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11:39 p.m. - 2012-09-18
blow up the lab
Have I mentioned how much I hate lab? Not any specific lab, but all labs associated with science classes, from Lab Biology freshman year in high school right on up to to the current semester's A&P? I don't care if we are dissecting cats, exploding test tubes or driving dropping feathers and lead chunks off of ladders -- I HATE lab. All of it. Every single sound, smell, and sensation; every over-pressurized faucet, grimy pair of goggles, non-working microscope and unidentifiable slide. Forget the whirly hard stools and the facts that you have to wear flat-soled shoes(excuse me???) and you can't drink coffee.

Probably the biggest problems with me and labs, though, are that I a) hate following directions and b) am a control freak. This is a bad combination, since in lab, when you don't follow the directions, you are unlikely to be in control of the outcome of your experiment.

Not that I've figured that out yet.

Anyway, lab generally conspires to Fuck Up My Grade, and I take great offense at that. I expect no less from A&P lab, but this time I am on the offensive. I have discovered the Internet. OK, so I should have done that years ago, and I did for uses such as finding out a lot of personal information about dead people and their relatives on deadline, etc., but never for anything useful like pirating music. And I suppose I am still not using the internet to its fullest because I am not actually hacking into the college's Web site to get test answers and tweak grades.

But I have discovered a whole wealth of sites with tissue slides and online tests, and I have been studying those slides and taking those tests. Daily. I feel like I have discovered a secret weapon, because what used to look markedly like a globular pink schmear with wavy lines -- supposedly stratified squamous epithelium or loose connective tissue or whatever label was randomly pulled out of a hat and affixed to the damn slide in question -- is actually starting to look like an identifiable SOMETHING to me.

I feel almost crazy saying that, but there it is. I can even sort of tell various types of white blood cells apart.

It's actually a lot like learning a foreign language -- when all these weird sounds start meaning something to you, a word here and a word there. Ninety percent of what I'm seeing still looks like my 3-year-old's monochromatic watercolors of nothing, but I'm starting to pick out a glob here and a shadow there that looks like ...well, something I've seen before somewhere.

The biggest thing I've learned so far, though, is that in addition to numerous other careers (teacher, lawyer, social worker, curator, cop, psychologist and politician) I definitely don't want to be a pathologist... or an anything else-ologist if it involves any physical presence whatsoever in a lab or within 1,000 feet of a microscope, bunsen burner, dead body or vacuum-packed, formaldehyde-laced fetal mammal.



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