Summer. . .

Cannot come fast enough. I stroll through the surf for hours, searching for treasures. The ocean brings magic: rocks and shells and beach glass.  Below, the rock in the middle is my fave, striated with quartz. I keep it in a small shrine in my front hallway.

All from Fire Island, I once brought handfuls like the smallest one to a man I knew;  he carried them around in his pockets. I carry the one on the right to remind me that warm weather will come again. img_6879.jpg

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Oversleeping

Morning is a cruel gift for a night owl. Enter Prudence, who adds more difficulty to getting up in time for work. She’s a Lilac Lynx-Point Siamese. IMG_7227

Rescued from a shelter in the wilds of Tennessee, her mom’s name was Bette Davis.  You know that scene in Now Voyager where the niece and sister-in-law come to meet Charlotte, played by Davis, as she comes off the cruise ship? They are so gobsmacked by her appearance they pinch each other? That’s how I felt when I saw Pru on Petfinder. You can find more glam shots of her on my Insta.

Sub Rosa

I’ve been a little busy, and all of a sudden months have passed and I haven’t checked in here.

I was switching subways yesterday, from the F to the R, and found this gem: take a look, the tiles in the letters are hand-cut. I love finding treasures in this city.

The R brought me to Whitehall Station, where the ferries for Staten and Governors’ Island depart. I was on my way to the National Museum of the American Indian–New York, which sits in the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House. Exceptional exhibits–I hear the one in DC is more comprehensive–but the building itself was more spectacular, filled with carved marble decoration and bright painted murals. More curiously, the display rooms are arranged in an oval, with a bright, airy rotunda in the middle.

An exceptional day with an old friend. (Had it been warmer, we’d have taken a trip on one of the ferries. But, brrr, winter, we hunkered down at a coffee shop instead.)

Fire Island

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A few days at the beach always soothes my soul, even though it was so chilly I needed to buy a new sweatshirt. (An expensive but worthy purchase.)

Loving the newly built stairs and wider beaches, created when NY state renovated the seashore last fall. I was there amidst that construction, when I spent a week in Seaview all by myself in September. Gorgeous days, but quite chilly at night. Still, I kept the bedroom windows wide open: the house is close enough to the ocean that I could hear its roar from under the covers.

High Heels

fullsizeoutput_d2dI was one of those children more sensitive than most. I was teased a lot, and it was upsetting. I was told that the kids (mostly boys, in grade school) picked on me because they could get a “rise” out of me.  Basically, I was told I should just suck it up. Sigh. Life was different then, but even now many people don’t grasp that this is not how brains work. That being sensitive isn’t a a bad thing.

Sensitivity is an emotional trait found in 20 percent of the population. People like me are part of a group called Highly Sensitive People, or HSP. It’s an attribute, and a biological fact (YES) like any other: tall or short, red hair or blonde. We can work at adapting to the world the way a shorter person wears high heels, or a brunette becomes a blonde. At the end of the day, we are who we are. Warts and all.

Aha.

I’ve been trying for a few weeks to find a good topic for a post, and failing.  I recently didn’t get a job I really wanted, and lost a friend I treasured.  But one of the great memories from the past few weeks was sitting with adored co-workers at my volunteer gig, and taking the online quiz to see who was HSP.

This is always a fun exercise. My experience is that many people don’t want to take it, and they resist and push forcefully against the idea because there is a negative connotation to being sensitive. I’ve witnessed this so many times. “But I’m not x! I’m not y! The subway no longer jolts me! I walk fast through the crowd.” High heels, people, high heels.

20 percent of the population, and the majority of the people in my life who I care about, are HSP. Want to give it a go? Click through to take the self-test: hsperson.com

Watershed

When I was in grade school, I spent my first summer at sleepaway camp. A Jewish camp in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, my grandparents were co-owners. Well manicured and tidy, there were little red-and-white bunks and lots of Adirondack chairs. We wore brown and gold uniforms. There was a big gorgeous lake with canoes. Girls’ bunks on one side of the camp, boys’ on the other. Every morning, over the loudspeaker, my grandfather told everyone what to wear that day: short or long pants, sneakers or hard shoes. With the exception of a once-weekly “Arts and Crafts” class, all activities were sports except for Friday night services (where we wore white shirts instead of gold). I think the food was kosher-style.

It wasn’t a good fit.

Here on the other side of 50, I will tell you that I am an Atheist, a vegetarian, an artist, and a writer. My only sport is yoga, and I hate wearing shoes.

76bunk

Fast forward to the summer of ’76. It was decided a more progressive camp would be more my style, and my grandparents—owners of the camp with the archery and soccer and tennis—were charged with finding me one: Appel Farm Arts and Music Center. That’s me, bottom right. You’ll notice I’m beaming.

Nothing at Appel Farm was manicured or tidy. Our bunks were converted chicken coops, the art building was once a barn. Our lake? Shallow and algae-filled and aptly named Lake Inferior. We had “majors” and “minors” and “workshops” in all things art and music. There were rap sessions and meditation classes. We didn’t have to wear shoes and we did a whole lot of tie dye. The food, while lousy, was “health” food. Once a session there was a junk food meal: a hot dog, potato chips, a Hershey bar for dessert. And there were boys, lots of boys, in bunks very nearby, many of whom played forbidden instruments like the electric guitar and keyboards. Oh my.

I spent five summers there. Appel Farm is where I learned to throw pots, it’s where I learned to write short stories. It’s where I learned to bake bread, and where I finally found people like me. I still cherish them.

You know that Blind Melon video? Awkward little girl, dressed like a bee, tap dancing on a stage as the audience laughs. Crying, the little bee girl runs off stage and starts a journey. Walks around, dances some more, then runs and runs and finds a gate in a meadow. Inside the gate? Bees. People of all shapes and sizes, dressed up like bees. She runs in and dances with them. She found her people, she found her bees. I found my bees

After a weekend in the Jerz

IMG_6269Went out to see my mom this weekend, came home with two boxes of Girl Scout cookies. (Samoas and Trefoils.) We tried to go out to dinner, ended up at this weirdo Chinese restaurant in Fort Lee, Shanghai something. Fountain? Mountain? Palace? Couldn’t get out of there fast enough. There was such a loud hum and vibration under my seat, I think I was sitting on top of a nuclear reactor. The food was so strange: our shrimp dumplings had the end piece of the shell sticking out, like a handle. Don’t get me started on the main courses.

I found this picture in my mom’s photo album, taken with my Dad at the long defunct Palisades Amusement Park. I’m thinking second grade. (I can date most childhood pictures by the length and texture of my hair. This was before the big bad haircut in the summer before third grade.)

Nearly halfway through my 2nd favorite month. Windows open, no socks. Huzzah.

Hmmm . . .

I used to blog under the name “Grumpygirl.” It was hardly a nom de plume; I never kept secret who I was. As I mentioned in my first post, that blog was locked down during the recession. I am trying, now, to resurrect her voice. Certainly, I never have trouble finding the right voices for clients. Here? I’m a little blocked.

Otherwise, grateful it’s finally warm and I’ve pulled out my Marimekko Chuck Taylors, and can finally open the windows!!! (But what is it with these women in NYC who all winter don’t wear socks and have bare ankles? Aren’t they cold? Is it because I’m old and cold all the time??)

Spent yesterday at the non-profit. We need light bulbs, and Post-its, and a Poland Spring dispenser, oh my. Computers there are donated PC laptops without hard drives, so I’m lugging my extremely heavy 2014 Macbook Pro with me every day. I dream that a Macbook Air will drop from the sky. Other than that, I’m loving my days there.

Yesterday I started weaning Pru off the steroids, which is terrifying me. Again, she remains happy and cheerful and tremendously enthusiastic: I was awakened to her in a crying frenzy over the weekend; one of those scary hairy centipedes was running along the ceiling. This isn’t the first time—I beg you to tell me where they’re coming from, please—and each time she sees one she goes batshit.

Signing off to find my voice . . .