The Anatomy of a Rocket Launch

Living in Florida certainly has its advantages. Not only do we have milder winters compared to the rest of the country, which to me is such a HUGE plus, we also have Orlando, dubbed as the theme park capital of the world!

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The Space Coast region in Central Florida hugs the coastline of the east coast and is facing the Atlantic Ocean. It is called as such because this is where the Kennedy Space Center and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station are based. Everyone here is a big space fan!

Residents and tourists get treated to frequent space shuttle (now retired) and rocket launches. Because a launch is a very sensitive operation,  it is not uncommon for a launch to be scrubbed 3 or 4 times (or more!) because of changes in weather or cloud cover or even technical glitches.

Tonight, I witnessed, yet again, another launch. This time it was the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that was launched to send a satellite into space to monitor solar storms that can wreak havoc on Earth’s power and communication systems. This was its third try. Oftentimes it is to carry astronauts to the International Space Station or certain research objects or military intelligence secret stuff. It all just sounds pretty cool to me that all these I can watch from my very own backyard.

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(These shots were taken by my mobile phone so the quality isn’t very good.) 

That little white dot you see on the sky towards the right is the rocket. It just launched.

Then you start to see its trails as it shoots further up into the sky. At this point, you don’t hear anything yet.

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Like an exclamation mark!!!

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This is my favorite part when you can’t see the rocket itself but only its smoke trails. And then you hear that loud noise as the rocket enters space… such a distinct rumble that as a local, when you hear it, you will know that a launch just happened.

Welcome to my backyard!

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Gratefulness

There are times in your life when you feel you are at a standstill while the world is busy passing you by. You just stand frozen and mesmerized at the organized chaos that is your life. Feeling detached from your own body, your soul looks at yourself and examines every inch and corner, every nook and cranny of your entire being.

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Times Square, New York City

“How are you?”

“I haven’t been paying much attention to you lately… ”

You look at the grey hair (and there’s lots hiding underneath the black strands), the crow’s feet in the corners of your eyes, the sun spots and the annoying skin tags. You feel your body ache more than it used to although your mind still thinks you are 30! You stand back and see a girl, no, a woman, who has had some issues and challenges in her life. You see her still standing strong and hopeful. You give her a pat in the back. And then you give her THE GREAT BIG HUG. You can do a rain dance too, if you want.

St Augustine, Florida
St Augustine, Florida

Notwithstanding all these obvious signs of aging, you know that the grey hair represents wisdom to overcome stress in your day to day activities. You are blessed to have stress in your life, others do not have a life. They live like zombies, without love, without hope. You are blessed to have problems, that means, you are still alive and God wants you to trust in Him and His ways. The crow’s feet tells a story of the thousand smiles and laughters that have graced your face. That you have loved and lived is the greatest thing. The sun spots mean that you have been out in the world, enjoying what it has to offer, doing things you love. And those annoying skin tags? Well, it just tells you that you are getting old, along with the body aches and pains.

Looking at myself from the inside out, all the stories and emotions that I have experienced, I count myself blessed to have reached this far. I will not dwell on the past hurts and mistakes, as hard as it might be, but I will look ahead with faith and hope that everything will be alright.

“I am simply grateful.”

Clearwater Beach, Florida
Clearwater Beach, Florida

“Happiness isn’t about getting what you want all the time. It’s about loving what you have and being grateful for it.”

Week Seven: Getting My Sunshine Back

After being out here in the cold for more than a month now, I officially declare myself sun-starved. What can I say, I miss my Sunshine State! I miss my hubby, my home, my bed. So when I had the opportunity to have the weekend off, I booked the “cheapest” and quickest flight out of town, direct to Orlando, which means the less time I have on air, the sooner I get home.

I packed light and even painted my toenails. I can’t wait to wear flip-flops and sandals. The minute I saw the city lights from the plane getting ready to land, I felt this great big smile on my face. It’s good to be back home.

The two and a half days went by fast pretty quickly. From watching the Pacquiao boxing match to spending a lazy day at the beach, everything seemed so amplified. Rolling down the car windows as we drove along Melbourne streets was something so unheard of from me two months ago. I noticed that the breeze felt good on my face and I didn’t mind my wind blown hair at all.

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Now, there was some traffic back up along 192 from the weekend crowd and I instantly thought of my daily commute going home in the morning from work. This is nothing! It takes me over an hour to drive that 15 mile stretch with stop and go traffic making me so so sleepy. Don’t get me wrong, I love driving the Merritt Parkway. It is a beautiful drive. It’s the traffic that sucks! What I wouldn’t give to make it home in 15 minutes after a long 12 hour shift.

The weather was in the 70s the weekend I came to visit, very nice and sunny. The sunshine was just oh-so-good that I sat in our backyard out in the sun for a couple of hours trying to nap and soak it all in. The hubby was looking at me strangely and asked, “are you okay?”

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You really can’t appreciate what you have until it is taken away from you (or in my case, until you leave everything behind). Absence makes the heart grow fonder, so they say. This can be a person, place or thing. For me, it is everything! From the air that I breathe to the green grass under my feet.

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If there is anything I have gained from this travel nurse assignment, it is not just the nursing skills and knowledge, but also, I have learned now not to take anything and everything for granted! It takes a special kind of person to be traveling from one assignment to the other, one hospital to another, one state to the next. I’m not there yet, in fact, I don’t know if I’ll get there at all.

I can’t wait to get my sunshine back again…

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Week Three: Little Doses of Reality

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* I miss seeing my toes. This is the longest time that I haven’t really seen my bare feet except for when I’m in the shower or when changing my socks. Living in a cold place does that. I bet my toes are as pale as my tush! When oh when is flip-flops season?

* They call hospital gowns Johnny coats??? I did a quick google search and yes they are indeed Johnny coats but never have I heard this term being used in my old hospital in Florida. Must be a New England thing.

* I took my vehicle to the car wash for the very first time. And I had fun doing it. In fairness, that particular car wash looked like a mini amusement park from the 80s complete with moving mannequins. Hilariously creepy.

* Taking the Metro North to New York City is an enjoyable experience. I feel so cosmopolitan. Small town Florida girl going to the big city!

* The snow is all melted and lots of birds can be seen. Probably getting ready for nesting season. Cant wait to see spring in action!

* I’m currently reading Divergent right now, not even halfway done. I’m sorry but I am stuck in the boring part, I just want the action right away. Or maybe I should just skip the book and go watch the movie. Not as exciting and as page-turning as the Hunger Games was though.

* I realize that, after three weeks of making it out on my own (I live with my best friend and her family, yes, but that’s different), I would really love to travel together with my hubby. I could probably do a week without him but after that, it gets harder and harder. And yes, I’m counting down.

* My best friend’s kids (take note: all three boys) like my cooking! 🙂

* Driving home from work is quite a challenge as I get so sleepy on the road. The stop and go traffic does not help at all. I never used to be like this back home in Florida. Chewing gum, cranking up the volume, singing out loud, talking to myself, slapping myself or rolling down the car windows, I have all done. Any other useful tips to stay awake while driving?

Week One: The Orientation

Coming from sunny Florida, moving into a cold and snowy environment is such a colossal change. Not only do you have to wear layers and layers of clothes, you also have to adjust the way you drive. Driving in snow and/or ice was my biggest concern and fear. Snow tires, anti-freeze, these were all foreign things to me. And not only do you have to adjust the way you drive, you also have to start your car at least five minutes early before you go and then go back inside the house while waiting for it to heat up, otherwise you’d be a frozen popsicle! Starting your car is another thing. My poor CRV, not used to such low temps and being parked outside, initially tried to cough and sputter but eventually started running. I was so happy I got it to start on my very first day!

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First day of orientation

In order to familiarize myself with the route to work, the following day after our arrival, my hubby and my host-friend hopped into the car while I was on the wheel for the first time in Connecticut. The ride took us about 20-25 minutes, 14 miles roughly. I was driving through a Parkway with winding roads, uphills and downhills and snow covered grounds – none on the road itself though. This Parkway is going to be my main route going to and from work for the next thirteen weeks. Speed limit was “supposedly” 55 miles/hr but people here appear not to follow it. Might as well take the signs off and make it an autobahn road. I tried to be like the Romans but my friend cautioned me as I am not yet familiar with the road. Sage advice. They also told me I don’t really need the snow tires and the anti-freeze as it was almost springtime. *I can’t wait for spring!*

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On the way to take hubby to the airport

The time came for hubby to go back to Florida. It was such a bittersweet moment at the airport that I will leave it at that. Actually, it has been a bittersweet and difficult journey for us from the very beginning and we were just trying to avoid the inevitable. But goodbyes had to be said, hugs and kisses had to be done and a quick “I’ll see you in two weeks” felt like a light at the end of the tunnel moment. Am I making the right decisions here? Why am I feeling this way?

Maybe my feelings are valid, maybe not. Maybe it is all separation anxiety turning me into a ball of quivering nerves. I guess that’s how mothers feel when their babies go to school for the very first time.

So Orientation week begins. Not just at the hospital but being a temporary Connecticut resident. I had my first sense of “belongingness” when I opened a Stop and Shop rewards card. I have found a replacement to my Publix grocery store! Familiarizing myself with the basic stops, gas, grocery, church, Panera bread, the mall (which happened to be close to work) and side roads going to my new home became my mantra for the week. I still use my GPS to travel because I don’t want to be caught in a traffic jam or a road detour and not know where I am and how to get to where I am supposed to be going and then scrambling for the GPS in the glove compartment. Call me OCD, yes please.

Work has also been a big change. You have to learn everything again, from the way to the cafeteria to the charting. I feel so small and lost in this new environment. I already knew beforehand that this is one of the challenges of travel nursing. You have to be flexible and adaptable and quick to learn. As a newbie, I still have a long way to go. I love the new things that I have learned thus far, and realized that to become a successful travel nurse, you must go with the flow. Never compare your old facility with the new one as every place is different and have a way of doing things differently. To each his own. I love that my eyes are opened to a whole different world, one that I would never see had I remained in one place forever. Sometimes, I have doubts and fears. But I am not one to back out from a challenge. With God by my side and trusting in His guidance, I go on with a smile and believe that I will get through this. Suck it up, buttercup!

Coming up next week, working on my own