Monday, November 22, 2010

Fun Things to Do In Bed

[the Buddha before coffee]

I was lying in bed waiting for the dawn and the snowplow when I noticed that the little green light on the carbon monoxide detector was double. Distinctly. It is a round diode perhaps a quarter inch wide and there were two of them, well separated. And they wouldn't join together. I measured the distance, exactly an outstretched arm and finger. My arm is not as long as a yardstick but longer than two feet, say 30 inches.

Surprisingly, shutting my left eye removed the right green light, and closing my right eye removed the left green light. I was cross-eyed.

I thought about the optometrist I had gone to a few years ago who had told me I no longer needed glasses, except reading glasses. He said my original near-sightedness had been cured by the far-sightedness of age. I had believed him because his office was in upscale Kensington, and because he was recommended by my ex-, whose judgment I trust. But he had been an Italian. Everybody knows that an optometrist should be a Jew, or at the very least a Chinese. What does an Italian know about optometry?

Apparently he had focussed on focus and had turned his gaze from where my gaze was gazing. I cursed him for a fucking moron who didn't know the second thing about optometry.

I got up close, a few inches further than my little finger's tip when making the thumbing-your-nose gesture, and the two lights merged. I moved to the opposite side of the bed, about five feet away, and the two lights came closer together but the quality of the images went to hell. They became broken-edged and smeary. Back at arm's length, looking at the lights with my head turned to the side, they became further apart. The left one, seen by my right eye, was always a little higher.

I would need glasses.

While thinking about this, I got up and went to the bathroom. Upon coming out, I tried the same experiment with the similar red diode above the stove, the water-pump-is-on-indicator. Surprisingly, only one red light. Checked the distance was an arm's length and a finger. Still only one red light. Checked that the amber diode indicating the propane pilot light is lit on the refrigerator. Only one amber light.

I went back to bed and checked the green light again. Only one this time. Nothing is wrong with my eyes.

I remembered having read somewhere that seeing requires the use of several parts of the brain. I wonder now if what had happened was that the part of my brain that coordinates the eyes to point in the same direction had not yet woken up.

It is common for people to describe themselves as "only half-awake" or to say, "I am not really awake until I have had my first cup of coffee." We are aware of being less alert when we are tired and we have the words 'sleepy' and 'drowsy' to describe the condition.

I wonder if coming awake does not happen all at once and that various parts of the brain become awake later than others. I had been able to see, to reason, to extend my arm, to move across the bed, to remember, to make ethnic jokes, but not able to point my eyes together.

People who describe themselves as not awake until coffee have generally gotten up, showered, put on makeup, dressed, gone to work, and greeted other people before they get to the cup and the urn. Which are all complex behaviors but which are done by rote and don't require much concentration, almost none after a few years. It might take an hour from the alarm to the coffee, so it is not necessarily a speedy process.

It may also help explain the effectiveness of surprise attacks. The instant a soldier is awakened he knows the enemy is attacking so it isn't really a surprise. Aside from getting dressed and getting his rifle, he also has to gather his wits and get ready, that is, to fully wake up. Which might take long enough for him and his comrades to be overwhelmed by a fully-awake attacking force.

So it is possible that the reason I was cross-eyed this morning was that the part of my brain that points the eyes correctly wasn't awake yet. Which is perhaps why we have the expression that a just-awakened person is 'bleary-eyed'. I know of no other use for the word 'bleary'. Maybe it means 'not yet awake enough to see well'?

Maybe during the course of getting out of the bed, walking to the bathroom, pee-ing, and finding and putting on a new roll of paper (I must have been sleepy when I previously used the bathroom not to have put one on.), the parts of my brain that pointed my eyes woke up.

Which means that Mr. and Mrs. Rappaport and the Java Brava truck aren't just selling frapuccinos, they are selling consciousness.

Ah, there's the snowplow, a big yellow truck with a monster curved plastic blade on the front. Not that that does me any good since it is 24 degrees outside and the throttle on the bus is still frozen.


  1. See you in April!!!

  2. Lolita7:28 PM

    I have the same problem when I am very weary, Jackie... think it comes with age... and I now can make my eyes see separately... i.e.: each eye sees the object and it separates slowly into two objects. But only the object I am staring at becomes two, the background stays the same. Happy to hear someone else has this weird problem.

    My daughter's near sightedness is going away with age... one's eyeballs flatten with age, curing near-sightedness.

  3. Your eyes were just waterlogged....once you went to the bathroom you were fine...?

  4. To anyone who see Jack's blog. If you have contact with him, have him call or e-mail Harvey right away. 530-345-9326

  5. Anonymous7:37 PM

    Please file a missing person's report. I emailed a query to the Arizona Highway Patrol but priority is given to missing persons. I referred the HP to the numbers posted in the blog.