Say What? Edition 7: More Than Words

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.

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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 →

Demon Déjà Vu

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 →

When Things Aren’t Quite Like They Should Be

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 →

A Decade of Rocky Mountains

Today is my 10 year anniversary of living in Colorado!

loading up at jim's truck stop

In Buffalo, NY, early in the morning on August 22, 2008, making the final adjustments for the 1,530 mile drive. I’m wearing my favorite Buffalo sweatshirt. I still have it.

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Some Love for Boulder

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 →

The Design of Everyday Things

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 →

When in the Flat Tops Wilderness

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 →

One Date, Two Date, Last Date, New Date

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 →

Am I a “Runner”?

In 2013, I griped when my then-partner wanted us to run the mile to the gym and back for our workouts rather than drive. In 2014, I participated in my first 5k. I brought my dog, who is not built for running, so I’d have an excuse for stopping frequently as he pooped, sniffed, and played in the kiddie pool. In 2015, I agreed to the four-mile leg of a marathon relay team, chosen because it was the shortest leg and largely downhill. Then I signed up for the Bolder Boulder 10k in 2016. I walked parts of it because I had mentally convinced myself I couldn’t jog that whole distance. My pace was 12:12. In 2017, I started going to running clubs regularly and increased my Bolder Boulder pace to 10:27. This year, I ran a 9:23 pace in my first half marathon and then an 8:55 pace in the Bolder Boulder a month later. Continue reading →

Guess Who, Boulder Edition

At one of the numerous happy hours my company has hosted for its employees this year, my teammates and I stood by a fence, surveying the array of pale, hirsute faces. The scene prompted one of my coworkers (who is also white and bearded) to point out that our office is a real life game of Guess Who. Remember that game? Twenty-four faces on the game board, most of them white men? Your first question was always “Is your person a man?” and your next was “Is the person white?” If your secret person was one of the only four women, the only black person, or one of the other three people of indeterminate ethnicity, you were setting yourself up to lose. You always had to choose a white man.

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