So, I warned ya – I’m writing because the weather has put me indoors. My Mother and Brother are not here much and I’m not in contact with my peeps much right now. It has been a very odd time for me. I will be glad to get into October – it feels like it holds possibilities for me. And the first weekend will be the southern new mexico state fair. I like to go to it when I can to see the goats and sheep and chickens (chooks!) and to ride something scary at the carnival. You see, I am afraid of heights. Really afraid.
And, in a similar effort to face this, years ago, I climbed the Vacuum Tower Telescope at Sunspot, New Mexico – just a few hours drive from my home here.
I went for Halloween to Sunspot with a group of friends. We were close to the woman who ran the facility back then and we stayed at her home there. They had a party that night with the astronomers and scientists. I dressed as a biker chick (easy costume for me) and danced all night with an astronomer from the Netherlands dressed as a punk rocker (and I don’t think it was a stretch for him, either). We had so much fun. In the morning, our friend took us past the barriers into the works of the giant solar telescope. Towering 350 feet from the ground and another 100 feet into the earth, it watches the sun and a video was always going in the lobby.
We started up the catwalk style steps with one rail that spiraled up the inside edge of the tower walls (which leaned inward slightly!). I nearly fainted as I looked up. But, I was NOT going to opt out of the experience. A friend helped me get started by holding her hand on the wall, “look at my hand, just follow my hand,” she got me started as I hyperventilated.
I did it. We got to the top that opened out onto a platform, then we looked down (mistake for Katharine). We could see straight down to the bottom below the ground level. Crikey. I froze for a bit.
But, my good friend put her hand on the wall, “look at my hand, follow my hand”, we started down and she got me going. Now, when I have to go up (and worse, down) a ladder or stand on a precipice, I say my mantra (out loud), “I climbed the vacuum tower telescope” over and over…
At the ground level, we were allowed to look through the (heavily filtered!) eyepiece… EYEPIECE – I found that just as frightening and chose my least strong eye and wore my sunglasses… but I did it (I wouldn’t now).
So, at the fair weekend after this, I will climb onto some strange ride and recite to myself that I climbed the telescope and find a piece of courage to make me feel good for awhile.