This has nothing to do with flossing my teeth. (I should probably floss more often, but that’s a different story.)
If you told highschool me that in a few years, my greatest physics problems in the lab would involve winding things around wires and dental floss there is…well no, I might have believed you, but with great difficulty. But there you go. My greatest problems.
Now that it’s over, it’s kind of funny – the story of how the wrong dental floss made me cry, but it was very distressing at the time! So in the preparation of our samples, we mount them on a small “trampoline” made up of criss-crossed strands of dental floss. Dental floss is made up of many small threads; we rip it apart and use these individual strands. They are very thin. Not so thin that you can’t see them (those are another set of wires) but still pretty damn thin.
As I sat down to work, I reached for a piece of floss in the beaker on the table. I’d be done in ten minutes and could move on – or so I thought. Because of a series of unfortunate events (being sick, eg.) it’s been almost two weeks since I last did this. This was the reason, I thought, why my strands kept breaking, why I kept losing track of them, etc. Half an hour in, my back was starting to ache and my eyes were starting to hurt – I didn’t remember it being this difficult!? By the time an hour had passed, I hurt, my head hurt, my eyes hurt, and I was so frustrated I literally burst into tears*.
(*Okay, so this was more the straw that broke the cat’s back. I’ve had a lot on my plate lately.)
I ended up crying for fifteen minutes before calling my cousin and crying on the phone to her for…maybe three quarters of an hour, while I had an existential crisis, for which the damn floss was partially responsible. For the record, my cousin is one of the greatest people in the world.
The story might have ended here if one of my favourite people ever hadn’t texted me just as I got home asking to meet her for dinner.
Well. Okay. Great. But my face was red and blotchy, my eyes were red and swollen, and I looked a mess. But one of my favourite people so…I sucked it up and let makeup do it’s magic. Because hey, if you look shitty, you’ll only feel shittier. If you look fabulous….you’ll feel less shitty, if not absolutely fabulous. Well I certainly didn’t feel fabulous at the end, but I did look presentable.
We talked over burgers (Harveys~~~~) commiserated over our age, the future, and life. Why are first years so hopeful? And cheerful? And idealistic? Soon, we agreed, they would understand the soul crushing despair as they had their optimism squeezed out of them. Either way, I felt like I was ready to give it another go. (Yuuchan I love youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!!!)
The Physics building at seven was mostly empty, and even though I’ve spent many a late night here, it somehow seemed a little creepy being in the (big) lab all by myself. The lights were off and I had to key in the code, because no one had been there before me since the doors auto-locked. I tossed my purse onto a side table, set my ipod to an Apink playlist, and got to work.
Right away, I managed to snap a strand after I’d threaded it through one end. Okay, not the end of the world. More carefully this time, I managed to get both strands threaded. Awesome. Now I just had to tape it down, and……… oh shoot. It’d snapped again.
Okay. Let’s try this again. Remember self, your self worth is not determined by whether or not I can…thread dental floss. Carefully pulling out a strand, I held it up so that the light reflecting off it was just at the right angle that I could see it at all, meticulously threaded it through… and static’d it against my other hand and pulled it all the way through.
This was ridiculous, I was thinking as I rubbed my eye, remembering too late that I had make-up on and had probably managed to smear my eyeliner terribly. (Although when I checked, everything was mostly in place – the magic of eye primer, huh.) Clearly, I was missing something.
At this point, I suddenly remembered the grad student saying that the mint dental floss was no good and we needed the regular one. “I think I stole it and brought it downstairs,” he’d said, “but there’s probably still some here….”
Ah. Could it have been that…the dental floss on the table wasn’t the dental floss I needed? After digging around, sure enough, I found another smaller container of dental floss. Crossing my metaphorical fingers (because my actual fingers were picking out dental floss) I tugged at it without it breaking. Good sign. The better sign? When I successfully threaded half the trampoline.
I could have cried out of relief, but I think my tears quota is done for the day!
So, yes. The story of how using the wrong dental floss made me cry. I’m not sure if it’s better or worse than the time I snapped a wire off an epoxy’d thermometer, but hey, at least I got it in the end!
And now I’m settled back at home, listening to Mianmian and Xiuxiu race around their half of the room, and contemplating rewarding myself with a well deserved drink.
Moral of the story? Mint dental floss sucks. I guess.