Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Pieces of Wednesday

Waking up with the same headache that put you down is grossly unfair.

I follow Sam around the house chanting "Shame. Shame." He remains unrepentant concerning the dog poo he left on the back ramp.

Salicylic acid is not a lipid.

In the tree outside my bedroom window, a grey miner bird calls out. Again. And again. And again. And again. For hours. My headache beats with each cry. My headache too is annoyed by the bird.

In another room, a brief call to Malaysia.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Movement Unseen

When using a light microscope, adjust the coarse focus before utilising the fine focus.
A blur of peacock blue and glory red suddenly coalesces and becomes a map of tiny rooms and coloured walls. The cross-section of a leaf, unbelievably thin, on a plate of glass. I can't stop the gasp and don't wish to. The student beside me looks my way. I don't look away. I can't look away. It's magic.

Confirmation of permission to study part-time comes on Friday. Classes start on Monday. The breath I have been holding for months comes out, and has not yet stopped, because months is only the first gust of a change years in the brewing. High pressure systems, low pressure troughs, and a wind that has nothing standing before it.

The lecture is dense and rich, and I am not overwhelmed because this is what I want. Golgi. The shape of the word does not tell me how to speak it, and I wait for the lecturer to give this noun to the air. Gohl-gee. That which manufactures substances the cell needs, within the cell. My handwriting chases the lecture across the page, a mess of missing letters and cryptic shorthand, throwing arrows to printed slides and underlining key phrases. I'm already saturated. I can feel the information being given rolling off me like water will fall away from a lotus leaf. I am a hunter and must catch everything I don't absorb, to consume later. I am tired. I can't read what I've written.

Two subjects a semester, two contact days a week. When I say it like that, it sounds pathetically easy. What possible challenge could this pose? The Tessa who was an employed person in the past worked four days a week, which is the equivalent of the full time contact hours this course requires. Time is not an abstract concept, however. Time is the marking of change, and I have changed, and I am not that person any more.

The microscope shows me tiny bacteria dancing in the cell of an Edolea ssp. leaf, and I can only think of that dance and those little lives as 'jitter bugs'. Within that cell the chloroplasts are sizeable and their green is the green of the entire plant. A colour that eats the sun. A colour that need consume no other living thing to survive. The nucleus a pale grey sphere, sitting apart from the chloroplasts. On the projector, cytoplasmic streaming; the chloroplasts whirling round and around the cell as the world spins round and round. There is so much movement in this unmoving plant.

I didn't come here to make friends. A reminder. The class I am not enrolled in, which fell between ecology on Tuesday and biology on Thursday, has been a bonding for which I was absent. The formation of groups has begun. I did not come here to make friends, and I do not need the social acceptance of my colleagues as I once did, but I can see the absence of camaraderie come exam time, the absence of a shared journey. To seek out these things is to spend energy I do not have to spend. I know what my priorities are, and do not regret them and mourn what will not be. There is no conflict in this.

A scraping of the inside of my cheek wiped onto pristine glass. On the projector, the lecturer's own cells. There is something confronting in this, something utterly vulgar and vulnerable in the casual way she shares the tiny pieces with which she is made. There is no green, for we are not autotrophs. The cytoplasm is pink and the membrane near invisible. The nucleus a darkened oval. They are disorderly, folded over and scrunched together like sodden paper. I am looking at myself through the microscope. The instructions for building my physical self lie before me, and make no sense to me. There's something repulsive in what I am seeing. I must know more.

The heavy traffic is a blessing. Should I have an accident, I won't be travelling fast enough for it to cause much damage. I'm saturated. I'm strained. Fatigue sits curled in my lap, patient. I just need to hold myself together long enough to get home. Drive carefully. Turn the music up loud. Louder. Blast cold air. Fatigue knows it will have its way, that I will let it have its way. It is well before tea time when I go to bed. I sleep until after lunch time the next day, and still fatigue is draped across my shoulders. This is why you need part-time, I remind myself.

Too exhausted to concentrate, I crack open a text book borrowed from the library.

I do this because I want to.