Nov 13, 2010
Posted in: Life & Culture
The night of daylight savings, I tried my best to ensure that I would be on time for my 8:10am flight.
I asked the hotel to give me a wake-up call at 5:30. I ordered a taxi for 6:30. I set an alarm for 5:30, just in case.
That morning, I woke up to the hotel room phone ringing.
Me: (half-asleep, dazed, thinking oh! it must be my wake-up call!) mmmmmmmmm-hello?
Cheerful guy at the front desk: Ma'am, there is a taxi waiting for you.
Me: *heart attack*
Cheerful guy at the front desk: Ma'am?
Me: *heart attack*
Cheerful guy at the front desk: Ma'am, hello?
Me: I.......uh...sorry? It's supposed to come at 6:30. (thinking: surely it's not 6:30)
Progressively-less-cheerful guy at the front desk: Ma'am, it is currently 6:35.
Me: Uh...oh. Haha! Okay. Thanks. Bye.
WHAT? TOTAL CHAOS.
I grabbed my cellphone, called the taxi driver and did my best to communicate (no mean feat, given how incapable I am of doing anything at all in the morning) and confirmed that he would be able to wait for ten minutes. I have never moved so quickly in my life. Twelve minutes later, suitcase packed and shoes on the right feet, I was sitting in the taxi, babbling incoherently while the driver assured me that I was still going to be "very early" for my flight.
As it turns out, CMI airport in Champaign, Illinois, is not very big, and I ended up sitting around for ages before finally being able to board.
Rewind three days, to Thursday. I wheeled my suitcase through the rain, and took a math exam a day early. After the test, as I walked through the tunnels below the infinite, moving further and further away from the student center and my classrooms and my dorm and the place I usually eat lunch and the grass I walk across every morning and closer and closer to the airport, I felt myself breathing for the first time in a while.
It felt good to breathe. As much as I love MIT, it was a relief to get away. I needed a break. I was running on low, and going to this was exactly what I needed.
I've always loved space. My favorite part of plane rides is at night, when you don't have clouds in your way and you can press your face to the window and see stars both above and below you. I'm in constant danger of falling flat on my face, because when I walk at night I tend to be looking up.
There's a chapter here at MIT of an international organization called Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS), which basically exists because of and for people who, like me, love space. It gets university students involved with space-related projects, gets them networking with other enthusiasts and professionals in the industry, and is basically just awesome; in my opinion, it should spread to high school. High school kids like space as much as college kids, right? So, there's no reason why SEDS chapters should be limited to the college level. If you like space - warning: shameless plug ahead - start a chapter at your school!
I arrived at the conference armed with next to no knowledge about the space industry: only the thought that it would be really cool to work for NASA. I spent a couple of days attending talks about everything from new space companies like SpaceX and Armadillo Aerospace to space elevators.
As awesome as the talks were - I learned a ridiculous amount, and got ridiculously excited, about the space industry - the most awesome part was meeting people from around the US who loved space as much as I did, and bonding with my fellow MIT SEDS-ers. The least awesome part was how conflicted it left me. I can't imagine missing out on the adventure that is exploring space. Does that mean I should major in aero/astro? But I want to study neurological disorders! I love Brain & Cog Sci. I want to study the fabric of the universe! I love Physics. Ahhh! :(
Anyway, moving on from my little identity crisis and returning to the conference - I think that my favorite talk happened on the last night. We had a banquet, and a man named Will Pomerantz gave a speech with the following message - that you're never "too young" to kick butt in the space industry.
That was the best possible note to leave on - as sad as I was to leave, I arrived back at MIT revved up and ready to kick on. I'm still riding that post-SpaceVision wave.
So now I'm here, back in my room with the beautiful view of the Charles (now that the leaves on the tree outside my window are gone) and the blue and pink and orange sky, ready to kick some butt at MIT.
The MIT SEDS contingent. A cheery bunch :)