I went to the eye clinic to pick up my new contact lenses -- I've been fitted for a new kind of lens, so I've had to make several trips back to the clinic to be checked. I like my optometrist OK (except for her weird habit of humming while she checks your vision), which is good since this is the only eye clinic on our insurance. But the technician in charge of the contact lens department is incredibly judgemental and mean -- she'll tell tales about other patients, and then suddenly turn on you and say something horrible directly to your face. I've tried being super nice to her, I've tried being uber professional, and there's really no effect. She's just like that.

Anyway, so she's checking my vision with the lenses and as I'm reading the smallest line of print (which I can barely see and secretly suspect that I'm just making it up because I am a pretty good guesser of letters, given my familiarity with text) I say "V, E, O, uh, I don't know, squiggle." The last letter was wriggling about and I really had no idea (I have a pretty strong astigmatism, so things squiggle a bit). She said "blink." So I did, and she said it again, and I blinked again. "You're a bad blinker" she said, and proceeded to criticize my blinking technique.

Who knew that you're supposed to be practicing blinking exercises? Who knew that one could get through 37 years and still be a lousy blinker? Who knew I needed one more thing to be bad at?

So, if you want to improve your blinking (and thereby redistribute your eye fluid so your eyes/lenses don't dry out) here's the drill: Close your eyes completely for 1 count, then hold them completely open for 4 counts. Repeat 10 times. Do this once an hour.

I'm not up to doing it once an hour, but I have tried it occasionally. I suppose it helps. But mostly it's made me aware of the fact that the mean lady is right -- I don't close my eyes all the way when I blink. And I blink these little half blinks too frequently -- holding my eyes open for 4 counts feels like torture the first couple of rounds.

One of my eyes droops so it's one-third closed all the time. My gf tells me that sometimes I sleep with my eyes only half closed, which freaks her out a little bit. All of this strikes me as slightly odd, since for much of my life I've been accused of not being observant enough. But I think it's less a matter of keeping my eyes constantly open than being unnerved by having them totally closed. When I try to blink completely, there's a little moment of dizziness and fear, of emptiness, before I can open them again. It reminds me of a meditation technique I often use where you focus on the moment after you've finished an exhale. That moment of stillness, of literal breathlessness, before you begin to inhale. Your lung capacity improves the longer you can learn to hold that moment -- and your mind calms, too. Maybe blinking is the same sort of thing, little moments of nothing, all of the time.