My Beautiful Mind.

(there is a recipe in this post. ^that one.)

Ok,

Ever since I had a discussion on twitter with an author (Hannah Moskowitz) about something, I’ve received MANY emails/FB messages/tweets asking me about it. What is it I was discussing?

Synesthesia.

Ok, did I lose 3/4 of you? I’m not surprised. First, let me give you the Webster’s (ok, wikipedia…DONATE) on Synesthesia.

Synesthesia (also spelled synæsthesia or synaesthesia; from the Ancient Greek σύν syn, “together”, and αἴσθησιςaisthēsis, “sensation“) is a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.[1][2][3][4] People who report such experiences are known as synesthetes.

Difficulties have been recognized in adequately defining synesthesia:many different phenomena have been included in the term synesthesia (“union of the senses”), and in many cases the terminology seems to be inaccurate. A more accurate term may be ideasthesia.

In one common form of synesthesia, known as grapheme → color synesthesia or color-graphemic synesthesia, letters or numbers are perceived as inherently colored. In spatial-sequence, or number form synesthesia, numbers, months of the year, and/or days of the week elicit precise locations in space (for example, 1980 may be “farther away” than 1990), or may appear as a three-dimensional map (clockwise or counterclockwise).

To put it more simply, my brain works differently than most. Strangely, most people with Synesthesia go undiagnosed, because A: who in the hell knows what synesthesia is, and B: it doesn’t usually negatively impact the life of the synesthete.

For instance, I had no idea I was a synesthete until a few years ago. I honestly thought everyone’s brain worked like mine. Synesthesia was never something I studied, and when I had learned of it, I only learned of grapheme (letters and numbers as colors) synesthesia. To me, letters and numbers have no specific color. My number line is not Pantone in its complexity.

Up until a few MONTHS ago, I had no idea that I had a THIRD form of Synesthesia, one of the RAREST forms, until I was having a conversation with my husband about the trains, and then he said “you a, what a, huh?” when I was trying to explain my reasoning on a direction to him. My mom confirmed I was sounding crazy, and then my shrink said: “Oh, so you have a third synesthesia. FASCINATING.” I swear, he lives for my visits. I’m a conundrum.

Yesterday, I was trying to explain to another academic about what it is like living as a synesthete. Let me tell you, it’s not the easiest thing to describe.

So what have I got?

Well, first, I have a type of chromesthesia. In most synesthetes, that means that specific sounds induce references to specific colors. That’s not what it is for me. For me, specific sounds trigger specific bits of light in my brain, which feel and look a bit like fireworks.

GAH! I already feel like I’m making a bumble of this.

Ok, so my chromesthesia is both visual and tactile. I’ve been drawn to specific sounds for as long as I can remember. Take for instance, the sound of the shower running. That sound calms my whole being. More than wine, more than sleep, more than shirtless coffee and then….It’s not the showering that relaxes me, but the sounds of the water. What does it sound like to me? Well, it sounds like a shower, but what does it look/feel like to me? Have you ever had someone lightly scratch your skin up and down your arms absentmindedly? Perhaps your mother, or your partner? It feels a bit like that, only more like it’s being done with a very gentle sparkler. (Yes, like on the Fourth or Guy Fawkes Day.) What does the shower sound look like? It looks like hundreds of trick candles have just been blown out, and are working their way back to being relit. Rain gives me an ALMOST similar effect–calming me–but it has to be the kind of rain that drowns reality, and it has to be pounding on a thin roof, like that of the three-season room in the house where I grew up. That room was AWESOME in the rain.

Every sound I hear has a trigger, but most are barely noticeable. I live in a VERY loud place, and if I couldn’t tune most of it out, I’d be overwhelmed. The one exception is music. I can sit on a bed or sofa, or just walk/run with so much Sondheim or John Williams suite, or Dvorak, and be taken away by the sensations.(I love Dvorak, because, for some reason, I feel him in the back of my neck and head.) When I was growing up, I’d spend HOURS in the basement, listening to music loud enough to be heard through the entire house. At that time, my depression and moods were severely uncontrolled, and those moments were some of the only moments I felt ok. Like I could be, o.k..

 
not what I see at all.

My second form of synesthesia doesn’t have a designation. Surprisingly, undesignated synesthesia is pretty common. So many boxes, not enough loading docks. It has to do with my memory. First, I am a diagnosed savant with my memory–even though I have trouble with people’s names–oddly, not uncommon for people like myself. However, the way my memories are organized, is apparently vastly different than most.  I have an almost spatial-sequence synesthesia for my memories. I can see my memories almost like plot-points on a graph, if that makes sense. The thing is, I have hundreds of thousands of graphs for different types of information. Family stories over there, weird historical facts about Elizabethan England over there, science on the right, books front and center, pop culture somewhere over there. (we’ll call that the Andy Cohen graph.) All I need to do is call up a specific graph, shift the points, and I’m where I need to be. Make sense?

It has long amused my family. My mother and siblings frequently like to ask me super obscure crap, then saying “I knew you’d remember.”

The last type of synesthesia I have has to do with, oddly enough, maps. Not just maps that a cartographer would create, but routes I’ve taken, places I’ve been, etc. I see directions in my head, along with possible detours/shifts, in a three-dimensional model in my mind. Like a sci-fi hologram projector. I can map out routes, determine possible traffic, obstacles, etc, like a play-by-play guide in my head. It happens automatically. I have no control over it. I pretty much always know how to get where I’m going once I’ve been there once, or have seen it on a screen, as long as I know my cardinal directions. (not as easy as you’d expect in a big city once you come out of a tunnel!)

What does this mean for me? Honestly, other than the fact that I seem to be more capable of absorbing a lot of material in a shorter period of time than most people, I don’t think it means much other than a very large water bill every month. Yeah, I know, I’m a horrible water-waster. My dream in life is to get a self-refilling shower that doesn’t yet exist to not take showers in.

When I was first diagnosed, I immediately thought, “great, something else that makes me weird.” However, now I think “Great! Something else that makes me unique.” Because it is.

Now? FOR THE RECIPE!!

This one is insane. Lately, I’ve been on a “bacon renderings-as-fat” kick. I mean, I make a ton of bacon for my brood, and I’m left with ALL that fat, and typically, a few slices. The question remains what to do with all of that goodness? Today, I went cray.

I bring you,

Bacon Coconut Granola aka Bacon Coconut Museli. I say museli because they’re just getting “toasted” in the fat on the stove top, not baked for 45 minutes. This is a rich and flavorful granola that makes THE BEST HOT OATMEAL of your life, or over milk like museli, or, if you’re like me, straight out the damn jar.

Bacon Coconut Granola Bacon Coconut Granola Bacon Coconut Granola

Bacon Coconut Granola

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Keywords: saute appetizer breakfast side snack dessert gluten-free

Ingredients (3 cups)

  • 4 slices of uncured bacon. (because, sodium)
  • 4 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup ground walnuts
  • 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions

chop the bacon into small bits

fry in cast-iron skillet or 10″ pan until they’re crispy little bits

transfer bits to paper-towel lined plate

turn the fat in the pan down to low, add brown sugar and vanilla

stir until melted

add in oats and stir for 4 minutes

add remaining ingredients and stir for another minute or two.

remove from heat.

add bacon bits back to granola.

to serve as oatmeal

add 1/2 cup granola to 1/2 cup whole milk, cook until soft, about 5 minutes

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10 thoughts on “My Beautiful Mind.

  1. You are officially the coolest person I know. I totally get it - especially the graph thing. I think I have a little bit of a photographic memory, though not enough to make me brilliant or remember names. Dammit. I can eat the hell outta some bacon though. I need this granola. In -ish weeks.
  2. It does make you unique and also the person I want on a road trip and in any test I need to take again. I promise to run the shower for you after. I found out a few years ago I've got some strange genetic disorder which makes me hypermobile, bruise easily, and take an ungodly amount of time to heal. At first, I was like wow, I'm a freak, and now I'm like Hell yeah, I'm freaky in a good way. It also made so many things growing up and even in my current life suddenly make sense. Clarity and understanding can make such a difference.

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