Being a Kid

When you are little the world is controlled by giants. Everything is taking directions from someone else whose kneecaps look you in the eye.IMG_8005

When and what to eat. Or not to eat. What to wear. Where to live and to whose family you belong. Everything is decided and dictated by someone else and you have no say in who that is. They decide if you are rich or poor, hungry or overfed, blonde or brown haired. Everything is up to them. They control everything and when you are young, your only hope is to eventually get taller. Getting taller takes time, it takes years, and years are the longest things there are.IMG_3683

When you are little the world is measured out from task to task. School comes right after breakfast which comes after you get dressed right after you wake up. Then you color, then a snack, and then a nap. You play. At the end you clean up and then you wait, and if the worst happens, you wait ten minutes because they forgot about you and you almost died because you knew they weren’t coming. But those horrible minutes are erased by cartoons which lead into dinner. After dinner they like to torture you. Sometimes baths but always bed. Bed, where you lie there in the dark being quiet forever until it all ends. Why do they make us do that? It is boring, it is scary, and most of all it is long.IMG_2059This is a day, and to grow up they want us to wait a year? How many bath-times is that? We all want to grow up faster but they won’t let us. They say it isn’t them, it is just how it is, but however it is, it is still out of our control. Just like everything.IMG_2915

They tell us to enjoy it and be happy. They tell us not to cry. They say they wish they could go back and be where we are, then turn around and give themselves another scoop of ice cream and stay up late watching television. We never got extra ice cream and always had to go to bed. They say they want what we have but they never do it. They stay up all night.

Remembering the Challenger: I was going to be an astronaut

I used to be a nerd. I mean a REAL nerd. *gasp* right?

Of course that gasp would be due to my use of the past tense rather than the whole nerd thing. I’m okay with that.

But way back in elementary school I was a special kind of nerd. I was the kind of nerd that was sure he was going to be an astronaut. That isn’t in and of itself nerdy, unless compared to all the other kids I knew who were all going to be either Larry Bird or Joe Montana, but I was REALLY going to be an astronaut.IM_A0037

First I made little paper rockets. These were similar to paper planes but shaped like rockets. Same idea. The more of them I made the more complex they became. Glue got involved. Moving parts and experiments on functional design were carried out. I eventually progressed to including live passengers on my paper rockets. Mostly ants. I would build compartments or capsules depending on the model, either Mercury or Apollo, then toss the contraptions as far and as high as I could hoping to recover a live insect at the end of the trip. Ants proved to be sturdy travelers.

My Grandfather lived in Palmdale California, right next door to where the space shuttle would land. On one visit he took us out to see a shuttle. It was called Enterprise and I loved it.spacebrothers

I used to write letters to NASA bases. Houston, Cape Canaveral, Edwards, you would be surprised how many locations existed. More surprising is that every one of them wrote me back. I would regularly get 81/2×11 inch manila packets filled with glossy photos of launches, landings, flight crews, and Earth. I got pictures of Saturn taken from the Voyager, Hubble’s portraits of the galaxy, and schematics for satellites and space stations.

I was going to be an astronaut. Unlike my parents who were both public school teachers.

With this in mind it got my attention when it was announced that a regular person would be launched into space. A woman. a teacher. Just like my mom. I had by this time watched and dreamed of numerous launches but this one felt a little more real. This was someone like my mom, which was one step closer to being me.

I was going to be an astronaut.

29 years ago today I sat in my elementary school classroom and watched the Challenger explode.

I remember it. I can’t not remember it.