The Misadventures of Quinxy truths, lies, and everything in between!


Another Curious Tale of My Prosopagnosia (Face Blindness)

Until I've spent hours around someone, seeing their face contort into many different expressions, seeing them in different clothes and circumstances, their face remains difficult for me to recall or identify. A few years ago I learned that my experience was the exception, not the rule; I always assumed everyone had a similar struggle. I'm sure the condition has had subtle effects in my life, perhaps encouraging a social reticence, discouraging being overly friendly or engaging with people whose identities I'm unsure about, but it's never been quite so blatant as it was last week.

I just moved into a new place in a new town, and have only met 3 or 4 locals who were introduced by having been acquaintances of my parents. The other day there's a knock on the door and it's a kind looking, slightly nervous, middle-aged woman, with gray-ish hair. She exuded the sort of familiarity in greeting and manner that strongly suggested I knew her, and I felt I knew her, though who exactly she was I could only guesstimate. She had come to ask me to a small wine and cheese gathering "down the hill" a few nights hence. I graciously accepted. With that, she was off. And I was left to try and reason out who exactly had invited me. Of the few people I know here only two are middle-aged women, so it really shouldn't have been much of a challenge to work out which one; but I couldn't. In theory the right approach would have been to immediately acknowledge my problem and ask her to identify herself, but social graces don't really allow that approach. Prosopagnosia (face blindness) sounds like such a curious and made up disorder, and I'd rather not invite a lot of misunderstanding or belabor an explanation so as to avoid any. Thus, I was reduced to post-event logic and sleuthing. My girlfriend had observed the car she was driving, but not the woman. The car was black. I checked Google satellite maps of the two women in question and the one I was most strongly suspecting did have a dark colored car. Bingo! Just to be extra careful I found a picture of her online, covered the brown hair in the photo with my hand, and tried to tell if the face looked recently familiar. It did, somewhat; and perhaps she'd just stopped dying her hair. The only odd thing was that the location of the event was ambiguous. She had said "down the hill" as though I knew exactly what that meant. The woman I imagined her to be had shown me a vacation rental house she owned (which I had been contemplating renting when I first arrived) which was, arguably, closer to sea level. Alternatively, the home in which she lived was in a town that was (I assumed) below the town in which I lived. She had never given me that address, so that discouraged that as a possible location. Comfortable with my conclusions I went about my life until the evening of the gathering. Francine and I set off on time and arrived at the suspected location only to find it entirely dark; only a deer was in evidence, grazing on the lawn. Not to worry, I had plan B ready to go, and we went off to check her primary residence for activity. After a long drive down the big hill I discovered the Googled directions took me worryingly right back up another side of the same hill. As her house came into view it was clear there were no parties going on there tonight. Thus we had to invoke Plan C, the residence of the only other middle-aged woman I knew in these parts. Another little drive ensued with the same result. No activity, no party. And I now had absolutely no idea who might have invited me, leaving me unable to even retroactively proffer an apology.

In the days that followed I still suspected the Plan A/B woman had in fact been my visitor, and that perhaps I had misread the house's activity that night. But a few days later I bumped into her on a walk and offered a tentative apology only for her to announce it had not been she. My best guess at this point is that it was some neighbor I'd never actually met was kindly welcoming me to the neighborhood but that my overly familiar response to her invitation (a response to what I thought was hers) caused her to assume I knew who she was and where she lived. Ah well... Such is the complicated life of a prosopagnosiast; I just can't believe I thought *this* was normal!

^ Quinxy


The Joke I Created When I Was 11

I was eleven years old on summer vacation with my mom and another family on Green Turtle Quay island in the Little Abaco chain of islands in the Bahamas when I came up with this joke... the only one I've ever created (or attempted):

Question: What did the one polyp say to the other polyp?
Answer: We haven't had a quarrel in years.

Bah dum bum ching! Now, if you didn't get it don't feel badly, that's either because your sense of humor is far too sophisticated or because you didn't know that coral (that makes up the ocean's reefs) is constructed by and of little creatures called polyps. And in truth, though I remember being proud of the construction of the joke I'm not sure I ever really thought it was that funny.

^ Quinxy

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Edwardian Ball 2011 – Los Angeles

Francine and I went to the 2nd annual Edwardian Ball here in Los Angeles. The event is supposed to be a celebration of Edward Gorey (most known for his macabre alphabet book), but it's really just an excuse for people to get dressed up in Edwardian, Victorian, and "Steam Punk" clothing and watch musical acts, aerialists, peculiar little plays, and stare at all the other people in the audience. It was good fun, but I must confess I had expected something a little larger and more interactive. The photos I'd seen online were dominated by the events they've been doing for 11 years in San Francisco, and it just looks bigger and better up there. Ah well.

Being that it was my first year attending and I wasn't quite sure what to expect I decided to attempt to make and wear just one costume element, a top hat welded out of metal rods.  I wanted to explore partially wrapping the frame with material as though the frame was much of what remained as the fabric deteriorated from years of neglect, or fire.  Unfortunately I waited until the afternoon before the event to start making the hat and I only had one small scrap of fabric that vaguely fit the bill.  I was pleased with how much I got done in relatively little time, but the vision is still very much incomplete.

Here are some photos from other people's experience of the Edwardian Balls of the past. I didn't feel like fighting the poor lighting all night...

^ Quinxy


Words Are Typed Flowers

Sometimes a collection of words elevate themselves from the mundane blather of a day, and approach forgotten beauty.  Once in too long a while I find myself in a mental state where my words coalesce in ways I like.  Tonight was such a night.  To a friend I wrote:

sorry i didn't see your text until now.  i was fast asleeping when it came in.  and if i don't see it right away it gets lost in the other bings, whirs, rings, and overlapping prompts of my phone...  at least until i stumble upon it while investigating some other more recent vibration.

i can't do friday, sorry.  I've been meaning to check out that first friday thing, too.  I tried to go a few months ago, walked down there, went about a block into the teeming sea only to lose my will and head back to safe harbor.  it just wasn't a night when i felt like pushing, and instead preferred to pull.  too many people and things trying to be seen, making the ordinarily pleasurable act of observation taxing.  but there are other nights when the challenge is part of the fun.  sadly this friday can't be one.  if you go, hope you have fun, it looks like good sport.

hope you're well, and that you continue to enjoy the love of jesus, buddha, allah, and all the heavenly voyeurs. 😉


They are not the greatest words ever written, but they are enjoyably forgettable, and that is sometimes, monstrously the most we can hope to achieve.


Filed under: Personal, Prose 1 Comment

Dangerous Driver

I watched this guy a week or so ago drive down a major local street, Lincoln Blvd., right in front of me and he was clearly having trouble in some sense.  He couldn't seem to stay in his lane, instead gradually meandered back and forth, drifting as much as a foot or two outside of his lane.  And he couldn't seem to keep up with the rest of the traffic, or comprehend what the transition from red light to green light meant.  His car was reasonably stuffed with things which no longer seemed worthy of transport, resembling papers and bags.  He may have been a hoarder, someone living out of their car, or perhaps just someone whose messiness had gotten way out of hand.  I tried to get safely along side (one extra lane over) to see if he looked compos mentis or perhaps had reaction times slowed with age.  He was no older than 50.  His face and demeanor didn't betray raving lunacy or too obvious to miss drug/alcohol impairment (but how much can you really tell glimpsing a person in a side view 15 feet away).  There was always the possibility that he was just a rotten driver, a little slow with his reflexes, driving a vehicle whose reflexes have slowed with age.  I contemplated calling the police but with the traffic as awful as it was, with him potentially taking any turning, and with me not actually observing him do anything so egregiously wrong, I ended up just taking a turning myself and heading home via the backstreets.  I had this awful thought, though...  a flash back from Spiderman...  I had been planning to head a sidecar ride with the dog as soon as I got home, and I suddenly if I'd meet up with this guy again, as a victim of his driving and my inaction, a la Uncle Owen.  Fortunately, that did not happen, or at least not yet.  I am ever watchful for that mature tan Jeep Cherokee, just in case...


My worst date… with Mel Gibson

This happened quite a while ago but something recently reminded me of it.

I was set up on a date with a friend of a friend.  We'd exchanged a few emails and seemed to enjoy a similar turn of phrase.  I picked her up at her place, and the descent into lunacy began.

A few miles down the road we were at a light and this car pulls up next to us, some relatively ordinary car that had clearly been suped (sp?) up because it was louder than hell and the guy kept revving it as though inviting me to a race I would ultimately decline.  My date says, "I think fast cars are really sexy."  I laughed, thinking she was being facetious.  She was not, and she was now angry at me for laughing at her not with her.  I tried to apologize and explain my laughter was meant in support of what I thought her position was, but she was not mollified.  Oops.

We headed to Quincy Market in Boston, I'd never been.  As we approached an older woman approaches selling flowers.  I very politely declined.  We looked around, and in the course of wandering see several other similarly attired older ladies at some distance selling flowers.  We ended up heading a few blocks away to get some dinner.  A few minutes into dinner she pauses, looks directly at me indicating she was about to say something significant, and says to me, "I thought you were a jerk for not buying a flower from that woman.  Don't you care about old people?"  Ouch.  I was pretty stunned.  I remember some weak attempts to provide sudden proof that I did care about old people, and people in general, and that that incident really didn't seem like a fair way to judge my character.  The conversation limped along and eventually the check came.  She now announced her brand new philosophy, which I was apparently the first to experience...  She said, "I've been treated really badly by guys in the past, so from now on I'm requiring that anyone I date pay for all our dates."  Wow.  I don't mind paying for others, I'm a bit of a communist when it comes to mealtimes, from each according to his means, to each according to his needs.  I'll pay for friends, coworkers, dates, pets, whatever.  Different people often offer at different times, and I figure it all evens out in the end (monetarily or karmic-ly).  And I would have gladly paid for her portion out of kindness, need, chivalry, simplicity, whatever.  I usually make the attempt and if someone stops me (as usually happens) then we figure it out from there.  But the notion that I was being required to make up the debt (in cash) created by her previous poor choices in men hardly seemed a fair or inviting situation.  I kindly explained that I didn't mind paying tonight, but in general I really couldn't go along with the idea that I who had never wronged her was somehow supposed to compensate for those who had.  She took in the argument and seemed to see it had some merit.

At this point I was pretty well tired, it just seemed we were very poorly matched despite some initial clever email banter and mutual admiration of stories we'd each written.  We began the 15 minute walk back to the car, and I mentioned a camping trip I was going on.  She spent the next 10 minutes telling me far too much information about how she can't go camping because there can be swarms of bugs and the bugs remind her of all these bad LSD trips she's had as well as reminding her of the horrible withdrawal symptoms she's experienced detoxing from heroin.  I, who have never done any drugs, let along hard core ones, was really ready for the night to be over.  While I am certainly sympathetic to her discomfort with swarms of bugs and all they mean to her, it was just way too soon and too contextless to be sharing that sort of information.  (I've dated people who've used drugs, seems like most people have used or tried them, and it's not been a problem, but that's probably because they didn't insist I know so much graphic detail about their experiences, and certainly not on date one.)

The date ended a few minutes later, but not before she explained to me that she was obsessed (literally) with Mel Gibson, that her recovery from the drugs involved watching all of Mel Gibson's movies over and over again and that now she was in a very real way obsessed with him, because he was there for her when no one else was.  She said the walls of her room were covered in Mel Gibson posters, she watched at least parts his movies every day, and that if she ever met him she would have sex with him, even if she was already in a relationship, that the other person (I felt implied) would just have to deal with that absolute and unarguable reality.

I dropped her off at her place, we had a little hug (no kiss), and I went on my way with no small amount of relief.  I felt quite comfortable that the date was as awful for me as it was for her, since I couldn't relate to and didn't resemble much of what she wanted or liked.  Being a nice guy and not fond of ambiguity, I planned to write her the next day and very politely make it clear that I enjoyed her friendship and would be happy to see where that went while acknowledging that dating was really not in our best interests.

Before I had a chance, however, I was shown just how wrong my perception of events had apparently been...  she wrote me the next morning to let me know how great a time she had had and how much she looked forward to another date.  Ugh.

It took me quite a few hours to come up with just the right way to thank her while politely declining additional dating.  She seemed to take it well.  We did hang out a couple of times as friends before she found distraction in someone with a far larger engine than mine.

She was actually quite a nice girl, the original connection we had was simply not viable for anything more than friendship, and on that level it worked quite well (however briefly).  She was not quite so intense as a friend, seemed less intent on requiring me to be anything other than who I was.  Still, doesn't change the fact that it was the worst first date I ever had.



Yin Yang

My day. Yin. Yang. The first half saw my better self, triumphantly in command of my life, amidst noble activities, pressed by people who variously care for, respect, and seek me out. The latter half saw my worser self, a soul periodically lost in self-analysis, striving for someone and something different (yet doing little more than cowardly navel gazing). We are the happily resigned marriage of our perfections and our flaws. Humans. Meh. If the aliens come I won't be overly upset if they make hamburgers of us all. (I don't really mean that, it just seemed a marvelous thing to say, would that I had the time to craft the sentence better and work the word 'ketchup' in there.) Sometimes I say things which are more beautiful than true, but I always indicate as much (even if not everyone realizes).



The Meaning of Pizza

My tummy hurts.  I just ate too much of a pizza, a pizza I had delivered from Chicago.  From the best authentic Chicago pizzeria in Chicago, Lou Malnati's Pizzeria.  Shipped overnight, packed in dry ice.  Hard not to eat too much of it.  I bought it to craft a moment.  But, the moment came and went, unhappened.

I met a harmless girl at the cafe a few weeks back.  We had a perfect, orchestrated social interaction.  I was like a conductor leading the interaction.  It was one of my finest social moments ever.  I hate the humans, a little bit.  Which is to say I love them like God did back in the day.  Back when they pissed him off and didn't do what he wanted and he didn't understand why, so he smote them all except for that Noah fella and all them critters.  I don't plan on smiting anything, besides the grievous ethical problems, I'm just not that energetic.  But I suffer God's misunderstanding of humans, from time to time.  So, these little perfect moments mean something to me, when everything sings with a harmony that feels like it was always and forever just unheard.  And I get excited thinking I found my groove.

And so I bought the pizza.  She was a recent transplant from Chicago, weeks recent. And I smoothly asked her to join me on the weekend for the Hollywood Forever Cemetery movie with some friends.  And she eagerly accepted.  And I got the pizza because in the course of our conversation she'd recommended it, and told me you could get it online, and so I did after some initial considerable confusion with me thinking she said "Illuminati's Pizza" and "Lou Minati's Pizza".  Because it's been years since I had a decent Chicago pizza, and there's only once place in the whole of Los Angeles that does a Chicago style pizza, and it's in Silverlake, and I wasn't sure how authentic it really was (it resembled not at all the Armand's Chicago-style pizzeria of my Washingtonian youth).  And we talked a few times leading up to that Saturday, but then the day came, I called, and she suddenly had other plans.  She flaked, but asked me to ask her again.  Humans.  I don't know what to make of them.  I should make it clear my intentions were not unusual or extreme.  This wasn't meant to be a date, I had no specific interest in her beyond her being interesting, the banter being fun, so let's pal around.  I didn't find her attractive, but she was not necessarily particularly unattractive either.  (All this I say relative to me, I have no idea what the rest of the world thinks of her.  They probably found her prettier than I did, my tastes being a few degrees off the norm.)  She was in that gray area where given the right interactions I may have come to find her prettier, but I had no such ambitions, my interest was purely platonic.  And she flaked, and even though she very pointedly said she hoped I'd ask her again, when I did, I got a similar result.  She was busy again with work, and her brother, and she is now traveling about the country on work errands.  And, to my way of thinking, and I think the world's thinking as well, if she'd had any significant interest in hanging out, it would have happened by now.  Ah well.

I don't mind that nothing came of it.  I don't mind perhaps not being her cup of tea.  I have no expectations that I be anyone's (though am grateful that I am some people's).  And perhaps her new job is demanding, and her new apartment requires setting up, and her brother...  but I just wish society didn't so much rely on subtleties and subtexts.  Because I drown in the excess of available cues.  And I miss out on quite a few friendships and dates as I always err on the side of caution.  It's like if you know your sense of smell isn't so good, it's better to be safe than sorry and scream "Fire!" when you think you smell even the slightest hint of smoke; it's like the identical opposite, actually.   I won't call her again.  Two attempts on my part was enough.  Who needs the bother?
I should perhaps stick with the people who make more native sense to me (though there are few).

The pizza was good.  Some people (like my dad) have this charming notion that everything happens for a reason.  Ah, pretty, lucky little imbeciles.  If I believed them I would say, "I met her solely so that she could introduce me to Lou Minati's pizza."



The Me of Hidden Variables

On a handful of occasions it has been suggested that I am complicated.

While I think that may be a reasonable impression formed, I am of a somewhat contradictory view.  My complexity is merely the illusion created by the hiding of the variables which govern me.

One alternate notion about quantum mechanics that I believed before I knew other more intelligent and PhDed fellows already came up with it (my life is filled with devastating cleverness I exhibit only to find that someone got there 50 years before, it's very frustrating) is the notion that the randomness we think we see at the subatomic level is not randomness but are the unpredictable effects of intrusions from energy/matters/forces in higher dimensional space-time.  And I don't mean the words energy or forces in the new agey sense!  I mean it in the literal sciencey, non-paranormal sense!  These intrusions are hidden variables, we can't directly know what's going on in these higher dimensions, all we see is their effect on our own, and to us the effect appears random, but really had we omniscience enough to know the goings on of the higher dimensions, it'd be just as deterministic as Newton's apple.  So, my theory of myself is that I'm as simple as cheddar cheese, but my cheese is simply being twisted through a biased filter of social whateverthehell and so appears complex.  I hate the sorts of people who intentionally complicate themselves, who crave and craft a view of themselves as different.  Hopefully I'm not one of them.



Sometimes I Hate the Humans

We hate what we don't understand, and that's why sometimes I hate the humans. Technically, I am a human, too. But, I am the exception; I make complete sense*.

Clearly if the world and its many inhabitants tend to confuse me, it's assuredly in me that the trouble lies; I'm not so arrogant as to assume that it could be otherwise.  And the humans are not truly so confusing, I suppose, for they are predicable.  That which doesn't surprise should not confuse... But where I get routinely tripped up is in those irregular and brief moments when things make a kind of unfamiliar but overdue sense... and I make the fatal mistake of feeling into believing the world has finally been set right, that I have finally hit upon the grand unifying equation for living my life:  that I have found my groove, my niche, my self.

It comes when the girl who shouldn't like me does, when the stranger suddenly becomes the friend, when my written words find a brief delighted audience, when there is resonance... and the universe has found my harmonic, or I, its.

These last few weeks have seen one undoing peculiar interaction flow into another undoing peculiar interaction: nothing rotten, but nothing right. I am grateful in these teasingly queer moments that days have endings, that weeks have endings, that years have endings, and that perhaps the end is the beginning.


* I make complete sense to me, whether or not I make sense to others is speculative; I do at least go to great lengths to volunteer the information necessary for me to be understood.