Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Ok, so I'll be nice and warn you all that you may think this post is gross. Don't read it while eating unless you're a medical student. That is all. You've been warned. If you skip to the bottom, you'll miss the "gross" stuff.

Saturday, in search of something to do that involved air conditioning, I went to see an exhibit called "Bodies," that is one of several such exhibits around the nation. It was expensive, but well worth it. Some of you know that I really like medical stuff and for the majority of my life, before I fell in love with journalism, wanted to be a veterinarian. I briefly considered going to medical school but didn't want to do an internship (I can't function without sleep). So anyway, I heard about this exhibit when it first opened a while back and remember the controversy. I thought it would be fun. As it turns out, it was probably the most interesting thing I've seen since I've been here.

So it's pretty much what it sounds like. A university in China has pioneered this method of preserving human bodies/organs by removing all the liquid and replacing it with this polymer stuff that makes the cadavers/parts hold their shape and color. The exhibit consists of these specimens and has a different area to teach you about each system of the body. The whole bodies are posed in ways that show off whatever system the particular display is of, and the organs are set up to really show how they work (there are of course descriptions of everything on plaques inside the display cases). It's really in-depth and you get to see so much you'd probably only otherwise see if you went to medical school. Even if you took human anatomy, you probably wouldn't see anything this in-depth unless you took several classes and did a lot of work with cadavers.

A lot of the parts have tumors or other diseases, which I thought was really interesting. It puts things in perspective to know what exactly happens to bodies. The grossest thing was an enormous teratoma (tumor) -- about the size of a basketball -- that had teeth, an eyeball and a hair inside. I've heard about those before because I watch a lot of medical shows, but seeing one was so weird. It reminds me of that scene in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" where the aunt scares the guy's parents by telling them how she had one a teratoma ("Inside the lump was my twin.") Anyway, it definitely got the most responses from the other people there.

My absolute favorite part was the display of the cardiovascular system. They'd done something with the polymer where they filled all the blood vessels and them removed the flesh entirely so that you could see just the blood vessels of the various body parts (organs, an entire leg, an arm, etc) with nothing else to get in the way. It was really neat. They had an entire body that was just the blood vessels. It's amazing. I took anatomy and you can look at pictures of the blood vessels, but to see a real body displayed like that and realize just how complex it really is was amazing.

Near the lung cancer display they had a big clear box and a sign asking people who were disturbed by the blackened lungs to leave their cigarettes there. It wasn't anywhere near full, but there were quite a few packs in there. I wonder how many people see that and decide to quit. If I smoked, I would have quit right then. It's pretty disturbing.

Anyway, that was my day Saturday. After the museum, I trekked out to a mall in Maryland and blew a good portion of my paycheck (mostly on things that I needed. Spent a LOT of time waiting around for the subway that day, but it was actually kind of nice to spend the day doing things that were less touristy. The exhibit seemed to attract more local-types and the mall was certainly not a tourist destination (too far away, nothing special there), so things were less crowded. Sunday was another day of grocery shopping, but this time, given the AWFUL heat, I decided I didn't want to carry heavy bags, so I took my wheeley carry-on suitcase and put my insulated Trader Joe's bag inside. It was a fabulous idea. Those bags get so heavy and walking through the heat to and from the subway (uphill) is usually a nightmare. But the wheel bag helped. I can't wait to get back to a place where I can just drive to the store.

Work is going well. It's not as glamorous as reporting, and every day is kind of the same thing, but I enjoy it. I'm making some good connections and getting fantastic experience. It has definitely been suggested to me that my bosses here know people at other papers the company owns, so I'm starting to feel excellent about my chances of getting a job after graduation. I definitely am getting the best opportunity possible out of my placement here.

I'm considering going up to New York to see "Rent" on broadway in a couple of weeks, but it has not been possible to save any money while I've been here. I mean, I didn't have to spend the money I did in gift shops, but even counting that, I've really only spent about $100 on totally unnecessary things. A lot has gone just to sales taxes. I know I say that Oregon needs a sales tax to help pay for schools/social services, etc. and I stand by that, but man... after not paying them my entire life, having to live somewhere where I do, it really eats up your money.

Between owing on some bills here and back home; the fact that they take out hundreds of dollars a month in taxes and a really dumb mistake involving scanning my debit card (with a very small amount in my account) instead of my EBT card (which did have enough) at the grocery, leading to a panic-inducing amount of overdraft fees, I've made way less than I thought I would. I mean, I'll come back with about half of what I thought I would have. I'm just hoping I get all these DC city taxes back in April, given that I only lived here for three months. My goal was to come back with way more than enough money to last through fall term. I'll have enough to make my major purchase -- a new laptop -- but not much else. It's kind of sad. I could have managed money better, but I really didn't spend much on things I couldn't use. Then again, a lot of people take non-paying internships, so I'm thrilled to have found something that pays.

Anyway, the next paycheck will be the first one that was totally bill-free. I can save every penny. So, if there are still tickets left, I'm going to go see "Rent." I've of course seen several different touring casts, but right now, two of the original cast members (Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal) are back on Broadway and I'd love to see them. I have no idea if my plan for making this work is even feasible, but it would certainly be fun.

I apologize for the lengthy posts. I tend to start writing just to kill time and every thought I have comes out.


Mr. Burns said...

"I can't function without sleep."

Haha. And yet, you're a journalist. I think you're lying. Or you've found a way to sleep while writing.

Thought Criminal said...

You have a point. I only have to think back to the budget season during my political reporting last year to agree with you here.

However, given the choice between operating on someone's heart while half asleep and reporting while half asleep, I'll take the reporting. :)