A newsletter and website featuring stories from and for hysterical women.

Illustration by Emma Munger

Illustration by Emma Munger

A collective of female journalists and artists, the High-Strung team aims to provide stories that connect to issues and obstacles faced by women today, while also addressing larger social and political movements, ideas, and conflicts. 

As a co-founder of High-Strung, my goal is to oversee and assist in the production of original content in a variety of formats, including interviews, reported pieces, photo galleries and personal essays. In addition I serve as a writer and editor for the site. 


A Cryin’ Shame

By Gabrielle Sierra

You are frustrated during an argument and suddenly find yourself crying. Now you feel an added layer of emotion: shame. You are angry at your body for betraying your inner angst and furious with yourself for looking fragile. All the while a male counterpart is awkwardly attempting to console you and just making the whole thing worse.

We have all been there time and time again. Because guess what? Women cry more than men. In fact, according to science we cry a lot more than men. In the book Why Only Humans Weep, scientist Ad Vingerhoets writes that women cry an average of 30 to 64 times a year, while men cry about 6 to 17 times a year. That is a big difference, and one that would seemingly imply that it isn’t super out of the ordinary to see a woman shed a tear or two.

Your Handy Guide to Appropriate Holiday Dinner Reactions

By Gabrielle Sierra

The holiday season is upon us, and that means turkey and ham, trees and menorahs, gifts and gift returns, and most of all, the overwhelming frustration of family. You can’t choose your relatives, so chances are you’re sharing a table with all types of characters during this particularly divisive time in American history. 

It can be hard to know how to handle certain hot-button conversations and sensitive issues, so we created a shortcut guide of five appropriate responses you can use for topics that may (and probably will) arise. Great tidings of comfort and joy to all!

5 Summer Drink Recipes for People Who Are Already Drunk

By Gabrielle Sierra

You don’t have to be a mixologist or own the “correct” ingredients or be fully “sober” in order to come up with a creative summer cocktail. You are a strong and confident member of this community, and damn it you can replace club soda with tonic and lime juice with milk if you want to! So whether you like your booze in a martini glass or out of a paper bag, these five “mixed” drinks are sure to fit your every warm-weather whim no matter what you have handy.

Will You Still Love Me When I’m Loopy?

By Gabrielle Sierra

My family has always made light of our genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s Disease. Our jokes run the gamut from socially acceptable to completely inappropriate.

Sometimes we dabble in light ribbing in order to relieve tension, like when someone forgets a name or retells a story. “Get ready!” we will sing-song to our partners or family members or friends, alluding to some inexplicably hilarious distant future in which we have no memory at all.

I’m Sorry, What?: The Shortcomings of Foreign Language Education in the U.S.

by Gabrielle Sierra

My name is Gabrielle and I am a monolinguist.

I speak English and only English, (unless Brooklyn-accent slang has recently been accepted as an official language,) and I really hate having to admit it.

I took Spanish courses in school, but, like many American kids and teens, I only learned as much as I needed in order to pass exams. My motivation for learning another language was so low that I didn’t even think to take advantage of speaking Spanish with my Puerto Rican father. As soon as I had completed the minimum requirements for New York City I said “adios” to everything I had learned, and now live with tremendous regret.

Defining Mother: A Quick Vocabulary Lesson

By Gabrielle Sierra

Mommy: a term often used by young children to address their mothers. Term may also be used by adults when calling their mothers in search of comfort or money.

Not to be confused with:

Mami: Spanish for mommy. Term is also used affectionately in romantic relationships or not so affectionately by that guy who follows you down the street while making catcalling sounds even though you already pointed to your headphones and told him to fuck off.


by Gabrielle Sierra, May 4, 2017

We sent a series of 10 questions to four female entrepreneurs, each representing a different career path, background, and industry. Our goal was to learn from their individual experiences, benefit from their advice, and (ultimately) to greedily absorb their successful vibes as they discussed what makes a person professionally powerful.

What we learned:

1. Power means gaining the respect of your coworkers.

“Power is when the people you work with respect you and rely heavily on you for business decisions, because they know you can make the appropriate decisions and provide the necessary tools to excel, succeed and get the job done. When they need your opinion in any given situation in order to move forward, that’s when you become powerful.”

– Debra

Let’s Have a Realistic Sex Talk

by Gabrielle Sierra, APRIL 13, 2017

Hello daughter,

Yep, it is me, your parent. Here I am, perched on the side of your bed. You look angry and mildly uncomfortable and I totally understand. It is because you know what is coming.

Don’t be disappointed in yourself, you put up a valiant effort to avoid me all week, knowing this conversation was bound to happen. But I got you good. Because I when I knocked I said I had your laundry and you still refuse to do your own laundry so you had no choice. A lesson learned for the future, perhaps?

Anyway, here we are, me holding your laundry hostage, and you staring out of your window wondering how easily you could toss yourself through it. (Not easily, your sister tried the whole defenestration thing years ago and I am lightning quick, so don’t bother.)

It is time we had THE TALK. You know the one, the talk about sex. S-E-X.

Exploring Self(ie) Doubt

by Gabrielle Sierra, FEBRUARY 23, 2017

I don’t take photos of myself. This isn’t a principled stance, unlike my stance against using emojis. (I’m a writer in an ever-disappearing industry, let me use my words while I can, damn it.) I don’t selfie because I just don’t get it.

I am well-aware that I stand in the minority on this subject; a lone whiner against a sea of selfie-enthusiasts. The word itself has become so ingrained in our lives that it was added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Celebrities and social media influencers make enormous amounts of money just by taking photos of themselves while wearing a product or selling a lifestyle. Even images from the recent election cycle regularly showed crowds facing away from candidates in order to take a selfie. According to a 2014 Pew research study, 55 percent of millennials take selfies and post them on social media, and a 2015 survey by Now Sourcing and Frames Direct calculated that millennials spend more than an hour every week on selfies.

Repeating the Past: Notes to a Holocaust Survivor

by Gabrielle Sierra, FEBRUARY 8, 2017

My cousin Felicia Berland Hyatt was a Holocaust survivor who took great care and pride in telling her story. She spent decades giving lectures, speaking in documentaries and appearing on panels. She even wrote a book. But Felicia always said one of her greatest accomplishments was being asked to appear as a guest speaker at various schools in New York, discussing her life and answering students’ questions.

Felicia often said that her story, although painful, sad and terrifying, had to be told in order to prevent history from repeating itself. Just as she refused to have her concentration camp tattoo removed, she refused to let the millions of people who died during World War II disappear.

Sofia Carrillo is Making Horror Out of Dollhouses

by Gabrielle Sierra, JANUARY 25, 2017

Chances are you haven’t yet heard of Sofia Carrillo; an artist, animator and director who up until now has produced beautiful short films from the seclusion of her Mexico City studio. But Carrillo is sure to gain some attention over the next month due to her contribution to the all-female horror anthology, “XX.” Described by its producers as a response to the lack of opportunities for women in film, the movie is set to hit theaters and video-on-demand February 17th.

A Friendship Interrupted: Loss During the AIDS Epidemic

As told to Gabrielle Sierra by her mother, Samantha

JANUARY 24, 2017

I first met David Poole in 1975. I was 23 and he was 25 and we were both working at the New York Public Library. He sought me out as a friend and I don’t really know why; it felt like we lived in different worlds. He was an openly gay man living in a fifth-floor walkup in the East Village, with a bathtub in the kitchen. I was a Brooklyn hippie commuting to the city every day, balancing work with night classes in community college. But David and I became fast friends and he brought me into his world.