February 26

This week, Hitty Club met at my Human Bean’s house. Hitty, if you don’t know about her, is a doll whose adventures are chronicled in her memoir, the book Hitty: Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field, which won the Newbery Award in 1930. The original Hitty who inspired the book is a one-of-a-kind, hand carved wooden doll that lives in the Stockbridge, MA library’s museum. Because Hitty is so admired, she has been reproduced hundreds of times, sometimes through a manufactured process but perhaps more often, she is hand carved by artists. There are online groups of Hitty fans from all over the world, but every three months, my Human Bean plays host to one of the few in-person clubs devoted to the Hitty doll. The members of this club take turns leading an activity/project for the other members to do at their meetings. There are between 5 – 8 people at every gathering. The women are a diverse bunch, not necessarily friends at the outset, but brought together by a common thread.

Typically, most people have more acquaintances than we do friends.  Acquaintances are nice to have, but a true friend is a dedicated “I’ll-come-any-time-you-call-me” person. A true friend is the best sort of friend: the kind who knows you’ll get impatient at times but understands that your irritation is directed to the situation, not toward them; the kind who likes you for who you are, not for what you can do for them; the kind with whom you share a bond or common interest; the kind you always enjoy just being with, even when your time together was nothing more special than simply sharing time; the kind you can tell anything to, any time, and know they won’t criticize you for your way of thinking; the kind who never throws anything back in your face; the kind whose voice you are always glad to hear when the phone rings; the kind who listens when you need to share something, good or bad; the kind who gives you his/her opinion when you ask for it but never tells you what to do; the kind who knows all of your deepest, darkest, most awful secrets, but would never judge you for them; the kind that keeps those secrets, even when you didn’t tell them it needed to be a secret.

I’ve heard people ask, how did you two become friends? This question seems to pop up when the two appear to be opposites in their interests or personalities. Their friendship happens when they trust each other. Without trust, there can be no friendship. If one constantly criticizes the other, the other’s way of thinking, or things the other does, it’s not a friendship. If one person tells what is said to them in confidence to a third party, it’s not much of a friendship. If one tells the other what to do and how to think, it’s not a friendship. Friendship is not something you give lip service to. Friendship is demonstrated when, over time, two people know without question that each can trust the other implicitly to do for them what they would do for themselves. So I’m reminded this week of the importance of having a true friend.

Oh, to have a friend like that!  And all it takes is to be a friend like that.

February 19

In my experience, most BJDs (Ball Jointed Dolls) are girls. Most girls seem to enjoy dressing up and possessing things, often pink things, so they want clothing, a place to keep their clothing, and a multitude of other needs and necessities. This takes up space, no matter how small the BJD herself might be. I’m a male BJD of very small stature. I’m only 4.5” so I take up very little space. Just like girl BJDs, I have needs, but they are quite simple – a few pieces of simple clothing, a bed, a desk, computer, a place to sit, and a small spot to entertain the rare guest who stops by. The abandoned Breadbox seemed like the perfect spot. But that was before I found out that the interior was just raw wood, the floor uneven (a serious safety hazard), the fact that it lacked a cover over half the space, and there was no closeable door whatsoever. I would always be totally exposed to the elements and the world.

My landlord was most accommodating and had the floor leveled within days of my request. It was just a sub-floor, but it was level, even though it was unfinished. She said she could probably have it carpeted by the weekend, but that if she had to order hardwood, it would take much longer. I agreed to carpet because I’m weary of dragging my only possessions, a chair and a laptop, everywhere I go. But here we are a week later with no carpet in sight. I assume that her sense of time isn’t the same as mine.

This brings me to the point of this week’s Snippet – we all work within our own senses of time. Mine is pretty attuned to “real time” because this column is due weekly by Friday noon. That keeps me on a functioning schedule. But not everyone works the way that I do. Happy (my landlord) told me she once greatly offended a friend she was trying to help by explaining to another party that the friend’s idea of time was more “in the moment” than most. A task others would approach leisurely the friend would have finished before anyone else’s idea of what to do had even formed. Her sense of time was simply different from that of most people.

Time is a rhythm, much like the ocean’s wave. It can be gentle and…well, rhythmic: like a calm tide pool in which things continue to live but that barely moves, or like an angry ocean that comes crashing down with power and frequency, sometimes pulling under whomever is in the way when it heads back out for another go. We can try to adjust our rhythms to match those of others if we have the desire to change, but accomplishing such change is not always easy or even possible. There’s only one thing to do.

The old adage, be yourself, means find your own rhythm – what works for you. I would add that everyone needs a strong dose of patience when it comes to working within others’ sense of time.

February 12

I was recently watching a TV show called Pitch Slapped, which is about an a cappella singing group competition. “A cappella,” by the way, means “without accompaniment.” No musicians, just voices that, together, make the music. The singers are high school students and the competitions have legitimate judges who score them. Although several groups compete vocally, the show focuses on two of those groups and their two coaches.

These two vocal coaches remind me of many political candidates’ pitches: candidates and coaches alike want to win the election/competition, but they have different approaches. One uses the “I-look-so-much-better-when-I-talk-trash-about-my-opponent” technique of putting down what the other does to make the self look better. The other uses encouragement to boost the singers/voters confidence level to the point where they believe that, collectively, they can reach higher, be stronger, and achieve what they have never achieved before.

Blended voices make sweet harmony!