#NerdsUnite: The time a square walked into a bar (and not the kind of square you’re thinking)
First off, hi, I’ve missed you all (well you all & writing).
See, I’m expanding my horizons creatively, and …
I went viral *three times for the first time in my career (well, went viral in terms of content I actually posted not what someone posted about me).
*Update: Four times (after this post). Twice on Facebook and twice on Instagram.
Interestingly enough with zero engineering. Not only is it all organic, I’m not asking anyone for favors in commenting or reposting, etc. It just keeps happening!
More on that later, this message is too important.
As some of you may know, I have a neurological condition called Synesthesia.
I was diagnosed with it this past February, and the animation series of how I see the world is what went viral.
What I didn’t know is that I have a specific type of synesthesia.
A type I had never heard about until this past week, and it’s just as much of a game changer as the diagnosis itself.
Here’s how I got there:
Back in May of 2017, I noticed someone at a restaurant with what I described as “really weird body language.”
It bothered me so much that after we took this photo …
… I mentioned it to my girlfriends asking if they had noticed it too.
They both said no.
“He was listening to someone’s conversation. It was weird.”
Instinctively, I knew what he was doing – but for obvious reasons didn’t think “his target” was me or my girlfriends.
Locals call Hollywood (where we were) Hollyweird for a reason.
Mental and physical location aside, I knew what I saw, and shortly thereafter began noticing a pattern from people with the same “off body language.”
(Technically, I used the term ‘incongruent body language,’ but for the purpose of the post we’ll breeze by with brevity.)
After that night, I recognized a pattern of going somewhere, and 10 or so minutes later, the same “off body language” person would show up.
Not the same exact person, a person with the same “off body language.”
Being single (at the time), I intuitively knew I was being watched/followed.
My brain went, “red alert red alert.“
Why? I have no idea, I just knew it was happening.
Instead of panicking, I contacted my father to see if there was a reason I would be followed by private investigators (who I assumed the people with the “off body language” were). My father worked for a long time as an attorney for insurance companies and hired them frequently.
At the time, I had been CMO and cofounder at an Insurtech startup to a … let’s just say … less than “desirable” CEO.
(I’m purposefully not linking as to not continue the trend of promoting poopy diapered people.)
He was a convicted felon (which never bothered me), so my father assumed I was being followed to assess what my liabilities were.
“Take notes, be aware, but I wouldn’t worry about it,” he said.
I listened, and went about my life.
Only the more I “went about my life,” the more I was openly followed/ documented.
And not even in the fun way of following/ documenting someone, like Peralta vs. The Pontiac Bandit aka Doug Judy from Brooklyn 99 …
… I had the Lifetime Movie version of (what I thought at the time was) a private investigator.
Calling them a cheap knock off would be a compliment. They were so bad at blending in, it became comical.
Did I mention the tech that I co-founded was identical (in terms of execution) to what I was experiencing?
The startup was based on insurance adjusters who spend a lot of money going into the field to take assessments of damage.
Why not (from the comfort of their own desk) send in a proxy (meaning not the adjuster but another person – think similar gig economy concept to an Uber driver) to the pictures and video for the adjuster?
I helped to create tech (that I’m not saying was used to stalk me, but) was VERY SIMILAR to the pattern that I was experiencing of someone (I did not know) showing up and taking pictures and video of me.
Here look, I was an entrepreneur on season one and two of the CNBC show the West Texas Investors Club, and in season two they showcase the tech:
I went to the police and over and over and over and when I gave my statement, they asked “how I knew” I was being followed.
“I can read body language,” I said to one of the officers.
He continued to stare as I pressed.
I.KNEW.WHAT.I.WAS.SEEING … I just didn’t understand what it meant. (I left this part out of my statement.) It’s “off body language!!” Why can no one see this?!
Frustrated, but not flustered, I recognized I didn’t need the officer to believe me in that moment, I just needed it documented.
I asked all the officers I spoke to to put their name on a business card just to have it for later (if needed).
I then decided to follow the advice of Gavin De Becker (who had sent me his book back in 2012 after I cold emailed him re: security advice).
He highlighted the chapter “Better to be wanted by the police than not to be wanted at all.”
I then decided to switch up my strategy and listen to Gavin.
I knew what my eyes were seeing, I just didn’t know how to prove what “off body language” was or meant (other than some random person showing up and taking photos and video of me).
Fortunately, two years later life had other plans, and the proof was finally ready to go into its home … aka “the pudding.”
The tall man in the blue featured here (uncensored photos also available) had on his phone hundreds if not close to a thousand photos of me, my mom, and two close family friends Ashley and (Ashley’s mom) Debra.
Only … us… No other photos were on the camera roll.
How did I see his the contents of his camera roll?
Because he had the same “off body language” as the others, so I broke my own recently adopted “ignore at all costs” suggestion.
I walked up to him and shouted “WHY ARE YOU FOLLOWING ME?” so loudly the entire bar and bartender turned.
I then quickly grabbed his phone from his hand, opening up his camera roll on his droid.
Now, if a random stranger grabs your phone, what would you do?
A) Knock them out
B) Say “hey give me my phone back”
C) Go, hey, you’re crazy … and get “help” of some kind.
The tall man in blue did none of that.
When I saw the photos, obviously I was horrified to have visual confirmation of what I already knew …
… in shock and still standing in front of him, he said “Do you want me to delete them?”
“No,” I said, “because you already have them uploaded remotely to a server.”
Here are my mom and Ashley’s comments from our trip:
Now, in terms of my own internal processing, I knew that “off body language” had moved from private investigator territory to stalker/ harasser.
This behavior had gone on for over two years at this point.
Private investigators don’t need to investigate people for that long.
People are really really REALLY easy to figure out.
Whatever “liabilities” I would have had would have been assessed.
To do this for two years was about control, sexual gratification (this personality type literally gets off on it), and intentionally inflicting emotional distress.
This makes sense why it was the “bargain basement” version of an “investigator.'”
They were there to be seen, and to me I knew what I was LITERALLY SEEING, I just didn’t understand what it meant.
Two years later (almost to the day, in June of 2021), my husband and I were leaving one of our favorite spots in Koreatown, the Normandie Club, when I noticed a man with the same “off body language.”
After a year being in a global pandemic and experiencing a “reset,” I apparently had an attitude reset and decided to stand my ground (yet again).
Unlike the “off body language” people, I was very very much “on,” and mentally and physically ready to put a stop to this.
I stood my ground, and oh oh oh got the surveillance footage of it happening.
I then went back to the police, footage in hand, and said yet again, what I saw.
“I can read body language,” I said. “I know what I’m seeing, and it’s the same pattern as a man who also took pictures and videos of me and my family/ close friends on a cruise.”
He didn’t know what to do, and recommended I hired a private investigator.
Which I did, and on day two of the investigation they found out that the felon CEO had been arrested again (for attempted murder, extortion, and kidnapping).
I love how you can say to someone yeah … I co-founded a company with someone who was arrested for attempted murder, extortion and kidnapping (which would be bad enough) …. but then you add in it happened in Thailand!?!?!
Here are screenshots the New York Post uh, posted:
Now what you can’t see in this last shot, is the shirt he’s wearing while getting arrested.
It reads: “why do i feel like i’m surrounded by idiots?”
I had given two other names to the investigator, but for day two of an investigation, not only was I taken more seriously, I was actually believed.
Technically, the investigator believed me based off of the surveillance video.
His first response when it was sent via text was “oh yeah, you’re being followed.”
His expertise, combined with background information only (legit) private investigators are licensed to access, I was yet another step closer to what …
Fortunately, life had other plans.
In October of 2021 (on our one year wedding anniversary), I bumped into the Senior Lead Officer for our area walking back from breakfast.
See, there is one officer in charge of all of the other officers and building safety etc, in any given area/district.
How do I know this?
Thanks for asking …
… because my friend/ neighbor was murdered.
I was there when it happened, and I planned the meeting for the murder.
<tangent> Not like the meeting the murderers did “pre the murder,” but the meeting after for those affected by said murder.
Do you know how HARD it is to figure out who the hell you talk to when something like this happens (spoiler alert: you can’t google what to do when your neighbor is murdered).
As residents we found out about the murder via a cop knock on all of our doors. (There is no unhearing the specific tone of a cop knock …)
We were all shocked that the building owners (aka the people legally responsible for our safety) failed to take action in the form of an email … memo … smoke signal …
The representative for the owners actually hung up the phone on the Senior Lead Officer, which he said was a “first.” His exact words were “she was too embarrassed to speak to me.”
It took me two weeks of footwork, phone calls, and offering to buy someone a drink to figure out what to do, and a few days longer (and more convincing) to achieve my goal of having someone talk to our community.
See, it’s not “technically” the Senior Lead Officer’s job to show up and speak to tenants. Yes, we were in his jurisdiction, but common sense would dictate that the building should have done something … LITERALLY ANYTHING WOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER THAN NOTHING.
The Senior Lead Officer told me the murder was “targeted” and that we had nothing to worry about. I pressed that we did have something to worry about. We were a very shaken community without any proper safety protocols, nor trust in those who are legally mandated to monitor our safety.
The Senior Lead Officer said, “These things turn into a bitch fest.”
I assured him (as the unofficial mayor/ game night organizer) I would do the best that I could to make sure that didn’t happen.
I stood so strongly by my word, that when I wrote out the “Murder Memo” that I placed under each door, I made sure to include the phrase “it is not intended to be a bitch fest.”
True to his word, he did show up, and true to my word, it wasn’t a bitch fest.
I already had respect in the building, but now I unlocked a new “respect achievement” and new friend in the Senior Lead Officer.
He knew I said what I mean and I mean what I say. </tangent>
In all of my dealings with going to the police, I never mentioned that I knew their boss.
My instincts told me not to.
With him COINCIDENTALLY now in front of us on our ANNIVERSARY, I took the opportunity to catch up like Chatty Cathy’s.
After I updated him about our building (his fellow officer was SHOCKED we had a murder, which was oddly comforting that I guess murders don’t happen in LA as much as I thought they did for an LAPD officer to be surprised), I asked him for his advice.
I told him I had surveillance footage, I told him what had been released in the news, and to my delight, as I pulled out my phone, he said, “I believe you.”
He then offered guidance, and said how sorry he was that I was going through something like this.
I thanked him for his continued kindness, and also took a moment to ask for a photo. It was pretty random to not just bump into him on the street (after a year and some change), but on our one year wedding anniversary.
Obviously, I’m not going to post the picture, but for the pics or it didn’t happen audience, here’s what a “Senior Lead Officer’s” business card looks like:
So now I knew what I knew in terms of “reading body language,” I knew I had external proof of that (with confirmation of photos and videos taken on the cruise), I had surveillance footage, and now I have confirmation of the Senior Lead Officer’s support.
A few months later (in February 2022), I scheduled an appointment with my therapist.
See, I was set to go into a body language training program and I had discovered through my research (which now I do on everyone thanks to being autistic) that the program “organizer” if you will (who called himself a Human Lie Detector … which is laughable) I found out was ALSO involved in a kidnapping a few decades back.
Why do people attempt to kidnap people?!?!! Didn’t your mothers teach you to keep your hands to yourself?!!?
I was completely HORRIFIED by what I read and scheduled a session with my actual therapist who is a lovely, logical woman.
I caught her up on what was going on (she already knew about the murder, and stalking, but the Human Lie Detector part was new) and I read to her out loud the email I sent to him.
Excuse me, there’s no such thing as a Human Lie Detector, so why not call him the very basic name of … Barry.
“I’m really good at reading body language,” I said. “And I know I’ll find a new teacher, I just don’t understand HOW I’m seeing what I’m seeing.”
“What do you see exactly,” she asked?
(This was the first time in my life I had been asked this question.)
“I see shapes in people. It’s super simple – it’s just an outline. It’s a cookie cutter that I can only compare to being a fingerprint. I don’t need to see any other details about the person to know who it is.”
I drew this …
“Normal” people have a shape around them very close to their body.
Since every body has their own shape, its unique … like a fingerprint.
And then one day I saw a square shape around them and went, “WTF?!?!”
Uhhhh … is NO ONE GOING TO ADDRESS THE SQUARE?!
The square shapes are further away from their body (than what I was used to seeing) and each square shape is identical.
I’ve never seen identical shapes in people before this life experience, which is how I knew it was odd and that something was ABSOLUTELY happening … and somehow these people are all connected.
The shapes are automatic, and occur naturally.
I’m not sitting there creating a shape to put around someone, it already exists … I just see said shape.
Now, at this point, I had figured out I was autistic and was thinking this was a combination of being good at “reading body language” and autism. I had heard being autistic was a superpower, so I just assumed.
I then went into what I experience (which was the most vulnerable I had felt in my entire life).
I went from WTF to borderline short circuiting in a matter of moments.
In my mind, I thought what I saw/ feel/ taste/ smell/ and hear (which are all seen, felt, tasted, smelled, and heard like I see, feel, taste, smell, and hear everything “else”) was just “what made me unique.”
I thought as I Rosie from the Jetsons short circuited myself.
I spent the next six months really angry.
Angry at every therapist I had talked to … angry at the system for LITERALLY NO ONE ASKING IF I HAVE SYNESTHESIA!?!!?!
Still unsure what Synesthesia was (I also mispronounced it for the first three of those six months) … for those (like myself) who don’t know:
Synesthesia is a hereditary neurological condition that causes (in the simplest terms) hyper-processing and hyper-connectivity.
For me, I connect dots with lightning speed, see shapes around people, hear actual tones in almost everything, and experience time as a layered tangible “thing.” I experience synesthesia as a “naturally occurring thing.” I see shapes with my “actual” eyes and not my minds eye.
My eyes really were seeing what they were seeing even if I don’t understand WHY A SQUARE WALKED INTO A BAR?!?! And why I was suddenly seeing one across so many people I had never met before.
Somewhere a few months back, I stopped holding onto anger (#ThankYouAcupuncture).
I didn’t care if a square walked into a bar, I didn’t care that for THE FIRST THIRTY SEVEN YEARS OF MY LIFE I had a medical condition that was VERY diagnosable … I decided for myself to make changes and to educate myself on what that means so I don’t hold onto that anger for another 37 years.
To do that I had to animate what I see.
Which is what I did.
Watch … this is one of the videos that went viral …
To function as an autistic synesthete, I need colored lenses (which is why I have almost always carried sunglasses with me), headphones, and if neither of those work, a dark room for approximately 20 minutes.
As long as I am monitoring my intake of “sensory experiences,” I have more energy than I’ve ever had before, and am very clear headed.
Think of it like a level you use to hang a picture on the wall …
I’m the little bubble in the middle. If I go too far left or too far right … I have a meltdown (which doesn’t mean I kick and scream) it’s more like the world gets fuzzy and I can’t find a focal point. I get physically buzzy and it can lead to dizzy spells or worse, a seizure.
Be the bubble, is my new mantra as I visualize the bubble just chilling in its home right there in the middle of the level.
After I went viral a few weeks back, I reached out to new friends on the Gram and crowd sourced their experiences with synesthesia. To date, I have talked to 402 people, and one of them (hilariously a friend from high school) mentioned having a case of associative synesthesia.
Not knowing what that was, I googled it and found this graphic:
There are two types of Synesthetes, Projective and Associative.
I am a proud Projective Synesthete.
This explains how it only took me 14 seconds of surveillance footage to spot a square because even now when I look back at the footage, I still see it.
Projective Synesthetes ACTUALLY SEE/hear/smell/taste what they see like it’s a table, or like it’s any other tangible “thing” in life. It’s a different way of processing from Associators, which suddenly made everything “click” and make more sense than ever.
I have a gift.
I have a superpower.
It’s real, and now that I know what it is, and now that I’ve educated myself I will continue to help others on their journey as I know I have a unique voice and AS A PROJECTOR I GET TO VISUALLY CREATE WHAT I SEE!!
What do I see, exactly?
The vibrational energy in life. So the next time you say, “don’t mess with my vibe,” know that you literally do vibrate!!
I can see and hear it, and I know I’m not alone.