I came back from college on a semester break, and was sitting with my family around the dinner table, and — I don’t know why I said it — but I said, “The number five is yellow.” There was a pause, and my father said, “No, it’s yellow-ochre.” And my mother and my brother looked at us like, ‘this is a new game, would you share the rules with us?’
And I was dumbfounded. So I thought, “Well.” At that time in my life I was having trouble deciding whether the number two was green and the number six blue, or just the other way around. And I said to my father, “Is the number two green?” and he said, “Yes, definitely. It’s green.” And then he took a long look at my mother and my brother and became very quiet.

Thirty years after that, he came to my loft in Manhattan and he said, “you know, the number four *is* red, and the number zero is white. And,” he said, “the number nine is green.” I said, “Well, I agree with you about the four and the zero, but nine is definitely not green!”
— Carol Steen
I was telling Carol that it’s kind of like figuring out that you have a belly-button. You know, at some point you just notice, and start playing with it! [laughs] Then, for a while, you get *really* into it: “Wow, a belly-button! Ooh, this is cool!” And after a while you get bored with it, because, after all, it’s still there, and then you realize everyone has one. Except that not everyone has synesthesia.
— Karen Chenausky
Carol's Alphabet

Carol's Alphabet

Karen's Alphabet

Karen's Alphabet

One example of synesthesia being distinctly unpleasant: I was at the dentist, and he was drilling. And I don’t like the sound of the drill — but the color orange that completely flooded my vision, I couldn’t shut my eyes, because they were already shut! [laughs]
— Carol Steen
“It’s made things interesting because if I’m trying to remember a name or number I can just use the colour to jog my memory. I’ll grapple with remembering a name, but know it ‘looks red’ and that will eventually help me determine it.
— Lauren Fritsky

sources: Carol's Webpage, Karen's Webpage, Lauren Fritsky's Webpage

WHAT'S NEXT: Research other unique ways people experience color. Say color isn't intangible, but if a person could feel the color orange, or listen to it, taste it. Also, what things have been designed as either a source to people with these unique experiences, or maybe for the regular ole' joes that don't get to see the alphabet as a rainbow; what things could be designed to give them a similar stimulant. 

Posted on February 20, 2014 and filed under Senior Thesis.