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Chemistry

I’ve been thinking about chemistry, a topic about which I know very little. Some of it is my own fault, of course, having neglected to study any science in college (thank God for AP tests!). I remember very little of high school chemistry—something about pennies and how they react to something or other and the extremely handy use of the delta to mark change—but mostly my teacher’s penchant for smoking pot with the physics teacher and his rabid enthusiasm for Cal football. So I approach the subject fresh, one could say.

I’m considering it because, among other things, I am attempting to decaffeinate my body one more time. The theory is that this will be the last time this particular batch of pain and suffering is necessary. I’m also trying not to fall into the Sprite trap, so I am craving sweets like nobody’s business. It’s amazing that such small molecules (and really, even if they’re complex for molecules, they’re still molecules and therefore small) can set up the body for so much pain. It makes me more convinced than ever that that whole thing about the small stuff is a substance that comes out of the back end of cows: every small decision matters.

I’m not much of a drinker and I don’t take drugs. And yet, I’ve been messing with my personal chemistry set for years. Obviously, the sugar and caffeine, the boxes of brightly colored cereal that were my staff of life as a small child, the Ding Dongs and Ho Hos and Twinkies. My poor body!

Then there are the other things. Like birth control. I was paranoid about it for years and years and wouldn’t take it. Then I was on it for a couple of years, patch until I got a scary letter from Kaiser about blood clots, and then pills. I gave up the pills because I felt horrible on them. The chemistry set rebelled. I still feel like my body is struggling to realign itself with its natural cycles after the sternly regimented program of pills and patches.

Antidepressants saved my life, no question. But I feel about them like I feel about, say, open heart surgery: not unless there is a dire emergency. I don’t like to mess with that little stuff lest it in turn start some kind of avalanche. I wonder what little molecule is responsible for that reaction.

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jan_can_too
jan_can_too

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