Saturday, January 13, 2007

But I'm NOT a serpent -- I'm a little girl.

Today I tried my new contacts for the first time. I've been sporting a pair of semi-pretentious horn rimmed hipster specs for the last couple years while my left eye healed from an ulcer caused by years of irresponsible contact wear.

My correction is very strong (nearsighted), so my glasses are a dramatic concave and make the whole world look smaller to me, including myself, when I look in the mirror. I knew that everything was going to look bigger with the contacts in, but I was unprepared for just how much bigger.

I gained ten pounds in ten seconds. My head, which has always been big, now rivals that of the Great and Terrible Oz. I went shoe shopping and spotted a pair that I liked. I estimated it was a couple sizes too big for me. Nope -- a size too small.

On the plus side,* every can of food at the grocery store was 50% bigger. However, with my new economy-sized butt, the last thing I need is bonus food.

I'm not sure if I want to enter this reality on a permanent basis. At first I told myself in a reasonable tone, "You look just the same to everyone else as you did yesterday. Everyone who loved you before will still love you, even with that MASSIVE NOGGIN." But now it's evening and I've taken out the contacts and re-donned the glasses. The fearsome tiger has become a housecat again and my construction worker hands look all dainty again and...illusion is bliss.

A couple of days ago the history group I belong to had a presentation by a bookstore owner here in Salt Lake who was intimately involved in the buildup to the Mark Hofmann forgery murders. He spoke of the excruciating process of forcing himself to accept that his close friend and business associate was a forger and murderer. The discussion made me think of a quote from Mark Hofmann I'd once read. He said that he didn't see why his forgeries were such a big deal. If something looked identical to what it claimed to be -- if it fooled everyone -- then for all intents and purposes it was real and arguing otherwise was splitting hairs.

While I hate to side with a coldblooded killer, I think I'm going to continue to spend a good deal of time in my rose-colored glasses. In them my reflection looks almost exactly like the real me, tweaked just enough to make me feel a little bit better about myself. That little bit better means that the real me -- the one with the Bozo-sized feet -- has a lot more confidence and fearlessly struts her chubby stuff. When she's confident, reality matters less and good things happen in spite of the pesky factonistas. The illusion of one world softens the edges of the other. Glasses are a lot cheaper than liposuction.

And I can only imagine how expensive head-reduction surgery must be.

* I just noticed a Freudian slip in this posting, and while I feel compelled to fix it, the historian (and the comedian) in me feel compelled to give it a footnote. Instead of "On the plus side," I had typed "On the plus size." Ha! Rather telling of my state of mind, no?


Belladonna said...

Well, I can't speak to the cost of head reduction surgery, but have you ever considered Lasik? It was the absolute best thing I ever did for myself.

(ok, well, maybe the best thing AFTER getting baptized, getting endowed, getting married/sealed, having babies....) so what if I'm given to hyperbole?

However, the eye surgery DID make a huge positive impact on my life.

Of couse, the only reason I did it was because I COULDN'T wear contacts. I tried three or four different kinds and each time my eyes would get inflamed and grow little bumps inside my eyelids no matter how scrupulously I cared for them. ICK.

Not willing to keep wearing the coke-bottle lenses I needed to correct my 20/600 vision with severe astigmastims, leaving me absoloutely NO peripheral vision since I could see nothing outside the edges of my lenses, I let a nice doctor in Victoria, BC carve my corneas with his little laser knife. I've never regretted it.

As for forgeries and what's real, what's an illusion.... my computer geek brother who has software that helps him morph pictures from one to another (like one of his blind friend who morphs into his guide dog) used the tool to doctor his photograph that is posted on his online resume when job searching. The picture is 75% my brother and 25% Mel Gibson. Honestly. It looks very recognizably like my brother, only BETTER somehow that you can't quite put your finger on. It's the mel factor. Photo fraud? Maybe. But it gets people to take a second look!

Sharon said...

I agree. Contacts do not alter the world in a way I like. But I promise you do look and have looked perfectly normal all this time.

Marie said...

I would love to get LASIK surgery. Unfortunately you have to have a certain thickness of cornea in relation to the severity of your correction, and I do not have sufficiently thick corneas. My only option, apparently, is an older laser treatment (PRK) that is actually regarded as superior to LASIK, but is considerably more painful and takes weeks of recovery time. I can't bring myself to do it. Prolonged blindness and pain?? It would like be rehearsing for my own death.

But my mom and bro have both had LASIK done and were (are) as enthralled as you. (Self-pitying sob.) You have beautiful eyes (I assume the one matches the other ;) and I'm glad to hear they are hidden no longer hidden behind Coke bottles.

Thank you for the comforting words, Sharon. Small comfort, however, after having to be peeled out of your cowgirl shirt. The mirror may lie, the scale may lie, but clothes don't! :)

Marie said...

Oh! And I love the "I'd like to add a pinch of Mel" concept. Do you think your bro could give me a tiny bit of Cate Blanchett? If that's too far-fetched a request from a Plain (and Cheekboneless) Jane, I'd settle for a little Kate Winslet.

wynne said...

Okay--"an older laser treatment (PRK) that is actually regarded as superior to LASIK"--is this the one where they insert a lens (permanent) into your eye?

My father-in-law is an optomotrist, and he was telling me about LASIK and why I couldn't get it (cornea thickness was one factor--the other was they don't like to do any corrective surgery until your eyes have "stabilized" and my preseciption manages to get worse every year) but he did tell me about a procedure where they insert a lens in your eye...I'll have to ask him what that was called again (I wasn't paying much attention, honestly).

On the same note, I just got a new pair of glasses, and this time the lenses are so think, I'm not sure that I'll be able to wear them, because the lenses block the...whattayacall the little nose cushions on your glasses? those things, anyway...the little nose cushions from bending out. Um, so they perch on my nose. And since they are a quarter of an inch farther away from my eyes than they should be, I can't see a @!#$!! thing. Being this blind is humiliating at times.

Marie said...

No, PRK is a laser surgery that pares off the top surface of your cornea so that the light will focus right on the retina (different shaving patterns depending on whether you're near or farsighted). With LASIK, they slice a flap of cornea nearly off, do the corrections under the flap, and lay the flap back down to act as a natural bandage. That's why it's so painless -- the flap protects the cut parts from the blinking eyelid. With PRK you're essentially rubbing your wound every time you blink. I don't know what the lens-insertion surgery is called, but I have heard of it. I wonder if it heals faster than PRK.

You've got me beat on thick glasses -- wow! You've got those cute pixie features, too -- what a shame to make them compete with clunky glasses. I feel your pain. If you decide to get laser surgery and need a few weeks' recovery time, come up here so I can babysit my fairy godson, okay?