Sunday, April 05, 2020

The Reluctant Astronauts

I remember having mono as a kid.

Indoors for weeks, watching stuff like Hazel and Family Affair and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir on teevee,  My mom gave me the family Sick Bell.  Brass, in the shape of a woman with a wide, hoop skirt. It was among her mementos when she passed away.  I would ring it and Mom would appear with Campbell's tomato soup and crackers or ginger ale as if by magic. Just as she would appear with the vaporizer and the Vick's at bedtime, along with children's aspirin mashed up in a teaspoon of OJ.

I also remember having the mumps.  A bad case.  We were living in the Philippines then, and from my second story bedroom I could see over the stone wall into the neighbor's back yard where (as I remember it) 10,000 kids played the most awesome games in the world, morning, noon, and night.  They were having the best time of their lives while I was stuck inside with something that, c'mon, how serious could it be?   So unfair!  I would not settle down. I must have driven my parents out of their minds with worry.  I only took properly to my bed once a doctor in a white coat came to our home to check up on me and, speaking with the authority of Almighty God,  told me that if I didn't cut it out the mumps would move to other glands, which would then swell up and kill me.

How I wish we all had a little sick bell now.  And how I wish we had someone with irrefutable authority in charge.  Someone we could actually trust.

I also remember wanting to be an astronaut.

I was a 100% NASA and space nerd who gobbled up anything related to rockets and high frontier adventure from stories in Boy's Life, to a terrible bio of Robert Goddard ordered via Junior Scholastic, to The Reluctant Astronaut (which also taught me what a "boilermaker" was.)  But then I learned that the height of the average astronaut was around 5'5" (payload!)  And they needed perfect eyesight.  And inhumanly good reflexes.  And hundreds of hours flying fighters.  And degrees in engineering or physics or suchlike.

So I was already a washout by the time I hit puberty.

But I am reminded that astronaut Scott Kelly spent nearly a year continuously in space.  520 days total.   And astronaut Peggy Whitson spent a total of 665 days Up There.

All that time apart from family and friends in an environment without running water.  Where no squirrels fighting over sunflower seeds or neighbors walking their dogs can be seen though the window.  Where the sounds of train whistles and lawns being mowed do not float gently through the air because there is no air.  Where stepping outside your tiny home without millions of dollars of special equipment will kill you.  Where even a minor housekeeping screw-up will kill you.

So hey, I sorta get to be an astronaut after all, and in a much more forgiving environment.  After all, I didn't need to risk passing out or breaking a rib pulling extra G's to get here, and I can order pizza pretty much whenever I want.

I think I can hack it.

I think we all can hack it.

(This is from a writing prompt exercise for an online group Blue Gal and I facilitate.)

We're gonna have to science the shit out of this!


ChiefD said...

At my first job out of college, I had the privilege of meeting John Glenn in late '79/early '80, and I remember being surprised at how notably not-tall he was. But he did more in his life than I'll probably ever do in my mine.

Robt said...

First as an Astronaut. You must take 2 oaths.

Promise not to return to Earth with any alien vector or space virus.

Take the Commander Bone Spurs loyalty pledge.

Disclaimer: You will never be approved for the position by Trump who will find anyne that is not qualified but more loyal than you. And even then, Commander Space Force reserves the hollowed right to place Jared or any family member ahead of anyone in the efforts to booster rocket his ratings.

So work on your loyalty skills. You have no idea how vital they are in spcae. Where no one can hear your scream.

Meremark said...

Another NASA-phile who was gainfully employed thereby and did not wash out, a hero of mine, offered to share with your 'prompted writer," is proprietor of this model website:

Get it? See what he did there? Aachnoids can walk on webs.

His name is Paul Lutus.

Spaceboy said...

Hey! Hit me up for space-junkie good stuff, I have swag for you. Join the NSS!