Good Advices

R.E.M. – Good Advices

Today my best friend sent me a link to a video from some VH1 program back in 1987. It was a VJ doing the usual VJ thing with Natalie Merchant there to chat about things during the breaks. It was super awkward because the VJ clearly didn’t know anything about 10,000 Maniacs and Natalie clearly didn’t want to be there, but there she was. You can watch the whole thing if you want to but I am going to link to the relevant part at the mark here. Go ahead, watch him ask Natalie about her shoes.

Ok, it kind of drags on a bit but I want to talk about shoes. Natalie’s shoes, my shoes, people’s perceptions of shoes. First of all, I love that Natalie says they are her dream shoes. I also have had dream shoes. Shoes where you find them and you immediately feel like you are complete. Shoes that state, this is me, I am grounded in these shoes. For me, my dream shoes said to the world, everything you need to know about who I am can be read by looking at my shoes. And you should always look at people’s shoes. Always. If, like the interviewer, you are puzzled by my shoes (or Natalie’s shoes), well, sorry, you just didn’t get it. The shoes will speak to the right people in the right way. I have based my life on it. “When you greet a stranger, look at his shoes” is good advice that has never steered me wrong.

Natalie said her shoes remind her of her grandfather’s shoes. My shoes were old man shoes too. Literally, they are men’s shoes. And let me tell you, Natalie Merchant is tiny and finding shoes in her size is probably no easy task. My old man shoes were a men’s size 6. They rarely come that small. What’s great about them? They are sturdy. They are practical but not in a “practical shoe” way. There’s a tiny bit of a heel but not like a woman’s shoe heel, it’s the whole back part of the shoe so it’s stable. And they lace up so you can make them nice and snug, unlike the slip-on nature of so many women’s shoes. They are a little dressy but they are comfortable. You feel strong and confident in a good pair of shoes like that. Perhaps most importantly, you will not look like everyone else in these shoes.

When I got to college I think I had some regular sneakers, maybe a pair of Keds, and probably a pair or two of flats to go with skirts or dresses. I’m sure I had boots for the winter but after two years getting schooled up in Maine as to what is appropriate footwear for snow, they were likely nothing like the boots my classmates in Pennsylvania wore. By my sophomore year I was really on the hunt for “my” shoes. There is nothing like the conformity of your peers to make you long for something that will set you apart. I knew exactly what I wanted but I had no idea where to find it. I had looked in thrift stores and the big army/navy store I. Goldberg’s in Philadelphia, but I kept striking out. I didn’t want combat boots, I didn’t want Doc Martens, I wanted something more refined, slimmer.

My work-study job was in the theater department as a dresser. Sophomore year the spring musical was Sweeney Todd, set in Victorian London, with a large cast and a good number of male roles. We made the costumes in the costume shop ourselves but one day I came in and saw they had been to the storage space off campus and come back with shoes for everyone. There they were. MY shoes. Black, lace-up, ankle height, low-stacked heel, old man shoes. I asked where we had bought them and was given the name of a men’s shoe store down by the bus station in Philadelphia, near Chinatown. When I finally had enough money saved up I took the train into the city, found the shoe store and left with my dream shoes in hand.

I wore them everywhere with everything. Summer, winter, rain, no matter. I had to have them resoled twice and the heel repaired once. I felt invincible in them. I loved nothing more than taking some $20 bills, folding them in thirds and putting them in my shoes, then lacing them up tight and heading off on adventures; sleeping out for concert tickets, taking the train up to New York or Providence. No one was ever going to guess I had over $100 in my old man shoes. Eventually they developed a crack by my pinky toe that was their undoing. I went back to the shoe store in Chinatown and bought a second pair, though they had changed ever so slightly, now with a cap toe design, that was just never quite as comfortable as the originals. I still loved the second pair but at some point I must have allowed my mom to get rid of them because I wasn’t wearing them any more.

Fast forward to middle-age and not being able to wear heels but not wanting to wear what look like orthopedic shoes either, I started looking for my dream shoes again. I had a couple of different attempts with women’s shoes that were ok and I felt sufficiently comfortable in them, but they were a compromise. I tried a pricey pair of Frye boots that looked online as if they might be close enough to work but when they arrived and I tried them on they were not right. Too pointy, the heel just a tiny bit too high. I sent them back and resigned myself to my sensible mom shoes but couldn’t stop hearing, “Oh, how do I feel about my shoes? They make me awkward and plain, How dearly I would love to kick with the fray…”

Then just after Christmas of 2019, I was looking for something on Etsy and lo and behold, someone was selling my shoes. They were a tiny bit too big (a men’s 6 1/2 now being the smallest they make), a little bit too shiny, and they had the cap toe that my second pair had, but they were the actual real Stacy Adams shoe that I wanted, at less than half the price. I was trying hard to not let myself spend the money on them but my husband said I never spend money on myself and I should get them.

They arrived in January of 2020. I wore them to the office a few times but they were on the stiff side and the leather sole on the carpeting coupled with being a bit too big meant I kind of felt comically slippy in them. I was determined to break them in but not really sure how to go about it. When the pandemic arrived and shut everything down, I put them away and didn’t really think about it for a year and a half. I wore almost no shoes at all during the 18 months I worked from home. I was either in slippers or flip-flops around the house and sneakers if I went out for a walk or the infrequent forays to the store. Once we were ordered back to the office in the fall of 2021, the other shoes I used to wear all the time to work had become so uncomfortable I could barely walk in them. It was time for my old man shoes to come back out.

While I would prefer to be working from home full-time, on the days I have to go to the office I lace up my shoes and look down at my feet and it gives me the little boost I need to get out the door. The snug fit around my ankles shoring me up both physically and emotionally. I see them and I see the memories of my old shoes and all the places and things I did in them. I feel like I have my armor suited up for the day, my trusty shoes ready for anything. I may be a middle-aged mom at a desk job but you can look at my shoes and know that’s not the whole story.

Doused

DIIV – Doused

Not sure what I was expecting to find when I went looking for this video but this wasn’t it. Sometimes I think I shouldn’t rely on YouTube as the source for the music I’m posting but they seem to be the most reliable and least objectionable.

This week has felt extra long. The Smile concert was just on Monday but I’d swear it was last week. I’m going to blame the early darkness because I can. Then next week is a short week with Thanksgiving in there, so that will mess up my sense of time even more.

Still Life

Flasher – Still Life

The weather is gross tonight, it’s only rain here though my daughter just sent a picture of snow outside her apartment at college. It is likely snowing up at the office too. Three days ago it was 73°F. We still have the air conditioners in two windows.

I really feel like I could use a vacation to someplace warm and sunny but this time of year is crazy for travel what with Thanksgiving and Christmas, not to mention it is college application time and then there’s the whole cost factor. But apart from the handful of visits up to see my mom, the occasional overnight or two with a sister or friend, I haven’t taken any vacations in the past five years at least. I had time off from work but I kept within a day’s drive of home that whole time. The pandemic was part of that but I don’t think I would have gone anywhere even if it hadn’t happened.

Does the travel muscle atrophy if you don’t use it? Getting on a plane, unfamiliar beds, eating out all the time, it just doesn’t sound that appealing. But, man, I would love to get away from this still life. See different kinds of trees. Smell how the air is different. Instead I guess it’s time for bed.

The Numbers

Radiohead – The Numbers

My son and I went to see The Smile tonight, the side project of Jonny Greenwood and Thom Yorke. I couldn’t believe they were starting the North American leg of their tour in Providence. Providence! Amazing! Someone that well-known I would expect to start in New York, maybe Boston, but I was more than happy to reward their fine decision by splurging on the tickets back in the spring.

The show was great, though not for the uninitiated, and lots of Dudes with a capital D. That’s always a drag, except for if you want to hit the ladies’ room before leaving the venue. Thankfully, after the first song, Thom encouraged those of us who wanted to get up by saying, “just because there are chairs doesn’t mean you have to sit in them,” so we stood for the rest of the time. It’s much easier to ignore douchey bros when people are standing.

Angelica

Wet Leg – Angelica

In case you somehow missed the debut full-length album from Wet Leg, I’m here to tell you that it’s really good and lots of fun. Another missed opportunity concert in Boston (taking my son to see his favorite, the Microphones, up the road a piece in Somerville on the same night) but someone I know caught it and said they lived up to the hype.

Expert in a Dying Field

The Beths – Expert in a Dying Field

This past February I was supposed to go see The Beths up in Boston. I’d bought the ticket as soon as I heard they were coming to the US because it’s not every day a band will make the trek from New Zealand. The show sold out and I hatched a plan to make a weekend out of it. Three or so weeks before the show, The Beths added a show at one of my usual venues, closer to home, but as I’d spent the money on the Boston show and had this whole plan, I stuck with my original Boston ticket.

My daughter had a concert she had bought tickets for, also in Boston on the night before the Beths show. The friend she was going to go with wound up having a conflict so I said I would go with her. She had been having a rough start to the semester and I was trying to give her a fun break, get a hotel room and have a girls weekend. But then a big snow storm pushed the Dodie concert my daughter had been waiting and waiting for to the same night as my Beths show. The two venues were probably a distance that you could have walked in the summer but in the snowy, below freezing streets of Boston in February, there wasn’t a viable way to do both. Dodie is my daughter’s favorite so I had to forego The Beths.

I could have probably made it to the closer to me Beths show that happened a couple of days later but by that point I’d already driven well over 500 miles in just two days and I was wiped.

So when I saw The Beths were already coming back, almost exactly a year later, I was torn. Again, just Boston or New York for the options and again, there is actually a perfectly timed hole in the tour dates when they could swing through and play that same venue. But I knew it would sell out! Risk it and end up missing it again or buy the ticket and possibly go twice if they add the date? Argh! Not to mention it will again be February in New England. The whole thing could be upended just like last year.

My Music League friend texted me and said, hey, did you see The Beths are coming back to Boston? She’d gone to that show at our regular place and encouraged me to get a ticket for the upcoming Boston show, she and two other people I know would also be going. So I bit the bullet and got a ticket. Here’s hoping my third chance to see them will be the charm.

Misinformation Age

Archers of Loaf – Misinformation Age

Unlike most of the last several election nights, yesterday I didn’t spend much time following the race results. I actually went to bed a bit earlier than usual, which accounts for the lack of a post for the day. I woke up at 4 in the morning and checked the results, no panic inducing news so I tried to go back to sleep and wait for more news in the morning.

Good things: I still live in a completely blue bubble, Fetterman and Shapiro won in PA, MA and MD flipped their governor’s seat (why those two were ever led by Republicans I don’t know), Tony Evers, Janet Mills, Gretchen Whitmer, and Kathy Hochul all held their spots. There were actually a lot of pretty good outcomes. If Frisch manages to beat Boebert in CO that will be glorious and Mary Peltola looks to be on track to snuff out Sarah Palin’s dream of getting back into government.

Bad things: Beto. Stacey Abrams. What do those two do now? If you lose state-wide races twice, it seems like you should probably figure out some other way to keep pushing for progressive causes because you just don’t have the turn out you need. Georgia’s senate race will have to go to a run-off, we lost four NY House seats when we really couldn’t afford to lose any. If we should find ourselves back in familiar territory with Turtleface as majority leader and a Trump sychophant as speaker of the house, lord help me.

I saw so many headlines to the effect of red wave didn’t materialize or Democrats surprise with victories in x, y, and z. Hey, news media, how about you do a little soul searching and realize that your penchant for sensationalizing and engaging in harmful misinformation, or at least not coming right out and stating when Republicans are lying, is actually the reason for your surprise. You ginned up a tale that wasn’t a true reflection of the situation in the insatiable pursuit of click bait ad revenue, and you’re still doing it with these headlines. You actively undermine our ability to make progress with shitty writing that tries to present the GOP lies as valid points. Stop. You need to stop.