Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Seven Days Without Specs

Yesterday I was gifted with long distance sight, courtesy of my returned glasses with updated prescription. Wow! Everything is so shiny and clear and in focus. Seven days without them were horrendous but I guess it made me realise how much I need them, how much they help me and how freakin' blind I am without them. (And my prescription isn't even that bad.)

Here's just a few of the happenings of my week without spectacles:

I wore them to teach my class in the morning, then went for the optician's appointment. I reluctantly handed them over and then couldn't read any of the bus numbers until they were inches away. It's sort of disorientating, to the extent that someone is actually stealing things from your vision, deliberately erasing them, distorting the images and messing with your head. Then I had to babysit in the evening and I thought, this won't be too bad, until they announced we were watching the first Harry Potter film. Great. Movie night when the sofas are so far from the TV I really can't see anything.

Not too bad as I spent most of the day in the flat. Computer screens and books are fine so it was only when I had to go out and teach that the blur stole over me again, and distance distorted. It's the simple things like loss of facial features for the people approaching you. Feels like a bad horror movie. I'm half expecting everyone to turn monster or demon on me. But I managed to get back home unscathed. No monsters on the 46. Some cranks, but no demons.

I'd been roped into some impromptu babysitting for the boy I do private music lessons for. We were off to The British Museum for the Vikings exhibit and some Viking creative activities for children. How not fun are museums without glasses/sight? I couldn't see any of the signs. We had to get really close up first and somehow being around lots of people in a large space like that, makes it worse. They get in the way of my already limited vision, obscuring it. But he's a good boy and never left my side and we had a good few hours of museuming.

In the evening I was off to visit a friend in Richmond, an easy trip on the overground. Except.......All the trains were cancelled, after fifteen minutes of waiting for a delayed train and there were signal failures and defective trains and we all had to be refunded to our Oyster cards and sent to find alternative travel arrangements. Okay. So, I'm in heels and slightly blind but let's do this. So I walk to the Underground station. I change twice to get to Earls Court and the district line and then lo and behold, there are no trains going to Richmond. I'd already been travelling around for an hour and twenty minutes, slowly getting nowhere. In the end we agreed to meet in Waterloo for a much needed bottle of wine and a pizza.

I couldn't see my friend until she was right on top of me. Then I couldn't see the sign for the toilets. But I could see my menu, wine glass and pizza. Then I saw the dessert menu and every spoonful of panna cotta. Mmmmmm. At least it was just one tube home.

Again, not too bad today as I was mainly in the flat, except for my doomed outing for baking ingredients. Of all the places to shop in Kentish Town, no one had black treacle. Or if they did, I certainly couldn't see it. And somehow the lack of black treacle was a by product of my inability to see. Pretty much everything that went wrong that week was attributed to my missing specs. Well, you have to blame some thing.

In the evening we had friends over for dinner, which wasn't too bad vision wise, just a blurry face experience, though in my tiny flat no one can ever be that far away. The company and food were lovely, though by the end of the night I had lost my voice.

Ah, a day in writing progress reports for one of my schools. Again, writing, reading and computers are all in focus because they're close up. But then a night in watching blurry TV was pretty distressing, nothing in focus and heaven forbid there should be any writing on screen. Eesck.

The sore throat from the last couple of days had escalated, resulting in a lovely cough and fever and general ickiness, so no Parkrun for me this week. Then we arranged with a friend of ours to use our birthday vouchers for The View from The Shard. What an amazing time to not have glasses, when you have to see really far. Luckily I do have prescription sunglasses, though of course you look like a dick if you wear them inside. But half the viewing stuff is inside and half is out, so it was a pretty good compromise. I found where our flat was and I could see Wembley where Wigan were taking on Arsenal in the FA Cup Semi Final. Watching the trains coming in and out was weirdly satisfying. They were like wriggling, snaking, caterpillars or worms or something. And there are so many of them, only half a minute apart and constantly in and out. Rather fascinating in an oh-shit-I've-turned-into-my-dad kinda way.

A relaxing morning watching the London Marathon on the TV, reminiscing when I did mine four years ago. Then an art gallery in the afternoon. Again, lack of sight, kind of an issue, especially when the main exhibit was all 3D screens and videos. I was doomed. I bet next week when I have the glasses, I do barely anything that would require them. Typical. Anyhoo, in the evening we watched the epic, historical film: Lincoln and I managed to fall asleep in the last thirty minutes. Oops. I blame the glasses-less-ness.

Well, we've gone full circle. I taught my class, this time without glasses and much of a voice. I came home, wrote some progress reports and then finally got the call. So I jaunted out and picked them up, whilst the lady marvelled at how cool my frames are. I'm like, I know, that's why I kept them and didn't change them for one of yours. And then it was glass, literal glass in front of my eyes, but glass with my exact prescription. I could see, even further and clearer than before and all the way back on the bus I just looked and read signs that I previously wouldn't have been able to and had my own little chufty badge, which no one else had a clue about. I can see. La la la la la la. Though I do get jealous of people with 20:20 vision, who never have to go through this bull crap.

And so, that was my week without glasses. I fear at some point, I will have to get a spare pair, so this doesn't happen again, ever. But then it did give me something to rant about.

Thanks for reading


Monday, April 7, 2014


It's expensive having shitty defective eyes.

I went for my eye test today -  only a year overdue, oops - and what a polava it was. They test you with all these lights and dots and flashing things and puffs of air in your eyes and it feels like a test that you're rapidly failing. How many lights did you see? Where were they in terms of clock positions? (Man it's difficult to think quickly about that.) Do you see any green lights? (Yes. No. Ahh, I think so.) It's all super fast and you have to think so speedily, half the time I was only processing one as she's gone on to the next one. (Just realised this makes me seem slow and slightly thick.)

So then, after this you are passed to the actual optician - before being told I have to repeat one of the tests later. Great - for charts and weird glasses. Then it's more questions and lights and tests and indecision. Which is clearer, the red or green? (As soon as you say green, convincingly, you wonder if it was red.) Which dots are clearer? Can you read the top line? Okay, so I started reading the top line and could barely make out anything on the second line, but then she changed the chart and I thought, what the hell, my eyes must be so bad I'm seeing backwards letters. Then she revealed they were actually numbers. Ha ha. Glad she told me. I thought that 3 was a backwards E.

It's only later when they get you to put on your current glasses and then add the new prescription, that you realise how much your eyes have further deteriorated. I re-did the field vision test and passed with flying colours this time, thank god. Though I'm not sure what happens when you don't. Naughty corner? Smacked wrist? And then came the new glasses spiel.

I made it pretty darn clear that I was keeping the same frames, my late 1950's vintage frames that are the most beautiful frames in the world. But still, they tried to persuade me to go for contact lenses, despite me making it perfectly clear I wouldn't be putting things in my eyes. Just take no for an answer, please! And they persuaded me to try a few of their frames, but it's no use, I'm a creature of habit, these frames suit me and they make all other frames pale into insignificance. Bless her though, the lady was patient and very sweet. She knew she was on to a loser there.

Unfortunately, it's costs more than most of the designer glasses that are buy one get one free, just to get lenses done on POF (patients' own frames). Then they offer you all these coatings and thinner lenses and something else and fairies will lick them clean and some other bumpf, and you're just left sat there confused, not quite sure what you've paid for, with a significant hole in the bank balance. I had to actually get rid of one of the coatings because it was working out more than I'd paid for my vintage glasses in the first place, and that included lenses when I bought them. Ridiculous! But even worse is that I am now glasses-less until next week. A freakin' week! I'm sure Specsavers used to do 'em in an hour. But not Boots. That is such a long time to be without them. I miss them already. But it would have cost a further £30 to have them done any quicker and that might have been 5 days instead of 7. Nah, I'll just wait thanks.

So if I'm seeing you, or attempting to see you in the next week, bare with me. If you are far away, I will not see you until you are much closer and I will be unable to read signs, bus numbers, train times or words on a cinema screen. The joys. I know I should get a spare pair, but money does not come out of my ass, unfortunately, and as I had to keep reminding them, it's really expensive to have defective eyes, especially when you're self-employed. Thankfully, I'm mostly on half term break this week. I only have a couple of babysitting things and one more class to teach, so I should be able to muddle through. If you see me squinting, you know why.

Oh, finally a little tit bit for Monday afternoon, a snatch of overheard conversation on the bus:
Oh hi, yeah, I need to book a bikini wax. 
Ha ha. Made me cringe and inner giggle. Is that really something you want overhearing on a bus?

Anyhoo, to those of you with defective eyes, I salute you. To those of you with perfect eyes, I scowl at you in pure jealousy, and to anyone who has seen Final Destination 5 before an eye test, they will understand my recoil from some of the red lights.


Friday, April 4, 2014

Severe Submission Sickness (SSS)

It should have been novel submission excitement this week, but instead I was struck down, in the prime of lime with the dreaded SSS - Severe Submission Sickness.
Symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Inability to trust any judgement you make. 
  • Hating the world, disliking everything. 
  • The need to throw things, generally scream, shout and have a tantrum. 
  • A break out in spots, akin to that of a prepubescent teen. 
  • Additional/rapidly increasing grey hair ratio; the amazing little wiry ones that stick up and out the sides. 
  • Punctuation marks become a random assortment of incomprehensible dots and lines that seem to rearrange themselves when you're not looking. 
  • Inability to then correct those punctuation marks and therefore hatred of the comma, semicolon and colon. 
  • Temperature fluctuations to the extreme. Cold sweats. Hot sweats. Medium sweats. Being so cold you need extra layers, slippers and wrist warmers. Then stripping down to vest and pyjama bottoms. 
  • A increased tendency to spill things, drop things, walk into things, injure yourself. 
  • A tiredness that aches your bones, weighs down your eyes and makes you cranky. 
  • Emotions so close to the surface, it's a laugh or cry moment, every moment. 
  • Feeling like that submission will always be twelve steps out of reach, like the end of a rainbow or the mysterious entrance to the Gherkin building. But on the tenth step there's a precipice and you might just fall to your death.                   
So it's been a fun few days. The SSS hit me pretty hard on Tuesday but then I have been pushing it down and ignoring it since then. Wednesday I had to teach 40 kids and then email all the parents and I was too exhausted to think after that. Then yesterday I spent time catching up on The Vampire Diaries and wallowing a little. After this blog I aim to confront my SSS and attempt to take that one step closer to Submission Mountain. Maybe it will be the one step that plummets me off the edge of the precipice, or maybe, just maybe it will be the one step that links to an invisible bridge, granting me safe passage to the Mountain. Or maybe I'll find the entrance to the Gherkin, though I highly doubt it. It's as mythical as.........my submission.

Just in case that was a little too grim for everyone, I'm sorry, but we can't be all happy and positive all the time. What do you mean I am never those things? You're probably right, but just in case, I will leave you with a slightly more optimistic thought:

What if reading books was exercise? I mean, what if ingesting all those words and travelling off with our characters actually burnt calories? I would be so fit!

For instance, you're not stationary when you're reading, even if you are actually stationary. You move with your characters, you experience every thing they do, so why can't that involve the real sacrificial burning of some belly flab? (As my workout DVD lovingly refers to it.)

I have been devouring books lately and have stumbled upon an author I have been meaning to read for such a long time: Lauren Oliver. Oh my. I have been missing out. Ate Panic in just over a day and am onto the first in her bestselling trilogy: Delirium. Frickin' brilliant. I'd like to think by the end of it, especially with all the running the main character does, that maybe I will be trim and fit by the end of it. Though as I am likely to finish it tomorrow, then doubts are high. Shame though. That would be the most enjoyable way of exercising and keeping fit.

Anyhoo, it's Friday, so even if, like me, you are experiencing SSS, maybe wine or vodka or friends or a little break could cure at least one or two of the symptoms. It's not a case of keeping your chin up, it's more like unknotting your stomach, trying to keep your eyes focused, and if all the dots and squiggles become incomprehensible blurs of black, then step away, have a minute, and breathe, but that's a given.