Thursday, November 8, 2018

Does Everyone Stare?

All these open spaces 
They give me no cover now
I stand out here
reflecting all your fears off my odd surfaces
And those friendly faces 

They just disappear somehow
Behind the glass
The dirty window curtains and shades coming down

Believe it or not, those words were written from the perspective of a sentient ball of raw ground meat. Perhaps you are familiar with the animated TV series Aqua Teen Hunger Force? Perhaps not. I don't know much about the show myself, but its band of protagonists consists of a milkshake, a box of french fries, and the aforementioned "Meatwad." I also don't really know what Meatwad's deal is, but he seems like a pretty neurotic and insecure dude.

I just got back from the massive Society for Neuroscience meeting, at which roughly 30,000 of my fellow neuroscientists gather to meet, share their research, and socialize. I've been going nearly every year for 20+ years. I always look forward to it, and yet there is almost nowhere in the world I feel less comfortable.

I haven't written in a while, and there are many reasons for that, but one of them is that I am doing quite well considering my symptoms first emerged nine years ago. Most of the time, I am pretty well controlled, and I feel some considerable measure of guilt complaining about P. But, however I may look on the outside, I'm not always feeling so great inside.

When I am interacting with you, I am constantly conscious of where my hands are, what they are doing, my posture, whether I am talking normally, whether I am blinking, whether I am swinging my arms, whether my gait is awkward, whether my foot is twitching. I have no idea whether you notice any of this, but I am obviously aware of everything my body is doing. Add to this the sleep deprivation, time zone change, and the need to always be "on" because you might run into someone important literally at any place and anytime, and my symptoms become more difficult to hide. I feel like I can seem pretty odd or off to people, but I doubt many people know what is going on with me. Instead, I probably just seem weird, or they don't notice at all.

Honestly, if you know what you are looking for, I think it's pretty easy to spot. I see it all the time in other people. In fact, coincidentally there was an unusually high number of people with P on my plane to San Diego. Maybe there was some kind of group traveling together <shrug>. One friend who saw me for the first time in several years told me he knew from across the street. His father has P. I would be fine if people knew my condition. It's more the people that see things they don't understand that freak me out. It makes me feel like I'm under white hot klieg lights.

Don't get me wrong. I love to see my neuroscience friends, and I had a great time with many of you over the past five days. I love immersing myself in the science. But I was also reminded that I sort of understand where Meatwad is coming from.

These bright clear skies
They they give me no peace of mind
I'm out here cooking all alone in the sun
Put me away I'm done anyhow
And those funny faces
Yeah they're all crumbling down
It's something like shying away
From any shapes that you don't recognize

1 comment:

  1. "Does Everyone Stare" is the title of a song from the album Regatta de Blanc by The Police. The lyrics in the post are taken from the song "Misfits and Mistakes" by Superchunk, which was seriously written from the perspective of Meatwad.