Wednesday, March 28, 2012

for joseph (first photo challenge)

A friend of mine issued me a photo challenge a few months back after reading this post.

(Momentary sidetrack: I wish I could link you to his blog, as he leads a far more interesting life than most -- hiking the entire Appalachian Trail in under three months, trekking through the Himalayas, working on a New Zealand dairy farm, and teaching in Mongolia all come to mind -- but alas, he doesn't have a blog. Bummer. Maybe one day I could convince him to do a guest series? HINT HINT.)

My assignment: Take a picture of something that grosses you out.

This proved much harder than you might think. First off, I didn't want to capture something too grotesque, vulgar, or inappropriate. I also wasn't sure if I should take the moral high ground, as in: The amount of waste/lack of recycling in Abu Dhabi disgusts me! with a picture of some dumpsters overflowing with tin cans and white copy paper.

So I sat on it for a long time, until one day at work I was presented with a most fantastic subject: The Snot Wad.

It's an ever-permanent fixture in my classroom. And I would've posted it a lot sooner, had I not realized something major: 

It doesn't actually gross me out.

I know, crazy. But after working with three- and four-year-olds for over a decade, I'm more than used to the runny noses, bathroom accidents, and upset stomachs that come with this age group. In South Africa, I monitored the stools of my students to check for nutritional deficiencies, and I mopped up the mess made by a bloody nose with nothing more than water and paper towels (not that I'd recommend this, especially given the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, but I didn't have much choice at the time).  While I obviously wouldn't say I find these things pleasant, they also don't phase me much.

But this? This got me big time:

Looks like nothing, you say? Well, that's because I took this photo immediately after sticking my hands into these crusty, sweaty, stinking-up-a-storm socks to turn them right-side-out for this little boy. (I mean, he used perfect English -- "Help me, please!" -- so how could I say no?) That's right, bodily fluids and functions don't sway me a bit, but nasty, smelly socks? And wet ones, at that? Please excuse me while I down some Pepto.

OK, then, Joseph-- What grosses you out?