I have been obsessed with patterns for as long as I can remember. Patterns are very soothing to look at, I am not sure how else to describe it other than amazing. Patterns are anything that can be seen to repeat a few times, and it seems to add some consistency and stability to a world that lacks both of those.
Visual patterns are the easiest to spot first. Things like buildings being in a perfect line, or a house having windows in a row are really awesome. I love symmetrical patterns of plants. I really love geometric art, like Escher. I had a book of Escher art as a kid and could stare at that stuff for hours. But that stuff is pretty typical. I think everyone can appreciate a beautiful pattern like that. Let’s get to the weird stuff.
I really love anagrams. I used to do anagrams constantly while in school because I was bored. I would try to see how many words I could make out of a longer word. I haven’t done that for a while. I read the words on signs and make anagrams out of those too.
But it gets better. I can see words as numbers, and I can see numbers as objects in my mindspace. I guess it’s a part of synesthesia and doesn’t make sense to other people, but it feels perfectly normal to me. I can’t really describe it very well, because it is the only way I have experienced those things. To me, that’s just how the universe works and I don’t have the vocabulary to explain it.
I count the number of letters in a sign and I think about that number. I really like signs are a multiple of 3 or 5. “Highland Village” is a great name because it is both a multiple of 3 and 5, “Flower Mound” is ugly because it is prime. A sign that says Exit 54 is ugly because it equals 13, but Exit 55 is a little better because it equals 14. Exit 56 is the best of that family.
I find it unsettling to go to places that have what I consider ugly names, like Walmart. It’s prime and it just sounds awful. I will often count other punctuation marks to make it into a better number. Like Rosa’s Café, it has 9, which is normally a good number, but it is not a good number for a restaurant. A restaurant needs to be solid and strong, so it needs a multiple of 5. I read Rosa’s Café as 10 because I count the apostrophe.
I read the titles of things and care a great deal about those. I was really into Lord of the Rings as a kid, notice I said “Lord of the Rings” and not “The Lord of the Rings”. The first one has 14 letters, the second 17 letters.
I will often take a title or a sign and split it in half. Take “The Legend of Zelda”, I like it because it has 16 letters. If you split it in half you get “TheLegen DofZelda”, which is useless but mildly entertaining.
I have learned to stop doing this as much now, but it used to occupy my brain a lot. I think I mostly stopped because I found better ways to fill my mind. The only time that I start doing that sort of neurotic pattern spotting is when I am really stressed out. I don’t really talk about it much because even as a kid I realized that this would make me sound like I belonged in a padded room.