Monday, May 30, 2011

'dem jes stoo-pid...

My daughters most loved shoes.
As you may know, I like to people watch.
I’m a people watcher from way back. Some of the things I see amuse me. Others stun me. Some have even disgusted me. But I enjoy every bit of it.

It’s my nature to see details. I work in an industry that requires me to see details that maybe someone else does not. Some details I find in said sport of people watching is almost painful to behold. But I hold my tongue and hope that someone, somewhere might share with these poor souls that they appear the fool.

I’ve always found fashion to be a quirky thing. My own personal style leans to the far right classic, with a twist of dishevelment. My casual wardrobe consists of distressed jeans and exposed seams. I like buying new clothes that look as though they have been in my closet for my lifetime. It’s comfortable for me. Like a favorite pair of worn in blue jeans.

I had a pair of splotted cargo pants. Uber comfy to the nth degree, I loved these things. Each time I wore them someone would say, “Have you been painting?” I’d look down at my pants and think ‘Ummm, no. I bought them like this.’ Actually, had I been painting they wouldn’t look like that. I’m a very neat painter and have never gotten paint on myself…ever. Really.

If I’m dressing up? I usually don a blazer. I’ve got many.22 black ones to be exact with a few white, tans and grays thrown in. But I’ve been breaking the norm lately and buying some things that are a bit outside my comfort zone. And I have to admit, it’s been a bit fun to experiment.

I wore spring green silk basketweave blazer the other day. I felt a little uncomfortable at first wearing so much color…for me.
Nancy?” one of my co-workers asked, “Is that you? Isn’t that….color?”

“Why yes. Yes, it is.”

“It looks…GREAT!”

And I felt pretty good in it too. Of course, I paired it with a basic white T and my distressed jeans, but hey…baby steps people. Baby steps.

But some fashion is just that. Fashion.
It’s meant for runways, and shows, and theatrics. Not for people to put into their everyday wardrobe. And yet, I see it. Everywhere.

The worst of the offenses are usually with shoes. I have a few rules about fashion and function when it comes to shoes. My first rule of thumb: If you can’t walk in them or look stupid walking in them…don’t buy them.

How many times I’ve seen someone who is clomping about in shoes that obviously hurt, or worse, she just can’t walk in them. Why? 5” heels (or more) should really be left to Lady Gaga. She’s got handlers (sic: The View when she wore 14” platform shoes with two guys helping her to the couch.) that will get her from point A to point B.

Secondly: Wear appropriate shoes. Nothing is more painful (or humorous) than seeing someone at Cedar Point for the day with high heel thong sandals. Hello? Miles and miles of concrete? Yeah, those are shoes that should be reserved for summer weddings and back yard barbeques. Or the gal I saw this winter trying to navigate an icy sidewalk in a pair of open toe high heel booties. And they were just going IN the Pub. If she failed rule #1, she was obviously going to miserably fail #3 (see below). Her boyfriend was trying to help her, but as I watched I silently was willing her to fall. That might teach her a lesson. It’s Cleveland! It’s winter! Why do you have on those open toed high heel shoes? Can’t you see there is a foot of snow on the ground? Silly, silly, silly.

And my last rule and maybe the most important one: If you can’t walk in them sober, what’s going to happen when you’ve had two martinis?

Nuff said with that.

Today it was an absolutely beautiful day. After soooooo much rain, everyone was out to enjoy the reprieve of precipitation and see what that glowing ball of light in the sky was. I rode my bike down to the park to sit and well…people watch. I was amazed at how many girls there were out trying to walk around in these horrendous shoes. Just because they are in the Victoria’s Secret catalog does not make them sexy. Many are…well, just fugly. Ummm…park? Perhaps some flip-flops or sandals or tennies? NOT uber high platforms.

I saw one girl actually take a spill in the soft turf due to balance issues. Even better, her boyfriend reprimanded her for her shoe choice. “Why you got ‘dose tangs on?” he said as he was trying to help her up.” I hate ‘dose damn tangs. You can’t walk in ‘em and dey look stoo-ped.”

Well said, my friend. Well said.

I DO own a few pair of wedges myself. Not the sky high ones, but I actually prefer them to regular heels because normally they are more manageable to maneuver in and still wear heels. I like them. They make me feel kindof…sexy. But of course, they have to pass all three of my rules before ever wearing them out in public.

Years ago I remember I talked my mother into buying me a pair of wedge heels. Straight from Sears Robuck catalog, these were the hottest thing going. My best friend Kic had her mom buy her a pair too. We both thought we were very, very cool. We were in 7th grade with these 5” cork heel wedge platforms. We towered over everyone at school. We were amazons. Supermodels. Unstopable. Until Kic fell.

She broke her ankle and ended up in a cast for the remainder of the summer.
I put my shoes away and never wore them again. As I peruse the aisles at DSW I chuckle to myself as I see many variations of the same shoes that I had way back then. I wish I still had those, I could sell them on ebay as vintage. But anytime I am tempted to buy anyting similar, I think back to that full leg cast of Kic’s and I steer in another direction.

There was a blurp I read on Yahoo the other day where a staffer had her boyfriend dress her, head to toe, accessories and all for an entire week. She then posted the photos and gave her input to the choices he made. This was a dare after she stood in front of her closet and deemed that there was nothing to wear. He didn’t do too badly, but overall it was apparent that he didn’t care about accessories. Particularly the shoes. He even commented that he didn’t understand all the nuances between the shoes. She asked him, “But don’t you like these better? Don’t they make me look more attractive?” His answer? No.

Oh sure, there are some men that do appreciate fashion. But most of the over-the-top stuff does not impress the guys. If it looks too unnatural, it’s not a turn on. I have a friend who shared with me a story about a girl he picked up one night while out. He thought she was quite a knock-out. More fashionable than his usual tastes, but he liked her appearance. He asked for her number. She gave it to him. They spent the rest of the night canoodlaling. She invited him in when he drove her home. He went in. And found out that she had on fake nails, fake eyelashes, gel inserts for her bra and she was wearing a wig.

He didn’t call her again. He said he was too confused.  

Just the other day I had a discussion about fashion with a guy I've been seeing. I confessed to him how undecided I was when choosing what to wear for our first meeting. I thought, should I wear a dress? No, too formal. A skirt? It’s a warm day, shorts? No, too much leg. Don't want to give off the wrong impression in case I don't like him. Ugh. Decisions! Decisions! Everyone (magazines) says that for a first date you should wear a dress. But I’m not that comfortable in dresses. I have a few, but I’m more the trouser type. I changed clothes 8 times before making my final decision. And after all that, I wore the first outfit I had chosen.

I ended up with my favorite jeans, white linen shirt and flats. Simple sterling cuff and earrings and I was ready. I figured…this is who I am. If he likes dresses with ruffles and frills, well…that just ain’t me.

I’ve always had my own sense of style. I know what I like, what works for me and what I’m comfortable in. Being comfortable = confidence. And people are drawn to those with confidence. And no, that doesn’t give you the go ahead to show up to a first date in your sweat pants. Unless, of course, your first date is conprised of yard work. And that doesn't sound like a date at all.

He told me about some of his past 'firsts' that never made it to a 'second' because he just couldn’t get beyond that they had on too much perfume, wore too much make-up, had too much jewelry on or just looked downright uncomfortable in their chosen ensemble. Do you know what the number one turn-off for him? Women who played with their hair.

Which is funny, because the very same magazine that says you should wear a colorful dress for a first date is the same one that says playing with your hair silently tells a man that you are interested in him.

So we’ll add another rule to my list of do’s and don’ts.
Don’t pay attention to the magazines.
Pay attention to yourself.

So, did I pass his test?
Let’s just say it went well. Very well.

He likes the way I dress.
He likes my sense of style.
He likes that I’m open.
He likes…me. Just the way I am.

Cool. Which is just the way it should be. It's nice to feel appreciated for just being me.
Oh. And as a bonus, he hates all those shoes too.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

crumbled and transparent...

I stood at the very end of the pier.

It was early, way before sunrise and I was alone.

Grasping the handrails, my fingers felt the grooves of the many hands that had stood there before me over the years. This was a fishing pier, one that protruded well out into the ocean to get to where the fish were no matter what the tide schedule. I gazed at the dark water. There was nothing as far as I could see. No fishing boats, no lights from large ships…nothing. Just the hint of the sun on the horizon.

I turned to my right and looked down the beach. Far off in the distance was a lone figure was walking with a dog in the haze of pre-dawn light. To my left just an open stretch of beach wet from the tide retreating leaving little lumps of jelly fish to dry when the sun rose.

This island is my happy place. It’s a zen place for me. It is my daughters namesake. It’s a place that I feel entirely at home, comfortable and peaceful. I know nothing in the world can really trouble me while I’m here. Nothing. No world news; no word from home; nothing can penetrate the positive vibe that surges through my soul while I’m here in this place.

When I last saw D to wrap up some business issues, I had just returned from a skiing trip. I was rested, happy and my skin had a golden glow from being high in the mountains. I felt good and I looked pretty good too. Shadow came over his face and instead of saying anything positive he said, “You mean, you were skiing while all those people were dying in Japan?”

Yep. I was. How thoughtless of me.
I resented his comment. I tried to shake it off, but instead of a “I’m glad you are happy and enjoying life.” I got more criticism and negativity. It got under my skin and bugged me.

But when I'm here, it can't get to me. Nothing can.
When I’m here, I'm safe.
I like to walk. And I enjoy to walk the beach. I prefer the mornings before others come down. In the morning, this is my beach. This is my pier. 

My time walking is spent in silent reflection. When I get back to the cottage I usually jot down my thoughts. If I put it down on paper, it allows it to get out of my head and I can sort it out later. If left to bounce around in there, it can create havoc and mayhem. There is a large pile collecting of these random thoughts, written down on scraps of paper all wadded up in a bowl, right next to the oranges.

My pocket is full of all these scraps of paper.

I dig down deep into my faded jeans and grab a handful. I held them out over the edge of the railing. I struggled inwardly. I’m fearful. There’s a part of me wants to hold on and keep them. I quickly decided that yes, I needed to do this. I must. I extended my arm as far out away from the railing as I could, and then….I let them go.

The crumbled bits of paper flit this way and that as they made their way down to the roiling water below, immediately becoming transparent and disappearing into the surf. One piece blows back onto the boardwalk and rustles there in the breeze hanging on to the weathered wood. I strain my eyes in the low light to read the writing. “Resentments” is printed in bold letters across the top with several lines in script below it. Including the last comment from D. I eyed it carefully, leaned back to get a good angle and then nudged it with my bare foot and pushed it over the edge. It clung to an upright post just below the decking, fluttered for a moment…and is then was gone. Out of my eyesight and into the blackness below.

These small pieces of paper hold all that has troubled me. All things bottled up that need to dissappear. There is stuff from as far back as I can remember. Small things and big things, there is no differentiation. They range from the continued grief of my moms passing, to my decision to not pursue medical school, to failed relationships. From bad decisions made to stupid drama. All the things that I wish I could do over but can’t, all the things I wish I'd said but didn't. All of my pains, my fears, the that crap that has managed to dig into my psyche with its negativity.

I wrote it all down.
On little pieces of paper.
Which I shoved into my jeans pocket this morning before leaving for my walk.

I literally…let it all go. And it felt good. I felt relieved. I felt lighter. There were no burdens still clinging to my shoulders bearing their weight down on my soul. Nothing but the gratitude that I was standing here. In my spot. On my pier. On my island.

When going through my divorce my estranged husband would say to me, “Stop being a victim.” I hated it. I think that he knew it as well, which is why he said it so often. I hadn’t chosen that path. I had no hand in what was being dealt out to me. I was just trying to keep my head up and breathe.

I realize now that I had unknowingly become a victim. And have somewhat remained there for all these years. I have allowed my capricious happiness to lie in the hands of others. I have pondered what I may have done differently if given the opportunity for a re-do. But I believe that the burdens of heartbreak has made me who I am today. And I like that person. She's wise. So yeah….if I had be there again, I’d say,”Bring it.”

My father used to tell me, “A mistake is worth making if you learn from it. If you repeat it, then the fault lies within you.”

All those mistakes?
All those faults?
All those resentments, fears, and emotional baggage is lying with the fishys in the ocean.

And as I watch my woes disappear into the waves, I know that I have finally entirely reclaimed myself. I want to bottle this euphoria and stay here forever. But I know I can’t, I’ve got things to return to. My home, my dogs, my job…there are responsibilities at home that I cannot shirk. I walk the five miles back to the cottage to find my daughter still asleep. I stand over her and look down into her face. It is beautiful, peaceful, and serene. Her innocence is apparent on her perfect, rosy complexion.

I want to wake her; to hug her; to hold her. I want to tell her how wonderful I feel. But I let her sleep. She’ll wake soon enough, and then we'll talk.

It’s a beautiful morning. It’s a beautiful world.
And as for me…?

I have a beautiful new life. With memories, yes...but no baggage to hold them to draw me down. They be all gone.