Archive for July, 2013

I have read that some writers listen to their favorite music while writing.  I like music, from Beatles and Beethoven and all through the alphabet, but listening to it while writing doesn’t work for me.  It has something to do with my imagination.  Certain musical phrases conjure up sights and actions, scenes and locations, in my mind–but they’re never the ones connected to what I am writing.

Classical music makes me want to sit back, eyes closed and “see” the patterns and colors the music shows me;  other types of music usually bring back memories from my past, and I find myself drifting back into the past.  Whatever happens–it isn’t writing!

I don’t know of any music that I enjoy listening to that doesn’t evoke memories.  I believe Stephen King listens to jazz–that would just make me want to stand away from the keyboard and dance.  Or at least sway around the room–wouldn’t let me sit at the keyboard with only my hands moving!  The Beatles?  Memories again.  Beethoven?  Pictures and colors, but my eyes would be closed.

And that is all for now–except to invite y’all (see my adoptive language is coming out) to read my new and favorite Blog space: http://www.iamvivra@blogspot.com

I will be posting more there than here, and you will be most welcome.

Keep Calm and Carry On



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Are you a Synesthete?

A friend of  mine, Gay Ingram, was the speaker at Friday night’s meeting of the East Texas Writer’s Association.  Her subject included Creativity, Writer’s Block, and Imagination.  She invited us to choose square of colored paper and write down what that particular color brought to mind.  This lead to a discussion about color, during which another friend asked “Do any of you know what Synesthesia is?”  I immediately raised my hand, saying, “Yes, I do, because I have it.”

It turns out that she and I have the same type of Synesthesia, and upon researching this just now I read that our type is called “Grapheme-Color Synesthesia”–we see letters and numbers as colors.  Not that we see them on the page–newspapers and books are still printed in black on white–but in our “mind’s eye”  we sort of sense the colors.  And they never change. 

I remember mentioning this to my mother when I was about ten years old.  I think I started the conversation by asking her if she saw my name, Vivra, as dark red as I did.  She laughed at me, but started asking me what color other names were–the days of the week, for instance, and I named them in color.  I told her, and was surprised that she apparently did not see the colors–any colors–connected to words.

A couple of months later, she asked me “What color is Monday?”  I said ice-blue; she asked me the other days, and I told her.  She asked again several months later–my answers were always the same, which both amused and amazed her.

I grew up thinking she was the odd one, because I was “normal” right?  It was something I thought nothing of, so never did discuss it with anybody.  Until a friend of mine mentioned that she hated classical music because the colors of music were so brilliant it gave her headaches.  It was then I mentioned that it was words and letters that I saw in color.  And it was she who told me the name of the condition–Synesthesia.

I’ve just looked it up online–apparently only about 1 person in 2,000 have the condition, which can show up in many different ways besides color in letters.  Color in music, sight-and-taste,  for instance.  It appears in a higher percentage of females than males; sufferers of Synesthesia are usually extremely artistic/creative, intelligent, and tend to experience severe migraines (which I used to–a lot–and a migraine headache is something I would not wish on my worst enemy.)

Lynn, my Synesthesia twin from ETWA, and I shared alphabet colors and discovered that her colors are quite different than mine.  I am going to paint the alphabet in my colors, so we can compare.

I also see colors in music–but in a more pleasing way than my long-ago friend who could not stand to listen to classical music.  I see the music in colored waves, the music of stringed instruments–various shades of red, depending on the type; reeds–anything from silver-grey to green; wind instruments produce bright yellows, and piano music is white-to-light blue.

There is some question among researchers that suggest a possible connection to mild autism.  That interests me, because I suffer from  Aspbergers Syndrome–I have “face blindness”, no sense of direction, cringe at close contact with people (hugs and such), all of which are symptoms of Aspbergers, which in itself is a very mild form of autism.

But more about that in another post.

Keep Calm and Color On

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Unfortunately, unlike Edith Piaf, sometimes I do.  Regret, that is.  My friend Gay Ingram,  http://gayingram.blogspot.com/ commented on my last post, ending with three words that started me thinking, she said:  “Aren’t people strange?”

I enjoy watching and listening to people, and wondering what makes them do the things they do–and I actually think I have the answers (how’s that for ego?)  I should have been a psychiatrist–wish I had studied psychology–wish I’d done a lot of things.  Looking back on my life, and playing the psychology game with myself, I confess  there was never anything I wanted badly enough to work for it.  Isn’t that awful?  My mother, along with my school teachers and relatives, kept telling me “You could be anything you wanted to be–you have the smarts and the talent.”  My reaction?  Hah, I don’t want to be anything, so there! 

Mother was a professional dancer, did her best to teach me and encourage me in dance–I dug my heels in, didn’t want to dance. Thing is, the things I wanted to do were downgraded–I wanted to sing, loved to sing around the house–mother said I couldn’t “carry a tune in a bucket.”  So I stopped.  I wanted to write–maybe journalism or reporting–my teacher at the time said “Hah, what makes you think you can write?”  So I stopped.  In the English equivalent of high school, when it was time to think about college and a career, I told the art teacher, “I want to be a commercial artist,” her response was “There are very few jobs for commercial artists–why not be an art teacher?”  But I didn’t want to teach, so I stopped thinking about art. 

Consequently I didn’t accomplish anything in the way of a career, and ended up studying to be a  secretary, a very good one, I might add–I can write excellent business letters!  

I have many regrets.  Why did I let people talk me out of things I wanted to do?  I wish I’d studied more in the art line–I did take classes in interior design and textile design, but not enough to be anything.  In my now senior life, I look back and wish I’d studied psychology; studied fashion design; studied dance and music.  Regrets.   I suppose everybody has them.  But did I not want these things badly enough? 

My mother wanted to dance.  My grandparents had my uncle to think about–he wanted to be a pharmacist, so he was pushed through university and given all the help he needed,  financial and supportive.  Mother was “just a girl” and wasn’t expected to have or want formal training.  So, what did she do?  She wanted to dance so badly she searched around and found a special stage school that had academic classes in the mornings and dance classes all the rest of the time, and signed herself up for it–how could Grandma and Grandpa refuse to help her then.

I let people talk me out of things–maybe I’m just lazy?  In psychoanalyzing myself, I know I felt that I could not live up to people’s expectations of me.  As a result, I disappointed so many, and seem still to be doing that–particularly me!

Several really major regrets are to do with opportunities avoided.  One of my first secretarial jobs was “Girl Friday” to the manager of a chain of theaters in England.  If I’d stuck with that job (a job I liked), I could have gone on to be something in television–production, for instance.  But I got bored and wanted a change (which wasn’t for the better.)  During one of my later secretarial jobs, I saw an ad for a wonderful secretarial position–secretary to the owner of a major Formula One racing team!  Wow, the name of that owner is well known in Formula 1 circles to this day.  I applied, an interview was set up–I got cold feet and didn’t show up!

A few years later I applied for a job as secretary to the CEO of a well-known magazine for men (think bunnies)–he was the top man for the European area, based in London.  This time I did show up, and the job was enticing (no, I was NOT to be a bunny!)  The job description required that the applicant  be fluent in either French or German (or both)–I was not fluent, but did know a little school French.  I explained that should I be considered for the position, I was willing to take night classes to become fluent in either or both!

I received a letter from the gentleman telling me he’d given the position to a girl who was already fluent in both languages, but that I was his second choice–he requested that I contact  him after three months, because if his chosen applicant didn’t turn out at the end of the ninety-day probation period, I would have the job.

Did I contact him at the end of three months?  I’m sure you can guess the answer to that.

Keep Calm and Carry On


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Earliest Memories

Do you remember your first ice cream?  Your first banana?  Or should I ask, “What are your earliest memories?”

At the end of World War II, rationing was still going strong in the UK.  Things did not become available off-ration all at once, but little by little.  Ice cream had not been available when I was very small; when it was finally,  my mother bought an ice cream cone and gave it to me, I took one bite, started crying, claiming, “It’s too cold.”  I spit it out and the ice cream was thrown away!  I can’t believe that now–I love the stuff.  Unfortunately I can only eat the sugar free (sweetened with Splenda) kind, and would give anything for a huge bowl of sugar-full chocolate/coffee ice cream.

And bananas–unavailable in England until after WWII.  At the age of four I was an avid reader (yes–I was reading at that age) and only knew of bananas from pictures of monkeys eating them, with the peel stripped down on all sides.  My mother came home with these yellow things and handed me one.  I had no clue as to what to do with it.  Mother let me puzzle for a while, then showed me how to peel it.

It was about ten years later that sweets (candy in the US) came off ration.  We’d been allowed about four ounces of candy a week–that’s not much.  I asked if it was true, I could buy as much as I wanted.  When told yes, I simply couldn’t believe it.  I couldn’t even imagine going into the store, seeing what I fancied, and buying as much as I had money for!

I think that’s why I am overweight today–I was so deprived when young, I’m making up for it.  Sugar was rationed, of course.  When we visited relatives and were offered a cup of tea and the sugar bowl, I was taught to politely refuse, or to take a very small spoonful.  This memory is still with me, and I shudder when folks I’m with ladle sugar into their coffee (I’m thinking of The Husband here, he likes coffee with his sugar!)

I have a lot of memories of that war–a few years ago, an article I wrote about it was a winner in a Writer’s Digest annual contest.  I’m changing one or two words and phrases, and will be offering it to more magazines soon.

All for now, thanks for reading.

Keep Calm and Carry On.


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