Reflecting on a retrospective — with a jolt

When it comes to unknowingly beating long odds, what happened tonight is as freakish as it gets for me.
As many have probably seen or heard already today, the Space Shuttle Challenger was lost in the worst space disaster in human history on this date in 1986.
Some of you may have been taking in the Refuge for long enough to remember my series of posts about this event one year ago, where I remarked on having been an astronomy and space-program buff as a sophomore at Concord (New Hampshire) High School, where Christa McAuliffe — chosen to be the first civilian in space — was one of the seven astronauts killed. What I envisioned late last January as a couple of lengthy posts about the Challenger from both scientific and personal perspectives rapidly expanded into a colossal multi-day wordburst that I have to say I was pleased with, even if this nominal series didn’t seem to garner much attention from the regulars. It didn’t need to; it served its purpose for me and a few of my longtime friends — and, I think, for this blog — well.
These days I keep another blog (really more of a verbal and audiovisual sump) where I’m in the process of, among other mindless things, counting down a list of my favorite fifty songs of all time that I made around New Year’s Day; I write a little bit about each song and the artist(s) who performed it and embed YouTube videos wherever possible. The list might have been a lot different if I’d made it a two years, two months, or two weeks earlier or later than I did, but it is what it now is, and I found myself about to post #24 earlier this evening when I got a phone call.


In the course of this conversation with a fellow thirtysomething, the topic of eighties music and guilty pleasures came up, and I found myself detailing why it was that a certain 1985 song by an obscure group called Dream Academy was significant to me. This, I explained, was the school’s de facto theme song for what was to be a wonderful, high-profile, and memorable event (two out of three is, in this case, very bad), with a couple of video-camera-wielding CHS seniors incorporating the song into a short film they made by driving around our city of 40,000 people and filming its significant landmarks, its everyday life, and its rather sterile yet warm northern New England flavor.
It is by sheer happenstance that a song by a little-known band that attracted few accolades wound up exactly where it did on my all-time list. It is an utter coincidence that on the sump-blog I mentioned, I reached #24 in my personal countdown from #50 today, January 28. And it is completely by chance that I found myself discussing the loss of the Space Shuttle Challenger with mny friend earlier, because — and what can I say? — I started doing so before I even remembered that today was January 28. I was rattling off the date and time of the shuttle’s disintegration into my cell phone and had to stop as if smacked over the head with an O-ring when I realized what happening — what I was saying and when I was.
For anyone who’s intertested, that flurry of Chimp Refuge posts I wrote about the disaster and surrounding events last year that I am very proud of, or something, began with this one (there are five in all). The name of the song is “Life in a Northern Town.” I can’t listen to it without spooling up my own now-antique mental film of too many things to revisit again, and that’s just always how it’s going to be.
Weird. But somehow I don’t think I’ll ever get through a January 28 without a reminder, however unprepared for it I may be. At least I hope not.

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  1. #1 by Dave Briggs on January 29, 2008 - 11:52 am

    Weird. But somehow I don’t think I’ll ever get through a January 28 without a reminder, however unprepared for it I may be. At least I hope not.
    Sorry for the loss!
    Your emotions are quite understandable! I think it is life long proof that outer space is going to cost us, every step along the way!
    Dave Briggs :~)

  2. #2 by Suesquatch on January 29, 2008 - 6:30 pm

    Recently, I saw footage of a group of Concord Middle School children watching the disaster and found myself wondering if you were in the audience.
    Something like that can’t be forgotten.

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