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459 Fitzgerald Street
North Perth, WA, 6006
Australia

Steady Eye on the Relaxed Eye

Tahlia Palmer: Steady Eye

Steady Eye on the Relaxed Eye

Andrew Ryan

I have a tendency to get pretty tense in my day-to-day life. Not only is this generally a pretty cold city, in which most people will walk around with their arms folded and their shoulders permanently pushed up onto their necks, but I often fall prey to stressing myself out about things out of my control- like climate change deniers, governments under the control of corporations and banks, and assholes who think it’s their right to abuse a woman if she doesn’t respond positively to their drunken sleaze-baggery. I would say that I am at least slightly uneasy more often than not while awake.

I’ve learnt to live with it, try to use it in my favour, and usually I just accept it as part of who I am. Which makes it all the more amazing when I unexpectedly find myself in a supremely relaxing situation- like my eye test at the optometrist last week. IT WAS SO FUCKING RELAXING.

A few weeks ago, in my anti-Christmas rant, I mentioned that I was in need of a new pair of glasses. My mother and grand mother sent me some early birthday money (it’s this Friday folks, make sure you send me lovely thoughts) so after a little bit of “FUCK YEAH GONNA BUY NEW CLOTHES” I slapped myself out of it, got my responsibility on and made an appointment with the optometrist for that afternoon (didn’t even have to call them! I love the internet!), rummaged through my belongings to find the frames I picked up in an op shop and had been saving for that moment for two whole years, and went on my way to the city.

The part of the city I had to go to was the south west side, the bit just before the REAL cbd, where all the accountants and insurance guys walk around in their ill-fitting pants and less-than-successful colour coordination. I can’t help feeling self conscious around those parts, can’t help thinking that my tight jeans, cheap shoes, and thin shirt (which was actually designed for sleeping in) aren’t fit to be amongst all these office buildings and expensive haircuts. Awkwardly, I rushed through the crowd toward the optometrist, looking forward to sitting down after talking to the nice person at the desk about my upcoming appointment.

But this fucking optometrist was a flashy retailer for designer glasses too (are they all so big and gross now?), and as soon as I walked in the door I was approached by three men at once, all of whom had extremely well maintained facial hair of varying styles, who I’m sure were all keen to sell me prescription sunglasses for a slight discount if I purchase one of the selected designer frames (ERGH, SALES STAFF, NOOOOOO). But once they realised the nature of my visit (and saw the signs of a home bleach job on my hair perhaps (hint: cheap)), I was whisked away to the waiting room at the very back of the HUGE store (which didn’t look dissimilar to a cow milking station surrounded by bright lights, mirrors and a thousand pairs of glasses), sat down and told to wait until the eye doctor was ready.

Waiting rooms always bum me out. They’re usually either tackily decorated or totally barren, with dismal reading material that insults my intelligence (while unfortunately totally absorbing other women in its trashy, gossipy, meaningless pages), noticeably droning air conditioning and all sorts of doorways and hall entrances that you can’t help staring at and then jumping and accidentally making starey eye contact when someone walks out of the door or turns a corner toward you. This one was the barren kind. A woman in her 30’s and a man over 60 were waiting too, and the old guy was talking to one of the ladies who worked there about how he’s noticed that SO many Asian people wear glasses. She was Asian and she wasn’t wearing glasses. Just before the woman in her 30’s went into her appointment, she let out a little yelp and told me and the optometrist she’d just had a travel grant application accepted. Happy days! Then I was alone in waiting room and I was happier for it.

My appointment time came and I was lead to a little room. I sat down in the big chair, told the optometrist about why I was getting my eyes tested and all the boring things, she tested my old prescription, and the quietness of the room and the scratching of pencil on paper where so soothing. The I had to rest my head on the chin thing and look through the big ugly eye things. The lights were dimmed, her voice was hushed and calm, “which one is better: …a? ….or…. b? …1?…or…2?” over and over and over, the light flicks of the lenses changing and the click of the projector changing eye tests… oh mannnn, it was goooood. When she pulled the eye testing thing away and sat down to start writing my prescription, I felt as if I’d had my head massaged for half an hour. Blissed out. It was amazing.

Being taken back out to the retail part of the building was a slap in the face, so I decided that after I turned down all the sales guy’s offers of different things to the lenses (“No thank you, I am on a limited budget, no thank you, I’m on a limited budget, NO THANK YOU I’M ON A LIMITED BUDGET”), I would go and get a massage. So I did, and it wasn’t very good. So I decided to get some food and sit on the grass outside the city library, soak up the sun and read a little bit, and just as I was about to purchase my sandwich, my boyfriend calls to let me know he’s locked himself out of the house, so I had to cancel my continuation-of-relaxation plans with myself.

Some people might get hung up about that- being interrupted, having their plans cancelled etc, but while I was at first a little peeved (GODDAMMIT BOYFRIEND I WAS GOING TO SIT IN RARE MELBOURNE SUN), I started to really appreciate the eye test. I didn’t have to have the most relaxing day in ages, it was okay to just have the most relaxing one time experience, by itself. That eye test was awesome. I still felt calm from it, and then I remembered a site called “SoothTube” and how they have eye test simulation videos on their with hushed voices and good sounds, so now I can listen to those any time and get the same feeling. With out having to go to the CBD!

You may find this whole scenario weird, but someone as internally wired as I am; stomach in knots at the thought of a dinner party with more than 1 stranger in attendance, or a tram ride where I’m not sitting next to a window… I’ve got to take these small calming victories where I can. I suggest you go and try it out. Unless you think you might have something really bad with your eyes. In that case it’s probably not the best relaxation tool, go and get a massage at a place you know is good, not one which has disappointed you in the past. Learn from my mistakes folks.