Saturday, 21 March 2009

Battling Genghis Khan


It’s been a funny old week. That bloody lorry I talked about in my last post was still deafeningly loud behind me and making things a little sticky. I’ve been a little....self obsessed. A little elbows and angst. A little more irritable then, say, Genghis Khan.

To distract myself I try to be useful. I volunteer to help a PhD student with his research on the correlation between visual impairment and depression. He is a gangly, morose young man dressed in dark brown with some ghastly shiny tie. I smile brightly and the brightness is absorbed into the brown shirt like ink into blotting paper. No wonder this kid is an expert in depression.

First off I have a hangover so the obligatory eye tests are dazzling and make my head throb. The grim-faced young man is used to doing his research on the elderly and so puts me through a dementia test – ‘because it’s the rules.’

‘What day is it?’ he shouts. ‘What month? What year?’

‘Well. I know its spring.’ I twinkle, batting my eyelashes. Turns out he has no sense of humour and I nearly get my dementia box ticked.

An hour of daft and intrusive questions later and I stagger out. I have the impression that he has already decided on his thesis results even with a year still to go. He thinks that visually impaired people are usually depressed and therefore think they see less then they can. He gives the impression that we are all fakers and wasters of the precious time of optometrists. He has not taken into account the vagaries of different eye diseases, the effect of light and serotonin, the differences between degenerative, chronic and constant. How on earth is he allowed to be so blind?

Midweek and I head off to London to support my lovely photographic charity who are recruiting more blind and visually impaired people for a workshop. In my head I have a picture of myself and the other visual impaired facilitators, a cosy darkened room and a slide show but as it turns out there are no other VI facilitators; just myself and the photovoice organiser, M.
Upstairs 20 blind and VI people have crowded into a room that is too full of sunlight. I can’t do my talk in my sunglasses though and by the end of the near two hours my eyes feel stretched and swollen. But we win. Even though I think my off the cuff wittering is shouty and confusing, even though no one can see the slides because it too bright and they are too blind, it doesn’t matter. People are fascinated, enthusiastic, energised. Everyone wants to sign up. A great success! I want a hug, a bunch of flowers, applause, a check.

Instead I get Kings Cross at rush hour and a cold walk home. This of course makes me dwell on the fact that I have just done an 8-hour day for £13 train ticket and a bowl of soup. My ‘up’ crashes down. Bring on Genghis.


Well you get my point. The week ends with me howling to my homeopath. ‘I fell like bits of me are dropping off!’ I wail. ‘As my sight is taken so is my sense of humour, my femininity, my self-respect. I am graceless, tongue-tied. I am disintegrating.’

He writes this all down and strokes his beard.

‘Did I do this?’ I ask. ‘Am I making this happen – somehow making myself blind? Its all my fault isn’t it.’

I realise I sound ridiculous. I stop wailing and get the giggles.

He writes this down too nods, tuts and in a wizardly manner opens a heavy, leather bound tome and begins to expound on a potential remedy but actually I feel better already from just being allowed to howl.

I walk home in the glittering, spring light, noting the daffodils on the edge of Parkers Pieces, the shy wave from a toddler on the back of her mother’s bike. The looming lorry falls behind; its engine idling and I feel a weight has lifted.

14 comments:

Kate said...

I love your writing! This one made me smile and tear up at the same time. I hope the upcoming week is much better for you. Don't ever lose that fabulous sense of humor.

family affairs said...

Glad you're feeling better after your outburst. I find that always helps. Really feeling for you and making me feel bad about my whinging post Lxx

tam said...

Oh T. Here's your hug and your applause and your flowers and - oh bugger it I'll have to owe you the check.

You're a bloody marvel. I'd be nothing but whines. I have a long story to tell you, but it can't be done via these media. Bit like the hug.

You're fab. Always know it.

Chimera said...

THANK YOU Kate! I shall do my best to look at things from upsidedown!
Family Affairs - your winging posts are so sharply written they count as Orwellian prose!
And Tam- whatcanIsay?? Wuld love to hear your story and am intrigued!
Lots of love to you all,
T x

nmj said...

I'm sorry but the PhD guy sounds like a bit of a wanker. He is lucky to have you. Your sense of humour is wicked. Spring - and howling! - is good for putting a slightly happier spin on things - I'm glad the daffodils cheered you. x

Janelle said...

ah tanvi...hugs and roses and spring and all good things from me to you...LOVE LOVE LOVE your writing..so honest. so bloody funny and sad at the same time..love it...xxxx j oh ps...do a rain dance will ya??

Susan said...

You make me laugh even when you're breaking my heart: such a post!

Good luck with everything, especially that lorry and the PhD student.

Thanks for making me think, and making me more grateful for what I've got. My vision is terrible but not threatened, and until now I hadn't thought of the small blessings I'd miss without it, like the toddler's wave.

I would *love* to send you the hug and flowers and applause and big big check you so deserve. I hope you dream of plenty tonight, from all of us!

becky n said...

One can only hope that the graduate student will have a some kind of epiphany like the young priest in Gran Torino - he needs more exposure to gutsy people. While I sure wish you were not having to go through this, he's the one I feel most sorry for, because he's dead before his life is began.

Ronin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ronin said...

T.

Keep your head up. I can always practice some MMA on that PHD - ya get me?

You got more then 13 quid and some soup, you proved yourself again as you do persistantly - you r more then talented.

What? You think talented people deserve to get paid? Don't be so ridiculous! Talented people are there to be worked like dogs!

You will make it and when you do you will realise you have been making it all along

Much love from your bro

B

Nao said...

Your authenticity is as refreshing as the spring rain~

You write about humanness so wonderfully.
Thank you for your honest tears and giggles, for your great writing and wicked sense of humour.

Anonymous said...

you, like so many others with extra difficulties, put the rest of us to shame. That said it is hard to know what others go through, hard to understand pain if you have not felt it and hard to know how bad it can be if you have not been there. When i think of how i might be in your circumstances i wonder would i get out of bed? The fact you do, and so much more, makes me think there is hope for humanity. Well, some of us anyway, that PhD student is knackered for a start!

Chimera said...

Thanks everyone for the coments! I almost begin to feel a tad sorry for the student...I say almost! ..
You are all so kind. the writing is absolutely theraputic, a catharsis and it makes it doubly so to think it cheers and occasionally charms you! Thank you very bloody much! Oh- and bro - yes on the MMA on the Phd!.
Tanvi

Suzie said...

I want to kick that RP's ass for you. Punch it right in the nose