Wednesday, January 26, 2011

High Definition Vision and I'm Not 22 Anymore

LASIK went so well that I completely forgot to do anything other than look at the world through my new HD vision.  I'm amazed.  After 25 years of shoving contacts in my eyes, knocking over my lamp in the middle of the night as I blindly claw for my glasses, or winking oddly at someone because my contact was acting up again, I now have 20/20 vision. 

I know this because at my day-after check-up I was already at 20/20.  Maybe my vision will continue to improve to the point where I can see through things.  My x-ray vision talents will be a real hit at airport security.

But I do feel as though something is missing.  Like a good friend.  My nighttime ritual has been cut in half.  I brush my teeth, wash my face, and then my fingers automatically go to my eyes to take out my contacts...and it hits me all over again.  The vision I have is mine.  I am no longer contact enabled.  My very own eyeballs are seeing this clear and crisp reflection of me in the mirror.

What saddens me is that over the years I have come to love the really, really blurry reflection of me.  Every evening after I took out my contacts and before I put on my glasses, I could imagine that the woman looking back at me in the mirror was a fresh-faced, just out of college and ready for that next step in life 22-year-old.  That girl didn't have gray hairs stubbornly pushing out through dark brown hair, or dimples that are strangely taking on a life of their own, or the deepening of laugh lines around her eyes. 

But with my superwoman eyesight I don't get to look at the blurry girl version of me anymore.  Now I have to face the cold, hard facts that my HD vision is telling me.

I am not 22 anymore.

You would think that after 11 years of marriage, 3 children, and countless years since my last college final, I would have realized this before now.  But, no.  It's kinda like how people don't realize they've gained weight until they see a picture of themselves bending over.  Besides the kids, marriage, and the fact that Simon Le Bon is not a current heartthrob, I don't feel much different then I did when I was younger.

Until now.  Stupid LASIK vision.  And then, just to prove the point my eyes were telling me, this happens.

Last Saturday, Max and I go out to celebrate a friend's 40th birthday.  Clue Number 1.

After dinner, we go to a bar.  There is a pool table in the back and I think it will be really fun to play a few games.  After all, in college I could occasionally hold my own in a pool game.  There are two guys playing so I saunter up and confidently place my two quarters on the table then walk away.  A few moments later, I walk back in to see if it's my turn.  But on the table, in front of my quarters is a dollar bill.

"What's with the dollar?" I ask.

"That's for Ray.  But don't worry, you're up next."  One of the guys answers.

"But what does the dollar mean?" I ask again thinking that he's going double or nothing, or trying to send me a message of some sort.  Like, he knows that after I win the game against his buddy, it's going to take him at least two games to beat me.  I must look like a serious pool shark, I think.

The two guys just look at me for a moment.  Then one of them says gently, "It's a dollar a game."

Right.  Of course it's not 50 cents anymore.  Inflation.  Clue Number 2.

We get home late that night.  And as I wasn't the driver, I had a really good time.  When I wake up the next morning.

"Ouch."  Clue Number 3.

I am not 22 anymore. 



Monday, January 10, 2011

Real Genius 20/20

Today my eyeballs will become intimately acquainted with a laser beam.

All I can think of is the laser beam that Chris Knight (aka Val Kilmer) successfully but unknowingly created for the CIA in Real Genius.  You know, the one that turned Professor Jerry Hathaway's house into a giant bowl of popcorn?   In case you don't remember...

I'm really banking on the fact that it's not 1985 anymore and  technology has come a long way.  Maybe I should have asked to see the laser before I agreed to the surgery?  However, if my doctor looks anything like 1985 Val Kilmer...well then that would be all right. 

My vision is football fields away from 20/20.  I have worn glasses since the 6th grade and contacts since 8th grade.  I cannot function without some form of serious eyesight correction.  My biggest (perhaps slightly unrealistic) fear with my current impairment is this:

Let's say Max and I take a cruise.  (Which will probably never happen as we would both prefer to see the world in something other than a floating bathtub.)  Anyway, during this cruise, I manage to fall overboard or the ship goes down Titanic style.  I swim frantically and miraculously find my way to a deserted Lost co-stars...just me.

Those of you with contacts know that water and contacts don't mix.  So, by the time I get to the island, my contacts are gone.  And I'm pretty sure I did not retain the presence of mind to grab my eyeglasses as I was horrifically falling from the boat.

Short story.  I'm blind.  I will spend the rest of my days stumbling around the island slowly starving as I can't put my Bear Grylls survival skills into action because

A.  I really just watch those shows to make Max think I'm hardcore.  As a consequence I'm mostly thinking about what Bear's wife has to say about him being gone so much and doing really stupid, life-threatening things for a living. 

B. That show really pisses me off because he makes it look so easy when he has a camera crew ready to save him at any moment.  And really, he gets to go off and "film" a show in some beautiful location while his wife actually lives through a survivalist situation - staying at home with the children while her husband flits around the world in a private helicopter .  She should really have her own show, too.

and, C. I'm a big wuss.

So, I'm living the low-life on this beautiful (but how would I know that since I'm blind) island, and wasting away from dehydration, skin cancer, malnutrition and anger at Bear Grylls for leaving his wife alone so much.  As a consequence, I will ultimately miss the rescue boat floating along on the horizon.  Why?  Because I'm blind, remember?  I will never know when to build the fire to make the smoke signals which will in turn alert the rescuers to my whereabouts.

Tragic, isn't it?

And so, today I meet the laser and finally put an end to the nightmare which has  plagued my dreams for years.  And perhaps start listening to a bit of Bear's sage advice.  After all, now I'll have very expensive clear and crisp vision.  I will really need to put those survival tips into action on the island if I'm going to get my money out of this procedure.  

Plus, Max will think I'm cool. 


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ode to Sam

You feed me when I'm hungry,
You keep water in my dish,
You let me sleep on anything,
Or in any place I wish.

You sometimes let me lick your hands,
Or even lick your face,
Despite the fact I've licked myself
In every private place.

You taught me how to come when called,
You taught me how to sit,
You always let me go outside
So I can take a ...........stroll.

I've been with you through oh, so much,
Through laughter and through tears,
I hope you live to be a hundred......
(that's 700 in doggy years!).

Author Unknown

Yesterday morning.  
"Wo-of!"  Sam's low, hoarse bark begging to be let out.  It's early.  Like, dark early.  I stumble blindly to the door kicking legos, pull-ups, matchbox cars and pillow pets (damn you, gremlin-like spawning pillow pets!) out of my way.  

As I reach the door, squish!  I step, no, I should say I gave my foot a bath, in dog vomit.  Blah!!  The dog has thrown up...again.  In his defense, at least this time he aimed and succeeded at vomiting on the tile instead of the carpet.  Score for Sam! 

This February, Sam will be 13 years old.  Just to impress you with my quick thinking math abilities, that's 91 in dog years.  Sam is 100% purebred mutt.  If he were a wine, he'd be a 2 Buck Chuck - blended from unidentified and really cheap grapes but in the end just what you want.  

Eleven years ago as a starry-eyed newly wed, I went to the shelter to"just look" at the available dogs.  Now, Max did not grow up with animals in his home, while my house was a revolving door for dogs, cats, parakeets, fish, rabbits, hamsters and turtles.  We had been living in our newly purchased home for just a few months and it felt empty.  Homes come with dogs, right?  Well this one didn't and I needed to fix that.  So, while I had no intention of adopting a dog without my beloved husband's knowledge and input, I figured it really couldn't hurt to "just look."

Here's the problem.

I'm a ridiculous softy when it comes to homeless, lost, and/or abandoned animals.  It quite literally breaks my heart.  If I see an animal far from home I will stop at nothing to ensure its safe return to the loving family who is most certainly torn apart by the absence of their beloved pet.  Unfortunately, this has led me to once (possibly twice) save a dog from its own front yard.  In my defense, it was very heavily wooded and the dog kept following me.   
Thorns may hurt you, men desert you, sunlight turn to fog;
but you're never friendless ever, if you have a dog.

Douglas Mallock 

That day at the shelter, I wondered around reading the descriptions of Buddy, Toby, Rover and Fido.  Each description assured me that this was the dog for me.  I was trying hard not to make eye contact with any of the dogs for fear that I would 
        1.) begin to sob uncontrollably and then be admitted myself 
        2.) adopt every dog in sight and live the rest of my life alone while I 
             bitterly morphed into Cruella De ville 
        3.) actually have to make a CHOICE as to which dog I wanted to bring         
             home thereby sentencing the rest of the dogs to premature death

Somehow, I met just one pup's eyes.  Sam.  And that was it.  I looked at him and he looked at me with these big, brown, gentle eyes.  His description said, "loving dog, family couldn't keep him, needs good home."  This was our dog. 

I talk to him when I'm lonesome like;
And I'm sure he understands.
When he looks at me so attentively,
And gently licks my hands;
Then he rubs his nose on my tailored clothes,
But I never say naught thereat.
For the good Lord knows I can buy more clothes,
But never a friend like that. 

W. Dayton Wedgefarth 

I did not bring Sam home that day.  Instead, I called Max and told him to stop by the shelter on his way home from the airport the next morning.  "Check out Sam, and see what you think."  Around 1 PM that day my phone rings at work.  It's Max.  He's in the lobby.  He has the dog.  

I run down the stairs and out to the parking lot to our car.  There is Max.  He's pale.  Kinda sweating.  And looking really annoyed.  He tells me that when I told him to "take a look at the dog" what I really meant was "adopt the dog immediately".  (He's not wrong.)  Unfortunately, as soon as Max starts the car and drives away from the shelter...Sam throws the car...a lot.  

Since that day, Sam has been far from a perfect dog.  He has had accidents in the house, vomited more times then we can count, chewed gates, molding, and doors to pieces, and cost us large amounts of money in his health care and Motel 6 hotel bills.  There was even the time he dragged me down the side of a mountain and into our friend's hot tub in pursuit of a squirrel.  But none of that matters.

The dog barks backward without getting up.
I can remember when he was a pup. 

Robert Frost 

Sam is family.  He has watched us as we have navigated through the "what the hells" of pregnancy, newborns, and sleep deprivation.  He has been there when the kids were sick in the middle of the night.  He's gone for walks with me and the stroller skillfully avoiding tail entanglement with the wheels.  He has been nothing but our faithful companion during our "childbearing" years when, with the birth of each child, he gracefully took a step back. 

So, yesterday morning.

My foot. Sam's vomit. Max silently cleans it up. We turn to Sam who looks at us with those gentle, brown eyes.  He's skinny these days.  It takes him a few attempts to get up from his pillow.  He moves slow, careful, like he navigates each step.  We go to him.  Pet his head, rub his ears.  Tell him he's a good boy.  And hope we have given him as much as he has so unselfishly given us.