Confessions of a Shoe Girl. Or Not.

I’m something of an icon in certain circles. Small circles, and few of them, and only something rather than the thing, but still, people tend to associate me with shoes. Frankly, it’s all a bunch of hooey. Or not.

The truth is, I have a lot of shoes because, well frankly, I despise them. I know that sounds like it doesn’t make sense, but hear me out.

I despise their voluptuous forms that pinch and blister. I despise their endlessly breathtaking hues that just as endlessly endlessly attract maligning black smudges. I despise their manufactured tilt that perks up my derriere and plants my face on the pavement. I despise the tactile thrill of their butter-soft camel leather that rips free as I step onto an escalator. I despise their strappy straps, their buttons and bows, their silk embroideries, beaded delusions and peeping toes. I loathe the fit, the seams, the pads, the heights, the flats, the price.

And? you ask with lips pulled thin and accusing eyes.

And … most of all, I despise having to wear them.

I’m pretty sure we all have more shoes than we need. I’m also pretty sure we have fewer shoes than we want. And why? Because NONE OF THEM FIT.

And then a few weeks ago, I did a thing. I stuffed each pair of lovelies with tissue paper for safe travels ahead, lined them up in the back of my car, stared at their magnificence one last time, gunned my engine, and drove them damn straight to the thrift shop. Yes I did. The boots, the heels, the flats, the embellished, the RED, the toe peepers and marchers, the gladiators, mules, and platforms, and even the kitten heels.

I know you’re wondering. I know you want a peek. I know you’re waiting patiently, so here it is.

I kept one pair of Converse All-Stars (yellow), one pair of ballet flats (black), and one pair of flip flops (pink with yellow soles) for the beach.

That’s it. And I’m not even missing the rest.

Sex in the Fifties

Prelude for Younger Audiences: “Ewwwwwww!”

So what’s the deal with Sex in the Fifties? Despite the hemorrhaging availability of botox, breast bags, hair weaves, penile implants, financial security, liposuction, hormone helpers, testosterone patches, mobility, anonymity, familiarity, butt lifts, viagra, and f***buddies, are we really getting any? Or are we just sick of the whole last-year’s-dance, preferring instead to curl up with a bottle of cabernet?

Frankly, we look old. We feel tired. We are Not in the Mood.

I wasn’t planning on giving up sex, ever. But even for those armed with a fistful of dollars and a bulge in the libido, nature keeps cropping up with a plan of her own. My mother always gleefully tittered that the years after menopause were the happiest of her life. Sorry Mom, but I beg to differ. If you’ve never had a hot flash, and by that I mean never been working away happy as a clam only to find yourself suddenly awash in a skim of sticky, smelly, pore ooze, usually in the midst of 1) a business meeting , or 2) clasping the Beloved, then get thee to a more approriate blog.

And what’s with the weight thing, damn it? Decreased Appetite plus Decreased Intake = 10 pounds weight gain. Eliminating soft drinks, chocolate, and cream sauces (kill me now) = 2 pounds weight gain. Increased Exercise = a pleasant 1 pound weight gain. So tell me why, with all the additional padding, are old people always cold? My Dear Mother Nature, if you want me to keep warm, drop the pound baggage and Let Me Have Sex! Friction = Fire, you know.

They say that menopause causes irritability. Not true. Sweat swells, bulky girth, and a dearth of hickies cause irritability. Big time.

The sad truth is that I know why Mother afflicts us in the 50’s. She has caught a whiff of rotten eggs, and wants to protect the Future of Civilization by causing hunkish males to blanch at our bulbous pretties and eau de locker room, fleeing to wantonly spew seeds into the incubators of twenty-somethings unaquainted with palimony.

And what of those man-type humans? Is their procreational rivulet spiked with preservatives? Does Mother just turn a blind eye to their dalliances, secure in the supposition that no DNA will be mangled by the Over-50 Male? I suppose it’s entirely plausible that she anticipates an occasional dip in the fertilizer population. I, myself, have considered popping off a few somewhere between the gynecologist’s office and the bank.

No one cares if a man grows fat and bald, least of all the man. But I can’t complain, really — as my Dearest insists, “I didn’t marry you for your body.” Ass.

And yet we manage well, all things considered. And, all things considered, perhaps extraordinarily well. We kiss and clutch in restaurant parking lots as gratefully as adulterers, and roll about gamely on sundry pieces of furniture more carelessly than teenagers . . . until I heave him to the floor gasping for a deep throat of air conditioning, nipples thrust greedily toward the ceiling fan, “Faster . . . faster . . . come to Mama NOW, you Bladed Beauty, NOW!”

At least the neighbors think we’re doing it.

(Copyright 2007. All rights reserved Pamela Goode.)

Paris: Beyond the Croissants

Sure, they melt in your mouth. Sure, every layer is laced with butter. Sure, it’s really, really, really GOOD butter. Sure, it’s a three-day process with 27 layers. But no matter how delicious the authentic Parisian croissant may be (and trust me, it is), you might be surprised at how much more — so much more — there is to do in Paris.

Why does a long, dark rain in North Carolina make me feel like I might as well take a pass on the day — lolling about in a giant white cotton sleep shirt, sipping tea, and considering dreams in the grayness passing by my window just a bit too slowly. Is this punishment for a day wasted last week? A gift of possibility following too many days of work? A Dream Machine that fell out of that last cloud and into my lap? Let’s go with Dream Machine. Today I’ve decided to do something rather impractical and guaranteed to cure the blahs.

Don’t laugh, but I’m going to plan my dream day.

I’ll wake with the sunrise (again, no laughing) in Paris, stretching like a cat who hasn’t yet caught a whiff of the mouse, rustle around for some French yogurt, and sip a cup of tea at my windowsill facing Rue du Pré aux Clercs. After a quick shower, I’ll stroll over to Rue de Raspail, a delightful market so crammed with gorgeous edibles that you could walk through and fill your basket blindfolded and still return home with with the makings of a fabulously fresh, flavorful and delicately presented feast. But let’s pass on the blindfold because you’ll want to see it all, including the French babies. French babies rock. The jury’s split on French dogs.

Veggies grabbed and stashed in my flat, I’m off across the Seine to the Right Bank in search of the Marais Dance School, nestled into the upper floors of a 17th century building on a delightful square. And co-ed changing rooms, because of course it’s France and the bodies are beautiful and no one feels the need to hide them. Since my toes last eased into ballet slippers a few decades ago, I’ll choose the beginner class and have at it with the gusto of a spring robin, hitting every plié, relevé, and glissé with a smile on my face bigger than my wealth of accrued blisters. Who cares about blisters?

I’ll still leave feeling as if I’ve conquered the world — in Paris — wearing tights — Ka-Ching!.

I’ll be hyped, heady and ready for Act 2, and the walk to my next adventure feels great. Here I’m trading movement for a more tactile eroticism — clay. My tutor, a graduate in both fine arts and Beaux-Arts, will take the reins and delightfully overwhelm me with more types of clay than I ever knew existed. That’s a good thing, right? I’ve tried clay in the past, with rather grisly results, but this time, right????? Because it’s Paris! I work it like nobody’s business, but at the end of the day, I still suck at clay (and that’s okay). I’ve met new friends, laughed more than most, and shaken off a lot of new-student anxiety. I’m calling it a win.

After a couple of hours strolling The Seine and my favorite Gothic gorgeousness Sainte-Chapelle, and my hunger for all things French points me back toward the Left Bank. No one has ever tacked a Best Cook Ever sign to my forehead, but neither am I the worst, and surely a late afternoon dedicated to faire la cuisine is just what I need, crave, hunger for. Drooling with lust, I haul it over to LeFoodist, where I’ll learn to make the most perfect, most exquisite, most shockingly life-changing baguette known to woman. But first I need an address and, no surprise, it’s smack between two of my favorite Paris haunts, Île Saint Louis and Le Jardin du Luxembourg — a very good sign indeed.

How does it go?

Okay, so it turns out that a true French croissant is no easy roll in the hay, but it really does change your life, not only because it’s a previously un-imagined wonder, but because it’s literally possible to make it yourself … if you really love baking, layering, experimenting, buttering, perfect measurements, and starting over. All part of the fun, right? When you’re in Paris, absolutely.

My imaginary day is one I’ll visit again and again when I’m feeling a little dreamy. Every moment teaches. Every moment inspires. And no matter the magnificence of my French experiences, the best of them will always, always, include the croissant.

———-

Disclaimer: The locations listed are accurate and currently operating as of this post and are well-respected businesses I look forward to visiting. At this writing, I haven’t yet had the pleasure, so no, they’re not yet legitimate recommendations. Emphasis on Yet. But I can promise you I’m headed that way.

At the Bookstore, Dreaming

It’s a cloudy, drizzly Sunday, and there are 30 people in the check-out line at Barnes and Noble. There are 12 in the cafe/caffeine line. I head for the second, mostly because I perused (and occasionally bought) everything in the first line a few weeks ago.

One of those heavy gray days with crows flying about, and the sky so wet that dribbles of moisture keep sliding down the sides of me like a cold bath. It’s dreary, and no one looks quite normal as they hunch this way or that trying to ward off discomfort.

The young girl across from me sits in the cafe section by way of the cash register section, and the belongings that cover her small table and quite a bit of the floor include giftwrap (a roll of gold and a roll of white with gold stars), a furry stuffed cat (orange), a science kit on Climate Control, nine record albums whose titles are sadly just beyond my view, a black purse, Monopoly (with Hello Kitty gracing the box), and two hefty hardcover books. The girl is midway through an even heftier paperback. I like her.

Every person in the cafe is wearing black on at least half of their body, with the exception of one girl wearing pajamas.

I got here just before the crowd. I get here every day just before the crowd, no matter what time I arrive. I’m lucky that way. I love bookstores, probably because they’re filled with minimally comfortable humans making their way in a world that generally includes few and excludes many, most of whom love to read.

I used to read. I pulled back when so many novels suddenly became harder to handle, and indeed happy books seem not to be in style these days. There were decades when I could handle the murders and loss, mostly because there was always a happy enough ending, and of course the good girl or good guy in charge of it all always saved the day. Now just as often, the good guy dies. Realism, they call it. It’s the third Saturday before Christmas. I’m in no mood for murders. Or much realism, for that matter. When I started writing, I devoured books until they began to hurt — when books came too close to reality.

So now I write. Growing up, I had no use for fiction and was all about truth and evolution, or as close as you can get from a carefully selected book chosen at least partially because you liked the cover. I still tiptoe around fiction a bit, but I love the process and the character creation. Those girls live with me always.

I envy the girl with the hefty book and the orange cat. I miss the days when I could read a slightly disturbing book, find the silver lining, and move on with a bit of new understanding enlightening my brain.

Cleaning Day

I’m not sure why I call this “cleaning day” when in fact it’s been 9.2 days of non-stop rip-everything-from-the-closets-the-kitchen-and-any-room-in-my-way-and-strew-it-all-over-the-bed (step 1), sort it (step 2), wash everything in the house (step 3), sort it again because my priority list has changed (step 4), fold the giveaways (dear god, please let there be many) (step 5), hang the keepers (step 6), repeat.

Yeah I’m a keeper kinda girl. I get attached to stuff, and not only the stuff but the memories that tag along. If there’s any sentiment attached, I’m keeping it. I understand that stuff is just stuff, but is it really? Because I have a really long memory.

And now, quite surprisingly, the day has come when it seems I really DON’T need that, and instead I have a sudden gasping urge to throw it all out, and by that I mean carefully consider each piece (can I wriggle into it?), judge the need (gasp), and evaluate the style (just because I wore it with glee in the 70’s doesn’t necessarily mean it’s still swoon-worthy (but of course it is)).

And then there’s the rest of the process. Clothes are one thing — the kitchen is another. Let’s just say there’s no real personal attachment to mixing bowls and platters. If it’s living in my kitchen, it’s not only easier to toss psychologically, but physically. I can cram five dresses into the space reserved for one, but a can’t really smush metal racks together.

But of course even in the kitchen, the place farthest away from my lifelong love affairs, there are must-keeps. Even if I stopped cooking at least a decade ago, I can’t toss the potato masher that my grandmother used throughout her entire life, which was long, or the blue tray that my mom pulled out so often that it’s frayed at every age, the wooden trivet that my dad hand-carved, my son’s inherited porcelain baby dish complete with a water reservoir to keep his pureed sweat potato at just the right temperature, or my daughter’s delightfully hand-scribbled notes to let me know each feeling that passed through her days youthful.

And so it goes. We buy, we use, we become attached. We fall in love with things because they’re so much more than things. They are our lives kept in drawers and used for a lifetime.

Women are a sentimental brood, and I consider it one of our best features.

This one I kept. I have no idea what it is, but it will always hang in my kitchen. Imperfection = beauty.

There is a Hell, and it’s Pink. ish.

Okay so I’ve never really been into makeup, and for decades I’ve resented the entire 3 minutes I waste on it every morning. Well sometimes I skip. But I wear it because one of my first boyfriends, who had been dating someone else for a while when I first asked him out, but she went to another school so I didn’t really know that, said to me one night a little quizzically, “(we’ll call her Betsy) Betsy always wears a little makeup and eyeshadow when we go out. It makes me feel like she cares enough to make some effort.”

I looked at him quizzically — it was the 70’s and no one wore makeup because we were FREE SPIRITS — but he was a good guy and it was a small concession, and I’ve been doing it ever since. But not in an “ooh let’s check out the latest at Sephora!” kinda way. But there it was.

So I get that the world is focused now on the newest whatever, and I know this because every time I try to buy toothpaste at Target they’ve restocked the shelves with 15 new and improved styles of Crest and omg it takes me 15 minutes to find the most old school brand closest to the now-discontinued tube I bought last month and throw it in my cart. Sigh.

So about a month ago, I ran out of the lipstick I’ve worn for the past six years or so. I like the color, the tube, and the pure joy of being able to replenish the supply by just recognizing and grabbing 3 tubes at a time. And of course it’s been discontinued and even the tube style it came in no longer exists, which means I have to make a new selection on multiple levels, and I’m dreading it so much that I don’t walk through those doors until weeks have passed. It takes me 45 minutes of searching every nook and cranny of Ulta to accept the fact that I’ll have to pick something new, and another 30 minutes to find something similar enough to live with and calm my daily grousing, but it’s a matte, and … sigh.

What’s up with matte? I don’t care, but why??? Sigh. I take it home and dutifully apply it this morning and OMG the texture is heaven! It’s like the powder dusting fairy came down from the heavens and touched me ever so lightly on the lips and said, “Hey girl. You’ve been good. I’m gonna give you a break.” My eyes lit up and I almost broke into a smile when … I smelled a smell. I hoped someone had snuck up behind me with a bottle of tween girl perfume, but if only. No. It’s the f-ing d lipstick. My lips are so happy, and my nose wants to cough up a hairball and die. Yeah I don’t do scents either. Especially not scents clearly developed for the 6 year old scent palate.

WHY WHY WHY is there a scent in my lipstick???? There isn’t even an image of My Little Pony on the front, any mention whatsoever of a scent, and no purple baggie of gummy bears attached.

Seriously, this is just another way they kill off the old people.

Oh No!

The Road to Hell

may be paved with good intentions, but I’m eager to believe that a well-considered plan can take you someplace fabulous just as easily. Eager, commonly associated with beaver, an animal not so much known for its wisdom or global thinking, but hey, teeth are good. On the plus side (and I’m not only referring to girth and the “ungainly waddle” here), National Geographic touts that “beavers are second only to humans in their ability to manipulate and change their environment.” I may be dragged into each new year kicking and flinging obscenities, but I do plan to channel a bit of that busy-beaver energy for good. So yeah, eager as a rodent for change.

1) Create. I will write and I will make art. I will clean off my art tables and use them. I will close the computer; I will not check email every time the phone beeps. I will not put every request ahead of my own need to create. At least one day a week. And that day will be Tuesday.

Yum, c. Pamela Goode2) Eat. I will cook more. I will cook European. Not only is the food healthier — it’s beautiful, and it’s soul-satisfying. If I can’t live on the other side of the Atlantic and toss together suppers of dirt-fresh market finds on the terrace, I can make the plates pretty enough and healthy enough and al fresco enough to pretend.

3) Love. I will make more of an effort, or a wiser or more intuitive effort, to connect with those who are difficult to access — those who are afraid to love, don’t know how to love, have been hurt by love, can’t trust, won’t trust, whose hearts have been trampled, or who simply haven’t a clue what love is, how to express it, or how to sit back, open their arms, and receive it. I will try harder to give without being afraid of the response.

4) Discipline. I feel bad that this isn’t the discipline my husband might long for (I can be an unruly child), but it’s the practice my spirit covets, and that is silence. Not a constant silence (I love to warble and whistle and dance), but a deliberate one — a chosen rest. Not a lack of communication (because real communication is everything), but simply a lack of spoken words. I suck with words. I say the wrong thing in the wrong tone and worry too much about the word choices and tones of others. I’m hypervigilant when it comes to verbal communication, and it’s exhausting. I’m going to gift myself one day each week free of that weight.

I’m raring to go, but there seem to be a few things to attend to first — a four foot high porcelain poodle in one of the guest beds, a blonde wig left over from a LOST party on the towel bar, a red patent leather slingback on a nail near the kitchen cornice molding, and of course the trail of gingerbread crumbs moistened with butterscotch schnapps leading from the computer table to the Swallowing Sofa and back again.

On the other hand, touches of whimsy are so necessary to a Well-Lived Life.

Fah Who Rah-Moose

from shloshspot.com

‘Twas the night before New Year’s, and all through the house

Every Who down in Whoville was doped up and soused.

They hated the New Year; they grumbled and whined,

“We don’t want a NEW year; this suits us just fine.”

But the clock wouldn’t listen, it groaned and it wheezed,

And it paused not a whit on the cusp of the breeze

That would blow that foul second hand forward and then

Slap the faces of Whos with a pointy-mouthed grin.

Auntie Em hugged her teacup; Vern gripped hard his bottle

Cindi Loo sucked her nipple of mead on full throttle.

While Muffy poured scotch and Big Joe warmed the wassail,

I saw Gramps downing Nyquil to plump up his fossil.

Homer was huffing and Jane rode a bender

While Grams poured tequila and rum in the blender.

They binged and they cringed and they cowered in fear

“We must stop it from coming! We’ll stop it this year!”

But no matter the moonshine, no matter the crack,

Father Time gave the gift that he wouldn’t take back.

He granted them change and a hope for the new,

Whilst snickering snickers, ice cold as a shrew.

It’s a New Year, My Lovelies, You Hortons and Whos,

And you’ll take it and thank me; you don’t get to choose.

So get on with your hopes and your dreams and your wishes,

Cause I’ve got the clock, and you dogs is my bitches.

~ c. 2011 by Pamela Pardue Goode,

with apologies to Clement C. Moore and eternal gratitude to Dr. Seuss  🙂

Down Deep

I’d been looking for ten months and one week. Not constantly, of course, but there were more than a few sporadic foraging forays when my aggravation billowed to extremes. Where could I have put them? Were they gone? I remember thinking, “I’ve got to move this before Vernon sees it and heads to the trash can. I know — I’ll hide it under the bed.” But it wasn’t under the bed — not a single one of the many times I fell to my knees and poked my hands and head beneath the dust ruffle, scanning, of course, nothing but dust.

It wasn’t in any closet in the house, carefully secreted behind ski parkas, the wet suit or boxes of Matchbox cars. It wasn’t in the attic, playing coy behind a bag of tinsel or that inflatable reindeer. It wasn’t in my trunk, which inexplicably still holds some giftwrap bought on sale four summers ago. It was just gone, and I moaned about the loss often — and loudly.

Naturally, we all suspected Vernon, who often views my “treasures” as mouse fodder, and 160 used napkins from a barbecue dinner ten months ago stored in a Hefty bag would certainly top that list. But I had big plans for them, and he swore up and down that he hadn’t touched them. And after all, I had told myself that I had to move them. Didn’t I move them? And where the hell were they, hidden so well that I hadn’t stumbled across them in ten whole months?

They weren’t just any napkins. I handpicked six different fabrics and hand-pinked them for my son and daughter-in-law’s rehearsal dinner. Besides the sentimental value, which was elephantine, they were splendid, happy fabrics, which allowed me to justify the purchase because I knew I could use them for fun dinners on the lawn, and make patchwork fabric for a sundress and some nifty studio aprons. And now, it was an absolute necessity to make a string (or five) of bunting flags. Quite simply, no other fabric would do.

And so this morning you could have found me again on my knees, poking impotently about beneath the dust ruffle and pulling back empty-handed and pouting, tiptoeing through the attic to peer high and low in the dim morning light, opening and closing one closet door after another.

And then suddenly I found them. Sitting in the very same bag in the very same corner they had enjoyed for the last ten months (and one week), with a snowfall of boxes hiding them quite neatly. I thrust my hand down and claimed them, slung them over my shoulder like a jolly old guy, hoisted them into the washer, and jumped into Vernon’s unsuspecting arms as he was climbing the stairs. “I found them! I found them! I found them!” Sometimes it’s the little things . . . .

I knew a girl in high school, Karen, who used the following as her Senior Quote: “Itching for what you want doesn’t do much good; you’ve got to scratch for it.” And usually, you gotta scratch pretty damn hard. They say Seek and Ye Shall Find. I seeked, sought, soaked — nothing. Sometimes you gotta dig down deep. As humans, we have an aversion to it, but in my opinion, that’s where your life is waiting.

Or in my case, bunting!

Bunting