Vicky Garcia and Tawnya Laughinghouse




Vicky Garcia and Tawnya Laughinghouse



Verse 45

O span of youth! ever-push'd elasticity!
O manhood, balanced, florid and full.
My lovers suffocate me,
Crowding my lips, thick in the pores of my skin,
Jostling me through streets and public halls, coming naked to me at night,
Crying by day Ahoy! from the rocks of the river, swinging and chirping over my head,
Calling my name from flower-beds, vines, tangled underbrush,
Lighting on every moment of my life,
Bussing my body with soft balsamic busses,
Noiselessly passing handfuls out of their hearts and giving them to be mine.
Old age superbly rising! O welcome, ineffable grace of dying days!
Every condition promulges not only itself, it promulges what grows after and out of itself,
And the dark hush promulges as much as any.
I open my scuttle at night and see the far-sprinkled systems,
And all I see multiplied as high as I can cipher edge but the rim of the farther systems.
Wider and wider they spread, expanding, always expanding,
Outward and outward and forever outward.
My sun has his sun and round him obediently wheels,
He joins with his partners a group of superior circuit,
And greater sets follow, making specks of the greatest inside them.
There is no stoppage and never can be stoppage,
If I, you, and the worlds, and all beneath or upon their surfaces,
         were this moment reduced back to a pallid float, it would not avail in the long run,
We should surely bring up again where we now stand,
And surely go as much farther, and then farther and farther.
A few quadrillions of eras, a few octillions of cubic leagues, do not hazard the span or make it impatient,
They are but parts, any thing is but a part.
See ever so far, there is limitless space outside of that,
Count ever so much, there is limitless time around that.
My rendezvous is appointed, it is certain,
The Lord will be there and wait till I come on perfect terms,
The great Camerado, the lover true for whom I pine will be there.
Textual Analysis
Thinking now of the trajectory of his own life, from the "ever-push'd elasticity" of his youth to his "balanced, florid and full" maturity to his "old age superbly rising," right on up to the "ineffable grace of dying days," the poet realizes that every single life instantiates the endless transmutations of ...
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Textual Analysis


I'm interested in behind-the-scenes people -- people that shape or make our experiences often without us knowing they're doing so. The names of NASA astronauts might be the ones who make the headlines, but I want to learn who the unseen people are that make that person's trip to space possible. (Check out Verse 41 and Joel and Andrew Hart, the brothers who were behind the fireworks show.)

There are all these different, highly specialized pieces of a puzzle involved in sending a ship and a person into space. You can't be Neil Armstrong, Mae Jemison or Alan Shepard without all the puzzle pieces coming together -- or something goes terribly awry, or it doesn't go at all. The women who read Verse 45 for us, Vicky Garcia and Tawnya Laughinghouse, each own one of those specific puzzle pieces. They help make the impossible possible.

Vicky works as a Systems Engineer on NASA's Space Launch System (SLS), the world's most powerful rocket. It's her job to make sure all of the parts of the whole SLS system are interacting as they should and to catch any future problems. She explains that it's very much a team effort and a balancing act. "There is a team responsible for structures, a team responsible for navigation, a team responsible for propulsion and so on," Vicky explains. "The structures team wants to make the launch vehicle as strong as possible, but that would make the vehicle too heavy. The propulsion team wants to use as much fuel as possible, but again that would make the vehicle too heavy. The navigation team wants the vehicle as light as possible so it's easier to launch and control where it needs to go. It's my job to find a good balance among all the teams. How do we decide how heavy it needs to be? How do we decide that it's 'good enough.'"

Tawnya spent the majority of her career working as a materials engineer. But in January 2017, she transitioned to program management. As Deputy Program Manager for Technology Demonstration Mission (TDM), she helps NASA's projects further develop the technologies to achieve its goals of determining what will be needed for future missions and exploration of deep space. This work results in either a ground demonstration test (in a space-like environment) or an actual launch into space for full-scale flight demonstration. Her job makes it possible to get these cutting-edge technologies ready for future NASA missions in a safe, timely, and cost-effective manner, allowing their use for space exploration as soon as possible. 

As they read the lines from the stanza, I noticed I really enjoyed the texture of each of their voices. Vicky's deep and rich, Tawnya's like crystal. Also, both of these women did things during their shoots that impressed upon me something I hope to hold on to.

Tawnya joked about the pride she has in her pooch. It's ideal that she felt uninhibited about that moment and allowing it to be in the edit. If you break that bit down, think it through, you can understand, even from just those few seconds, a lot about who Tawnya is, and, something of what it is to be a woman.

Vicky too was generous and easy going. Most of our time with her was spent goofing around despite the complexities of what she was mapping out on the white board. (Fun fact: Vicky says that the equation on the board was for predicting slosh behavior of liquids. This prediction is necessary because the fuel of the launch vehicle is so heavy that sloshing liquids can affect the trajectory and weaken the structural integrity of the fuel tanks.)

Because Vicky's deaf, Ginnard and I would need to remember to make sure we were facing her while giving any direction so she could read our lips. (Being in our own heads so much we'd often forget and speak to her with our heads or backs turned.) If we were standing behind our cameras and needed her attention while she wasn't facing us, Vicky suggested: "Crumple up paper and throw it at me." Neither Ginnard nor I is one to turn down a suggestion for making a shoot easier, or more playful, so we were delighted and took advantage of that offer, a bunch. Vicky literally let herself be the target of some playfulness to help Ginnard and I compensate for our needs.

As I've found with all the folks who've read for this project, there's much to learn from observing what seem to be the little things caught on film. Clearly we've met two bad-ass women who help make things fly into space and can deliver lines of poetry gorgeously. More powerful than that though, to me, was discovering that we've also met two women who own pieces of another puzzle, ones that reveal a notion for another way of being -- people who can derive and provide power and strength from vulnerability.

By Jennifer Crandall, as told to writer Liz Hildreth