February 2010 Archives

Push coming to shove, and I can't see

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As I've mentioned, I'm getting panicky about scheduling. Major deadlines and events keep sneaking up on me or passing, and well, I have to just buckle down and get things done if I want the next year of my life to go the way I want.

Being sick threw me two weeks further behind on my chemistry applications. I had wanted to submit everything by March 1 (the early decision deadline for one of the programs), but I just couldn't get my letters of recommendation and transcript and stuff all in order by then. Bollocks, I know. June 1 it is.

I wrote out this whole thing about my advisor and department head and deadlines for my art history thesis, but it occurred to me that my real name is attached to this site, and it's probably not smart at all to whine about that stuff until I've graduated. I'll summarize it as my thesis must be submitted to the library about 11 weeks from now, but for various reasons, I will have about 3-4 weeks to have it essentially finished. Aaaand, I'm not super happy about that.

Also, my eyes have to decided to completely fall apart in the last month or so.

I have always had crap vision, as I was born with strabismus, which basically means my eyes don't work together. One of several consequences of this is stereoblindness, a cool-sounding way of saying I can't see 3D and lack binocular depth perception (I could go on and on about the implications of this in me becoming an artist, but that's for another day).

I had several surgeries as a child to try to correct occasional esotropia, and mostly I was left with pretty bad astigmatism and a lot of sighing from doctors who said the technology just isn't there yet for everyone to have 20/20 vision. One, in a woefully misguided attempt to be reassuring, told me that you can be legally blind in one eye and still drive in most states - that's not something to tell an artist, no matter what.

For the most part my vision was manageable with glasses or contacts to correct the astigmatism, and the glasses I got in 2007 also included a prism to address the returning issues from strabismus. They were working rather splendidly for quite some time, but a few months ago, I started noticing dull headaches from reading again and enormous eye fatigue, even with my glasses. I realized how long it had been since my last eye exam and figured I was probably due for an update to my prescription, but this is the most dramatic change I've had in years. What's more, the strain is literally getting worse every day, and that ain't right.

It was my impression that cosmetically, it was under control, and had for the most part been corrected, save for the habit to sometimes blink one eye before the other if I'm thinking about a few things at a time and trying to keep them straight (my labmate says this is charming). Then I was video-chatting with a friend recently and he saw me try to focus on text I was typing into a browser while talking with him. I was tired, my eyes were strained, but I didn't think anything of it. "What's wrong with your eyes?" he asked, and wondered if I was trying to make faces, or if I'd always had a lazy eye and he'd never noticed before. It was immensely tempting to burst into tears and revert to a painfully self-conscious six-year-old getting mocked on the playground by neighborhood twits. I guess I didn't realize that it had become that obvious to other people again.

This, combined with a particularly unsettling trip to the opera where switching focus from subtitles to the stage gave me such a bad headache I felt nauseous, made me decide enough is enough. I made an appointment for this afternoon (and yes, I'm fretting, hence the wikipedia'ing and obsessing). If you ever want to become agonizingly conscious of your eye muscle activity, go ahead and read a few Wikipedia articles about it. Good Lord have I got the chills.

I started examining my own vision as well (I do not suggest doing this if you are already neurotic) and learned that my right eye is essentially useless of late. Honestly, the left eye is doing ALL the work, and when I covered it up (yes, maaaaaaybe I was trying to see what I'd look like with an eye patch), I could barely focus my right eye on text less than a foot from my face. And my goodness, was that tiring to read.

So the right one is the culprit, and that makes a lot of sense, since yknow, I was positive that my left eye was the one that used to turn in when I was a child. I have no idea what they can do to fix it (I do look rad as a pirate), but I'm genuinely concerned. My eyes are really important to me, and I don't want to keep having awful headaches and not being able to focus on things.

And okay, yes, the lazy eye thing is probably the one personal aspect about which I have been most horribly self-conscious in my life. I've stopped being friends with people who have teased me about it, and to this day I'm weird about making eye contact if I worry that I'm tired or drunk or feel like my eyes aren't focusing together correctly. I want them to work together, and I don't want to have to worry about this anymore.

Also, the awful headaches, strain, blurred vision, and all that can go away too please.

My favorite kind of 'shopping

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Usually I am not a huge fan of Photoshop. I recognize that it's this amazingly wonderful tool, but I'm super lazy and I hate working from menus. Mostly I just haven't used it enough to have any kind of proficiency with it, but aaaanyway.

My family has a big St. Patrick's Day party every year, and since I'm finally going to get to be at it this year, I wanted to help make the invitation.

And now, I have made my peace with Photoshop, since it enabled Molly, Otto, and Smooch in funny hats with shamrocks. Yessssssss!

That whole invincible summer thing

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I'm positive that at some point on this site, I've mentioned this quote (and indeed, the following sentiment) before, but I can't find it no matter what search terms I use, so please bear with my repetitiveness (unless I've hallucinated writing this post in the past, which is utterly likely).

"In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer."
Alternately translated "In the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer."
And still alternately "In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer."
- all Albert Camus

The gist is to do with this idea of an invincible summer, and the discovery thereof, in the midst/depths of winter. I have at various points interpreted this as a way of saying that we don't discover our true capacities until we are at our darkest, most challenged, or that the human spirit has the unique ability to rise above any difficulty with a resplendent strength and persistence in beauty. That kind of thing.

This time, however, the discovery, or learning, is more a recognition, a memory, or a foretelling of the inevitable. And it's literal, that there will be summer once again, and spring before that.

Earlier today, I was utterly overwhelmed. This being sick thing has thrown me for quite a loop, since I was both physically incapable of doing anything and mentally, droolingly ill equipped for tasks requiring more than a codeine haze level of intelligence. It completely knocked me on my ass, into bed, for almost two weeks, and whenever I spend that much time so inactive and left to my own devices, I become an emotional/psychological disaster as well (worth noting: in my many angry perusals of the Wikipedia entry on bronchitis, read so I could better know mine enemy, I discovered that malaise is actually considered a symptom of bronchitis and isn't just an indication of my mental ineptitude in the face of adversity.)

I wasn't in great shape before getting sick either, which is why falling two more weeks behind was a particularly disastrous situation. I have a terrifying, awful amount of stuff to do to get my chemistry applications submitted by March 1 (I'm honestly not sure if it can happen). Once that's finished, I have about a month and a half to do my art history thesis and way more than a month and a half's work to do. I have various similar deadlines with work, with wrapping up my MFA degree and graduation requirements, with my personal life, financial life, etc. etc. It's exhausting just making the list, or even thinking about it, and I keep getting pulled in these undertows of despair, with waves of nausea and dizziness crashing on my head and that throbbing underwater sound in my ears echoing "I can't do this!!!"

I was kind of paralyzed in a facing-the-music panic, consumed with anxiety and doubt. I mean, if I can't even handle getting applications prepared, how on earth am I going to do a very difficult degree in chemistry? How am I going to be ready for regular classes again if I have to set an alarm clock to go to the bank before it closes? How am I going to afford and manage having my own apartment again? How am I going to lose weight and get my health together so I can stop getting sick all the time? When am I going to stop being such a coward about love, and oh God, what happens when it goes wrong with the guy I've been pinning all my dreams to? Seriously, how am I going to finish my thesis and graduate?!?!

I felt like I had absolutely nothing to pull from. In the past, it's been spite, or anger, blinding optimism, sheer self-loathing and determination, heartbreak, arrogance, indignation, love, delusional promises of what comes next.... just about any source or motivation has worked, once I got going, but this time, I felt like I had nothing. I mean... I finish this degree just to launch into a much harder, more demanding one, and a huge financial struggle and time management challenge and dealing with my adulthood and career and wow, nothing is possible, you know? It's all this massive snow-capped mountain piling in front of me with no respite, and I showed up wearing jelly shoes and a sundress.

And suddenly I remembered the summer, and before that the spring. With sunshine and flowers, starting with camellias and lilac, exploding with roses and bee balms and dahlias, my kayaking vest and lime green water shoes drying on the fence, my little white boat with its gorgeous rainbow sail flying on the Navesink, the smell of tidepools and the feel of river mud on my feet, light dancing off water and shimmering in my wake, the taste of ripe Jersey tomatoes and watermelon and corn on the cob, lazily painting in my kitchen studio and sometimes on the deck when I want still more light, wearing bikinis and feeling the sun all over my body, thin cotton dresses and the sound of sandals clicking on Manhattan sidewalks, the hum of being alive and being in love, and a world so consummately full of beauty it seems impossible or imagined, the wildest fantasy of a wintering mind.

That is the only goal. Wrap this stuff up, all of it, and make it to summer. If I can do it, then I'm making the promise to myself that from the time I graduate until the time I have to move to the city and start school again, my primary activities will become:

  • boating
  • painting
  • relaxing in the garden, especially in my hammock
  • going to the beach
  • catching up on reading and knitting and movies
  • going on dates and long meals with friends and my incredible family
  • letting the hours saunter on while sipping drinks and talking
  • experiencing unparalleled sensory pleasures
  • rediscovering life and its enormous, invincible beauty

Also, I'm going to wear a lot of dresses, and I'm traveling to Iceland.

Everything else is incidental.


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I'm really, really sick. AGAIN. I am so sick of being sick that I would be the first to sign up for experimental bronchial excision surgery if it meant they would stop getting infected and inflamed and full of disgusting green goo.

Nothing is making me feel better. I am having dizzying falling-down coughing fits even on codeine and steroids. I can't breathe, and now blood accompanies coughing and nose-blowing since evidently my entire upper respiratory system is just plain worn out and raw. I feel like I need a space helmet from these drugs, but not in a nice, floaty way, so much as a weird lack-of-concentration, random-numbness, where-did-I-put-my-amygdala kind of way.

So what to do but whine, right?

Here is a hastily-composed list of things I hate:

- being sick and everything associated with it (see above)

- having already exhausted all possible home entertainment options from having been this level of sick on three (or is it four??) previous occasions since September

- that I probably got sick this time from a wino in Penn Station since it feels like that is where I spend most of my free time

- that I am planning my life with the expectation of living it alone

- the staggering amount of work I still have to do to submit some stupid BS applications that I wanted to finish nearly two weeks ago

- (repeat that last item, substituting "my art history master's thesis" and "two years ago")

- feeling sorry for myself but not being able to stop feeling sorry for myself because really, situation is quite pitiable

- emotions as raw as throat/sinuses from combination of poor sleep, opiates, steroids, and every single body part aching

- that I have lots of fun and interesting things to write about, but I am posting this drivel instead

- Seriously, where IS my amygdala??

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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