Michele earned her MFA in fiction writing at Virginia Commonwealth University. Currently at work on a new book, Michele resides in Richmond, VA with her husband, her son, a sweet dog, some hermit crabs and a showy fish. A very long time ago, Michele was struck by lightning and survived.
You can learn more about The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors at http://micheleyoung-stone.com
Hats Off to the Eccentrics
by Michele Young-Stone
“I’ve got a feeling…” that I watch and read too much entertainment news because that Black-Eyed Peas song is running through my head. Really, it’s the fault of my step-aerobics class to which I am freakishly addicted.
I like nothing better than jumping up and down on this riser to loud hip-hop music, spinning and improvising, dripping sweat all over the floor while the instructor Nicole calls out, “Repeater ham,” which means three hamstring moves in a row, or “L Step” or “V Step.” Since she’s taught us variations with all of these moves, I’m bopping all over the place. “I’ve got a feeling that tonight’s going to be a good night,…” It’s nuts, and I love it. I think it’s partly all the counting. There are 4, 8, 12 and 16 beats in the steps.
When I was a kid, I would count the syllables in words whenever people spoke. It was one way to make sense of the world. This ritual grew into making sure that the bed is daily made, for order, which grew into making sure that the rug is daily vacuumed.
Potentially-long story short: It seems much healthier to dance on top of a riser and break a sweat to hip-hop than counting syllables.
When I was growing up, I worried a lot about nuclear war, whales being harpooned, and dolphins being killed in tuna nets. My parents were sure that I was going to grow up to be a dysfunctional bag lady. Possible scenario: Empathetic hyper-sensitive girl turns bag lady. Another possibility: Empathetic hypersensitive girl turns novelist. I like the latter much better.
I like the oddballs in society. They make life interesting. I like the eccentrics and the folks who aren’t afraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves. It took me until I was thirty-years old to realize the gravity of choosing my friends. For some reason, I was attracted to people who weren’t always empathetic to my quirkiness. They perceived sensitivity as weakness. Nowadays, I choose my friends more wisely. I pick the scattered artistic unruly. I choose the freethinkers. I choose the sensitive and intelligent, the inhibited and the uninhibited. I choose the dancers and the wallflowers, the crybabies and the tattle-tales. I choose lovers of nature. The folks who want to nurture and build up. I choose animal lovers and baby lovers. Women and men who bound fearless and crawl fearful into the day. The outspoken and the soft-spoken. Bottom line: the big-hearted; the givers and not the takers. “Fill up my cup/ Mazel Tov… I’ve got a feeling…”