Passing Glasses

dorothy-parker-quote-men-seldom-make-passes-at-girls-who-wear-glassesI was four or five when I started wearing glasses.

I hated them.

They were heavy—this was when glasses were made of Real Glass—and made my nose hurt and my eyes look too small and they lost themselves twice a day and  broke about twice a month.*

But it was either wear ‘em or walk through a world that looked like it was covered in soft-lit fuzz, but still hurt when you tripped over it or walked into it,

So I endured steamed up lenses and sweat-slick frames and clip-on sunglasses and the conviction—supported by my gleeful sister, who didn’t have to have braces, either—that Dorothy Parker was right, until I turned fifteen** and my mother took me to an optometrist who specialized in contacts.

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I was overjoyed.

Contacts hurt at first, but not as much as being the weird kid with the glasses.

Turns out, I was a weird kid anyway and it would have saved time and endless agony if Dorothy Parker had offered a longer list of all the other qualities boys passed over *** or wrote a pithy poem about how to overcome one’s crippling self-esteem issues enough to notice when a boy was making a rare pass.^

But I was unwilling to give up on my Dreams of Normalcy—as defined by my assumptions of what other people assumed it was—and somehow ended up with the core belief that I Could Not Wear My Glasses In Public, lest dogs howl, small children cry, or well-meaning adults say things like, “Smarts count more than looks, anyway.”

It didn’t matter that some of the popular girls  in high school and some of my cousins and friends wore glasses and looked really good in them—they had attractiveness to spare and obviously weren’t  battling my natural deficits.

So I wore contacts—or sometimes just one, if the other escaped down the drain or disintegrated—outside the house or in front of anyone outside of my immediate family, or my ophthalmology clinic, for twenty-eight years.^^  I could go months without wearing my glasses at all, especially when I switched to extended wear disposables, bless them.

But then some things happened.

I finally met some of my favorite online friends face-to-face and (reluctantly) agreed to have my picture taken by and with them.  I survived the experience, and so did the cameras.

My doctor told me that some of my headache problems were most likely caused by eyestrain from wearing contacts for too many hours at a time in front of too many electronic devices and backlit rolls of microfilm.  Since the lenses on my glasses are anti-glare, she suggested that I wear them more often.

I set a new personal budget that is a bit stricter than my previous non-existent one.

And I ran out of left contacts.

According to my budget, contacts are luxury items.  And until I save up enough to get more,^^^I’m stuck with my glasses.

Oddly, at this point, this was more of an annoyance than a devastating tragedy, maybe because I know have family and good friends  and a husband who don’t care what I look like—or actually think I look pretty good.

Or maybe I’ve matured along the way somewhere.  Or at least run out of non-essential give a damn, which appears to be much the same thing.

Regardless, I started wearing my glasses to work.

It’s been a surprising experience.

I’d already figured out that my teenage paranoia was unfounded and my glasses aren’t a sign that the Ugly has finally claimed Its Own. I knew my colleagues wouldn’t point and laugh or call me four-eyes, at least to my face. And I’m so used to thoughtless comments from patrons I wasn’t especially braced for ‘em.

But I never expected all the compliments.

Glasses

Apparently, my big, black rimmed frames, chosen because they were cheap and relatively comfortable, aren’t considered BCGs¹ anymore—they’re retro.  In a good way.

In fact, according to most of the people who bothered to notice I was wearing them2, they’re flattering. They pull my “look” together.

How cool is that? I had no idea I had a “look”, let alone one that could be pulled together, but it’s a relief to know the specs don’t clash with whatever it is.

I even wore them to the Piano Guys concert, where I met another wonderful online friend, who looks awesome in her glasses.

So here I am.

Wearing glasses.

Having a “look.”

And yeah, these things still weigh on my nose and they steam up and slide down and smear and I can’t stick pencils behind my ear anymore, no matter how hard I try.  Chopping onions for the first time without the protection of contacts was definitely a Learning Experience™, as was opening the dishwasher, right after it stopped.

So was trying to put on sunglasses, which I attempted a few times before it dawned on me that the reason it wouldn’t work is that I hadn’t removed my pair.

I’d forgotten I had them on.

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*Could someone please tell me why items made to assist people who can’t see well are held together with screws so tiny that fully sighted people have trouble manipulating them without the aid of a powerful magnifier and the devil’s own luck?  And heaven help you if you lose one in a carpeted room . . .

**Barring a brief time around fifth grade when something—probably the dawning of acute astigmatism—warped my eyeballs into something that approached normal until it went too far.

***Or perhaps added a simple couplet:  “Because, until they mature, / They’re asses.”

^ Or so I was told about twenty years after the fact.

^^ The one time I did wear my glasses out—I was off sick, but still had to drive the kids to school—I received my first and only traffic ticket for nearly sideswiping a county squad car during an improper lane change.  It wasn’t the 102-degree fever, you understand—it was the glasses.

^^^Or decide to rock the eyepatch look—or squint like Popeye—until I run out of righties.  Halloween IS coming up . . .

¹Birth Control Glasses.  It’s a military term, like SNAFU.

²It took my sixth grader three days.  My second grader immediately started wearing her lens-free fashion frames so she could be as “pretty as Mommy.” I feel like Queen Lear.

A brief, grounded post

paper nest

Sorry for the short post, but I’m a bit overwhelmed at the moment: one Labor Day off from the library apparently equals three days of accumulated work—ironic, don’t you think?—and on the homefront, we’re all still recovering from Jane’s first grounding, which turned out to be more of a group event that we had originally anticipated.

Amateurs, right?

Punishment, as we reminded her several times during her Long Housebound Weekend of No Electronics And We Mean It, isn’t supposed to be fun and it wasn’t supposed to be ours,

Except at times, it sort of was, because a bored ten-year old is . . . a bored ten-year old.

And if, exasperated from being constantly interrupted in your attempts to get the &#!%ing scene in your mind down on paper so it makes sense to you, never mind an actual reader, you tell a bored ten-year old who is vacillating between remorse and defiance to find something to do that isn’t complaining that she has nothing to do . . . you had better be willing to accept the consequences and the guilt of realizing how much you depend on electronic babysitters.

So, there were a few problems, a few outbursts, a few tears, and a couple of Learning Experiences™—not all on her side.

But the playroom—her future bedroom—has been halfway prepped for repainting and repurposing.

She learned to make macaroni & cheese from scratch (thank you, Watson)

She spent several hours practicing knitting, even though it was audibly frustrating to her.*

She learned that she can take or leave television, but she really missed riding her bike and going online.**

And we all hope she learned that committing the crime isn’t worth doing the time.

Any advice for the disciplinary challenged?***

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*If space aliens ever try to invade, our first line of defense should be a projected looped recording of the noise Janie makes when the world does not bend to her will, alternated with Sunny complaining that Jane always gets to do whatever she wants to and it’s not fair.  We will not need a second line of defense—though six billion earplugs might be necessary, lest friendly fire decimate our numbers.

**So noted.

***Kevin, if I get a BSDM catalog in my in-box, I’m forwarding it to your mother.

That’s the Ticket

The good news:  I didn’t actually hit the Sheriff’s Department car.  The very nice deputy didn’t cite me for not using my turn signal and didn’t take my license.  The kids weren’t in the car. I now know what it’s like to be issued a traffic ticket, should I ever need to describe the experience.

The bad news: After twenty-six years, my perfect driving record* is shot.  I owe the county $120 for improper overtaking complacent stupidity.  I’ve got the shakes from the near accident.

On the other hand, it’s a terrific excuse to stay home, send out some queries, and get my Nanowrimo word count up.  I need a day or so moment or two before I get behind the wheel again.

Frank, July 9, 2011 - pigeon

To be perfectly honest, and despite the good game I’ve been talking, I’ve been delaying querying Pigeon out of what I like to describe as last-minute tweaking, but which is slightly closer to indecisive paralysis.  I described myself to a friend yesterday as Schrödinger‘s Pigeon—both Ready and Not Ready—and whined to Watson  last night that I could send any number of articles and historical monologues out into the world without blinking, but I couldn’t seem to kick this one bird out of the nest.

She shrugged and said, “That’s because this isn’t non-fiction.  This one is all you.”

And that’s it, isn’t it?

But I’m stronger than I was yesterday, and my latest Learning Experience™ has clarified things for me.

I now know,  in my heart, that if every agent in both hemispheres decide to pass on Pigeon Drop, at least not a single one of them will fine me $120.

It will not go on my record.  My license will not be revoked.

And after a shaky moment, or two, I will be driving writing again.

Pigeon Drop

(Upper Photo Credit:  “Frank”, via pat00139)
(Lover Photo Credit: “Pigeon Drop”, via Dunnock_
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*We shall not speak of parking.  Ever.

I won’t be carrying Yoda on my back, either . . .

epic win photos - Hacked IRL: This Old Bucket of Bolts

Every year, near the end of July, there’s a seven-mile road race held in a town down and across the river.  It’s not the longest race in the country, but a lot of the winding course is more vertical than one might expect.  It attracts a lot of distance runners, including a few who go on to win or place in bigger races.

My parents often come up to walk the entire course while the rest of the family does the two-mile family fun course.*

I’ve done the full seven miles only twice—once when I was three-months pregnant with Janie and once when I was unknowingly pregnant with Sunny and tried to run it, which was the beginning of the end for my knees.  Between my balking joints, my general aversion to the outdoors during high summer, and a residual superstition concerning reproduction . . . I haven’t considered tackling it.

This year, I think I’ll try again.  I’ve three months to get myself from a sitting start to a respectable amble.**  I started small this morning—a fifteen minute walk around the mezzanine at work before I clocked in.

In retrospect, Skillet, 3Oh!3, and Metallica might have been a bit of an ambitious playlist  for my first power walk in (cough, cough).  I wish my feet weren’t talking to me right now . . . But my knees have remained silent,*** so we’ll see how it goes.

I’m hoping it will go at least seven miles.  But if not, at least I’ll be moving forward, right?

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* Or drops them off and writes for a couple hours until it’s time to pick them up . . .

** I’m not running it, so all of you wonderful people who just pulled up another tab to find the Couch-2-5K schedules for me, I truly appreciate your enthusiasm and help, but no.

***Or I haven’t been able to hear them over my kvetching tootsies.  Tomato-tomahto

Holes in our Heads

Janie had her ears pierced Sunday.

I’m so proud of her—a statement that’s neither sarcasm nor the crowing of a mother who has five sets of piercings running up the outside of her own ears.

See, those two little fake-emerald studs stapled through my firstborn’s lobes are the culmination of two really long, and at one point really loud, Learning Experiences™.

Janie has been mentioning getting her ears pierced since she was seven and a half.  I thought ten was a good age—I hoped that by then, her reluctance to brush her teeth for more than three seconds, with toothpaste, would be overcome and other acts of general hygiene would have become habit.

But it soon became a daily topic of conversation and comparison:

“Hi, honey!  How was school?”

All of my friends have pierced ears but me.”

“That’s nice.  Did you do your math homework?”

“Yes.  Shianna has two holes in each ear!”

“How about science?  Any science homework?”

“Sarah has earrings shaped like gummy worms.

A quick survey of her class showed that all of her friends do  have pierced ears—plus two of the boys.   So I relented and agreed with my husband that when she was ready, we’d go.

The first time, we took her to the earring place at the Mall as a surprise on her eighth birthday.  She froze—turned out she wasn’t as ready as she thought she was.  And then she cried because she thought she’d ruined our excitement . . . and that we wouldn’t let her pierce her ears at all because she didn’t want to do it when we wanted her to.

We told her that we were sorry for springing it on her, told her it was completely her decision, and bought ice cream instead.

The second time. . . I kind of forgot about that middle bit.

Six months later, she decided she was absolutely ready.  I took her into the earring place, she picked out a set of birthstone studs, sat in the chair, giggled through the disinfecting process, took one look at the piercing guns . . . and went fetal duck-and-cover in the chair.

A Good Mother would have backed off immediately.  A Good Mother would have said, “We’ll save these studs for when you’re ready to wear them.  It’s okay, honey.  I’m not mad.  They’re your ears.  Let’s go get some ice cream.”

But I’d already paid for them.  And I thought all she needed was a little bit of coaxing, a little comforting, a little bribery . . . And when that didn’t work and she wouldn’t get out of the chair or straighten up, lost what little cool I had and told her in a no-nonsense way that it was happening because we were here and I’d already paid for them so let go of your ears.

She started to scream.  Full-throated, tonsil-vibrating screams.

Did I mention that we were at the Mall?  In front of a glass wall?  With people looking through it wondering if they should call child services?  I actually held up my hands and backed away from her—something I should have done twenty minutes prior.

The manager of the store refused to come near her and that’s how I ended up with my top piercings—because I’d already paid for them.

‘Course, so had Janie. I apologized for that, later and for a while.

Every time I fiddle with those little hoops or look at them in a mirror, I’m reminded not to push my kids on non-essentials.   I don’t get to override their feelings or their rights just because I’m frustrated or embarrassed or mad or I just don’t see the big deal.  I can push on medical and safety stuff, weather and decency appropriate clothing, a certain level of cleanliness, education, and nutrition.  The rest is not my call.

That was my Learning Experience™.

Which brings me to this weekend.

Last Wednesday, Janie said it was time.   It.  Was.  Time.  We believed her . . . but checked her resolve anyway over the next few days:

“How are you feeling about getting your ears done now?”

“Good.  This weekend?”

“Saturday?”

“Umm . . . Sunday.”

“You sure?”

“Yes.  Well . . .  I’m going to do it anyway.”

 I’d already told her that if and when she wanted to get them done, her father was going to have to go with her.  I explained that it didn’t have anything to do with her behavior and everything to do with mine.  I wasn’t the right person to guide her through this—I didn’t trust myself to forget what I’d learned.

My husband, bless him, understood

So Janie and Sunny and my husband and I all went to the Big Mall a few towns over to spend some Christmas money and maybe drop by the big earring place at the far end, if Janie still wanted to.*

We shopped around for a while—bought Janie some sunglasses and Sunny some mini-skinny jeans that might have half a chance of staying around her waist,** then found a pie crust ring for my MIL and a microwave popcorn popper for me.***  You know—just doing our part for the American economy.

Then we all trooped over to the earring place.

Sunny and I shopped in the half of the store where Janie and her father were not.  Sunny picked out two headbands and tried on the entire lower third of a display of sunglasses, while I browsed through the earrings,  wondered why half of them were tiny,  happy-faced, food items and congratulated myself on my parental cool.

Which was when Sunny spied something across the crowded room, fell in instantaneous accessory love, and took off for the racks on the other side of the piercing station.

I made a grab for her, missed, and followed as casually as I could.

Janie was sitting calmly in the chair, talking with the clerk and her father and even laughing a little bit.  I wanted to check on her, see how things were going, offer a hand to hold . . .

. . .  but instead,  I edged past and carefully examined Sunny’s New One True Love, a yellow purse shaped like a flower, and entered into serious Christmas money negotiations.

I’d just capitulated—it was that kind of day, plus the purse was 30% off—when I heard a ka-CHUNK and a small, thoughtful, “Ow.”

Two seconds later, a beaming smile bounced up to me and said, “I did it!  I said I was going to and I wasn’t sure but I did it anyway, Mommy!  I decided and I did it!”

And the newly punctured kid behind that huge smile gave me the biggest hug ever, absolutely thrilled with her own Learning Experience™.

So this is why I’m proud of Janie for putting holes in her head.

And maybe just a little proud of myself for letting her.

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*I haven’t set foot in the earring place in the Other Mall since The Big Screaming, and I’m not particularly planning on ever doing so again—Learning Experiences™ only go so far in erasing terminal embarrassment.

**In size three for a nearly five-year old—she’s such a peanut.  If it weren’t for the fact that she has my SIL’s smile, my MIL’s build, and my BIL’s ability to knock down walls with a single belch, I’d be wondering if there’s a pre-kindergartener out there with thick, wavy brown hair whose tiny, curly-blonde parents are wondering where her kite-shaped mole came from and if the growth spurts are ever going to stop.

***I’m not so sure it’s going to be healthier than my regular Smart Pop microwave packets in the long run, considering my informed opinion that plain, unsalted popcorn makes for fine packing material and not much else.  But it might be cheaper, even with all the stuff I’ll put on it.