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Wednesday, February 06, 2002

Me and My Chemicals

I didn't have enough coffee yesterday...which resulted in a splitting headache in the mid-afternon. I had to take some Midrin when I got home, and that did the trick--except it made me stoned. I found myself staring at "That Seventies Show" with my mouth kind of open, breathing slowly. My head felt better, tough.

Midrin doesn't entirely erase the pain; it just reduces it, makes you tired and essentially makes you not really care about the pain that is left.

Oh, and I don't know why I'm thinking about this now...I've never INTENTIONALLY huffed paint, but I accidentally sniffed enough last winter to darn near black out. I had an old dresser I was intending to put an acquarium on, and the dresser needed paint. You can't paint something after you put a 20-gallon acquarium on it, so, no matter what the weather, I had to do it right then.

It was about 20 degrees outside, so I spread out some newspapers in the garage and used about two cans of spray paint.

The instructions on the paint can said, "Use in a well-ventilated area," and they mean it. Try standing up from a crouching position when you've inhaled a lot paint fumes. Fortunately, I had a wall nearby to grab.

I figure my body is immune, or at least used to, toxic chemicals. I grew up about 20 miles downriver from an oil refinery. When I was in college, the only summer job I could find back home was shoveling coal dust in the 1940s-era power plant that served a gasohol plant. Even if you wear a mask, you still inhale enough coal dust to have black snot for hours afterward.

I wish I had a picture of myself after eight hours of working in that place. I looked like a reverse raccoon--my eyes, nose and mouth area were clean because of the protective gear. The rest of me was completely black.

One of the full-time laborers on our team said to me, "When you go back to college, and you think what you're doing there is hard, remember this, and be glad you don't have the spend the rest of your life working here." I remembered, and he was right.



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