Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Goodbye Blue

It is with great sadness and regret that I must say goodbye to my old companion Blue.

Blue, you and I were together for the better part of fifteen years.  We went for countless walks together in all sorts of weather.  We braved the rain at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival as one. We survived the nasty garbage compacter attack of 2012... both of us left with cuts on our arms from that evil monstrosity at work. Patches for you, a band aid for me... I healed, while sadly, you did not.

Through the years you've been with me, keeping me safe and dry, but you've started slacking off in the areas that made you a good companion for all of these years.

I mourned the loss of each one of your button snaps, but still I stuck with you.

I've spent the better part of five minutes each morning and afternoon struggling to zip you up since your zipper became damaged, still I stuck with you.  It may have been a hassle, but I could handle the faulty zipper.

Where you have failed me the most lately, is in the one area I always thought that I could count on you.  You no longer keep me dry.  Your waterproof fabric and seams are no longer so. I walk home in the rain, then peel you off when I get home only to find that my shirt beneath is soaked through. You have failed me in the worst way Blue. You are no longer waterproof, and I'm afraid that is the one quality I simply must insist on a raincoat companion possessing.

So, with regret, I must bid you adieu, and welcome my new companion Burgundy. You see, Burgundy is lightweight and 100% waterproof.  She's not as long as you, but she'll keep me dry where you could not. Burgundy and I will have to make new memories of walking through the park and braving the rain.

Goodbye Blue, it was nice knowing you, but it's over now.

~ Your former human, Jeanie

Raincoat - Kelly Sweet

Famous Blue Raincoat (Leonard Cohen) - Tori Amos

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Challenger: 30 Years Ago Today

It's amazing how much I can remember about an event that occurred thirty years ago today.  On January 28th 1986 I was six years old and in the first grade.  I remember our class being led to the library where the primary classes gathered around a pair of televisions set back-to-back to watch the live launch of NASA's Challenger. I can only assume the older children were similarly gathered in the gymnasium, as our library wasn't large enough to fit everyone. We were told that children in schools around the world were watching the same thing on television at the same time.  We were very excited, we could tell from the way the adults talked about the launch that it was an important day, that there was a woman who was a teacher who was going to go to space.  She was going to share her adventure with kids around the world in a way that most adults couldn't... she was a teacher, and teachers knew how to talk to kids in an engaging and exciting way. She could have been any one of our teachers!  This was exciting and special, and we were going to watch history be made. We were going to see it as it happened, not on a boring news clip at home that night.  We were hyped.  As we gathered on the floor of the library, we fidgeted and chattered excitedly.  One of the teachers tried to explain to us what we were going to see, that once the shuttle left the atmosphere we wouldn't see it anymore, but that would be when the astronauts (and the teacher!) would enter space and start their adventure. They had been preparing us for this all week, talking about space, shuttles, astronauts and rockets, and we'd point out to our parents any news-clip about the teacher-turned-astronaut, and the upcoming launch, sharing the oh-so-important information we had learned about it in school.
We saw the launch, which was boring until they started the countdown, when things became very exciting.  We saw the big trail of smoke that followed the launch, knowing that it should go up until we couldn't see it anymore, then there was a big ball of fire and audible gasps from the teachers in the room, and confusion from the people on TV.  Clearly something had gone horribly wrong, but we didn't understand what had happened.  It was more the reaction of the grownups in the room that tipped us off that something very bad had happened.  Without understanding why, many of us began crying as the teachers hurried to try and figure out if they should shut the television off or not.  Then a voice on the TV said that there were likely no survivors, and the decision was made, the screen became blank. They spoke in hushed voices, trying to figure out how and what to tell us about what we had just seen and heard.   
That's all I really remember from that day, except that I have a vague memory of being at home that night when my parents were watching the news which covered the story once again.  I know my parents struggled to explain to me what had happened in terms appropriate for a 6-year-old, which must have been rather difficult to do.  What happened between the explosion and getting home I couldn't begin to tell you, but I can imagine how difficult the next hours were for teachers and parents surrounded by children who were scared, confused, and sad.  I know that I'll always remember that feeling of excitement turned to confusion and dread that was so new to one so young.