Third quarter blues

So I was reading about those virtual astronauts a while ago (hey remember how I used to cover [wait for it] space health issues for that weird newspaper a few years ago?).  Were these guys newsworthy back home? The five men who spent a year and a half locked away in a fake space capsule to simulate a trip to Mars?  My coworkers knew all about it.  Maybe because the mission was Russian.  Or maybe because it’s just a bonkers news story — did you see how, after 257 days, they got to “land” and do a “Mars walk” in a giant sandbox?  O!  My heart!

The fake Mars trip came up again recently, when a fellow volunteer told me about the “third quarter phenomenon:” Apparently, people in extreme isolation (astronauts, Antarctic researchers, dudes on submarines [submarine…rs?]) tend to have the most emotional, social and psychological problems in the third quarter of the mission.  Tonight, I fell down an internet rabbit hole for an hour or so and now I have a folder on my desktop full of articles called things like “Psychosocial issues in space: Results from shuttle/MIR” and “Factors affecting human performance in the isolated confined environment of Biosphere 2,” so, just let me know if you want any pdfs emailed to you I guess.

And now I want to tell you something, honestly, person to person: My ass is dragging.

I get really tired at school, really quickly.  There’s this one person at work who irritates the crap out of me, and I’ve been taking evil pleasure in saying snide, dismissive things to this person.  People ask me for favors that I think they have no business asking for, and I am blunt in my refusals.  Weekends don’t recharge me.  Winter extends in every direction around me.  Perhaps most alarmingly, I bought myself a new dress last week and it didn’t help.

This is all despite the fact that work is fine, my teachers are delightful, and my sitemates are awesome.*

I’ve been acknowledging my attitude problem to people left and right (American people, I mean.  Neither my coworkers nor I have the foreign language skills to navigate the cultural minefield that would be this discussion; plus, they get worried when I’m outside after dusk, so), but just knowing the third quarter phenomenon is upon you is not enough to actually get rid of it, it seems?

Fortunately, my calculations indicate that we will enter our fourth quarter of service sometime in January, so that means only one more month of this living nightmare!  I will be merry again in time for Ryan’s 30th birthday, which is good, because I think it would be best if we all kept our spirits up around him as he enters his dotage.

{Editor’s note: After writing this I remembered how I haven’t exercised in a month and so I did some push-ups and I think it kind of helped.  Let this be a lesson for us (me) all}

* I haven’t ever sung the praises of my Greater Erdenet Metropolitan Area sitemates on my blog, and that is wrong.  We have a solid crew here, which is something to be deeply, profoundly thankful for, for reals, especially when it comes to one’s mental health.

Look how much fun we have!  We climb big signs we have no business climbing!

We make and consume donuts!


We stand out on the porch and chop vegetables!

We put on seminars for English teachers!

Basically, Erdenet owns.  Sorry, all other PC/Mongolia cities.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Third quarter blues

  1. Oh snap. That is definitely what I’ve been feeling… I’m glad it’s not just me. It was worse back in September/October, but it’ll probably gonna pop up again after the holidays. Bleh. Also, you’re right. Erdenet is pretty damn awesome. The BU is coming up in the world, though, so watch out.

  2. dave

    we live identical lives katie! you and ryan can move in here for a while if you want.

    • Okay. We can do a house swap for a vacation, just like Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet in “The Holiday.” Erdenet is lovely in the wintertime, and there are many Jude Law-type men running around for you to fall in love with.

      • dave

        ive been thinking. whats the hot dope on mongolian cowboy hats? are those for sale in shops or are people getting those some other way?

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