Tomatos, Tomatoes, and NASA.

For a large part of my life, I rejected the letter “e”. Words like the plural of potato, the plural of tornado, the plural of tomato.

Tornados. Tomatos. Potatos.

Adding the “e” was heathenish. It was an injustice to the word. It degraded its value.

For the longest time, I would do this. I’m not quite sure why. My science teacher asked me one year why I deliberately spelled “tornado-e-s” wrong, when the rest of my spelling was impeccable. I never did quite have an answer.

I still don’t have an answer, and I still have my judgement against adding the letter e into those words. It’s simply unnatural.

I did finally learn how to spell necessary, though. A shirt has two Sleeves, and one Collar. And exercise. I still struggle, a little. but, it’s not a size. Exer-cise.

Spelling is weird and the English language is crazier.

On a whole other note, NASA is going great. I’m still drinking from a fire hose, but it’s getting so much better. My mentor and coworkers are phenomenally brilliant people. I’ve made some great friends and I’ve eaten a lot of great food… and some borderline terrible cafeteria Indian food.

I’ve also checked two goals off of my goal list. I met an astronaut, and I attended a lecture. I was able to attend the Expedition 58/59 News Conference with NASA Astronaut Anne McClain, Roscosmos Cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, and Canadian Space Agency Astronaut David Saint-Jaques. The news conference was broadcast on NASA TV and you can replay it on YouTube. I really liked the introduction video music. I was able to get a selfie with Anne McClain, and we were also able to take an intern group photo with her. It was phenomenal!!! The lecture I attended was given by Ginger Kerrick, the first Hipanic female flight director and non-astronaut CapCom. She was amazing.

Today, I competed in the JSC Hackathon. My team was posed with the Integrated Flight Scheduling Application challenge, to create a process or system to manage the Aircraft Operation Division’s resources and flight assets, which can be anywhere on the globe at a given time. It was absolutely amazing and I learned so much!

We ended up coming in first place out of the 10 teams competing.

It’s been such a crazy and amazing ride so far. I’m the POC of the intern Professional Development committee, I’m Co-Chair of the Social Media committee, and I’m the PAO of the Intern Space Program. I told myself in the beginning that I wasn’t going to run for anything and I was going to chill, but you know, life happens.

I cannot believe tomorrow closes out my third week as an intern at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Only 13 more weeks to go, and I know it’s going to FLY by. I’m still learning something new every day. I’m still journaling.

I’m currently in a debate with myself whether to upgrade to the iPhone 8 or the Google Pixel 2. NASA bought my project two Google Pixels… and I fell in love. Accidentally. My current phone’s battery life is terrible and Snapchat hates me, so hey. What could go wrong. I feel guilty because I feel like I -just- bought an Apple watch… but we’ll see. Maybe it’s time for me to go back to the Android side.

Classes are going well, my weekly journal for my internship credit is a breeze. Philosophy is rough because it’s online-discussion-based, and ew. But I’ll survive. Countering opinions with people is a fun pastime.

I have yet to take Leo the Lion on site with me, but maybe he can tag along tomorrow. We’ll see.

OH. I got a massage on Sunday, and it was the most AMAZING thing I’ve ever done for myself. If you’re in the Houston area, I HIGHLY recommend checking out Tippy at Sabai Massage and Health. Wow.

I’ll leave you with a quote said by David Saint-Jaques in the news conference.

The only way you can achieve something is by doing something you love”

~E.🚀

drinking from a fire hose

All my life, I’ve been told things that most people struggle with are like “drinking from a fire hose”. What a beautiful analogy for trying to process a lot of new information at once. Things like starting college, filing taxes, and getting a job. Things I did not struggle with.

jsc sign

Working for NASA as an intern is no small feat, I’ve known that from the start. I did, however, finally experience what drinking from a fire hose tastes like. I’m still finding out. I just completed my first week at NASA, and almost everything feels over my head. It truly is an incredibly humbling experience, though. It really took one of my co-workers to sit me down and tell me that if I learn nothing else from him, let it be that no one is going to care if I ask questions. That no one will think I’m not smart. I really had to break out of my shell, and swallow whatever pride I thought I had.

I’m surrounded by a wonderful group of peers and mentors that absolutely love what they do, and I am so fortunate to be able to learn from them. All the other interns are incredibly friendly, too. There’s about four others from Ohio, which is really cool. I guess in my mind I pictured that everyone would be from Texas, but that’s actually not the case at all! One girl I befriended at orientation had spent a lot of time at Kennedy Space Center, and another guy had just finished working for Lockheed Martin.

nasa goals

I also decided it was time for me to finally try out the bullet journal thing, which I’ve absolutely fallen in love with. I’ve set a few internship-long goals, such as obtaining my amateur radio license and a scuba certification. One of my favorite goals, however, is to learn a new thing every day. At the bottom of every day’s page, I’ve written what I’ve learned. It’s such a beautiful, creative, and fun way to keep track of things.

Some things are not quantitative goals, like being more confident, making new friends, or being less picky. I love the challenge though, and I’m having a blast.

When it comes to food and my picky-ness, Texas is a wonderful place to attempt to overcome this. As long as I can continue to stay away from seafood, life is good. I’ve been packing my lunch most days for work, which is really good for my attempts to avoid getting a lot of fast food (and blowing my entire paycheck at the Chick Fil A across NASA Parkway).

My mentor and his wife took me out for lunch at Noon Mirch on Thursday. Noon Mirch is an Indian buffet-style restaurant about five minutes down the road from NASA. I ate a lot of new foods that I never would have tried before. I had a variety of lentil-based dishes, and I even had a breaded jalapeno.

noon mirchMy favorite, by far, was the creamed spinach (known as Saag). The Naan (a flatbread-like bread) was good, too. There were chicken meatballs, and rice, and more breaded veggies.

For dessert, I tried some rice pudding with a cookie. It was an interesting dish.

On Friday, I went out to eat with a different group of co-workers to Ritter’s, a burger and hot dog place that serves frozen custard. I got a burger there, and it was pretty good. I mention this since I mentioned trying to not be picky- the burger had “Ritter’s Sauce” on it, and I have no idea what it was.  Five points for me. Yay.

rocket park

Here’s a view of Rocket Park, where I ended up because I needed to use the restroom while waiting for my badging appointment (and their restroom didn’t work). It was super cool to see. I’ll definitely have to go again and take the time to look around inside the giant hangar- there’s a Saturn V rocket in there.

On Friday evening, I participated in Critical Mass with the family I’m staying with. Critical Mass Houston is a GIANT bike ride through Houston. Like, there were probably around 2,000 people there. It was super cool. The event began as a social protest to bring awareness to how un-bike friendly cities are, and I think that’s a great point.

critical mass

We ended up riding almost 25 miles, which was an incredible feat for me since I haven’t really rode a bike since being in the Netherlands in May. I felt incredibly accomplished when I finished all 25 miles. I met a bunch of really nice people (almost everyone in Texas is super nice) and I had a blast. My legs didn’t even hurt that bad the next day. I should do this more often. It was also a phenomenal way to see Houston. It’s such a beautiful city- especially in the dark. It also has a lot of one-way streets… And I thought Ohio was bad! 

saltgrass steakhouse

Yesterday, M and I drove down to Galveston for dinner. We went to Saltgrass Steakhouse, and yes, I got double potatoes. YOLO, right? (Please never let me say that again)

The fries were phenomenal. AND I WAS, AT ONE POINT, PROBABLY 30 FEET FROM THE GULF OF MEXICO. That was incredibly epic. It’s nothing like Lake Erie (whoa, who would have guessed).

Texas is super cool, and NASA is amazing. It’s a little weird to not be in classes right now (*glances at the two online classes I’m taking*), but it’s such an amazing experience. I’m so happy I took the internship. I’m so happy I got this opportunity. Right now, it’s like drinking from a fire hose- but soon, I’ll learn. One co-worker I met that I got lunch with Friday said that it’s still like drinking from a fire hose, but she just found a way to redirect it to a pool first. Maybe I’ll find my own pool soon, too.

Last, everything is genuinely bigger in Texas. I always thought it was a joke, but it definitely is not a joke. A movie theater we went to to see “Crazy Rich Asians” had over 25 theaters. It was crazy huge. Oh, and I said y’all. Once.

Alright, I think it’s time for me to keep convincing myself I’m being productive by staring at my philosophy class and not actually doing anything. Wish me luck!

I looked up “space quotes” to be cute and end this in a NASA-esque fashion but this is what I got and I thought it was cute anyway… so here goes.

“There is always space for improvement, no matter how long you’ve been in the business.”

~E.🌎