Day 9.

To follow up the nasty breakfast, for lunch we had the worst hamburger in the world. I assume it was meat -- but it was so overcooked, desiccated, and cold that it was impossible to tell. Undercooked, soggy tater tots on the side, and a small bowl of baked beans. Everyone -- the people who’ve done these studies before, which seems to be about 75% of us -- looks forward to “burger day.” I must be such a snob because it seems psychotic to me to think that something so foul tastes good.

Maybe it’s not about taste, maybe the excitement is about familiarity. Most people eat a lot of fast food; they probably just miss hamburgers. I keep thinking that this food must be pretty close to what “regular Americans” eat every day, so to them it’s not unusually bad. Most of the food-related conversation here is along the lines of, “I don’t like pork chops,” or “I love lasagna,” as if that hockey puck is a pork chop or that mound of pink glue is lasagna.

I guess because the food is so starchy and sweet I feel gassy and bloated all the time. My wardmates were talking tonight about how they’ve lost weight here, which surprised me because I feel like I’m gaining weight. But the food only seems fatty. There’s lots of globby, gross stuff, but it’s all fake and fat-free. I probably have more fat in my regular diet, from the real dairy products I eat. But at home I get fresh vegetables and whole grains, which somehow make my diet feel lighter. Anyway, because everyone was talking about it and weighing themselves, I stepped on the scale and found that I weigh 192! Jesus. My body has completely changed since my accident a year ago because I stopped exercising. I’ve lost all the muscle mass I gained when I started lifting weights, and now I see that I’ve put on 15 pounds.

A conversation last night about sagging pants. Snort says he battles with his teenage sons about it.

He said, “The last time I wore saggy pants, my father hit me so hard I hit the floor and busted my lip.”

Chatty: Mm-hm, I’m glad he did.

Snort: And he said, ‘See, that’s why you shouldn’t be wearing them jeans, ‘cause you can’t keep your balance.’

(General laughter at the table.)

Chatty: That is so cute. (Shakes her head.) Mm-mm-mm.

I think, I am so far out of my element, y’know, class-wise, culture-wise. But, then again, my parents beat me, too. But I didn’t think, and didn’t grow up to believe, that it was right, or effective, or funny.

The drug trial protocols usually (always?) require periods of 5 or 10 minutes of lying perfectly still on your back before procedures such as ECGs or vital signs, which I imagine is to reduce the effects of activity on your body function. This is happening constantly, probably more than anything else around here, and it’s crucial that these periods of lying supine start on time because everything that happens after them depends on it, and any glitch can cause a train wreck in the schedule So the word “supine” is thrown around constantly. It’s a noun: (Your supine starts at 14:17), both an intransitive verb: (Tech to a subject: You need to supine now) and a transitive verb: (Tech to another tech: Will you supine her?), and even sometimes as an old-fashioned adjective: (You're supposed to be supine), each use perfectly clear and efficient. The English language is amazing.

I applied for 3 jobs last night, all part-time clerical jobs in the Austin Public Libraries. I read an article in the Times the other day that said that the job market for teachers is worse than it has been since the Depression, so I’m not holding much hope for that scheme any more.