delirious burning blue
When I was in high school, I took journalism and was on the school newspaper. I thought I would become a journalist or somehow join NASA. I didn’t, um, excel at math so…the journalism thing seemed a bit more realistic.
In my memory, the space shuttle Challenger explosion seemed like it was the first big, sudden, disaster that occurred during my lifetime. I wrote the article for the school paper. It began with the description of the odd gap between sight and sound. I was struck by the contrast between the stream of data being read by someone at NASA indicating everything was normal and the sight in the sky that indicated something was amiss. It ended with interviews of students answering the same inane question that every other real journalist was asking, “should civilians be allowed in space?” I don’t remember what the consensus was. I don’t think I cared — it seemed kind of irrelevant. I was thinking about Tom Brokaw mentioning that he knew Judith Resnic — describing how he bet her a six-pack about something.
Years later I saw an imax film of her earlier mission. Her curly hair floating along in zero gravity. So smart, so young, so cool that she wagered six-packs of beer on bets made with handsome journalists.
One of my friends, the photographer for the school paper, took my article and placed it over an image of the Challenger exploding and then placed it in the news section of that year’s annual yearbook. The article won awards. The article in the yearbook over the Y-shaped plume of smoke won awards. It seemed odd for good things to happen because of such a bad thing.
I didn’t become a journalist. Instead I’m — well, whatever it is that I am.