Eye Exam

Hello. I am currently dictating my blog post to my parrot.* He is typing with his talons. I hope he is doing a good job. He probably is – he is basically human but very little and also green. His name is Birdbird.

parrot-with-laptop---macaw-birdbird

I thought my eye sensitivity would diminish at some point tonight (and I could more quickly write this post), but it has not. It turns out my eyes are dumb and one of them decided to be farsighted and the other decided to be nearsighted. So we had to put the extra dilating drops in them to figure out exactly how much. It’s funny — the doctors make you bleary blind and then you can’t even see the price stickers on the frames they try to sell you and then they give you film sunglasses in an envelope and say it’s perfectly safe to drive home.

The doctor put up the usual test — a chart on the far wall. I covered my left eye. I read all but the last row. I covered my right eye. Startled, I read the entire chart.  “I thought this was my bad eye.” Through a series of tests — flipping lenses, cards of letters, those stinging drops — I learned something about myself I had never known. My left eye is farsighted, and amblyopic.

Last night I sat in the hot tub in my parents’ backyard. They were out of town. I glimpsed my nude body below me — something I don’t see often. I am not familiar with my topography. I think we all find our own bodies strange to some degree. Yet, I am entirely comfortable in my strangeness. For 7 years of my life, I believed this body wasn’t mine, and so, I am used to my body feeling alien.

“This is why I tell parents to take their kids for eye exams,” my doctor said. “If we had caught this when you were 10 or 11, you could have had a chance.” Point blank, she told me, “You will never have normal vision in your left eye. It is what it is.” This eye had always been that way, the other compensated, and now that the dominant one is starting to change, I am noticing the discrepancy more and more. Luckily, for whatever reason, my brain continued to use partial information from this amblyopic, or lazy eye, and its vision is fairly ok. Just a little farsighted.

Younger, disinvested in my borrowed host body, I ignored inconsistencies. I took the eye tests and passed them robotically. I didn’t bother to explain that I often closed my “bad” eye so that I could see better. I didn’t mention my surprise at doing well for these simple readings of letters on flash cards. I was an alien, someday I would go home, and these things mattered little.

Now I’m here. I’m very much human. It might be nice to have better vision, yes? It might be comforting to recognize myself more often in the mirror. Oh, but the losses are small, in my case. I am glad to be learning my body like it is new. And glad to not have learned to suffer at its limitations, to assume ownership of flaws. So, now I’ll take these vision quirks, and the sense of wonder at still being able to find something new about my physical self, even at age 25. When my hair starts turning gray, I imagine I will feel the same.

It is what it is. At least now, I know.


*I love my bird. I got him when I was 4. For political reasons I have to say I don’t think it’s humane to own a pet parrot or exotic bird. They are wild animals and need to be able to fly, have friends all day, and eat a variety of foods. There are other pets more suited to domestic life. That said, he was born in captivity and has never been able to fly due to deformity. I think the life I give him is ok but could be better. Some parrots also have very little chance of being reconditioned to the wild and I support rescuing them. Please choose birds that could use a second or third or fourth home!

Rain to Rainbows

Pride 2014.

I ate frozen yogurt with gummy bears, and my day was brightly colored and cold. We cheered a truck with an 8-foot pink sign: “Queer Community, NOT Gay Capitalism.” The SDCC credit union tipped its great big blue inflated ship to fit under the traffic lights at University and Richmond.   I walked a lot, in heavy combat boots, and I drank a lot, mostly Alesmith’s Horny Devil.

In Balboa Park, I sat in a swing and twisted the chain, over and over, so I could spin in circles. So I could grope for the delight in momentum. I did so much spinning. My friends devised a high-five chain and we rotated like gears, teeth meeting or hands slapping. I remained with just one friend; the rest fell away dizzy. I could discern just his hand as the only interruption in the horizontal lines. No matter how much I spun, I could not gather enough centrifugal force to spin my malaise out of my ears. No matter where I followed my friends and which delights I encountered, I could not stop leaning on the wall that held back tears.

So much walking made my feet blister. Mostly, I focused on not complaining about my feet hurting. Maybe my face was full of pain. Are you okay, Sami? “I don’t know. I don’t know.” When we got back to our friend’s house, I snuck away to the courtyard by myself and put my forehead down on a table.

I cried slow tears into my hands. Neighbors interrupted me. “I’m just sad.” Who broke your heart? “I’m just sad.” My friends found me. Are you okay, Sami? “I’ve been better.” Do you want to talk about it? “I don’t know. I don’t know.” I started really sobbing. Do you want to go lie down? “Yes.” So I was taken to a bed and spooned.  I sobbed, and I said, “I don’t want to be this person right now.”

Pride 2015.

I grinned and gripped my friend’s torso as I ducked in closer under our shared umbrella. The rain was warm, like the air. I walked a lot, in borrowed galoshes over thick fuzzy socks, and I drank a lot, mostly mimosas and tequila. We watched the Bears San Diego truck drive past. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, in full-face makeup, seemed unfazed by the wet weather. When thunder boomed, the crowd screamed in fright and excitement.

It always mattered to me, to be granted the symbol by my society that is marriage equality. Yet it did not land heavy on my shoulders like the honor of a sacred mantle — no it burst with scattered feathers to the big sky. I had been living in unwilling rebellion, a part of me deemed “illegal” by my country, like I were a fugitive. Now, I feel weightless, and I know that this July, San Diego has seen its biggest summer rainbow.

IMAG1270

My First San Diego Comic-Con: It was OK

The first highlight of SD Comic-Con 2015 was getting a free coconut water. A few blocks after I stepped off the trolley, a Vita Coco employee in a blue minivan said, “Want a coconut water?” and I said “Yeah!” and she gave it to me and then I kept walking. Sami getting free stuff and perking up after marching through crowds of nerds is going to be a common theme.

I was surrounded by nerds a lot; it was ok.

I was surrounded by nerds a lot; it was ok.

I am going to be using the word “nerds” quite a bit. I prefer it over the (probably) more accurate descriptor, “geeks,” because it has more dignity. I call these convention-goers nerds not because I think they are uncool, but rather out of deference to their superior knowledge. You see, I am not nerdy enough for San Diego Comic Con.

Write your own blog post about SDCC by filling in the blanks!

Write your own blog post about SDCC by filling in the blanks!

I am nerdy about birds, and words, and throwing theme parties. I am not nerdy about movies, videogames, and definitely not comics. When it comes to movies (and actors, and directors) I have to tell people to pretend I grew up Amish, because I don’t know anything. I have a game I like to play when someone mentions a title I don’t recognize: Describe the Movie in a Convincing Way So People Don’t Make Me Watch it Because They are Stunned I Have Never Seen it.

Wait, you lie about movies you’ve never seen? Do “Wag the Dog”

Yeah, it’s that movie where the emotions of one person screws up everything for everyone else and it makes you wonder about systems of control and…I’m totally off, huh?

No, actually, that’s pretty accurate.

SD-comic-con-giant-sriracha-bottle

I heart Sriracha but I didn’t heart how many booths seemed to be reselling cheaply made goods from China.

Videogames are pretty cool. I watched my brother play them growing up, and I have clocked enough hours in The Sims to have built an actual house. Same goes for Minecraft. More recently, I enjoyed GTAV and I even have a little murder song I sing under my breath when I kill innocent civilians for petty cash. I’m on kind of a lifelong binge-and-purge cycle with viddy games and, by keeping no gaming systems at my house and using OSX, I’ve remained purged of these time-sucks for a very long time — long enough to be totally out of the loop with real “gamers.”

Wait. Does anyone really enjoy a person listing their interests, especially when their interests are things they can do in their pajamas? Next I could prattle about the webcomics I read, and how at Comic-Con I stood near Dumbing of Age creator David Willis and took a bookmark from his booth, and didn’t say anything to him because I didn’t have anything to say. A person getting their caricature done asked Willis if Joyce, the main character, was based on anyone real, and the answer is Yes. It’s all there, it’s all in the website and the comics and there’s really nothing to ask David Willis because he makes quality art and quality stories and just pay goddamned attention.

I was grumpy because my free bookmark wasn’t nearly as satisfying as the free Mad Libs booklet I got earlier. The emotional cycle of feeding a swag addiction was getting to me. I wanted good swag only, and I didn’t want to carry a lot of it, and I also didn’t really want it — I was just bored. One of my favorite swags was ice cream, even though they made me take a selfie for it, simply because I got to throw the trash away when I was done with it.

Another cool swag I got was this hat. It also required a selfie -- with this attractive woman.

Another cool swag I got was this hat. It also required a selfie — with this attractive woman.

Some of the nerds had these giant swag bags. Katelyn explained that they fill them with “trash” (flyers, cheap posters, cards with advertising on them) and then put them in a corner of their bedrooms for several months before throwing them away. I admit this sounds like a strange custom to me, despite being pretty happy about this Mad Libs booklet I will hold onto for a few weeks in case it becomes fun for a party, be disappointed, and throw away.

She also explained that Comic-Con used to be the place to get rare comics and other nerd stuff that you couldn’t get at your local comic stop, as well as a place to see exclusive previews. Nowadays, you can eBay and also videos of previews go online about an hour later. She didn’t buy anything or preview anything, but I can only assume that going through every single row gave her some ideas for her nerd shrine.IMAG1212

It seems, to this newcomer with no nerd cred, that SDCC suffers an identity crisis. If buying cool comics has been replaced by buying overpriced junk, then what is it? Is it a cosplay event, a chance to meet celebs, a place to play pokemon, great for geeky photo opportunities, an art show, the home of [adjective] panels (I did not go to any of these), a nostalgia circle-jerk, even worth it at all? Not for me, not really. I’d rather just go home and decorate my bicycle because even though I that’s what I do for fun, I’m just not nerdy enough for Comic-Con.

You say black I say white You say bark I say bite You say shark I say hey man Jaws was never my scene And I don't like Star Wars

You say black I say white
You say bark I say bite
You say shark I say hey man
Jaws was never my scene
And I don’t like Star Wars

Never been? You can:

  1. Not go at all, and enjoy the convention from the comfort of home by watching it on snapchat!

:)

How to Eat Just Tuna

It is 4th of July weekend and 22 of your closest friends have gathered in the mountains for a camping retreat. On this property last year, you worked together to build a sloped-roofed structure, which is called “the cabin” when you are feeling proud, and “the shack” when you are self-deprecating. In the nearby shade, you erect tents, on the picnic table you arrange food and necessities to share, and directly beside it, you raise up metal scaffolding to attach shade and a network of many green and blue and white and purple tulle strips — this is the “kelp forest.”

For dinner on Friday night you will have a Meal Ready to Eat (MRE) of beef enchiladas. You make a hat out of long foxtails by gathering them together at the base with a red rubber band and splaying them over your cranium in front of your face and around your shoulders. This protects you from the mosquitos, but you also use the tiny amount of reception you have to send out messages to friends who have not yet arrived, begging for bug spray and incense. Soon it is dark, and you are hungry. You add water to the instant hot pack in your MRE and heat up your hermetically sealed dinner.

MRE-meal-ready-to-eat-TUNATomorrow you will have “TUNA.” You know your future self will enjoy the suspense of wondering what is in this brown bag, ominously labeled just “TUNA.” If it is tuna casserole, then why not label it so? If it is tuna salad, then why is it in an MRE package, which, of every one you have had, always have a heating element? Your friend says her vote is tuna poke and you smile with excitement even though you are scared it’s just a tuna filet. You begin to doubt this challenge when altitude sickness makes you lose your enchiladas (and they taste the same coming out as they did going in).

The cure for altitude sickness (besides quitting drinking for the weekend, hydration, and rest) is apparently zip line rides. The exhilaration of falling forward under a whizzing cable raises your blood pressure and erases your nausea. The headache’s gone, too. So are the flashing lights. This morning you could only lie on the fake grass turf under the kelp forest, but now you are ready to tromp in leaves, dance to live music, and shoot fruit from an air cannon. Then, sundown comes, and you tuck the brown package under your arm.

You can’t bring yourself to open it. “What does it mean, just TUNA?” Your friends tease you for your obsession. One gives you a snack of tuna on crackers to build your courage for the main course. You lie down in the kelp forest with the brown package, and tuck it under your head. With any luck, you’ll break the heating element inside and be absolved of eating it. You sit up and help your friend type an exposition on the subject. A deranged exposition.

What is tuna? t u na is

TUNA (omi nous) it’s what’s for dinner.

tuna is a saltwater f ish

that t atstes not unlike ch icken .

t u TUNAis frequently seen isn

quiet is the night

Whilst you’re in reverie of tuna swimming through seas, a friend tries to tell you another is going to use your tuna bag as a pillow. But you falsely hear that she is off with your tuna and about to open it. You sit straight, suddenly, and shout, “Don’t open it!!” and are afraid like you have just woken up from a nightmare. You apologize to your startled friends when you return to your senses. This tuna is becoming a complex.

Your friends will draw helpful instructions on the TUNA package to make the task of eating it less daunting.

Your friends will draw helpful instructions on the TUNA package to make the task of eating it less daunting.

It’s time to open it. You peel apart the top seal. You dump the contents in your lap. Out of the big brown package falls many smaller brown packages — pretzels, tortillas (tuna tacos?), candy, a cookie — and one blue one. It is a bag of Starkist tuna, packed in water. It is, really, Just Tuna.

You eat it with a spoon.