For this week’s Faces of Kingston we talk to one of the chillest people in all Kingston, Jess Edelman. A licensed massage therapist at Birch Body Care, she is a warm and vibrant presence who’s deeply appreciated by many in the community. It was nice to catch up with Edelman and hear her thoughts on city life. We met at Rough Draft for a snack and then wandered around having a nice chat for a little while about various subjects, including how she has learned to manage her Type 1 diabetes.
Morgan Y. Evans: What brought you to Kingston?
Jess Edelman: I started working at Birch when it first opened. I was only commuting from High Falls, but I wanted to be closer. It was gorgeous there but it has been a ton of fun being able to walk to work or around Uptown Kingston on a whim. I don’t have to worry about driving. I just walk and clear my head. It’s good and grounding.
Nice Ray Bans, incidentally.
Thanks. I stole them from my sister.
Should I leave that off the record?
JE: No, it’s all good.
You are someone who I consider authentic. I’ve never seen you be fake with people. You also participate in festivals or community events and make people feel more relaxed or good about themselves. I was wondering what are you inspired about by the city right now?
We’re just lucky we live in a bubble of acceptance. We’re really lucky with the queer community, tons of great restaurants … it’s so community-based here, y’know? So many events only getting bigger and better, because they are hiring people my age to run them. It feels like home. I grew up in Syracuse. I don’t go there ever. I feel so at home here for the first time. We’ve all lived in all the areas here and we all made our way to Kingston, which is interesting.
I grew up in Woodstock and never would have thought I’d live here instead.
We all go to school in New Paltz, then you grow up a little bit and live in Rosendale or Stone Ridge. Then you really grow up and get married or have kids and buy a house in Kingston.
Haven’t done that yet (laughing).
No. I’m good on that. It’s an interesting trend we have seen. We live in the same town with people we went to college with. It’s great here.
Do you feel like people maybe take that for granted?
Absolutely. We have baby quarrels between community groups which shouldn’t be happening, but there’s so much positivity.
You live with diabetes but don’t let it slow you down. Can you talk a bit about how that has been for you to navigate?
Type 1 diabetes. So many people do not know the difference. There’s a huge difference and most people don’t know that. Most people have Type 2 [adult onset] or family members who do. When you get a diagnoses that is for the rest of your life you deal with it. There are plenty of Type 1’s who don’t deal with it well and are miserable. Their blood sugar is running high all the time. They get sick all the time. If you just take care of yourself these things won’t happen. It was hard to find discipline in the beginning but it ended up making me more independent and stronger, in general. I can only rely on myself.
So the device you have you showed me seems pretty life-changing.
Yeah, so it is called a CGM. Continuous Glucose Monitor. It’s made by this company called Dexcom. They’re really great. It’s this little device you insert on your abdomen and move back and forth to the other side every ten days so you don’t develop scar tissue. It reads your blood sugar every five minutes and made it less of a guessing game. It’s been a life-changer and I don’t have to prick my fingers anymore, which helps at work. It will wake me up in the night with a huge alarm if I am having a really low blood sugar, which has made me feel more comfortable doing more, staying at other people’s houses, etc. It’s made me less paranoid.
So your work at Birch, what made you get into that field?
I’ve done licensed massage therapy for 13 years now but I have been at Birch for seven. It picked up quickly for a new business and we had so much availability. I became a massage therapist on a fluke. I was a little aimless after college and didn’t want a job in advertising and sales, which I had my degree in. I started talking to some of the massage therapists at a former job and I signed up a day later, because that’s just how I do things. It was the best decision I ever made. It’s a very rewarding career. Being a local place I see some people on a weekly basis who are regulars and I can see the changes and the impact we are actually making.