What It Is (posts below left; rate sheet, client list, other stuff below right)

My name is Bob Land. I am a full-time freelance editor, indexer, and proofreader. This blog is my website.

You'll find my rate sheet and client list here, as well as musings on the life of a freelancer; editing, proofreading, and indexing concerns and issues; my ongoing battles with books and production; and the occasional personal revelation.

Feel free to contact me directly with additional questions: landondemand@gmail.com.

Thanks for visiting. Leave me a comment. Come back often.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Another Set of Eyes, Part 1


It’s not a cliché as much as a commonsense statement that might spill out of anyone’s mouth: “This document needs another set of eyes.” That’s what I’ve been doing, one way or the other, for most of my life: serving as someone’s other set of eyes. Publishers are people, too, my friend.

“Another set of eyes” is shorthand for “I’m so tired of this document that I don’t want to think about it anymore. I’ve long lost any perspective on it, and I’m certain that I can’t uncover any remaining errors or improve it any further.”

When those eyes are in the head of a professional copyeditor or proofreader, people and publishers are willing to pay for renting them for a little while. Obviously they are — or you can make a dinner reservation for me at the Salvation Army Bistro.

But when that other set of eyes happens to be mine, things get a little tricky.

I was reading at age three. My great-aunt Etta Kaganov, a New York City schoolteacher back in the 1940s–1980s, told her principal that her three-year-old grandnephew was reading the New York Times. I think that when the principal disputed it, I was hauled in to prove it.

[My father said a few weeks ago I was probably just reading headlines. I’ll bet Aunt Ettie would beg to differ.]

Apparently I was a smart child. From the Jewish Community Center on Staten Island where I went to nursery school in the early 1960s, some way misinformed person thought it might be a good idea if I skipped kindergarten and first grade and went straight on to second grade.

Sure, that’d be a good idea in the long run. Put an already-too-shy five-year-old in with second graders. Add about seven years to get into the dating years, and watch the serious emotional damage really take hold.

Anyway.

Thankfully I didn’t make the jump to second grade. However, my folks did send me somewhere other than kindergarten for a day or so (maybe to be tested at the school I would be attending?), and the report came back: Is something wrong? The kid’s an idiot. He doesn’t belong here.

Hmmm. Let’s check his eyesight. Maybe he can’t see the blackboard.

Ya think?

I’ve been wearing glasses since I was five years old. I ended up in first grade, still a year younger than my classmates. It was the first step in how I ended up graduating college at age 20 — not because I was a great student (I wasn't, by any means — after fifth grade, anyway), but  more out of a desire to get to work and get the hell out of school.

When I was a teenager, optometrists said, “Your eyes will stop getting worse when you’re around 18.” I’m almost 53. Hasn’t happened yet. My prescription even impresses optometrists.

Bottom line: My only set of eyes (everyone else’s other) has sucked for years. They’ve always been pretty much correctable, though, as long as I didn’t mind inch-thick lenses, and I didn’t. (Yes, I measured. And this isn’t male enhancement.) Contacts never worked for me — first because the hard ones were too painful in the mid-1970s, and when I tried them again about six years ago, they ultimately didn’t give me the correction I needed.

I’ve said for years that my right eye wasn’t correcting as well as my left. No one listened.

In October, I went in for an eye exam because I realized that my right eye was no longer in focus, even with glasses. Like, not even close. With my glasses on, I need to be two inches away from the computer screen to read with my right eye only.

I’m at the optometrist, and we’re doing the usual “Is it better now . . . or now? 1 . . . or 2? 3 . . . or 4? 5 . . . or 6?” If you have glasses or contacts, you know the drill. But this time — after 47 years — with the right eye, nothing is better.

Panic.

Think of how I make my living. Think of how a professional pianist might feel if she was losing the ability to move her fingers.

I peered around the device and asked the optometrist, “Can you please tell me what the hell is going on here?”

She reveals nothing and does a few more tests, which only exacerbate my dread.

“I’m going to recommend you for a cataract evaluation.”

To be continued . . .

3 comments:

moi said...

You know the age-old hypothetical, "which would you rather be, deaf or blind?" Deaf. Unquestionably, no hesitation.

I know what's coming for you. And I'm thrilled!

czar said...

@Moi: Thanks.

They say that deaf people also don't play golf, but blind people do regularly. Apparently, the lack of aural feedback puts the dent on deaf folks' enjoyment of the game.

My pals may, one day, be happy to see that I can follow a ball more than 50 yards down the fairway.

Joe D G said...

But can blind people shoot? http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/09/08/iowa-granting-gun-permits-to-blind/

Hell, if they can use drive up ATMS - note the braille at the window, why the hell not?