The Optometrist and The Optimist

The appointment with the optometrist went well, he told me that the reason I never got used to the glasses I bought last year was that they were a touch too strong for me. He also told me that my prescription would likely change after the surgery, so I should wait until post surgery, get my refraction checked again, and get new glasses then. This makes a lot of sense to me, considering how much I spend on a pair of glasses.

He said this: “You’re doing remarkably well for someone with all your conditions.”

To which I laughed and said, “I’m one of the healthy unhealthy ones.”

Then he said, “No, I mean, cosmetically, you look great.”

To which I replied, “Yes, I’ve been blessed with good bad genes.”

He laughed and said, “No-one gets off scott-free. It’s what you make of it.”

Earlier in our interview he had accused me of being an optimist. It is rare that I pass for an optimist.

After the eye check-up I went to the Museum of Anthropology for a class trip. It’s an interesting building, jammed full of artifacts from various cultures. It is not user friendly.

Outside the Museum of Anthropology (after our class walkabout), Asher, one of my classmates, and I were talking about topics for our papers. He wants to write about Brian Jungen, but the TA said, “No”. I want to write about the line between appropriation and representation, but I suspect she’ll nix my idea too.

As Asher and I were parting, Gu Xiong, my artist friend who emigrated from China after summer 1989, rode up on his brown Norco bike. I am always happy to see my friend Gu and/or his wife and/or his daughter, and they are always happy to see me.

Gu is a master print-maker, and he and I first met when he was selling some of his woodcuts at a Christmas Craft Fair at the Western Front. I bought two beautiful prints over two craft fairs, the first an aerial view of a zigzag rickety wooden bridge with some people and a wagon crossing and some swallows flying over and water swirling below. The second portrays a gaggle of women at sewing machines sewing rivers of brightly coloured fabrics (an impression of which is in the collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery – so I chose well). These two prints are among the most favoured pieces in my art collection.

While I had been on walkabout in the Museum of Anthropology I had remembered Gu and his story: Gu has a Masters degree in Fine Arts from an institution in Shanghai, and when he moved here he got a job at the UBC cafeteria bussing tables. The bussing job inspired a great series of prints and paintings of piles of forks in the dishwasher, and dirty plates, and crushed pop cans. Gu is very jolly, and got work teaching printmaking in the Continuing Studies program at Emily Carr. After that he was hired at UBC as a print technician in the Fine Arts program, eventually becoming an assistant prof, then an associate prof and now a full professor. Not bad to work your way up from bus boy to tenured faculty.

Now that would take optimism.

After the museum trip I went to Alda’s place. I didn’t see her, but I hadn’t gone there expecting to. I took my great friend Rob H out for a walk. On the way to the Cheshire Inn for light ale (him) and fries (mint tea for me), we went to Finn’s to buy some sober pants for him to wear. We found some nice Hugo Boss fine black cords in the Arizona cut (low rider). At Cheshire Inn we talked about all the stuff that’s going on in his life. He got to vent a bit, I hope.

One thing he said that was interesting was that not only did they (the four sons) have to deal with care-taking for their mother, but they had to deal with each other and their emotions about the situation, and additionally they had to deal with the emotions of everyone who came to see Alda. All of this is exhausting for them.

Speaking of exhausting, this morning I woke up tired. I can normally get up and be perky and functional having had less than four hours of sleep, but this morning not. It was like all of the sleep deprived nights came together to make a massive sleep deficit.

I recently met a friend of a friend who has insomnia and caffeine issues, and since then I’ve been thinking about my sleeping habits.

I used to go for three days running without sleeping. I survived on coffee and cigarettes and cheesecake and sporadic food. In particular I never slept the night before an exam. I always stayed awake and crammed.

Then, for years I wasn’t able to stay awake, and would fall asleep at the slightest provocation.Then I wouldn’t sleep enough. Then I slept too much. Now I don’t sleep so much.These days I spend some entire days incredulous at how little sleep I get, and, yet, I am still able to function.

I am able to sit in a class at 9:00 am, after having had four hours of sleep, and I don’t fall asleep.Indeed I am able to absorb information and take notes, then go to work, and also to be civil to people. All this without caffeine of any kind.

Some nights I set aside seven or eight hours to sleep and sleep, and I wake up after six hours. I rarely sleep more than five hours per night, but it must be five hours of pretty good sleep.

I was a bit tough on one of the younger students in my painting class last night: her self pity and whining got to me, and I came down on her. I haven’t come down on anyone like that in ages. She was annoying and for some reason I was grumpy enough to go for it. It must have been the dizzy spells.

I had another spell today, from about 1pm until about 6pm.They are becoming a continual state for me. I’d rather not be dizzy.

BTW, in case you were wondering, making turkey broth from the greasy carcass of a Thanksgiving bird has to be one of the messier culinary processes. There is no tidy way to do it. The grease is a nice hand moisturizer, though it does smell like roast turkey.

Motto: No matter how difficult something may seem, anything is possible if you have the right lube for the job.

Now that’s optimistic.

~ by thiscassandra on Thursday 12 October 2006.

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