I had a friend, when I was an undergrad, who made his living doing scientific studies. There was an institution in town that tested name-brand medications versus prescription, and they were always looking for willing volunteers. He made a lot of money doing this, and was apparently beloved since I moved into his apartment after he moved and fielded call after call from the place until I finally said that he had moved to California and I wasn’t sure if he’d be back. The woman I told this to sounded devastated.
Aldous Huxley has an extra essay following his work The Doors of Perception, where he takes a lot of mescaline and stares into a strobe light. Apparently, the reason that strobe lights give a lot of people seizures, is because you can still see colors even if you look at one with your eyes closed. He was trying to determine what decides the colors, and the effect of mood-altering drugs on that.
I also tried to do the medical experiments that my friend made a living at, but my vegetarianism, and the fact that my veins are so small and ladylike I can barely fill a vial made me an unsuitable candidate. What I can do is get drunk for science. I’m currently testing a medical device that reads blood alcohol level through the skin. For this, I must get drunk at 9am after having fasted since midnight the night before. I drank a horrifying concoction of cranberry juice and some super alcohol, the level of which was determined by my height, weight, and waist size; and now I am drunk, in an exam room, at 10:18am.
It’s bizarre, but that goes without saying.
After this, I had to record every single bit of alcohol that passes my lips and hand that in after seven days. While I do not necessarily agree with the implications of what this device may be used for, I am happy to help. It’s just very bizarre to get drunk in the morning, after dinking something that I would never happily consume, and then have to hang out in a 6×12 room with a broken clock on the wall for seven hours.
They come in to take breathalyzer readings every ten minutes, and I can’t leave until I’ve been at 0.00 for one hour—I’m currently at .086.
I have to say, as freaked out as I am about my career goals and financial future—I’m rather enjoying this summer. I don’t love that I have to hustle for every dollar, but I do like coming up with schemes. I feel like it keeps me more creative. I’m currently doing things I never thought I’d do, and feeling a bit more like a writer again for the first time in a long time.
My worry was that in my underemployment, I’d lack for wacky adventures to write about, and I feel I have a bit, but I’m starting to find some, and getting a feel for the adventure.
10:30—breathalyzer .0802, going down, and I’m fascinated by how pretty the undersides of my shoes are. This room is where people come expecting to spend 6-8 hours, and all they have is a small stack of magazines (People January 19, 2009, Redbook August, 2008 etc.), and 10 VHS tapes with hand-written labels—A Chorus Line, A New Life, except for Dying Young (starring Julia Roberts and Campbell Scott—not exactly the most appropriate movie for a hospital, I feel).
11:00—I’m dropping fast. I’m already at .0643, which is kind of cool. I used to talk with friends about how interesting it would be to drink and then take continuous breathalyzers just to see how if feels to become increasingly intoxicated. Now I’m kind of doing it in reverse.
11:45—I actually get take-out for lunch instead of the cold cafeteria sandwich I was expecting. I will be having a cheese sandwich, coke, and salad. My back hurts.
12:55– .028 There’s a rather large spider in the room making the rounds. It was initially on the table with the TV and magazines, now it’s been lapping the floor since morning. I probably won’t kill it, but it’s funny to find a pest in a hospital. I’ve moved from the exam table to the chair, which is significantly more comfortable. I wonder what other people in this same study are like when they get drunk. I was asked a lot of questions about whether I get violent, but not much else. Do some people just fall asleep, do they get really chatty? Do they get do into watching A Chorus Line that they get annoyed with the breathalyzers every ten minutes?