C11P75 – Yeah. Okay. – MOKO Press presents: LeyLines, a Fantasy Adventure Comic by Robin Childs Skip to content
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C11P75 – Yeah. Okay.

C11P75 – Yeah. Okay. published on 30 Comments on C11P75 – Yeah. Okay.

Una took that with remarkable grace. I wish I could acknowledge my hypocrisies with as much easy acceptance. I don’t think Pakku would have done so well, were their positions reversed.

I continue to listen through the audio book of Amanda Palmer’s “The Art of Asking” while I color and draw pages. A line that stood out to me as I worked today was:

“When you’re afraid of someone, you can’t connect with them. You’re too preoccupied with the task of impressing them.”

I think it jumped out because earlier I’d been preparing for a show coming up on the weekend, and while some of that was taken up with inventory and restocking and printing new signs, an equal amount of it was taken up with thoughts like these:

“What if an artist I’ve met at a previous show comes by to say hi, and I can’t remember their name? Will they think I’m stuck up? With they secretly loathe me for the rest of time? Will I burn that bridge due to my failure to properly recall them?”

“What if a fan I’ve met at a previous show comes by, and I can’t remember their name either? Or I don’t recognize them right away? Or what if they’re disappointed by the person they see? What if I let them down? What if they feel betrayed?”

Shows can be great, but the pieces that relate to names and faces is absolute torture for me. I have a very hard time with both. It usually takes a minimum of five times meeting someone before I can conjure the vague image of a face from my memory. (I still have trouble remembering what Cory looks like when he’s not right in front of me, AND WE ARE MARRIED. I see him every day!) And far, far more interactions than just five to pair a face with a name. Even then, successfully getting my mind to match those two pieces of information together is a challenge.

I often say I have a bad memory, but that isn’t exactly accurate. I have an amazing memory, but not for the things that society generally values. For example, when working on chapter two of Wavemen, I knew that there was a specific plant that people of the period associated with dilapidated houses, and I knew where to find that particular detail exactly. (The plant was sage-brush, and the info was in the footnotes of my particular translation of the Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon.) And if you want me to tell you where I was when I drew a specific page, I’ll likely be able to name the location. It’s the same for the random little details about people…but people details are harder to link together.

It’s as if my mind stores everything in entirely different places. My memory of a person will actually be five or six different memories of them. Their name, their face, their voice, their Twitter handle, their Facebook photo, their stories…all stored in different places, as entirely separate individuals as far as my brain is concerned. All that brain power to store six different people, when it should be just one. Of the available bits, it’s stories I tend to remember the best. I almost wish we introduced and remembered each other by stories. Instead of “Hey, I’m [INSERT NAME YOU WILL BE UNABLE TO RETAIN HERE],” we’d start with some amusing anecdote about our lives, and from then on we’d greet each other by “Oh, it’s the Chicken Pinball man,” and “How’s it going, Atomic Snorkeler?”

I know this is a weakness of my mind, and as a result I fixate on it. I worry about it constantly. Nobody likes being forgotten. And I don’t know how to say “You’re not forgotten, you’re just not stored properly, and if you could give me a hook so my brain could function I’d probably remember all sorts of weird little details, but I just can’t seem to get it to work and I’M SORRY,” without it being a little presumptuous. And…sounding a little crazy. So instead every time someone approaches and waves and says hello like we’ve met before, I feel a stab of icy terror hit my gut.

I’ve failed to recognize cousins who visited my table. I’ve failed to put names to faces that I’ve spent days at shows with. Some people I could tell you all the shows they’ve come by, but I couldn’t tell you their names. And it scares me. It scares me because I don’t want people to think I don’t value them. And I don’t want them to lash out because I don’t remember them the way I’m supposed to.

But Amanda is right. I’m spending all my time fearfully trying to pull that complete and properly assembled memory out of the empty hat that is my head. I’m trying to impress them by saying, “HEY how are you, I recognize your face, and can call to you by name, and talk about that Twitter conversation we had last week, and ask you how your aunt is doing since she took that fall the last time we talked at that convention back in March. Did I pass the test? Are you still my friend now? Will you still be my friend later?”

“Will you please not hurt me if I failed to get the details absolutely right?”

I’m so busy trying to maintain that connection in the past that I’m missing the chance to make a true connection in the present. I want to connect. I want to exchange stories, and talk about the things that matter. About the tough questions in life and the epiphanies that answer them. The big thoughts. And the small thoughts too. That’s what I want.

Yet it’s easier to say “Don’t be afraid,” than it is to not actually BE afraid.

I’ve tried a million and one techniques to try and fix my memory, but none have been effective. I’m wondering if maybe it’s time to just accept my brain isn’t wired that way. Is there an alternative, to constantly fretting about these short-comings? Is there something else I can focus on? Some other way to cultivate that connection, free of fear? I feel like if I can focus on something that’s a personal strength and cultivate it, rather than hopelessly trying to shore up a bottomless weakness, it’s a better use of my time. It gets me closer to a Me-way of doing things. One that acknowledges and makes allowances for my Swiss-cheese freak brain.

How do you cultivate connection? Have you ever felt fear has held you back from connecting? (And do you also have a Swiss-cheese freak brain? Or is yours more of a Gouda?)

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I don’t know that I’d call it a swiss cheese brain, but it’s definitely weird. My old roommate actually commented that my brain is weird one time because he couldn’t remember a specific sort of obscure location or thing for a video game that one of us was playing at the time, despite not being able to remember actual important stuff. Like to not stay up REALLY stupidly late most nights. And other stuff, but still. I’ve got all sorts of random tedium up in my head about games or stories that I’ve read, but anything legitimately important, like remembering the last time I had my brakes or oil changed is just lost to the ether.

I’m actually bad at cultivating connections. I don’t trust very easily when I first meet, so it takes a while for me to get to the point with any given person where I can say that they and I have a good and real connection and not just something surface layer. If I don’t interact with them for a few months straight then chances are I won’t even begin to let them in before we stop being in contact for a while. Which is problematic because it’s led to a dearth of good (non-fb) friends lately since I’ve lost contact with a lot of people. I’d say I’ve only got 5-8 people that I can call friends who /aren’t/ related to me at this point because of that and my hermit-y tendencies.

I can relate to feeling like trust takes a really long time to develop, and how a lack of interaction for long stretches can show a slow decline in the number of friends. I noticed that in my own social circles once I left college, although recently it’s started to stabilize. I’ve decided that I want to invest in the friends that are truly close. For me, that means trying to have an interaction with them that is a strong, quality interaction, rather than many little ones. Some friends I only see once every six months, or every year, but I still feel that those relationships are close because when we meet, we talk about the things that matter. Although I don’t know if they see it that way…next time I see them, I should ask!

I don’t see anything wrong with only having a small circle of friends, if those are all people that have earned one’s trust in a meaningful way. What’s the true meaning of a friendship? And can that true value actually be attained with everyone, or does the relationship become too diluted at some point to retain meaning? I don’t have the answers to these questions, but I think about them a lot.

My brain functions the same way as yours, I think. I remember the tiniest details about random things, and I am exactly the same way with not recognizing people, just bits of people – except I /have/ managed to offend someone with it. We have a neighbor who lives in the other half of our building who would say hi to us every morning as we walked (or more often ran) to the school bus stop, and it was polite to wave back so I did.

Then, when she showed up at our door one day – something about taking care of our guinea pig, I don’t exactly remember now – I could not recognize her. At all. Not only was I not very familiar with her, it was a location I was not used to seeing her in. And I was the only one at home, so I told her I was very very sorry, but I don’t recognize you and I’m not allowed to let strangers in the house. She was… polite enough, I guess, but apparently she let my parents know about it IN GREAT DETAIL later.

And she has refused to speak or associate with us ever since. (Years and years!)

I am absolutely terrified of having that sort of thing happen again, and while I’ve been told time and again that I shouldn’t get upset over it and she probably isn’t worth knowing if she gets so nasty over something like that… it doesn’t make me feel any better. I know all too well what that icy spike of “Oh no, someone waved at me” feels like.

It’s definitely a problem for me, and I know that sometimes I try too hard and end up overcompensating for it, so often I end up avoiding the issue in the first place. (If I never leave the house, I won’t offend anyone, except, oops, internet. So then I type out long comments and delete them without posting… actually posting this one because maybe I should try for once.)

Augh I totally understand how that would upset you. I get where people are coming from, with writing her off as someone not worth knowing, but while I can see their point intellectually, it wouldn’t make me feel any better emotionally. On the other hand, just reading in all these comments how common this issue actually seems to be, I think we can forgive ourselves for slipping up. Is it unreasonable to ask for some compassion? In the story you described, what happened was essentially a brain hiccup. The change in context created an inability to connect the important pieces. And a wave in the hall-way isn’t exactly cultivating a deep and close bond. Mistakes were made on both sides – the brain didn’t connect the acquaintance, and she had an unreasonable expectation on the level of familiarity you should have had. The choices made afterwards are in a different level of responsibility. She could have talked it over with you, had a good laugh about it as a ‘brain fart’ experience, and had a silly story to tell friends. Instead she decided to nurse a grudge. Those are her choices.

It makes me think of how Cory and I met.

This first part of the story I can only tell you what I’ve been told. I have pretty much no memory of it. We were both at the same college orientation meeting. Our families ended up at the same table. Cory and I got to talking about writing. He expressed that he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do, and some frustration and being unable to finish a project. I replied, in a cold and dismissive voice, “That’s because you’re lazy.”

All I remember is that I was in a very bad place at the time, but I don’t remember meeting Cory at all. I totally can believe I said something like that, though. This was teen-age me, who prized honesty above tact, and had yet to learn that my knee-jerk judgements were not always accurate or fair. Or that people were different than me. Or that compassion for others often meant compassion for one’s self. I was in a place I didn’t want to be, pursuing a degree I didn’t want, yet I’d convinced myself that I didn’t have a choice and the only option was to put my nose to the grind-stone and perform. I can easily see how I’d view someone who admitted to their doubts as “lazy.”

Anyway, it was a rotten first impression.

Cory and I met again through some mutual friends a few weeks later. I had no memory of him at all, and I could not understand why this interesting and intelligent (*cough* and handsome) young man was always glaring at me and keeping his distance. However, Cory was willing to let that first impression evolve. He realized that there was more to me than that one ugly facet. He could accept me on my bad days and my good days too. He’s now my closest friend.

Cory made a choice to move beyond that painful experience. I made a mistake, and I’ve acknowledged it and we’ve talked it through, and now it’s become a silly story we tell people when they ask “So…how’d you two meet?”

Good people will give us the benefit of the doubt. And most of the world is composed of good people. Every now and again, we’ll encounter someone who can’t get out of their own way, and that’s too bad, but we don’t need to live in the shadows of those mistakes forever. And neither do they.

That really does sound like a terrible first impression! It’s actually kind of reassuring to hear that you guys managed to work it out. That hasn’t always been my experience with people when you make a mistake or have a bad day – a lot of times they decide you aren’t worth the effort (just like people always tell me our neighbor isn’t worth the effort). Sometimes they won’t even tell you why they’re angry or refuse to speak to you (how is that helpful? You can’t work anything out or apologize properly if you don’t know what the problem is.)

It’s also pretty reassuring to see so many people in the comments saying “oh yes, me too” because it seriously felt like I was the only one who couldn’t remember people.

And it’s definitely true that people have their good days and their bad days. I’ve always wondered if a lot of the stories you hear about people being jerks are actually just the result of two bad days meeting, but there’s no way to find out most of the time.

Heh, as we’ve discussed before (DON’T YOU REMEMBER!!!! kidding) I have similar memory issues. It can be embarrassing. Now that I’m a stay-at-home Dad, my circle of people I interact with is smaller (a blessing and a curse), so I’ve been doing okay recently, but at my last job I interacted with hundreds of people in the company and in the field. It was a constant concern for me, to the point I would take notes to try to tie people to their names to their roles to their location. Which works fine as long as you don’t see them out of context.

I have even written down neighbor’s names when we first move into a place, although given my social behavior, I rarely need to refer back to this list. 🙂 Luckily (?) our current neighbor (semi-attached townhouse) won’t give me the time of day. She grunts in response if I say hello, but won’t look at me. Which is strangely kind of nice.

Note taking is something I’ve started doing. I had to call a plumber last week to fix our water heater, and once I’d gotten his name I surreptitiously wrote it on a sticky note that I hid in my pocket. So every time I was out of eye-shot, I’d check the sticky note to make sure I’d gotten his name right. It felt really silly, but it worked, so I guess that’s what matters!

I do that, too, and then right as I’m about to say goodbye when someone is leaving the house, I am suddenly sure I misremembered their name that I have checked six times, so I just say, “Bye! Thanks.” :laughcryemoji:

I’m very bad with names and faces, too. Have you thought about getting yourself tested for…. oh god. There’s an obscure medical condition that makes it almost impossible to recognize and remember faces, it’s a slight dysfunction of the part of your brain that differentiates between people. Might give you a little peace of mind to know one way or the other.

I’m also very bad with names and faces and remembering people, and I’ve found over the years the best way to deal with that is to just tell people up front. “Hi, I’m Robin. I’m bad with faces and names, so if we’ve met before, it’ll help if you remind me where it was/what we talked about.” Maybe start up conversations with your own amusing anecdotes.

Anxiety is so real and so hard to break. But little steps really help. And it helps to remember that even when you backslide, tomorrow’s another day. You don’t have to get it right on the absolute first try.

On to the page, Una really is surprisingly graceful about being called out for her bull, though I like the fact that she was ready to call Pakku out, too, and not let him get away with it either. Maybe it has to do with her being a con woman – she got caught, fair and square. If she can get something past someone she wins, but if she can’t, she’s lost, also fair and square, no hard feelings as long as others operate by those rules. In a lot of ways, as twisty and convoluted a character as she is, she and Pakku have a lot more in common than one might think; I sense that there’s still an inner core of directness in Una that manifests in very different ways.

My brain is doing that “DON’T GET TESTED! THEN YOU MIGHT FIND OUT SOMETHING IS ACTUALLY WRONG!” response, which is super silly. “What, you think you might have cancer? IT’S NOT REAL IF YOU DON’T GO TO THE DOCTOR.” Yeaaaaah brain, I don’t think it works that way…

Once Cory and I get to a more financially stable place, I might just do that. If I actually had something I could work with, there might even be a way to address it.

I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with Una’s view. She got caught, fair and square. If anything, she has a grudging admiration for Pakku being able to see it…although, he TOTALLY isn’t getting away with the old “It’s not me, it’s you” bit.

Oh my god, I know that feeling. My brain swings back and forth between that and “ANXIETY DEMONS DECIDE YOU HAVE HYPOCHONDRIA TODAY AND YOU ARE GOING TO DIE OF SOME MASSIVE HORRIBLE HOUSE-WORTHY DISEASE WITH THIS RANDOM ARRAY OF TEENY SYMPTOMS YOUR ANXIETY IS PROBABLY CAUSING AND YOU SHOULD GO TO THE DOCTOR.”

Besides, I mean… it’s not like having an inability to recognize faces is something seriously Wrong With You(tm). Might be a fun conversation starter? IDK. I have a friend who has it which is the only reason I know it’s a thing, most people I think don’t even realize it’s a thing.

I’m glad I hit the nail on the head! I enjoy analyzing characters. It’s also nice to see someone calling another character on their bull, especially when it’s the pot-and-kettle stuff we’re seeing here.

I think I have a similar problem. I’m not absolutely terrible with faces (it takes me two or three times to reliably remember a face), but I can’t figure out names. I’ve been friends with someone for most of a year now, and I still sometimes have problems remembering her name.
In order to remember names, one of my friends picks three interesting things about a person and every time he sees that person he says (or thinks) the three interesting things and their name. It helps him tie stories with a name.
I’m a visual learner, so I remember things best when I write them down, and color code everything. Maybe you could do something similar? You might also try drawing people you really want to remember in a comic that ties them with their interesting fact. If nothing else, you could just give the comic to them so they can show it to you instead of reintroducing themself.

Writing things down seems to be a good tactic with me, but I think I could combine it with what you’re friend is doing too. “Joe wrote a book. Joe likes photography. Joe has glasses and a beard.” If I just jotted down something like that, I might have a better chance of at least associating the right things with the right person. Maybe I could reduce those six separate people into one more readily if I was giving my brain some help mapping those pathways in the first place.

I don’t let failing to remember a name prevent a connection. There are a million and one ways to show you know a person without knowing/remembering their name – and someone they’re with will usually mention it at some point in talking to them, so you can file it away for later. Calling out ‘Hey! I know you!’ Or ‘Hey! I remember you!’ often works just as well as calling their name, and indicates that you did more than just file away a few bits of standard data. Also, even ‘normal’ people forget names a lot – it’s a more common problem than you might think! In my experience, the only people who throw a fit over it are people you wouldn’t want to know anyway. Though the good ones might tease you a bit, it’s all friendly.

I am officially making a mental note though, that if I ever find myself able to go to a convention that you’re at, I will make sure my badge name is the same as my username here and I will print off a copy of the portrait I use here and attach it to make it easier on you XD

Hahaha! I’ve often dreamed of people doing exactly what you suggest, but don’t feel obligated to do so! You don’t need to go to all that trouble!! Just be patient with me as my brain goes through its piecing-data-together phase, and I will consider that a great gift.

XD Actually, a group of my online friends and I were intending to do exactly that when/if we actually get together to meet in person, for exactly that reason. We ALL have similar name-face issues.

I have the same kind of trouble with face-blindness and matching names to faces (and the same kind of anxiety about it)… it made it really nerve-wracking to work at a small shop with a dedicated repeat client base. At conventions I usually have to identify people by their clothing details (which is useless if they come back the next day, of course!) It doesn’t help that at cons you’re getting such a barrage of so many new faces coming at you so quickly, either… and sometimes people are wearing costumes that make them look completely different from one meeting to the next.. or a name badge that uses a character name instead of the one you know them by (“Hi, possible-old-acquaintance. I THINK you look like a friend of mine, but it’s been a year since I saw you and your badge says something different, so please don’t be upset or take it personally if I’m not 100% sure it’s actually you?” = awkward mental dialogue as I scramble for that area of interaction that could be read as either “Of course I remember you!” or “Hi, new person!” until I can process enough information to decide which is correct. Though maybe it would be less awkward all around if I owned up and said all that out loud instead of flailing…) I’ve done the not-recognizing-your-cousin thing, too… though in my defense she’s a teenager and I hadn’t seen her in a while. Luckily her mother had stopped by the table earlier and told me to expect her to stop by, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have realized it was her at all. Context can either be really helpful or throw you completely for a loop… especially when someone shows up in a place where you wouldn’t expect to see them.

I don’t really have any useful advice to offer… I just hope that con-goers realize that this IS an extremely difficult thing for some people, no matter how hard you work at it or how much you WANT to remember everyone’s faces, or even how memorable your encounter with a given person was. (anyone whose names or faces I haven’t remembered at a con, I really, really hope you weren’t offended!)

I also have a lot of trouble pairing names to pieces of music. Which sucks if you want to get into playing Irish trad music without looking like an idiot (“of course I know that-song-that-everybody-knows, I just didn’t remember that that’s the title that goes with it….”)

Cosplay presents a particular challenge. The indignant “I WAS HERE YESTERDAY,” from people who were covered in masks or face-paint the day before is one part humiliating and one part infuriating. “No, yesterday JACK SKELLINGTON was here. We haven’t actually met…” the snarky part of my brain wants to say. But never does.

I agree that context is huge. I think the reason I didn’t recognize my cousin was exactly because I’d never seen him in that context before. I didn’t know he had any interest in comics, and at that point I’d cut off contact from my family, who had also never shown much interest in my creative endeavors. My brain had absolutely no understanding of how to piece together those two completely separate parts of my life. Just wish he hadn’t seemed so angry about it, although I can get why…Still, I think if it happened to me, I’d find it more a source of humor than frustration. But maybe that’s because I get it.

Yeah… if people get upset that you don’t have x-ray vision I’d say that’s their problem, if they’re still mad even after you point out that it’s really hard to recognize people when a costume is making them look completely different (and the noise level at cons makes voice recognition nearly impossible). A lot of the people I’ve met in that context will (thankfully) say, “I’m the Darth Vader from yesterday,” straight off. Though even just a wig or glasses or something is enough to throw off the pattern you’re trying to place…

The instances I worry about are the rare occasions where someone who’s maybe kind of shy or otherwise had to muster the courage to come up and talk tells you they love your comic… in those cases I try to make sure to check their name badge, because that I’m more likely to remember… I’m always mortified that they’ll come back and I won’t recognize them, and it’s like, “nonono, I didn’t forget you, talking to you yesterday is what made this entire convention slog 1000% worth it! I just.. can’t.. remember… faces…” o_o

I have had that exact experience. It makes me want to curl into a little ball. UGH. So hard. I just hope they’ll forgive our failings.

Everybody has their quirks, Robin. The best thing to do is just be honest about it–after all, it sounds like you’ve got a good memory for other things. If people get upset with you after you’ve told them about it, that’s on them, and honestly it tells you they aren’t worth your time anyway.

I suppose the kind and compassionate can laugh about it and move past any hurt that the lapse causes. I just wish the lapse didn’t happen in the first place…but since I’ve abandoned my dream to one day become a perfect robot, I must accept the limitations of my squishy grey matter.

I’ve gotten better about remembering non-anecdotal things (oh, the THINGS I latch onto that make good essays….), but if a person does not have a strong emotional connection with me it’s much harder to make those connections. |D
There seems to be a lot of good advice here, though – and the face-blindness thing is very much real, so don’t worry about being alone in the matter or anything. ^^
And Una’s being something of a role model, there – though I wonder just what she’d think of THAT. XD

I do take great comfort in how common face-blindness seems to be. I’ve had so many issues with my memory being wonky in weird ways that I honestly thought my issue with facial recognition was an extreme case. Seems like I’m in good company!

And I think Una would be outwardly shocked and inwardly pleased at the idea of being a good role model for anyone. She’d be the best aunt ever. The one that pushes you to get into a little trouble and live life, but then has the skills to get you out of it afterwards, so you could laugh about it over ice cream later.

When I turned 60 last summer, I gave myself permission to just get faces/names wrong permanently. (It should have been obvious to me 30 years earlier). All part of my “well I don’t know how I made it this far anyways, so might as well just _own_ it all.”

So that you know it could be worse than your con experiences … in my 20s I was an usher at a former roommate’s wedding. Now if you have this dilemma, being an usher is torture, but in any case I wound up doing it multiple times that decade. Anyways, perfectly harried, I had to seat a nice older couple. I just could not remember their names, or where we had met, so I just asked, “bride or groom’s side?”

The mother of the groom replied … “groom.”

rrrrrrr

I politely declined all requests to ush after that.

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