Tag: dark field microscopy

When Research Looks Like Pornography


(special note: do NOT investigate the links I’ve shared if you don’t want to see graphic images of syphilis rashes on dead people, live people, and genitals.  I provide my research links for those who are curious to see them but some of them are GNARLY and if you get nightmares or PTSD from looking at them you can’t hold me responsible for it!)

This morning I have looked at pictures of syphilitic penises and vaginas and feet and hands and lips and backs and anuses.  Not really breakfast fare.  It occurs to me that if I went to med school I would get very thin very fast.  There was one image of a syphilitic vagina being held open by a woman’s hands with long bright red nails which I found so disturbing that I can’t shake it from my brain now.  I keep wondering if the hands belong to the vagina or to a doctor or nurse assisting in showing off the sores for the camera.  Hard flash and clinical exposure.  Medical porn.  I was doing this syphilis research while Max was getting ready for school and I thought that if he were to walk by  my office and see what was on my computer screen it might scar him for life.  To think he caught his mother looking at porn at 8 in the morning over a cup of coffee.  And if he were to look up close he would never eat again when he saw the luetic lesions* I was really studying.

Pornography and syphilis are not unconnected.  I’m enjoying the irony of looking at syphilis images that look like super-sick porn and realizing that the pornography field has probably led to thousands of cases of syphilis.  I’m not sure it says anything good about me that I’m enjoying such a depressing kind of irony.

I saw the image of a dead man in the tertiary stage of syphilis.  He had a white head covering like a nun wears under her habit.  The two macro-genital images above it are very hard to look at so I don’t recommend you open that link.  Only the very curious and impervious need see what I’ve seen.

I now know how to create dark field microscopy using a dissecting microscope AND a lab microscope.

If I don’t know what syphilitic rashes look like in all their forms and what all the symptoms are – and then I write about it – you better believe readers will be able to tell that I have never looked at a luetic lesion or learned what other rashes can be confused with syphilis.  It would be ideal if I could go to a lab and have someone show me how to use dark field microscopy to test for syphilis in person.  Where could I learn that in person?  I’m reading all about it but I would rather get to do it in real life.  If any of you have ideas on how I might acquire this experience, please tell me.

Soundtrack today is “Wolves” by Broken Records.  On repeat.

Yesterday I asked Philip and Max if I have to work on the second Cricket and Grey next or if I can work on a different book first and they both said I have to work on Cricket and Grey.  I said I was struggling to really get swept up in the story right now.  The writing is going so slowly.  I’m excited about my two new characters and I’m excited about a couple of chapters I’ll be writing but it’s really stilted at the moment.  I know it’s the first draft but this is the time when I should be really excited writing it.  this is when I should be in a rush to get it all written down.  Then I do the careful cutting and rewriting.  Right?

Max suggested I write a little bit about each character to get into the writing.  I thought that was a great suggestion.

I know the writing process is different for everyone so there are no rules or universal answers to writing challenges.  I can’t seem to tap into the place I draw poetry from – not on purpose.  That’s what I need to be able to do professionally.  I need to learn how to trigger it because waiting around for inspiration to hit is too haphazard and passive.  Like waiting for life to make you happy.  Half of happiness is finding it for yourself.  It doesn’t just randomly drop into your life.  At least that’s what I believe.  I want all my prose to be sensory rich the way poetry is.  I know how I feel when I’m in that flow, when I’m tapping into that creativity that is inimitably mine, it’s like being .  I know when I’ve hit it and I haven’t been doing it at all lately.  I’m starting to wonder if it’s because I’ve gotten too far away from writing poetry.  I rarely ever share poetry but I used to write it often in my journals.  My brain thinks in pungent shorthand.

When I can tap into that creativity on purpose I will have reached a new level with my writing.

*New word of the day!  Found in a paper written in 1924 about the rashes commonly mistaken for syphilis.