Thursday, June 10, 2010


I've been thinking that it's time I write about The Oil Spill.

But then this week I got contacts for the first time ever, and so I want to write about THAT.

(These pictures, by the way, are from March 2008. My camera is still not fixed. Oh, well. My eyes still look much the same, however.)

Anyway, both of these things mish-mashed in my brain, The Oil Spill and my new contact lenses - and I realized that both of them are about SEEING. And in a way, they're also both about sensation, and how we get used to things.

Whether or not we SEE or pay attention to the tragedy happening in the Gulf of Mexico, it's going on. The media is how we're seeing it up in Canada. (I haven't gone down to the shoreline in Louisiana and Florida and dipped my hands in the oil washing up on shore.) And if I choose not to SEE it, then to me, it's not happening. If I close my eyes, my actual eyes, as well as the screens and cameras that act as eyes around the world and relay images back to me, then I don't see it. I don't have to process the images. But they've gotten in anyway, they're eating their way into my soul. Turtles doing the dead-man's-float in oily water a caramel-mud color. Egrets long and limby like ballerinas, soapy and held by rescue workers.

When I sit and actually open up my eyes, and look at images, it's fucking sad. It's a fucking huge tragedy. I curse and use obscenities because it FUCKING CALLS FOR IT. There's a great big well SPEWING oil into the ocean, and no-one can stop it. Seriously? And everyone's just getting on with their lives? Because to me, this calls for a vigil and a public keening and crying on par with 9/11, on par with any huge loss of human life out there. I feel like I want to go down to some gateway, to some place where I can light candles and sit in stoned silence. And then I look away, I re-focus my eyes elsewhere and I CAN forget about it. I get distracted by my job, by my day-to-day life here in Cape Breton, by so many other things. By the men I have crushes on, by the projects I want to do. How is that?

That's because we get used to things. Sensation - we only feel it for a bit, then we get used to it. And if something isn't happening RIGHT HERE in front of me, I can forget about it, move on.

But then I start thinking - what if it WAS happening right here? People dump all kinds of crap into the Bras d'Or lakes, and it's only now, this year, that boaters have to have a holding tank on their boats. The lakes SEEM clean, but that's only because I'm taking them at face value. What all is in there that's clear, that's dissolved, but still in the water? All the plastics and cans and tiny bits of things that have broken down?

The point is - this kind of shit IS happening, all the time, in our backyards and front yards and everywhere, just not on the scale of a huge oil rig fucking spewing oil. And because we can't see it, we can pretend it's not happening. Ignore, refuse to acknowledge.

I can totally understand why we do this. To acknowledge it means to then come to terms with it, to go, "Holy shit, I gotta change something." And it's such a huge scale, what the F do we DO?

And then my thoughts fade into something else, like my appointment at the vision clinic yesterday morning to get taught how to put in my new contacts. I sat there and let a woman I don't know poke her finger into my right eye, me trying as hard as I could not to blink, but blinking like crazy just the same. Finally it worked - the little tiny slip of a contact stuck on. Now for the other one. Then that one worked. And suddenly, for the first time ever in my life, I could SEE without wearing glasses. I could see across the room. My own image in a mirror from ten feet away was CLEAR. And it is SO WEIRD.

I went back to work, giddy. "No-one should be this excited at work!" I exclaimed to my co-worker, who laughed good-naturedly at me like she usually does. My excitement was just a few notches below, say, girls squealing at the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show. I was really! freaking! excited! And I had to kind of subdue it so I could focus on purchase orders and people's inquiries about summer wharfage. But the whole time I just wanted to walk around the store and LOOK AT STUFF. And touch my face - no glasses! Holy crap! CHECK THIS SHIT OUT!

And it feels weird in another way, too. You can feel they're there - I blink a tonne more. It's like there are little itchy bits in your eye, not so bad that you can't stand it, but just enough that you feel it. "It's going to feel like you've got something in your eye. Because, you know, you DO," my hairdresser told me last week. "But you'll get used to it. After a bit you won't even know they're there."

(Crazy that THAT can happen. That we can have this itchy sensation and then after a while it fades. Even though the item is still there, causing it.)

After four hours I took them out and put my glasses back on. Cinderella going back to the kitchen, glass slipper put away. (Funny - I made reference to Cinderella in my last post, too. Weird.) And my eyes feel tender, sore. Like I'm really tired, except I'm not. I'll be glad to sleep tonight, rest them. Poor things, they've been poked at far too much today!

So, SEEING. Sometimes I see The Oil Spill for what it is, and I want to cry my eyes out. And I don't. Sometimes I think we're all effing crazy, really. Then I get in my car to drive to work, or I order up some clearly toxic petrochemical-based bottom paint for a client's boat, and I feel a shred of guilt. Accompanied by a portion of rationalization. As in, "Oh, I have to drive to get to work, and I only drive a little bit, so it's OK." Or a dose of denial. There isn't even a sentence to go with denial, because that's all about NOT thinking.

What are you SEEING? What do you think when you see pictures of The Oil Spill? Or do you have thoughts on contact lenses?

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