Today, I am pumped (you'll see why later) to turn the blog over to the talented and witty Sarah Hina.
Sarah's first novel Plum Blossoms In Paris is now available.
Before I was an author, I was a medical school dropout. And before I was a dropout, I had to survive that first-year crucible known as Gross Anatomy.
The same could not be said, of course, for the cadaver before me.
But the worst part about the class was not, in fact, the dead body I dissected, examined, and whose vast and interlacing brachial plexus fired and exhausted the muscles of my short-term memory. It was not the panic twitching my own nerves on exam days. It wasn’t even the “slop bucket” at the end of each table, whose purpose wants no elaboration.
No, the worst part was the formaldehyde.
The stuff permeated everything. I licked it from the roof of my mouth. It clung to my scrubs and infected my hamper. With every inhalation, it scoured my lungs. In my mind, the fixative quickly became Eau de Death. Glancing at the clock at the front of the classroom, I wondered how many hours I’d have to stand there before my tissue similarly petrified. Wondering such things distracted me, you see, from the 90-year-old man with the bag covering his face, whose life and dreams I knew nothing about, but whose body I knew more intimately than anyone he’d ever known, held, kissed or loved.
Still, I did wonder. Outside of the classroom, too. Formaldehyde did nothing to stiffen my resolve to become a physician or to staunch the flow of my imagination. The man’s swollen knuckles knotted large hands (a laborer, maybe?). There was a scar on his arm (a careless moment with a machine?). He had a sweet patch of freckles on his neck (summers spent outside). A fatty liver (beers wit
h the summers spent outside).
Inflatable tubes in his penis.
This was in the days before Viagra. But men still needed sex; they still deserved to feel vital and passionate. Only now, his erectile dysfunction—this tender secret he harbored (along with his wife)—was dissected and laid bare for the giggles and stares of a swarm of twentysomethings whose own arousal came as cheap and plentiful as oxygen.
Don’t get me wrong—I laughed, too, at first. It was unexpected. Slightly shocking, even. But after the jolt of that first, nervous guffaw, and as seconds melted off the clock, my mood shifted. I was bothered. Irritated. Angry at some of my classmates for only seeing a couple of punch lines at the end of some spongiform tissue, where I knew there nested a touching vulnerability.
His cause of death? A Sharpie on the body bag had scrawled, “Alzheimer’s.” It wasn’t enough. Not then, not now.
I never went so far as to name him. That was not my right. But looking back, he was the most important part of my medical school education. Not his anatomy, which I was entirely too incurious about to become a good doctor, but him. Whatever it was that cleaved body to soul, and which had flown into the ether upon his passing. Above my scalpel, beyond any fixative.
He was the first character to jumpstart my writer’s heart.
He beats there still.
Post-grad neuroscience student Daisy Lockhart has never been short on brains, but after her longtime boyfriend dumps her through e-mail, she is short on dreams. Alone for the first time in six years, Daisy allows herself to finally be an individual instead of half of a couple. On a mission towards self-discovery, new adventures, and healing her wounded soul, Daisy travels to Paris. Upon her arrival, she meets Mathieu, a mysterious intellectual with a carefree spirit, and Daisy begins to experience the passion and the fulfillment she craves. Daisy's tense battle between possible love and her newly found freedom forces her to decide what she really wants.
Go buy Sarah's book. Now. You won't be sorry. Also swing by Sarah's blog. Stay awhile. Read her thoughts. Again, you won't be sorry.