Nothing To Be Admired

So, there I was, cheerfully slicing apart a sheep brain and rattling off information for Jenna to scribble on the notepad given to us by Teacher Madame, when a thought occurred.

“Hey, Jenna?” I asked, aware that the pool of formaldehyde was beginning to make me a tad light-headed.

“Yep?” She looked up, her eyes framed with the required goggles.

I couldn’t believe the words that came out of my mouth as I finished the cut directly posterior of the hippocampus, “This is freaking awesome!”

Jessica, who had been nearly silent this entire time, stared at me as though I was a madwoman, “You’re not serious.”

“How are you guys not ecstatic right now? This doesn’t exactly happen everyday! Heck, look!” I held up the newly severed portion of brain, the cerebellum hanging limp like a little, pink, squiggly half-tennis ball connected to the brain by a few layers of tissue.

“Oh, gosh!” Jenna put down the notepad and walked away for a moment to compose herself. It was then that I realized I should give up on trying to get my classmates excited over slicing and dicing the organs of a dead animal.

A note about me: I love the brain. I love the entire setup, the symmetry, the utter oddness and complexity. I used to constantly read about psychiatric drugs (still an excellent book to have around: The Consumer’s Guide to Psychiatric Drugs, also, Anatomy Of An Epidemic.) But then, I love anything about the head in general. Facial muscles, bones of the skull and face, the eyes. So when I came into a&p on Friday and discovered we were going to dissect a sheep brain and eye, my entire world lit up.

Jenna, so we discovered, has a rather weak stomach. As soon as I completed the cut around the eye (I ended up doing nearly all of the hand work while the others observed and took notes,) she coughed and gagged. Not that I could blame her, I had to turn my head away (my hands were still poised over the eye, my gloves dripping with formaldehyde and vitreous humor, so I couldn’t exactly excuse myself) because of the piercing odor being emitted from the eye.

“That’s so gross!” Jessica turned to face to the window behind her (Teacher Madame had opened every window in the classroom, thank goodness.)

Melanie, the only other person who showed any interest in the dissection, and the wonderful human being who helped me remove the very unpleasant fatty tissue (the color, thickness and overall texture of which reminded me of an uncooked chicken) surrounding the sclera, stood and leaned over the table to better view the retina. “Ooh, pretty colors!” She commented. Teacher Madame, pleased at our interest, came over to our table and explained the layer covering the back of the eye.

Madame noticed the anatomy booklet I brought along that contained photographs of cadavers in various states of dissection. She flipped through the book and we spoke for a moment on the contents of the booklet.

“Please tell me you’re going into medicine.” She said.

Cue giant smile. The band of my goggles started slipping off of my ponytail and I had to ask Jenna for help to fix it.

After class, I was still high on the experience (maybe it was all the formaldehyde, there’s no way to know for sure,) and walked to the cafe with a skip in my step. Claire (the world’s greatest barista) was behind the counter finishing up with a customer as I stepped inside, Kyle was behind her refilling a water bottle. She glanced up and smiled the smile that never fails to light up a room, “Hi girl!”

“Hey!” I said, I looked over to Kyle, who looked up to see who Claire was talking to, “Good afternoon, Kyle.”

He nodded as he passed by, “Good afternoon.” He nearly mumbled, he didn’t make eye contact. I’ve started to get the sense that I unnerve him for some reason. This disappoints me. As I mentioned in a recent post, I was looking forward to establishing a friendship with the fellow. He’ll watch me for a few moments while restocking a shelf in the bookstore, or when he needs something from the cafe, but he never initiates conversation.

As soon as I shut the car door I started a ramble about class, but was quickly interrupted by my mother. As I mentioned before, my mother is what the Taoist monks would call a Fire person. She likes having fun and keeping conversation light, she loves to daydream about a different life and plan shopping trips. The last thing she wants to hear is a long-winded description of a sheep brain (and how freaking awesome it was.) Halfway home she suddenly asked, “What’s that smell?”

“Oh,” I said happily, “That’s just formaldehyde.” Teacher Madame had told us that the scent would stick to our hair and clothing.

“Formaldehyde?”

“From the brain and eye.”

“What brain and eye?”

“From class.”

“Oh.”

Last night (Saturday) me and mom took a stroll around the lake down the street from our home.

I

I listened to mom talk about what she missed most about California, I commented here and there, asked questions I knew she would want to answer, and threw in the equal advantages of going to the university I want to go to. She still wants me to go to college in California, and I haven’t changed my mind about going to the other side of the country. She announced yesterday morning that as soon as a legal matter clears up, she wants to move. Not a month goes by that she doesn’t mention her dream of ‘moving back home’, and after I told her about an article I read in Psychology Today that explained the number one regret of the dying is that they didn’t have enough courage to live the life they wanted to when they had the chance, she seems to have a greater drive to return to California. I get my stubbornness from my mother. That fact alone is enough to let me know how serious she is.

This morning I woke up bright and early for church with Heather Madame. This week we tried out a church in North Richland Hills.

We were once again the youngest people there by our own free will. Hundreds of eyes watched us when we stepped inside the building, we quickly made our way to the sanctuary, which was nearly empty ten minutes before the service.

After the sermon we high-fived out of the success of surviving yet another dull church experience, and made plans to try yet another new place next week. Today we never found ourselves in deep conversation, even when we were sitting back at Starbucks sipping our overpriced beverages. We’ve both been so stressed out that a day of nothing but an uneventful church service and sitting in a Starbucks with nowhere to be was a much-needed therapy. On the drive back to my house I found myself starting to talk about the same old things, but I let it die out, it wasn’t worth it.

Alright folks, tomorrow is Monday, and so we shall do it all over again.

Until I Write Again,

–Hannah-Elizabeth/ Classic

P.S. I do realize the dryness of this post. My every spare moment as of late I find myself writing down any truth about myself, about everything I feel. Because I’m afraid of discovering I’m a fraud, the truth about how I feel about every single person and event in my life, I feel the need to just write and leave in the open. And so tonight when I found myself writing out a post, I found nothing to discover or despise. Any lies that I’ve told myself I have cleared up, any notion to deceive the people I care about is gone for tonight. I want to be an open book, and I want to be fair in my judgement, this post ended up being nothing more than the residue of my creativity, and it is nothing to be admired.

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15 thoughts on “Nothing To Be Admired

    • I believe he was having an exhibit in Branson when me and my mother were visiting, I wasn’t able to make it, but my anatomy teacher went to one of them, she spoke highly of it. It looks like grand fun! What an interesting human being!
      And thank you for your kind words 🙂

  1. Irvine (I think that’s where your mother wants you to go, right?) is a really good school. I know you have your heart set on some other school, but sometimes what you don’t want to do turns out to be the best thing you could have ever done!
    Just saying.

    • Indeed it is Irvine, though she also loves Santa Barbara. I will keep your comment in mind, California is charming, we lived there for ten years, and I do have many happy memories there. I suppose if I don’t enjoy one place, I can transfer after a semester to California and stay with my family until I get my Bachelor of Science degree. At least if things don’t turn out with Plan A, I’ll have the story to tell for the rest of my life, and I can say I tried. 🙂

  2. Oh, you are SO going places in life!

    I would have been Jenna.

    I remember leaving biology class one day because I had to sit next to dead cats from the previous class. They were doing dissecting and since my last name started with “A”, I had the first seat, first row by the wall…the wall of dead cats. I wasn’t going to sit there. I loved cats. Seeing them wrapped in their plastic in rig was too much for me to handle. So I left and cut class. I never got a detention for it. I guess the teacher understood.

    You’re a much stronger person that I will ever be. I didn’t even like dissecting the much require-to-pass-the-class frogs. I won’t even kill a tadpole (I recovered over 500 of them from my pool cover last year and relocated them down the road at the stream). Science is definitely not in my blood!

    Stick to your guns about college!

    • I suppose I was just more prepared mentally for the experience, last year I spent a more than decent amount of time watching cadaver lab videos on YouTube, so I was used to seeing brains 🙂
      Woah! Cats?? I would run into a burning building for my cat, Abby Num Nums (mostly because she’s so tubby that I don’t think she would be able to fight off her laziness long enough to escape on her own…)

      • It takes a special talent to be able to stomach that sort of profession. Just like the people on the first aid squads. As much as I love helping people, I couldn’t do their job. Going to medical issues, accidents, hospitals, etc. I say thank god there’s people like that who can handle the blood and gory. Some find it fascinating. I can just about handle a cut. 🙂

  3. Oh my, I would have fainted, I am so squeamish I quit studying biology when I found out I’d have to dissect things. Trust me, I could have not done it, never ever, I would have fainted, over and over again.

    P.S The chap, maybe he’s just shy?

    • The only creepy part, I thought, was the eye, because there were so many different textures that seemed to almost fight back when I tried to cut them. It came to the point where me and Melanie were both bent over this eye, all hands on deck holding the darn thing down, and taking turns pretty much attacking it with the scalpel… It was not the most pleasant experience.

      That must be it! Homeschool guys are usually a tad shy around girls… Now I need to plan out how to make him comfortable around me, I refuse to have the school year end and not know him.

      • Oh that would have finished me off, squishy!

        Shy boys (and girls) get more relaxed as you get to know them, but it takes time. We feel uncomfortable at first, and don’t know what to say or do. It’s painful being shy…I could not look at people in the eye when I was a little girl. I still struggle, even now.

  4. *squeeeeels!!*
    I’m so thrilled that I just started my mental health nursing unit, and so I’ve started reading up on all the psychopharmacology and the biology behind everything and so many disorders… And well I love the brain too ❤
    I remember in year nine I was so devastated that participating in another school program meant I would miss out when my class dissected a bull's eye (literally just the eye of a bull) that when my teacher noticed he organized for me to be able to do the dissection with him during lunch. At one point I was actually pretty set on becoming a medical examiner. Nursing suits me much better though, and I still get to deal with so many interesting conditions.
    But not everyone has the stomach for it. It's definitely going to be a good skill for what you want to follow 🙂
    *hugs*
    I've had an insane day and just reading this gives me that feeling like I'm unwinding and reading a letter from an old friend, is that odd?

    • Aw, sounds like an excellent teacher 🙂
      Eeeeek! Heather just started pharm classes, too! Ya’ll! I’m so jealous!
      *giant hug*
      Madame, you are like a sister to me, every post of yours is like reading a letter from an old friend 😀

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