Face Blindness, Shakespere and Crows

by Jamie Lutton

I noticed that it has been a few weeks since I have written in. A lot has happened. Our store in the University District closing, and business picking up as spring arrives, finally, to Seattle.  I also had a big shock happen. I got diagnosed with face blindness, or prosopagnosia.

What happened was, I was walking to work  one morning about a month ago, and a young man ran up to me, to walk with me, talking to me saying hello. I looked at him and said "Pardon me, I know you pretty well from somewhere, but I can't remember where".  And he said to me "Jamie, I work for you." He then paused and said, 'You must have face blindness.'"

Face blindness is a disorder where a person cannot identify other people by their faces. Sometimes this overlaps to identifying  and recognizing shapes, like cars in a parking lot.

I investigated further, and found this to be true for me.  None of my doctors over the years picked up on this; and I have paid a lot of money out for treatment for myself. So much for Western Medicine gurus. I am pretty upset about this. This disorder has been known about since the 1940's.  All that was said was that I had mania or depression, for the reason I could not identify anyone around me, people I should have known, or find a car in a parking lot etc.

I have had so much shame over this blindness, over the years. I thought I was not working hard enough, or trying hard enough, or that I was not paying enough attention.  So, if anyone reading this can't remember faces or names at all, and are surrounded by strangers every day, try taking the tests on line. There are also a lot of good papers about it, on line, available to anyone who types " face blindness" into a search engine.

The crows seem preoccupied, and there are fewer around in the mornings as I walk to work.  I see less than half the crows I saw a month ago. I suppose they are busy courting, or playing in the spring weather. It is also easier for them to get food this time of year, so they don't feel they have to be front-and-center with me.

I am trying to observe the small habits they have; like how they perch in trees and on wires overhead. They will try to perch on the slimmest branches, which will bob and bend under their weight, as they wait above me, watching me. If they land on a skinny overhead wire, they have to sway  back and forth to keep their balance, as they are too big for skinny wires. On fatter overhead wires, they move around less.

When I annoy a crow by putting a treat down, then by standing too close to it, they will gang up on me to scold me

Recently, I put down a generous handful of peanuts, and then started to talk to a man with a dog, too near the little pile on the ground. two scolded me from the trees, then they landed on a low stone wall, sitting next to each other, facing me, a small distance away. Then they cawed at me in unison to get my attention, as loud as they could, with great emphasis, glaring at me.. I had been talking about bird behavior with the man, and  then pointed out what the birds were doing. I said they were telling us to move along so they could get to the peanuts I had put down. The man was pretty impressed by their behavior; I had just been telling them how the local crows followed me around in the mornings, showing off and begging for treats.

I had rarely before this noticed birds. I have noticed other people's pet parrots, and didn't get their charm. I have a pair of finches who nest on my balcony every year, but they are shy. I hear them, but I do not get to see them, as the male sings away in the mornings or during the day, every spring. But the crows made me notice them. As I said in a earlier blog, one or two crows followed me, wanting to play, or at  least be thrown a treat.