Miz Shoes

I Used to Care, But Things Have Changed

And Miz Shoes just doesn't feel like talking about it anymore. For the foreseeable future, this site is going dark. Enjoy the archives.

Miz Shoes

How to Make a Million

So here's my latest get rich quick scheme: First, own a sports bar. Second, get STARZ on your digital. Then, make the night that Outlander airs Ladies Night, turn every screen on to the show, and give any man in a kilt his first shot of scotch free. You are welcome. Let me know how it works out for you.

Miz Shoes

My Heart Belongs to Daddy

The other week I bought a pair of Fluevogs. When they arrived, and I opened the box, the smell was so familiar: it was the smell of new Hush Puppies. I held my new shoes, closed my eyes and I was back in the Stuart Department Store. Max
This is a photo of my dad, standing in his office in the back of the store. I wish I had more pictures of the store and the back rooms. The store was my playground when I would go with Daddy at night or on Sundays. I climbed the shoe cases. I explored the dead stock. I tried on everything. I rearranged the showcases. I'd take a nap on the stacks of pillows in the bedding section. My uncle and grandfather shared an office with a glass wall that overlooked the store. It was a short flight of steps up had a view of the entire sales floor and both entrances. There were sewing machines and an ironing station and this really horrible, gnarly thing that always looked like a half-chewed cigar, but was a bundle of scraps from shortening mens' trousers, and Grandpa used it to dampen stuff he was pressing. It was light and airy. My father's office space was behind and below theirs, and had no windows. It was full of boxes and papers and the store safe and a table for unpacking and tagging stock, another table where he did the dyeing of matchable shoes. There were shelves of stock and rafters full of stuff. The cabinet he is leaning on in this photo held catalogs and fabric swatches and paperwork of all sorts.

Miz Shoes

I Dreamed A Dream

This has to happen. This needs to happen.

I was making potato pierogi, and idly thinking about things I’d seen on Facebook today, as one does. This Bruce Springsteen/Jimmy Fallon piece ripping Gov. Christie is brilliant.

I was thinking that Bruce was right in saying that Fallon does a better Bruce than Bruce, when the penny dropped: there was comedy gold to be mined today. Remember Dueling Brandos? I see Dueling Bosses, in a three way with Fallon, Adam Sandler and Bruce his ownself. Someone needs to get on that, stat. People need to call people.

Miz Shoes

Countdown to Ecstacy

Miz Shoes makes no pretensions about her age: she is older than dirt. I graduated college in 1975, when most of the readers of this blog (if there are any left, that is) were still in diapers, if not in utero. I have worked as a graphic designer, a paste up artist, a web master, a sales girl on the Apple store floor, a nude figure model, a (very bad) camp counsellor, a piece-work painter of cheesy wind chimes and a commercial photographer. I have been a creative director, an administrator for an outreach campus of MiamiDade Community College on South Beach back in the 80s before South Beach was rediscovered and made over, and a college instructor of photography and graphic design. I have milked goats, tossed bales of hay and weed, run an unsuccessful political campaign for a loathsome individual who would have been a disaster if he’d won, done titles and special FX for non-theatrical releases & commercials and held a union card to do it and one of my t-shirt designs (for the Y2K non-event, to be exact) was accepted into the Smithonian’s permanent collection. I have stayed at jobs for as long as 12 years and as short as a week, but since I graduated college on my twenty-first birthday (one of the universe’s more piquant jokes, I feel) I have worked. Full time. The longest vacation I took was 2 weeks, and the longest period between jobs maybe 6 months.

All of that comes to a rather inglorious end on Tuesday, August 13, 2013. I quit my job, and the ten days notice I gave runs out on that day. At 5:30 pm EDT, I walk away from the corporate world and into my studio, there to make what I like to consider my art. I have been collecting art supplies and tools since 1975, stockpiling against this day when I might have the time to create, but not the money to buy the raw materials. I have enough fabric for three dozen quilts, enough wool for pounds and pounds of yarn, and enough yarn to knit a hundred sweaters. I have patterns and silks and oddments and ornaments. I still have my eyesight and my hand/eye coordination. On August 14, I will have the time.

Where do I begin? With this, my blog. I have loved writing and telling my stories for as long as I have had a voice, but knowing that the Big Brother of my corporate overlord was watching my words for me put a huge cramp in my style. That ends on August 13, too. So welcome back to the monkey house, my gentle readers. Buckle up. Now it’s going to get interesting.

Human beings, it is said, are creatures of habit. Miz Shoes can attest to that, as she has ridden in the same seat in the same car (more or less) during the last 17 years of her commuting life. And because work hours are pretty typical, she has seen a lot of the same people day in and day out for the same 17 years.

There is a woman on the afternoon MetroMover who fascinates me. She is a kewpie doll of a woman: short, prone to wearing short little skirts. She is possessed of a tiny button nose, puffy lips and a blonde bouffant flip (none of which appear to be hers by birth, but of acquisition). She wears t-strap pumps of moderate heel that look like jazz dance shoes and sheer support hose. Her face is a study in botox and eye lifts. I’d would love to take a picture of her, but there is just something about her that is a little scary.

The other day, another woman of Miz Shoes non-acquaintance, but similar work schedule got on the shuttle at the same time as Kewpie Lady. This other woman has spoken to me once or twice, unsolicited, and displayed a sort of innocent mild looniness, so it seemed safe to approach her with the following question: How old do you think that woman with all the plastic surgery is? She is a cipher to me.

Well, with that question, we went from cordial impersonality to Miz Shoes was the Crazy Woman on the Train. The Other Woman looked around and said “I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT.” Really? Because there are not a lot of crazy Kewpie Dolls with Too Much Plastic Surgery on this shuttle. “I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT.” and she scooted a little bit farther away.

So this has left me free to imagine Kewpie’s life story. And this is what I have decided. She is, indeed, a woman of a certain age, but she was not always. In her youth, how ever far away that really was, her name was Juan, and she was the star of a cabaret show where she portrayed Charo. Juan was fabulous and made a fabulous living as a drag queen Charo, enough to retire from the life, and have the ultimate surgery. Unfortunately, this did not work out the way he had hoped (i.e., he was not asked to marry by some handsome millionaire playboy), and so Juan-Charo has had to go to work as a secretary in a steno pool somewhere here in downtown Miami.

Miz Shoes

What I Am is What I Am

I came late and unwilling to the Facebook party, dragged by a boss who wanted me to have an account where I could spy on anyone who might say something bad about the company, and then found and friended by my cousins. The boss left, and I discarded the mask of corporate dogsbody, and continued on as myself.

This has led to my discovery by people from my past, one reason why I never wanted to be on Facebook to begin with. I have a fairly easy presence to find on the web, what with the blog, the Flickr account, the etsy shop, membership on Ravelry. I always figured that anyone who wanted to find me, could. Some did. Others did and I was able to delete the e-mail with nobody the wiser.

But now my high school class has a page and a couple of people I haven’t seen or heard in forty years are on it. I have friended one or two people, and I just know where this is going to lead. I’ll show up as someone’s friend and someone else will write to me. To friend or not to friend, that is the question. Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms a sea of troubles…

To be or not to be– that is the question:?
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer?
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,?
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles?
And, by opposing, end them. To die, to sleep?
No more – and by a sleep to say we end?
The heartache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to – ‘tis a consummation?
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep?
To sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there’s the rub,?
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,?
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,?
Must give us pause.

People,  please. Consider this cartoon.

image

That was me. As I have written elsewhere, in high school, I was the lowest worm below the bottom rung of the social ladder. I was a freak and an outcast, but not a Freak. (freaks, greasers, soches, jocks, band… they each had a caste, and although I could flow between some of them—-never the jocks, never the greasers, never the rednecks—- I was never one of them. Of any of them.)

Yesterday, someone who was a friend of mine, and whom I haven’t seen in 40 years, accepted my friend request with a note that said that she’d always admired me for just being myself and never giving a fig for what anyone thought.

Oh, Laurie, you are so wrong. I cared deeply. I cried. I was miserable and lonely. I sat at home every Saturday night. But what was the point in trying to fit in? I couldn’t or I would already have. I learned at an early age to accept myself, just as I learned to accept my curly hair.

She isn’t the only person from my high school to have sidled up to whisper that they always wished they could have been as strong as I was. You people never gave me a chance to be anything but. Any weakness on my part would have been exploited. I learned that in elementary school, where I was the smallest kid in our class and it was considered great sport for the tallest and strongest girls to play tether ball with me. They would whack that ball so hard and so high over my head, as I stood there in the sand waiting for it to finish spiraling into a tight wrap against the pole while everyone watched and laughed.

In our sophomore year, I was on the swim team, and sat alone on every bus ride to every meet. I lettered, but I never went back for a second season. In our sophomore chemistry class, Paul Parrela called me a dirty Jew every single day. Do you remember who told him to stop? It wasn’t the teacher. It wasn’t anyone else in the class for the whole first semester. The first day of the second semester David Stanley (who was on the swim team with me) told Paul to shut up. He did, for all of a week. Then he started again. When I finally snapped and tried to cut him with my dissection scalpel, which of us got sent to Coach Willie’s office? Paul for calling me a dirty Jew (and worse, much much worse) or me? Right. Me, and threatened with suspension, except Coach Willie was too much of a coward to call my father and tell him that I was being suspended for hitting someone who was calling me ethnic slurs while the entire adult staff stood by and ignored it.

In our senior year I tried out for the school play, and got the understudy role for the lead. When I got on stage to rehearse my song, the popular girls sat in front of the stage and laughed at me. I quit the show and got a lecture from the drama coach about letting people down, but never got an apology from the girls who drove me from the stage in tears.

In some ways, being an outcast made me more of one, because freed of the bonds of social acceptance, I could explore any thing in any direction. When I went off to college, I discovered my own tribe. I was the queen of cool, there among the art and film students. Among the other outcasts, in other words. And now? Well, what I am is what I am.

Miz Shoes

Main Street’s Whitewashed Windows

The other day an article ran in the Miami Herald about the toll the recession is taking on Miami restaurants. They named names, listed locations, and there in the middle was one of my favorite places to eat: North 110. The owner/chef is Dewey LoSasso and I’ve been a fan of Chef Dewey since he was in the kitchen at the late, lamented Foundlings Club on Lincoln Road in the late 80s, early 90s. I was a member of the Foundlings, and the day that Chef Dewey put my mango marmalade on the menu with a rack of lamb, I felt I had earned a place in foodie heaven.

But now he’s cutting back to only weekends, and putting his restaurant up for sale. I confess, I haven’t been there in better than a year: I live at the other end of the county, and the time, and gas and honestly, the cost of the meal, have all conspired to keep me away.

At this end of the world, I went to Gil Capa’s Bistro for my anniversary dinner. We were the only people in the place. All night. I don’t know how Carmen and Gil can stay open, and it frightens me to think of Gil closing his kitchen. My girlfriend Star was a waitress for him in the 70s, and two of her three daughters have waited tables at this location.

My own family closed their business in 1984, when the mall opened up on the other side of town, and the big chain clothing stores (who carried the same brands we did, by and large) opened. Well, Jordan Marsh and Burdine’s (both begun as family stores themselves) were swallowed by Federated, and are just memories, same as the Stuart Department Store. So maybe it’s in my blood, but there is something very precious to me about an independently run business, a mom and pop brick and mortar store. That’s why I’m adding a new badge to this blog, and throwing my support (and my money where my mouth is) behind the 3/50 project.

What is the 3/50 Project? Its stated goal is “Saving the brick and mortars our nation is built on.”  Here’s the gist, from the front page of their site:


I pledge to eat at Gil’s more often, to buy at the independent bookstore, to stop by my local yarn shop. It only takes one person to start a movement.

Miz Shoes

Can You Smell That Smell?

GAH!!! I put cute little cedar balls in my sweater box. So today, I’m wearing something that smells to me like cedar cat litter. I mean, it only smells like cedar. But for some reason, that smell reminds me not of my mummy’s cedar chest, but of that organic cat litter that my cats would never use. Why this is now hard-wired into my brain, only my brain knows.

In other news, one of the folks in my neighborhood who had sported a yard sign for McCain/Palin is now sporting a hand-made sign. Black background, red letters that read: God Bless America. I thought you were supposed to keep the pointy hats and sheets in the back closet, and not on the front lawn? Maybe it isn’t racist. Maybe it’s just a sore loser who thinks that we’ve gone to the dark side? Oh. Dark. Racist. Uh, maybe it’s just a sore loser who thinks that the country has gone to the infidels? Which would be bigotry based on religion? Whatever. Bigotry is bigotry, whatever triggers the hatred and fear. Color. Religion. Politics. Country of origin.

Miz Shoes

Rolling and Tumbling

I am of two minds about the Large Hadron Collider. My first instinct, as a quantum mechanics wonk and all-round science geek is “WAY COOL!”. I am excited and anticipatory and can’t wait to see the results/read about the science. The other instinct is a little less enthusiastic and tends more towards running around shrieking “Oh my god, we’re all gonna die!” Except that most of the folks trying to convince us all of the second point of view seem to be fundie religious conservatives and UFO abductees and other persons whose intelligence and logic I tend to scoff at in ways both impolite and impolitic. (I love that the scientist is quoted as saying that anyone who thinks the LHC will destroy the earth is a twat.) I have to keep reminding myself that Steven Hawking has given his stamp of approval to this project, and in fact, is waiting to see if it proves a lot of his theories. When we get right down to it, if this science is good enough for Steven Hawking, then it’s good enough for me.

Besides, as a species we tend toward the long-term destruction of the world (global warming, loss of habitat, ozone depletion, over population, food and water inequities among the inhabited areas). Just winking ourselves out by creating a black hole doesn’t really jibe with our modus operandi.

I leave you (hopefully just till the next entry) with this little number: the Hadron Rap. Rock out, physics geeks.

The other night, I had one of my Bob Dylan dreams. We were hanging out, but it seemed that we’d not hung before. I was waiting for the moment when we’d be alone, or that there would be a quiet point in the conversation, where I could finally tell him that he and I had been having an affair (in my dreams) for the past 30 years, and I wanted to know if he had any inkling of it.

You follow that? In my dream, I wanted to talk about my dreams.

Last night, I had a similar dream involving why I’m so often naked in my dreams. I was explaining to one of my friends that the nudity seemed to be spilling over into my real life, which is why I wasn’t wearing clothes while we were sitting there talking.

I’m not sure if all my work on lucid dreaming is backfiring, or my brain is taking exception to my attempts to remain lucid and is working those attempts into the fabric of the dreams themselves.

It’s far to early to consider these options. I haven’t had my coffee yet.

PS: Pictures of the electric yellow Smartie to follow.

Miz Shoes

Someone’s In the Kitchen With Dinah

What do you make of this? Last night, I was dreaming about Tony Bourdain. We were at my parent’s home and I was cooking dinner for him. He told me that he didn’t care for the pan I was using, he thought it was the wrong size. I proceeded to show him that it was easy to change the pan by clicking on the description and changing the set up for the pan. It would change on the fly, without needing to be washed or losing the food already in the pan. Sort of like changing a page set up in the preferences menu in PageMaker or InDesign. Now where the menu and clickable box were, I cannot say.

Am I spending too much time on the computer? Too much time thinking about Tony Bourdain?

Miz Shoes

Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream

Last night I had the strangest dream. I was at a scientific conference about the Everglades. The lecture was being held at Gusman Hall in downtown Miami. The lecturer was someone I knew in my previous life, the one where I was politically active and married to the Antichrist. She was speaking on behalf of another scientist, and no matter what someone asked her, the answer was always the same: we aren’t comfortable releasing that information to the public at this point. And yet, she was trying to convince the audience of the validity of the research. No concrete facts, just, you have to trust us. And I stood up and said:

“You look at a beach full of lies, and you find one grain of truth. Then you come here, convinced yourself, and trying to convince us that that single grain is representative of the entire beach.”

What does this mean? Comments are open.

But there was no need to wonder how far off, because the windows were open and we could smell the sizzle and ozone. Lightning! Thunder! Pounding rain! I love Florida weather.

When I was in college, my dorm had a patio between the two wings, so even though it was on the 7th floor, and open, it wasn’t exposed. It faced east, and late at night when the thunderstorms would roll in from over the bay, I’d go out on the patio and sit in the cool and the mist and watch G*d’s own light show. Those are some of my fondest memories of the University of Miami. It wasn’t the same campus as it is now. There were more open spaces, and yet, less landscaping and lushness. The coral pit over by the art department was surrounded by banyan trees, and filled with ferns. Rumor had it that satanic rites took place down there, but the truth was it was just a great place to smoke dope between classes. If you didn’t mind the mosquitoes eating you alive down in the cool, damp shade.

In the past couple of years hurricanes wreaked depredation on the pit, and now it is a sunny, albeit sunken, rock garden with a park bench. The enormous royal poincianas were also taken down, and the old wooden art department is itself an empty and condemned hulk. Sad. The hours and hours I spent in darkrooms, weaving studios and the life drawing classes in that old building are the heart and soul of my college experience. The friendships I made, the professors who had the most impact on my life, they all were connected with that building.

Even my husband, the Renowned Local Artist, and I first met and became friends there. I’d go to his studio and watch him paint. We’d share books. He gave me Dahlgren, which I hated. I gave him Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which he stole.

Amazing how much memory a single flash of lightning can unleash.

Miz Shoes

Pictures of You

When I was a sophomore at the University of Miami, I received a nasty shock on the first day of my graphic design class. We were going to be doing photography and we would have to have a single lens reflex camera. So much for my extra cash. I had to buy a camera. I didn’t want to. I hated the very thought of being forced to take pictures when I would rather have been drawing. I complained, bitterly, the whole time I shopped for my little Pentax. I complained, bitterly, while I shot 36 frames of black and white film. I complained, still bitterly, while I learned to process my own film. I was still complaining as I pulled the film off the reel, and held it up to the light to see what I had done. Were there images? Were they in focus? Had I screwed up the processing? And the answers were yes, yes and no. And I stopped complaining. I was entranced, enchanted and thoroughly bitten by the photography bug. It became my minor. I had keys to every darkroom on the UM campus. I shot for fun, I shot for profit. I lived in the darkrooms. I even got a job years later from someone who remembered me as a girl who never had a tan, because I was always up to my elbows in the soup. My hands smelled like photo chemicals; my nails were yellow.

I can’t tell you how many rolls of film I put through that Pentax. I can’t tell you the thrill that getting my first Nikon gave me, or the heartbreak when it was stolen. I replaced it, a couple of times. I still have the F2AS, and several lenses, multiple filters, multiple focusing screens, flashes, cases and tripods. The first design for the studio that the RLA and I intend to build next to our house even had plans for a dark room. But I haven’t shot a roll of film in years. I have been shooting with a digital camera. First I had a Nikon Coolpix, now I have a Sony that is so tiny, it’s smaller than my wallet. I carry it everywhere, and if I say so myself, take some damn fine pictures with it. But.

But now I want a new Nikon. I want a digital SLR. I want interchangeable lenses. I want to be able to focus manually. I want to be able to manipulate the f-stops and exposures. I want the heft of an SLR, so that hand held long exposures are possible. I want a Nikon D40. But the cost is prohibitive, and my old equipment isn’t worth very much on Ebay. Not that I want to sell it. But it’s worth more as a memento or a film prop than it is as a working camera, and that just pains me.

I’ve been trying to ignore this desire, but it is an itch which is demanding to be scratched.

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