Posts Tagged ‘writing about shoes’

Pink Toenails, my feet and toes after I painted my toenails a frosty pink, Denver, March 2009, photo © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

Toes and feet are odd things. Some people adorn them; others adore them.

Sometimes we joke about them. Did you hear about the guy who was born with two left feet? He went out the other day to buy himself some flip flips.

We rhapsodize about them. The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art. (Leonardo da Vinci)

We wiggle them and dance with them. Sometimes we’d rather not think about them. They literally carry all our weight.

Footprint by Mark A. Hicks, © 1998 Mark A. Hicks, clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on DiscoverySchool.com (with permission from the Discovery School website) Footprint by Mark A. Hicks, © 1998 Mark A. Hicks, clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on DiscoverySchool.com (with permission from the Discovery School website)

My dad has narrow feet and Mom’s are fat with short round toes. We women in the family paint our toenails and sometimes treat ourselves to pedicures. (I like doing my own. One month I’ll go midnight blue, another month frosty rose. Toenails are the body’s canvas, a place to capture a mood, be rebellious. My version of a tattoo.)

I get cold feet in winter and go barefoot around the house all year long. The heels of my feet are in need of help, which I’ll tend to once sandal-wearing season is fully upon us.

What about you? Do you take care of your feet or do you neglect them? Have you ever been caught flat-footed?

Do you tap your feet?

Have you ever fallen down and got back on your feet again? 

Do you toe the line or go toe-to-toe? And if given a choice, what color would you paint your toenails?

These and many more questions are yours to answer if you step up to the plate and do a Writing Practice on the topic of Feet & Toes. Write these words at the top of your page: Everything I know about feet and toes… and start writing. Fifteen minutes, no crossing out, no stopping to think. Just write.

Put your best foot forward. We won’t hold your feet to the fire, and we won’t hang you by the toenails if you don’t do it. But go ahead and get your feet wet. Take a walk on the wild side. One foot in front of the other. A step in the right direction. Foot loose and fancy free.

Shake a leg. Break a leg.

Now step on it. Go.

my left foot, March 2009, photo © 2009 by ybonesy, all rights reserved  my left foot, March 2009, photo © 2009 by ybonesy, all rights reserved  my left foot, March 2009, photo © 2009 by ybonesy, all rights reserved

Something’s afoot…

  • The foot is split into three main areas: the forefoot, the mid foot and the hind foot.
  • The foot contains over 100 muscles, ligaments, and tendons, 26 bones (14 in the toes alone!) and around 33 joints.
  • A pair of feet contains about a quarter of a million sweat glands, which explains foot odor.
  • On average, humans will take enough steps in their lifetime to walk around the globe four times. Each day the average person will take 10,000 steps.
  • When we run, the pressure exerted on our feet can exceed four times our body weight.
  • Feet change in shape and size during our lifetimes. Feet can grow up to one size as people age and the structures within the foot relax and spread.
  • Purchase new shoes in the afternoon, when feet are at their biggest.
  • The largest feet in the world belong to a Mr. Matthew McGrory, whose feet are size 28½ (US). The 7ft-4in Florida resident has to fork out $22,745 for a pair of shoes to fit his feet.
  • The Achilles tendon, located in the heel of the foot, was named after one of the most famous mythical characters from Ovid’s Illiad. In an attempt to immortalize her son, Thetis (Achilles’ Mother) dipped Achilles into the River Styx, holding him by his ankle. His ankle became the only part of his body capable of sustaining a mortal wound. This is why the strongest tendon in the foot got the name of Achilles tendon.
  • In China during the early tenth century, foot binding was seen as a sign of beauty and was practiced by all social classes. At about age five and onward, girls’ toes were tightly wrapped in cloth, breaking the bones and curling the foot under. After a number of years, the front and back of the foot would be forced together to give the impression of small dainty feet. Prospective mothers-in-law would inspect the feet to see whether a girl was suitable to marry her son.

Feet on red Ravine

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When the topic of shoes posted last week, all I could think about was Shoeless Joe Jackson. Remember his appearance in Field of Dreams? I can picture him walking out of a sparkling corn field in Dyersville, Iowa, scuffling over to the bleachers, tossing a baseball, hand to pocket, hand to pocket, talking to Kevin Costner.

True to the novel by W. P. Kinsella, Shoeless Joe, there is even a character in Field of Dreams (played by James Earl Jones) loosely based on the reclusive J.D. Salinger. What’s not to like about the story of a Midwestern farmer (Ray Kinsella), two baseball players (Shoeless Joe Jackson and Archibald “Moonlight” Graham), and the writer, J.D. Salinger?

But this isn’t about the 1919 Black Sox scandal. Or Joe’s blistery shoeless run around the bases in 1908.

We’re not talkin’ shoeless here. We’re talkin’ shoes.

From the week’s discussion of power heels, stilettos, weapons, and height, I find I don’t walk stride by stride with everywoman’s categorical obsession with shoes. I don’t seem to care how tall I look or feel. I don’t and never have owned a pair of high heels. I wasn’t gaga over Sex and the City, though I did think the character development was pretty snappy. And it took me several seasons to even know what a Manolo Blahnik was.Mary Tyler Moore on Nicollet Mall & 7th Street, Minneapolis, photo by QuoinMonkey, all rights reserved

I did once wear a pair of low, red slingback heels. It was Easter and I was coiffed in Mary Tyler Moore hair that curled under only because I slept the night before on hard, pink, plastic rollers the size of a toilet paper tube, held in place with Dippity Doo and bobby pins. Ouch. The red heels graced a white pleated skirt, nylon hose with garter belt (remember?), white poly shell, and navy cotton blazer.

That may have been the last pair of heels I ever owned. Probably the last skirt, too.

I wonder what kind of shoes Truman Capote wore? I’m sure his skirts were lacier than mine. And somehow I picture Harper Lee in low slung heels clacking across the Holcomb, Kansas library floor. I wonder if she even owned a pair of high heels?

Oh, and have I mentioned that Mary Tyler’s Moore’s winter boots are immortalized in bronze in front of what used to be Dayton’s department store on Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis?

Mary Tyler Moore’s boots & purse, Nicollet Mall & 7t Street, Minneapolis, photo by QuoinMonkey, all rights reserved

Don’t get me wrong about shoes – oh, I  love shoes. But the more I think about it, the more my style rings truer from the Egads! women loving women perspective. Yes, lesbians do love their shoes. But, for goodness sake, comfort first.

Since the headfirst dive into creative writing, I haven’t had the extra cash to throw at my shoe collection. But that doesn’t mean I don’t still covet shoes. I don’t have beautiful feet to wrap my shoes around; they aren’t ugly either.

I have average feet, nicely shaped. The big toe reminds me of a spade on a deck of playing cards. The nail beds are just the right size and angle.

I used to wear a 7 1/2. But over the last 10 years, my feet seem to have spread to Kingdom Come; they are now a size 8. I’ve got no bunions but exactly 2 calluses. They erupted out of a pair of Vasque hiking boots I bought when I moved to Montana in my early 20’s. The boots were stiff and hard but everyone in Missoula was wearing them. Who was going to argue?

My feet. They’ve never recovered. The Vasquean calluses, one on the outside spade of each big toe, have not gone away since 1975.

I’m going to end the unenlightened Foot Journals of QM by keeping it short and simple – an inventory of the not ready for prime time players hiding in my closet.

What could be more engaging?

 Red Wing Boot, Red Wing, Minnesota, July 2005, photo by QuoinMonkey, all rights reserved      Red Wing Boot, Red Wing, Minnesota, July 2005, photo by QuoinMonkey, all rights reserved      Red Wing Boot, Red Wing, Minnesota, July 2005, photo by QuoinMonkey, all rights reserved

  1.  Merrell boots, forest green – bought on sale at an independent shoe store on Hennepin near Uptown. The black rubber toes are separating from the canvas. I’ve had to replace the wide, dark green shoe strings with off-color white. I can’t seem to throw them away. I love these shoes.
  2.  Converse high tops, pink  – I’ve had these shoes since 1985. I played softball in them in my early 30’s. The pink’s turned dirty black, the Converse tag came off the molded rubber trim. I finally threw them away when I moved in with Liz in December. What are they doing in this write? I still see them when I open my closet. 8)
  3. Converse high tops, red – replacement for the pinks. I have to be in the mood to wear them. A very RED mood.
  4.  Doc Martens, black – from art school, when the only color worn was, you guessed it, black. I still wear them to ride the Rebel. They give me height on pavement. But the soles are too slick for motorcycle riding. They have held up well. The leather is supple and has stood the test of time. So has the stitching. Doc’s are worth the money you shell out for them.
  5. Doc Martens, white – oh, wait, those are Liz’s. They’re sitting outside my closet. And I wish they were mine. She got them on sale when I first met her. I told her she needed a pair of good boots before I’d take her riding on the back of the Rebel. They debuted in one of my stories – oh, the Pentagram piece. She showed up on my doorstep the next day with shorts paired with white Doc Martens she’d gotten on sale. That’s when I knew I loved her!
  6.  Target flip flops, cheap & black – for those romps to the public showers when tent camping. They are perfect for that. Trust me, you don’t want bare feet in public showers.
  7.  Handmade moccasins, cinnamon with sunburst pattern on top – a woman named Deborah in Montana made these for me in 1975, sewed them by hand with an awl, and stamped the sunburst into the top. I rarely wear them. But I can’t seem to throw them away.
  8.  Minnetonka Moc’s – I bought these in 1984. They are completely worn out with holes through both layers of leather under my spade shaped big toes. They’ve conformed to my feet perfectly. I just can’t give them up. I bought another pair about 10 years ago, soft leather Minnetonka’s with those ergonomic nubs on the bottom. I’ve never taken to them. I gave them to Liz a few weeks ago. I’m stickin’ with the holey oldies.
  9.  Red Wing boots – the leather was hard as a rock like my Vasque, so I gave them away a few months ago when I moved. They were in great shape. I just can’t take the calluses anymore. They used to only make three kinds of hiking boots. Now there are thousands!
  10.  Skechers sneakers, white – My last pair wore out. Soft, cushy leather, wide and comfortable with the trademark S in silver on the back (yes, dzvayehi, what is that back strip called?) This is my 3rd pair of Skecher sneakers. I love them. I wish they made more simple, white leather choices.
  11.  Bongos, faded brown– I love these boots. They are a comfortable version of the old style Vasque. I can’t afford new Harley boots, so I’ve been making do with the Bongos. They give me the height, are good on oil slicks at traffic lights, and have the sturdiness I need on the bike.
  12.  Lands’ End Moccasins, chocolate brown – these are the latest addition to my wardrobe. Liz got them for me for Christmas. They are comfort extraordinaire. Quilted and cush. Have held up in Minnesota ice and snow. A winter winner.
  13.  Ked’s penny loafers – I bought these at Sears (surprisingly great shoes) about 9 years ago. They are the most comfortable shoes I own. Summer only. The soles are threadbare but the pennies I slide into the top slot are still shiny. A writer friend gave the 1967 coins to me for one of my birthdays; it was the year I first knew I was a writer.

 Red Wing Boot, Red Wing, Minnesota, July 2005, photo by QuoinMonkey, all rights reserved      Red Wing Boot, Red Wing, Minnesota, July 2005, photo by QuoinMonkey, all rights reserved      Red Wing Boot, Red Wing, Minnesota, July 2005, photo by QuoinMonkey, all rights reserved

Finally, #14 (my number when I played sports) in honor of Shoeless Joe, a pair of black cleated Riddells with red soles from my years of playing field hockey. I keep them around with my worn Spalding ball glove. They remind me that I was once muscular, trim, and fit, with the lung power of the goddess, Athena.

My own personal field of dreams.

Things always change, don’t they? Except for the love of shoes. In the immortal words of Rod Stewart, “Every picture tells a story, don’t it.”

So does every pair of shoes.

Friday, April 20th, 2007

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By dzvayehi

I didn’t have to even think about this. My favorite shoes are my fuchsia high tops, which I bought at Ross’s a few months ago. In fact, it already makes me sad to know that some day these shoes will be a thing of the past, the red suede is already getting worn out and faded in places, especially around the toes. That’s because I wear them all the time, even in the rain and snow and mud. And then there was the time I picked up a bottle of lotion in Big Lots and the top fell off and the stuff spilled all over the left shoe. I was so upset I ran to the bathroom to try and blot the stuff off with scratchy paper towels. I’d only had them two weeks, and it felt kind of like that first accident in your brand new car. I even stopped to talk to the cashier, threatening to sue the store if the stain didn’t go away when they were dry. I remember how she leaned over the counter with a puzzled look on her face, looking at my fuchsia high tops.

But I want to tell you more about why I love them. First of all, they’re that bright playful color, and the day I saw them, they screamed at me, “here! We’re over here!” and I put them in the little top part of the shopping cart and wheeled all over the store with them. I kept looking over my shoulder too, certain that someone else would probably covet them and that I had snatched the last pair. But then I saw another pair, and had a moment of doubt. Maybe they weren’t so special after all I began to think. But then I looked at them again fondly and just knew I had to have them, especially since they were just 10 bucks. Then there’s the arches too, soft and cushy and lots of support. And the way they fasten – laces on the bottom, and two velcro straps running across the tops. The really good part about this is that I can slip them on and off without unlacing them and I don’t have to smash down the heels.

Which brings to mind mules. I was over fifty before I discovered mules – those dorky looking sneakers that have no heels. But come to think of it, I guess they are not heels are they? What I mean is the back part of the shoe that rides up over the heel. High Heel Sneakers, I think that’s my favorite shoe song. But why hasn’t anyone written a song about platform sneakers? You know the kind I mean – the ones that have a two or three inch platform running the entire length of the shoe. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen a pair of high heel sneakers – do such things exist? But what I really want to know, is what do you call that back part of the shoe, if it isn’t the heel. And now I’m thinking of all the opportunities I had to ask this question in fancy shoe stores I used to shop at and in dry cleaning places that do shoe repair. But I never asked, never even thought to ask, assuming as I did then that I knew all there was to know about shoes.

I guess I’ve always liked colorful shoes, bright things on my feet that make me feel like dancing though I haven’t danced in many years, and don’t really like to dance except with my dogs. Just last summer I bought a pair of cyan platform thongs. They made me about three inches taller (this is important) and were such an electric shade of turquoise that I felt neon when I wore them, not to mention, tall. I think I picked those up at TJ Maxx for $2. But just when they were starting to get comfortable, I left them in the living room one day and when I got home, found that one of the dogs had chewed the heel on the right one. He took off about a half inch or so, and when I wore them to the grocery store that night I found I was limping.

But my favorite shoes of all times were the deep purple/royal blue/wine red two-inch heels I spent $75 on in 1989. I’d never spent that much money on shoes before, but these had me hypnotized, and they were that soft creamy leather that you love to touch. I used to take them any time I traveled, in case I had to get dressed up for something, and for some reason I even took them home with me when my mother died. It was the middle of February, light slushy snow on the ground in the cemetary, and I left them in the closet that day. Following the service, our house would be filled with visitors, and my brother had locked all of his dogs, including his new puppy, in my bedroom to keep them from messing up the house.

When we got back from the graveyard I went down the hall and to my room to change into the black kaftan I wore each day of shiva that week. And as I went to the closet to find a pair of slippers to replace my wet boots, I saw the damage. Just one shoe, the heel mangled to where the white plastic showed through, like the shiny bone of a piece of raw chicken. The other shoe was perfectly intact, and I felt like everything, my mother, my shoes, my life, was slipping through my hands. And I felt stupid and guilty too, for grieving over a pair of shoes. The puppy wriggled at my feet and wagged her tail but I was still pissed. I took the chewed up shoe to three shoe repair places, but each man shook his head sadly, like he was giving a prognosis for terminal cancer, “nothing to be done,” they said. I think that might have been the last time I spent more than $40 on a pair of shoes.


Fuchsia High Tops, photo © 2008 by dzvayehi. All rights reserved.

About writing, Diane says:  They say we create our own realities. What scares me most about writing is I see myself creating my own past. I have been working on a memoir on and off for about six years now, more off than on. It began when I told my brother, as he was dying, that I would publish his paintings and poetry. It seemed so simple a thing to do at the time. But then, when I began to think seriously about it, I felt that I would also have to write something about who he was. And so I began my writing journey, taking workshops and joining writers’ groups, telling people I was working on a memoir about my brother.

Then people began asking if I was writing about my brother or myself, and soon, I began to ask myself the same question. I also began to realize that as much as we may love someone and think we know them, they are still an unfathomable mystery in the end. And with each step further down that path, I found there was a story in me that wanted telling too.

The more I write the less certain I am about what I remember, and sometimes I am left wondering who was living those lives I thought I had witnessed. I’ve taken workshops that talk about theme and character development and story arc and plot, and I have looked for these elements in my story and am still looking. As my own story unfolds, through writing and therapy, I am often surprised and humbled by what I learn. Most of all, I am grateful for the actual gift my brother gave me – the path of writing. Even if I never complete either story, or never publish, writing has brought so much into my life, especially the other writers I have met, in workshops, groups, and in books.


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I was 17 years old when I realized I had beautiful feet. I can still dress them up in lotion and nail polish. But back then they were gorgeous naked.

I was sitting in my boss’ office the day it happened. I was on a black leather loveseat, bare feet perched on a marble coffee table, awaiting my check for a night’s work. Mr Garcia had had enough of me and my friends. That afternoon we’d come to work stoned. It was a coming-out banquet for the city’s society girls, who were about our age. We spilled water on the debutantes’ satin gowns, flirted with their escorts. Took our time clearing salad plates.

Mr. Garcia scribbled out my check and thrust his arm in my direction. I was smoking a mentholated cigarette. Those days you could smoke anywhere. I leaned toward him to get the check without moving from the couch. I couldn’t reach. Get up, he said, but I sat back instead.

That’s when I noticed the arch. It peaked right below the ball of the ankle, like two points trying to touch. It was as if at that moment everyone in the room — me, Tracy, Wade, Leanne, even Mr. Garcia — saw what I saw.

They didn’t, of course. Wade took the check from Mr. Garcia and handed it to me. We slowly got our things, shuffled out the office. That was our last banquet.

Almost 30 years later, my feet still crave attention. Last summer at Mom’s annual neighborhood garage sale, I saw a pair of pearly pink cocktail de Angelos, circa 1950, in their original shoebox. I bought them for four dollars thinking I might wear them with a black vintage dress and pink pashima I’d got in India.

The shoes were missing the thin rubber cap that finishes the heel. The heels have tiny nails sticking out of them. Unwearable. I still haven’t gone to see the old shoe man near the university.

My best looking shoe is a pair of Donald Pliners. Black suede and a closed toe. A strap that crosses on a diagonal over the top of my foot and closes with a rhinestone buckle. They look vaguely like Spanish flamenco shoes. I can only wear them three hours max, two if dancing.

My feet long for a trophy shoe, like a trophy wife shows off a man’s power and money. But my bones won’t go along. Age before beauty.

Today, Dansko clogs.

Topic post, These Boots Are Made For Walking

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