> > > 8-month mission on "Mars": What I will miss: Top 5 list

Monday, June 8, 2015

What I will miss: Top 5 list

The end of the countdown is only five days away! It's definitely hard to believe. So much anticipation in the past month or so, and now the end is near. It's time to start packing up. Even though I've been anxiously counting down the days until our "re-entry back to Earth" I know there are many aspects of life on simulated Mars that I will sorely miss. Here's the top five list:

5. Unlimited food stuffs! Yes, our food is a bit strange, but it's virtually unlimited. We have a huge supply of all the staples and even though at different points in the mission we have run out of sugar, carrots, chicken, ground beef, and gluten free flour. Who cares, there's so many other options, no plain sugar, use the brown sugar, powdered sugar, or maple syrup, no carrots oh it's alright Martha's garden is about to birth some, no chicken or beef, ahh well we have ham, turkey, tofu, bacon, sausage, etc., no gluten-free flour then make a new combo with almond flour, buckwheat flour, rice flour, and xanthan gum. We never ran out of ideas for new meals to prepare either. We have eaten cuisines from all over the world from Martha's Ghanaian dishes to Sophie's Tex-Mex to Allen's Russian meals. We have cooked from-scratch so many baked goods and desserts that I never even considered making at home before. 

4. Cooking once per week. I'm spoiled. We have been eating so well for so many days in a row, and each of us on average has only had to cook once per week. It just tastes better when you aren't the one cooking it. All of us have treated each other to elaborate meals that we have slaved over for the entire afternoon. We have desserts several times per week. And our daily workout routine has kept our appetites up for the duration. After Tony kicks our butts in P90X, we are ready to devour some food. I can honestly say that boredom with food was never an issue here, which was a great surprise. Stay on the lookout for the "Fake Food on Fake Mars" cookbook! It's coming together nicely.. here's a brief summary: Martha has mastered croissants and scones and all things curry, I have bagels, pretzels, and pizza dough in my repertoire, Sophie makes some delicious homemade cheese and migas brunch that couldn't be any tastier, Neil somehow has managed to make gluten-free bread reliably work, Allen is the man when it comes to using magical binding agents to form cutlets or meatballs, and Zak is the king of barbeque and homemade mac n cheese and actually he's the master of anything that he cooks! 

3. Inside jokes :) I'm pretty sure that 99% of our jokes will not even be remotely funny to my family and friends. It's all about the context. The only population that has any hope at joining in on some of the dome humor are cult-like fans of P90X fitness program. Tony Horton, our honorary 7th crewmember, has added so many one-liners to our excel spreadsheet for joke tracking. Yes, we have been tracking our use of jokes and memes throughout the mission. Some of our jokes are purely entertainment, some are for diffusing conflict, some are for bonding, and some are motivational. Humor analysis, it's real science on fake mars! 

2. Slippers! I will never be the same. It has been such a beautiful thing to wake up, throw on my slippers and robe, grab some coffee and start working away. After a couple hours, then I commit to the day and actually get dressed in daytime clothing. It's so perfectly efficient. There's no commuting, no meetings or classes to attend across campus, no weather issues. I don't even have to worry about packing my lunch or remembering to bring gym clothes. Life in the dome is an efficiency-minded person's bliss.

1. Sense of belonging. This was an 8-month commitment, one team, one goal. No matter how stubbornly persistent I am, from my all-night workaholic nature to my Lenten promises to TEDx practice sessions, the crew has endured my revolving door of obsessions, and they have blessed me with their quirks too. We have a lovely and productive arrangement. There's a solace in certainty. I guess I got a taste of marriage, albeit a hexagon of relationships rather than a dyad. We have given each other loyalty and commitment, through the good and the bad, we belong to the crew. We give it our best and forget the rest.


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