So, because my acne has been absolutely terrible since I got to Indonesia, and because I'm generally worried that looking so much like my fifteen year old self will cause me to start acting like my fifteen year old self--given that this was the only year of my life that I thought "Catcher in the Rye" was a good book, that idea worries me--I decided to go see a dermatologist. I asked around at school to find the most famous dermatologist in Semarang, convinced an Indonesian friend to call and make an appointment for me, and today, finally showed up in the office to wait as, with traditional Indonesian sense of time so often called "rubber time," the nurses finally remembered to call my name, two hours after my actual appointment time.
I know that the medical profession isn't particularly distinguished in this country--and when I consider that medical school is basically a 4 year undergradate degree, I understand this a little better--but I figured, hey, what's the worst that could happen? I waste some money on a cream that isn't useful, and I stop using it. I'm $20 in the hole, sure, but that's a small price to pay for self-esteem.
"What's the worst that could happen?" as it turns out, is a dangerous question to ask. Given that I started my day at 5 AM by attempting to kill a giant cockroach that had crawled into my toilet paper--after failing to smash it with my sneaker or slam it in the door, washing it down the drain proved to be effective--and then continued it by having to substitute in the twelfth grade class and being forced to lecture to 17 year olds about direct and indirect report speech for upwards of two hours, I should't have pushed my luck with the dermatologist. Apparently the standard procedure for acne is to look at my face for roughly 25 seconds, prescribe me some cream and pills, goodness knows what, and then make me lie on a table for a nurse to repeatedly press a sharp metal object into my face. I think she was clearing out blackheads, but I couldn't really tell, seeing as how I was completely blinded by the bright light she was shining in my eyes. I kept trying to ask whether that process would cause scarring--I feel like popping pimples is the wrong way to actually treat them--but it's hard to talk through tears, much less in a foreign language. And then, of course, the fact that I couldn't keep myself from crying at how freaking painful that metal stick was when jammed into the side of my nose just made me cry more. I haven't cried in public since at least the last time I went to a doctor's office, and it's never an experience I enjoy. (If I were a pretty crier, the type whose tears make her look sweet and innocent and feminine, just begging to be comforted or protected, perhaps I wouldn't care. Instead, I'm the type whose face gets red and blotchy and swollen and who generally looks like the ugly stepsister of the Creature From the Black Lagoon.)
So now I've blown $20 on probably pointless medicines and been forced to walk around in public with the sort of face that frightens small children. Luckily, my next activity this evening is teaching piano lessons to small children. I'm not sure my self-esteem, normally through the roof, can handle screams of "Mommy, make it go away!". That, my friends, is the worst that could happen.
(Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.)