Monday, December 17, 2012


Dearest Caitlin:
It was so nice to see you last weekend.  I can hardly believe you are in your THIRD year at USC.  Seems like just yesterday you were moving into the dorm as an excited and somewhat nervous freshman.  Time surely flies.

I was interested to learn that you have changed your major, moving out of the engineering field and into the science field.  Neuro-science, I think you called it.  Your poor old grandma, who always was much more interested in people than in things, is pretty much out in left field when it comes to understanding that kind of study.  Regardless, I know you will do well.  I asked you what you intended to do once your academic training was finished and you said, “Probably some kind of research.”  This letter is to give you a suggestion.

But first, I need to tell you a little bit about me that you don’t know.  I don’t tell everybody, because they will think I am weird.  But here’s the scoop.  I see faces.  I suppose finding faces started out with your great-grandma telling me to look at the lady in the moon.  Yup, I saw her!  If my sis and I were bored with nothing to do and if it was a lovely day with nice puffy white clouds, she would suggest that we go out and find faces configured in the clouds.  So from an early age I was predisposed to see faces.

Now let me get the record straight.  I am NOT one of the people who sees faces of saints, angels or deities in fried eggs.  Some people do, though.  One lady in the south saw a face in a bun, a woman’s face that looked kind of like a nun.  She put it on display for everyone to see; most called it a nun in a bun.  The owner eventually sold it at auction for $28,000.  Now that lady was one smart, not crazy, person.  She simply saw a face….and shared it.

 But – and here’s where I want you to not think me weird – I tend to mostly see faces in linoleum flooring used in bathrooms.  In our house on Greenwood we remodeled the master bathroom and I picked out a very pretty blue and white piece of flooring that when laid, looked like a tile floor.  However, the minute I sat down to use the commode, I found every fourth tile to have a  face looking at me.  I knew it was simply a random pattern repeated stamped ever so many inches or feet.  But those faces looked back at me. To say it was a bit disconcerting is an under-statement.  I tried to get your grandpa to take the time to look at the face when his turn in on the commode came, but he never even tried.  He had previously told me that when he started MIT he went in with the intention of becoming an architect, but shortly his professor told him to change to engineering because he had absolutely no imagination.  So frankly, I don’t think he’d ever have seen a face in a floor, even if he had tried.

In our little apartment here in Mira Loma we have a bathroom floor that really isn’t conducive to having faces, but it does have tiles. One time I DID see a face in it but I’ve never seen it a second time. Which is really too bad because it was the face of a handsome man. Nevertheless, looking for him does give me something to do while I….(harrumph) sit.

The other day I googled “seeing faces” and learned that such a thing has a name – “Pareidolia” and there are neuroscientists all over the world studying this unusual propensity.  I also learned that even Leonardo da Vinci knew of pareidolia and encouraged young artists to look for examples of it to stimulate their creative juices. 
I don’t know where you are going with your interest in neuroscience, but should you think to study faces – perhaps how it is that some people see them and others don’t -  I’ll be happy to offer myself as your first guinea pig.  I can come into LA to pick you up at SC and we can then go hit a few linoleum stores.  Surely there will be lots of little faces to find; if you can see them too, you then might understand what I’m talking about. 

We might even want to drop in on a bakery where we just might use our talent to find a source of financing your Ph.D. when the time comes.  Helping a bright granddaughter earn her Ph.D would be a real treat!
....................................... from your loving grandma.

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