Susanna J. Sturgis   Martha's Vineyard writer and editor
writer editor born-again horse girl

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Reverse WHAT Curse?

August 02, 2005

At exactly this time last year I was on a Boston-bound bus to see an ophthalmologist about this weird milky disk that was blocking most of the vision in my right eye. The weirdness manifested on Sunday, August 1, 2004. I'd be lying if I told you that I didn't feel just a little bit jumpy as August 1, 2005, approached. My muses have their trickster side, and one of them might have fancied a new essay that began "Exactly one year to the day after my right retina detached . . ."

Apparently that wasn't what they had in mind, at least not for this year. If they had it in mind last year, I sure didn't get it the first time around. It wasn't till the second surgery, on October 4, that I started keeping the journal that became the long, loopy first draft for "My Terrorist Eye." No, I don't think for a minute that my retina detached the second time, or the first, so that I would be inspired to write my first major essay in years. When people say "Things happen for a reason," I think they're whistling past the graveyard, or deluding themselves, or maybe they've tossed back a fifth beer when they should have stopped with two.

"When life gives you lemons, make lemonade": this, however, makes sense. If you're a writer or any kind of artist, there's no experience you can't use (if you survive it, that is). My wonky eye gave me skewed vision, major medical expenses, an ongoing relationship with the U.S. health-care "system," and lots of travel hours going to and from Boston. Add all that to my long-time fascination with group dynamics and the politics of vision, add beer and stir, and voilà, "My Terrorist Eye."

Or something like that. Working more hours to earn more money to pay the bills off as soon as possible had an unexpected benefit: it dawned on me that if I could come up with $5,000 to pay for two eye surgeries, I could hire someone to design me a website. Being your basic frugal New Englander whose meager disposable income pretty much disappeared when the horse arrived, for years I'd been trying to teach myself first HTML and then Dreamweaver and never finding enough time to do it right. Hire someone! What a concept! (Thanks again, Heather!)

It cost a helluva lot less than the eye surgeries, and unlike them, it's business-related. Old dog, new tricks: live and learn, live and learn.


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