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Saturday, March 12, 2016

Though Glasses, Confusedly

For two weeks now, I have felt as if I were gazing through a fishbowl. Going down the steep flight of stairs at work has been a daredevil exercise, as I discovered from the outset of wearing my new glasses that I could not actually see where I was placing my feet. Given that I am capable of tripping on a flat and uncluttered surface, this did not bode well. My lopsided ears were to blame. I went back to the optician today, and the fitting ladies pointed out that the frames were askew--and hence I was looking at the world through both near and far elements at the same time. They messed about with the orientation, and now I'm appreciating a clearer perspective. I'm still not used to craning my head around like an owl every time I want to focus on a new object, however. And short of bending double, I cannot focus on my toes! I told a friend that it would be nice to have a kind of checkerboard pattern of farsighted and nearsighted lenses, so you could see things clearly at every point of the compass, like a housefly.

My misery with my third severe cold in as many months kept me at home Friday week, so I teleworked for the first time, and got a lot done, despite having to get one of my coworkers to send individual files to me, as at the time my computer wasn't set up for remotely accessing the central database. This challenge has since been overcome. My new-to-me computer only has work stuff on it for now; all recovered files from my old machine are on a portable drive. Having a clean slate is a refreshing feeling. Before I start on my umpteenth book idea (the example of Ann Radcliffe gives me hope--she didn't marry until 43 or produce her first book until 45), I want to get my first desktop in twenty some odd years and several big monitors to attach side by side. I've really gotten spoilt with two monitors at work--being able to have two full working windows is so convenient! I met with my accountant this morning and immediately succumbed to intense monitor envy--he has five. Four are mounted in a floating square--I half expected to see a subset of the Brady Bunch pop up on the screens--and the largest sits alone off to the side, the lord of the files. I'm getting a tax refund from last year. He warned me that I shouldn't expect one for this year, since I will make money, provided I am not summarily sacked.

 I do like my work colleagues, though it's a bit like being back in grade school, not only because of the exposure to many germs: they talk about poop and sex what seems like all the time, so in some ways it echoes a junior high boys locker room...or a 1950s longshoremens union office, only without the smoking and high pay, and everyone's pale and soft around the middle. I have decided that given the informality of the atmosphere, I can be comfortable, and so I spend many hours either sitting on my stocking feet or with them propped on top of my desk as I lean back in my chair with my keyboard in my lap. so far no one's complained of the smell. All I need is a cigar, a large lead pencil behind one ear and a green eyeshade, and I'd look the classic editorial part. Instead, I have ordered a pair of kitty slippers from South Korea that I intend to wear at work. I started out being formal and proper and adult, and within two months my inner nerdslob has reasserted itself. Maybe if we left the light on in the office and my roommates were not constantly cursing their recalcitrant computers, I would be less prone to feel at home, but it's a collegial environment, and my boss only ventures upstairs biweekly to deliver our pay stubs in person.

 My cousins, God bless them, are still putting me up, and putting up with me, two nights a week. I'm tremendously blessed. They have a huge black Labrador that tries to climb into my lap when I park in the driveway, and an elderly red spaniel that barks mournfully to announce my arrival, warning the herds of deer and packs of coyotes that live in the woods around to keep their distance. The frogs which sang so lustily during the warm spells in January are quieter now, and the crickets and cicadas haven't reached full summer voice. It's lovely out in the country--you can look up between the trees and all the constellations are bright in the dark sky, and the river is gurgling down at the bottom of the hill, on the other side of a muddy cornfield, where last year's stalks are dry and broken. Two weeks ago, I hiked down to see the river at dusk, and my cousin told me about camping down there when he was a boy, using leaky discarded boats to cross to the uninhabited island with his friends. They eventually sank all the boats in the river during their adventures, emerging muddy but unscathed. Every kid should have such a Tom Sawyer childhood.

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