Cabin Fever

A week on standby offshore can be very exciting. You have a lot of time to think, study for your upcoming promotion, study about your job in general, read up on operating procedures for the service you’re about to perform, read books, do little projects, work on your novel, start and finish a new TV series, craft poetry or practice sewing.

I have spent the last week re-watching the same TV shows, deliberately not studying, ignoring e mails, being angry over e mails, chatting with friends and family back in the states, facebooking my friends and family, day dreaming about seeing my friends and family, looking at my kindle thinking “reading will make me tired”, searching for fish in the water, watching a plastic bottle float across the Gulf, challenging myself to stay in bed for as long as possible, and challenging myself to not eat 4 packages of RITZ crackers every day. I usually fail at this.

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Of course, there are a few moments a day I spend in the sad sad state of sharing a putrid jack up rig bathroom with 7 men. Squatting in disappointment, limiting inhalation as this air could very well be toxic, bundling my clothes in my hand so they don’t touch the wet floor, I wonder to myself-where is my life headed. I look at my watch to see the 8th month of the year is coming to an end. I’ve been at this job for nearly two years. I have accomplished…. enough to get me in this bathroom, fearing to touch anything and legitimately praying to God that whatever liquid is covering the floor does not touch my clothes or splatter onto my feet.

This bleak scene is a reality, but really a metaphor for the life style. After having my femininity stripped, I walk outside to my wireline unit, my little office. In there is a phone. Anytime I encounter a phone, the first thing I do is attempt to call out of the country. I call my mom. I call my sister. I hear the phone make sounds, “I’m confused” the receiver says to me in a series of beeps. This is a satellite phone- it has no excuse to not call the USA. I also find it offensive since most personnel on this rig hail from other nations. I wonder what is going on with my folks today. What concoction of tuna salad and leftovers did my dad make…. I bet it’s delicious. Certainly better than the food I’m stuffing my face with while withering my youth away on this tiny metal island. They serve Indian food for breakfast. Spicy potatoes and other trays that look like a curry of sorts. There are some meats which look like long Vienna sausages and chicken burgers. I opt for oatmeal and dress it with honey.

Its a rat race. A hamster wheel. Chasing carrots. It’s cabin fever, because once I get back to Doha, I leave the tiny metal island behind.

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