No More Empty Fortune Cookies!

Thursday, January 27, 2011


I'm looking forward to waking up and realizing that I've just had one,very long, very troubling dream.
I know that's not going to happen, but I find myself looking forward to it.
I don't much like the idea of losing my sight, yet every day I have more and more realization that it truly is fading, and that there's absolutely nothing that can be done about it. Damn these defective genes!
I've lived my entire life tying to overcome this innate, incessantly nagging voice telling me that I am, in a word, defective.
It took years of therapy, (sometimes twice a week!)to get to the point in my life that I no longer looked at myself as defective. And here we are, full circle. In an instant, a diagnosis of a genetic disease caused by wayward genes and embedded in my DNA at the moment I was conceived brings all of those feelings of inadequacy rushing back to me.
I suppose it's good that I spent all of those years in therapy. I have a pretty good arsenal at my disposal to combat that internal nagger now. I know I'm not totally defective. I know I am smart, somewhat talented, and ambitious. Those aren't the traits of a defective person. So what if I have some defective genes? No one's perfect. No one can be. I'm learning that, and how to accept me for who I am, for what I am. And for who and what I'm not. Will my vision loss affect my life? Absolutely. Will it stop me from doing the things I want to do? Absolutely not!
I feel like a big baby when I start to get down about it, and I tell myself to "Buck up, Buckaroo!" But then, at the same time, there's this part of me that just wants to wrap my arms around me and say, "I'm SO sorry! This sucks, and you deserve better!"
I don't articulate my feelings very well in person, in conversation, but I can write them out, and when I do they come out fluid,and languid. Like the steady, slow stream that ran through my back yard when I was a kid. Constantly moving, shifting,ebbing, and carrying with it the leaves, fallen dead from trees further upstream, to some unknown burial ground beyond the boundaries of my exploration. Making way, making room for new life, new growth to replace them.
I mourn the leaves that have fallen, the ones to fall soon...but with hopeful anticipation that is equal to, if not greater than the sadness, I look for those tiny new buds to appear with their promise of growth and beauty.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

his old, blind, Aunt Tee

So, I went to the eye doctor a few weeks ago because, well, I need some new glasses. I haven't been in a few years, since I haven't had insurance and I've really noticed my vision getting very, very bad. Especially my night vision, which has always been really bad to begin with. So I'm in there with my pupils dilated, lights being shone in my eyes, and before I know it, three doctors have come in the room, each of them scratching their heads, each with that "ut oh" look, and each concurring that I most definitely needed to go see the retina guys, at the retina place. They would know more about what was going on. It's not the first time the eye doctor has been concerned about my retinas. They've been telling me for years that there was some "degeneration", but never has there been so much concern nor sense of urgency. They mentioned a suspicion of Retinitis Pigmentosa. Retin-what, you say?? Immediately my mind flashes to my dad's story about visiting his great aunts, the sisters, a deaf one and a blind one. His old, blind, Aunt Tee...Holy shit!
So I go to the retina center, and I saw what must be the kindest, most professional physician I have ever encountered. This was the man who would tell me that I do in fact have the dreaded Retinitis Pigmentosa, and that at best, I have 10 years before I'm left with only the ability to recognize light sources and general shapes with my best eye. My left eye will give out and be "legally blind" within 5 years. You know what my first thought was as I sat there in that white, crisp room? I thought, "how'am I gonna paint?" First thought. No shit. I mean, a million others flooded me, and I worried about how The Wifester would handle the news, or how the hell am I going to use my degree and DESIGN, when I can't friggin see?? I keep adjusting the color on my monitors. I even bought new monitors. Still cant get a good, clear image. I finally realized that it's not the hardware. It's me, my hardware. The doctor asked me if I was understanding what he was telling me, and I said to him, "Yeah, so I need to paint all that I can, like now." He gently patted my shoulder and he said to me, "Yes! Make all the art you can every day. Travel. Go everywhere you ever wanted to go just as soon as you possibly can. Don't put it off. Do it now, and enjoy your vision while you have it."
That was not a conversation that I ever thought I would have. I'm still trying to absorb it.
So today, I had to go in for my Visual Field Test. This shows us how much of my peripheral vision is affected. The way I understood it, you are considered "legally blind" when your visual field in your better eye is less than 20%. My best eye has a visual field of 10%. I didn't know I was so blind. I can still see! I can! OK, so you can sneak up on me pretty damned easily. Granted. And sometimes if you toss something my way, it's likely to hit me in the face, sure. I can't deny that...but I really can see...some stuff. Which has me seriously contemplating my art. I mean, I know what it looks like to me, but now I'm questioning how you see it. Holy crapola! I've been so proud of some of these pieces, and have been showing them off and uploading pics of them to facebook...and you know what, I realize now that they probably aren't nearly as good as I thought they were! Maybe I'm NOT a good painter. Maybe my About Me shouldn't boast "artist, blogger, poet, saint". But you know what? Screw that. I love to paint. I love to be creative. Even if every single thing I've ever painted is shit, I have enjoyed doing it, and I'm not going to stop. So if my art gets funky, and crazy abstract, and you are wondering what happened to the Marilyns and Joan Crawfords and mermaids and cityscapes that I've been doing, you'll know now that it's just that I'm going to have to adapt to my ever narrowing visual field. Man! Today sure has been a downer.