The Undersides of Corneas and Other Observations

Fun with an Argon-ion and a He-Ne laser. Most ...

He tells me it didn’t look like this on his end, but I like to pretend. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, that LASIK thing. It didn’t happen. Not for me, anyway. Turns out, according to the day-before check-up, that I’m at high risk for complications. I would have had a fifty-fifty shot of my eyes ending up worse than they are now. I won’t lie, I still thought about it—everyone secretly believes they can beat the odds, right?—but in the end, I didn’t go ahead with it.

However, the Husband, feeling guilty and knowing me, did sign a waiver that allowed me to watch a close up of his procedure on a monitor. So, although I was denied the opportunity to have my own eyes sliced open with a laser, I did watch the process happen to someone else.*

You don’t really know someone until you’ve seen their cornea folded back.

This is me all over: I have to look. No matter how weird and disturbing. I have to know what is so weird and disturbing about it. The more I think about it, the more I think it’s just part of my writer-artist brain. The nature of observation is built in, even if what you’re observing is really fucked up.

And, in some cases, it proves pretty useful. For example, I now know how the iris reacts when exposed to a laser. I don’t know when this is going to be of use to me, but I have a feeling it’s going to come up in some science fiction piece I write. Or maybe I’ll just start doing paintings of it. The Husband’s eyes looked like the northern lights under that laser, all bands of green and gold and blue.

The point: if you’re going to write, you have to observe. Not necessarily eye surgeries, though it might come in handy. But everything. Cloud formations. The patterns of supermarket check-out lines. The cadence of speech in your home town. The way a woman’s skirt stretches in the breeze like a bird’s wing. The ragged edges of skin on a scraped knee. You have to train yourself to see, and then to translate. That’s the path to fiction that’s seamless, immersing the reader in a moment.

See, and remake. Just try not to walk into traffic while you’re doing it.

*For the non-squeamish, it is pretty cool. Though the other patients did look at me like I was insane when I said I wanted to watch.


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