A Tasty New Endeavor

Recently I’ve been meaning to write about my latest adventure: I got a summer job!

I know, you’re asking yourself how someone who is clearly in need of a vacation could possibly think it’s a good idea to get a summer job? Well, I’m thinking that I will have some extra cash to spend on all those chips I eat out of the vending machine at school. (I have a problem. Don’t judge me.) Anyway, I have this new summer job at a barbecue place in town. And so far I’ve only made a few mistakes! My first week has been very interesting and also very tiring. I work the evening shift so I get there at four and work until a little after nine during the week. Apparently this Saturday I get to work from three until ten. I’m so excited I could pass out and never move again!!

Unfortunately that isn’t an option so I’ve been making the best of the extra long work hours that I’m not used to. And the fact that my sisters have consistently woken me up before nine every morning this week. At least I’ve had some time in the mornings to catch up on my writing… Anyway, I’ve been working in this totally new environment and I don’t think they plan on firing me so I guess I’m doing alright.

It has been a weird transition for me. I’m used to doing all my stuff early in the morning so at about two I get really antsy. I’m really wanting to get on over to work and I’m also aware that if I leave my house at two I’m going to be very bored for a very long time. So I’ve been trying to keep myself busy in the mornings. Looking on the bright side at least I’ll be used to staying up late and getting up early once I get back to school!

In truth, I’m really happy that I managed to find a summer job. My parents totally didn’t think I could do it. (They’re still probably wondering when I’ll quit.) After all, I am a very academically geared individual, and barbecue, while totally the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten, isn’t exactly mentally challenging. But I am learning how to be a team player and gaining valuable people skills. So I’m ok with it. And the woman that was helping me wash the dishes yesterday didn’t even get mad when I soaked both of us. So I guess I’ll be ok.

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Forgotten Treasures

I walked into the building and smiled as I noticed my friend already hard at work. “Look at all this stuff!” I said as I walked over to the boxes and tubs piled in a haphazard array. She smiled, “Yeah, I don’t know where we’re going to put it all.” I shrugged, she had been working on organizing this stuff much longer than I had so I didn’t feel entitled to an opinion. I opened up the first box I came to and I was pleased to find a rather large book collection. These books were clearly the forgotten remnants of someone’s childhood. I flipped through the pages to see if there were any treasures hidden among them. Finding nothing I put the books on the bookshelf among the other children’s books.

The books weren’t the only things we dug out from the boxes. Long-forgotten Christmas ornaments and a metal figurine of a cow holding a milk jug were among the stuff that we retrieved. Some of the things are so incredibly odd you find yourself wondering why someone would ever want to keep them. We certainly don’t keep many of the things that aren’t any good. There was a large pile of trash by the time we finished sifting through everything.

All these things were long forgotten and someone stopped caring about them. That’s how they ended up in a storage unit auction. From there my dad packed up all their forgotten things in his truck and brought them to his shop where we organize all these things that were clearly important enough to keep, but not important enough to keep in their homes. These storage units are eventually lost; whether to bad memories, lost bills, or hard times. These lost units are eventually found again by someone looking to sell the all the once-treasured things.

Going through the boxes is truly an enlightening experience. You stop to wonder if all these things were really that important in the first place. I’ve promised myself I will never get a storage unit. I think it’s better to just get rid of the things you no longer need. It’s also therapeutic to let go of that part of your life. There’s only so much room within four walls for things, but there is infinite storage in our minds for all of the wonderful memories. All of those books I found, they were the remnants of a childhood that someone wanted to preserve. How futile it seems to try and preserve something that is already lost to us.

Getting Out of the House

There is something about getting out of the house. Taking a walk in the woods. Or driving with no destination.

 

Today I had to get out of the house.

 

Things have changed around my home since I’ve been away to school. Every time  I come home there are little things amiss. I think my least favorite part is cleaning everyone else’s stuff out of my room once I get home. The rest of my stay involves me trying to keep them from bringing their junk back in here. It drives me crazy. So I had to get out of my room today.

I went for a walk down the road. Until I remembered that I was a young female walking alone on the side of the road. Then I started imagining all the cars driving by were full of potential rapists and I would totally be blamed because I was wearing athletic clothes and not a suit of armor. (What was I thinking?!) I woefully turned around and started walking back to my house which was a real drag because I seriously needed to be distracted. Then I remembered we have this really great hill behind my house!

The walk up the hill wasn’t terrible. I didn’t even flinch at walking into the woods. Until I got in there and thought about how I could totally die because a deer attacked me. And then I ran into a giant spider web. Fantastic. I kept walking until I saw this giant black beast begin moving toward me in the middle of the flipping woods and I was thinking, Goodbye cruel world. My time was short and kind of sucked. Then I remembered we have a giant black horse that is totally supposed to be back there! I was really happy until I realized I was going to have to walk up a really steep incline if I ever wanted to see my family again.

If you’ve never been on a steep incline with a bunch of sticks and stuff underneath you then you’re really missing out on a life changing experience. Basically the whole time you’re just forcing yourself forward. You’re still thinking about how a snake could totally come up from the ground and eat your leg off but if you stop moving you’re going to fall down so you just keep going. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see grass as when I reached the top.

Then began my journey back to my house because I was pretty done with nature for the day. On the way back down I came across a super photogenic butterfly. So basically the whole trip was totally worth it. I mean, these photos are totally priceless. I was probably six inches away from a living butterfly and it didn’t fly away. If that doesn’t show how totally zen I had become after almost dying of snake venom in my leg then I don’t know how I could prove it to you.

Really photogenic butterfly!

She Goes on a Hike

This weekend I went on an adventure. It wasn’t anything huge, in fact I wasn’t an hour away from my house, but it was lovely. My aunt, uncle, little sister, and I decided to go for a hike. At the beginning of our hike I was all in and totally excited. Then we kept walking at a very steep incline. Forever.

I’m not a very in-shape person so it was a little rough on the way up. I turned bright red and I thought I was going to sweat out all the water in my body. To add insult to injury it was extremely humid and hot. More than once I thought about sitting down and waiting for everyone else to come back down. Fortunately for me I have my pride and it forced me to keep going up.

Once we got to the top of the mountain I was so happy I had made it. I was happy because I don’t think I’ve could’ve walked any further and it was absolutely gorgeous up there! I felt like I was in a whole other world. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt so very alive.

I’d forgotten how much fun being outside could be and what a beautiful place I lived in. I look forward to going on many more adventures like this one before the summer is over. Being out in the mountains is like nothing else. They remind you how big the world really is and how much exploring there is left to do.

My Happy Place

Writing 101, Day Two

I remember the first time they opened the door for me, I was so excited I had tunnel vision – the rest of the world just disappeared. The huge key ring was my gatekeeper and it had let me in with a click. The room was very warm, you felt it as the door opened and the air rushed out to greet you. On came the lights. They are the kind of harsh lighting you only find in institutions of learning. Out of the corner of my left eye I saw movement as I walked into the room. Two little white tubs held a whole world whose citizenship was about as long as my thumb. The cockroaches were cute (in a repulsive kind of way) as they crawled over egg crates and shed exoskeletons. Lifting up one of the egg crates caused a loud whisper of panic from the many cockroach legs all running for cover. A box to the right of the tubs housed all of the nitrile gloves, their bright blue hue drawing the eye. On the other desks on the left side of the room there were piles of lab gear that had been forgotten. This I paid little attention to, my mind focused on the right side of the room.

There’s enough room for two people to stand side-by-side in the width of the room, but it is long and it holds three desks along the left wall with plenty of room to spare. There is a large fume hood just outside the door’s reach on the right side of the room. Inside the fume hood sits a fish tank. Open the fume hood and you catch a slight whiff of something not quite right; not overpowering but it lingers in your nose. The lid of the fish tank is a wire screen held firmly on by four large weights. This is very important as we don’t want the inhabitants to escape. Just little black dots crawling inside the fish tank, their survival resting in their human captors’ hands but they hardly seem stressed about it. The beetles and their larva crawl in and around the main attraction of the fish tank: the bones. The beetles, dermestid beetles as they’re called, have a simple job in the lab. They clean the meat-y bits of the bones without causing much damage to the skeleton and as a reward for a job well done they are given plenty to dine on. It’s a nice example of a symbiotic relationship, as nice an example as rotting flesh can allow. The smell of all this doesn’t hit you until you stick your head over the fish tank, this is the only way to get a really good look at the bones — especially if you need to get them out. The smell is like hamburger gone all wrong with an undertone of chocolate. At least, that’s what I always think of. 

You reach in and grab out one of the skeletons, perfectly housed in a little plastic food container (the kind you buy fruit in at the grocery store with the little holes in the bottom). Some of the bugs abandon ship the moment the skeleton starts to move, but there are often those that hide away in the skeleton (I have removed a larva from the spine of a squirrel). Once the bones are cleaned they won’t smell anymore. They soak in a soap bath we have prepared for them. As they soak all the left over bits and grease washes off leaving a scummy layer at the top of the water that smells like death warmed over. Thankfully the bones are then rinsed in an alcohol solution that hits your nostrils like a breath of fresh air. After the bones have been cleaned they are arranged to be displayed and the next victim is selected. 

Since my first visit the room has been cleaned and the bugs have gotten new homes. I’ve put a lot of work into making the lab room feel more organized and work-friendly. And I’ve fallen in love with my little bug friends. When you’re in that little room the whole world stops for a while. You have time to really get into the task at hand, no cell phones or computers. Just you, the bugs, and the skeletons.

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