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Sunday, September 29, 2002

A Life in the Day of Simon Funk

Peter had an afterburner party last night to extend the burningman ambience for those who went and to those who didn't. Still enjoying the solitary space of the crisp after-rain air, it was an challenge of will to send myself off to a gathering of humans, but I did. As humans go, it was a good bunch, but my presence barely elevated above passive participant all evening. I would say passive observer, but the high percentage of people who knew me foiled my attempts at blending into the furniture, and I found myself in the midst of conversations no matter what corner I hid in. This is not entirely bad, since as I said it was a good bunch. But my, how invisible I used to be; how invisible I am used to being.

Randal and Sierra stayed the night at my house, having come down from LA for the party, and Randal and I talked 'till nearly 4am about life, the universe, and everything, though we didn't get finished with the everything part because of time constraints. This morning, Sierra related a brief conversation snippet she had with some girl at the party last night that went like this:

Girl: "How do you know Peter?"
Sierra: "I've known Simon for many years.."
Girl: "Oh, Simon... I find him very.. intimidating. He's so.. smart."


Well, fuck.

This is so incongruous with my self image, that I could ever possibly in a million years be intimidating to anyone. More, it was someone I hardly know; Sierra couldn't recall enough to identify them, but enough to rule out the one or two women there I'd had more than ten words with in my life. How could I be intimidating to someone I've never really spoken to?

Peter stopped by today and we swapped more stories. When I told him this, he said "interesting.. another woman who finds you intimidating". "Another?" I asked incredulously, and I come to learn of others--again who've never really spoken to me.

It's so odd, this world that transpires behind my back, a world I never imagined included me at all, but now I find harbors my shadow--with horns no less. It almost feels like a vindicated conspiracy theory--so people are pre-biased against me. But, not against in a negative way, just in a don't-get-too-close way.

But with knowledge comes power. Now I know how to fix it. I just have to stop being smart.

Yeah. That's the ticket.

Peter informed me today he's recently been officially diagnosed as a moderate bi-polar--a correction to an earlier mis-diagnoses of depression. He also informally diagnosed me, having known me for many years, as a depressed disthymic. (Which is to say, on my better days it's "Woo hoo! I'm feeling merely disthymic today! Top of the world [as I know it]!") At one point we were in the back room sitting on the floor after I'd finished folding laundry there, and Peter commented "Here we are.. a bi-polar and a disthymic sitting on the floor talking about depression.. If I had my gun we could just shoot each other and be done with it."

You have to understand, it was quite funny at the time. If you put a depressed person with a cheery person, one of them dies. But two depressed people are a riot.

Peter moved on and I took myself out to dinner since my cupboards have been licked bare and I hadn't the inspiration to shop and cook. The waitress flashed me a little extra smile with every interaction, and eventually said "Has anyone ever told you you look like Johnny Depp?" I managed to say "No" with a gentle smile, which was quite a feat considering my thoughts were "not since I stopped hanging out with the blind". Next time by, the conversation continued "Really? Never? With the goatee?" Again, a gentle "No" ("I, having a goatee, look like a man with a goatee. Johnny Depp, having a goatee, looks like a man with a goatee. And so, in this way, yes, I look like Johnny Depp."). Normally I'd think she was vying for a larger tip, but from earlier facial expressions I'd say she was flirting. But she wasn't my type; I wanted to tell her she'd just find me intimidating anyway.

I wandered to the cafe nearby to see what was inhabiting it; it was a young and diverse crowd, so I sated my hot chocolate urge, sat by the fire pit, and listened to conversations.

And all I could think the entire time was: If someone was saying this to me, I would be thinking "why are you telling me this?" As in: why should I care? I mean, we're not talking about intimate personal details or anything so juicy--if I cared about the person, I might care about something like that. We're talking about... just daily drivel. Something like this journal entry is turning out, but with even less substance. Ok, bad comparison--no matter how drivelly I get, I couldn't approach that level if I tried. And this was all the conversations I overheard, the entire time I was there. Maybe fifteen different people. And my follow-on thought was: I could never imitate this; I could never guess what distinguishes converstation and drivel for these people (in this context -- who's to say elsewhere). If I jumped in and just made a point of telling them arbitrary things I couldn't imagine they'd have any interest in, would they suddenly relate to me, or be thinking "why are you telling me this?"

But you know, it was just academic. Somehow, I just don't care any more.

But, of course, it doesn't escape me that this contributes to my intimidating stature. What do you say to someone who thinks 99% of conversation is pointless drivel?

You say "hi" politely, with that squinty-eyed smile that's just poorly masked pain, and you hold your breath until he moves on.

I know that smile well; I see it everywhere I go.

Which reminds me, in closing, of this article which Sierra and Randal referred me to (and a related link):

I'd be curious to take a test for innate ability at this. I've always felt half the reason I don't like most people is because I can see what they're really thinking. Now I'm wondering if there isn't more truth to that than I realized. Heh, now that would be intimidating, wouldn't it...

Alright, enough drivel. Time to watch the next episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (DVD, no commercials--yay Costco).

Life is chaos.

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Simon Funk / simonfunk@gmail.com