Not long after I had moved out of my parent’s home, I had come for Sunday dinner when my mother pointed me to a box of stuff lying by the front door. She must have been cleaning out the closets and going through some of my old things, and she wanted me to take them when I left.
Most of what was in the box was forgettable old junk, but a couple of things, which I still have to this day, were quite remarkable. One was a photograph of an old car. The other was a copy of a school newspaper from the junior high I attended. “Big deal,” you’re probably thinking. I was too, but then I looked a bit closer.
The photo was taken of the service entrance behind the San Juan, Puerto Rico, airport. At first all I saw were Dumpsters and loading docks. My mother prodded me to look more closely. There, toward the bottom of the image was a car, but not just any car. It was the same year and model I had driven to my folks’ house that day.
I completely forgot taking the photo, but my mother said I was adamant about taking it because I liked the car so much. Those were the days of film, and my parents were so frugal they could make a roll of film last for months. But I must have been persistent to get her to give me the camera. I was just 14 at the time, and even then I had already been a car freak ever since I could remember.
The other item, a school newspaper, was yellowed and worn. I remember joining the newspaper club hoping to be a cartoonist. My older brother was a natural at illustration, so of course I wanted to draw, too. The rub was that I had zero talent for illustration, and one day, after having yet another cartoon rejected, the teacher asked if I wanted to write a story, so I did one on how spring rains were making a mess of sports tryouts. The teacher liked it and printed it in the paper. My first byline.
The light bulb should have gone on in my head that my affinity for cars and a grasp of English grammar could lead to a career — a melding of two passions, if you will — but it took at least 10 years before I finally figured it out and even longer to work for a car magazine. And now, as I take the reins of Speed News, it feels as though I’ve spent the last 20 years training for this moment.
At publications where I worked before, we relied on reader surveys to learn who our readers were, what they liked, what they were into. Some of those publications, like my first magazine gig at a women’s golf magazine — yes, really — I had to stretch a bit to figure out what readers wanted. At newspapers, in corporate communications and at magazines, all the others that followed, I had to think in someone else’s terms to try to create a publication readers would enjoy.
But at this magazine, I am a reader, and I feel honored and privileged to be its editor. It’s also an enormous responsibility and a mountain of work, but I am excited about creating a publication NASA members will find value in, and look forward to each month. I hope to serve you all well.