Friday, June 29, 2012

How to Earn the Title: Professor's Pet

Elated. That is how I felt when I was hired, as a sophomore, as a lab technician by my college. No longer did I have to sit by the pool and watch people frolic in the water, pretending that I would actually save them, should they drown. I was a woman of SCIENCE!

I started preparing supplies the upcoming lab class, one that I was taking myself.

I was so happy. "People will look up to me." I thought. Boy was I wrong.

I wondered what we would be doing with the supplies I had so carefully crafted and collected. The innocuous supply order was for:  "Forty slip capped tubes with cotton tip applicators moistened with sterile saline solution." Which looked approximately like this:

I thought "Awesome! We're probably swabbing things for bacteria! Cool! We'll see how much bacteria really is on my phone..."

In case you're wondering, you're phone looks something like this:

SIDE NOTE: I did some thinking and ever since I've been sterilizing my phone with 70% solution of ethanol on a paper towel. Ethanol works really well, evaporates quickly and gets rid of all those unsightly smudge marks *IMPORTANT* Do not use alcohol intended for consumption. That will just make your phone sticky.

I sit patiently in the lab waiting for my classmates, proud of what I accomplished. As students filed in, I successfully contained my superiority. "I'm so much awesome-r than you guys"

The Professor came in and started describing our lab project to us.  The project would take up the entire semester and she made it clear that if we didn't finish the project, we would fail.

We'd be working with cultures of our own specific E. coli and later we would be collecting activated sludge from the sewage treatment plant containing so many phages (viruses that attack bacteria) that ONE of them would target our specific E. coli strain.

The realization that we would have to visit a sewage treatment plant later in the year distracted many students from the task at hand. That task was harvesting our own E. coli.

I was the first to realize what the cotton tipped applicators were for: our butts. My head hung in shame as I averted my eyes from the front of the room.

Apparently, it wasn't clear to anyone else in the lab, maybe because they hadn't been tasked to prepare forty slip capped tubes with swabs.

A brave, outspoken soul raised his hand and asked "Let me get this straight. You want us to stick this..."

The professor, embarrassed by the thought of actually having to carry on this conversation, cut him off with a curt: "Yes. You can take turns visiting the restroom".  

Begrudgingly, we all took turn visiting the restroom and sodomizing ourselves with the glorified extended Q-tips (TM). Every person came back with their test tube filled with shame tightly clasped in their hands and quickly got on with the rest of the lab assignment. We were all eerily silent

When it came time for me, I marched myself to the toilet and thanked the heavens that I had been eating a lot of fiber lately, resulting in solid poos that didn't linger in my butthole. I didn't want to be one those people whose cotton applicator had poo smudges.

I inserted that applicator as deep into my butthole as I felt necessary before replacing it in the tube. For just a moment, I was so grateful it was over and that my cotton looked clean.

And in that moment, I wondered would would clean these poop Q-tips up. It was me. It was always going to be me.

When the lab was over I stared down that test tube rack filled with dirty test tubes containing even dirtier cotton applicators.

So I autoclaved (steam sterilized) those puppies on the longest cycle I could stand to wait for. Disposed of the applicators and soaked the test tubes in a soap overnight. But in my mind those test tubes will never be clean again.

At least I wasn't one of the poor souls who didn't successfully isolate their E.coli the first time and had to commit a second act of inanimate-object-self-sodomy in the name of science (a.k.a. passing a class).

MORAL OF THIS STORY: Do not EVER take test tubes or any other kinds of laboratory glassware from any lab for the purpose of consuming beverages from them. Sure, test tube shots are fun but just buy the premade plastic ones from the store. At least you know they never contained poo.

Below is a step by step guide detailing the process of becoming your biology teachers' favorite:

Step 1: Earn enough trust to be hired as the lab technician that prepares all of the labs for students.

Step 2: Take the class you are preparing the lab for.

Step 3: Do not look alarmed when professor implies you must extract E. coli from your asshole. Or fail the lab.

Step 4: Do not be the person to ask: "So... you want us to stick this in our butt?"

Step 5: Stick that cotton tipped applicator up your rear end. Try not to let the humiliation show.

Step 6: Proceed as usual.

Step 7: Do not show fear when confronted with a test tube rack full of ass Q-tips (TM).

Step 8: Autoclave and dispose of those suckers!

NOTE: It is important that you do NOT complain. I repeat do not complain.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Birthday Curse

The odds are stacked against this me and this blog. I am not funny, but my facial expressions are. I am not a grammar nazi, but lots of people are. I am not creative, but all of the other bloggers are. What I do have are stories. True stories that are actually pretty funny, but I'm not good at telling them.

I wish some established blogger like Allie from Hyperbole and a Half  would contact me so I could pour my most hilarious stories into her brain, shake it up (Do not stir, that is where mediocrity comes from.), and force feed her ipecac until she vomits her brains directly onto the internet so I may laugh at myself instead of just feeling sad that the stories are true. To Allie, fans of Allie, and the police: that last sentence is certainly not a death threat, even though vomiting brains is known to induce death, except in zombies. Do zombies puke?


I probably need one of these, right?

I was once tasked to babysit 4 BABY TIGERS while weary travellers wined and dined, dumping the adorable bundles of unadulterated destruction on my poor motel-owning parents, while my dad was almost strangled by an albino boa constrictor (videography to follow in subsequent posts). If that doesn't make you want to stay, I don't know what will.

But I'll have to start with the  (less interesting) stories that I can easily illustrate with my poor drawing skills (I cannot draw a believable baby tiger). My primative artistic skills were stunted when, in third grade, they (the Man) pulled me out of art for an honors english class. The joke is on them because I can't write very well either.

With that said, let me tell you of my BIRTHDAY CURSE.

WARNING: There is a lot of lead-up/filler story to my actual birthday.

Every year I dread my birthday, but not because I'm one more year older than those hot 19 year olds that grind on men (or let men grind on them) in clubs so that they may indulge in alcoholic beverages. If I were a man of alcohol-purchasing age and a girl ground up on me for drinks, I would buy her a shirley temple "mocktail" and watch her pretend she's drunk.

No, I dread my birthday because I am cursed.

Every year, on the anniversary of my birth, something terrible happens. And trends indicate that every year is getting progressively worse. For example: when I turned four, a spider landed on me and I screamed so loud my parents were sure I was dying, then laughed (to my horror) when they discovered that I was not.

Then last birthday I almost did die!

It all started in my senior year of college. I had contracted some form of slow and painful death just before graduation. Finals were over and seniors had one full week of playtime before graduation. Awesome activities happened every day but all I could manage was to lay in my bed staring out my window watching my friends play tennis ball golf (not golf with a tennis ball) and drink themselves into unconsciousness.

But I won because I didn't have to drink $20 in cheap alcohol to achieve unconsciousness!

My boyfriend managed to drag me out of my room for a school sponsored trip to an amusement park 2 hours away. I held on for the majority of the car ride until his friend suggested we stop at burger king for breakfast/lunch. I took a few bites out of some kind of bacon burger monstrosity then religated myself to the bathroom for an exciting ten minutes.

(I'm trying not to exaggerate this story or gross you out but to me it felt like these were all of the minutes I had left.)

Back on the road I fell into some state of unconscious consciousness, trying hard not to appear too desperately sick so the boyfriend wouldn't feel too bad for dragging me out of my bed.

In the park, I followed our little group like a slow moving zombie. I was too weak to stand for the whole queue so boyfriend lovingly left me at all the ride's exits with everyone's stuff to guard. I think he figured I couldn't wander too far, I was too tired. Until I realized that my favorite ride was functional.

This ride was literally NEVER OPEN! In the approximately 15 times I've been to the park, it's been open twice.

The ride was called "Bear Run" and it was glorious. The premise: a live bear is set loose in a pen with all of the people trapped inside and the first person to get eaten lost. Repeat until there is one winner.

Just kidding!

In reality, the ride was much worse for my ailing body than a bear mauling. It was one of those rides where you sit in a raft and float down a river. And get soaking wet. In May (P.S. That means cold in NY).

We didn't have much time in the park left. All of our friends wanted to ride the tallest rollercoaster in the park but I insisted that we ride Bear Run. Feeling bad for me, my boyfriend convinced them to oblige after he promised they make a run for the tallest coaster right after (all the way on the other side of the park).

With more energy than I had in days, I rushed into the bathroom to change into a swim suit. The others thought that changing in and out their swim suits before the running for the last ride would take too much time. I think they regret that now.

I bounded up the empty line and plopped in the first raft and got gloriously, wonderfully wet. But, all good things must come to an end and when we got off I was blue and shaking. The water was about as warm a hose water. With ice.

The others tried to run, their sneakers squirting water, but missed the last ride by a hair. Happy as a clam (and probably as warm as one too) I quickly changed out of my wet swim suit into dry clothes while the others slogged to our car for the 2 hours home in wet clothes.

After that I slept until the day before graduation. My parents took one look at me with my yellowing skin and eyes and insisted that I get tested for EVERYTHING. But they couldn't make me miss graduation. I begrudgingly listed my symptoms, one of which being urinating approximately all the time, while they took me out to lunch at the only local bar in town. The insisted that my aunt use one of  her diabetes testing strips on me to rule out diabetes. In the only bar in town. In front of the waitress.

Me: "Mom, I do not have diabetes. My blood suger is FINE!"

Mom: "You don't know that!"

It was fine. Moms are paranoid.

I got up early to get ready for graduation and slopped enough makeup to make me look alive again (a lot). I really tried my best to make myself pretty.

Then, I did it. I made it through graduation. Cross-legged trying to plot out a discreet course to the bathroom to pee and die while sitting in front of a thousand people, but I made it.

After that, they packed up my room (as sickly me watched) and my entire family left ahead of me on their way to the lunch my mom had planned. My brother and I left last after I said a quick goodbye to boyfriend (pseudo boyfriend at the time).

I was very low on gas. My brother pulled into the gas station at the Native American Reservation and I handed him my credit card to pump my car full of gasoline.

He opened up my gas cap and what did he find?

That's right, a wasps nest.

He screamed and danced around like a frightened forest fairy (ha! ....alliteration sucks) as all the other patrons of the gasoline laughed at him.


Me: "I don't know, a few months ago?"

Brother: *screaming*

Eventually the wasps dissipated and he beat the nest off with a hairbrush (I wouldn't let him use my hair dryer).

This scene added an extra 5 minutes to our trip and on the way there my parents called my brother. Responsibly, I answered his phone (Drivers are not to talk on cell phones!!).

My parents were curiously upset that I had answered the phone but I thought little of it (my mind was too focused on my internal bodily misery) and asked what was taking so long. I relayed the story to my parents and that sated them.

We drove past the luncheon place to find a parking spot so I could just finish my graduation party/lunch and die. My entire extended family (of approximately 20 people) was standing outside waving at me.

Me: "Why are they standing outside?"

Brother: "I don't know."

My brother is usually not good at lying. In retrospect, his ability to lie to me here is alarming.

After we finally found a spot, my brother and I walked up to my family. I was visibly perplexed. 

My mom greeted me and asked me if I liked my present.

What the hell was she talking about? Suddenly, I was worried that she had gotten me something expensive like a laptop. I hate getting expensive gifts almost as much as I would hate a root canal, I imagine.

Then I got a look at a big bow on top of something. It was a car. My parents had gotten me a new car for my birthday/graduation.

I have never been so filled with surprise and guilt at the same time.

This is the climax of my story. Except in this story it is a good climax, the opposite of most other stories. (I'm so original!)

In retrospect, it seems like a pretty good birthday so far.

That was the last time, until July, that I remember feeling anything but exhaustion and the hope that maybe, just maybe, I won't wake up to endure another agonizing day of laying in bed too tired to do anything. I stewed in my mixed feelings of gratitude and anguish that my parents had spent all that money on me.

Fast forward a few days! Finally, it came time for my doctors appointment. I courageously drove my sick ass to my doctor inconveniently located in the inner city.

My throat had swollen up so I could barely swallow or talk. Every swallow was literally agony. I've swallowed a quarter before (When I was young. I wonder if it came out?) and it was like swallowing a hundred quarters. But those quarters were from the joint, where inmates sharpened the edges to use as a shiv.

My boyfriend was very very sad because I couldn't talk to him and was unconvinced I was dying.

And I was a light shade of yellow, which is saying something because my complexion is normally a rosy pink. For yellow to show through all that pink, I was pretty jaundice.

And finally, my neck. Oh, my neck. I wasn't sure if it existed anymore. My glands were swollen to the size of oranges. It looked like I had swallowed a huge wad of pourous socks (pourous so I could potentially breathe through them, did you really want me to die?) in an tragic accident of autoerotic asphyxiation.

The doctor took one look at me and recoiled as far away from me as possible. She immediately ordered many many blood tests. All I could manage to say was a list of my symptoms and the most pathetic inaudible sentence I think she heard all day.

Me: "It's my birthday tomorrow."

She looked at me with those sympathetic, sad doctor eyes and scurried out of the room as fast as she could.

A nice woman came to take a lot of my blood for tests and things. And I vaguely wondered if I should be keeping the blood. I didn't feel like I had a lot of it left.

It turns out I had mono. And my liver was on the verge of failure. That meant no more pain killers or drugs of any kind. I got that call on my birthday and I cried. Even though those pain killers were torture to swallow, they provided me with a few hours of dulled agony. So, on my birthday, I had to stop the pain regimen that made my life tolerable.

Instead of taking pain killers, I drooled into tissues for the entire month of June.

But I guess I got a new car.

Update: Illustrations to follow.