Two Weeks Beyond the Arctic Circle

I'm nearing the three week mark on my "expedition" through Europe and North Africa and the two week mark on my stay in a remote island near the North Pole. I haven't seen the moon for fourteen days.

I'm studying permafrost here, but my time in Spitsbergen, Svalbard has been so much more than a strictly scientific endeavor. I am continuously inspired by the fact that there are 24 hours of daylight on the Svalbard archipelago due to it's position at the top of the Earth and its perpetual exposure to the sun from mid-April until August.

Those who are familiar with my songs/writings or have seen me perform, know how much I speak about the “everlasting daylight".

Before I even knew that going to Svalbard was a possibility, I wrote a song about the Earth's rotation as I was traveling alone from Houston, Texas to Bucharest, Romania in the winter. When I left the states, it was afternoon, the sun was shining. When I reached Europe, nearly twelve hours later, the sun was still shining. It was morning again. I hadn't seen the moon for an entire 24 hours.

In that moment, I thought of myself as someone who was chasing a sort of everlasting daylight. I was eighteen going on nineteen, desperate enough for some change in my life that I decided to fly half way across the world to a city which seemed to be in hibernation under sub-zero temperatures. Why? Like so many other people on this planet, I must have been looking for something.

And there must be reason why I am living here in Spitsbergen with so many young Swedes, Chinese, Americans, Dutch people, Brazilian people, Danish people (the list goes on). Now congregated at the top of the world, we do our searching under perpetual daylight. This is where we grow.

I am learning science; the science of crossing my fingers while throwing a load of laundry into a Norwegian washing machine on which I cannot read the instructions. I am learning the truth; the reality that there are so many people on this planet that desire something more than banality. I am greedy for knowledge, interaction, adventure. I want more. But don't we all?

Last week I picked up my guitar and polished the last line of a song I've been writing-

Seekers do their seeking in the everlasting sun; one by one, one by one.

One Week Beyond the Arctic Circle

I can't remember the first time I fell in love with a map.

Growing up as the daughter of two immigrants, I gave a lot of meaning to maps and the distances between places and the people in those places. When my dad bought a big atlas and put it in our living room book case many years ago, I would open it to the page with the world map and wonder about the isolated corners of the earth. Especially, the bottom and the top, where the map seemed to just "end". I wondered about life in every corner of the world and promised myself that I would get to the end of the earth in the only way I knew possible- to become a geologist. Week one beyond the Arctic Circle (Longyearbyen, Svalbard) and I think I have learned more about people than I have about geology. I'm living with Russians, swedes, norwegians, Fins, Danish, Dutch, Chinese, Portugese. Most of all, I am learning more about who I am, and where I come from. Ironically, it is in these spaces that I feel the most American- As the daughter of two immigrants, I have made it to the end of the earth. The giant atlas in my home bookcase smiles back at me and a faint whisper in my head sings- Home is weeks away in time but all around in space and in mind.

Beyond the Arctic Circle - Pre-Departure

16 March, 2019
Some insight into the part of my life that rarely makes it on social media-
I've just returned from a week long trip to the mountains of West Texas, making maps for my structural geology course. It was a week full of sunburned, blistered hands, and rough windstorms which led to a night without shelter. I'm tougher because of it.
It is with great pleasure that I announce that I've been called to do field work on an island very close to the North Pole. Since I was a little girl, it has been my dream to visit the far north and far south. This dream reminds me why I am still pursuing geology. I leave for Svalbard in June.