Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How I came to be a semi-permanent student

Today I stood at work and wondered how I came to be there.  I realized, it started with a certain anachronism, Mr. Pickering.
You see, Mr. Pickering was the organ teacher.  It was at his concert at the State Mental Hospital that my mother encountered his brother-in-law, a current graduate student in chemistry at the university.  
Now up to this point I had greatly enjoyed my high school chemistry experiences.  Additionally, as my other areas of fancy (dance and piano) had already been claimed as majors by older siblings (and my parent labored under the impression that only one per family was allowed), I began to seriously consider the sciences.  When a brother slash friendly rival chose to pursue chemistry, my path was all but cemented.
And so, you begin to see why my mother was excited to meet a student- it gave her a glimpse into my future.  She dragged him over, exclaiming all the while, listing off his enthralling course work, and came to rest before me.  With barely concealed emotion shining forth from her eyes, she told me the most marvelous part of it all, he was learning how to make cocaine! (along with a disclaimer that he had to sign an agreement that they would not market the stuff)
I went home that night and thought to myself, well, this could be some useful knowledge.  I would like know such dangerous things as how to make cocaine and so I will become a chemist.
I went through my first year without a whisper of the drug.  I though, well, they simply dare not trust such young fools.  So I kept going.  By junior year I was beginning to become impatient.  As a graduating senior, you could say I felt an inkling of doubt.  However, I did not give up!  Instead, I realized, such interesting information cannot be passed about recklessly, oh no no no.  If you want access to such knowledge, you must prove yourself.  And so I signed up for graduate school.
Well, being in my second year, I took a moment to glance out the lab windows (they really are quite spectacular and its a shame we keep them closed and work in the dark so often).  I had an epiphany.  Completely unbeknownst to me, I had missed the cocaine track and ended up in the physical department.  Somewhere along the way, I had been completely sideswiped!  I looked around.  No cocaine or even marijuana. 
At least there is a laser with a high intensity beam.  If you were to run half your hand through it, nothing would happen-at first.  The next day, your fingers would turn black.  After a week, your fingers would fall off, and there is absolutely nothing that can be done about it (DNA mutation, irreversible).  I can be comforted that this is at least as exciting as cook booking.  There is nothing like going to work and wondering which limbs will come home with you.
So isn't it strange, how you end up where you are.  Though my motivation changes from year to year, I guess it all works out in the end.  


Liz O. said...

One show for you. "Breaking Bad". Now, I'm not sure if you'll be happy with the educational path you are on after you watch it, but then there will be even more to talk with Preston about . . . ! Hahaha!

Liz O. said...

Post Script. To my knowledge, there is no edited version of this show. We watched it on the plane home from Spain, and it was quite the educational experience for me. There is my disclaimer!

Britten & Chelsea Maughan said...

Betsy! I have been patiently awaiting the day that you got back to blogging! That was a very thought-provoking post, I'm going to have to contemplate how I got where I am! Good to see you today!

Kristy said...

Bets, I am sorry I got your hopes up about cocaine production by introducing you to Mr. Pickering's brother. I actually would have been happy for you to be an attorney since that seems to be what many of your siblings have become, but if chemistry is your passion, you must pursue it. Hopefully you will keep all your limbs intact!

maddie.ballerina said...

I'm pretty sure you spelled cocaine wrong. But then I don't know how to spell it either. Don't feel to sad, dad told me that I couldn't be a dance major too.