My Year on Mars

Today’s post comes from Curiosity’s Mars Rover.

My ground controllers tell me I had an anniversary this past week – one Martian year has gone by since I literally dropped out of the sky on to this cold, dusty planet!

I had no idea. Anniversaries and birthdays and such aren’t really on my radar. I use radar for other things, like finding mountains and watching for incoming meteors. Getting surprised by either one could be embarrassing, or a catastrophic fiery collision. And I’m programmed to avoid both, which leaves no room in my memory for trivial dates.

It just occurred to me that I don’t know the birthdays of any of my controllers! Not that I could send presents from this distance, especially since I don’t have any packaging or postage. I guess not falling off a ridge or crushing a wheel between two rocks is my gift to them. Without me, they’d be making latte’s at Starbucks.

And the controllers didn’t send a birthday present to me, either. Except orders to take another selfie, which is not a gift, in my opinion.

It does make me wonder if launching vast amounts of bubble wrap to Mars would be one way to start building up an atmosphere. That could be a Mars Mission recruiting attraction – you get to sit up here and pop bubble wrap all day long. I understand there are some people who would like that to be their full time job, though it sounds a little boring.

And believe me, I know a thing or two about bleak, repetitive, non-creative tasks!

So far the work has gone like this – drive forward two feet, wait for instructions. Turn right. Wait for instructions. Drive eight inches. Wait for instructions. Drill a hole. Wait for instructions. Wait, wait, wait. Do some small, insignificant thing. Wait. Take another selfie.

I’m not complaining because I’m not programmed to do that, but when they told me one year on Mars was equal to almost two full Earth years, I thought they were talking about the tedium.

Turns out it is, literally, almost a whole year longer.

I admit I’ve spent some of the down time watching old TV shows. I’m sure you’ve heard that the ancient signals are out here bouncing around the cosmos. I like the classics, like Leave it To Beaver.

Wait. I can do his voice. Here it is:

“Geez Wally, I thought going to Mars would be really neat. But it’s just following orders and waiting for adults to tell you to do stuff. Time drags on so slow, it kinda feels like you’ll never get to grow up. I’d talk to Dad about it, but he’s kinda busy figuring out my next 16 inch trip.”

Oops. Call coming in. Time to begin endless year #2.

What was your longest year?

30 thoughts on “My Year on Mars”

    1. Guess it’s just you and me Mig.
      And I’m headed to town for cupcakes.

      A few years ago we had a tough year that lasted longer than it should have; Lost a handful of relatives that year.


  1. Good morning. As mig has said I think of my longest year as the toughest one. I don’t think I have had any years that were extremely difficult. Probably my last year living at home when I was finishing my second year of junior college was the worst.

    Junior college was more or less like an extension of high school. I didn’t have a great time as a high school student and i really didn’t need two more years of just about same thing. Making it through that second year of Junior College was not a big problem. However, I would have been much better off if I had spent that year some place else.


  2. The longest year was the 7 years ago when we lost our son Joel. To adequately answer that would take many pages, and sometimes I want to write about that, but haven’t yet.

    The second longest year was the 6 months Michael was unable to finish the fall term (teaching was literally making him sick) at Winona State in 1984. Being unemployed with a mortgage is really the pits – I found a job as a kindergarten aide in a nearby school and Michael stayed home with the little guy. Eventually we moved back to Mpls. in the spring, since that was where he was able to find a job with computers, and the rest is history.


  3. The longest year of my life was the eight months I’ve just come through, deciding to make so many changes in a life that had settled nicely into a pleasant groove. It amuses me now to see how very little of my earlier life is the same as it was. The few habits from before are now under scrutiny to see if they, too, should be dumped in favor of doing something different. I brought a fair amount of art with me from my old bungalow. So far, none of it has gone up because I can’t shake the conviction that those paintings and prints represent “then” instead of “now.” I eat different things, drink different things, spend my time with different things, which is queer for a guy my age. I can’t decide if time has played a huge joke on me or I have played a stunning joke on time. One of the few constants in my life: I’m fond of baboons.


    1. Sounds to me like you have managed to do something very few have accomplished and succeeded in not being run-over or mired-down by time.


      1. I think this year will prove to be my longest year. My dad is hanging in there, yet he wants his journey on this earth to end soon. Last night we thought he was on his way out. He had intense and sudden upper back pain, the worst he has ever had. He ate really creamy tomato soup for supper along with a pepper jack grilled cheese sandwich. He took some nitro pills although it didn’t feel like chest pain, and then it went away as quickly as it came. He was just fine this morning. I recalled that in his last body scan they detected gall stones as well as cancer. Having had my own gall bladder out and having had experienced painful gall stone attacks, it seems most likely gall stones were the cause of the pain, especially given what he had for supper.


        1. If it is gall stones, I don’t envy him. I’ve had my share of pain, including birthing three babies with no medication, but gall stone attacks was the worst.


        2. Yes, we talk about it pretty freely. Daughter feels that my father and I are way too blunt. We have discussed what Hospice means, that at some point we will discontinue all his medications, even his heart meds, and he understands and is accepting of it.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Right now he feels so much better than he did last night he says he feels like he is in heaven already. We are listening to Fletcher Henderson’s orchestra and Dad is drinking a beer.

          Liked by 4 people

        4. Renee, the last year of my Dad’s life is another candidate for the longest year of my life. As in your case, my Dad had very serious health problems and was very weak. I was more or less retired and could stop by and see him almost every day at the nursing home.

          I didn’t mind doing that and just thought of it as something I should do. He did stay with us for a while before he got to the point where we couldn’t handle all of the care he needed. It was a hard time. I think of it more as a year when I did something i needed to do and tend to not think of it as a bad year.

          Liked by 2 people

        5. Last night when Dad was feeling so poorly, the dog was very concerned and was walking around with her tail down, a sure sign of terrier worry. Dad slept in the guest room upstairs last night and was so touched to wake up with the dog and both cats sleeping next to him.

          Liked by 2 people

    2. Steve – I could NEVER do what you’ve just done. Never. My nesting instinct and fear of change would make this impossible. You’ve mentioned that if you didn’t make this move, Molly would’ve inevitably had to deal with the stuff of your whole lifetime. Now she doesn’t because you’re right there with the only stuff you’ve pared down to.
      What a heroic feat you’ve accomplished!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m not sure I have a good answer – there have certainly been difficult years, but they all passed, as time and difficulties do. Perhaps the year that was the last few weeks of my pregnancy – it certainly wasn’t a chronological year, but those last weeks of waddling about on swollen feet really wanting to meet my daughter were long.


  5. The longest year of my life (actually two) was in the early 90s when the father of an incest victim under my care filed a complaint with my board when he learned who I was. He charged that I “planted false memories” in his daughter. Fighting this false claim tookme two years, and 80-page rebuttal, testimony from coast to coast from experts on the subject of incest, seven grand in attorney’s fees, and my peace of mind.

    I ate, slept and drank this injustice for two years, not knowing if my license to practice would be yanked or not. In the end, all of my work paid off and I was cleared of all charges. The other professionals in my field sang my praises due to “there but by the grace of God go I”, and because I’d battled what was then a very corrupt board, I lead the way for other social workers to fight.

    Would I do it again? Probably not, but at the time I became obsessed with being unfairly treated. I don’t have it in me anymore, I guess.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, it was Barbara. A very long haul and a lot of fear and anxiety. I don’t think I’d have the strength to fight something like this again. I’m having enough trouble gearing up to confront my neighbors about their trees endangering my cottage.


  6. OT – Here’s an email I just received with regard to this evening’s Peter Mulvey concert. Suggested donation – $10-20.

    It’s a glorious day for a house concert. We’re moving the music to the back yard. Bring friends!

    We have a keg of cold beer here and punch for the kiddos. You’re welcome to bring anything else you want.

    doors at 6, music at 7

    3950 Aldrich Av S.
    It’s an old stucco grey and white duplex – we’re the lower level.

    You can walk around back or come on through the house. Make yourselves at home.


  7. this one had me thinking . i started out saturday morning singing the blues and i had posted an woe is me paragraph or two and when i hit the go button it went away and i was in such a pissy mood form nsinging my woe is me song that i was flustered and needed to get on with my day and wasnt able to get back to check it until later in the evening. i had a chance to think about what i had written and if there were other times to consider instead of the one i had chosen and as i reviewed my life and the potential longest year i realized that my life has gone through worry and angst and anxiety that coused an ulcer to pop and a tendancy to overshoot reality that has the effect of needing to dream up a way to get the mission i am on to the next level when it isnt possible. and the way it has gone has been consistant if nothing else and the way i have chosen to go forward is not a mellow laid back type of approach but it is my way i heve to put one foot in front of the other and get the ship back on track and the mission going forward. i have asked myself if i was magic and could do anything and make it happen today what would i do. then i do that and do my best to make it happen. i dont acknowledge bad times, i find a slice of hope and a reach to go for and that gets me through. i never get the show right to the point wher i can relax but maybe one of these day, maybe one of these days. longest years are nothing i want to try to remember or focus on and the way i get on to the promised land is to keep on keeping on. i saw a bloip form anne lamott yesterday talking about how her reflections on the trying moments in her life and i was too rushed to get them planted as firmly as i would like to but i wil i will i will take the time to get back to it soon. i love anne lamott.. barbara i cant imagine what it must have been like to lose joel, i remember meeting you soona fter that event and being at a loss of what to say to you as you introduced yourself and told us about joel, renee i feel so at a loss as to how to offer comfort as you watch your dad dying before your very eyes weeks after losing you mother. i love your strength but cant imagine what you need to do to be prioritizing what gets done before its too late. good summer, good times with the last of the last. if only we all had a warning that iet was time to focus on the fact it is almost over. dale that year was abitch for you too huh. i plugged your rude dismissal as the beginning of shock setting in that took a year plus to get over.
    thanks dale for this respite in lifes whirlwind. the longest year i am not looking forward to is the year this blog ends. i will be lost. of all my stops in the days ahead and behind the blog may hold the most special place. i hate that clye had to call it quits and i miss the snarky cracks. i am glad to have the rest of you still around to act as my therapists and keep the long days connected to the cosmos in a meaningful way. i am into denial and the blog allows me to continue the tradition of optimistic balderdash and hope. there will be a new topic tomorrow.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. The year I bought my house was a rather long year. Looked at houses for months to find something that I could afford. Had some trouble lining up the financing, back in the day when banks looked at buyers skeptically. Then there was the packing and moving, contractors and plumbers and electricians coming and going, a heat wave and a record drought (1988). Worked on the house through the summer and into the early winter to complete the work required to get my money out of escrow (the bank’s consent to lend me the money was conditional on my completing a list of repairs and improvements). By the time the New Year rolled around I just wanted to sleep till spring. Or longer.

    Now the years just slip away one after another. I shall try to arrange to have one long, long year that is long because it’s full of wonderful things, instead of difficulties and hardships.

    Liked by 3 people

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