Fixed and Dilated

As an avid lifetime reader, I’ve always harbored a fear of losing my sight. As I’ve aged, my vision has degraded and I eventually required glasses to correct for my impaired distance vision. Too many years spent staring at a computer screen has degraded my close up vision and now the only distance that is clear is about two to three feet away.

As I’ve visited with my eye doctor over the years, he has always checked the pressure in my eyes and discussed the inevitability of floaters. As part of his warnings, he has always cautioned me to seek immediate eye care if I ever experience flashes of light.

In early December I noticed an unaccustomed movement in the peripheral vision of my right eye, followed by a significant increase in the number of floaters in my eye. It got to the point it was like looking through a polka dot pattern. The little black dots overlaid everything, blurring my vision and setting off little warning bells in my head. Stubborn as I am, I did my best to ignore the symptoms until the evening of 13th of December when I started seeing flashes in my peripheral vision. That’s when I umm, is panicked too harsh a description?

I was referred to an eye surgeon and bright and early the next morning I was sitting in an examination chair. Over the next couple of hours I found out why interrogators use bright lights to soften up their detainees. An assistant dilated my eyes, took dozens of pictures of my eyes, and then the doctor started in with bright lights and magnifying glasses. It turns out the vitreous in my tired old eyes has started to shrink. I was experiencing a posterior vitreous detachment which resulted in a retinal tear.

I received laser surgery to “spot weld” around the retinal tear. From what I understand, the procedure creates tiny spots of scarring that serve to affix the retina back to the wall of the eye with the hoped for outcome that the tear won’t turn into a detachment. I left the surgeon’s office sporting a fashionable pair of light shielding, throw-away glasses. Not only was I styling, but the dark plastic hid my man-hole-cover sized pupils which had all but erased my irises.

The surgeon told me to watch for a marked increase in floaters, flashes of light, or a curtain effect drawing across my vision. Precisely one week later, I started experiencing flashes of light in my left eye. Another call to the eye surgeon resulted in dilation, pictures, and another totally uncomfortable examination. Yep, the vitreous in my left eye had detached but fortunately this time there were no tears produced in the process.

Once again, I staggered from the surgeon’s office with my disposable glasses obscuring my enormous black pupils. My beautiful bride drove me home, and fortunately we didn’t have an accident. I can only imagine what an emergency responder would have said had she/he flashed a feeble pen light in my eyes. “Pupils are fixed and dilated, looks like this one’s a goner. Too bad, he died with his stories still in’im.”

That’s not the way I want to go, or the epitaph I want to earn, so I guess I’d best get on with my storytelling. I can still see, I can still type, so as long as you keep reading my stories, I’ll keep writing them down.

The Devil In The Details

“Hi, my name is Larry, and I’m a—recovering—perfectionist.”

Alas, I’m not aware of any twelve step program for perfectionists, but if there were one I should definitely sign up and attend their support group meetings. As hard as I try not to sweat the small stuff, it seems like I’m still compelled to try to keep an eye on even the smallest of details. What’s worse, no matter how much time or effort I invest, I inevitably find mistakes I’ve made. Sometimes I’m able to take a deep breath and let it be. Other times … well, suffice it to say I’m not able to let it go.

For example. With the help of my wife and kids, along with a few family members and friends who were simply too stubborn to be chased away by my obsessive/compulsive nature, we largely built our own home. To be clear, there are dozens of tasks that I’ve never done before which I undertook on our home. As you can imagine, I made more than a few mistakes as I ‘learned on the job’ so to speak. From painful personal experience, I can assure you that learning finish carpentry is not best done by trial and error in an unsupervised setting. There’s one particular door that I hung … Let’s just say, to this day I have to ignore it or it drives me crazy. My wife assures me that no one else in the world sees any problem with the door. Maybe not, but I know it’s there, lurking behind its veneer of beautiful oak trim.

This little introduction brings me to the motivation for this post. As you might imagine, I can be a real stickler when it comes to my books, not the least being the detail in my cover artwork. My illustrator has been a real champ as he has patiently corrected the numerous little nit-picks that I’ve brought to his attention as we’ve worked through the development of the artwork.

As I posted in early August, I recently had Brian rework the artwork for Whispers From the Past, expanding it from the original eBook sized cover to a 9X14 inch image suitable for the print edition. Well, I just received and reviewed the printed proof of my about to be re-released edition which displays the new artwork. I uttered a sigh heard round the world when I discovered that not only did I position the image incorrectly, but there was a glaring content problem.

Image with door handle and hinges on the same side of the door.Anyway, before any of you eagle eyed fans notice and point out my mistake, I’m donning the cap of shame and admitting that I missed this particular detail. Not only did I post the artwork on my blog, but it made it all the way to my proof cover before I finally saw it. (For those with older eyes like mine, here’s a close up of the offending image.)

Yep, as you can clearly see, the door handle and the hinges on the personnel door somehow wound up on the same side. I don’t know how it happened, but there’s no denying what is clearly visible. Trying to track down how it could have happened, I even went back through the original sketches. Not once in the revision process was all the hardware mounted on the same side. Admittedly, Brian and I did swap sides with the hinges and the handle, but through it all we managed to keep it straight in the sketches.

Deciding the revolutionary new door design is less than optimal, I’ve spent a few hours correcting the artwork and uploading the revision to the printer. At this point, other than the digital images on this blog, the only published version of the incorrect artwork is sitting on my bookshelf. I’m still arguing with myself about what to do with the one-of-a-kind eyesore.

My internal dialogue has gone something like this. “If my Chet series catches on and I become famous some day, this bizarre proof copy will undoubtedly become a collector’s item. If that happens, I’d love nothing more than to give it to some down and out soul, who after my passing will discover that they have a one of a kind proof that they can sell to solve their financial woes.” It’s a pleasant pipe dream, but at the moment that’s all it is. The fact is, I doubt I’ll ever be rich, or famous. Still, if you happen to disagree with me and wish to be considered to receive possession of a proof displaying a completely unworkable door design, drop me a note. Who knows, in another hundred years or two it might actually be worth something.

Stranger things have happened, at least I suspect there have been …