Friday, August 12, 2005


I haven’t posted anything about this because I want the writing to be perfect, just as the landing was perfect. Then I realized that the last time I did anything at all perfectly was give the 7-11 clerk exact change for a Slurpee, a measure of perfection unlikely to be repeated, so I should just go ahead and type already.

So here we are, you and me and Discovery. I was in bed during the last landing attempt. I was in bed for this one, slapping the alarm clock at 4 AM and 5 AM and 6 AM during each wave-off. The clock radio went off the fourth time in a burst of static, and by the time I scrambled for the remote the orbiter had exited the ionization phase and people were inhaling again.

I saw the wavy white dot in the infrared, darting in and out of the frame. ABC actually took down the LIVE chyron and the EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE tag and the large obnoxious ticker at the bottom of the page alerting the free world of whom Paris Hilton had slept with lately.

Discovery edged closer, and I saw the silhouette: wings, nose, engines. She was there. She was all there.

I stood up, sat on the edge of my bed; stood up, sat on the edge of my bed. The landing. The parachute. The call: "Houston, Discovery. Wheels stopped."

Well. Somebody said something about roger and congratulations, but I didn’t hear it. You know me by now and you know why. Unlike the last time, when I could not cry and did not cry for days, this was a Kleenex Moment; this time, I was awake. We were all awake.

You cannot talk on the phone under these conditions. You can try, but when you pick up the handset and try to suck the tears back and all you get is "(shaky inhale) (very tiny voice) hello?"

“This is the reaction I expected the last time I called,” said my mother.

“Wheels stopped,” sayeth Eileen. “She didn't seem to be saying it to Mission Control. She sounded as though she was saying it to the 107 crew,” announced Nick the NASA Poobah, who knows such things.


I am totally inviting her to the slumber party I am having with Condoleezza Rice, at which we will make English muffin pizzas and do each other’s hair and talk about boys all night. I should, technically, hate her, seeing as her hair looks way better in zero-g, when its main property is to float around, than mine will ever do on Earth with all its helpful gravity.

“America's enemies hide their women in closets. Ours fly space shuttles,” someone pointed out to me this week. And they investigate what happens when those shuttles don’t fly.

“When I was five years old, during WWII,” Bev The Reader wrote me this week from Hawaii, “I wasn't allowed by the boys to be an airplane flying off a carrier. I had to scrunch in a corner with my hands on my shoulders, being a plane stored on the hangar deck.”

Eileen scrunches not, except when she is bending down to pick up her helmet.

I bet she doesn't even get Pressurized Suit Hair at:

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