Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Shoes as Self

I'm going to DSW today, which means I have to clear about an hour of my schedule. You think I kid. I do not. For me, going to the Designer Shoe Warehouse (not Da Sale Warehouse or Da Shoe Warehouse as my brothers used to truly think it was called) is an exercise in finding a persona.Yes, these shoe marketeers have got me right where they want me.

Shoes are safe. In a world where fat is reviled and youth is coveted at all costs, there are very few shoe options out there that are veboten to my slightly plump, slightly scarred, not-quite-as-young-as-I-used-to-be self. No matter how much extra weight I've found, my shoe size stays the same. Even if I'm squeezed into something up top that I have no business trying to still pull off, I know that the right pair of favorite shoes will still make me look and feel comely, if only from the knee down. The right pair of shoes can not only change an outfit, but change a mindset.

Speaking of mindset, I truly believe you can infer a lot about a person based on their shoe choice. For instance, a young woman teacher wearing pumps or kitten heels all day at work has almost certainly been teaching less than two years. We veterans grow out of that phase quickly, and our feet thank us for it. A guy wearing Toms is almost certainly confident, loyal and happy. Just ask my husband, who lives in his madras pair three seasons a year. The sandals wearers in any weather over sixty degrees are innate optimists here in Chicago, while the boots-wearers in early September have a deep and emotional connection to their favorite pair; they love the style without the hassle and are practical. My favorite thing to do when I am bored at a large meeting is to look around the room at people's shoes. If you look at a person from the ankle up, you often get a total surprise by the time you arrive at the top: the face doesn't always imagine the chosen shoes in ways you think. Footwear may be the true window of the soul.

Which leads me back to my current DSW conundrum: I need new formal shoes. Previously, I had been rocking my sister's prom shoes. Gold stiletto sandals that matched almost everything. I'm not sure what this borrowed pair said about me: thrifty, with a penache for tacky? Formerly athletic calves with a slight ladylike inclination? I know I'm never going that high again with shoes (not if I'm paying for them, anyway) but I loved the gold because I could use them with multiple dresses. What am I going to choose to reinvent myself as, now that I have successfully worn out my last persona? Classy lady? Vintage vixen? Practical Patty?

To heel or not to heel- that is the real question.  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Wedding Attire Dilemma

Oh, friends. I adore a good wedding. So good for the heart and the soul. I love seeing my guy all suited up, holding my hand and charming the friends of mine he has yet to meet. I love listening to the ceremony-silently recommitting in my mind all the reasons I will never, ever give up on this marriage of mine. I love seeing my guy friends grovel into melty mush as their gorgeous ladies come down the aisle. I love the non-traditional weddings with their very realness. I love it all.

But I do NOT love figuring out what to wear for a wedding.

When I was a few years younger, this decision was very easy. I had two go-to dresses (both of which I still own, and both of which fit with some spanx and some oh-my-god-please-cooperate-thighs-its-just-because-I-workout-oh-wait-no-I-have-big-fat-legs-because-they-like-to-chill-on-the-couch-under-an-arm-holding-a-beer) and I attended around two weddings a year-one with family, and one with friends, so life was grand. Now, notsomuch.

This year we have five before the end of the year. Next year, we know of two for sure already. Many of these weddings have a few friends that overlap, so my dress rotation options are limited. I have more dresses now, but I waffle often over which ones I want to wear. I sort of view dresses as the grownup equivalent of high school dances. You get to wear a little more makeup, do something super sweet with your hair, spend the night bopping around the dance floor and hopefully sneaking kisses with your date, and you probably end up with one friend puking. However, some of my friends have had weddings with little kids around. Some are bringing their little kids. Thus, the full fledged cocktail dress of my early 20s is suddenly seeming a little less appropriate.

Case in point: I have a gorgeous, square neck, tulip skirt red dress with pockets that I adore that I bought for a Kev holiday party a few years ago. I love this dress, and people, believe me when I say I look hoooooooooot in it. I wish I had a pic to show you, but I don't. I desperately want to wear it to an adults only wedding next weekend where the reception is at Gibson's downtown. But red? wedding? too much? Too va-va-voom? Probably..... sigh

Then there is the wedding in three weeks. Kev is standing up. The bride has lots of little nephews, nieces and friends with kids who will be attending. Thus, less cocktail-y. Less glam. More family fun, at least to start the evening. Hot red dress....definitely not. But I still want to look good and remind that boy of mine why he locked this down. What to do? How to walk the line?

Ladies in the crowd, how do you decide what kind of dress to wear to a wedding? Yipes.

Friday, September 7, 2012


Um...so...yeah...another month went by with no blogging. A month full of time with friends, professional development opportunities, a trip to Vegas with the Gas crowd, and all the general craziness of starting a new school year. Add to that two malicious kittens who are angry that I am back at school and peeing accordingly, two new students who are very high-needs and moved in a week after school started, and a generally ginormous caseload, and I feel like this is the first time I've sat down in a month - let alone to blog. Then, I got super stuck in my head about what to write.

The perfect topic came to me this morning, however, while I was driving to work in Focus Pocus, listening to my very favorite morning radio show. Eric and Kathy are hosting a radioathon for a big children's hospital in Chicago, and along with that, they were broadcasting stories of families with sick children. One story in particular really touched my soul. In it, a woman and her husband discussed the life, and death, of their four year old daughter. They said a lot of really moving things, but mostly they talked about how thankful they were. To take their daughter home on what they thought would be the last night of her life, only to have three months with them where they focused on being happy. "We knew we had the rest of our lives to grieve," said the woman, " but we wanted to focus that moment in being happy, and thankful that we had her." Now, the couple says they still feel they are parents to their daughter by giving back to the hospital and throwing a giant New Years' Eve party there every year. So awesome. But I digress.

This past month, I've been feeling some anxiety. Anxiety over watching my grandfather slow down. Anxiety over managing overwhelming situations at work. Anxiety over worrying about my students on the weekends. Anxiety about my flaring RA. Anxiety over our finances. Gack. So I'm calling today as a time-out day, and I'm going to really try to be thankful instead. To slow down. To re-set the dial and get back to what really matters. I need to zoom out, and see the big picture. So, before this post gets any longer, here are a few of my many thankfuls (in no particular order):

  • A job that challenges me and inspires me
  • Students that make me think
  • Having real, strong, enduring relationships with both my grandmas and my grandpa that continue to today
  • Kevin- the string to my flyaway kite
  • a family that I get closer to as we get older- not the opposite
  • a hilarious host of inlaws- especially the Vegas crew and B & B. Love them all.
  • two cats that are so happy to have me home with them that they flip out when I leave (I thought only dogs did that?)
  • more than I need. In food, in possessions, in money. How many people can say that?
  • the opportunity to travel- so important. Points of view have been forever altered
  • the ability to read and write in not one but TWO languages
  • my faith- even when I question it.
  • a body that I can keep healthy(...ier)
  • Passions for reading, writing, health, cooking, photography, communication 
  • friends, friends, friends near and far who enrich my life
What are you thankful for?
Should this be a weekly/monthly update?
Is anyone even still reading this thing?