I Make My Living by Getting Injected with Radiation
I think I'm better than you. I'm not, incidentally. Nevertheless, I sure as shit act like it. I think I'm better than you for one reason and one reason only: I don't think I need to get a job. I use any excuse I can get my hands on to justify my behavior—that my sociology degree from a nondescript state school is worthless, that my numerous skills and mental acumen aren't valued by the job market, that I’m incapable of the small talk necessary to deal with Susan in accounting. When it comes down to brass tacks, however, I'm just lazy. Too lazy to get up at a reasonable hour and respond to emails from the aforementioned Susan in accounting. (Christ, she’s so needy.) Too lazy to get in my car and drive to a destination that isn’t a chain restaurant. Hell, I'm too lazy too create a LinkedIn profile. (Although, in fairness, what would it say? Megan Beth Koester: Works at Doesn’t.)
I’ve never been fond of hard work, as I don’t feel the need to toil in order to build character. I have enough character as it is. Because of this, the majority of my young adulthood has been spent trying to avoid gainful employment. For over a decade, I committed return fraud to pay the bills in lieu of bucking up and working for a goddamned living. The constant threat of arrest, however, eventually put a bit of a damper on that “career.”
My current money-making activities are far more diverse (and, in general, infinitely less illegal) than return fraud. I edit gay "daddy" videos (which is as soul-shattering a task as you’d imagine), lie my way into focus groups, label envelopes addressed to Armenian homeowners facing foreclosure, and write blog entries for children who reward my efforts with violent threats in the comments section. In short, I hustle.
My primary gig, however, is as a "guinea pig," AKA someone who medically debases him or himself in the name of research. It’s not a glamorous position by any means, and it does wonders for my lack of self-worth. I've had a camera shoved up my ass, drank vomit-inducing room temperature white wine in a basement while coeds watched and giggled, and demonstrated my humiliating lack of knowledge of mathematics to a dude with tits wearing flip-flops—all in the interest of advancing science and makin’ 'dat sweet, sweet paper.
The most egregious thing I’ve ever done, and one, in spite of myself and the impassioned pleas of my friends and loved ones, I’d do again if given the opportunity, entailed being injected with radiation in order to illuminate the nicotinic receptors in my brain. It is something I have done three times. I am, it appears, a glutton for punishment.
I sat in a shitty car with two IVs coming out of my veins while a middle aged man chain smoked, listened to KROQ and talked about how “chill” Hawaii was ‘cause it was so easy to procure weed there. I was then injected with a radioactive tracer and sent into a PET scanner, where I remained prostrate for two hours.
I stood on a loading dock with two IVs coming out of my veins (notice the trend?), struggled to stay conscious and chain smoked while listening to “Hotel California” (which the workers on the loading dock had the decency to blast, presumably in the interest of reinforcing the fact that I could check into this particular nightmare anytime I’d like, yet could never leave). I was then injected with a radioactive tracer and sent into a PET scanner, where I remained prostrate for two hours. A well-meaning yet impossible to communicate with nurse was given the task of taking my blood every 20 minutes—around minute 40, however, my veins refused to cooperate. Full of indomitable spirit, she poked around in my arm for what seemed like hours while I laid motionlessly in the scanner (my head was strapped down, as my brain was being photographed). She eventually struck gold. Blood shot everywhere, drenching the sleeve of my shirt. She told me to pour some hydrogen peroxide on the stain when I got home. I did. It vanished without a trace.
Experiment three was quite similar to experiment two, with the added bonus of my having to participate in smoking cessation therapy with an irate, friendless Korean War vet named Charles. Charles didn’t trust the internet because it was a lawless place where people “spam scammed” you. After a couple weeks of therapy, I was injected with a radioactive tracer and sent into a PET scanner, where I remained prostrate for two hours. The nurse, once again, made me bleed all over myself. Luckily I still had hydrogen peroxide.
In all scenarios, I had to quit smoking for a number of weeks before I could participate in the experiment. Now, anyone who knows me knows that smoking is one of my great passions. That being the case, the only way to make me give up that passion would entail an act of God. I’m an American; as such, money is my God. Money can, and has, and always will, make me do absolutely anything. Now, I know what you’re thinking. If this bitch loves money so goddamned much, why doesn’t she stop treating her body like a nuclear power plant and get a goddamned job? Great question. Ready for the answer?
I don’t know. That’s the answer. Maybe I do it in order to have interesting anecdotes at parties. Maybe I do it because I don’t value my own health. Maybe I do it because I feel I deserve to be punished. Maybe I do it because I believe I need to appear tough in order for people to respect me. I don’t know. I really don’t. I do know, however, that I’m not going to stop doing it any time soon. Because I hate to work as much as I hate myself. And laying in a machine, blood dripping down my arm, is the antithesis of work. It’s something, but it isn’t work.
For more Megan Koester:
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Motherboard: Life After Food