Sounds of Summer


There’s a car alarm going off. My window air conditioning unit is rumbling at a constant level that is just tolerable. It is hot outside, that deep city hot that always smells a little bit like garbage. I don’t have to go out there until later but I dread the thought. The little dog is cuddled up against me holding a tiny toy giraffe against her chest. Older dog was too hot so he’s lying on the floor. The Husband isn’t here, he’s gone to Vegas for a week and I am alone for the first time in a long time. Vague sounds of construction are wafting up from the street. The clang of metal, a truck backing up. These are the sounds of New York summer.

I wish I were a poet. I’ve always been good with words but I’ve never been a poet. There’s something ethereal about the way most of my favorite poets write, like the words string together of their own accord and the writer is simply a conduit. The muse. I can see why she is such a formidable character, able to withdraw her voice or sing softly to you as she wills. But she doesn’t sing poetry to me. I do love to analyze poetry however, a skill which is useful in precisely one context: English class. I analyzed a lot of poetry in college and grad school, and to what end? Maybe I have increased gray matter, I definitely have a deeper appreciation for the poetic craft, a better understanding of the classics, but it doesn’t really help me much in the real world.

I’m not sure I can say exactly what real world applications this ability has outside of the classroom. I am happy for the education regardless.

This is one of the reasons I wanted to go back to school, again. I trained in English and History, specifically Medieval history and literature, which, once again, does me very little good in the world beyond academia.

I was talking to a friend last night who’s in my post-bac premed program, and we were discussing motivation. One reason I want to go into healthcare is because I can make steady money that way. They are practical skills with applications that I can use anywhere in the world. Everyone needs nurses. But my deeper motivation, the real reason that I want to do this, is because I have been through so much with my physical and mental health and I just want to help others going through the same things because it sucks to be alone and suffering. It’s the same reason I write this blog. I want people to know they’re not alone with their experiences, that there are ways to cope, that you can come out the other side; this is not the end. This is why I want to go into psych specifically. I feel like I understand enough of the patient side of things that I can do my best to ease the weight of treatment for people dealing with things similar to what I’ve gone through. I want to help people. That is the bottom line. And my friend and I agreed that that is the best reason to go into medicine.

So this is my plan. School for the next few years and then nursing in some fashion, either as an RN or a NP. I’ve only scratched the surface of the content I need to learn to get through this and already I am overwhelmed and out of my element, particularly with math. My psych class went well and chemistry seems to be going alright, I don’t feel lost. There is hope for me yet. But as someone with a purely humanities background, this is wild and new information. My professor asked me the other day what I was in my past life, so I explained, and he said, “So no sciences?” I had to admit the only I’d taken were geology and environmental science. “Oh good, well geology probably helps. There’s a lot of chemistry with that.”

May I pause and say that he is the most adorable professor I’ve ever known? He is some sort of Spanish, I say that vaguely because I can’t quite tell where he’s from but his accent is very pronounced. He is pretty short and skinny, greying in the beard and hair, with small black glasses. In our giant chemistry lecture room in the basement of Havemeyer, he has five giant blackboards to play with and to move them around requires a fair amount of strength and leverage. He said yesterday, “I hate teaching in this classroom because everything is so big to me.” Something horrible he taught us that sticks in my mind is about children in India. He said, “Helium is very expensive, so people buy Zinc and mix it with HCL [hydrogen chloride?]. What results is Zn + HCL –> ZnCl + H2 [subscript].” For anyone who’s curious what H (which is diatomic) does alone, just think “hydrogen bomb.” These little kids are running around with balloons full of HYDROGEN which with just the right amount of flame, I’m assuming, would explode. I mean H is right next to He on the periodic chart, but a balloon filled with hydrogen vs. a balloon full of helium is like night and day.

Our professor also did an experiment that ended up spreading dry ice everywhere, and collapsing a large metal flammable material container (it only had a little water inside). If you heat a small amount of water in a large, closed container, and then allow it to cool down again, the atmospheric pressure will crush the container as the water shifts from gas back to liquid. This is a terrifying sound when you are not expecting it and just casually looking at your iPad. I must have jumped an inch out of my chair. And it kept collapsing, each time with a shocking crunching, metal scraping noise. These are my chemistry classes. Honestly, it is so much fun.

I wonder what he’ll have for us next week.

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