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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 for special events. 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. 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. On a poorly manicured former chicken farm, where one of our chores was slopping pigs, 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 . . .

Blogging, Part Deux

I really hope this post lands where it’s supposed to land; WordPress is new to me and the point here is to brag incessantly about myself while learning WordPress in the process.

Another day of job-hunting. Have you done this? It’s exhausting. Deep into your bones exhausting. I need a job because I will otherwise go totally insane.  I’m tired. I want to watch TV, a lot.  After answering my daily dozen job ads I went for a walk. It’s gorgeous out there, who knew? I forget there’s an outside when I’m hunched over the computer inside. All of a sudden I don’t need a warm coat, and I took some Instagram pics in Windsor Terrace.  Then yoga tonight, praise all that is holy. My amazing yoga teacher,  Elias, is in Mexico running a yoga retreat I’d kill to be a part of. So we have a sub teacher. She’s nice, but she’s not Elias. Still, it’s good for all that ails.

Blogging, Day one

 

I haven’t blogged in ten years, and the last time it ended poorly. (Understatement… Said blog is on lockdown over at BlogSpot.) But, that whole “if at first you don’t succeed” thing, and here I am.

New gig is exciting! I’m doing creative–writing, editing, art direction, anything else that’s creative–for a ChangingThePresent.org. We help other nonprofits get donations by making them a tangible gift.  So instead of donating XX dollars in your friend’s name to, say, Heifer International, you can donate a specific item. Like a goat. Or a flock of geese. And instead of a boring form letter telling your sister, for example, that you’ve made a donation in her name, she’ll receive a gorgeous gift card telling her exactly what she’s been given; perhaps it’s Polio vaccines for ten children in need! This non-profit “changes” how people donate. It’s interesting, and I’m jazzed about new challenges.

It’s a calm Sunday here, after a tumultuous Friday. Prudence, the feline who owns me, had an asthma attack. Had no idea cats could have asthma. Terrifying, her heart rate was sky high, and I rushed her to the vet when I noticed her breathing was off. They examined her, sent her for x-rays and then two shots: cortisone and a bronchodilator. While she was still being monitored after the vaccines, the vet came to talk to me and show me the x-rays of Pru’s little lungs. At this point, I got lightheaded and white as a sheet and needed to sit down. Usually you wait for your pet in the front, but they suggested I stay in the exam room. Then the vet techs asked me if I wanted a glass of water (I did.) Two days later, on steroids, Pru sleeping upside down next to me. She seems no worse for wear. I still need to breathe in a bag.