A snapshot into the crazy world of what being married to me is like, based on an actual telephone conversation I had with my husband today:
“Ok, I need to tell you something really big,” I said.
“Big, as in I need to sit down, or maybe just lean on something? Or are you joking?” he said.
“No, I’m not joking, it’s not bad, but maybe you should lean on something,” I said excitedly.
“Okaaaay, well, what is it?”
Now keep in mind that not only was I over-the-moon excited about this news, I had also had a whole handful of chocolate-covered espresso beans which for someone like me who generally avoids caffeine, made me talk even faster than I normally do, so it came out something like this: “NASAistakingapplicationsforastronauts, and I want to apply!”
“What?! Are you serious? No way! Do you know how many space shuttles or rockets have exploded in the history of space flight?”
Silence on my end, then “I can’t believe you’re not supporting me in this. You’re supposed to help me achieve my dreams. They’re going to go to MARS!!!”
“But, honey, don’t you know how dangerous that is?”
“Um, hello, firefighter/SWAT medic? Seriously?!”
“Uh, right. Point taken. ”
Big sigh on his end of the line, then “OK, fine. I didn’t even know you wanted to be an astronaut.” (Really, he’s such a good guy, isn’t he?)
“I’ve only wanted to be an astronaut my whole life. It’s SPACE! Who wouldn’t want to go to space? How cool would that be?!” Actually, it was one of several things I’d considered. Almost a year ago, I posted my dream list of future occupations when I was a kid which included “Supreme court justice, Shirley Temple stand-in, crime-fighting assassin/journalist, astronaut, and finally, Nobel Prize-winning brain researcher.”
As I was talking to him, I had been scrolling through NASA’s website, looking at the requirements in more detail. The article I’d read said only a bachelor’s degree in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, or mathematics) field (CHECK!), at least 3 years of experience in that field (CHECK!), and the ability to pass the astronaut physical (Well, going to have to investigate that further). What I was looking for specifically was the one thing I knew I couldn’t overcome based on will alone: The height requirement.
“Oh no! It says 62 inches, ” I said despairingly.
“Well, that’s probably based on–”
“Hah! Wait, that’s only if I want to be a pilot or commander, plus they need over 1000 flight hours as pilot-in-command. But I only have to be 58.5 inches tall if I want to be a mission specialist, and I’ve got that beat by a whole inch and a half! I could be a mission specialist.”
“A whole inch and a half, huh?”
I was so elated, I pretended not to hear the gently sarcastic tone in his voice. Then, as I continued to read the requirements to him, I dropped back down to Earth. Vision was another requirement, and I’m famous in my family for having horrendously thick glasses starting from age 8, until the miracle of contact lenses came along. I had been told by one well-known eye surgeon, “We have no surgical options for you. Perhaps you’ll develop cataracts early.”
“Oh no, there’s a minimum vision requirement. 20/200 or better uncorrected. Hmm, maybe I should look into getting Lasik done anyway. Oh wait! It says correctable to 20/20, each eye. Ok, I’ve still got a chance. Or I could be a payload specialist.”
He quietly listened to me as I continued on in this vein for another 5 minutes, up and down the spectrum of excitement, as I came to the realization as I read further, that the likelihood of actually getting picked to go to astronaut candidate school was only about 0.6 %.
“Well, it would be cool just to get a rejection letter from NASA, right? I’m going to apply anyway. You never know! I could be the first PA in space. My collaborating physician would be available. . .on Earth!”
My son’s reaction when I told him NASA was taking applications for astronauts, and that I was going to apply, was even cooler.
“You’re going to be an astronaut? Wait, how? Can you take me with you? I want to go to Mars, too!”
“Sweetie, you’re not old enough yet. But if you want to be an astronaut, see how important it is to get a college degree in one of the STEM fields?” (I know, I know, not everyone needs to go to college, but seriously, Tiger Mama training dies hard.)
We surfed the NASA website together, and oohed and aahed over pictures of rockets and astronauts.
“Do you think they get to keep the blue jumpsuits?”
“Yep, pretty sure they do.”
“I want one.”
“Me too, buddy.”
We read more in depth about the physical requirements with him saying “I could do that!” and me saying, “Hmm, not sure if I can pass the swimming test (I have this horrible fear of drowning) and my little guy saying “I can though!” and right there, I watched the dream blossom in his eyes, and saw the final frontier open up for him. No limits here on Earth. Not if you think you can be an astronaut. And who doesn’t want that for their kids?
Here’s the actual description of astronaut requirements if you’re interested in one of those blue jumpsuits, too: