My grandpa used to always tell me that “You’re a fool if you don’t make a plan, and you’re a fool if you think your plan is going to work.” I feel like if this summer taught me anything about myself (other than the tremendous amounts of clinical and field experience), it’s that I am a planner. Organization in the lab is something that is soothing to me. I see myself being more and more of a control freak in and around the lab because I have gotten so comfortable with the organization of the summer. This concept was screaming at me when we visited the other counties throughout the field season. Sometimes the order and labels of the sample tubes depend on your partner and sometimes not all the gear that you need is brought out into the field to where there is no recovery. I quickly found out that going out into the field is not as structured and planned as it is on Turtle Team. Sometimes you have your week planned out for the number of turtles you’re going to catch and you don’t catch any. This is called the F word.
My best friend’s family member is high functioning autistic, and when she is having a really good day, she asks if she is the F word. She knows the F word to mean flexible (not what you were thinking sheesh), and to her, it is an honored to be labeled as such. When I go visit, and I say that I am completely okay with the AC not working and the frozen pizza for dinner, his mom thanks me for being the F word. A summer in WEL is completely evolved around being the F word, especially on the box turtle team. One minute you think you’re working on your project all week, and the next minute you’re off to a different county, unsure where you are staying the night; however, if you didn’t have a plan for what you were going to do in lab, you could have wasted the whole week sitting around.
This past week was our last week of Turtle Team in Vermillion County. My toxic friend Kennymac asked how I felt about that, and all I could say is sad. It is sad that the summer is coming to an end. I remember packing for Nachusa like it was yesterday and lying awake at night thinking that Dr. Allender was going to be mad at us for forgetting something. I then fondly remember the stress dreams I had in June about us forgetting things for Turtle Team. The days were long and my scalp paid the UV price, but being in Champaign and being a Turtle Team leader is 100% the best gig of the summer. Not only is it better than any of the other counties, but it is also better than whatever job you had over the summer. And even though sometimes I feel ill looking at the lab truck thinking about how many hours Carly and I spent on the road, I know that getting the experience outside of Turtle Team made me a better student and a more patient human being in general. Getting lost in the marsh, calling out Marco and never hearing a Polo in return, constantly finding empty traps, endless gross turtle necropsies. People, I’m talking about GROWTH. I’m talking about the F word.
If you have watched the entirety of the show House, you know that the first and last episode end with the Stones’s song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. I don’t share many similarities to Gregory House, but I do believe that McJagger might have hit it on the dot. WEL summer may be coming to an end, and I’m nervous for WEL school year (we’re also going to Tennessee stay tuned), but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.