The joy one gains from poking oneself in the eye…

The highlight of my Saturday a couple of weeks ago was spending 150 minutes in an opticians. In case you’re wondering how you could possibly spend that long having an eye test and choosing new glasses, it went something like this:
2.20 – Arrive for eye test
2.40 – Eye test takes place
3.00 – Investigate options for new glasses
3.25 – Discover non-existence of rounded frames (previous favourites)
3.30 – After ridiculous conversation with sales assistant who clearly knows nothing of the whims of women, head back upstairs to talk to someone about contacts.
3.40 – Another eye test
4.10 – Book follow-up appointments
4.15 – Look at glasses again
4.20 – Give up, pay for eye test and leave. Go to the Boots next door to look at more glasses.
4.25 – Find things to be even more dismal in Boots and return to Specsavers
4.40 – Finally have sensible female sales assistant who assists in choice of complimentary frames for face shape and skin tone.
4.50 – Leave opticians having ordered new glasses.
Phew. Even recounting it exhausts me!
It was something of a relief that when I returned the following Thursday I was able to pick up the new glasses as well as complete phase 1 of contact lens induction, saving me another visit on Saturday.
So, I’ve ticked another of the original 2010 Firsts off the list. I have successfully demonstrated that I am able to poke myself in both eyes twice – once to insert lens, once to remove it. I walked away with four days’ worth of daily disposables and was overjoyed that I could see perfectly without specs on.
In fact, such was my joy that I nearly wrote this post last week in the immediate euphoria. However, pride cometh before a fall…
The following day I spent half an hour in the office toilets trying to put the lenses in. It had clearly been a classic case of first time lucky the day before. Of course, while I stood poking myself repeatedly, three contacts-wearing colleagues appeared offering varying degrees of helpful advice. Eventually I reappeared at my desk looking as though I’d just suffered a traumatic emotional crisis.
It didn’t end there. Something wasn’t quite right with the right eye. Perhaps it was inside out, maybe it was dirty after so many failed attempts – whatever it was, it was highly irritating. It got to the point where I was holding my eye open in an effort not to blink and a friend who’d put up with a couple of hours sat opposite me over coffee doing strange things with my eyes suggested it might be time to take it out.
[Note: If one takes out one lens, one ought to take out both. One should not attempt to walk along a busy road with just a single lens in, it lends the world a rather bizarre quality.]
I’ve yet to return to the lenses. There are three pairs left and I’m a little apprehensive, but it’s important to jump back on the horse isn’t it?
And why do I want lenses in the first place? Because I am vain.
I like my eyes and don’t want them covered up by glasses.
I’m quite a fan of good eye-make up and the glasses get in the way.
It’s annoying when rain falls on them or I enter a warm room and they steam up.
Don’t worry, I’ll persist. I’ve not come this far to give up at the final hurdle. [Is that two horse-racing metaphors in three paragraphs? Oh dear.]  

A question of vanity and photography

Note to readers: This post may fail to come across as the intelligent, artistic debate that it’s intended to be. It may instead simply appear utterly narcissistic – but this is not my intention, honest! 

At one point while at Greenbelt, I emerged from my tent to find my friends holding a camera up and taking self portraits. When I asked what on earth they were up to, the reply came: “We’re doing a Liz”

A couple of years ago, on our second Girls’ Weekend Away, one of my friends spotted me posing for the camera in the back of the car. She found it fantastically amusing – especially when she observed me doing the same thing on later occasions.  I think at Greenbelt the girls had spotted me taking a photo and were inspired to emulate me – albeit in a mick-taking fashion. (What they didn’t seem to understand is that self-portraiture is an excellent means of checking one’s looks when in a camping situation.)

(With apologies to Matt & Ruth – you took yours landscape, so I had to crop you!) 

Is it vanity to take self-portraits? I don’t think so – I look at it more as a specific photographic art-form and an excellent way of chronicling adventures and the moving-on of time. And, to be honest, it’s only since the dawn of digital photography that it’s become easy to do it.

For example, there’s the issue of travelling solo to interesting places – how else can you document your presence?

Of course, you’ll immediately spot the problem with these photos. As travelling mementos they don’t really show the place travelled to – with the exception of bottom right (last week’s trip to the Giant’s Causeway) in which the rocks might give it away. The other three are, from top left: JFK Plaza in Philadelphia; beneath the Abraham Lincoln Memorial in DC; and in Central Park – but really, could be almost anywhere! [I should mention that in sorting out photos I found some that featured actual landmarks, but only four and I looked awful in all of them.]

A couple of years ago I discovered a very poignant use of self-portraits. Stephanie of NieNie Dialogues took regular shots of herself (and much more original ones than my own) in which she documented her family, home and love of fashion. When she was seriously injured in an air crash two years ago these photos provided solace for her four children. Now they remind her of the way life used to be, before her appearance changed dramatically. For months after she began blogging again no photos of the ‘new’ Nie appeared, until almost a year after the crash, when the first self-portrait was posted. These days they’re commonplace and show the way in which she’s gradually coming to terms with the second chance she’s been given at life. To be perfectly honest, I cried when that first photo appeared and am still humbled on a regular basis by her strength and the way in which she battles at overcoming her feelings of loss towards the way she used to look.

Now, I’m not saying that my own vain exploits are as worthy, but I do like the way in which you can document your life – through changing hairstyles/colours, to clothing choices, seasons and thinning faces. Looking through old photo albums tonight I couldn’t find any earlier than my NZ holiday in 2008, but it does appear that the frequency has increased in recent months.

So, here’s 2008-10 in self-portraiture:

GWA 08; shorter haircut; the ‘scary’ photo; shortest haircut; wet walk; Greenbelt 09; Sian’s hen; another haircut; a wedding; a rope swing; a pub toilet; fun at home; new clothes; 29th birthday am & pm; yet another haircut & birthday karaoke; Liz ‘doing a Liz’; hilarity; and finally, this evening.

Procrastination and Vanity:

It’s an unfortunate combination and one that serves to delay something I’m working on at the moment quite considerably. I need some passport style photos done but, knowing how dire I come out in them, I’ve been waiting till I’d had a haircut.

I’d intended to have them taken on the way back from the hairdressers on Saturday, but my lovely hairdresser had styled me curly (it’s natural inclination) and I wasn’t feeling too confident about it, so I added it to Sunday’s agenda – but ran out of time.
Now I’m waiting for a good hair day later this week. It’s important to get these things right – I learnt my lesson a few years ago when I had to do my (current) passport photo in a hurry on my way home from work (I’d just got the green light for a trip to Hong Kong, so had to move fast).
Result: sweaty, moody faced, not dissimilar to Charlize Theron in Monster. And you know what? Thanks to a clever thing the DVLA do, when I registered for a new provisional driving license last week, it was able to import that photo so I didn’t have to send in a new one – so now I’m stuck with it on my driving license too! Because I know my skills at procrastination, I let my vanity go on that ocassion.

In fact, to illustrate my point and to humble myself further, below is the evidence of why I need to be so careful with passport photos. I had a look through my paperwork file this evening and found some total gems. I wish I could just work out how I manage to look so gothy in so many of them?! Here we have, 1996, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2005:
Can you see why I need to be careful about these things? Attractive, huh?