Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Heaven and earth

"I will move heaven and earth to get you to the bottom of the ocean." - Craig Young

Caitlin (right) with her dive buddy, Abbe, a Ph.D. student at
Duke University, before they entered Alvin.
On a sunny afternoon shortly before we left Oregon, my labmate, Caitlin, came bouncing down the hallway to my desk. She leaned across the green table top, putting her face close to mine, and practically burst open as she spoke.

"Guess what Craig just said to me!" she gushed.

Craig had promised to do everything in his power to get her on DSV Alvin, and she could barely contain her excitement. I was more than happy for her, especially because our adviser's word is good. I'm not sure if any of you felt it, but heaven and earth have moved. Because yesterday, Caitlin got her first Alvin dive.

Stepping out of the sub, Caitlin is all smiles.
Dumping ice water on my labmate in the name of tradition!
The word that comes to my mind right now is "compersion." It's a vocabulary word I recently learned from a friend, and it means the exact opposite of jealousy. It's most often used in the context of romantic relationships, but compersion is being genuinely happy when things go well for someone you care about. I have compersion for Caitlin, because if anyone deserves a trip to the ocean floor, it's her. She did her undergraduate work at OIMB and made the transition to grad school while I was in Norway, so I really only got to know her as a Master student and a labmate since I got back in April. I can honestly say she's both a hard worker and a genuine friend. She's been on four research cruises so far, and her Master's project is about the reproduction of cold seep mussels. Unfortunately, most of her Alvin dive ended up being spent searching for a lost mooring, but at least she still got the chance to see the seafloor in person.

It's tradition that after a newbie has their first Alvin dive, they are christened with buckets of ice water. Caitlin was on an Alvin cruise last year, so she was well-acquainted with the tradition and knew full well what was coming. Our entire OIMB team was standing by with buckets when she got out of the sub, so she marched right over, stood where we told her to, and embraced the cold shower. It was an awesome day, and I'm so glad my labmate got an Alvin dive!

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