All Work and No Pay

My school decided early on that all incoming Grade 10-11 students must undergo an internship with a minimum of 80 hours as a requirement for graduation. To be frank, I wasn’t excited at all for “a chance to experience working in a field of science”. A job with no pay? Really???

I did a 3-week internship in the Aquatic Biology Research Lab at U.P. Diliman Institute of Biology. The personnel were really helpful and kind, and I managed to learn new things from them. My intern-mates were also really fun to be with as I found out. I managed to be friends with one batch-mate and two students from Mindanao. We all shared more interests than I thought possible and we helped each other out when needed. At the final day of the internship, all four interns including me were given a sample of benthic macroinvertebrates (I’ll explain later) from different families. Overall, it was nice and chill, and I’d recommend it to anyone else who’s interested in aquatic Biology.

I actually didn’t manage to show up on two days of the internship. I couldn’t attend the first day because of an overlap with a vacation, and the third day because of a passport renewal appointment, and a loose bracket. (The vacation’s a future post in the works. Stay tuned.)

The second day was when everything started for me. Mom accompanied me going to the building, but it was a little complicated because the main road to the building was closed. It took Google Maps to show a long but scenic route. (I found out 2 weeks in my internship that there was a shorter one that would have saved my legs and feet.) Once we got to the building, I saw the lab and all the people inside. I was left alone by Mom after she told the supervisor I had ADHD.

I was given an orientation about benthic macroinvertebrates. There’s Google for all you readers, but I’ll give the gist on what they are. They’re a diverse group of sedentary invertebrates that are bottom-dwellers, and their presence and/or absence is used to monitor the quality of water. I was tasked to sort out all the benthic macroinvertebrates from their samples. If you guys know those Hidden Objects games, then you already have a grasp on what I was doing throughout the first week. That went on until lunch, where I managed to talk to the other interns. The afternoon was fine. The personnel managed to point out certain animals I mistook for debris like leeches. My batch mate was kind enough to let me ride with them going to SM North EDSA to get on the train going home.

The following days until the end were honestly very repetitive. Commute, work, lunch, work, commute, then repeat all over again. The commute going to the building was quite long. A train ride, a jeepney ride, and a walk altogether took 1 hour and 30 minutes. Also, peak hours inside a train are no joke. You can get squeezed to the point where you have to fight to get in or out. Woe behold the people in the middle section who have to get off, because not getting out in time is a fear all the riders have. Lunch was the only thing that was different every day. We explored as many cafeterias near us as possible and ate as much food was possible. I had two lunches per day, which Mum was quite happy about with me.

Also, I was introduced to the process of elutriation during the first week. Basically, it shrinks the sample size by removing as much debris as possible to make sorting easier. Imagine rinsing out a piece of clothing and removing all bits and pieces of dirt from it, and then doing it for 4 cycles. My arms were aching by the time I did all sample bottles.

The work I was doing differed per week. The first week was dubbed “Where’s Waldo”. The second week got the name “Who’s Waldo”. The third week was a mix.

The second week was spent identifying the animals that we sorted out from the week before. We started identifying to order-level via dichotomous keys. I wasn’t so bad there. When it got to identifying up to family level, I realized I was the worst out of all the interns. Woohoo, right????? Thankfully, the personnel simply told us the features to look for to identify certain families and didn’t judge us so much.

The third week was a mix, honestly. The first day was a continuation of last week. The second day was spent wrapping centrifuge tubes full of samples with parafilm to preserve the ethanol and the animals submerged inside. The third day was the main event: fieldwork. The personnel simulated what they did when they collected samples from different water sources. They evaluate the site and check if it meets the criteria for an optimal reference site. Then they use physical and chemical measurements to analyze the site. Lastly, they start collecting the samples using either leaf packs or a D-net. The last step was honestly tiring. The afternoon was spent learning to use a software program used in Statistics. The next day was spent answering an exam and preparing a presentation for the final day of the internship. And the last day of the internship was spent mostly on the culminating activity. Lots of labs had students from different regions of the Philippines, and everyone’s presentation was nice. We all got certificates and remembrances from our lab.

It was the little things during the internship that I remember fondly. The playground near a building, the time everyone gathered around a laptop to watch an anime on the cells of the human body, the card games played during break, and all the confessions that happened over lunch tables. I also liked the times when someone had a birthday and everyone was invited for food.

This was definitely quite an experience. I really hope I can put this in my future CV.

Advertisements

Dear Andrew

I see so many posts about best friends. They all seemed cheesy to me, honestly. Like, yes, we get it, your best friend brings you food everyday, and he/she makes you smile, we get it. It’s not that I don’t believe in best friends. In fact, I do have one. It’s just that, well, I can’t seem to write a post about my best friend and express all I want to say about him without sounding cheesy. Oh well. That doesn’t qualify as an excuse for not trying, so I’ll give it my best shot.

 

Dear Joel Andrew Mallari,

 

First of all, thank you for being my best friend. Well, damn, it’s cheesy, what should I say? I need help telling you how much you mean to me, and how great you’ve impacted my life for the better, because to me, it’s like a mass noun. Well, what am I saying, of course it’s a mass noun, I can’t measure your kindness, your selflessness, and all your good qualities that you sadly fail to see. Thanks a lot.

 

What do I want to say to you? I’m not repeating all the things I’ve said on Messenger when you opened up to me about your feelings of self-hatred. Even if I keep on thanking you for being there when I had depression, it just doesn’t feel enough. What should I do, Andrew? What can I say to you here that will express all I’ve wanted to say to you?

 

Embarrassingly, I keep on having fantasies where either you or I am about to die, and that’s where I get to tell you all I’ve been meaning to tell you. We don’t need to go there, do we? What is it with the knowledge that death is coming soon that encourages people to tell all they’ve felt about a certain person to that person? Is it that when they die, that person will doubt forever about how much they meant to that dying person?

 

I’ve always wondered if it was possible to love someone not related to you without romantic feelings, just deep-seated love, admiration, and caring for that person. After being with you for a whole school year, I can definitely say yes. It was confusing at first, because I first thought that if you loved someone, you had to be interested in them and have romantic feelings for them. Maybe that’s why I’ve simply dismissed my feelings for you as something that will pass. But as time passed, I realized that maybe I actually loved you. More time passed before I realized that this love has been present ever since opening day. It has just developed over time. Of course, I’ve always let you tease me about my crush. Maybe those were only feelings of lust. You know our hormones. Always raging at the speed of light, but that doesn’t mean it’s gotta be tonight.

 

I like to think of myself as realistic. So when I had those realizations, I knew I couldn’t say it to you without sounding like I want to do the nasty to you. Yes, I’ve confessed it to you as well that I thought of doing the nasty to you, but that was me simply exploring whether it would work or not. Now that I’m sitting here, typing this, I am laughing at myself for entertaining those thoughts. So, don’t worry, I’m not interested in doing the nasty with you.

 

Now that I’m reading my thoughts, I realize what type of love I have for you. You’re like the brother I’ve never had. So, I guess it’s brotherly love. Bromance? Hmmm, will think about that later.

 

Oh well. That’s all I have to say to you (for now).

 

Thank you for being the eldest brother I’ve never had (I know, I’m older than you, but TBH, IDC.)

 

Love,

A. Garrett Lubag

Depression and ADHD

Hey guys. Sorry if I haven’t updated my blog for some time, what with PSHS being so demanding with requirements. I’ve been diagnosed with depression, and it isn’t a walk in the park, but i think I’m getting a bit better. It’s been vicious, and my friends and my parents know that too well. Self-harm, purging, crying spells, and, well, you get the idea. I was (or maybe I still am?) self-destructive. I’ve gotten over the self-harm, and purging, but my crying spells and suicidal thoughts come often still.

Being a student diagnosed with ADHD and depression is twice as hard as being a normal student. It takes a lot of effort to start on requirements, and finish them, as you will not see the point in finishing it because you will still fail. You don’t really care about your personal appearance. Your friends may also be annoyed with your behaviour, and call you “emo”. (Yes, I’ve been called that by my best friend). You feel ashamed for all the negative thoughts in your mind because they’re like a painful truth, even if it doesn’t seem like it to others. (“Oh Garrett, why are you still entertaining these thoughts?”, said one dormer). You absolutely cannot stand noise and need to be in a quiet place, which will never be granted because that damn disruptive classmate of yours just won’t shut up. You listen to emotional music every time you need a pick-me-up, which means belting out “Bring Me To Life” in the bathroom. Negative criticism about you hurts more than it should.

There are nights where you feel the need to cry into your pillow. Every time you take your anti-depressants, you feel numb. You don’t get excited over stuff that you love to do. Your poker face becomes a mask; it hides your sadness. Your grades are slowly dropping, yet you can’t find the will to even care about them anymore. Sometimes, you wonder if you have bipolar disorder because sometimes, your ADHD makes you hyperactive and make you look like you’re bouncing off the walls, but then depression strikes, and you suddenly become lethargic and quiet.This is how it feels like to be depressed and have ADHD as a student.

I’ve been diagnosed with it in the late 2015, and so far, my coping method is sleeping. The first one was cutting, then crying. I’ve also had body image issues.

My best friend, Andrew Mallari, was my rock. He supported me during the good times, and the bad times. He also got mad at me sometimes, yes, but he always apologized because he felt the consequences (which was me having another crying spell in the bathroom, and suicidal thoughts for being a bad friend). During the times I didn’t eat lunch, he nagged me to eat lunch. Now, he keeps waking me up every time I sleep in school.

It isn’t anyone’s fault for my depression. I have to remind myself that over and over. Sometimes, though, I fantasize about everyone rejoicing over my death. I know it’s wrong, and that no one will ever be happy if I killed myself, but I get blinded by twisted fantasies of me jumping over the bridge, shooting myself with a revolver, drowning, then it all disappears and I’m back to normal. That was how it usually happened.

I always get reminded by people though how much they mean to me. One time, I chatted with Andrew a way to die without hurting anyone and he said that wouldn’t work. He also said he would demand Hades to let me go. Mom always reminds me of how much I mean to her.

Everyday, I’m one day closer to dying. Sometimes, I use that knowledge to wait for that day, other days, it’s an encouragement to get up and do something. I just hope I use it more often as the latter.