Wednesday, July 25, 2012

a fearless voyager worth remembering.

i liked her middle name,
among other things about her.

sally kristen ride,
the first american woman to fly in space,
the youngest person at the time to fly in space
&, posthumously,
the first openly gay/bisexual person to fly in space,
was a scientist & an adventurer from the beginning.

born on may 26, 1951, in encino, california,
sally grew up fascinated with science,
her favorite toys a chemistry set & a telescope.

she graduated high school & headed east
to swarthmore college in 1968,
but three semesters in, was too homesick to continue.
she went west again & enrolled at stanford as a junior.
an athlete since childhood, she became
the tennis team's #1 women's single player,
& was ranked nationally.

while teaching at a summer tennis camp,
sally was urged by tennis legend billie jean king
to quit college & pursue a tennis career.
sally didn't listen.

she earned her bachelor's degree in english in 1973,
her master's degree in physics in 1975
& her ph.d. in astrophysics in 1978.

while completing her doctorate, sally saw
an ad in the student newspaper:
nasa was seeking astronauts —
they especially wanted scientists & engineers,
& were allowing women to apply.

sally applied, along with 8,000 other applicants.
nasa selected 35, 6 of them women, 1 of them sally ride.

on june 18, 1983, 32yo sally flew her first mission
on the shuttle challenger, part of a five-member crew
who spent about six days out in space.
her second shuttle mission lasted about eight days.

sally was slated for another shuttle flight
when the challenger exploded, january 28, 1986.
the shuttle program was suspended, & sally retired.
42 other american women have followed her into space since.

sally returned to stanford, this time around as a science fellow
& eventually a professor of physics.
she also served as the director of the
california space institute at
the university of california san diego,
& wrote six science books for kids.

in 2001, she launched sally ride science,
an organization intended to inspire young people —
especially girls — to stick with science,
to become scientifically literate,
& to consider pursuing careers as scientists & engineers.

personally, sally was married to fellow astronaut
steven hawley from 1982 to 1987,
but spent the last 27 years of her life
with partner tam o'shaughnessy.

sally left behind tam —
along with her mother, sister, & a niece & nephew —
when she lost her 17-month fight against pancreatic cancer,
& died july 23rd at the age of 61.

sally ride science said of its founder:
sally lived her life to the fullest,
with boundless energy, curiosity, intelligence,
passion, joy & love.
her integrity was absolute;
her spirit was immeasurable;
her approach to life was fearless.

president barack obama said of this trailblazer:
"she inspired generations of young girls to reach for the stars
& later fought tirelessly to help them get there
by advocating for a greater focus on science & math in our schools.
her life showed us that
there are no limits to what we can achieve."

sally ride herself once said all she wanted to do was fly,
to soar into space, look out at the heavens & gaze back at earth.

i imagine she's doing just that right now.
ride, sally. ride.

image source: yahoo!news.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

powerful. pregnant. yahoo!

marissa mayer, the half-finnish daughter of
an art teacher & an engineer from wausau, wisconsin,
is now arguably america’s most powerful pregnant woman.

monday, 37yo mayer was named the new president & ceo of web giant yahoo!
tuesday, she revealed she’s pregnant with her first child, a baby boy, due in october.

prior to joining yahoo!,
she was employee #20 at google, & the company’s first girl engineer.
since 2010, mayer has been serving as vice president
of google’s local, locations & map services.
previously, she managed the company’s search team for over ten years.

huge kudos to mayer, who may be the
first-ever pregnant ceo of a fortune 500 tech company.
& huge kudos to yahoo! execs, who apparently were informed of her pregnancy
& didn’t let the term “delicate condition” be included in their decision-making.

mayer says she intends to work through only a handful of weeks of
maternity leave from home before returning to the workplace.


the reality is, mayer definitely has the resources
to actually follow through with her plan.
she has access to excellent childcare,
a schedule she sets herself,
a spouse with similar flexibility,
& tons of money.

but she still has literally a world of expectation on her professionally,
all the personal expectations – real, perceived & self-induced –
that naturally accompany motherhood,
a body full of chemical, hormonal & other physiological change,
& a little creature of love she’s going to want to be with all. the. time.

& how mayer deals with all that,
will send a socially significant message
about women & work & equality & america
& feminism & motherhood & life|work balance.

no pressure, marissa.

here’s hoping smart, hard-working, powerful, pregnant you
finds a way to build a better workplace for women;
finds a way to create a for-real family-friendly work culture,
with understanding & support, rather than judging & resentment;
finds a way to convince folks that pregnancy & parenthood
don’t diminish a woman’s worth in the workplace;
finds a way to help moms who don’t have the expansive resources you enjoy.

& here’s hoping new-mommy you
finds a way to spend as much time as
humanly possible sniffing the head
of that little creature of love.

because believe you me, yummybabyscalpscent is fleeting.

image source:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Friday, July 13, 2012

god is a girl.

though nobody wants
to talk about it.
nobody wants to think
about it.
not even god.
he knows he's a guy, too.
he knows he's lots of things.
he's an eagle.
he's a tree.
on less than wonderful days
he's even a pig.
god's a lot of things.
but he likes his guyness best.
people who know him
know this,
so they always refer to him as "he."
sometimes they call him "bob."
he isn't sure why.
but god does guy stuff.
he wears guy cologne.
he listens to guy music.
he eats guy food.
god can't help it.
he wants to be a guy.
which is why,
whenever he gets the urge
to watch reruns of sisters,
he's embarrassed.
he lights a big cigar
and spits.

~ cynthia rylant ~

image source:

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

nora's miss lists.

so, i just completed nora ephron's
final collection of essays,
i remember nothing,
in which she remembers a good bit, actually,
& with her trademark humour & honesty, t'boot.

the last two pieces in the book
are prophetic lists entitled
"what i won't miss," & "what i will miss."

an excerpt from the former:
dry skin
my closet
polls that show that 32 percent of the
american people believe in creationism
joe lieberman
e-mail. i know i already said it, but i want to
emphasize it.
panels on women in film

an excerpt from the latter:
my kids
nick [her husband]
the concept of waffles
the park
the bed
twinkle lights
thanksgiving dinner
coming over the bridge to manhattan

well, we all know how i love a good list,
so i've begun my own of what i will & won't miss
about this mortal coil once i've shuffled from it.

[side note: i just had to google the origins of the phrase
"mortal coil," & it's from hamlet — clearly,
i should brush up my shakespeare — & "coil" meant something like "hubbub."]

what i won't miss.
indian food.
saddlebag thighs.
sexism as a societal norm.
evil reality tv.
taping prior to painting.
phone calls.

what i will miss.
my family.
my girlfriends.
nail polish.
the olympics.
flowers in mason jars.
breakfast, especially for other meals.
giving gifts.
the sea.
twinkle lights.
the light outside at dusk.

so, how about you? what will or won't you miss?
do share.

image source: finding focus @

Monday, July 9, 2012

nora @ wellesley.

nora ephron graduated from wellesley college in 1962.
in 1996, she was invited to address her alma mater's
exiting graduates with a commencement speech.

the speech — wise, witty, consummate nora —
contains a couple of pieces which has been broadly quoted.
but, not surprisingly, much more of it is infinitely quotable.

just like nora.

here are my favorite pieces:

"don't underestimate how much antagonism there is toward women
& how many people wish we could turn the clock back.
one of the things people always say to you if you get upset is,
don't take it personally,
but listen hard to what's going on, & please, i beg you,
take it personally.

every attack on hillary clinton for not knowing her place
is an attack on you.
underneath almost all those attacks are words:
get back, get back to where you once belonged.
when elizabeth dole pretends she isn't serious about her career,
it is an attack on you.
the acquittal of o.j. simpson is an attack on you.
any move to limit abortion rights is an attack on you —
whether or not you believe in abortion.
the fact that clarence thomas is sitting on the supreme court today
is an attack on you.

above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim."

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

" ... in case any of you are wondering,
of course you can have it all.
what are you going to do? everything, is my guess.
it will be a little messy, but embrace the mess.
it will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications.
it will not be anything like what you think it will be like,
but surprises are good for you.
& don't be frightened: you can always change your mind.

you are not going to be you, fixed & immutable you, forever.

one of the most delicious things available to women,
& more particularly to women than to men, i think:
it's slightly easier for us to shift, to change our minds,
to take another path.
yogi berra, the former new york yankee who made a specialty
of saying things that were famously maladroit, quoted himself
at a recent commencement speech he gave:
'when you see a fork in the road,' he said, 'take it.'

yes, it's supposed to be a joke, but this is the life
many women lead: two paths diverge in a wood,
& we get to take them both.

whatever you choose, however many roads you travel,
i hope you choose not to be a lady.
i hope you will find some way to break the rules
& make a little trouble out there.
& i also hope you will choose to make some of that trouble
on behalf of women.

image source: yahoo!