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:

Monday, August 08, 2005


Today I attended what the email from the RecSports department called “Pilates class,” but I use its more formal title, Death On A Mat. For those of you unfamiliar with Pilates, what you do is, you take off your shoes, and you put a little mat on the floor, and you lie down on it, and then you ratchet your small intestines up past your eyeballs.

I’m not lying about this. “Now you’re going to place your feet behind your head," Rochelle The Instructor said as we lay on our backs. No… I’m not. I was staring at the ceiling, legs pointed straight up, which, twenty years ago, was the Official Playground Signifier of “You shot me/tagged me/hit me/sank my battleship and I am now dead.” Many Pilates moves start from this position. It’s no accident.

I really hate this about Pilates. It’s so fraudulent. There are mats, and lying down, and Rochelle turns the lights off and plays an Enya CD, and these all signal good things, luxurious and fine; a nap, perhaps, or a hearty juicebox. Instead: “Now you’re going to place your feet behind your head.”

Some of you are already aware of my dazzling gymnastics career. I do my best to maintain my Opening Ceremonies weight, but for some reason the professorial pattern of dining on large fistfuls of shredded cheese at 4 AM has unraveled the best efforts of my personal video trainer, Tony the Suspiciously Well-Oiled.

I have been training with Tony the Suspiciously Well-Oiled for three years now, and I have yet to award him my full trust, largely because he actually says the following things to the two minions working out behind him:

“Lisa, open your legs a little wider.”

“You’re sweating, Paul! I love that!”

and since you are supposed to work out with the tape three times a week, this accounts for a fairly oft-repeated loop of inappropriate statements.

Now I have Rochelle and her insistence that I create odd geometrical designs with my metacarpals and toenails. “Find your focal point,” she will say as we fold one leg over the other, spread our arms out for balance, and sink to the floor. My focal point is pie.

yes I know Discovery is landing tomorrow but I’m typing about Tony the Suspiciously Well-Oiled instead so I don’t have to think about it at:

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