"I can start with how I went to marine science camp as a kid and end with that time I accidentally brought a flamethrower into the county courthouse" --- PLEASE EXPLAIN IM SO CONFUSED D:
So, when I was a kid, my parents worked full time, so during the summer, my sister and I were enrolled in day-camp so we’d be adequately tired when we got home, and my FAVORITE camp was Marine Science Camp, run by MSI on the banks of redwood creek, right off the San Francisco bay. It was AWESOME: we got to dissect squid, there was a literal shark tank, which we got to fish leopard sharks out of and Tag Them For Scientific Research, ad we’d go out on the boat once a week and do things like haul a net full of fish out, use a scoop to study benthic creatures and look at plankton under a microscope. I realize now we were essentially doing transects, dissections and other field/lab work for a bunch of grad students but it was FUN.
I totally wanted to be a marine biologist when I grew up and would tell anyone who asked me what I was into about nematocyts and oceanic acidification until The Adult realized their mistake and fled.
At the same time, I was pursing an aggressive interest in the visual arts, which my parents heavily encouraged, becuase they are excellent parents and because it;s was a QUIET hobby unlikely to result in bodily harm, unlike my sister, who got into karate and Theater, which is a surprising dangerous combination.
But then i got to college and realized an issue with this plan: I, hands down, SUCK at chemistry. I did okay in into becuase I’m great at taking standardized tests, and the teacher got suspended halfway through the semester for getting into a fistfight with another prof for poaching his grad student, but Organic Chemistry was a disaster. I’ve never been good at arithmetic, and balancing chemical equations is something i need the dang molecule models for. So marine bio was a No-Go.
So I switched my major over to Art, which turned out to be kind of a disaster (the school managed to lose an entire semester of my grades because the Art Department kept really sloppy records and i ended up dropping out and resuming college elsewhere) and AMAZING, becuase I took a human figure drawing course with professor [REDACTED] who announced on the third day of class: “SWEET THE FOOLS JUST GAVE ME TENURE. CAN’T FIRE ME NOW, SO LEMME SHOW YOU HOW TO MAKE A FLAMETHROWER”
The thing she actually taught us was how to modify a culinary butane torch to empty the canister at a much higher rate than any manufacturer anywhere recommends, which gives you and AWESOME bigass jet of blue flame, but only lasts about 30 seconds per container. She also showed us how to make bandeliers so we could carry multiple containers, “just in case”.
In more practical lessons, we were in class when the first gov’t shutdown happened, so we didn’t have money for models, so she oped to bring in various animals for us to draw instead. there was the usual cats and dogs, but also chickens, horses, a farm hog, a 12-foot Burmese Python and a baby deer that had been abandoned on her porch. It was really fun, both becuase animals are amazing, and becuase they don’t hold still, so you learn to draw REAL FAST, which is a skill that’s served me well since.
A few years later, I was summoned for Jury Duty, and had to show up at the courthouse for selection. HOWEVER, I’d put my usual bag in the wash the previous night, so I grabbed my old school backpack to take with me because I knew I had a sketchbook in there to amuse myself with.
I forgot I also had my flamethrower in there.
I live in a pretty low-crime area, so the metal detectors are actually pretty far into the building- you don’t get scanned until you’re actually going into the courtroom. So for about three hours beforehand, I was sitting in the hallway having a Nice Chat with one of the state park rangers and the CEO of the local call center. We get called in, and as we walk through, my backpack sets off the alarm.
“Fuck.” I say abruptly remembering what would have set it off.
“Do you have anything metal in your backpack?” the security guy asks me. I think he was expecting me to say glasses.
“I forgot that I have my flamethrower in here. I’ll just leave this outside.” I explain, hoping I’m not about to be arrested.
“Please open your bag or leave it outs- your WHAT?” Dude stops halfway through his routine.
“Flamethrower. I made it in art class and will definitely be leaving it here.” I say, carefully putting my bag on the table, zipper open , and pointing at the small butane torch. The guard looks at it, looks at me (pls note, I am small, white, feminine and conventionally attractive so YOU BET privilege was happening here), before deciding that Art People Are Dumb and waving me in after wanding me to make sure I hadn’t accidentally brought anything else in my pockets.
I was not selected for jury duty.
In other news, I still have it, and it still works. I use it for mass-toasting creme brulee.