It turns out that I’m not quite as good at science as I thought when I was eleven, which is annoying because when I was eleven I wasn’t even thinking about science beyond how many calories I needed to drag myself into the next day. When I was eleven I didn’t like anything except Green Day and The Jungle and maybe these godforsaken snack cakes that were basically Twinkies covered in red shredded coconut. I can’t think about those without getting a toothache, even now.
When I was seventeen I went to the pizza parlor and bit down on a slice of pizza that had potatoes and ricotta cheese on it and got a shooting pain in my jaw. I texted my mom and said I think I have a cavity, and took another sip of my Coke because if you think teeth will get between me and my drug of choice, think again. It wasn’t a cavity; I’ve never had cavities. It was a wisdom tooth, four of them, and I remember holding them after they were pulled out. Three came out relatively cleanly but they had to break one into pieces to pull it out, and I remember the inside being layers of yellow and white, kind of like the Twinkies. I scrubbed the tissue, the gum tissue from my own mouth, off of them while I was still woozy from the nitrous oxide and the Vicodin.
One time I took Vicodin on an empty stomach because I wanted the pain to go away, although at this point I don’t remember what kind of pain it was. I threw up until I felt like I could never eat anything again. Then I lay on the floor of the bathroom and looked up at the ceiling, which was white. Almost all the ceilings of my life have been white, with the exception of the engineering building, which has ceilings the color of which my non-scientific mind has no words for.
I do not understand architecture or ancient Mesoamerican cultures. I do understand escape velocity and the properties of glycine, for what it’s worth. I could draw you a Ramachandran plot but I could not tell you what’s going on in my mind, I never could, not even with drugs, not even with nitrous. Nitric oxide is not the same thing as nitrous oxide and biochemistry is not the same thing as cell biology. Never the same thing twice.