I went to get an eye exam today. Because I am incredibly nearsighted, my doctor has to check me each year for signs of glaucoma and macular degeneration. That means getting my eyes dilated. I was smart enough this time to bring my own sunglasses, but I still didn't think I'd be able to drive half an hour back home with them like that on a sunny day. I could see but I felt kind of weird. So I went right across the street to the mall, figuring I'd read at Borders for a little while until I felt able to drive.
Ironically, I have been listening to I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron on CD in my car, and had just listened to "Blind as a Bat," where she describes not being able to "read a word on the map," "read a word in the newspaper," or "read a word on the pill bottle." I was trying to browse books and found that I couldn't read either, so I got a sneak preview of what it will be like sometime after I turn forty when I need bifocals or have to wear reading glasses to supplement my contact lenses. I went out into the mall and shopped, being afraid that people would think I was a weirdo if I wore my sunglasses, but if I didn't wear them, I figured people would think a druggie because of my extremely large pupils. Even clothes shopping was challenging, because I had trouble reading the tags.
At least I had a 100% guilt-free excuse not to work on my dissertation. I shopped with a vengence, too. I got a gorgeous suit -- whether I need it for interviews or not, I wanted it. There were two extremely nice women at Ann Taylor who helped me with it and were very patient with me even though I had to ask them if they thought the size I had on fit. I got some tops on sale at Macy's, 50% off clearance prices. I got cute black dress shoes at Steve Madden. I had to hand it to the salespeople, they didn't let on that they noticed the sunglasses (or, when I took them off, the weird pupils) at all. My appointment was at 9:15, but it was close to 1:00 before I felt like I could actually read the notes I had brought with me to look over in the doctor's office. I read some of them over a bagel and coffee when I finally left the mall.
I think that it was therapeutic to just go out, do what I wanted, and not to have to feel guilty about it. I enjoyed my day off, and I think that the money I spent was well-spent on things that are both beautiful and useful. I decided not to live provisionally after all.
But, as much I am a believer in enjoying every moment, I also know that my work has to be done. It's a little easier to settle down to it after having taken some time to relax and really enjoy myself, though.