I’ve held a human brain.

I feel like before we can even move on with this post, I need to answer at least a few of those questions bouncing around in your head so that we can get to the meat of today’s topic. I realize I’ve just made a pretty bold statement. 🙂

A) I did not kill anyone.

B) I did not remove it from anyone’s head.

C) It was being stored in a jar.

D) It fit perfectly into my cupped hands.

E) It was kind of a pinky-grayish color.

F) It felt more firm than I expected.

G) I wore gloves.

H) I was at a medical school in one of their labs.

Whew. Feel better now? I certainly hope so…it’s one of those conversation starters I keep in my back pocket for times like this.

There is actually some back story that leads up to the brain. I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, but there was a brief period of time when I thought I might like to be a doctor. Specifically, I was intereted in pediatrics or specializing in aneurysms…which would mean I would have been a brain surgeon. Might as well dream big right?!

Well anyway, I got an opportunity to attend a medical camp in Houston one summer. My parents decided it would be a good way to help me decide if this was really something I wanted to pursue or not, before it was time for me to get serious about a college and start taking courses to work towards that. They went so far as to get a LOAN in order to send me (yes, it was that expensive…yikes!) and before we knew it I had my bags packed & was ready to go.

The main things I remember from the trip to Houston are that A) my mom & aunt took me down there, and B) our big ol’ truck scraped the roof of the parking garage and we had to have it valeted. Oops.

Camp would last 11 days, and after signing me in Mom took me up to my room to drop me off. Wanna know why it cost so much to attend the camp? Because we stayed in what was literally one of the fanciest hotels I’ve ever been a guest at. It was all so grand and exciting at first, but as soon as it was time for mom to leave…I lost it. I cried and cried (and luckily there were no witnesses because none of my roommates were there yet…) as I realized that I was in the big city and I would know no one. Pretty scary for a little countrygirl like myself.

Luckily I met a great group of friends for the week (I’m not in touch with any of them anymore…that was before Facebook days…) and ended up really enjoying myself. We had focus groups where we debated hot medical topics & listened to guest speakers talk about their diseases. We went to medical school for a day (which is where I got to hold the brain), and I even spent several days shadowing actual doctors. In addition to the curriculum, we had socials and dances and got to eat lunch in the mall attached to the hotel. I felt so grown-up and mature. And to top it all off, there was a Starbucks in the lobby of the hotel…OMG!

I can still remember when that big ol’ truck pulled up in front of the hotel to pick me up. There was a set of pig scales in the back, and all of my newfound city friends were trying to figure out what it was. 😛 (For those of you who aren’t familiar with what they are, here’s a pic…)


I was so happy to see my fam, but sad at the same time…I had made so many great friends during my time at camp. Probably the biggest lesson I learned that week and half was that there were lots of people out there in the world who were like me. Coming from a small town, I had a lot of friends, but not everyone could relate to what I was interested in, what I found funny, etc. It was so eye-opening to me to learn for myself that there is a whole big world out there, full of people who appreciate the same things I appreciate…I found the whole experience very validating. (Of course at the time I didn’t quite know how to express it in those words…I wasn’t THAT big of a nerd people.)

Now I’m sure you can imagine what my parent’s first question for me was. (Remember, they’ve just sent me away for over a week, taken out a loan for the camp, etc.etc.) Here’s basically how the conversation went down…

Parents: “So Heather, what kind of a doctor are you going to be?”

Me: “What? Oh yeah, so I don’t want to be a doctor anymore.”

Parents: “WHAT?! We mean…ahem…and why not?”

Me: “They told us that doctors lives have to be so planned out….it’s best to get married during this year of med school, wait to have kids until this time, live here, work there, blahblahblah. Plus they have to go to school for a really long time.”

Parents: “Well okay…I guess it’s better that you figured this out now instead of dedicating years of college to it then changing your mind. What do you think you might want to do instead?”

Me: “Oh I definitely know what I want to do.”

Parents: (*crossing their fingers that it is something that makes as much money as a doctor…)

Me: “I WANT TO BE A BARISTA AT STARBUCKS! How awesome would that be?!”

Parents: …well just see the below pic…it pretty well captures it…

They were quickly distracted by the fact that I was coming down from a caffiene high. Apparently a 14 year old should not drink 2-3 coffees a day for 11 days…I was cranky & craving coffee for days. Hehe…I blame that one on a lack of adult supervision. 😉

Fast forward over a decade (whoa….I don’t even want to think about that one) and you guys know the rest of the story. I never became a Starbucks’ Barista, and I make it a point to drink only one coffee a day. I didn’t think about becoming a doctor anymore either, and focused entirely on becoming an elementary teacher. It’s what I do today, and although I’ll never make myself (or my parents) rich, I find it to be a very rewarding job.

I never expect to hold another human brain, but I do hope to fill lots of them with knowledge & social skills & thoughts of kindness.


Categories: Daily Drama | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “I’ve held a human brain.

  1. You are a great story teller! I wish you would PUBLISH some of these in book form for our UIL Prose people. Awesome.!!

    • Thanks so much…I convince myself that it’s okay to use so many … and () because I think it helps it sound more like I’m talking & telling a story. 🙂 I wish I knew even the first step towards publishing…any tips?

  2. Mom

    All so true…exactly as I remember it!

  3. Pingback: Link-a-palooza! « keepcalmandloveon


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