it is. The snow covered hills, the smiling faces in the below zero temperatures, the uncanny willingness to help others with any and everything. I don't think there are too many examples in society that function as well as this group has. I am the youngest one here, I am the only student, no matter what I do I am looked at as the little brother. Others may have a problem with that, I don't. Everyone here has taken time out of their day, their lives, and their experience, in order to give me a piece of much needed advice on engineering things or even life lessons dealing with college and the process of becoming an astronaut.

So now I'm hear listening to the nightly crew debriefing. I used to hate meetings at football, because people would talk about simple things, and it seemed like they just wanted to hear themselves talk. Here, I enjoy listening to others speak, because the courtesy is reciprocated. Its nice to be around others that care and are as passionate about things as you are. Maybe it’s the common goal that we all have, maybe it's something else, I don’t know. What I do know is that a week and a half ago I was on the verge of spending two weeks with five strangers, now I sit here and tell you that this is going to go down as one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

Roger That,
Astro Paul


  1. Paul, this gave me goosebumps. If I weren't here in Mexico distracting myself with barbecued goat and folk art, I would be *insanely* jealous of David's experience with you guys. Thanks for writing about it.

  2. Daring Dave has me hooked on blogging. Mars has been good to us all, we are having a great time.