Monday, September 1, 2014

Six degrees of knotty...

Okay, I have to write about this, while I have the chance.  I seem to have an odd knack for connecting with people.  I don't know if you'd call it a "gift" or if other people have this kind of weird "kismet" experience.  But today on Facebook, one of my friends observed that she's either met or reunited with many people thanks to me.  And it occurs to me that I have had some unlikely meetings with people I never thought I'd see again.  Here's a short list of anecdotes.

*  My friend Amy on Facebook went to high school and one semester of college with me.  We were never particularly close friends, though she and I seem to have connected on the Internet.  She has friended at least one person who knows me (and her) only online because they interacted on a post I'd made and discovered they like each other.  She reunited with a fellow music major from my college.  And last night, my father's cousin's wife, Jo, recognized Amy because it turns out Jo's first husband was best friends with Amy's dad and they'd all gone to high school together.

*  Last year, on a night Bill and I were going out to eat with a guy Bill hadn't seen in 32 years (and his wife), we ran into a guy I worked with back in the summer of 1994.  I hadn't seen him since then and San Antonio is a big city with many restaurants.  But we sure did bump into each other at Dough.

* I worked with another guy in 1994 who is from Belfast, Northern Ireland.  After my stint in Armenia, I traveled through Europe with him and his now wife, who was also working with us that summer.  In 1998, I was waiting tables in Williamsburg, Virginia and a couple with thick Irish accents sat in my section.  It turned out they were my friend's next door neighbors.

* In 1997, I went to the Peace Corps office in Washington, DC to do some job hunting.  That office serves thousands of people from the around the country.  The day I went there, I ran into a guy whose apartment I crashed in for a week when a friend and I went to Bulgaria.  He was from New York and I was from Virginia and we both happened to travel there the same day.  The following year, I went to the office with someone I was in Armenia with and we ran into another person from our group who happened to be in the office the same day.

* I even met Bill in a similar way.  After chatting with Bill for about 18 months, Bill told me he needed to go to Little Rock, Arkansas for a meeting.  I told my Aunt Gayle about it, who commented that her brother, Ralph, a former Virginia state trooper and current (at that time) member of the Kansas National Guard, also had to go to Little Rock.  Gayle told Ralph to look for Bill; I told Bill to look for Ralph.  But they ended up looking in the wrong areas.  Ralph thought Bill was a Kansas Guardsman (because Bill lived in Kansas-- he was actually a federalized Arkansas Guardsman).  Bill thought Ralph was a Virginia Guardsman, because Ralph is from and lives in Virginia.  They finally bumped into each other by chance on the last day of the conference.  Ralph checked Bill out for me and we met in person about two months later.

* When I was in Armenia, I ran into a young Armenian woman who was beautiful, smart, and very much wanted to get a full ride to a small Eastern liberal arts school.  Before I met her in person, I noticed she had left a note on the bulletin board in the Peace Corps office in Yerevan, asking if anyone was a graduate of Hamilton College in New York.  I actually knew someone who was, though he worked for an NGO.  I gave him the woman's contact info and he met with her and was very impressed.  Later, I met the woman in person when she was hanging out with the 16 year old son of a guy who worked for the USDA.  In talking with her, I realized she was the one who had left the note on the bulletin board, so I told her that I had given her info to my friend.  She asked me if I happened to know anyone who went to Bowdoin College in Maine.  As a matter of fact, I did.  So I put her in touch with a guy in my Peace Corps group, who met her and was impressed.  Last I heard, she'd gotten a scholarship to Bowdoin.

I rarely get lost.  I also have an uncanny knack for finding my way around.  A lot of times, if I want to  go somewhere and don't have a map, I'll just look for it and end up finding it anyway.  One time, I was in the car with an ex boyfriend and we were driving around Norfolk, Virginia.  We wanted to go to the Naro Theater.  Neither of us had ever been there before, but we sure enough found it quickly.  When Bill and I travel, he lets me look for restaurants because I have a weird talent for finding good ones that turn out to be unusual.  Part of that, I must admit, is based on my sense of smell.

I think the reason this happens to me is because I have a fantastic memory.  I remember people, places, sights, situations and sounds... it's probably why I have perfect pitch, because I remember how things sound.  Maybe other people are also running into folks they either already know or people who are somehow connected to them, but because they don't remember details, they don't realize it.  If I someday develop a disease that robs me of my memory, it will probably be especially devastating... the same way my dad was devastated when he lost the ability to talk and sing (which would also devastate me).

This weird knack I have for bumping into people is another reason why I doubt we're done with Bill's ex kids and ex wife.  I have a feeling we'll see them again because that just seems to be how it is with me and those who are connected to me somehow.      


  1. Interesting. My mom says perfect pitch (as in "absolute pitch"; relative pitch, which, when finely tuned, is considered "perfect pitch" by some peopla and is actually more useful than absolute pitch; fortunately, most people who have absolute pitch usually have a fairly finely tuned sense of relative pitch as well) is nothing more than extreme memory, which is a reason its incidence is high in the OCD/autism spectrum population. My mom says absolute pitch is the auditory equivalent to not needing to take along fabric swatches or paint samples in order to match colors, because a person with it remembers the exact shade. I'm not THAT visual, although my visualy memory is far from bad.

    My memory is along the OCD lines on not so much the ability to remember, but the inability to forget. My shrink says learn to deal with the bad stuff, but otherwise use it as though it's a gift even if it can be a curse at times, and to keep the OCD aspect of one's personality in check so that it does not interfere with one's ability to reason. He said half the people I'll encountr in medical school willl have OCD memories just as I do. It, along with the ability to understand complex material, is what will get me and others like me through medical school. then we can do what we want with it after the fact, as in finding specialties that work well with our strengths and deficits.

    My defficit is in dealing with people in tight situations. years before it will happen, I dread the prospect of telling a parent his or her child has cancer, or, which I will deal with even sooner, didn't make it through an auto accident. I'd much rather stre at cells in a microscope, then report my findingss to someone else, who takes it to the next step. i won't even mind managing drgug trials as long as I'm not dealing directly with patients. The worst year of my life will probably be my internship, but if i can make it through that, things will steadily get better. If I can't, it's back to school for doctorates in both microbioloogy and biochemistry so that I can still do the job I want to do. Some would say i should just gonstraight to the doctoral programs in the sciences, but something tells me I want the MD even if I don't use most of the practical training on a regular basis. As far s stitching up a three-year-old's boo boos, i could do that right now if I were allowed. Piano and violin are good for fine motor skills, My dad, who's a guitarist, does the clenest stichery of any doctor i know.

  2. The other day, I felt like hearing John Lennon's "Woman". I was surprised when it was about half a step higher than I remembered it. It didn't sound right. So I played another video and that one was in the key I remembered.

    Frankly, having perfect pitch is kind of annoying sometimes because I always notice and am bothered when things don't sound "right". But my ears aren't as accurate as they used to be.

  3. My mom says the "absolute pitch" form of perfect pitch typically varies in its refinement. It may not be going steadily downhill. It may be in a temporary low point but may come back just as strong as ever.

    You're ight, or at least i agree, that it's an annoyance. if i play a piano, usually a really old one, on which the notes are in tune with one another but which cannot be tuned to standard pitch because the strings won't tighten any further or some similar such reason (otherwise why bother to tune a piano), it's terribly distracting, and requires transposing, but it's worse than simple transposing. Playing a C and hearing an a is mind-blowing, as you would understand.

    Also, when friends casually sing popular songs, they have no idea the songs should be in a certain key. I guess they don't really have to be, but if Five for fighting did a song in one key, it's bothersome for me to hear the song casually sung in a random key. i can deal with it if it's a performance and the performer has it transposed because he or she needs it in another key, oddly enough, but when someone casuallly blurts a song out, i expect it to be in the right key.

    Or if a choir director randomly decides a given piece should be played down a half-step or full step, for most, it's a "who cares?" sort of thing, but for someone with absolute pitch, it requires transposition just to sing the correct notes.

    Also, it can become an obsession. Some people go around ringing doorbells and telling residents the pitch of their doorbells.

    When I was last in the hospital , it was mildly useful. A C# beep on my IV meant a cord was kinked somewhere. A B natural meant the fluids needed replacing. An E natural meant the antibiotic sack was either empty or the drip wasn't reaching the line. The IV sounds were just there to annoy patients; it was assumed the nurses would hear it, because nothing read on any screen at the nurses' central station. If the sound went on too long, I'd push my button and say "^603's hose is kinked " or whatever was applicable. It must have been specific to the particuar set of equipment used in that ward, because I can recall in the same hospital the beeps being different pitches, although at that time maybe I was too sick to bother memorizing what the different pitches meant.

    That's like the only time in my life it's evr been useful beyond being a novelty act.

    I hope your move is going or has gone well.


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