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Hell Week #1 - Catherine Fischer — LiveJournal [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Catherine Fischer

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Hell Week #1 [Oct. 13th, 2002|05:36 pm]
Catherine Fischer
[mood |contemplativecontemplative]
[music |Pink Moon, by Nick Drake]

Whew! Made it through!

First thing Monday morning was the nutrition midterm -- I spent all day Sunday studying for it, because I'd completely neglected the class, study-wise (I was far from alone in this -- gross anatomy and histology really demand more than their fair share of time, and anything left over usually goes to physiology). So ask me -- I challenge you -- what the symptoms for different vitamin deficiencies in poultry are! Or what a proteinaceous roughage is for cattle. (It's interesting; I just have no idea if I'll ever use this.) Didn't get our results until the end of the week -- I got 96%.

Wednesday was our gross anatomy written midterm -- the lecture material -- which was a bit different from the lab exams (and more in-depth). I stressed about it (we ALL did), even though I had been studying the material all along. Dr. Hutchison generously gave a few points back (usually for the questions that EVERYONE missed) -- giving me a 96%. Felt pretty good about getting such a high percentage. (Now, if I can just keep it up...)

And finally, Friday, physiology's day came. (Dr. Reich keeps saying that, every time he catches us studying gross anatomy in his class: "Someday, physiology will have its day..." At one point, a student asked him to let us out a bit early, since we were going directly to a gross anatomy lab exam, and Dr. Reich said "Well, walk on ME, then!" and laid down on the floor -- he really is the consummate showman.) Earlier this week, I had met with Dr. Reich in his office to discuss the mechanism of cyclic AMP as a common intracellular second messenger (specifically, how it interacted in glycogenesis/glycogenolysis) -- he's good one-on-one, as well as being marvelously entertaining on stage. He also had the most amazing photos of St. Kitts that I've ever seen hanging up in his office -- in addition to being a hardworking professor, he's an adventurer, too! He showed me the two trails he's blazed through the jungle, and the crater where they WOULD meet if he could only get across (the walls, evidently, are entirely sheer and I'll bet they're that really, really SHARP stuff). Wow. I think my favorite shot was from under a GIANT slab of volcanic basalt that slid off the steep side of the crater proper, some time in the past. You could actually see the slab from miles distant, in some of his other photos.

I felt really, really good about how I did on Dr. Reich's test -- I also felt it was pretty fair (he's trying mainly to get the "big picture" across in this introductory class, and I really am starting to get a feel for the interconnectedness of different organ systems, and even starting to correlate physiology with gross anatomy and microanatomy). He posted the grades within a couple of hours, but I haven't looked yet (I forgot to, when I was in the gross anatomy lab today).

So, other stuff that happened during the week: we had a minor storm on Thursday -- it is just SO beautiful here when it rains. I started the day by following a rainbow to where it ended, right on campus. (I think I could have guessed, and I certainly agree, that Ross is at the end of the rainbow.) Heard on the radio that poor, poor Monserrat is being evacuated again, due to another pending volcanic eruption. The only town on the island (which is a flawless green gem of unspoiled beauty, I hear) is built on old lava flow -- it was the only flat space. The harbor is built at the edge of it. So what was completely buried by lava after the last major eruption? Town, airport, and harbor. The only way to reach Monserrat is to fly to a neighboring island, then take a small boat over. Even before the evacuation, Monserrat was mostly depopulated; it really hasn't been rebuilt after the last event. One of these breaks (preferably when I won't be in imminent danger) I intend to get over there. A friend of mine used to live there, and I promised her I'd get pictures.

Thursday night, lightning lit up the sky in vivid PURPLE sheets and forked fingers, stretching like a network of arteries to the massive storm clouds. The ocean glowed lavender; sunset was a surreal wash of violet and scarlet and gold, and felt like looking through a stained glass kaleidoscope. The colors, the COLORS of this place! I want to live out my life in the tropics -- they paint my soul with an impressionist's palette. Wish my limited skills in photography could do it even the slightest bit of justice. Thanks be for a great camera (I love digital).

Ah, Friday. After the wild ride of the week, we were all ready to blow off some steam -- and the 1st/2nd semester catamaran trip to Sunshine's beach bar on Nevis was just the ticket. I actually dressed up & put on makeup -- something I haven't done since I got here. Most of my class didn't recognize me at first, and when they did, they made a point of telling me how great I looked. Heh. Guess I clean up well. (Back to the usual now: scrubs, favorite lightweight brown pants, adventure hat, sunglasses, sunblock.) The rum punch flowed freely (I tried to sip mine s-l-o-w-l-y, so I could avoid going from pleasantly buzzed to DRUNK, which is oh-so-easy to do on the stuff), and the music was hopping. My ruminant nutrition professor was on board -- adorable Dr. Wallace, in his lurid yellow-and-orange "Sugar Daddy" t-shirt (do you remember the candy bar?), drinking and dancing away. I got a couple of great photos with him, and some not-so-great (the camera is hard to use when it's dark, or when the person taking the shots is drunk, or both). It delights me that he's so game -- I'm used to professors being...well, inaccessible, I guess. So, beneath sporadic rain showers and a galleon moon sailing high, we flew the channel on the fresh trade winds, watching the lights of Nevis get closer and closer. Ah, Nevis, Queen of the Caribees. The catamarans pulled right up on the sand of Sunshine's beach, and we ran up to the bonfire, the buffet, and Sunshine's Killer Bees (drink specialty spoken of with respect around the eastern Caribbean). I had one. Wow. Potent. My nips were certainly lumb, but at least I retained motor control -- unlike some of my unfortunate colleagues (two of which had to be carried back onto the boat at the end of the evening). I danced, I drank, I ate, I made merry. Flirted with a couple of friends (before one of them passed out), just to keep my hand in. Fun to not be so serious all the time. And wading out into the ocean, what should I discover but my old friend Noctiluca scintilans? (At least, I think that was the dinoflagellate lighting up in the breaking waves -- bioluminesced the same deep blue.) Wow. Watched the diamond-dust stars all the way back; they're BRILLIANT here (no light-bleed, and no atmospheric particles to deal with -- just marine layer). Saw the nebulae, and pointed out all of the constellations I could remember (the mast pointed straight at Delphinus, like a finger pointing to the moon), but I ended up wishing I had a star chart. Evidently, the Southern Cross is visible from here, but I wasn't able to spot it. Sailed home in a pensive mood, partially because of the overwhelming wonder of the stars, but partially because I was aching at being a solitaire that evening. Must take Kevin on one of these, as soon as he gets here. We'll lie on the netting and let the wind and waves rock us all the way home. (I've been amused, lately, listening to my classmates talking excitedly about "going home". Once Kevin is here, St. Kitts will truly be home for me; I'm wandering the world nomadically, now, like a stringless kite. It's fairly refreshing and exciting, actually, after how narrow and stagnant my life got to be during the last couple of years in Santa Cruz. There will be time to settle and send my roots deep...but not for a while, yet.)

So, despite getting home at circa 1:30 AM, Saturday morning my eyelids flew open at 7 AM sharp. Got up, dinked around with the digital camera (cat trip photos will go up after this is posted, I promise), emailed friends to see if they were OK, then started the BIG SHOPPING. My brave friend Gina came along -- I've just met her recently; she's really cool -- we hit the open market and BOTH supermarkets (one has a better selection overall; one has a better ethnic selection). After I dropped Gina off (her leg was hurting; she fell in gravel a week or so ago, and of course it got infected. Things heal really slowly here), I started an all-day cooking spree: I made an Indian feast (curry rice with lentils, pistachios & raisins, tandoori chicken, and curried mustard greens), an Indonesian feast (coconut rice, marinated tofu, broccoli & satay sauce), a Greek feast (homemade hummus that turned out GREAT, Greek salad), and guacamole (one avocado...enough guacamole to last me all week). Wow. I love having a fridge full of good food. Hummed what I could remember of Verdi's Il Trovatore; wish I had a copy of Dad's CD (the Maria Callas/Giuseppe di Stefano version). Then put on Stevie Wonder, and danced in the kitchen to Superstition (I STILL love that song). My friend Amy called to drag me to a toga party (of all the silly damn things -- the spectacle of me, at my current age and weight, traipsing about in a bedsheet is not to be borne), but I ended up canceling; felt a little low, and my throat was scratchy. I took vitamins and went to bed, and woke up just fine this morning, after almost 12 hours of sleep.

So today I finished cleaning the apartment in preparation for Kevin's arrival (and the cats'), started the laundry, finished my cooking projects, and went snorkeling (yay, physical therapy). I really love how I always see different things, each time I go. Today I saw a little baby lobster, waving his antennae from under a deep overhang; saw a pink-and-gold octopus, watching me with his alien eye; saw a paralyzed needlefish a foot long, gasping for oxygen, its dark silver-blue body washing back and forth in the surge; saw two large, perfect ctenophores, as flawless as the ones in Monterey Bay Aquarium -- they were each about the size of an egg; saw a gaping spotted moray eel; and saw my favorite sea urchin. (Kevin found a beautiful on-line picture of it: http://www.coralreefnetwork.com/stender/marine/echinoderms/urchins/radiata2.jpg.) Some of the fish I saw (and see regularly), so you can look them up on-line: Trumpetfish (Aulostomus maculatus), Sand Divers (Synodus intermedius), Squirrelfish, Coneys (Cephalopholis fulva), Rock Hinds (Ephinephelus adscensionis), Copper Sweepers (Pempheris schomburgki), French Grunts (Haemulon flavolineatum), Queen Angelfish (Holacanthus ciliaris), French Angelfish (Pomacanthus paru), Banded Butterflyfish (Chaetodon striatus), Foureye Butterflyfish (Chaetodon capistratus), Sergeant Majors (Abudefduf saxatilus), Yellowtail Damselfish (Microspathodon chrysurus -- their juveniles are GORGEOUS), Yellowhead Wrasse (Halichoeres garnoti -- saw a great big WALLY today), Bluehead Wrasse (Thalassoma bifasciatum -- I detailed him in an earlier journal entry), Stoplight Parrotfish (Sparisoma viride -- so-named because the female is red, and changes to green when she becomes male), Ocean Surgeons (Acanthurus bahianus), Smooth Trunkfish (Lactophrys triqueter), Spiny Puffers (Diodon holacanthus), Spotted Scorpionfish (Scorpaena plumieri), Redlip Blenny (Ophioblennius atlanticus), Cocoa Damselfish (Eupoacentrus variabilis -- especially the brilliant juveniles), Bicolor Damselfish (Eupomacentrus partitus), Dusky Damselfish (Eupomacentrus dorsopunicans -- especially the brillian juveniles), and Fairy Basslets (Gramma loreto -- the most brilliantly-colored fish around). Imagine all of these colors drifting, darting, a swirl of color and motion. There's nothing like it.

There's no place like home...