Guest Blog Post – Emlykd’s Interview Shoes

Although I have never met her, there is a mischieviousness, vibrancy, generosity and warmth in @emlykd’s written Twitter communications that drew me to her. She introduces me to a quite a lot of funky people so she does, so I am not the only Emly fan out there. Her words have a kind of whirlwind energy around them that sucks me in every time I read her Emlykd the Strange blog posts.

This girl is going to be delivering babies one day soon. I cannot wait to read all about it.

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Today I went for an interview. I hate interviews but they are the necessary evil to getting a job. Say what you like, but the interview is too much like a first date. It’s like I’m there saying: “here I am – judge me” based on what I look like on any given day.

You see, when one goes to a job interview one will have sent a resume along in front… so they know a little bit about you, yes! But the argument here is that on a resume, you only put your best foot forward (so to speak!) You are in control of what is being presented there.

I don’t know about you, but my resume only has good stuff on it. I don’t make a habit of mentioning on my resume the problems I have had in previous jobs. I don’t talk about the fact that I had a minor disagreement with my last boss. No, I am presenting myself as the best I can be. The most employable person. EVER! Really, isn’t that the whole REASON for the resume…? To grab attention and show them I. Am. The. Best!

Now, we have got past the resume. They like me on paper. And seriously, who wouldn’t? I have a way with words. I know this. I like writing. It allows me to get my thoughts out on ‘paper’ so to speak.

But the next point is the interview… it is a nerve-wracking experience. Being someone who takes pride in their appearance, I tend to take time to decide what I am going to wear to an interview. It feels like it is something I can control. I guess that’s the point. The whole scenario of a job interview is one where the notion of power is up for grabs really. If I play my cards right I can head on into that interview and I can feel on top of the world! I can feel like I am in charge. And I can take control of said interview.

So this is all about alluding to power… it is all about confidence. Don’t get me wrong, not arrogance but using your assets. It is about caring about your appearance. It is about being who you are, being proud of it.

I both love and loathe appearances. I love the fact that I can get dressed in the morning, and I can make myself feel better by what I’m wearing. Particularly, my shoes. Shoes can ruin any outfit, but they can also become the pillar from which an outfit is catapulted into fabulous. Wearing a pair of heels can help make your butt look good, your legs look good, and your confidence soars as a result.

A big part of appearance for me is shoes, clothing or accessories… And so this brings me to the shoes… The interview shoes… I have a pair of shoes which I usually wear to an interview. Basically because they have worked before… I wore them before and they worked for me… I felt good, I felt confident, cool, calm and collected. So apart from this re-assuring knowledge that they have served me in the past… I guess they are old-faithfuls really.. I think that making sure you feel good when you go into an interview is half the problem. And feeling good will happen with good shoes, good hair, good clothes…

The hardest part here is not convincing myself I can do the job because I know what I am capable of. The hardest part is convincing my potential employer that I am better than anyone… which I am, cos

I GOT. THE. JOB.

Day 52 of The Shoe Challenge – Pardon me while I [INSERT FIB HERE] in Pinkus Heels

Self Injurious Behaviors (SIBs) are ways that 4% to 38% of the population (including me) use to relieve symptoms of tension, stress and depression.

Not only do I indulge in SIBs, I also  like to spread the love to my family members, which would I guess turn them into  Family Injurious Behaviours (FIBs).

Here are some of my all time fave FIBs :

1.   Biting My Nails

There really is nothing worse than watching someone biting their nails while speaking to you is there?  I know because occasionally when I am stressed or bored I do it to people and I can see them trying not to look.  The slurping crunch issuing forth from a seasoned nail biter is quite off-putting enough without adding the Nibble Grab & Wrench Manoevre. The NGWM starts of with a tentative chew at a nail corner followed by a  half-crescent of nail being peeled off. Without scissors you then have to rip the whole nail off, but slowly just in case blood spurts everywhere. People tend to faint around you when that happens.

2.  Pick Scalps (mine or a passing child’s)

Blame my mum for this.  There must have been a lot of nits around when we were children because whenever we sat down anywhere near my mum she’d be scraping through our scalps for loose skin like a baboon sham-louse picking. Disgusting though it may sound, having my mum comb through my hair with her nails was actually quite soothing.  When the Minx was born she had a satisfyingly flakey case of cradle cap. I would rub almond oil on her scalp and slowly & painstakingly rub and scour it off with my nails. It helped to get her to sleep in the early days, I’ll wager.  Plus the fact that I told myself while I was doing it that no-one would ever call my little girl a scaffy heided wean.

3.  Squeezing or using implements to remove blackheads/whiteheads

Have you ever seen the You Tube video entitled The Most Disgusting Spot Squeeze Ever?

If you haven’t and you, like me, are a practitioner of the ancient and pleasing art of pus removal you will not blink an eye.  You might even wonder to yourself whether it is a set up. Anyone else who does not share our particular perverse pleasure would be wise to avoid either watching it or eating yoghurt/custard for a while.

Just about everyone in my family has been squozen, even the children when they were newborns.

I managed to restrain myself from attacking my husband for at least two months when I started going out with him.  Then he got the flu and he was at my mercy.  After the first time he weakly asked me “Now that we’ve done *that* I assume that it is ok for me to fart in front of you now?”

Please don’t squeeze the baby’s whiteheads” the midwife implored of me when the Noisy Boy was born. Sadly she was deaf to my pleas that I was unable to concentrate on breastfeeding while looking at a spot, whether on my baby or anyone else. I had to chew the inside of my mouth to stop all thoughts of squeezing while she was in the house.

Blackheads are another matter entirely. Despite being in the same skin eruption genus as spots, they are tricky little blighters.  Those sticky pore strips are a great idea in theory.

Biore Deep Pore Cleansing Strips aka Blackhead Tape

The only problem is that those wee strips, however, is that only the top half of the gunk that is blocking the pore is removed when you use them.

You then have to have a good dig around the site using one these :

or if all else fails, a couple of these:

Fingers

No matter which method of removal we choose, I and my fellow squeezers will never be happy unless and until the yellow-brown visible bit of the blackhead is followed by a long and preferably unbroken toothpaste like thread of sebum. Happy sigh.

4. Peeling Glue off my Palms (preferably with my teeth)

Imagine my delight when I discovered that there is a Facebook page dedicated to Peeling Glue off Your Palms. How good is this? Not as good as free shipping to Australia on Irregular Choice shoes, but nae bad.

While often unpleasant, occasionally extremely painful and always anti-social my bad habits do seem to have a soothing effect on me when I am anxious.  It would be better, of course, if I could do something a little less disgusting. Like doing a wee bit of meditation, romping through a few yoga asanas or perhaps getting a good old-fashioned massage.

Today as I write this post I am pleased to say that my feets and legs are feeling very tingly and relaxed and the rest of me very soothed due to an invigorating massage administered by the fabulous @princessnowhere. Just as well really because the shoes that I am wearing today feature some rather cruel acrylic stripes that give me terrible blisters.

Which brings me to one of my other favourite free safe for work pastimes – considering whether it is a good idea to pop my blisters or leave ’em alone….?

Day 51 of the Shoe Challenge: Hole-y Sandals, Holidays & Absent Friends

Esino by Trickers International Black Patent Leather & Gold Sandals

These sandals didn’t get worn much in Scotland. Too many spaces and places through which water would happily ingress.  Very few things are as unpleasant over a Glasgow August Weekend as wet, cold feet except, perhaps,  midgies*.  Nowadays, as you know I laugh and dance in the face of summer rain particularly when it follows a day or so of 35 degree plus temperatures. In the days when I bought these  sandals in a posh sari shop in the Italian Centre in Glasgow I would have been imagining a holiday somewhere or other.

Although not known for its warm, sunny weather every spring Scottish women pelt headloing into flurry of frenzied purchasing of beachwear.  For example, at present time while snow is still on the ground back home, Marks & Spencer will be flogging this wee number to ghostly white, sun seeking Paisley ladies.

Marks & Spencer Empire Line Drawstring Cover Up Tunic

These sandals did accompany me overseas on a trip to the Greek Island of Evia.

Evia, Greece from june_godiva's photostream http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2368/2340481977_1710e1bf84.jpg

Alex Leckie, an acclaimed Scottish potter, one of my husband’s teachers at the Glasgow School of Art  used to live there. Alex taught pottery classes at an artist’s retreat and in return he was given the use of a complex of villas including an old stable which he had white-washed and turned into a studio space.  Alex was born in the West End of  Glasgow, left school at the age of 15, and at the age of 18 enrolled at Glasgow School of Art. He had no formal qualifications for entry but  was taken on by the school on “perceived potential. Once it was founded in 1948, the Glasgow School of Art’s ceramic department was one of the school’s drawcards. The Mackintosh building’s entrance area (designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh) is decorated with ceramic mosaics by artists such as Raphael, Michelangelo, Robert Adam and Charles Rennie himself. Alex became one of the Ceramics Department’s great teachers.

Before I met him, the stories that I had heard about Alex from the Art School intrigued me. My husband tells me that when critiquing a ceramic student’s work his first question to that student was:

Where the fuck’s your head at?”

He wanted to know what they had in their mind before he talked with them about what they had physically created.

I also remember the story of the Medieval Banquet Night when Alex returned to the Ceramics Department from the pub to find my husband barbequing a cow carcass in one of the big gas kilns for his fellow students.  “That” Alex said to my husband “is not how you cook a fucking cow. Turn the heat down. Now. Slow and steady. That’s my boy“.

As a student, it was my husband’s job to impersonate Alex on the phone after a Big Night Out at the pub with his students. Despite the fact that my husband was thirty years younger the Dean of the Glasgow School of Art never once cottoned on to the hangover induced switcheroo.

While teaching at the pottery department at the South Australia School of Art, he got caught skinny dipping in a fountain in Adelaide.  Apparently when asked to vacate the fountain by the police, he clambered out and passed out face down on the grass.  The School of Art “politely asked him to vacate his position” in his words not long after. Before the naked fountain episode, he constructed a Ned Kelly Monument using huge ceramic drainpipes which, to this day, is displayed in a major art collection in Australia.

Through these Alex stories told by my husband and his many potter friends I created a patchwork hologram in my mind of a hard drinking, straight talking, no-prisoner-taking and quite frankly worrying individual. However, for many years I did not actually meet him nor did I catch sight of him.  So I thought that Alex might be a triumph of theatrical invention, one of those TV characters who  influence the lives of many but who remains forever unseen. A bit like Ugly Naked Guy in Friends or Maris Crane in Frasier. I wondered idly if the magic of the Alex Leckie legend would somehow be diminished if and when I finally met him.

When I did meet Alex he turned out to be a sweetheart albeit one with an uncommonly loquacious way with swear words. He looked very much then as he did in his Facebook page which I discovered when I Googled his name last Sunday night.

I wish, more than anything, that I had Googled and added him as a Facebook friend 6 months ago. Earlier this month (February 2010), he was admitted into hospital with appendicitis. He had his appendix removed and was doing well post op. Three days later, he started suffering acute abdominal pain. He then developed breathing problems and was immediately admitted to the the Intensive Care Unit of the Royal Alexandria Hospital in Paisley. Things went badly wrong from there – Alex had multiple organ failure which lead to a heart attack. The ICU staff worked on resuscitating Alex for 9 minutes but by this time his vascular system had shut down limiting the blood supply to all other organs. He was ventilated for only a few hours until his partner Sandra made the heartbreaking decision to switch the ventilator off and let him go in peace. he went into the Royal Alexandria Hospital in Paisley for what was thought to be a fairly minor heart issue (he’d had at least two heart by-pass operations in the past). While in hospital, he contracted an infection which led to other complications which lead ultimately to a massive heart attack.  He was 77 years old.

The reason that we travelled to Evia was ostensibly for my husband to help Alex test fire his experimental kilns that he had designed and built himself. He trusted John to help him. It was, I believe, a big honour for John and also a time for them to re-engage and to talk Secret Man Business. As for me, I brought a couple of pairs of sandals (these included), a black silk sarong, some swimsuits and some light holiday reading” “The Holocaust” by Martin Gilbert. I remember much of that holiday today particularly the image of Alex running flat out in a pair of underpants across night time lawn to answer the telephone in the torrential rain. He looked a bit like one of Santa’s hench men would look if he had any.

Hen” he said to me “if you weren’t here, I wouldn’t have got dressed to answer the phone“.

We miss you Alex.

Anima eius et animae omnium fidelium defunctorum per Dei misericordiam requiescant in pace

Alex Leckie

Potter, lecturer and sculptor

Born: Glasgow, 2 June, 1932.

Died:  Paisley, 7 February, 2010 aged 77.

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* Miniature Scottish mosquitoes (Culicoides) that lurk under trees and in shadey place in the late summer. Quite psychotic and drawn to sweat and fear, the midge can inflict Grievous Bodily Harm via  hundreds of multiple bites in the time that it takes to say “Oh buggery bollocks, midgies“.

Guest Blog Post – Priscilla, the Pulling Shoes & other stories

It is not often that I meet my Guest Bloggers before I bully, ahem encourage, them to open up their shoe cupboards for me.  With Priscilla I was lucky in that I managed to feed her haggis, neeps and Cranachan first. When she got that first hit of Drambuie, I could tell that I had captured her heart. Our mutual friend Nomes did a great sales job for me too (she also took the pics for this post).  When I met Priscilla she was wearing the gold shoes (see below) and a ruby red dress. She looked a million bucks, has cracking legs, a great laugh, complimented me on my cooking (which if you know me very seldom happens) and is welcome back at Chez Calcei any time. If you have a Burns Night Dinner (or any other dinner) she would be a great person to invite to yours. If I don’t get in first that is.


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I picked up the first time I wore these shoes out (two years after I bought them), they are very shiny gold Italian-style.

I moved in with my boyfriend and everything survived the move, even me, oh except the  microwave. Must have been the dodgy movers. I blame them. As I didn’t want to be the someone who left their slightly broken white goods on the curb destined for landfill, I determined to get it fixed.

The closest microwave-fixer man I could find was in St Peters, not a short drive from the beach suburbs of the east (did this carbon contribution cancel out an environmentally sound intention?). As I was moaning about where the fuck is Petersham, never heard of it, my boyfriend who used to do indoor rock climbing– he knew it. There is an indoor rock climbing facility, as it so happens, in Petersham. How quaint. Apart from the directions, he was the one that pointed out there was a Bally outlet store, on the way to St Peters and it was also, as I discovered, on the way back.

It was Saturday, it was summer, it was hot. I was on my way to St Peters. Focused on waste reduction. Shoe shopping didn’t cross my mind. Really, it didn’t.

I found the electronics store after navigating through some unremarkable light industrial scape, my eyes trained straight ahead on the double carriage highway and the back of the semi-trailer I was up the arse of. I did the microwave transaction – can you pick it up next week? Yep, no worries! THANKS

Feeling like Mother Earth’s baby daughter righteous in recycling, I turn my car east. A small electric wave began to pulse faintly through the grey pulp contained within my skull, sometimes that happened, and the message was translated into the thought oh yeah, now what about that Bally outlet store? I turned off a major road way heading onto another similarily functional, industrial byway , and dazzling in the bright sunlight, loomed the white factory store like the shimmering of the Taj Mahal’s white marble through the wavering heat of a mirage. The letters B A L L Y glistened high and large in the sunlight like a blinding siren.

In a split second I’d crossed two lanes of oncoming traffic and next thing I knew I was pulling into the customer-only car parking. A sign I was shortly to validate.

Often I had walked past the Bally store in the Queen Victoria Building. The shoes arranged sparsely in the window, so refined, so rare, the whiff of unattainable quality, lingering tantalising among my nostril hair.

And here I was among millions of attainable Bally shoes, totally cut price, maybe last season’s styles, but you know as well as myself that Bally surely – is perennially stylish.

Greedily I tried on pairs and pairs more pairs of previously unattainable shoes and I realised that there were not a lot that actually fit my size 9 and a half were actually that attractive. BUT I WANTED BALLY SHOES I REALLY, REALLY WANTED THEM, NO, I NEEDED THEM. The tsunami of rampant consumerism washed over me. Ironic. Given my original mission. Finally a pair fit me, and then there was this other pair. Oh my god, so comfortable, and these other ones, gold shoes, I’ve never owned gold shoes, they will go with my white pants. Reminiscent of Firenze.  All were strappy sandals to match the perfect summer weather.

So $750 later, three boxes in hand, I left the air conditioned factory outlet conditions and braved the withering heat . But I was in a jaunty mood, I had three pairs of new shoes, but not just any old shoes, no, Bally shoes that would last through the ages, these shoes would transcend fashion and they would last and last. Oh yes, I had made a life-long and prudent investment.

Oh these look nice, but very impractical, I don't know about you but the sling backs always slink off so I might as well be wearing high-heeled thongs.

Post Script

It was two years ago, this event I have described. The boyfriend didn’t last. The microwave, I broke the rotating plate and it now sits defunct in my storage unit. And that was after taking it back a second time to fix the problem they didn’t fix the first time. But I still have the shoes. One of them, the really comfy ones, I have never worn outside the house. I’ve WANTED to wear them. Oh yes, I have tried to make them work with this skirt and those pants. But at the end of the day, they are just a little bit on the nana hush puppies side.  Or maybe a lot.

The very Italian gold pair, with the plaited straps, I wore for the first time only two weeks ago, to my friend’s 30th birthday party. It was an all night affair involved dancing, the delicate sparkling leather cut into the tissue of my little toes leaving duplicate red fissures. I did however pick up that night, which may or may not have been the shoes. I’ve not tested the theory…yet.

And the black strappy pair. I admit to wearing these about three times. Maybe four, even.  Actually one outing was to Caveat Calcei’s famous Burns night. Quintessentially Bally frou-frou with the ribbon straps, intertwined with leather straps and peppered with delicate buckles – sling back pumps I think would amply describe them.  Eighties throw backs, they scream designer jeans and gold hoops and hermes scarves.

You be the judge.

I have never worn these shoes, they might look good in the photo but they are very nana. Something I plan to grow into. Or maybe something for Suri Cruise to consider.

Photographs Copyright Nomes Messenger 2010. All rights reserved.

Day 50 of the Shoe Challenge – Missi Jackson and the Mesh Confession

Tonight,  I’m have two questions on my mind. The first question relates to these shoes which remind me of ballroom dancing shoes. Does anyone know who Missi Jackson is and is she still making shoes? The vintage pumps that I wore today (shown above and below) have the maker’s mark “Missi Jackson – Handmade” stamped into the leather insoles.  I have no idea where they were made.

Long before Barbara Windsor become my style icon, in between my mock-gothic years and before my unfortunate Sarah Palin newly qualified lawyer frump period, I had an fleeting flirtation with Fifties fashion. Dita Von Teese embodied two or three years ago the look that I tried to achieve then.

Dita Von Teese in Sydney for Australian Fashion Week May 2007

I raided the Victorian Village vintage markets in Glasgow for long kid gloves, seamed stockings, fishnet tights, black satin hobble skirts and little silk blouses. It is very high maintenance trying to emulate Fifties chic, all that sticking rollers in your hair to sleep in. Also, I don’t iron and I am not greatly fond of removing make up stains from period clothing. So slowly, a bit sadly and quietly, the gloves were phased out along with the bright red lipstick and dyed black hair.

I do miss the hosiery particularly the fishnet tights.  In the summer they are a good alternative to going bare-legged, particularly if you pick a nude shade that doesn’t resemble Barbie skin. Once or twice I’ve tried to bring the mesh back. Each time that I do my husband shudders in the involuntary way that he reserves for three quarter length trousers, Juicy Couture velour tracksuits and knickerbockers.

This week, on the day that my shoes fell apart (Day 48 of the Shoe Challenge) I bought myself two pairs of tights from the dollar shop outside my office.  For those of you unfamiliar with dollar shops these are places that sell a lot of cheap crap that you didn’t think you were going to need until you got in there. In most suburbs of Sydney this is where you would go to buy the non-confectionary detritus that people stick in children’s party bags (little men with plastic bag parachutes, fake noses, plastic watches, farting cushions etc). In Surry Hills, the dollar stores stock Mardi Gras costumes, counterfeit Tim-Tam (R) Chocolate biscuits and pinatas with huge phalluses. When I asked where the tights were the shop owner directed me to a display consisting of nearly black tights (for which read battleship grey) some lacy tights that looked like this:

and the abomination that is the …. Sockette

I cannot even begin to tell you how much Sockettes creep me out.  They are like condoms for feet.

So the choice was made for me, I bought the only thing that didn’t give me the weirds namely the fishnet tights. The only problem was, of course, that I now had introduce the tights to my husband.

Why do you hate fishnet tights?” I asked pretty much as soon as I’d kicked off my shoes and put my feet up on his lap before our daughter aka the Minx beat me to it.

I do not hate fishnet tights. I mistrust them” he said “due to presentation issues that I have with them“.

This was going to be good, I thought. I probed further. This took some time due to the need to intermittently break up fights between our children. They take any adult conversation between us as an affront on their personhood and self-appointed roles as the head of the household (job share). Somewhere between the Head Banging Off the TV incident and Bedtime I got to the bottom of things.

Apparently my husband has, on four separate occasions in the past, been asked to fix things in houses belonging to female friends. On each occasion, on arrival, the female friend in question has offered him a cup of tea only to come back from the kitchen clad in mesh hosiery.  He now believes that fishnet tights are a predatory device used by women who want to draw attention to themselves in a renactment of some seduction scene in a porn film.  This, he says, makes him want to run away and hide leaving the way open for other handymen to ahem, get the hand in should they wish to do so.

I have always thought of fishnet tights as retro and fun. It seems from my husband’s disclosure though that men may think of them as slightly trashy and low rent.

So what is your view of fishnet tights? Edgy and cute or trashy and tasteless?

Day 49 – Black Patent Leather Shoes & Knickers

Have you ever been to a Catholic school? If so you will probably have:

  • reasonably acceptable handwriting;
  • a love of Holy Days of obligation (school kids going to Ash Wednesday Mass today would agree that it beats Double Maths hands down);
  • a lingering fear that masturbation will lead to either hairy palms or your private parts falling off; and
  • a lifelong curiousity about whether or not boys can see your knickers if you wear black patent leather shoes.

There is an entire novel devoted to the lengths that Catholic school boys will go to to see your pants. “Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?” by John Powers set in 1950s Chicago covers first confessions, love, patron saints, sex education classes and the importance of wearing knickers under your school uniform plaid pleated skirt. It has been turned into a musical with songs featuring lyrics like:

Don’t pay attention to your private parts

Don’t touch yourselves

no matter how you yearn

not even just a little

or you’ll burn burn burn

you better leap into an ice cold shower

and don’t pay attention to your

(*whispers*) Private parts”

If you are Catholic you will probably be used to people telling you that you are a bit odd. For example, today I missed Ash Wednesday Mass (there, I’ve said it and crossed myself) and wondered out loud to my friend Nomes Messenger if getting someone to put a cigarette ash cross on my forehead would absolve me.

She now thinks that I am even more mental than she did previously.

Ex-Catholic school children take a looong time to get over thinking that if we are playing with ourselves (or anyone else) that we will have an audience of deceased relatives looking on.  For years I was convinced that my deceased Gran there at the great iMax Cinema in the Sky of a Saturday night to watch “Me Up to No Good with Boys”.  To this day, I can imagine her stage managing my love scenes from afar. Occasionally, I catch myself arranging my limbs in the mirrored wardrobe as if for a close up.

Nowadays, I am long past the stage though where I expect to find men laying on the floor to get a keek of my knickers mirrored in my shoes. Notwithstanding this patent shoes still strike me as vaguely forbidden and I am still drawn to them accordingly.

One of these days I would really love the Mythbusters guys to go hell for leather and find out whether in fact you can see an underwear image reflected in patent leather shoes.

Fiordiluna Brand Patent Leather Court Shoes 3.5 inch heels made in Italy

The way to scupper them, of course, would be to go pants free.

Day 48 of the Shoe Challenge – Que sera, sera strappy sandals

This blogging business has to be capable of being streamlined” I remarked to my husband.

He wasn’t really listening as he was otherwise engaged.

You could” he said, absent-mindedly wiping slimy ordure from our daughter’s bum, “do the photographs at the weekend“.   There was a bit of shrieking from Minx as this discussion took place. She objects to conversations taken place while her arse is being cleaned.

Also” he mentioned, doing his best to ignore the screams and holding a soiled baby as he spoke, “it must be possible to write some of your blog posts in advance“.

So on Saturday night while most of the child-free world was out drinking and shagging (or attempting  to do so) there we were on the sofa.  My husband trying to figure out what those strange wee people were doing on Iron Chef; me writing down random blog ideas.

This was before things went awry.

Firstly, on Sunday I got a call from the Boss. “I’m at the airport” she said  “This has been the week from hell. I am over it. You’ll be fine without me. Also, I have my iPhone.  If you need me I’ll be in Bali“.

Oh good” I thought, hanging up the phone “I‘m in charge“. I considered what this might mean and determined that being in charge might be commensurate with being responsible. Responsible for the entire office. Yikes.

Of course,  you can plan for responsibility can’t you?  After all, the parents among us nested our hearts, minds, souls and savings accounts away before our first children were born. We bought baby rockers, muslim wraps, Good Night, Snooze Soundly tapes, ergonomic breastfeeding pillows.  It did not help us one little bit, did it? We were still faced with small, viciously angry pink little people who were always hungry and didn’t want to sleep. Planning is all very well in theory provided that the subject of the planning is amenable to being project managed.

In the end,therefore, I decided that whatever happened today would be the subject of my blog.  Fate, bring it on, I thought. I am a woman, I am a mother. I am tough.  I can handle you.

This morning after the usual fiery arguments over breakfast cereals, the wrong texture of socks, dresses, shoes and little plastic figures to take to school day care had been resolved, I managed to get both weans out of the house by 7.45 am.

By 8.00 am the Noisy Boy and I were aiming for the  school gates and well within the Getting to Before School Care Before the Toast Is Eaten window .

By 8.05 am I was barefoot.  The shoes that I had intended to wear and to blog about had literally become unstuck. Shoe glue cares neither for my plans nor the late Summer humidity and had decided that it would no long hold my turquoise beaded black sandal mules together.

As I walked to the train station in bare feet, some Zen Buddhist master was muttering nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah in my ear.  Don’t be too attached to your plans, dear girl. Life gets in the way.

When I got to Central Station in Sydney, I headed off to an op-shop in search of replacement shoes.  When it comes to op-shopping you can’t go past St Vincent De Paul’s on Elizabeth Street in Surry Hills. There are lots of ateliers and wholesale fashion outlets nearby. You can find designer samples in amongst the usual moth-eaten 70s prints and 80s shoulder pads.  As soon as I walked in the store I found a pair of  (never worn) black leather sandals by Dahto Shoes for AUS$8.00. Lovely though they are with a slender wee spikey 4 inch heel, they were just not going to work with the jeans that I was wearing.  Fate stepped in at that point.  While hopping on one foot trying to tether myself into the ankle straps without falling on my face, I looked up  to  see a long black satin chrysanthemum print cheongsam literally 2 feet away.  I’ve been looking for one of these idly on and off for a wee while – 10 mere years or so.

So perhaps today was to be characterised by problem solving and finding pattern in the chaos as whatever will be, will be.

As Ajhan Chah says:

Do not try to become anything.
Do not make yourself into anything.
Do not be a meditator.
Do not become enlightened.
When you sit, let it be.
What you walk, let it be.
Grasp at nothing.
Resist nothing.

Or alternatively, I should just give the wee repair man who stuck my errant mules together (badly) a bloody good piece of my mind….

Guest Blog Post: A Lawyer’s Shoe Gallery by Nomes Messenger

Before fellow lawyer Nomes Messenger and I met in real life (online courtesy of @kissability) we were tethered in leather by our mutual love of shoes. Since we met last December we have aided and abetted each other in various shoe purchases. She and I have both experienced the guilty pleasure of doubling our shoe collections in a lunatic Schuh sale shopping spree. My moment of lunacy was a 50% off 50% sale one January afternoon in Buchanan Street in Glasgow, 1994. Nomes’ crazy Schuh day happened about two weeks ago.

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I made the leap from Smash Hits to The Face. Quite the leap, completely oblivious to Cosmo or Dolly, I went straight to the high end fashionista mag, cool beyond cool. I was thirteen.

Although I couldn’t afford or even afford to dream of affording the clothes and music therein, I fell in love with the bolshiness of Vivienne Westwood and this led me to Red or Dead shoes. Later I met and befriended Vicki Sheppard who was a stylist for UK style bible, The Face.  I always buy something from her store in Perth either Elroy CLothing or YoYo Buffalo which she owns and runs with her husband ex-The Clash rocker Nick Sheppard.

But before Vick set up, there was this store in Perth near the Cinemacity complex that was the only store that had any Westwood or Red or Dead shoes. I fell in love with these electric blue zip up patent shin boots, kinda like these Fly of London ones I now own,

Fly of London Boots

but I’d always dreamed of getting my hands on Red or Dead shoes. When I went to london, I couldn’t find them! But then I came upon Schuh and well, now I have four pairs.

With the Schuh connection made, a friendship with Caveat Calcei commenced in earnest. Now I must admit that I hate shopping and I hate shopping for shoes, but I can’t help myself with Schuh. First purchased was the pink pair, now, I pretty much only wear black, so wearing hot pink is a “wacky”. By the looks I get from others, hot pink is wacky regardless. When I wear these shoes, I get looks all the time.

Schuh Hot Pink Mary Janes

Then there was a sale, and I recently purchased these

and I’m yet to break them in, but in the space of 20 mins, I doubled the number of shoes I own….

Day 47 of the Shoe Challenge – Good Tree Climbing Shoes

Those are nice shoes” the Baby Lawyer said to me today. I looked at him suspiciously. He was smiling at me in his usual open way with a lot of clean, white teeth.

Van Dal Low Heeled Mock Croc Courts

What do you mean these are nice shoes?” I asked defensively “these are the kind of shoes that Maggie Thatcher would wear“.  For a split second I wondered whether or not he was old enough to know who Maggie Thatcher was. Then I put it to the back of my mind because we were in the midst, I was sure, of what is known in the West of Scotland as a Slagging and I had to prepare for a fight.

For those unfamiliar with Scottish culture a Slagging is a prolonged verbal evisceration, involving thinly veiled insults masquerading as humour. Since your ability to dish out as well as take the insults is judged closely by your peers, Slagging is a spectator sport. It is generally taught in Primary Schools, passed down by osmosis from teacher to pupil to fellow pupil. Now looking back on it I see it as a venomous activity designed to strip people of dignity – it is bullying wrapped up in sarcastic humour.

For example, a Slagging would start with someone saying “That’s a nice dress you’re almost wearing“. You are then on the back foot and have to come back with something equally abusive but semi-humorous line like “It’s deconstructionist chic, a bit like your haircut…and your face” and so on. The first person to descend into actually insulting the other person or who resorts in door slamming or physical violence loses.

Slagging can also be non-verbal. If someone wolf-whistles at you it might be a stranger showing appreciation for your good looks/tight jeans or it might be one of your friends taking the piss out of you.  You won’t know until you turn round and smile to find someone laughing at you, so you learn to glower when people give you a compliment. Eventually  you become very loathe to accept compliments at all or you rebuff them at source. I think that the Australia expression for a Slagging is sledging which is part and parcel of the Tall Poppy Syndrome.  Sledging and Slagging and the Tall Poppy Syndrome take years to recover from.

Now if I was in Scotland, no doubt I would cop a really good Slagging for writing this blog.  In fact, if I was in Scotland I would probably not have bothered starting a blog to avoid the inevitability of such a Slagging. Thankfully, I have almost deconditioned myself from expecting a Slagging for daring to draw attention to myself.   Almost but not quite.

As I mentioned yesterday, while I feel physically comfortable wearing low heeled shoes, I don’t feel mentally confident.  So, the Baby Lawyer  inadvertently set off my internal Slagging radar which I tried to squash by saying: “What’s so nice about them thne? They are flat, they look like school shoes, they are boring and conventional“.  He looked straight at me and said,  “Exactly, they are so different from your usual shoes that you look sort of rebellious in them” with only the faintest trace of a cheeky grin.

I’ll take that compliment.  In fact, I felt so rebellious that I decided to climb a tree in them.  For which I copped a bumful of itchy sap and ants. Way to go Baby Lawyer.

Day 46 of the Shoe Challenge – Two Lawyers, a bear, a pair of sensible shoes and a crap joke

Hanna Button Toe Pumps at Zappo http://www.zappos.com/ecco-hanna-button-toe

As a yoga teacher I spend an enormous amount of time reminding people to spread their toes to regain their connection with the earth. Cramming your toes into the tight restraints of fashionable shoes is a major yoga no-no. It is not as bad as farting in a yoga class but that is a topic best left to the one side.

My chiropractor goes on at me constantly for wearing high heels. Apparently I should be wearing sensible shoes like the Ecco low heeled pumps above to work.

Not being known for doing what health professionals tell me to do, I nod and smile and agree and go back to wearing high heels until the next time that I go for an spine cracking adjustment.

However, just as you will find a pair of large, time of the month knickers in every woman’s lingerie drawer you will also find that there are a number of low heeled and flat shoes in my collection.  Though it pains me to do so the time has come to get my sensible shoes out in the interests of accurate blogging.  If you are a die hard high heel lover you might want to have a wee keek at someone else’s shoe blog for the next few days – the writer of  The Shoe Girl’s Blog has some rather nice spikey heels this week.

For those of you who are still reading, here is my first pair of sensible shoes.

These are by Prada so at least I can claim a bit of Italian chic-ery along with the undeniable run-flat-out-for-a-bus comfort factor.  When I bought these I was living in Glasgow and working in Edinburgh. The train trip from Glasgow Queen Street to Haymarket in Edinburgh only takes about 50 minutes on a good day. For your average Australian a commute of less than an hour is considered an easy one.  Please bear in mind that on a bad day though, particularly in the winter, the commute can take three hours. It only takes one day of travelling 3 hours to work on a Cityrail train to make you lose the will to live. This tends to happen at least once a week particularly in the Autumn when the train tracks are covered in leaves. Indeed. Leaves.

When you are 2 hours late for work there are two things that you can do. You can:

(a)  wander in nonchalantly and pretend that you were meeting an important potential client about work (good for an excuse about once a month);

(b) suck it up and run into the office sweating with your chest heaving as if your lungs are about to explode muttering expletives, panting dramatically and repeating the words “train” . “leaves on the tracks” and “really, really sorry” a lot until you collapse in a heap on the floor.

If you are going to choose option (b) you need to be convincing. The best way to be convincing I found is to run flat out between Haymarket and Wherever You Work (in my case a firm called Anderson Strathern).  If you have ever been in Edinburgh you will know that it is completely impossible running in anything other than completely flat shoes because the streets look like this:

Since it would be suicidal to try sprinting in a pair of stilettoes on the cobbles my sensible shoes were not a bad half-way house between comfort and office smartness.  Unless of course I had been running away from a bear on the cobbles, which brings me to the shit joke.

A bear smells two female lawyers walking through the woods and trundles towards them with a gleam in its eyes.

The first lawyer kicks off her high heels pulls a pair of ballet flats out of her hand bag and starts putting them on. The second lawyer looks at her sideways and says “You’re mental! You’ll never outrun a bear!”

“That’s okay” the first lawyer replies, “I don’t have to outrun the bear. I only have to outrun you.”

Boom, boom.