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Okay Fine, For Sure, For Sure

August 10, 2010

Now that I’m seemingly caught up on everything, it seemed like a good time to answer questions I receive via email.

What is this Synesthesia business?

I have what’s known as Synesthesia,
which expresses itself in a couple of different ways, but mine expresses itself primarily in two ways:

  • I involuntarily associate numbers/letters with certain colors
  • I involuntarily experience Days, Months, Shapes, Objects as having specific personality traits and colors. For example, July = Aqua.

Here’s the official definition:

Synesthesia (also spelled synæsthesia or synaesthesia, plural synesthesiae or synaesthesiae)—from the Ancient Greek σύν (syn), “together,” and αἴσθησις (aisthēsis), “sensation”—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. People who report such experiences are known as synesthetes.

The condition isn’t painful, debilitating or particularly intrusive. Sometimes I wish it were. I’d probably be a much better speller. Like most Synesthetes – I don’t even know how to pronounce that freaking word – it didn’t occur to me that others didn’t experience things in a similar manner. In fact, it wasn’t until I was driving home from a Target run and heard a story about it on NPR did I realize there was name for my fridge magnet letter/number visions!

What have you been listening to lately?

Summer always puts me in a mood for breezy, jazzy, Latin Soul stuff and more importantly – Sergio Mendes & Brazil ’66. I can’t stay stressed, annoyed or bitter while clacking around my apartment in stretchy pants and cha cha heels and singing every other word of:

or

or

or

What is the most exciting thing you’ve done this summer?

Blogging for Bitch Media was the most exciting. I love Bitch! I love blogging. Two great tastes that taste great together. I also get a kick out of being interviewed. La Mommie said when they (my parents) were listening to it Lady Alexis was looking for me. That’s so cute. Oh my god, Lady Alexis – and Miss Ariel – are so freaking cute. But back to the question. I loved how my writing evolved and really, that level of blogging is like playing scales, in the sense that you develop a greater capacity for writing on subject and on deadline without regard to whatever reversals of fortunes are happening around you. For me it’s really important for me to be extremely disciplined and not give myself excuses to not blog or write. It doesn’t matter what I feel like doing. Believe me, for the last couple of months I haven’t felt like writing at all. I’ve felt like nesting, reading, listening to music, watching films, test driving pens, hanging out with my partner and performing my one woman show, which oddly enough I still need to finish writing. Bitch took a chance on me years ago; it was my very first FOR REAL publishing credit. The first thing I submitted moments after the ink dried on my MFA and I didn’t know what I was going to do and I scared, jobless and broke! (Well college broke. I wasn’t homeless or hungry but I wasn’t liquid either.) As much as I’d like to pretend all that Discardia served some noble purpose, I won’t front; it served me both spiritually and financially and I lived off the proceeds for nearly eight months.

What quality would surprise you readers?

There are two actually; my ruthless frugality and the fact I’m a lot kinder than most folks would imagine. Despite being raised Huxtable, my parents instilled in me a tremendous sense of frugality. There is a chasm between how upper middle class life is depicted in pop culture versus how it is lived in the cities, suburbs and country. My upbringing was extremely comfortable, extremely sheltered, yet extremely informed by my experiences as a little brown girl. For the most part, living in military communities (despite not actually being military) spared me the overt, soul crushing racism I experience as an adult. So in that regard I feel fortunate that I didn’t get a lot of the messaging about my race and gender as a teen. I was an outsider to US culture, particularly pop culture happening in the mid to late 80s, as I was living in Europe at the time. My race was framed differently in Europe; I was American and Americans had done terrible things to people who looked like me. Never mind it was a European export, but for some reason, I found Europeans to be quite open to my family, which was nice, but it didn’t always feel good to me, as I saw how AWFUL they were to Turkish folks, many who were brown just like me.

Anyway, so on television, people who were of similar class backgrounds had cars at age 16 with ribbons around them, big fancy parties, fancy clothes and designer everything. I found this so ODD. Here’s an example of how my values as it relates to money. Whenever my mother took us shopping for clothes or whatever, she NEVER looked at anything at the front of the store. We always went to the BACK – straight to the clearance rack. It wasn’t until I was like nearly 30 did I – gasp – by a pair of SHORTS in the SUMMER. I thought everyone bought their winter coats in May (for 75% to 90% off) and their summer finery in October. Ha. I still do this! My biggest score ever was on June 20, 2007 when I scored a wool coat at Banana Republic (green) which originally went for $250.00 for – hold onto your hats and purses – $9.97. But here’s the dirty secret; folks of class privilege don’t face the scrutiny when it comes to this sort of thing, which is why they can do things like wear dirty ass crap from thrift stores and feel self important as they demand that folks on the margins stop buying stuff from corporations or whatever they tell us not to do. Being able to bargain shop, never own anything designer and rock a house filled with MDF furniture is a product of class privilege. Even if I am not read as “upper middle class” to outsiders, I still have to acknowledge the reason I can rage my cheap, plastic purses and hooker boots, is not because I don’t wear leather, but because I don’t have anything to “prove” as it relates to class. So being frugal, which is a good thing, is also a product of having the protections and benefits of class privilege. My ten dollar ‘Nana Pub coat is like my black girl version of those hipsters in their tacky self-righteous thrifted finds.

The other quality, and this happens a lot when people meet me in real life – is I’m very kind. When I used to Livejournal, I would tell my readers to react to my posts as though Denise Huxtable was reading them aloud. I’ve mentioned before I have a “military brat” accent, but it’s less Texatucky and decidedly more San Fernando Valley. I have always sounded this way. Always. Even before I moved to the Valley. Even all that time in European where there were no Valley Girls to speak of. I have no idea where I get this accent; I was born in CT. I do not paak the caar or drink cawfee or have gentlemen cawlers. I think I get some of it from La Mommie who totally sounds like Michelle Obama cut with a little bit of Marge Simpson (that “hmmmm” noise is pure La Mommie) and Cicely Tyson.

I do not keyboard angry. I used to – like back in my messageboard, righteous indignation days – but I’m older and I’ve mellowed. Besides, I’m actually a rather perky person. it’s so odd, because I’m not a “nice” person; that is to say I don’t like a lot of chow chow and I’m not smiley for smiley sake. That said, I am warm and can be rather sweet. I think the confusion comes from people not understanding that being direct isn’t the same as being mean. What can I say? I lived in Germany. Generalization noted, they tend to be very direct people. They are so direct they don’t even let you touch clothing NOT IN YOUR SIZE. No fantasy size shopping there. They steer your punk ass right to the rack with your size, which they can EYEBALL. Now, even I’m not that direct. Anyhoo. I think people – and by people I mean readers – forget that behind this keyboard is a person who experiences a range of emotions, cheats at UNO, cries at sad movies, feels moments of despair (not having anything to do with -ism fail) can be cynical, truculent and childish. But I’m a person who can be sweet, kind, goofy, sentimental, corny and I’m loyal. Loyal like a motherfucker.

ETA: If you donate today, please include a topic you want me to cover and I’ll do it this week! It can be about anything!!!

Also:

Had to forward this email I received from my girl Joyce, who I met at a conference three years ago:

My name is Joyce and I am NP who started a program within my organization focusing on the crisis mental health needs of Queer and Trans youth. Our services include: emergency housing, food, clothing, mental health, referrals to providers and domestic violence support services. Thank you for your very generous donations to Snarky’s blog, which as a result has enabled her to donate 10 hours a month assisting our staff of three with funding, marketing and grant management. Your generosity makes an immediate difference in the lives of the Queer and Trans youth who need supportive, caring crisis mental health services.

[Final day of the pledge drive!!! Chip In is not caught up with the donations, but we are 280 bucks away from goal and the match by Adrian. Please donate! Tell your friends. If 14 people each give $20 bucks Adrian will match the remaining $750! Y’all, show your love. Thanks so much to every single person who has donated. I really appreciate it. When we get to goal there will be a big The X-Files post – complete with scans from my journal. BUT only if we get to goal. If you haven’t donated, and can afford to, please consider doing so. ]

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. Hank permalink
    August 10, 2010 8:50 am

    Numbers and letters have genders to me. And, yeah, I had no idea that wasn’t true for everyone until a few years ago when I mentioned to one of my sisters and she laughed.

  2. August 10, 2010 9:23 am

    * I involuntarily associate numbers/letters with certain colors
    * I involuntarily experience Days, Months, Shapes, Objects as having specific personality traits and colors. For example, July = Aqua.

    I have this. Or I had this when I was younger until it gradually disappeared by my late teens. I only associated colors with the letters of the alphabet and the day of the week. (And sometimes entire years.) My “colors” are a little hard to describe. They’re more like color blends, like Monday is blue-black with a shimmery border, but that’s not even quite right.

  3. August 10, 2010 1:25 pm

    I’m so excited about you getting to goal! Thanks so much for the peek behind the curtain at the blog wizard who is Snarky’s Machine.

  4. hsofia permalink
    August 10, 2010 1:51 pm

    You express yourself so clearly and with such vitality. It astounds me that you’re able to manage all of this data and culture in your head, never mind write about it online. I’m so happy to have found your work.

  5. hsofia permalink
    August 10, 2010 1:51 pm

    And apologies if I’ve said the exact same thing before!

  6. August 10, 2010 5:14 pm

    Interesting! I lived in Germany for a year back in highschool (mom is from there). Never forget watching Das A-Team (ha) at my Opa’s place. Was on student exchange.

    It’s amazing how much things have changed since—when the Turks were the only minority group of any size. The last time I was there, I was a bit shocked by the diversity—nowhere near Toronto levels but considerably different.

    Favorite Simpsons moment: Homer becomes a pro boxer and at a bout (“tasteful attire prohibited) the announcer says “due to popular demand, we’ve chosen to forego the national anthem!” Homer Jay is announced to the crowd as “The Brick Hithouse” and enters the ring to the ironic strains of Why Can’t We be Friends?

  7. August 10, 2010 5:21 pm

    Favorite Simpsons moment: Homer becomes a pro boxer and at a bout (“tasteful attire prohibited) the announcer says “due to popular demand, we’ve chosen to forego the national anthem!” Homer Jay is announced to the crowd as “The Brick Hithouse” and enters the ring to the ironic strains of Why Can’t We be Friends?

    I cried with laughter the first time I saw that seen. It’s up there with Bart’s, “Why are you sad, Mom? thinking about your marriage?” from Jazzy & the pussycats as my favorite Simpson’s moment.

    Re: diversity.

    I keep hearing that. I keeping hearing that I would be floored by Europe today. The landmarks of my childhood turned into shopping mall??? Diversity and a heap of other stuff.

    I don’t think any city on the planet is as diverse as Toronto. Now that’s another thing I remember from my youth – watching Fashion TV with Jeannie Becker and learning all about the rich multicultural traditions of Toronto, which among other things including everyone wearing Fluvogs.

  8. August 11, 2010 9:17 am

    So being frugal, which is a good thing, is also a product of having the protections and benefits of class privilege.

    I can relate to this — I live a comfortable lower middle class existence without pulling in anything close to the actual dollars, my income on paper is just above the technical poverty line because I’m living between the cracks of things, but I had to know how to get here (and stay here) in the first place, which I recognize as a privilege, and why I’d never get into getting off on some sort of bohemian identity as if I invented selling CDs to go to the movies and dinner or eating beans and rice for a week so that I’ll have leftover weed money.

    Also, the part about always buying things on sale, never shopping from the front of the store, etc. etc. I think because both of my parents are from small southern town, working class families – well, my maternal grandfather was a foreman, the other was an insurance salesmen, but that guy was on the dirt farm as a child – so even though my father was an engineer and had a master’s degree (from the military!), and we lived in a suburban community with a golf course, by today’s standards of suburban money, it was so different from what you see on Weeds. It wasn’t ‘wealth’, it was high five-figure salaries, moderate two story homes, as many black and asian familes as white ones, and the lucky friends inherited their 10 year old parents’s cars when we turned 16-17, but no one got big fancy new ones with bows on christmas morning. I remember being so impressed and shocked by people with THREE car garages. My parents would never intentionally shop in a thrift store (that is respectable for emergency purposes, of course), but I didn’t finally get my trendy ESPRIT tank top to fit in with popular preppy kids until the day it showed up on the racks of Marshall’s, then my mother reluctantly acquiesced since it was under ten dollars.

  9. hsofia permalink
    August 11, 2010 4:49 pm

    I have never shopped in season and am always in shock when I see the full prices of things in department stores. It’s bizarre to me. I still can’t believe people actually buy those things at full price. My mom made most of my clothes until I was 12, and my entire clothes shopping existence for the next 12 years was dominated by the quest of finding full length skirts that could be worn with shirts that didn’t reveal the fact that I had boobies.

  10. August 12, 2010 1:55 pm

    @hsofia – La Mommie made some of our clothes too. It was sooo cute. I liked the “Made with love” label sewn in the neck. It was s scratchy little reminder that I was loved.

  11. hsofia permalink
    August 12, 2010 11:08 pm

    I can’t believe La Mommie did all those things she did AND sewed, too!

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