Ad Astra Per Aspera: Seven souls remembered

Twenty-eight years ago today, the U.S.S. Challenger exploded 73 seconds after launch, at approximately 11:40am EST. All hands were lost.

I was 15 when Challenger died. That’s the only way I can think of it — she died, and all her crew with her. That’s how wrapped up in the Space Program I was. I watched it unfold live, and my excitement at watching a launch in school turned into complete shock as seven lives winked out of material existence. Tears flowed immediately, and even now, all these years later, it doesn’t take more than a few thoughts to bring it all back.  They deserve to be remembered every bit as much as those who die in wars or in accidents of fate.

In honor of the seven brave people who died that day, and those who loved them, and all those who have followed their example and striven to reach the stars, I remember, and do what I can to inspire others to follow the difficult road to the stars.


Francis Scobee
Michael Smith
Ellison Onizuka
Ronald McNair
Judith Resnik
Gregory Jarvis
Christa McAuliffe

My New Reality

Please note: NOTHING I say here should be taken as if it applies to other people.  This song is about me and me only.  Any resemblance to other people’s thoughts, needs, or body issues is entirely coincidental and accidental.  

The funniest part about being in the cardiologist’s office is that I was pretty much the youngest person there.  The not-so-funny part is that a small part of my life has changed.  I feel kind of stupid being all angsty about it, because it isn’t a big deal, really, but at the same time it’s a tough thing to accept.  

So.  The short of it is: There’s no evidence of any heart trauma or heart disease.  But the doctor thinks my left atrium might be enlarged.  I’m getting an echocardiogram on Monday.  If it is enlarged, then we’ll consider blood thinners, but the doctor would prefer to avoid that if we can.  He did put me on a drug that will prevent further Afib episodes, and also treats the new diagnosis that came with all of this: hypertension, which probably caused the LAE and the Afib both.  This drug is the least dangerous one, but it’s making me a bit tired.  I’m told I’ll adjust in a few days.  I hope so.  I’m not so wiped out that I can’t function, but I don’t really want to do things, either.  

So now, like my grandfather before me, I’m on meds for my heart.  Yay?  On the one hand, he lived to be 92.  On the other hand, my mom and grandmother didn’t.  

My grandmother died when I was four years old, and she was fifty, of a heart attack.  My mother died a year or two later, at 25, also of a heart attack.  Now, there were other circumstances: both of them smoked, and my mom was majorly obese, as am I still (but shrinking relatively rapidly, thank you).  Their deaths left gaping holes in my life and childhood.  I don’t want to do that to my daughter.  

I’ve always known heart trouble was possible, but for forty-two years my heart’s been in pretty good shape.  When i was 34 I had pericarditis brought on by an immune response; they did an angiogram to be safe and the cardiologist said that despite my weight, my heart was in pretty good shape.  There were no blockages, and everything looked great.  So maybe I took that for granted, a little bit.  I’ve never been the kind to run out of breath too quickly, my slowness has always been because my knee can’t handle running long, and that was true even when I was thin.  So I managed to convince myself that I was fat, but still in relatively good shape given that weight.  

I started this diet because I wanted to be better than I am.  I was tired of my back hurting, and the other stupid body issues that come with being overweight.  And I was tired of looking in the mirror and thinking “Who the fuck are you?  How did I become this?”  And I’m happy to be shedding the pounds that were making me unhappy.  But now I have another motive, because I know that being overweight any longer increases the likelihood of more problems.  I’ve already done myself damage, but if I can get healthy again, I can at least prevent any more from developing.  And maybe I can do something about this stupid knee if I don’t keep asking it to work harder than it needs to.  And, if I’m telling the truth, I want to look in the mirror and at pictures and not feel embarassed about myself.  I’m never going to think I’m particularly handsome no matter what other people might say, but I can at least get to a point where I don’t think I’m actively UNattractive.   And most importantly, I don’t want my daughter looking at or feeling a hole where her daddy used to be. 

So I’ll take my pills, and stop feeling like I’m getting old, and just get the hell over myself.  Starting now.


Went to the GP yesterday, and now I have to go see a cardiologist, so he can try and figure out why my atria went all crazytime on me.  And I see the value in that, but it’s also frustrating, because sometimes they never figure it out.  My mother-in-law had the same problem two years ago; they never figured out what happened and it never came back.  

On the other hand, I’m now pretty sure I’ve had this before, but it never lasted long and it never before caused me to faint.  So there’s that.  I want to get to the bottom of this, but doctor appointments are never convenient for a teacher.

I really don’t want this to be a chronic condition; that will screw a lot of things up. The more I read about the drugs I might have to take, the more I want to throw things.  So I try to tell myself that this is likely a fairly unique event and that there’s no real indication I’ll have to go on those things.  But it’s a little scary.  

Atrial Fibrillation, or, What I Did on MLK Day.

I woke up at 8, but Elli and Tegan went away so I could sleep a bit longer.  I finally woke up at 10:30, took a shower, got dressed, and made something to eat.  I was feeling a little dizzy, but nothing I couldn’t handle.  I figured I’d stood up too quickly.

At 11:30, I finished my breakfast, such as it was, and got up to take my bowl to the sink.  I got about ten feet, then felt incredibly dizzy.  I reached out for the table, and fell down in a fairly-uncontrolled fall.  Not fun.  I sat there for a few seconds, trying to figure out what had happened.

I made my way back to a seat and, when Elli and Tegan returned, we headed out to the Urgent Care clinic to get checked out.  After waiting for about an hour, they saw me, and did an EKG–which showed that I had atrial fibrillation going on.  They called an ambulance, and I was transported to the hospital.  Yay unnecessary ambulance rides!  Or not.

In the ER, the doctor checked me out and then decided to shock my heart back into the correct rhythm.  So Elli took Tegan away, they slapped some crashcart pads on me, put me under, and when I woke up my heart was in the correct rhythm and all was well.

I have to see my GP tomorrow, and until she clears me, I can’t drive, so Elli is going to drop me off at school in the morning; I’ll take the Light Rail to the doctor, and then go home via LR/Bus.  Yay reading time?  I may get assigned to a cardiologist; no idea.

Anyway, I’m home, I’m fine, that was our day.

Writing, Finals Week

Hey, look! More words!  

I wrote 1400 words today.  I was stuck, but a couple of my VP classmates said some things on twitter that jogged my brain, and I was off.  Now I’m tired, and watching a show with my wife before going to bed.  

I hope to get more work done over the next week; since we’re in Finals time, all I really need to do during school is babysit kids who are taking a test, then grade the tests (Yay scantron!).  Since I assigned the essay portion of the final exam to be due this week, I’ll finish grading them over the weekend and have nothing left to do over the week.    Added bonus is that school ends at 12:30, so other than a couple of hours grading, I’ll be done and can focus on writing with no distractions for a few extra hours a day.  

Yay writing!  Yay words!

Hey, I almost forgot! Apply to Viable Paradise!

Applications are now being accepted for Viable Paradise 18.  VP18 will be held from Sunday, 10/12/14, to Friday, 10/17/14.

VP17 was one of the best things I’ve ever done.  I will treasure it forever, even if I never manage to publish.  If When I do publish, a not inconsiderable portion of the credit will be due to the work of my VP instructors and classmates.

If you want to write, apply.  You’ve little to lose and much to gain.

And take my advice: If you get accepted, arrange to arrive on Saturday if you can (I could not), and leave on Saturday.  You won’t want to be rushing to a flight on Friday night, and you’ll relish the time with your classmates.

And just accept that you’re going to cry when you leave.