where the dead things are

Today’s challenge:

If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?

I love the quote they give for the challenge:

A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.

– Joan Didion

I’d love to put down Europe because I’ve never been there and I want to go ALL OVER. I could put Disneyland or even Disney World since I haven’t been back in almost a decade. Or Japan. Or my favorite ice cream shop in SoCal, Handel’s Ice Cream. But the first thing that popped into my mind when I read the quote was the cadaver lab at Mt. SAC.

Totally normal, right? I mean, doesn’t everyone think of cadaver labs when they could travel anywhere in the universe? No, just me? Okay then.

I always joked that lab was my second home, except it really was. I spent more time in there than in my own room. When I needed something to do, I drove over to school, had one of my profs let me in and got to work. It was stress reliving to work in there, to be in there by myself if it wasn’t the actual class period, and just focus on a single task and let my hands to all the work. It wasn’t mind-numbing at all. In fact it took an incredible amount of focus to make sure I didn’t slice off my finger, didn’t cut/injure anything important on my cadaver, and find creative ways to expose certain structures. Sometimes it also required contorting my body into weird positions just to find the right angle to see a structure so I could expose it. That was fun.

I know most people can’t stand the thought of cadavers or dead people or seeing dead people, much less working on them, but I absolutely love it. If that makes me strange and weird and creepy, so be it. I’m proud of it. It’s a skill that I have and not many others share. Right now in my Gross Anatomy class, we do have a cadaver to work on, but it’s at the Coroner’s Office and it’s not like we can just walk in there any day and work on him whenever we want. We only get Fridays and that’s it. Since we only get it once a week, we have to work fast and it’s not much time to truly appreciate working on a cadaver. Not many people get the opportunity to do something like this and I wish this was part of the 16 week semester instead of the 10 week.

It could also be the people I had the privilege of working with at Mt. SAC. My profs were awesome. I made quite a few friends in there and we all had a blast. My particular class we got pretty close and worked our butts off at the same time. Our cadavers looked the best, if I say so myself. I enjoyed discovering new structures whether that was a new artery or nerve, or even a muscle that was never previously exposed on the other cadavers. It was fantastic. It was like slowly uncovering the secrets of the human body. I mean, the body is amazing. How everything works, how it functions, how it moves. It is simply amazing. Period.

It was hard to leave when I had to move for grad school. It was a place where I could be myself, I could be as crazy as I want, I could listen to whatever kind of music (except country because that was absolutely forbidden by one of my profs), I could say whatever I want. I knew where everything was. I knew the procedures. I made everyone else sure they knew the procedures. I knew the lab techs who came in all the time to help supply us with whatever supplies we needed or fix certain things. I tutored probably hundreds of students that came through that lab, making sure those muscles, blood vessels and nerves stuck inside their brains. I laughed, I think I even cried from laughing so hard in there. Heck, I even decorated that little lab. On holidays, I put up the appropriate decorations, including Halloween. Yes, a cadaver lab decked out in Halloween decorations actually happened. I practically ran that place. That lab was mine.

So yeah, I want to go back there. It was the place where I finally felt fully confident of myself and my abilities to take it to the next level. It was where I felt free, strangely enough. That little freezing lab with seven other cadavers is where I felt at home.

So go ahead and judge me. Call me a freak. Call me weird. I don’t care. That was my home away from home.

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