When I was 21, I spent five months living in India. It was only the second foreign country I had ever been to, and the first was Australia, which didn’t really prepare me for what I was about to encounter. The conditions people existed in—both their own physical bodies and the environment around them—were horrific. People had all manner of rashes, diseases, infections, open wounds, and missing limbs. They lived six people to a single room or two people to a single patch of sidewalk. They were dirty and hungry and desperate. Every time I would walk down the street to run a simple errand or go somewhere, people would touch my light hair or my pale skin, or tug at my clothes and ask if I could help them. It was a shocking but crucial formative experience in my development as a compassionate human being and a critical thinker. Continue reading →
Caveat: This post is long and a bit of a ramble. It has a lot of ideas in it that aren’t fully formed and should probably be split into several distinct posts. It’s more of a thought exercise about the role of place in one’s life, which is the focus of a new writing course I’m taking. The point is to get writing and generate ideas without a lot of self-censorship at this point. I’d love to hear thoughts from my readers if anything here resonates with you.
When I was young, I thought Buffalo, NY was the absolute best place in the country to live. Some of the reasons I can remember included:
- bars were open until 4pm
- we had a waterfront (although it was undeveloped at the time)
- we could use Canadian coins interchangeably with American ones
- our shitty beer was Labatt’s, not Budweiser or Miller
No, this post is not an ode to that old Extreme song, although it’s still a great one! The post is a little bit about “code switching,” I started hearing about everywhere a few years ago. Code switching refers to the verbal portion of the many personas we all have. The words we choose, the way we say them, the tone of voice, affected accents, and sometimes even the language itself. It was weird to me that suddenly code switching was a phenomena because it’s something I’ve recognized myself doing, often consciously, forever. More on that later in a minute. But this post is also about much more than code switching. It’s about all sorts of language choices and language differences that help us relate in specific ways to the world around us and reveal a lot about us.
Haven’t we all been adapting our speech since we were children? I know I have. I spoke one way at home with my family and one way at home with my friends. I spoke another way with my teachers and even another with people at church. Later, I had various sets of speaking mannerisms for work relationships: waitress talk, teacher talk, tour guide talk, boss talk. In my “performance” jobs (teacher, tour guide) my code switch was so strong that I felt quite self-conscious of people who knew other the other versions of myself hearing me in that role. While the degree to which I code switch now is less—for example, I’m now an adult who lives on her own, so I don’t feel I need to bend to my parents’ rules of acceptable speech nearly as much any more when I’m around them—I’m more conscious of it when I do engage in it. For example, sometimes I realize my speech is too casual with my manager orI feel like I’m crossing some line, so I’ll stop using certain words and will hold back expressing certain ideas. Continue reading →
Now that I’m a runner (apparently), I run on vacations. Unless I’m staying in a hotel, which is rare with all the great AirBnBs out there, running is often the only viable form of exercise. Since I was staying at my parents’ house last weekend, I went for a few runs in my old neighborhood. They live about 30 minutes outside Buffalo, New York in a small town called Alden. It is very rural, with more farm and forest land than people and houses. It’s an “all American” town, a place where you can leave your doors unlocked and let your kids run around unsupervised for the entire day and not have to worry. The lack of traffic makes the roads great for running. Yet these qualities also make it an ideal hunting ground for pedophiles and psychopaths. Continue reading →
The second half to the title of this post is:
- …roll with it!
- …who cares!
- …they’re even better!
The impetus for this post is the four days I spent in southwestern Colorado last weekend. Several friends and I went to run another half marathon (something I swore I would do only once), spend time enjoying Durango, and hike another 14er. The trip didn’t go quite according to plan… Continue reading →
Today is my 10 year anniversary of living in Colorado!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Boulder is the friendliest place I’ve ever lived. People of all ages and situations are polite and helpful and always have a smile for you. I’ve struck up conversations in the most random places with people I wouldn’t ordinarily talk to. But why not? Doing so seems normal to me now. Why not make connections, no matter how small, with the people sharing your space? You never know what might come of it, and if nothing does other than a good feeling, that’s great too. This post, however, isn’t going to focus on the lady behind me in the grocery store or the guy at the table next to me in the coffee shop. It’s about the people who work for the city of Boulder and for the benefit of its citizens. Continue reading →
I shamelessly poached the title of this post from a book I’m reading for professional development: The Design of Everyday Things, by Don Norman. I don’t include books I read for anything other than pleasure in my semi-annual book reports, but product and user experience design has been so much on my mind lately that I felt compelled to write about it. This is especially because when I encounter bad design in the real world, there’s generally no one I can provide my feedback to who has any level of influence. Not that anyone reading this blog has influence over any of these issues either, but I feel better writing out my frustration. Here are a few user-unfriendly experiences I’ve had this year. Continue reading →
At Blackwater Pond the tossed waters have settled
after a night of rain.
I dip my cupped hands. I drink
a long time. It tastes
like stone, leaves, fire. It falls cold
into my body, waking the bones. I hear them
deep inside me, whispering
oh what is that beautiful thing
that just happened?
– At Blackwater Pond, Mary Oliver
Mary Oliver’s last two lines can perfectly express the entirety of my feelings about the weekend I just spent in the Flat Tops Wilderness, but she can’t describe the place to you if weren’t there. Here is my attempt. Continue reading →
During the last two months, I’ve found myself undecided at the end of many first dates. This isn’t normal for me. I’m generally a clear yes or no, and I tell the guy exactly what I’m thinking. But lately I’ve been giving guys second and third dates because I haven’t been sure of my feelings, which, as I should know about myself by now, actually means I’m not interested. If I don’t have an overwhelming “wow” feeling at the end of date one, it really is a waste of my time to go on more dates because that feeling won’t magically appear. And yet, I’ve been doing it anyway because a lot my dates were really great guys I wanted to like. Continue reading →