Archive for the 'Shoes and other stuff I want' Category

19
Feb
13

Really? That’s it? My quest for “happiness”

I am, and have always been, someone who strives to find/feel “happiness” every day. To live in the moment — to the point where I, a 48-year old woman, (with a nose piercing, but only 2 sets of holes in her ears), have seriously contemplated getting this tattoo’d on my inner forearm to remind me to live in the moment:

Chineselivethemoment

(This does, actually mean “live in the moment,” not “one order of Peking duck, hot and sour soup on the side.” I know this because I’ve checked.) (Still trying to get up my nerve. Any suggestions? warnings? Anybody out there want to drive me to the tattoo parlor and hold my hand and hang around for the next 30 years and remind me of what a good idea it was when my skin gets all dry and wrinkly like paper and the tattoo ends up looking exactly like it it is actually an order for Peking duck, hot and sour soup on the side? I didn’t think so.)

Anyway. . .

As you all know, I am also dealing with the death of both of my parents, my father a few weeks ago, and my mom last August. As you might imagine, my relationship with them was probably much like yours is with your parents — I didn’t talk to them often enough, my mom was often “disappointed” in me being, well, too much like me, (I’m not making this up), etc., etc., but I loved them and they loved me and they were my parents, and now they’re gone. Despite knowing that my dad died exactly how he would have wanted to — peacefully, apparently in his sleep, perfectly healthy as-far-as-he-knew one moment, and gone the next — I am still so incredibly sad to have lost him. (And it doesn’t do much to reassure me that the same won’t happen to me? Husband? Heaven help us whoever next.)

I’ve also struggled with having to let go of some of my professional dreams, and am still struggling with trying to find time to do the work I need to do to pay my bills, be there for Only Daughter when she needs me to be, and pursue the other things in life that have always tempted or interested me — namely, I want to read more, knit more, would love to take a painting class, and a photography class, would like to try to write an actual book someday, etc. etc.

Yesterday in my yoga class, a class with one of my favorite yoga teachers, and one which offered exactly what I needed (hip openers!) after having missed yoga for two weeks, the teacher did the opening meditation on happiness. She started with the American Indian/Cherokee story a chief tells his granddaughters, about the two wolves which live and battle each other inside each of us. One of the wolves is anger, fear, resentment, frustration, disappointment; the other joy, happiness, contentment. One of the granddaughters asks which wolf wins the battle, and the answer is “The wolf you feed.”

I started thinking about how much of my energy is spent feeding my resentment towards the people who have wronged me, how I should stop feeding that wolf, but how their petty insecurities have interfered with my ability to really live up to my personal or professional potential, and how letting that anger go is like letting them get away with it, and how unfair that is, and how much energy do they ever spend thinking about me and so on, and so on, and so on.

By the time I left, I was all nicely warmed up and limbered up and felt like I had really had a good yoga practice, physically, and was an absolute mess emotionally; nearly in tears before Savasana, barely able to roll up my matt and depart at the end.

I came home, and Only Daughter was here, as it was still her schools’ mid-winter break. I decided that, rather than do our usual, which is her at the computer watching ridiculous ridiculousness on youtube (Dance Moms! Ugh!) and reading her books and me practicing and at my computer answering emails, etc., we would go see a special exhibit at the local museum. So I shower, and we grab a quick lunch, and off we go.

First I park near what used to be one of our area museums, but it’s now part of a local arts college. Of course, I don’t discover this until I’ve fed every single piece of loose change I own into the meter, trying to eke out 90 minutes. We then drive to the correct museum (which has the name of it clearly above the door, a name which does not resemble in any way the name of the museum on all of the billboards touting the new exhibit), and can’t find a parking space. After driving around the block twice we find that someone has departed, so I do an illegal U-turn, grab the spot, manage to find two more nickels in the bottom of my purse, (I’ll get change when we get the tickets), and in we go. . .but the line is 150 people long, and I have piano students in two hours.

Never mind.

The rest of the day is much like this. I won’t bore you with the details, but it did include driving a long way out of the way to go to an arts supply store, doing extensive research in books introducing painting with watercolors, selecting paints, and brushes, and paper, and getting overwhelmed and intimidated and putting it all back.

After a kind of restless but adequate night’s sleep I wake up with the decision (!) that this will be a better day; I will make it so if it’s the last thing I do, gol’darn’it. I will start this day by writing the name of every person who has “wronged” me on a piece of paper and burning it in a foil tray, and that will release me from their hold on me. I do this. And there aren’t really that many people. And I laugh and think, “that’s it? It seemed like so many.” I start to wrack my brain to see if I can think of anyone else, decide I’m utterly ridiculous, and that’s that.

Of course, it’s not really that simple.

I picture this ideal, where there is this part way down deep in the center of me that is strong and confident and good, like a little tiny diamond carat from which the rest of me radiates; and some days I know it’s there and some days I think it’s there and some days I hope it’s there and some days I just can’t seem to find it, or believe that it ever existed.

But I have everything I need, and my husband and children are healthy and smart and strong, and my problems, in comparison to the problems of the world, are pretty small. I know all of these things.  So I make these vows to myself, to be more present, to be more joyful, to be more that tiny little diamond carat and less the dark swirling shadows that engulf it. . .and then my students come and they don’t have their assignment book, or their Etudes book, or they were skiing for the whole weekend and didn’t practice until yesterday; or I will be a better and more patient mom and then I catch Only Daughter eating her fourth snack since school, at the computer, and three of her Tuesday chores not done; or. . .

But today, I wrote an eleven-page paper about a Bach piece that I love and that I will submit for publication. And I got a last-minute gig playing for two gala occasions in area cities this weekend. And I bought myself these boots:

redbootsHow fun/happy is that?

(Alas, I have to wait 30-60 days for them. Not sure why, but I think it’s important not to ask too many questions in cases like this. Of course, my credit card has already been charged.)

(And yes, I know retail therapy isn’t the answer to everything, and that it is not possible to actually buy happiness. But I’m thinking that it might sometimes help. I mean, did you see the boots? They’re red. And embroidered. And the toes curl up in that insouciant manner, almost like a smile. Did I mention they’re red?)

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31
Oct
11

midlife crisis stage 7 (8? 135? who’s counting?)

As far as I can remember (being too lazy to walk into the other room and get “the book” in order to cite it directly) women go through various “brain” stages, almost entirely dependent upon hormonal changes. (I know, right? So much for thinking we’re “making decisions” or “finding ourselves.” Apparently we’re all just victims of estrogen and/or testosterone and/or progestogens; oh, that’s funny, at first I typed protestogens — Dyslexics of the world, untie! —  is that Freudian?)

So teenage years are rebellious, as burgeoning women fight for freedom and independence and search for sexual identity. (Again, I’m not quoting, I’m “remembering,” and probably citing as much from personal experience/memory as from anything any psychiatrist or sociologist said.)

The twenties are dominated by an ambitious tendency, gradually ceding into “mommy brain.”

In her thirties, a woman is wrapped up in nurturing her children, while perhaps trying to hang on to (by her fingernails, probably, if the first priority is any priority at all) her professional identity.

In her forties a woman begins to look beyond all of the people she has been taking care of and starts to think about taking care of herself.

In her fifties (supposedly, I am despitewhatyouallmightthink NOT THERE YET), a woman becomes quite “selfish” — looking to have HER needs met, and a last sprint/gasp professionally, so to speak, before the retirement years set in.

I don’t even want to think about what might happen in the sixties. I’m having a hard enough time with the fact that I’m going to be 47 in a few weeks, which is a helluva lot closer to 50 than it is to 40 and actually seems a helluva lot older than 46. Just sayin’.

Is this funny? I think so. But maybe that’s just my “Indecision Nucleus” talking. Oh, and btw, women can spell. Snap!

Anyway, I find I’m belying the 50s expectations in that my professional ambitions are waning. Yes, there’s a part of me that is kind of tired of being “mom” (sorry, Hannah) and ready to move on — looking forward to years with Husband and travel and beautiful meals together without anyone wrinkling up his or her nose and asking if it’s “spicy” or why we can’t eat hamburgers like normal people. (At the same time I would likeitverymuch if Only Daughter stopped trying to figure out how to be 18 and was just 10 for at least a little while longer.) But I’m finding that I just kind of want to do my job, be respected and paid fairly for it, and then come home and take a nap on my couch or knit or beat OD at Rummikub or get a dog or something.

Speaking of which, we might be getting a dog.

I’ve found a breeder that I know of and therefore trust who has a new litter of Coton’s — hypoallergenic, good temperament, small, and local, so I can visit and become acquainted with the puppy rather than adopt from a rescue (enough of that, have been on that emotional roller coaster for several weeks now) or buy from someone in another state and have the pup shipped sight unseen.

I’d post a picture, but the breeders aren’t very “techie” so there aren’t any available. Am hoping to visit next Thursday, so will keep you all posted.

Here’s a “generic” Coton”

Can a dog be cuter than this? I didn’t think so.

ANYWAY,  see? I can’t even keep my mind on my “work.”

Ha.

I’m supposed to be planning Friday’s seminar right now.

Instead I’m drinking way better Scotch than I can afford (thank you, Husband dear) and wondering if there are 30 Rock reruns on cable.

So much for professional ambitions.

And the funny thing is, I don’t really care.

Although maybe that’s the scotch.

21
Oct
11

caveat emptor

So, I blogged a few days ago about buying a couch.

On Tuesday, my husband and I went to get it.

We were very excited.

We brought it home, carried it into the house, unwrapped it from the sheets of foam, discovered that the legs were cleverly hidden inside a zippered pouch underneath, assembled it, and put it into place.

It looked very nice.

I arranged the pillows we had bought for it, and we stepped back to admire.

I then went into the kitchen to start preparations for my piano class, and Husband carried the sheets of foam to the dumpster after wrestling the old couch down to Second Son’s bedroom.

Twenty minutes later Husband was walking through the living room, and Sophie, our tiny Siamese, jumped down off the couch. He heard a ripping sound, and went over to look. One of her back claws had ripped a series of scratches/holes through what we had thought was leather to the polyester backing underneath.

Three important things have been learned this week:

1.

“Bonded leather,” despite the similarity of the name to “leather,” is not.

Here’s the description of the couch from the Worldmarket website:

Here’s a description of “bonded leather” from Wikipedia:

I don’t suppose this is a commentary on the American family, and “daily family use” implies a family who won’t ever sit on the couch because they’re so busy volunteering at their local homeless shelter, raking their neighbor’s leaves and/or studying for their MBA?

2.

WorldMarket apparently manipulates the comments/reviews portion of their website.

I wrote this review, on Tuesday, the 18th, on their website:

Your Rating: 1 stars
Headline: DO NOT BUY THIS COUCH

Cons : Tears Easily
Describe Yourself : Midrange Shopper

This couch was in our house for 30 minutes and had 4 scratches through the “leather” to the polyester underneath, a result of our 9 lb. Siamese cat jumping off it once. (She’s not “Wolverine.”) We were told on the phone that this does not qualify as “daily use,” and that they probably won’t be able to give us our money back.

Don’t be fooled — Bonded Leather is not leather, but a fancy name for cheap, useless vinyl. Am so upset I probably won’t buy anything from World Market for a long time.

This is the ONLY review of this couch on their website, also submitted on the 18th, which just appeared today:

You can be comforted by the possibility that they didn’t completely disregard my review. I noticed yesterday that items which, the day before we had bought the couch, had been described as “leather” are now labelled as “bicast leather” (another form of leather “product” that isn’t, really, leather). So apparently, the reviews come in handy for them to make sure they cover their proverbial a$&es in how they describe their items.

3.

Store managers are a lot more willing to take returns when you talk to people at the corporate office.

And one thing, which I always knew, but apparently forgot:

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

**********

On a happy note, we found a beautiful Italian leather couch at a local furniture store which has been dramatically reduced, albeit still ~ 5 times what we paid for this plastic one, and which we can order in our choice of leather colors. I’ve always wanted a purple leather couch, and this is a gorgeous purple — not Barney purple, or Grape Nehi purple, but the color of a glass of a rich French burgundy wine.

This may end up being our Christmas present to each other.

The only bad part of it is, Husband has to wrestle the old couch back up to the living room for 8-10 weeks while we wait for the dream couch to arrive.

 

 

 

09
Aug
11

When life gives you lemons. . .

. . .make limoncino.

Anybody know something productive I can do with these, now that they’re naked?

Okay, never mind.

A friend suggested we make fermented lemons, which can be used in sauces, on pasta, etc., and sounded not only delicious but interesting in a science-experiment sort of way, so we quartered them, salted them, and mashed them in a glass cookie jar that I got when I was 18 and somehow managed to keep for 28 years without breaking. It broke. We threw the 6 lbs. of lemons and chunks of glass in the dumpster.

Despite my sadness over the loss of the lemons, and the cookie jar, I can’t help but be amused by the fact that the lemon on the right in the front row of the picture looks an awful lot like a nipple.

This observation makes me think maybe I should maybe stop reading the bloggess, although this and this are two of the funniest things I’ve ever read. This one was pretty funny, too, and I’m thinking really hard about what I can write on my bananas. “Clean your room,” while both timely AND apt,  just doesn’t seem to cut it.

Which reminds me, in a related story, about leaving the house in the care of the 18-year old. So, I was off teaching at a music camp for three weeks, and my husband was home one or two nights a week, when he wasn’t up at camp with me and Only Daughter. (First Son doesn’t come home anymore — I just keep sending him Tshirts and sweaters that we find in closets and which he has forgotten he ever owns, and trying not to look at his bank balance since there will be a tuition bill in October that he can’t even BEGIN to cover and I’d like this to be hisproblem, notmine.) Since Second Son, for the three weeks I was gone and not forcing him to eat a meal with us (if he eats he has to do the dishes — this creates an intense mental cost/benefit analysis on a nightly basis, and fuhgeddaboudit if the entrée is fish), was basically living on cereal and the free food he could scarf at the-job-he-has-recently-been-let-go-from-for-no-apparent/good-reason (I’m assuming these two things are not related, hmmmmm. . .), Husband would occasionally lay in supplies like organic milk, Tide laundry soap (S.Son is a little OCD) and bananas. The bananas were apparently not getting eaten, as, upon our return, two of them had managed to ripen SO far, past when one has the olfactory and culinary fortitude necessary to pinch one’s nose to squeeze them out of the peel into a bowl to make banana bread with, that they had split their skins and begun to foam.

I think one of them actually said something to me as I scooped it up with a plastic bag, but I can’t be sure. It might have been the sound of me, lightly gagging.

**********

Oh, and I have yet to have any takers on the offer of a teenager for the low, low price of $545, and I found a similar pair of boots at Sundancecatalog.com for a little less, so I’m offering a $50 discount for any offers received in the next 24 hours.

Please disregard any disparaging thing I have ever written about either Son; they are a delight, the light of my world, and a comfort in my upcoming old age. Yours for only $495, I’ll even waive the handling charge.

Just let me know.

08
Aug
11

week 3, and after

Wrapping up camp:

Conductor, in rehearsal, when the orchestra plays for another .25 seconds after the soprano cuts off her last note: “Never outsing the soprano. O. My. Lord.”

What is wrong with the algorithm at theweatherchannel.com that lists the day’s current temperature, i.e. 91˚, and the projected high at 86˚. Is there NOONE there who notices this and decides that perhaps the projected high should be projected higher?

And a question for all of you parents out there: Which is more stressful, being away from home for 3 weeks when you’ve left the house empty, or being away from home for 3 weeks when you’ve left the house in the “care” of the 18-year old?

***************

I had completed all of my camp responsibilities by noon Saturday, so husband and I went into Traverse City to act like tourists. We had a delicious lunch at Amical, and then did a little shopping. At first we may have upset the balance of the universe when husband bought two pairs of shoes and I didn’t buy any, but I did have some fun taking pictures.

I call this the “Embarrassed” sandal. It knows it’s hideous, but it must sit on its shelf, in plain view, for all to see. It doesn’t even have hands to hide behind.

I call this the “Beautiful” sandal. I would like them in brown, as shown, and black, 8 1/2 W. Sigh.

I call this “The Why Shoe.” I believe the title is self-explanatory.

These are just beautiful. I would consider selling one of my children for them — a deal at any price, but yours for a mere $545 plus tax and shipping/handling. First Son only has one year left of college, and I would include his college fund balance as long as it’s actually paid to his college; Second Son may have just hit a car in a mall parking lot, but it only did $500 worth of damage, which he (or I) will take full financial responsibility for, and he has been let go from his summer job 3 weeks early, but I suspect that, rather than this being a direct fault of his, his manager is an asshole and had an opportunity to hire someone for the fall and took it. Only Daughter is not yet a teenager, so she is still, as they say in the Master Card commercials, priceless, and therefore, not (yet) available for purchase. It is, as they say, only a matter of time.

[In a kind-of related story, related to the cowboy boots, that is, we watched Brokeback Mountain last night — neither husband nor I had seen it yet — and we both think they did a good job with a story that could have become campy or self-conscious. I do wish Heath Ledger could have mumbled a little bit more articulatively, but there’s nothing wrong with a good lookin’ man in jeans and cowboy boots.

To whit:

(Despite the fact that Husband posed for this photo, and he does actually know I have a tendency to “use” just about anything for my blog, he may insist that I take this photo down, so I hope many of you get to see it while it’s still here.)]

Anyway, back to Saturday.

When we were done at the shoe store, we investigated one of the galleries along Front Street.

This floating coffee table was kind of cool,

I thought it looked like it would maybe bounce a little, but I didn’t actually try.

I also liked these wood cuttings (sorry about the quality of the photos; I wasn’t sure how the woman in charge would feel about me taking pictures of stuff with my iPhone, so I was trying to be both quick AND surreptitious.)

I was NOT so crazy about the coffee table manufactured from the tailgate of a Ford pickup,

I’m not sure what this painting? collage? source of non-drug-induced freaky dreams?was called, so I called it Scary Alien Art.

I assume someone’s buying these, as there were at least a dozen on the walls, and the artist was featured, but really, really, thankyoubutno.

*************

Now we’re home; laundry’s done, I’m about to make my second cappuccino of the morning, and it’s time to return to reality. I must say, three weeks living in a cabin make air conditioning, floors that can actually get clean, and a washer and dryer within the residence feel like real luxury. It’s probably good to lower that bar every year or so.

25
Mar
11

beauty and the beast

Here is an example of everything that is good and “holy” in the world of shoes:

These, on the other hand, are evil incarnate: Well, maybe that’s overstating it a bit, but they certainly should not be allowed.

Of course, that’s just my opinion.

31
May
10

Smart!

I want this car. In red, or maybe silver.

Of course that means my children would have to run along behind, but that isn’t always necessarily a bad thing.

Wonder how it would do in Michigan winters?




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