Tag Archive | choices

Colors: Chosen vs Given

So, you know those random quizzes that pop up on the internet? “What does your favorite color say about you?” “We can guess your favorite color!” There are more, but those are basically the themes. And of course, people will ask, often for perfectly mild reasons – they found a shirt they think you’d like, and it comes in a variety of colors, and they want to get one you’ll really like. Or they want to avoid one you hate!

I dislike those moments. The quizzes make me roll my eyes, if I’m in a particularly grumpy mood. Or I just pass them by if I’m in a good mood. I try very hard to answer close friends and family who ask. (Although, to be honest, most family have more or less learned not to bother or if they ask it’s more along the lines of “how do you feel about greens this week?”)

My dad worked in theater and television for a good bit of his life. He especially worked with lighting and stage design, but his card also allowed for costume work, and he did some design there, as well. Colors were tools that could shift your mood, tell you about the history of a place, or the rank of a person. I don’t remember if I ever asked him what his favorite color was. I knew he loved all colors for different reasons.

You could put a straw gold light gel in front of a lamp and get a certain mood out of how that light hits a set painted in terra cotta orange with red and yellow accents. It’s a hot, dry sort of feel. It’s the desert, or at least somewhere that might make you think of the desert. Or you can use a certain pale blue with a shimmery metallic gleam gel, cast down across a set painted in navy and indigo blues, with hints of turquoises, soft greens, gentle dove greys and the slightest hints of purple and aubergine – almost black – and you’re in an ocean, perhaps even at night. It’s so very cool and quiet.

A gentleman of a certain period – it isn’t just the fabrics he wears that declares him a gentle man to all who see him. If he is wearing vividly dyed fabrics with heavily saturated hue, he must have money! Those red and purples were hard to come by on trade routes, and only the most wealthy could afford them. Similarly, bright yellows could be dear, depending on where he lived at least.

So truly, I love all colors. I love autumn colors best, but there are days when a spring rainbow better suits my mood. And of course, a wintery rainy series of blues is surprisingly cozy and comforting, even while it might look chilly.

I look good, sometimes, in reds. But in reality, red is rarely a favorite. It’s so often a shade of pink that I find too pale, and too candy-like, rather than a good rich blood red, or brick red, or scarlet. I like salmon and coral, all right, but in some light, those shades turn to pink again, and it’s just too difficult to find one I can stomach. I’ve given up and bought some clothing, here and there, that is indeed pink. Mostly, because I wanted to fabric and the other colors were shades that were worse somehow.

I can also wear green, sometimes, depending. I think I look better in forest and olive and army greens, for example, as opposed to lime or pale mint. I’ve still bought those colors because, well, they’re still pretty. But sometimes I look very worn out wearing them, and people ask if I feel okay.

So no, I don’t like picking colors, particularly. I like all of them. And it’s more likely if I’m asked, I’ll ask you to explain why you want to know, so I can give you the best answer for the application you’re working in, for me. If you’re just asking, I might answer “all of them” or “rainbow” if I’m feeling particularly sassy.

One color people keep deciding I like, since I was a small child, is in fact red, pink, or any color along that general line. I’m often surprised at that. I understand that often, if I’m coloring my hair something non-natural, I lean toward red; but that’s because it looks good with my coloring more than anything. I’ve had it purple, and I’d secretly love to have it blue or mermaid or even rainbow. But until it turns more naturally white than it is now, I’m not going to have a lot of luck with that. My hair’s too dark, naturally, and the stripping process to get it that color is hard on it. I even have, as I’ve said, chosen to wear red before. Because it looks good on a brunette with a faint olive tint to her skin. But my favorite car color, so far, has been a deep, shimmery brown that made me think of silken chocolate and coffee. And yet, a salesmen recently encouraged me to try for a red number! (It wasn’t immediately available, so I went with grey – a titanium shade that luckily picks up other colors around it, so that’s bonus!)

But I remember even my parents, would hand me a red thing, another sister a purple thing, another a blue or yellow thing, and the other would get softer shades of browns, peaches, and earth tones. I always wished I could have those earth tones. Or at least the occasional green.

And these are, of course, all solid things! It’s not even getting into things like auras or chakras or other things that people say one might be, based on their moods or where their pain is locked up. The best one I ever read was an old DOS program, that decided my aura was silver, with flecks of lightning and yellow in. It just couldn’t decide. I haven’t really tried in a very long time to see what I’d be classified as, but for the longest time, roses and reds would come up, because I cared about relationships between friends and family and love.

These things are interesting to me, perhaps because I do think about how colors can describe a person – their nature or their characterization; and to me, red is a very angry or high intensity color.

I hope I’m not perceived as angry or constantly vibrating with emotions. I suspect I’m not. I suspect most people don’t even think about color that way. They just think, “This color looks awesome on her! She must love it.” And then they move along with their day, sparing not another thought to colors and how complicated they can be.

Life Changes – It’s Complicated

My degree (undergraduate, I never ended up getting a graduate degree), is an English degree. Worse (as people who like to point out that degree is worthless like to say), it’s a bachelor of arts, not even a bachelor of sciences degree. My minor which started out in Computer Science, ended up being an “Interdisciplinary” minor, consisting mostly of lower level programming languages and a number of technical theater courses (mostly design type – set and lighting specifically). (This was due to both my inability to learn and therefore pass “Statistics and Probability” taught by a math instructor who should have been forcibly retired, and an unwillingness on the part of a department head to grant an exception in curriculum to a different statistics class (ie: the one taught by the business department, rather than the math department).) My original plan was to write manuals for people who wanted to learn how to make their computers do cool things. I figured that even though those teach yourself books weren’t huge yet, there seemed to be a market for them. (Cue hysterical laughter from the peanut gallery.) The computer science professor who taught several of the lower level languages courses I’d done well in was confident enough in me that she’d allowed me to take Assembly concurrently with the stats course. I was getting a low A in Assembly, even though stats made no sense. She went to bat for me on the exception request. We just couldn’t get it. So I had to drop the Assembly class and subsequently the minor. Because I’d been taking various theater classes (mostly technical but some history and speech based ones in there as well), it was easy enough to merge those “electives” into my existing courses for my original minor. Between the change and a reduction in class hours during a time when my mom was sick and I was working full-time, I was pretty happy to only graduate two summer terms “late”, as opposed to the end of the spring term.

In my working career, I have not written anything seriously. No manuals, no newspaper articles, no journals. Nothing like that. I’ve written a few blogs or contributed to advertising copy, and I’ve cleaned up some cover letters and occasionally contributed my opinion to making contracts and other documents easier to understand. But I’ve held jobs as a shelver at a public library, a catering waitress, pizza baker (and seller), university police dispatcher, retail clerk (and lower management – all the responsibility and hardly any perks) at video and music stores, an independent HTML copy/paste contractor, an office support staff at a residential construction company, an office support staff at a company that provided supplies for drug testing, eventually an administrative assistant (and bookkeeper) for a residential construction company, an office support staff at a financial office, an office support staff at a property management company and an accounting clerk for an affiliate marketing firm.

The only jobs even remotely related to my degree are the office jobs, and even those are stretching it a bit. Mostly, what undergraduate degrees are still good for (when they’re BA’s especially, but even some BS’s) are to show that the student/applicant to the job will stick to a decision long enough to complete the goal they set for themselves. Some people might say that’s a very cynical way of looking at things, but for some hiring managers, it’s also the truth.

I held the jobs at the residential construction company from spring of 2002 through late summer of 2005, then from late summer of 2006 until now – mid-summer of 2015. Really, for the last 7 years or so, I’ve been in some sort of part-time situation of 80% time or less. For the last couple years, I even tried a few secondary part-time office jobs to try to help make up the percentage to get to “full time” (or slightly over for a short time where I came very close to burning myself out). I probably should have looked for a true full-time job many times in the last 7 years. I couldn’t and wouldn’t, because I really actually felt as though I could retire at the residential construction company – if it could just complete recovery from the recession. I believe in the quality of the product, to the degree that I’d build a home with the company if I could afford it myself. It still hasn’t recovered though, quite. A lot of similar companies in our area have gone out of business, and mine is still limping along.

But I was offered full-time at one of those other part-time jobs, and the package (salaried, benefits – health and potential for more financial benefits) was such that I felt like I had no choice but to accept it.

It’s been a very surreal two weeks. On the one hand, I made the choice. No one forced me to decide what I did. On the other hand, I didn’t feel like I really had a choice because it was between the financially intelligent decision and the emotionally satisfying decision. I chose the financial one, because I’m tired of living paycheck to paycheck, not having a true savings account, and having to pull money from what should be my retirement someday. I’m incredibly privileged to even HAVE that option. It isn’t even one I earned – it is entirely due to having lost my parents earlier than I would have liked.

Thursday was stressful, unnerving and exhausting as my final day. I feel like I’ve let people down who depend on me. It doesn’t help that more and more lately, people (clients, co-workers, subcontractors) would comment on how generalized my knowledge had become and how much I actually did. My co-workers are sad to see me go, and they’re probably a bit nervous about working together to take over my duties – but I know that after some awkward days coming – they will figure it out and be just fine. And they say it was a smart decision, and that they’re happy for me. They took me out to lunch and gave me a heartfelt card saying goodbye. And I believe that they want what’s best for me, but I’m still sad.

But, and, I’m also excited to see if the new job and it’s benefits will be all they are promised to be. I’m hopeful that by this time next year I will have amassed a small bit of savings. I’m even tentatively hopeful that we can be looking at buying a house. I’m already sure I’ll be thankful to have employer provided insurance (which will save me about $100 per month).

Overall, it will be a good choice. I will learn to find job satisfaction in things at the new job. It will be a different sort of satisfaction. It won’t be a satisfaction based in pleasing clients with a physical product, but I’m sure there will be something.

And maybe, since it uses such a different place in my brain, my creativity will flow better.