EXHIBIT #06 – Subtle Synesthesia


FEAR OF THE WEEK: Making a decision about how to color-code my calendar


Schedules, like gender, are a social construct that are imposed upon us through a loosely defined criteria that is honestly rather arbitrary. All this to say that that my grand scheme of posting these every Saturday is unlikely to sustain, so we’re just gonna keep aiming for 1 a week, roughly, depending on how everything else is going. This week, let’s go with something a little more light-hearted than last entry’s self-deprecation and personal failures, eh?

When I was growing up, as a homeschooled kid, my curriculum packets were color-coded in a spectrum that happened to match the spectrum that a lot of spiral-bound notebooks come in – red, yellow, green, blue, purple –  and if I needed a miscellaneous notebook, black. Of course, I have always had a very strong sense of #aesthetic,* so I made sure to color-coordinate my notebooks, and my post-its, and my highlighters, and so each particular color ended up being distinctively tied to that subject. In middle and and high school, when I moved from homeschooling to a slightly cult-y religiously-affiliated private school, I continued my original color-coding scheme, despite the fact that it didn’t always match to the textbooks that my new curriculum used. By this point, you see, it was no longer about aesthetic…these subjects were these colors. What I did not realize until much later, thanks probably to the terrifying bowels of the internet known as Tumblr, was not only that other people did this, but took it really really seriously. Like, ugly-name-calling-in-the-comments-fights-about-what-color-maths-is seriously.** So clearly, I was, and am, not alone in color having strong significance.

Now that I am finally out of school,*** the color-association game has manifested itself into other facets of my life. While my physical notebooks are usually now black or purple and serving as catch-alls, I do tend to assign each play or writing project a color that I think of it in, a holdover from when I was still storing all my notes and research in OneNote. Now, as I slowly move everything over to Drive files, the colors still pop up here and there, but less prominently than they once did. However, there is one place where I cannot escape the color-based system…

Google Calendar.

Now, here’s the thing you have to understand about how I use the ol’ GCal: I survive entirely on part-time and freelance gig-based employment, including 3-4 regular employers and an ongoing rotation of random gigs. In a noble effort to make sure I always show up at the right place on the right day at the right time, I generally give each regular gig its own color-specific calendar, plus a few floating options for one-offs, personal appointments, and so on. This entire system evolved out of an attempt to alleviate my anxiety about missing scheduled dates or being late, but it has created a whole new problem in the form of color-coding.

As I’ve hopefully made clear in these silly musings, I very strongly associate colors to organizational structures. It makes it easy for me to understand the concept of synesthesia, a perceptual phenomenon where certain cognitive pathways lead involuntarily to alternate secondary pathways, such as perceiving letters and numbers as having inherent colors. I don’t have this condition, but it makes sense to me as I spend hours every week staring at schedules and trying to make sense of them. I would love to choose the easy and logical route of picking colors that match, say, the logos of the institutions for which I work…sadly, they all seem to be red and black, which does little to allow me to differentiate them from one another. Instead, I try to employ a slightly more random system based simply on a color palette that I don’t hate staring at, but even then I constantly question my choices. What if I get more work than I expect from the Green job, and it starts to overwhelm the Blue job? I made that gig Orange because I don’t take it much, so if it suddenly becomes full-time do I risk changing the color or just suck up the glare of the warm palette? Does the lack of Purple bode ill for my social life?

This hangup about calendar colors seems to get right to the heart of the whole idea of absurd fears. It’s entirely inconsequential, and entirely within my own control, and yet I just wrote an entire blog post musing about the level of anxiety it causes me. Whelp, what doesn’t kill me will at least keep me on-time for work, I guess.




* Even if the actual choices I made were dubious – there was a long phase of ribbons worn as chokers, and an even longer phase of long-sleeve shirts under tee-shirts, both of which were tragically photo-documented if you dig hard enough.

** Maths is red, in case you were wondering.

*** For now…