Thursday, February 2, 2012

5 Ways I Do, 5 Ways I Don't

Not the car I saw today, but you get the idea.

As I was pulling out of the parking lot of one of the many organic grocery stores in Boulder this morning, I noticed several cars with tons of bumper stickers on them. The stickers were typical of this groovy, outdoorsy and often clueless place: "Wag, don't bark." "Coexist" (have you seen this one? where the word "coexist" is spelled with lots of different religious symbols?). "Another mama for Obama." And of course "26.2."

It got me thinking about the ways I do and don't fit in here. Which of course lends itself to a nice list, or in this case a pair of them. Here they are:

5 Ways I Do Belong in Boulder
1. I'm mostly politically liberal. I don't like nasty xenophobia, I believe in taxing the rich, I think it's shameful that we haven't had universal health care in this country and I do believe we need the government to prod people to behave in ways they should behave anyway (e.g. helping the poor).

2. I like to run. And hike. And I like that Boulder funds open space. It's beautiful here. I love being able to step out my door and be in the middle of nowhere in 15 minutes. I know it keeps land at a premium here, which effectively means I can't afford to live in Boulder proper. But I'm OK with that. The trails are worth it to me.

3. The people here are my style (to the extent that I have a style). There aren't a lot of places where dressing up is necessary, including my job. Business casual is as fancy as it gets around here. The stuff that is in style is appealing to me: puffy down vests, low-slung shoes from companies like Born and Merrell, workout clothes and jeans with hoodies. I fit right in.

4. The university means lots of good cultural options--classical music, a planetarium, lectures, continuing ed classes, a Shakespeare festival in the summer, great college sports. You can easily keep learning here, your whole life.

5. I love the weather in all its extremes. My favorite part is the dryness (I've come to loathe humidity and hope I never have to live an East Coast/Midwest summer again), but I also love the dramatic thunderstorms, the snow and even the wind (unless I have to run for two hours in it).

5 Ways I Don't Belong in Boulder
1. I'm a traditional main-line Christian with a Roman Catholic bent. I think the New Age "spirituality" around here has a lot of silly showiness about it, without much substance. This isn't to say there aren't a lot of genuinely good people who espouse those philosophies (nor is it to say that I'm always an exemplar of the best Christian virtues). But if I had a nickel for every "Buddhist" I've met here who's about as far from "Zen" in attitude as you can get, I'd be a rich woman.

2. I really hate talking about politics, but I'm going to do it just for a second. I don't think everyone who is conservative is evil or a dupe. My own family back in Missouri is mostly pretty conservative. There are even some who watch Bill O'Reilly (yeah, I do think he's pretty awful). They are NOT stupid. They've just had experiences that are different from mine and therefore have a different perspective on the issues. I hate it when the typical Boulder liberal tries to engage me in conservative-bashing. I won't do it. I don't even like to bash George W. Bush. I believe it's up to history to judge people like him. How can I judge someone whose role in current events is still so recent? (By the way, this goes for Obama-bashers too.)

3. I don't believe everything should be run by committee. I believe there needsto be real authority figures in certain roles. There was a controversy at my library at the end of January over a volunteer who was asked to step down. The way the good citizens of Boulder reacted was nothing less than the blog-comment letters-to-the-editor nasty-email equivalent of a lynch mob. The way they are still talking about our director is inexcusable. Maybe this decision was a bad one, maybe it wasn't. But I like that our director is MAKING decisions and sticking to her guns. In the past, leadership at the library (and elsewhere around here) has been too easily swayed by the mass of Boulderites who think they know better. I'm glad we have a real leader now. Hopefully she's real enough they won't scare her away.

4. Boulderites love bumper stickers. I've seen entire cars covered with them. I'm not a fan of bumper stickers, if they're on cars that is. I have a bunch at home that I'd love to put in an appropriate place. Maybe a bulletin board in my basement?

5. I don't like obsessing about food. There's not a lot of moderation around here when it comes to food. Vegan evangelists, raw-food evangelists, 21-day cleanse evangelists.....sigh. I wish people would just eat what they want to and stop talking about it. In particular, please don't tell me every time I have a stomach ache that I need to give up dairy or wheat. I like cheese, I like ice cream, I like good crusty bread. I'm going to keep eating them....in moderation.....when I can muster it. I promise no moderation when it comes to chocolate.

For these reasons, I think it's good I live 12 miles away from Boulder proper. I get down there often. But I can also leave. There's a reason they call Boulder "25 square miles surrounded by reality." In my life, I need both the reality and the fantasy.

23 comments:

  1. Lacey Sue Williams - N.Y.A.R.MFebruary 2, 2012 at 11:46 AM

    Lol!!! What a wonderful list!!!!! It gets me to thinking how I do and don't fit in here in Utah...hmmmmm....

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  2. Very good post.  I believe we hold many of the same views and that is cool!

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  3. Ha this made me laugh because it describes Boulder perfectly! I fit in there in so many different ways and when I do something particularly "organic" or "hippy" my friends will tell me that my "Boulder is coming out." However there are are a lot of weird things that go on in that city that just make me cringe! :)

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  4. I didn't realize how much we have in common! This sounds exactly like my experience in Ithaca, we even had bumper stickers that said "10 sq miles surrounded by reality", I wonder if that was borrowed from Boulder? In any case, I can relate to all of your 5 do's, and the first 4 5 don'ts... i can be a bit of a food evangelist, though.  :)  I'd say, enjoy it! I miss many of those aspects of our college town life!

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  5. Oh, there are so many things I like about Boulder, but like you I just don't fit in there.  It is a good thing I am far away in the burbs, but I can tell you a few ways I don't fit in here either!  You had very excellent points and it makes me want to meet you more.  We can hang out in our hoodies, not talking about politics, while eating ice cream and bread.  That sounds like it would be an awesome day!

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  6. 25 miles surrounded by reality. haha love it! I don't think I've ever been to Boulder. But the Newton lab...and Justin's Nut Butter is there so it can't be all bad.

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  7. Great post! I visited Boulder once and immediately fell in love!

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  8. I always thought it was "7 square miles surrounded by reality"....but my number must have been off.  Haha.  I think you and I share the same things about Boulder....of course I love people watching at Pearl Street, I think you can find every breed. 

    Someone who lives up near Boulder and is about a 5 min/miler recently talked about bumper stickers on cars and how he thought the were ungodly and bragging.  I actually like to see a bumper sticker or two - especially the 26.2 because it identifies someone I have something in common with - and I always smile.  I think after we all commented similar statements on his blog, he understood and now likes the 26.2 sticker.  Haha.

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  9. I had a friend for awhile who lived there and referred to it as The People's Republic of Boulder -- which I thought was pretty funny.  

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  10. "I’ll be a working, modern income, socially conscience, Boulder hippie”
    LOL, ahh Boulder ... just like that weird cousin that the rest of the family just doesn't know what to do with ... but you love him just the same. 

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  11. I love living in Boulder.  Now if I had young children at home I might not be so adamant about living in Boulder proper.  Mostly I do belong here and I'm with "my people" being fairly healthy and active.  I don't like talking politics either.  I was kidding  around and posted something on my bf's Facebook on how he should move to Boulder because they are fracking in Erie.  And I got a NIMBY response from a friend.  ugh...

    However, you hit my hot button with #5(obsessing about food).   The biggest reason I don't like CrossFit is because their hypocritical, militant and self-righteousness attitude about the Paleo thing.  I just "love" how cream for your coffee or honey is not Paleo but somehow coffee, bacon, tequila (one of the local CF gyms loves margs), and agave syrup are all Paleo.  Now tell me..what kind of French Press did the cave man have??

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  12. Woah, brave woman talking about your political views on the internet!  Anyways, my undergrad was in an extremely liberal town and there were cars like that driving all over.  We also had a huge anti-war protest went Bush 2 went in to Iraq  and it was super hip to be a lesbian (I kid you not).  Once I moved to Ohio, I felt a little lost.

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  13. Your posts are always so interesting to me.   We have a lot in common.  100% with you on your 2B.  I have a fanatically liberal uncle, an uber-conservative cousin, and everyone else spanning somewhere in between.  Even when I don't agree with things that people believe, I can respect their opinions and usually learn something from them, even if what I'm learning is just clarifying my own beliefs.

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  14. Here's what I love about this.  You realize that you can have strong political views one way without thinking that the other side is all comprised of idiots.  Maybe it takes living in texas (and working in the oil industry in my case) to realize this.  Everyone has their unique experiences and incentives and no one knows everything.   I wish more people were so open minded :). 

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  15. Ha!  Boulder sounds a lot like Austin - where I used to live.  Loved learning more about you!!!  

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  16. Sounds like Eugene moved to Boulder. :)

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  17. 10 interesting subjects. Of course politics needs lot of pages to explain the opinions: as you said it depends by the experiences: I lived "on my skin" the 70's, the worst period in Italy for terrorism and violences everywhere (on the street, at school ecc). For this reason my opinion is influenced by those years and how the things are changed in my country and in the world.
    About the open spaces, I would vote the person who takes the committment not to build anymore, but that person doesn't exist. In my city the country is becoming city, pointless city: no more grass, no more trees, no more birds, no more animals. Terrible!

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  18. I love that "25 square miles" description! I could really relate to all that you are saying. I think I'd probably feel about the same on all counts. That said, it pretty much is utopia for the endurance athlete! 

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  19. jessica (pace of me)February 3, 2012 at 11:22 AM

    What a great post, Terzah. My sister lived in Boulder for a few years and when I went to visit her it did seem like a utopia to me in so many ways.  I completely agree with your lists though and I know I would feel the same way - and overall I know it would be a place I would feel at home in. I often dream of moving out west or to a small college town, but being close to family has always kept us in the DC area.

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  20. Very insightful list! I've never been to Boulder, but I now know a lot more about it. :-) I agree with many of your philosophies too, and I think some of them can even relate to rural Minnesota.

    I can't help but see that car and think about my own Subaru. I'm glad I haven't bumper stickered it up yet!

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  21. I've been bugging my husband to find a job in Boulder because it's the mecca of ultra running. :) 

    The committee thing made me laugh, mostly because it makes me think of how a camel is a horse made by a committee. 

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  22. I love to sit at stoplights and read the bumper stickers on the cars around me, some people get really crazy.  
    My family in Missouri is very conservation while I am considered the left wing loon of the family.  I am willing to listen and learn from them except when the start talking about Sarah Palin...I have to draw the line somewhere.  LOL.Love Boulder for all of its uniqueness.  

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  23. I have never heard that saying about Boulder, that is funny.

    I never would fit fully in either.

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