Friday, December 2, 2011

Duh, Monday is Red, the Number Nine is a Diva, and the Calendar is a Three-Sided Rectangle

It's official. I'm a synesthete. Promise we can still be friends? Even if I told you that the number 2 is a goody-two-shoes and that Friday is blue? Maybe I should define synesthesia and synesthetess for you first.

Synesthesia is a neurologically based condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. For example, some synesthetes (those who experience synesthesia) smell different odors for each number, or hear sounds for the different colors. For a full explanation, check out Wikipedia's page.

I don't smell purple though. I have what's called ordinal linguistic personification and spatial-sequence, or number form, synesthesia.

My ordinal linguistic personification synesthesia takes the form of numbers having personalities. The basic personality traits are contained in the numbers 1-10 with subsequent numbers having personalities formed from the individual single digit numbers within them. Lemme break it down for you:

1 = Very mailable and easily influenced personality. No beliefs or convictions of its own.
2 = Goody-two-shoes to the point of wanting to slap it. Teacher's pet. Annoying perfectionist.
3 = Naughty toddler. Very mischievous but always claims it's too young to be responsible for its actions.
4 = The older mentor/version of 2 but minus the annoying part. A very law-abiding personality.
5 = Very unique and independent, like that person who can pull off wearing plaid with stripes. Marches to the beat of its own drum.
6 = Demure. Soft spoken. Feminine.
7 = My favorite number. Easy going and like #5. Very chill.
8 = The academic who wishes it weren't a single digit number. Wants to distance itself from the others, especially #7.
9 = The diva. Don't cross her because she can be a b*tch. 3 wants to be 9 when it grows up.
10 = The overseer of the lower numbers. Denies its identity as the lowest of the double digits. Conflicted.

Good so far? And so for me, the number 79 is a very strong personality number because 7 won't be manipulated by 9, but 9 isn't sure 7 is cool enough to be seen with.

My spatial-sequence or number form synesthesia is the strongest. To help you understand a bit better, here's a good video.

I see the days of the week laid out in an "L" shape with Monday at the top of the "L" and Sunday at the end of the horizontal line. But I'm always looking at it so that Sunday and the foot of the "L" are sticking up to my right and I read the days of the week side-ways (because they are written as if the "L" were facing like it is when you write it). The days of the week are in connected boxes and they are all colored. However, Saturday and Sunday are slightly longer boxes and part of Friday bleeds into Saturday. I think this is because I know I can stay up later on those days.

Monday = Red
Tuesday = Yellow
Wednesday = Purple
Thursday = Green
Friday = Blue
Saturday = Silver/Gray
Sunday = Gold/Brownish-orange

I also have a very specific spatial orientation to the months in the year. They are arranged in a 3 sided rectangle that is missing one of its long sides. I stand in place of one long side with December to my left, followed by January and February on the short side. March begins the long side opposite me followed by April-August with September beginning the short side to my right. The short side to my right stops with November and there I stand: in the corner of the short side with November to my right, a long gap and then December to my left beginning the other short side. Each month also has a color.

My number sequence is also 3-dimensional. It's at an angle to my left and continues at an angle going up and to my right in front of me. At 10, the line goes straight in front a bit, then at 20 it angles to my right again and stair steps up at each integer of 10 (20s, 30s, 40s, etc.). At 101 it turns the corner to the left at 90 degrees and each number thereafter is in that straight line to the left.

Years proceed in the opposite way. I see myself at the current year, with previous years stepping down to my left, with a slight kink at 1990 so that 1989-1900 bend slightly to the right. Then, 1700-1899 double back on the 1900-1999 line.

I discovered that not everyone has this spatial relationship to numbers, days, weeks, months, and years just this week when a colleague of mine, who teaches AP Psychology at the school I work at, described her lessons about synesthesia and mentioned these various kinds of synesthesia. I told her that of course my days of the week have colors and that I see them three dimensionally in relation to me when I think/talk about them. She diagnosed me on the spot in the cafeteria. I got to be her guest speaker the next day in her AP class.

Are you a synesthete? They claim 1 in 23 people are. I'm curious to hear your thoughts on this....

1 comment:

  1. Lucas' great aunt is! She associates colors with names (all sounds actually)! The first thing they had me do when I met her was ask what color my name was, and then ask her every time I saw her after that to see if she remembered (which she, of course, did). Somewhere, I have written down the colors of Allie & Ryan's names - one of the first things we did after announcing the names, call aunt minnie to find out their color! I'm so thrilled that I have another relative with the same thing (but different...)! I read about it once in high school, and have always secretly wished I had it. I think it adds a delightful extra dimension to the world. I would love to see, hear, or smell something extra in association with the things around me. But my world is dull. My numbers have no personalities. My days have no color. My world is not as wonderful as yours :(