Tag Archives: friends

What am I good at? Survey says… part 1

ImFeelingInspiredYeah, so, probably wasn’t the best time to start a new blog! Job has been chowin’ down on my life with a fair amount of regularity and consistency. At last, I’ve managed to carve out some time to work on Manifesting… The Musical! 😉 I still like that title, but it’s more whimsical and self-indulgent than descriptive. Therefore, we’re going with What am I good at? Survey says… for this series. I’ve polled the tribes and they have spoken. Without further ado, let’s get started!

What Am I Good At?

A (merely quasi-) scientific exploration into my mad talentz and skillz

Introduction

The purpose of this exercise was to find out what skills and talents I possess according to people who know me from all walks of life. The exercise is modeled after one that appears in the ebook, “The Principles of Successful Manifesting” by Thomas Herold, founder and CEO of Dream Manifesto LLC.

Population Selection

Over the years, my key interests have driven me to seek out communities of the like-minded, in both real life and online. These communities – or tribes – were targeted for population selection. Individuals with whom I’ve had frequent and/or high-quality interactions have had ample opportunity to observe my behavior and form opinions as to my particular talents and skills – What I Do Well. “Frequent” does not necessarily mean “recent”. My key interests tend to morph as the years pass. “High-quality” is harder to define. It pertains to the level of exposure to one another via shared experiences, whether they are shared virtually or in real life (IRL). The more we share, the more we know about one another. Therefore, the better the respondents knew me, the more accurate – and therefore, useful – their responses would be.

Method

The population received a message, either in an email or else posted to the private forum, which said this:

Hola, friends –

I’m working on something – myself!

I’d like to ask y’all for the favor of your opinions. I am asking people from all different walks of my life, people that know me well and people that know me not so well. If I get the same general responses from people who know me in different ways, then that means they’re all on to something. I realize that a few of you know me only from the internet, but what you have observed over the years is in fact behavior, so I believe it’s valid to ask cyber friends as well as RL friends to respond to these questions.

Here are the questions – feel free to answer some, all or none, as the mood strikes you!

– What do you think I’m good at?
– What do you think my talents are?
– What do you think I should do with my life?

The first thing that comes into your head is probably the best answer.

Thank you in advance for your time

xxx
Erin

Responses were received on the same platform as the request was delivered (email or on the forum). Responses were analyzed and normalized for measurement, and the resulting data was plugged into a spreadsheet along with some demographics.

Metrics

Data collected and analyzed includes the following:

• Polling method (email, forum)
• Gender
• Venue
• Tribe
• Common Interest
• What I Do Well
• Career Suggestions

Venues, Tribes and Key Interests

Venues
The three venues or contexts within which the tribes I belong to generally meet to interact are –

• Real Life
• Internet
• I-2-RL

Behavior (interaction, relating) is not limited to “real life” in this, the 21st century. Internet life can be active, rich and rewarding. However, interaction on the internet requires different methods than interaction in real life. The chief difference is the mode of communication. In real life, the primary mode of communication is verbal; whether face to face or on the phone, it usually involves vocal cords and ears. Verbal communication can also be accompanied by vocal inflections, facial expressions and other bodily cues that convey context and nuance. Alternatively, internet communication has been primarily via text – the written word. Recently, audio and video communications have been introduced, but the prevalent mode is still text. Lack of vocal inflection, facial expression and body language can often lead to misunderstandings on the internet. Therefore, successful internet communication requires an additional level of attention to the selection and interpretation of language in the written form that is not generally required in IRL.

In addition to Real Life and Internet, there is a third venue, a hybrid of Real Life and Internet. It has become more and more common for people who initially meet and interact via the internet to arrange to meet in real life. In the cases of my Sanibel and Disney tribes, the initial meeting usually occurs at the travel destination that is part of the common interest, often for large “meets” but just as often for smaller groups who happen to be vacationing at the same time. Sometimes, these meets result in cases where Internet relationships take hold and cross over into Real Life. For the purposes of this survey, this venue will be identified as “I-2-RL” (internet-to-real-life). One-time or infrequent interaction offline is not considered for inclusion in this group.

Tribes
A tribe is the community and context within which I have had the most interaction with the respondents. Tribes are more than just collections of people; they are also the socio-ethnographic backdrop against which the respondent has observed my behavior. In some cases, a respondent and I belong to more than one tribe together. To simplify the analysis, I selected the tribe within which the most frequent and/or highest quality interaction has occurred.

The tribes selected for the study are:

Disney Fans – lovers of all things Disney. Primary focus is on animated films and and visiting Disney’s theme parks. Interaction began 5-7 years ago
Friends Back Home – these individuals are primarily friends from high school or from the performing community on Long Island. Interaction began 10-30 years ago.
Sanibel Fans – these are people who have belonged to a few forums online devoted to visiting Sanibel Island and collecting seashells. Interaction began 5-7 years ago.
Siblings – this is my birth tribe. In this survey, a “sibling” is a respondent who is either one of my brothers, or married to one of my brothers. Interaction began 20-45 years ago.
Sistas – these are women who are members of a private, all-female support forum. All of them are also members of the Disney Fans tribe; however, greatest quantity of high-quality interaction has occurred in the Sistas forum. Interaction began 5-7 years ago.
Tech Geeks – my oldest online tribe, this group of individuals started together in a technical support forum for distributed computing in the early to mid 90s. It is also the smallest tribe I belong to, consisting of three Englishmen, a dude from Pennsylvania and me. Interaction began about 15 years ago.

Key Interests
Disney – shared primarily with Disney Fans and Sistas tribes; secondary interest with Siblings tribe.
Family – primary interest shared with Siblings tribe.
Geekery – primary interest shared with Tech Geeks; however, technology has become a very mainstream interest and therefore is a secondary interest shared with virtually all other tribes.
High School – primary interest shared with the majority of the Friends Back Home tribe. “High School” really means “we were once all young together”. It should be noted that not all of the tribe still lives “back home” but once a member of the tribe, forever a member of the tribe  😉
Long Island – catch all for friends who are on Long Island and therefore “back home” but with whom I never performed and with whom I did not attend high school. Typically, I met these people when I was already an adult but not within the context of work or music/performing.
Performing – the third leg of the “Friends Back Home” stool, performing is an interest shared with people I know from studying vocal music technique/repertoire and participating in musical theater and opera productions in New York.
Shelling – the collection of sea shells, primarily from Sanibel Island. The Sanibel Fans tribe often self-identifies as “militant shellers”. “Militant” shelling involves the study of optimum conditions for shelling and the use of tools and other gear to facilitate the hunt and capture of specimens. For some, the interest also extends to cleaning, polishing, displaying or crafting with the collected specimens. This interest is shared almost exclusively with members of the Sanibel Fans tribe.

*~*~*    *~*~*    *~*~*    *~*~*    *~*~*

So… fun stuff thus far, huh?   Wait till we get to the part about normalization of responses – woohoo!   Until next time….

My “cougar” days, part one

IMG_0917What a ridiculous term by the way – “cougar”. 🙄 Where the hell did that come from? I’ve been googling around to find out how a woman who pursues relationships with younger men has come to be known as a “cougar”, but no one seems to know. I even looked up some facts about the actual feline known as “cougar”, also known as puma, panther, or mountain lion, depending on if you live in Texas, Florida or Wyoming. I found no evidence that the female cougar prefers younger male cougars for mates, but did find reference to adults being more or less solitary and meeting for one reason and one reason only – mating. Perhaps this is the basis for the terminology – hunting for a mate, then going home alone. I know, it’s a stretch, but aside from that I got nuttin’ !!!

A survey conducted by AARP asserts that 34% of women surveyed responded indicating that they were dating younger men, thereby fitting the definition of “cougar”. The survey is 6 years old at the time of this writing. Spurred on by high-profile romances such as that of Ashton Kutscher and Demi Moore, I imagine that statistic has only grown in the intervening years.

Guess what? There was a time when I fit the “cougar” definition, too. Yes, ladies and gentlemen – I was cougar before cougar was cool 😉 I once calculated it and came up with a startling statistic – I am older than 80-something percent of all the guys I’ve ever been involved with. Age differences have ranged from 3 months all the way up to 8 years.

(As an aside, I also calculated that 80-something percent of all the guys I’ve ever dated and/or married were also Jewish. Yes, we detect a pattern here. No, I haven’t really tried to analyze it. I grew up in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in Queens, so I’m not shocked that I’ve got an affinity for Jewish guys).

I began my auspicious career as a cougar circa 1975-76. Harry was in 9th grade and I was in 10th. He was exactly my height, sandy brown hair, blue eyes, with freckles. A class-clown type, Harry really knew how to make me laugh, and he was just adorable. Soon after we met, he got his braces removed, a fact which relieved him no end. I’d privately thought that they only added to his adorableness factor.

We were both in the high school chorus, and both had 5th period free, during which time we ran errands for the people working in the guidance office. One day, the student body decided to stage a “walk out” during 5th period over some (no doubt) burning, socially relevant issue, and Harry and I decided to walk up to McDonald’s instead of hanging out in the guidance office. I guess that was our first “date”.

Soon after that, he proposed to me amidst the melee that occurs periodically each day at every high school across America – otherwise known as the break between classes. We were passing on the staircase. I was trapped in the throngs heading up, while he was heading down. There’s no stopping when you’re in the crush of humanity on the staircase in an over-crowded New York City public school. He was looking for me; he saw me and thrust something rather sharp and pointy into my hand. As the crowd swept him away, he hollered over his shoulder, “Marry me!”. I opened my hand to find a copper-colored paper clip, bent pretzel-style into the likeness of a ring. Despite the fact that the ring eventually left a greenish tattoo on my finger, I was da shit for the duration of the school year. A boy, a CUTE, nice Jewish boy (all my friends were Jewish – I was the token shiksa) had proposed. With witnesses! It seems like half the school was on that staircase during the first (but not last) proposal of my life. This is how I came to be the sensation of the 10th grade that year.

I received my first-ever kiss – with tongue! – from Harry. I suspect it was his first as well. We were riding in the back of a car driven by the senior boyfriend of one of my pals, on our way to a party. The sun was shining on a fine spring day, and the Beatles crooned All My Lovin’ as we practiced our exploratory maneuvers, entirely neck-up, on each other. Thereafter, just walking down the halls or ambling hand-in-hand down the street, one or the other of us would spontaneously burst into All My Lovin’, while the other harmonized. To this day, when I hear that song all I can think of is Harry and soft, first kisses in the warm sunshine.

When my friends threw me a girls-only Sweet 16 party, Harry and some of the guys from our crowd crashed. The hostess was my friend Denise, God rest her soul. She was rather put out, but I was delighted. They came bearing gifts. One of the boys gave me Wings At The Speed Of Sound and another Endless Summer. Only, they were LPs! You actually needed a record player to play them! These remain staples of my music collection. Harry, however, chose to come bearing jewelry. He’d petitioned his grandmother for funding and presented me with a tiny, perfect sterling silver cross. This was a grand gesture coming from a nice Jewish boy and his bubbie! 😉 I treasured it and wore it always, even after we moved away, which ended our relationship.

Fast-forward one year, which can seem like a thousand at that age. I was a junior at my new high school and a senior asked me to accompany him to his prom. The day after the prom, we went to see a show on Broadway in NYC, and who should we bump into outside the theater but Harry. It seems a senior had asked him to the prom too, at our old high school. We were ecstatic to see one another, but that made our dates antsy, so we had to be brief. A year had made a huge difference – I could tell he was now officially WAY taller than I was, and he was even cuter, if that was possible. His parents had relocated him, too – to California. We wrote to one another a few times, but as often happens with young love, one or the other of us stopped writing and that was the end of that.

I don’t know what became of the “engagement ring”. It probably disintegrated and went to paper clip heaven. But I do know what happened to the silver cross. Fast forward another year, to the magically golden summer of 1978. Our town sponsored an outdoor summer theater workshop, and during rehearsals for a dance number, the chain I wore the cross on somehow got caught on someone else. The chain snapped and it all went flying into the night. Several people helped me look for it. We found the chain, but the cross was lost forever. I probably would have been inconsolable, had it not been the magically golden summer of 1978 and That Boy.

Oh, and the show we were doing? Fiddler On The Roof – OY! 😉

NEXT TIME: His name was Jeremy…

Further reading: Here’s the article that inspired me to explore my inner cougar 😉

Click to read The Cougar: Progressive or Exploitative? on BlogHer

Formula: The Quest For Strawberry

from a Manic Monday prompt

Once upon a time, I lived on The Loverly Isle of Long, and I would get my roots done every 4 weeks with the PERFECT shade of strawberry blond. Not too blond, not too red, not too dark, not too light, the formula was the product of several years of trial and error with my hair stylist/colorist, Nancy. The final formula is comprised of three different shades from L’Oreal‘s professional line called Majirel, using 20-volume developer.

To say that I was obsessive about the appearance of gray brown roots is to understate the anxiety that would grip the core of my very being at the least whisper of new growth. I did some unusual things in order to preserve the color as much as possible until it was time to get it done again. I would refrain from using actual shampoo for 2 or three days after coloring. I used a conditioner called “Strawberry” every day (made by ARTec, which had been bought by L’Oreal). I would only use COLD water on my hair to discourage fading from heat, and would not use shampoo more than every other day. All of this, because red hair color shades are notoriously difficult to maintain. I did everything I could to ensure that the color remained fresh until it was time to beat the roots into submission once more.

Just prior to moving to Florida, I went to see Nancy for the last time and she wrote down my formula for me. Clutching this sacred slip of paper in my feverish hand, I also entered it into my Palm Pilot for posterity. Four weeks later, I walked into a local salon here in Southwest Florida, showed them the formula and asked them to replicate it.

Problem #1 – they don’t use L’Oreal Majirel and in fact, they never heard of it. When I said “L’Oreal”, they thought I’d been buying hair color kits over the counter in the supermarket. I had to educate them.

Problem #2 – I had to look at the color board and figure out for myself what might work. They were not at all willing to make a decision and then be accountable for it. Apparently, no one in this shop was the color genius that Nancy had been, and they lacked the confidence that goes along with such a level of genius.

Problem #3 – over the next two years, the stylists in that salon wracked their brains, played mad chemist, adjusted the formula time and again, but it was fruitless. They could not get it right. The color never looked even close to my old shade, and it also never looked natural. Sometimes it was too yellow, other times too burgundy. Yet other times, it appeared that my hair color had come from a box that said “Crayola” on it – amazing shades, but totally inappropriate for the hair of a grown-up businesswoman.

A “woe is me” post I made on a discussion board this past spring was read with sympathy by one of my Sanibuddies (that’s a buddy I met online who loves Sanibel Island as much as I do), who happens also to be a wonderful hair stylist and colorist. She had a vacation already planned for May, so I emailed her the formula and she picked up the supplies as soon as she landed in Fort Myers. Then one sunny spring afternoon, I drove out to the island to see her and she worked her magic. I cannot describe the happiness I felt when I looked in the mirror and saw my old familiar shade of strawberry beaming back at me. Yay!

We decided that I would figure out how much stuff I needed to do my hair for a year, and my colorist buddy would pick it up for me before she left. You have to be a licensed professional to buy the materials – I have no idea why that is but that’s the way it is. So she called ahead to put in the order before picking it up, and tragedy struck. One of the three L’Oreal shades required to make my color was discontinued! No more! THE END! I was horrified. After all this time struggling, to finally reach Nirvana only to have all my hopes dashed to hell. Not fair, not fair, not fair!

My friend did some research, consulted with some professionals and sent me a package when she got home. Inside the package were tubes of what she hoped would be a suitable replacement for the L’Oreal formula. The new company name was Pravana. I called Tootie and we made a Hair Day appointment. We were both plenty nervous. After following the proportions originally set out by Nancy all those years ago, it seemed like we had a ton of formula – too much just for a root job. So we decided that, since I was changing formulas, we might as well do whole-head, to avoid getting a stripe, and I made a mental note to halve the formula next time.

I will never forget leaning over the kitchen sink to wash it all out, and hearing Tootie remark calmly, “well, it looks exactly like a bright copper penny”. OMG, that’s not strawberry!, I thought frantically. What have we done? I could scarecely wait to see in the mirror, but tried to remain calm as the shampooing and conditioning proceeded. Finally, I was standing before the mirror with a comb in my hand trying to detangle. It was definitely REDDER than I was used to seeing after coloring, but it wasn’t horrible or unnatural. It looked even better after blow-drying; something about being wet had made it really bright, but the dryer it got, the better it looked. I took a picture with my Blackberry and emailed it to my Sanibuddy colorist friend, who by this time had long since returned home from her Sanibel vacation.

The next time we decided to have Hair Day, I discovered that althought I still had plenty of color left in the tubes, I didn’t have enough developer to get the job done. This is because we made so much formula the last time; if I had realized and cut it in half, there still would have been enough developer left. I had figured out that a tube of L’Oreal hair color is about half the size of a tube of Pravana. So when Nancy’s formula said, “half a tube of this and a quarter tube of that”, and I follwed it for the Pravana, it actually made double the amount of formula – and took double the amount of developer. A few emails back and forth with my colorist buddy, and we finally had a shopping list for a year’s worth of supplies.

So I sit here typing with 6 week old roots, waiting for my shipment. When it arrives, Tootie and I will have another Hair Day. What amazes me is that I have not fallen over from root anxiety yet, even though my roots are definitely beyond the point of screaming. The net result of this new formula is, as Tootie points out, the roots are not as noticeable when they come in. The contrast isn’t as sharp, so they’re not screaming quite as stridently as they used to. We’ve also discovered that after about a week and a half, the color fades a bit to where I want it to be, an extremely close approximation of the L’Oreal shade.

The quest for strawberry led to copper, and not without angst – but all’s well that ends well. These little trials and tribulations are necessary in life. They keep our minds occupied, and keep us off the streets and out of trouble!

Have I ever told you about The Elf Game?

The Elf Game was invented on Christmas Eve in Temecula, California, sometime back in the 1990s, based upon a random Christmas Eve occurrence from my childhood. I had flown in from Long Island that year to spend Christmas with my friend Penny and her family. She’s got two girls, and I think they were about 6 and 8 years old at the time.

Penny decorates her home like a mad woman. Every surface is covered with Christmas “stuff”, which is hauled out and distributed around the house each year, and then returned to the various Rubbermaid bins from whence they came. This particular year, whilst wandering about the house, I discovered two implements of elf were at my disposal – a set of hearty jingle bells (not the namby-pamby type, but the kind you’d expect to find around the neck of the horse drawing the one-horse open sleigh), and a Santa hat. A wicked plan formed within my brain.

Early in the day, the bells were heard at odd moments, coming from various parts of the house and surrounding yard. The first time they were heard, it reminded Auntie Tink *~*~* of a day long ago, a Christmas Eve just like this one, only there was snow and coldness and no palm trees. Ok, not so much like this one, but it was Christmas Eve nonetheless. And Auntie Tink’s *~*~* baby brother Chez Bro was being very, very naughty. He was playing in the basement and had decapitated his teddy bear. He was generally running berserk. He was yelled at, he was threatened, he was pleaded with – nothing worked.

Suddenly from upstairs we heard a jingling sound…

My older brother yelled down the basement stairs that there were elves in the driveway, peeking in the windows, listening to Chez Bro be naughty. He said the jingling sound was elf bells! And that Chez Bro had better be good or else there would be no presents, because the elves would tell Santa on his ass!

(Years later, at a Thanksgiving dinner, a bunch of adults sat around their parents’ dining room table, making confessions. It was at this time that we all confessed to having HATED three bean salad as children, and told of the artful ways we would dispose of it to show clean plates. One method, which may have been a tall tale spun of too much Thanksgiving dinner wine, was to pass it out the dining room window to the first person that managed to escape. However, we did not employ the “feed it to the dog under the table” method, because even the dog despised three bean salad. No dogs were hurt in the disposal of the three bean salad! So anyway, after the three bean salad epiphany, whereby my mother vowed never to serve us three bean salad ever again, big brother confessed that the jingling was my mother’s car keys.)

So I thought back to this day long ago, and decided that the elves could visit Temecula, California that year. I ran around ringing the bells all day at various places, which caused a stampede of children rushing to the spot to search for and gather evidence. They had a whiteboard amongst their playthings, so we set that up as a map of the house and yard, marking it with a big red “X” everywhere we suspected the elves had appeared. Clues like glitter in the grass and bits of green sea glass were found in the vicinity of where it was believed the elves had rung their bells.

“But HOW will the elves tell on us? Santa is at the North Pole!”, demanded one of the older children of the neighborhood. Ah, that’s easy. The elves whip out their little cell phones and leave Santa a voice mail, telling him the date, time, city, and name of the child who had committed the infraction.

Getting close to dinner time, I took the elf hat and snuck outside. I found a stick, and lurked beneath the livingroom windows. When the children came into the room, I bobbed the hat up and down on the stick, just so they could see the pointy tip and pom pom, as though the elf were marching around out there. With squeals, there was a mad dash for the door. I ditched the stick in the bushes and arranged myself in a sprawl on the front walk, still clutching the hat. The door sprung open just as I began to yell, “I almost had him! I almost had him! Look, I GOT HIS HAT!”

They were all gathered round me in a little knot, this wild woman with an elf hat. Their eyes were large in their heads. There was not a non-believer amongst them.

Thus was born The Elf Game.