True Life: Seeing the World in Living ‘Color’

By Kevin Durso
October 26, 2011

           Living in a world where dark colored beverages can’t be placed next to clear ones or certain M&M’s cannot touch is the life of freshman pre-medicine major Jannelle Salazar.

These occurrences normally wouldn’t affect many people, but for Salazar, who is obsessed with color-coding items, it is a bother.“There’s a brown bottle of Coke at the top and a bottle of Diet Coke at the bottom and the rest in between are all green bottles.” Salazar said.

“It’s irritating to me.”Salazar, a native of Southern LA, lives with her aunt off campus. She is part of the Commuter Learning Community.  Despite making the trip to Philadelphia and meeting new friends, she admits her color coding is something she keeps secret.

“Nobody really knows or really pays attention,” Salazar said. “It’s very subtle. I don’t color code my whole life.”Salazar said this obsession started at a young age.  “I started when I was 5,” Salazar said. “I started with crayons, gumballs and really random stuff.

Now it’s things like vegetables and clothes.”Ironically, Salazar said that she is not an organized student and doesn’t organize her materials for school in a color code.

Among her new friends joining her freshman year is undeclared Rachael Conte. She took notice to Salazar’s obsession right away.  “Nelli’s color coding obsession amuses me,” Conte said.

“I remember the first day of orientation with our LLC; she color-coded her M&Ms.”  Sophomore English major Michelle Goff is master learner of the Commuter Learning Community this year.  A master learner and the students have a very close bond and spend alot of time together.

“We played a game at orientation where the students took M&Ms and for each one they had they had to tell something about them,” Goff said. “Nelli took 14 of them and color coded them. One of her fun facts was that she color codes everything.”

Salazar said that her color coding doesn’t get recongized in her family. She said her sister has teased her a few times and jokes by disorganizing her closet, but many people don’t figure it out. She called it her “dirty little secret.”  “No one really says anything,” Salazar said.

“My sister will put some things out of order to mess with me. That’s not okay. Aside from that, no one really knows.”  Salazar’s story is far more than color coding, as she has an interesting story on how she decided to attend Cabrini.  Salazar listed several reasons for her choosing Cabrini.

“It’s 3,000 miles away from home,” Salazar said. “My sister was accepted here too. The campus is small and pretty. My aunt lives nearby too, which is nice.”  Salazar admitted that her “secret obsession” isn’t well-known but after sharing several stories, it’s something that she does without realizing it.

“It’s not always physically color-coding something,” Salazar said. “Most of the time I’m actually just color-coding in my mind.”  Salazar’s obsession is one that is definitely unique. People color code many things, mainly as an organization tool. But Salazar adds another element to that.

By playing around with quirky and unique items, like M&Ms, and color coding them, it is easy to see how interesting this “obsession” really is.

For anyone who thinks the word obsession automatically means something addictive or harmful to a person’s well-being, Salazar counters such a statement with her funny fascination.  It is truly a colorful way to look at the world. Salazar just happens to show her true colors in her obsession.


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Kevin Durso

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