floaters in my eyes, glass in my lungs
Sunday, May 6 2007
setting: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, New York
As I was driving us home yesterday afternoon, I kept being aware of the floaters in my eyes, lit up as they were by the bright southern sky. I've always had floaters in my eyes, but lately it seems there are more of them junking up my vision. I keep expecting to see them moving on their own right, waving tentacles or articulated legs at me.
Today was cool but the sun was bright and Gretchen and I found ourselves lying in the driveway with our dogs and cats, sunning ourselves. Looking up at the sky, I found myself gradually becoming an expert at coaxing the floaters into the center of my vision where I could examine them carefully. The problem with floaters is that they move with the eye, and the natural instinct to look at them causes them to appear to drift at a speed proportional to their distance from the center of one's vision. The eye turns to look at them but then they move too, like a horse following a carrot suspended from a fishing pole attached to the cart he is drawing. To get a particular floater into the center of my vision, I'd whip my eyes quickly in a floater's direction, hoping the fluid in my eye would experience some inertia and the eye could gain some ground on the floater. Some of the floaters were rather fibrous, although many consisted of single donut-shaped objects that I understood to be red blood cells. There was at least one globular formation of some twenty or more of these donuts.
Why do I have so many floaters? Could it be another sign of aging? Or maybe I'm just more aware of them now that I've switched the monitors on my computer around, and one of them (the one hooked to a KVM switch) experiences occasional, though only vaguely annoying, imperfections in the display. This isn't the only problem with KVMs; that same monitor refuses to power down when the computer "turns it off" because the KVM's circuitry always keeps it, on some level, on.
I've been slowly, but very steadily, cleaning up and reorganizing the laboratory. As I stumble upon semi-forgotten projects or the raw materials for some long-theorized project, I often find it easier to just complete the project than to find a way to incorporate the unfinishedness into the new organization. This is what is making the process so incredibly slow. Today, for example, I launched into a project wherein I cut the tops off of bottles with a wet saw, making two new items with each cut: something akin to a drinking glass, and a glass funnel. It took me very little time to parcel a big Grey Goose bottle and two forties this way. Unfortunately, though, it's impossible to make a perfectly clean cut through glass, at least with my wet saw. The cuts always end up having little jags along them. I could smooth these out with various grinding tools, but I couldn't eliminate them. Lips are extremely sensitive to textures and are likely to send a freak out message upon encountering irregularities in the rim of glass, no matter how smooth I've managed to make them.
Using abrasives to smooth glass generates clouds containing millions of tiny daggers. I'd somehow been upwind from these in my morning sanding sessions, but at some point this evening I did some more sanding and wasn't so lucky. As always, I'd worked without any sort of protection and hadn't bothered to keep the abraded surfaces moist (a trick that keeps the glass dust to a minimum and keeps the sanded surface from overheating and shattering). At some point after I was done, I realized that the tip of my tongue and the back of my throat were feeling a little cottony, and this precipitated a freak-out about how much glass I'd inhaled and what I'd done to the long-term health of my lungs.
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