Shannon P. Laws lives in the Pacific Northwest. She is a published poet, currently working on a series of short stories. For seven years she produced award-winning community radio programs that promoted the PNW music/art community. Shannon's other interest include operating her voice-over company, Chickadee Productions.
Both in popular usage and in the sociolinguistic study, the name code–switching is sometimes used to refer to switching among dialects, styles or registers. -Wikipedia
Code-Switching is a common phrase and an NPR Podcast. If you’re not familiar with this phrase please YouTube Key and Peele. It’s good stuff.
So what is Source Code Switching? It’s associated with advertising and it wants your money.
Matching the energy of the person you are trying to sell to is an old sales tactic as well as a social phenomenon. I can remember during my cable sales and service days the manager advising us to listen to the tone of the voice of the customer on the phone. Ask yourself are they sad, slow talkers, or fast thinkers and quick talkers? Match your voice to the customers. If you talk too fast to a slow talker you will lose them, and so on.
It is also used in the gutter and pop-up ads for your personal web world. Source Code algorithms (and other secret stuff) categorize YOU; how you speak, write, knows your economic/social level, etc, then places you in a box, and sends you unique ads. In a sense, YOU are designing your own ad experience. Wow! What fun. The ultimate house of mirrors! Corporations do this to increase sales. Salespeople do this to get sales. People do this with each other to be accepted. I find myself doing this with everyone in my world and I can’t stop.
Back in the day when I sold auto insurance and cable packages over the phone, but not at the same place, (that would be pretty cool) I learned how to match the energy of the person I was talking to. The consumer feels comfortable when they hear their own verbal register used in a professional manner and may if you’re good enough, buy your product or in a customer service situation, at the very least, feel better about their purchase. This works.
FACE TO FACE
Preparing for a job interview, managing a table at a festival, being a receptionist, talking to your manager and their boss, communicating with the person who is changing your oil, WE ALL put assumptions on those folks as we approach them and change our behavior accordingly. Why? Because we are social. Humans are social creatures.
Freud, however, suggests everything is about sex, the accumulation, and discharge of sexual energy which is the identical experience of trying to convince a cable customer to add the Cinemax digital channel line up to their package or increase the bodily injury limits on their BMW. Oh ya.
Today I am no longer a salesperson. These habits, developed in my formable 30’s, continue to hover. It’s like a little throw up in the back of the throat. I’ll notice slight changes in my body language and comfort level adjust even between friends. I hate this. I scream to the universe, “Why can’t I be my honest self all the time in every situation? Why?” The planet does make these types of people. People that shoot from the hip, wear their attitude on their sleeves, those superheroes that don’t blink at a high noon challenge. Those people are usually called Grandparents. Grandparents do not give a shit what others think. They barrel through any given situation with a fuck you attitude like the wrinkled divas they are.
So, what’s up?
I’m not a Grandparent, How do I fix this? I will do the most American thing I can do and rationalize my actions, not change anything, but change my perception.
OK, here I go… Grandpas are married to Grandmas. Grandmas tell us to be kind and consider the feelings of others. They are, in this argument, the feminine nurturing energy that creates, bonds and surrounds us with life-giving energy. Grandpas are masculine, strong, protective, represents reason and logic. Translation: embrace your inner PawPaw and Oma.
Ep 7 – May 2019 -Shannon Laws sits down with me to share her latest venture, an album of her Poetry/music titled “You Love Me, You Love Me Not”.
This collection is a satire and embellishment of very real relationships, explores the adult dating experience, it carries the listener through a muddy mess of emotions, passion, regret, rebound, delirious dreaming, and various other levels of pain and suffering while in the pursuit of finding love, or something close to it. The combination of Shannon’s articulation and Greg’s bass touching each stanza ever so gently is a roller coaster ride; asking the question “do they love me or not?”; This show includes several cuts from the album. The album is available on Bandcamp
“You Love Me, You Love Me Not” was recorded at Bill Simpkins Alpenglow Sound Studios 2019 in Bellingham, Washington USA
Don’t tell my landlord, but, I have a pet. It is a False Black Widow, and she hangs upside down in her web at the right angle of the wall and baseboard heater near my front door. Her name is Susan. Susan is very productive. Her web acts as a billboard of her health and possible mood. Sometimes I notice little black dots of dead gnats or other bug bits on her web-stoop and wonder if she’s eating light. Other days it looks like she takes happy little spider laps around my muddy boot tray tracing thin strings of web behind her as she wanders.
I first discovered Susan one Sunday morning.
The human eye is complex. With direct threads to the brain, you would think we would never question what we see. However, there are certain shapes, colors, or movements, that, when spotted in the corner of our eyes, we may believe, for a fraction of a second, we are under attack. I am convinced we have our early ancestors to thank for this heart racing reaction…and those freaking Velociraptors. One morning, me without my glasses on, scuffling through the kitchen half asleep, around the pillar, past my front door, thinking of nothing but “Do I have enough coffee to make two cups” when my god-dang heart freakin’ stopped! An alien-claw-like “thing” was sitting on the floor by the baseboard heater. It was dark gray. It had legs. It, thankfully, was not moving…but was it alive?
Test one: turn on the light. It doesn’t move. Test two: get a little closer making large movements. It still didn’t move.
Test three: put on glasses and face your enemy.
Returning with glasses on and ready to fight, I discover that the “alien claw” is, in fact, the carcass of the LARGEST Wolf Spider I have ever seen. The Wolf Spider is a non-poisonous house spider found in many Northwest homes. I grew up in the Northwest and I’m familiar with this arthropod. A different part of my brain takes over. This is a natural science situation. After an hour of deep thinking, keeping one eye on the eight-legged horror, I came to this conclusion: this is either the molting skin of a very large spider that took up residence in that hole behind the freaking baseboard heater, OR another larger spider killed this large spider. Either way, there’s a large spider in that hole behind the freaking baseboard heater and what the hell!
It turns out that the large dead spider was killed by the petite, nickel sized False Black Widow. Impressed by this, I named her. Long live Susan.
OK, I’ll admit it, for the last two years the most I did in my DNA search was to send out four identical, short, thought out letters to the last four known address of my birth mother. All four were returned “Unknown. Return to Sender.” I began to wonder if I will EVER reach her and started to measure how important it is to me. In 2016, thanks to distant cousins on the Rogers and Rowland side of the family, I attained two complete family trees going back to the 1700s. The information holds great gems. Is it enough?
This month—I have an update.
BUT FIRST A RECAP…
As you may remember from previous posts, my birth mother, Joan, attempted to arrange an adoption through a local Church in the last month of the pregnancy. Something fell through and the arrangement did not take place. Sometime in January 1968 a foster care worker connected “Baby Girl Tames” with the Farnand family, a young Seattle couple who were recently told they were unable to have children.
In 2016, after taking a 23andMe DNA test in 2014, I find three “cousins”: one from the Rogers, one from the Rowland branch and one from (presumably) my Latin blood fathers side. Two of the cousins are the genealogists of the family. They unload full family trees going back to Wales, England, some photos, stories, and suddenly—an orphan has a history! I was numb from it all. In a fog for many months, processing the information and delighted to have “people.” However, not all the news was without tragedy.
In part six I discovered that in 1964, outside of Dallas, Texas, four half-siblings were killed in a murder/suicide car fire by my birth mothers estranged husband. Mom disappears from records and timelines, reappears in Seattle, 1967 to give birth to me, “Baby Girl Tames.”
So, this month, I woke up one Sunday morning and decided to try calling a phone number for my mother’s oldest sister.
Auntie picks up. We talk for 30 minutes. Auntie tells me Joan had SIX children after having me.
Auntie is in her mid-80’s like my birth mother. My mother’s sister claims she is unsure if Joan is still living because they haven’t talked in decades, but she believes she may have settled in Florida after marrying a man named Tames or Taméz. She has little other information about my birth mom, except to say she traveled a lot throughout Central and South America, perhaps to calm herself after losing her family in the 1964 horrific event.
So now I am faced with the concept of not only *possibly* connecting with my birth mom but also SIX half-siblings! If this story is true, Joan had twelve children altogether. Big families are common in this line of the family. Mama Rogers, my grandmother, also had twelve. I guess what they say about everything being bigger in Texas extends to its families as well. However, I have no way of proving the post-1967 story of my birth mother to be true or not. At one time I consider hiring a private investigator, then reconsider thinking the effort and price might not equal the reward. It sends me on downward contemplation wondering if it is better I stay hidden, a feeling familiar to me since before I was born. An unborn child hears and feels, but it takes many years for them to understand. As a grown woman in my 50s, I ask, “Do I hold enough self-preservation to end this quest?” Why seek out a family that wants nothing to do with you?
Meanwhile, I grow an internet relationship with my Rogers-side cousin. She has asked me to be added to her tree on Ancestry.com. That site has a slightly better user interface and is family tree focused.
Did you know Ancestry and the LDS church joined officially in 2013, and now hold the planets largest collection of ancestry data, an estimated 16 billion historical records, and DNA collection, supposedly for the purpose of helping the deceased get into the spirit world?
“Many Mormons do family history not only to learn about their heritage but also to find deceased ancestors who haven’t yet been baptized in the Church, and worthy Church members can then be baptized for these ancestors who have died.
When someone dies, Mormons believe a person’s spirit leaves the body. Performing baptisms for the dead is a chance for Mormons to do for those who are dead what they can’t do for themselves.”
Many genealogists, Mormon or otherwise, use this paid site. I’m not Mormon, however, the resources available at Ancestry are tempting. I would like to discover more about my blood father’s side. I have agreed to upload my DNA to the site. With my cousin’s information, we may be able to locate more family members.
Meanwhile, 23andMe continues to send me email alerts that I have “new relatives” to connect with. These people are almost all third to fifth cousins, which in my opinion are worthless connections. I currently share DNA, that’s as much as ONE strand, with 1064 23andMe customers. The site is more about health surveys than creating family trees, although you can create a family tree it’s more informative if you can get other family members to buy the kit and register on the site. The biggest advantage from my perspective is that you may be able to predict the health and features of future offspring. Perhaps, influencing a feature specific baby gift for your niece, “I purchased a blue blanket for your new baby girl to go with her eyes.”
In addition to learning if I have major markers for various types of diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, and I can also learn if I am prone to sneezing when a beam of sunshine suddenly hits me in the face, known as the Photic Sneeze Reflex. Genetic research is discovering all sorts of new genes for fringe stuff like: Newborn Hair Amount Cleft Chin
Freckles Earlobe Type Asparagus Odor Detection Widow’s Peak Bitter Taste Perception Unibrow Earwax Type
Since I took the first DNA test in 2014, I’ve learned so much, the mother’s line is British, one branch is Mayflower peeps, via the Francis Cooke line. On another line, we are related to the Ethan Allan family and the 19th president, Rutherford B. Hayes. Both lines had large families, and there are many branches. Also, there is an unprovable rumor that we are related to a King of England. Which king? Unknown. I’m guessing King Everyman. If you are a genealogist, you’ll know it costs extra money to join foreign online databases. I am trying to keep my expenses reasonable.
You know what, I’m just not sure I need to know anymore. I know I agreed to join Ancestry, but I mean, wow, I think my brain is full. If a half-sibling reaches out, of course, I’d connect. If my birth mother, whose older sister now has my contact information, calls me, of course, I’d talk to her. I have much to ask, many things to say. But, right now, today— I’m good.
If I learn nothing more from this point forward, I am satisfied with the information on hand. I know my heritage, about 200 years of family tree history, some basic health markers. MOST importantly I have my own blood—my two adult children. The TWO people in the WORLD right now who I KNOW I am related to. They are my everything. I love them to the moon and back. The day they were born, I wondered how difficult it is for any mother to leave her child. Breaks my heart. My adopted father passed away, but I have a healthy relationship with my adopted mother. My adopted brother and I are also close. I have a small family, but they are people I can hold in my hands.
Do I need to know more? As my Grandmother Mimi use to say, “Let sleeping dogs lie.”
As I recover from a concussion (please visit my Go Fund Me to learn more) I thought this week was a good time to explore the audio files I have accumulated on my phone over the year. Often inspiration strikes when I am away from a pen and paper and I can’t type the words quick enough into a note. Recording observations as RAW audio free verse poems are satisfying for me. Background sounds are incorporated into the piece which, I think, adds to the impromptu performance. Also, there is a desirable amount of light pressure to form a creative thought in one take.
The fifth poem I offer up for this project is a desolate poem with the working title “The Middle Seat” recorded August 27, 2018, one and a half months before my bike accident. Riding the 1 bus through town it stops at the YWCA, then travels by The Lighthouse Mission before it comes to my stop, the plywood mill off Roeder. Every day there are people in crisis on this bus. It gets to you after a while. At times it scares me. I fear that, if I’m not careful, I could become homeless. Sitting in the middle of the bus one afternoon, I witnessed a rare perspective between the hopeful and the hopeless. I’m stunned.
I recommend listening to the audio file while reading the poem. I open Google links in Music Player for Google Drive.
I take the 1 downtown my nose is bombarded by the scents of the 1 I smell an overwhelming perfume of mental illness, poverty and piss
I hear the voices of hope three women in the front of the bus discuss low-income housing it’s options, what they’re like how much they ask for Two of the ladies are working to get out of the women’s shelter and one has one has gone into low-income housing she’s made that next step out of that poverty and they talk and their voices have hope I hear it also, its riddled with pain but they smile and they share information
Five people behind me reek of vomit and piss and liquor as if they haven’t bathed in weeks or maybe just since yesterday I can’t tell Bad breath Everything they have is dirty everything they touch is dirty their bodies are dirty These are people still on the streets
and there I am in the middle of them It feels like I’m sitting on the edge of a knife
I could be at a moments notice in one incident one health care thing one accident I could be on either side of this fence but I take the 1 to go to my job at the sawmill it’s depressed right now work is slowing we’re building up our stock There are rumors we are building up the stock right now to burn it
I’m drinking coffee and a breakfast cookie sitting by myself in the break room My body bombarded by the sound of the machines pounding wood