Monday, 26 November 2018

'It's A Superpower!' - A Discussion On Synaesthesia With Evelina From Avalinah's Books





Synaesthetes are basically superheroes. (I’ve decided. #DealWithIt.)



We have two or more senses linked together - for example, some of us see music, or feel colours - and we each generally view the world in our unique way!

So what happens when one Synnie comes across another?


And what happens if they both happen to be book bloggers?

Will they write the longest post either of them has ever written in a random ramble of awesomeness?




Welp, we’re about to find out! πŸ˜‰




'It's A Superpower!' - A Discussion on Synaesthesia With Evelina From Avalinah's Books title image with comics-style speech bubble




On Dora Reads today we have the amazing-ful Evelina from Avalinah’s Books - a fellow Synnie and all around awesome-sauce person! πŸ˜†




(Random note: I'm British so use UK spellings, Evelina is Lithuanian and favours US spellings - so we might use diff. spellings for the same words.)




Cee:

OK Evelina, all superheroes have some sort of origin story! What’s yours? 

Radioactive spider? Gamma rays?




Evelina:

Hahaha, I don’t know, perhaps just being born πŸ˜ƒ let me first tell you how UNLIKELY I find it that we both actually book blog. LIKE HOW COOL IS THAT??

Anyway, for those who are not aware about synaesthesia… I believe, this might be able to help. Because I was also not really born, knowing I had it. Or rather, that’s how I got born for sure, but I didn’t know that:

  • It had a name 
  • Everyone else didn’t have it 

And this is roughly how I learned:




Note from Cee:

Hopefully I've done this right, and it starts playing at 19.48 - if not, that's the time-stamp Evelina wants you to go to!

Also, SERIOUS FLASHING IMAGES WARNING!














So what is this weird thing? It’s my childhood. It’s Peter Gabriel’s Real World Eve, a musical project / game which… Built who I am. Sometimes, when you are a very little, experiences like these are incredibly formative, so to some people who know me this might explain why I am who I am πŸ˜…

This musical project / puzzle / game / whatever it is, is magical, filled with art and incredible weirdness, but also some really interesting fact. And it also talks a lot about synaesthesia in the first level. That’s when I realized that NO, NOT EVERYONE IS LIKE ME.




(If anyone is still curious about Real World Eve - about 15 years later I am writing this and I still have a ball of pain in my heart. This is a very, very old game - it literally only ran on Windows 95.

It made it into my life in super weird ways - we didn’t even have proper computers back then, certainly I didn’t, and one of my friend just had a stray copy from… god knows where… and we played it. And then I played it alone. 


It’s so much to think about.. I played it for about a decade, at one point I even had to figure out how you simulate fake Win 95 on your Win XP πŸ˜‚ bottom line though, OLD MEDIA DIES. And one day I found out that mine had died. The CD was unplayable. So much for “CDs last forever”... 

There was no way for me to get the game back then, and I cried a good 3 hours. And then some more the next day. It’s the same as losing a huge chunk of your childhood. So these videos are about all I have of this game right now.)











But let’s get back to it.

That’s how I learned about this phenomenon, and to be honest, realized I know nobody who has it.

My synaesthesia is mostly color-based - the most common type there is. And I guess, the simplest (there are more complicated types, like I’ve heard that for one person, a certain sound evokes the feeling of sitting on a very particular sofa in a very particular room. Don’t even ask!)

Anyway… For example, for me, my name has always been red, because it has two e’s and a v (Evelina) - and they are at the start (usually, the first letter or two will color the entire name). And that’s why 3 has always been my favorite number - it’s also red. Just like my name.

Try and explain that to an adult. They just end up thinking ‘she’s cute’ and ‘she’ll grow out of it.’ LOL

(More on this… Some people struggle to tell me apart by my name (Evelina) and my internet nickname (Avalinah) - to me those could not be more different! Evelina is red for the above reasons, and Avalinah is very pale yellow - because of the dominating a’s. Could never mix them up! In fact, maybe that’s why I remember people’s names so well..?)



Cee: 

A lot of the time I think of you as Evelina Avalinah, because that just has a nice rhyme thing going on and I’m clearly 3 years old πŸ˜‰




Evelina: 

I am not able to assign colors to all names though. It’s not always very strong. But it can certainly be fun. And it gets assigned to most names I use often.

I wonder about you, Cee, what is your experience? And how did you learn about being this way, or rather - that this is not exactly ‘normal’?




Cee: 

Ha, I only figured it out relatively recently. I have lexical-gustatory synaesthesia. I taste words.




Evelina: 

IS THAT THE COOLEST, OR WHAT. I am a little jealous!




Cee: 

...And when I finally clicked that other people don’t do this I was like, ‘wait, wut? HOW DO YOU COPE?!’ Lol.

Suddenly I have more of an understanding of why people do drugs!

(That was a joke - DON’T DO DRUGS! IT’S BAAAAAD!!!! #TotallyResponsible #I’mAnAdult #NoReally)




Evelina: 

You could have said ‘why people love cupcakes’, you know πŸ˜†




Cee: 

Ha, do cupcakes merge the senses? No wait, of course they do! πŸ˜‰ (Lol.)




panda cupcake gif
Via Giphy





Honestly, I didn’t click about three big parts of my… identity? Uniqueness? I dunno, lol - until my 20s; those are my sexuality (I’m sexually fluid), my dyscalculia, and my synaesthesia.

And each time it was like: OMG THE WORLD MAKES MORE SENSE NOW!!! Lol.

The realisations were kinda gradual with me - with a little help from random searching/browsing online. Wikipedia. Google. You know the drill. Link-hopping leads to really random places.

Once or twice I thought, growing up, when people looked at me weirdly for saying things like ‘ugh, that word tastes horrible!’ that things were… a little odd… but I guess I figured it was like when you say you don’t like a food someone else loves, y’know?

Plus, I was a damned weird kid! I was used to being looked at funny, and I didn’t always know what it was I’d said or done which was ‘odd.’

Kid-me was a bad-a** with a fine art and classical music obsession!




Evelina:

I can relate on a deep level here, I was a weird kid as well! 




Cee: 

I’ve been meaning to ask, a lot of people see synaesthesia as a disability.

Do you see it as a disability? Or as neurodiversity?




Evelina: 


They do?? 😲 LOL it’s a superpower. It does not stand in my way of doing anything else that ‘normal’ people can do, it’s the opposite - it enriches my experience and helps me as a way to remember things sometimes.

There’s no way I could see it as anything negative in my life. That would be ridiculous πŸ˜†




Cee: 


The only way I’d see it as a disability would be in terms of lack of awareness. Although, that doesn’t have as much impact as it does on other conditions.

I see it more as neurodiversity - but then, I don’t want to step on the toes of people on the autistic spectrum.

Although, some people see mental health problems as neurodiversity too, because we literally think differently to other people.




Evelina: 


Anyway, I have an important question.

A lot of people hate the word ‘moist’ for no apparent reason. It’s a thing, somehow, and they don’t even have synaesthesia. How do you feel about ‘moist’? πŸ˜†




Cee: 


Ha, I actually have nothing for or against the word moist… it’s kind of bland?

Like water or… I don’t know, anything you eat after you’ve burnt your mouth, where everything’s kind of muffled? 

I have no idea whether that makes sense! How do you feel about that word?




Evelina:


I agree. I don’t know what the big deal about ‘moist’ is. I have a friend who has her skin crawl as she hears about it πŸ˜† so at least now we can confirm that this has nothing to do with synaesthesia πŸ˜ƒ although it does seem like it would!

For me, by the way, it’s a dark green and black word. Like moss. Like as if it lived in dark, dank places. LOL




Cee: 


Going back to your first point though, about both of us being book bloggers, I’m not so sure it’s that odd, really.

Both of us have synaesthesia which is linked to words and language - why wouldn’t we be drawn to books? πŸ˜†

I also have this thing with music that I’m still grappling with finding the words to explain to people - I sometimes see it, and to me it’s always been sort of… in layers… I don’t know how else to put it!




Evelina: 


Did I tell you about the bit where I can only read sheet music if I color the notes in? 



[Note from Cee: Evelina's provided some awesome pics of this below!]



I have a nice system that nobody else seems to be using… I bet it’s got at least a little bit to do with my synaesthesia.




Evelina's coloured-in musical notes #1




Evelina's coloured-in musical notes #2 - 'Fata Morgana. Polka-Mazur von Johann Strauss'




Evelina's coloured-in musical notes #3 - 'Clair de Lune from "Bergamesque Suite"'



It’s all the same reasoning though! Remember how I said ‘Avalinah’ is yellow because of the A’s? Well, the note A in the scale is also yellow. C is green. B is dark blue. After that, it’s really easy to just pick up the pencils and color code the sheet music.

I started reading music only as an adult (about 23ish), so learning the whole system just like that was more or less hopeless - kids mostly just learn it because they’re young and because they’ve got a decade to blow on it. I needed a better solution. Synaesthesia to the rescue!




Wonder Woman rising up from behind her shield
Via Giphy





Cee: 


With you, does it have to be written down or is it the same if you hear a word?

Do the letters change the colour of a word?

Is it sort of self-contained within the word, or can it merge into paragraphs etc.? 

Did I just ask too many questions…? (Yes, yes I did.)




Evelina: 


It’s mostly the letters! But I am a very visual person, so often when I hear words they will form typed word images in my head, so the colors do come up. However, I need to think on that word a little, so if I take the time, I will call up the colors. So I guess it’s more visually linked.

It doesn’t really merge into paragraphs because not all words have colors, and the words themselves mostly depend on the leading letters (and some other mysterious factors πŸ˜†)

I have a question for you too. Words having tastes makes sense - but does it go the other way? Have you ever eaten a salad or a dessert and thought, well this reminds me of a certain word?




Cee:


...Not really. I’m trying to think… sometimes freshly baked bread (y’know, like, fancy bread? I’m so not doing a good job describing this!) tastes like Milan (like, the word Milan, if that wasn’t clear!) but only a little!

What I find though, is that I don’t talk much when I’m eating, like, naturally, because it confuses the tastes. 

I mean, people talk to me, or I watch TV or whatever, but I just automatically work with that, because it’s not as strong as if I say it or write it myself - I guess that’s kinda like an extra level of internalising the word? 

I don’t know. I think that sentence might not have made sense. Which is usual, tbh. #I’mAProfessional.




Evelina: 


Oh wow. That must be complicated πŸ˜ƒ I didn’t even remotely think about this possibility.




Cee: 


To finish us off then, Evelina, are there ever words or letters that you don’t like the look of? Like, are they a yucky colour or whatever?

Because I have a word that is the correct spelling of spirit-tool (I tend to mentally split it into two words, because yes, it tastes that bad,) which tastes basically like… I think I described it in a previous blogpost as licking a metal pole dipped in vinegar (or something like that,) and that pretty much sums it up.

So, yeah, I was wondering whether you have anything similar?










Evelina: 


Wow. That’s a strong reaction! Actually, I might be luckier than you because no, I don’t have that. I guess it’s just colors, and colors are rarely ever unpleasant - unless they’re too bright or something. But since it’s in your head, you can just tone it down, so it never gets to that point.

About the only thing that happens that’s frustrating is when it’s a color that actually doesn’t exist and I can’t settle it in my mind πŸ˜† (it sort of shifts between colors and I can’t explain it to people). I guess I’ve been lucky!




Cee: 


Oh man, I wish I could turn down brightness! I have high light-sensitivity due to migraines which is something I know you get too, so you know what I’m saying!

I get what you meant when you said you weren't able to describe certain colours - there’s a lot of tastes I can’t explain!

The word ‘lilting’ just tastes… well, like the word ‘lilting!’ 

Your name, by the way, Evelina, has a kind of complex creamy salad dressing/balsamic vinegar/dipping oil thing going on - it’s proper posh restaurant stuff! Lol πŸ˜‰




Evelina: 


Haha, that is so cool. I will take that 😜




Cee: 

Ha, good. πŸ˜‰

Well, I think that’s everything!

Thanks Evelina for having this… completely random discussion with me πŸ˜‰

It’s been a lot of fun! 




Evelina: 



It has indeed! Thank you for having me and sharing your experience as well.








You should check out Evelina at these fun places:




Primary instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/avalinahsbooks/


Frequent update instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/avalinahsbookbites/


Twitter: https://twitter.com/AvalinahsBooks


Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/13716524-evelina-avalinahsbooks


Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/avalinahsbooks/










So, this was a little bit different!
Did you enjoy this post?
Do you think me and Evelina should never be allowed to talk for this long without adult supervision? πŸ˜‰
Talk to me! πŸ˜ŠπŸ’¬












You can follow me on Twitter @CeeDoraReads, on Dora Reads @ BlogLovin, and on Google+. For more ways to support me, check out the Support Me page







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Last updated: 6th Dec 2018

8 comments:

  1. This was a great, informative post, Cee and Evelina! I enjoyed learning more about something I had no idea even existed before Cee brought it up LOL. I think it’s really cool that Evelina colours in the music notes on sheet music! You guys really do have superpowers :D

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Ha, thanks for making me feel useful Em! ;) Seriously, thanks for the awesome comment, and I'm glad you liked the post! <3

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  2. Wow, this is such an interesting post. I never even knew anything about this so found it fascinating to read. I love how Avalinah uses colour to read musical notes, it also makes the page look so pretty! Thanks for sharing, great post! <3 xx

    Bexa | www.hellobexa.com

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    1. Thank you! <3 Evelina's notes are awesome! XD

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  3. I hadn't heard of synaesthesia before though fortunately my tablet has so the predictive text has spelled it properly! I think it sounds like an wonderful link in your brains to make the world that bit derper and more interesting. Hopefully this is something we're all evolving towards :-)

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    1. Ha, I must be tired b/c I read 'evolving' and immediately thought of PokΓ©mon! (My autocorrect just put an accent over the e - that's amazing!) But as long as I don't have to live in a Poke-ball, it's all good! XD

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  4. Great post!
    I have heard of synesthesia but didn't know that it was a permanent thing. I thought of it as a general thing like you tap your leg but feel it in your arm. Goodness, I didn't know you see colors and tastes words! I am learning lots of things today....thank you :)
    Cee, which word/s taste the worst?

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    Replies
    1. The worst word is def. sp-ir-it-ua-l (I always split it up somehow b/c otherwise ick!)

      Synaesthesia comes in lots of different forms, and some of it can be temporary (like through injury or drugs,) but it's usually something you're born with - we're just wired that way! XD

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