i don’t cry every time i bleed/my eyes are dry, but they’re bloodshot

i don’t cry every time i bleed/my eyes are dry, but they’re bloodshot

When it comes to saying “I told you so,” my parents have ample reason to patronize me with their variations of that phrase. This I freely admit. My mother mournfully shakes her head and says, “Didn’t I tell you so?” whenever I neglect my laundry and then race around frenziedly bemoaning my lack of clean clothes, whenever I oversleep and leave home late for school, and whenever I unconcernedly wave off her entreaties to clear the messy dining room table, only to have unexpected guests show up at our home soon afterward. My father stares sternly and says, “How many times do I have to tell you?” whenever I’ve missed a deadline despite his nagging, whenever I forget to pay my bills and my cell phone service gets cut off, and whenever I ignore his reminders to take my car to the mechanic for a tune-up.

Don’t you hate it when people are right all the time? Very maddening, not to mention embarrassing.

My father also says, “I told you reading in the dark would ruin your eyesight. You should have listened to me.” This refers to all my years of growing up, during which basically all I did was read books, except for minimal breaks for meals and sleep. No matter which house we were living in during any given time, I was always easy to find: Sitting on the floor of my bedroom, leaning back against my bed, poring over one novel or another. I read very fast, and, back then, I used to read about one book a day. My dad would wander by my room, knock on the open door, and peer into the gloomy recess, scowling at the dimness I was so unaware of, then snap the light switch on for me. I’d jump in surprise, startled by both his presence and the sudden flash of light, and look up, squinting, to see him frowning in the doorway. “Yasminay,” he’d say with ill-contained exasperation, “how can you even see? Turn some lights on! You’re going to ruin your eyesight this way, reading in the dark.” Looks like the daddy-o was right. Once again.

I got my first pair of eyeglasses in fifth grade. The frames were turquoise and purple, and I hated them, even though they were solely my own choice. I don’t even remember wearing my glasses, except for the first day. My classmates were duly interested, then just as quickly unconcerned. But I still hated my glasses, and rarely wore them, if ever.

Two years later, I was on my way to Pakistan, where I lived for the next eighteen months. I didn’t wear my glasses there. I never once thought of them, much less needed them. I find that interesting, considering the fact that, once back in the U.S., I sat in the front of the classroom and still had to squint at the board every day during my eighth-grade German lecture. How did I manage to progress from almost normal vision to blurriness just in the short time it took me to fly from Islamabad to Sacramento? My theory is that Pakistan, with its vibrant colors and no-nonsense people, has a solid, steady visual clarity all its own. You don’t really need glasses there, so long as all your other senses are working.

Once back in the U.S. though, my vision seemed to go downhill. My German teacher noticed me squinting at the blackboard, and suggested I get my eyes checked. “No, no, I’m fine,” I assured her, and switched tactics – I’d stand right in front of the blackboard and copy down her notes before class began. She gently but firmly kept nagging me to go in for an eye exam. If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s being nagged, so I stubbornly stood my ground for a few months. Finally, I went home one day and announced glumly, “I need new glasses.” So off we went. Gold-rimmed frames this time. First, turquoise and purple; now, gold. What was I even thinking? I don’t know; don’t even ask me. Another new pair a few years later – brown frames this time.

For the past two years, though, I’ve been wearing contact lenses, and couldn’t be happier. I can walk around in pouring rain instead of having to remove my glasses or constantly wipe at them. I make wudhu without, again, removing my glasses. I can wear regular sunglasses instead of having to order a separate pair of prescriptive ones. Best of all, I can see clearly out of the corner of my eyes, instead of having to turn my whole head. Sidelong glances are much easier with contact lenses. This, you see, is imperative for those of us who spend quite a bit of time driving. When you’re on the road and your vision sucks, there is a significant difference between checking your blind spots while wearing contacts, and doing the same while wearing glasses. With contacts, you signal, quickly glance over your shoulder, and switch lanes. So smooth. With glasses, you signal, glance over your shoulder and realize your glasses don’t cover your entire field of vision, especially that corner-of-the-eye area. So you squint to bring things into sharper focus, then finally switch lanes when it seems safe. It doesn’t require perhaps more than an extra second. But one second is a huge span of time when you’re on the freeway, traveling at about 75 mph.

Those of you who wear glasses regularly are probably raising your eyebrows and muttering, “What is this girl talking about? Glasses are fine. I’m fine with glasses.” Well, good for you. You’re a rockstar. I, on the other hand, have been commuting 120 miles a day, 5 days a week, for the past 3 years and 4 months, and trust me, I know the difference between checking my blind spots with contact lenses and with eyeglasses. I’m going with the contacts for this one.

Nonetheless, I ordered a new pair of frames a while back, and finally got them picked up last week. My sister wryly observed that the level of excitement I’ve displayed since then is usually reserved for the arrival of contact lenses by other (more normal) people. But I can’t help it – I’ve finally found a pair of frames I’m in love with: thin, black, and rectangular. They suit me as no other frames have in the past. Plus, they match everything – after all, 3/4 of my wardrobe is black.

But the reason I currently love my new glasses so much is due to a bit of verse by Dorothy Parker, that sardonically witty American author and critic. The lines made me laugh when I first came across them, almost a decade ago. These days, I’m just hoping she knew what the hell she was talking about:

Men seldom make passes

At girls who wear glasses.

Good riddance, is what I say.

2 thoughts on “i don’t cry every time i bleed/my eyes are dry, but they’re bloodshot

  1. hehe, I’ve been wearing glasses since second grade and and I !love! them! Contact lenses are monsters, in spite if all that sidelong glance thingy.

    My sisters and I have been unobtrusive readers for quite some time now and we love your writing! MashaAllah!

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