Blood Drive (Part 1/3)

“Excuse me, but is there anyone here who wants to participate in the blood drive?”

The attention of the entire classroom swiveled towards the open front door, thirty-one pairs of eyes – some expectant, some curious and some wary – examining the somewhat unremarkable attendant who had entered following a polite series of knocks. Class had barely started, a pity in that it was likely to have been a very exciting event given that the teacher himself looked bored to death, but, students being students, most were relishing the welcome interruption to what had had the prospect of being an actual class session.

I did, however, take the liberty of being amused at how excited the teacher seemed to be at the interruption, at his zero hesitancy on closing the textbook. Some days, no one did feel like class. Today seemed like one of those days, and there was no reason to kick out a voluntary distraction.

“Well then, I’d apologize but since I’m abandoning the lesson for good cause, we’ll just hold off learning about things you already know until next week, shall we?” The teacher announced with a chuckle, rolling up his sleeves and heading out past the amused nurse. Many others stood up, each with their own observation of the situation – “I’m actually wondering if we’ll ever get any lessons done at this rate?” “If I didn’t live where it’s supposedly infested with malaria-” quite a lot of people snorted at that, having heard the same rant every time the blood drive happened, “-I’d have been able to get a free freaking cinema coupon!” “Do you think I’ll still have problems with blood pressure?”

I turned my eyes back toward the desk, a sudden buzz in my head. This was the first time I’ll be actually available for a blood donation at all, age and medication having interfered the last two occasions this had happened. But then again, I thought, I hadn’t really been medicated then – unless you count Tylenol as viable blood donation risks.

 

Truth be told, I’d been scared. I was never very fond of needles, more so than the average person; I had embarrassing childhood accounts of rolling on the hospital floor in resistance to prove it. But still, it really was a good cause, and I did know, albeit theoretically, that those needles couldn’t hurt any more than the injections that we didn’t really have much choice but to take. I tended to overreact, pinching my thigh to distract myself even with those injections, but I did know that it couldn’t actually hurt that bad… right?

I thought back to a friend of mine, one that I particularly looked upon. He was probably the one life who had the most hardships throughout my knowing of any acquaintance, and he had been a very vocal enthusiast of blood donation. He’d only recently contacted me to alert me of his twentieth donation, to which I’d responded with the appropriate awe. I pushed my reminiscence the tiniest bit more to recall that time when he’d given me the most heartwarming speech in terms of his wishing for my happiness, and that tipped it for me. I stood up as flippantly as possible, and ran downstairs to where the vehicles were parked.

Another nurse directed me to the cafeteria, where the paperwork had to be filled out. I sat down nervously next to my classmates, eyeing the blood-plasma yellow paper. My mind supplied that it was pretty ironic that the blood drive paperwork had the color of what was essentially the liquid part of blood, but I kept that to myself. It probably wasn’t even intended, anyway.

“First time?” a voice asked as I turned, startled. The nurse who’d called us out for the event was hovering next to me, having obviously sensed by hesitance. I looked around and realized that no one else was having problems with simple paperwork. Flushing slightly, I nodded. She smiled sympathetically, and pointed out the boxes I needed to fill, and the boxes I didn’t really have to, unless I wanted to. Purely out of spite, I filled out my address as the nurse observed it in obvious amusement, probably taking note of my rebel soul.

She shuffled me over to the makeshift receptionist’s desk, where a man in a suit (looking horribly uncomfortable, god, that suit must be absolutely suffocating-) stamped my papers and sent me off with a, “Go up and into the bus labeled with the number four, if you will.”

I complied and went inside, and immediately let out a breath I didn’t know I had been holding until then. The familiar sight of my classmates greeted me, and the ease in which they were holding themselves convinced me that hey, maybe this isn’t going to be so bad after all.

TBC…


I’m…. trying my hand at narrative diaries? With a little bit of fiction touch to them?

So this is basically a snippet of my life, about a month back during midterms when I couldn’t just write it up.

Also a PSA that blood drives are important for hospitals because they often don’t have enough to give out transfusions to those who need it! Doesn’t even hurt that bad, really, and if you live in Korea you’ll get snacks and movie tickets and a little blood donor identification card that allows you a discount whenever you get a transfusion yourself, so yeah. Give life, give blood!

Those who enjoy;

Finals week are approaching, and it is nothing if not a long, tedious and stressful affair. Students in our grade have to take eleven exams for the finals; including the language that you’re majoring in, your social studies elective(geography or economics), your required science subject (chemistry or biology), and one choice from either physics or sociology&culture.

I’m a spanish major myself, and I have physics, biology and economics as my electives. Since biology was notorious for its sheer overwhelming amount of material to study (and also the fact that the topic had to be genetics and heredity), physics for everyone’s collective inability to understand and economics for its complexity, many others with the same electives as I did were reduced to the verge of tears; even without all the other subjects, it was just too much.

Fortunately for me, I was rather blessed as to be able to understand most of the material given to me, and as a result, many of my classmates come to me to inquire about questions that they had while studying the material. I had somehow become the substitute teacher for most of my classmates, and to be perfectly honest, it was a really good feeling. Pride at the fact that I managed to understand something that so many others didn’t, gratitude at the fact that all these people trusted me to know the answer and to inform them accordingly, but also the strange feeling of achievement that came whenever I manage to explain something and the friend would leave with a, “You’re really good at this! Not just the material, but at explaining, too!”

I never minded people asking that of me; I know a lot of people with grades much higher than mine respond to such requests with a, “No thanks, I’m busy and I have a lot on my own plate right now.” But I tried not to do that if possible. Not just because I’ve too frequently been on the other side of such an exchange while in middle school, but also because it really was a win-win exchange. And I liked the feeling too. A lot. So I basically became the go-to person for biology, economics and physics.

In the final days before the actual exams began, it really began to peak. But something interesting happened regarding the issue. On my last period today, I’d basically given up studying for my own material, sporadically interrupted as it was by such questions, and had taken up to chatting with my classmates.

They were both taking economics as their electives, and were part of the social studies branch(as opposed to the science branch in Korean high schools). One of them were basically giving up on economics after a particularly hard question, and was demanding why I, a science branch-er, had better understanding of economics than he did. The other friend was defending my position (while I sat back and tried to claim that no, I’m not that good at economics) by telling the former of my affinity for economics, not just the school subject but in general. I’d once told him that I had read Guns, Germs and Steel and New Ideas from Dead Economists before, and he was saying that ‘she reads these things for fun, you know. She’s really interested in all of it, regardless of her branch.’

I was just sitting back, not sure how to participate in the conversation when the topic was about me, when a friend came over with an economics inquiry. I eagerly explained the relevant terms related to it, how to solve the problems with that information, and had just send her away when I realized my defender from before was looking at me with a curious stare. I asked why was he staring like that. The conversation went something like this:

“You must really like studying a lot, and I mean really.”

“…and whatever gave you that impression?”

“Just now, when you were answering her question? And explaining the material? Your eyes had this sparkle in it. The type that tells you, ‘I am so happy to be here, to be doing this right now. I feel so awesome.'”

Although my friend was a little off on exactly what had captivated me so much in that moment, it really made me think. I chose economics as opposed to geography not only because I hated geography with a passion but because I actually liked economics.

I enjoyed the time I spent in class learning the material, the feeling of achievement whenever I successfully tackled a particularly hard question and got it right. I’m not really sure if I started to like it because I was good at it, or if I came to be good at it because I liked it, but I definitely know that the two things worked as a positive feedback system: I started to put more effort into economics despite it not being particularly necessary for my college admissions, and getting good grades on the subject suddenly wasn’t a hardship anymore, especially compared with when I was in middle school.

Upon this epiphany, I was reminded of the old saying that goes something like this: “Geniuses cannot prevail over the ones who try hard, but even the ones who try hard must admit defeat to the ones who enjoy.” I’m not saying that I’m the epitome of academics or anything even close to that suggestion, but even from my case it is clear. Whatever your motivation for enjoying a subject, once you do, you achieve a level previously unimagined by just trying to ‘study’ a subject.

I’m not saying you should force yourself to enjoy something; if it were possible, such a saying wouldn’t even have a need to exist. But one’s reason for enjoying something need not be complex either – it could even be as simple as a form of attachment following a valiant effort. Heaven knows it worked for me at least. But thinking about that ‘sparkle’, about doing what I truly enjoy – I couldn’t help but feel warm inside, because it managed to reaffirm my passion: communication, and the sharing of information. People have suggested teaching as a legitimate prospect for my future, and to be perfectly honest, I’m not too strongly opposed to the idea either; I suppose we’ll see.

P.S. Finals are three days away and look at what I’ve just done! I really must be reluctant to study