Thursday, January 6, 2011

Chem lab

(written at a previous date)

    Dear Harriet Walter,

    Today (11/23/10) has been One Of Those Days so far. If I didn't have a sense of humor and a proper appreciation of quality pathos, days like this would just send me over the brink like a protagonist in an H.P. Lovecraft story.

    I won't go into painstaking detail, but it's worth noting that I did not get enough sleep at all, my contacts refused to get along with my eyes leaving said eyes blithering with pain and irritation and redness and weepery and I had to resort to my super ugly glasses, almost all the other schools and universities in the state are delayed or closed because of the weather but HERE in this town it's just cold enough to make the world absolutely frigid but not icy/snowy enough to merit the academic cry to abandon ship. (I suppose at this point I should clarify something - I'm no longer in high school, I was homeschooled all my life, I'm going to college next year, a year later than most people go to college, and I'm taking a chemistry class at my local uni to have another science credit on my homeschool transcript. Chemistry lab was where I was headed today.)
    By all the God-fearing lemurs of the earth, it was cold outside. No numbers to brag about, really, just cold and penetrating, the kind of cold that makes one's eyeballs ache and one's overlong nose turn red and drip something fierce, like a tomato golem who's just been stabbed lots like Julius Caesar.

    Oh, it was snowing a little when I was walking to campus, too. Pretty, delicate, Hollywood snow that is all like "hahaha look at me I am so innocuous, I could never do anyone harm, you are just a shivering weakling" because I am something of a shivering weakling, I really don't think I produce as much body heat as everyone else does, like I'll take people's recently vacated computer chairs and be like "is your ass a hot water bottle by any chance, this chair is super warm" but anyway.

    So I got to chemistry lab. My lab partner never showed up, so I had to work with someone else whose partner was also not there, and I can't really blame the people who skipped because today we were analyzing urine.

    It was synthetic urine, of course, but I still really do not care to relive that part in detail. I am not a person comfortable with bodily fluids even if they have never been inside a body.
    One point, though. I think I mentioned H.P. Lovecraft protagonists before. I will carry that simile.

    There was a moment, at the end, when we were cleaning up. Different Lab Partner - we will call her BD - was throwing away the droppers and pH papers and things, and I was rinsing out the test tubes containing our urine samples. (We'd had to do six tests, so that ends up as twelve tubes, six small six large.)
    You know that moment in Lovecraft stories - I am assuming you've read them because it saves me explaining - when the hero has been through some scary stuff already and he's wavering a bit, and the climax comes when the guy sees/hears/interacts with/whatever something so wrong, so literally unfathomable, so blasphemous and shattering and awful that he simply cannot process it, and his mind breaks and then there's all the shrieking and flailing and fleeing into the night and so on? That was what it was like when I tipped over one of the large test tubes into the sink, one of the samples we'd heated in warm water for a few minutes, and nothing happened.
    I shook the tube. I ran water into the tube. Nothin' doin'.
    "Becca," I croaked to BD as she returned from dumping things in the trash. "I'm scared." I shook the tube as it was upside down again to illustrate.
    "Oh," she said. "That's gross."
    It was a bit hazy from there on. I remember BD got me a little wire scrub-brush from the other DI sink, and I thanked her and used it and the congealed urine began to come out of the tube in clots, and I died a little inside and kept cleaning tubes.
    There was only the one completely solid sample, but it was the first one I did. The unheated samples were still totally liquid, of course, and some of the heated ones were liquid with occasional clots.

    By now, I am coherent enough to write, obviously, and this is because I have had a very hot hot cocoa with extra hot, and I have listened to a couple old songs sung by Fred Astaire because Fred Astaire is the bomb. I talked to my parents about the lab, because they know I have Issues, but writing is my natural creative medium and I have recently decided that creative expression is probably going to be my most powerful weapon against insanity.

    (I have also recently decided that insanity comes in many, many forms.)

No comments:

Post a Comment