Jayme in Space

My sister, Jayme, is a brilliant young woman. This is a person who balances a full time job as an industrial engineer for a nationally recognizable corporation with completing an M.B.A. and oh yeah being an awesome mom. She’s really got it together—though she’ll tell you she doesn’t, she totally does. I’ve seen her make spreadsheets for vacation.

This week is her 31st birthday. As an early-30s-something, it’s more unbelievable that not only does she manage all these things but wears cute shoes.

This was not the case when she was in high school…

Jayme was part of Gen X—she was into grunge in the 90s, loved classic rock (and still does!) because she liked music outside the typical favorites of teens of the time—something that wouldn’t be cool for another ten years.

She also loved math.

This was decidedly not cool, and sadly, remains so with teenagers, especially young women.

But Jayme did it anyway. And was good at it.

Oh yeah, one more thing my sister does now—she’s one of the professional representatives to Penn State’s Women in Engineering Program, which means she encourages other young girls to break the mold and go into math and science. Yeah, she’s a badass. [We at Common Crazy prefer to delete our expletives or to use more family friendly language, but in this instance it seemed the only appropriate term for how amazing she truly is.]

In high school, Jayme was so good at math and science that she applied for and was accepted for a scholarship to attend Space Camp.

For Jayme, this was a dream come true. This was a girl who wrote to Sally Ride, female astronaut, and told her how much she admired her. Jayme still has a framed, signed photo of this glass ceiling-breaking woman, and hopefully it will inspire her daughter in a similar manner. Unless the artsy aunts get in the way and convince her to go to art school…mwahahaha.

This scholarship was granted to one high school student from each district in our county. Jayme was the only girl selected.

After she came back, with pictures of herself in a flight suit and stories of flight simulations and the incredible, unbearable heat of Huntsville, AL, she was even more excited for her college applications.

What she was not excited for, and even worse, completely unprepared for, was a television interview for the local news.

Jayme, unlike the boys who’d won, was not notified by the school before this tv interview. She still gets flustered when she has to speak in front of people, especially at short notice (example: my day before wedding announcement that oh, by the way, you’ll be one of the readers for the wedding—result: downcast eyes, monotone reading at epic speed so that she could get away from all those people looking at her while she did something she was uncomfortable doing in public).

In this interview, the other scholarship recipients are wearing suit and ties, and responding with confidence to the questions they were asked.

My poor sister, on the other hand, was a hot mess.

She was wearing a ratty looking t-shirt and jeans (but her beautiful long blond hair looked great, as always) and tripped over most of her words, the favorite of which is:

“I’d always wanted to go to space….”

Lunga Pausa


Molto Lunga Pausa

Cut to next scene.

We tease Jayme constantly about that awkward pause, and the more awkward editing of the local tv crew.

We own a copy of this interview on VHS, and it’s been part of the test of every boyfriend she’s brought home. Most laughed along with us; we, as family, are allowed to make fun of our dear Jayme…these young men should never have laughed.

But not Matt (now awesome brother-in-law--Jayme’s wonderful husband). He said we shouldn’t make fun of her so much. It wasn’t easy to be on tv, and none of us had gone to space camp.

He wins.

So on my sister’s birthday, I share the story of her trip to Space…Camp not to tease her, but rather to celebrate her accomplishments and maturity.

And while she may not go to space (hey, I’m still waiting for my hoverboard, but that’s another story for another post), the real space, the final frontier, not space…camp—she is an inspiration for boldly going where no Brittingham has gone before, and giving this younger sister the courage to do the same in life and career. Thanks for that, big sis.

Happy birthday, Jayme!