Because You Can't Wear Platforms in the Peace Corps

my life illustrated by stories of shoes

Shoe Sunday January 5, 2011

Filed under: clubs,fashion,Life — Geri Gordon Miller @ 4:29 pm
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It started at Thanksgiving. Everyone I encountered was talking about Black Friday; where the deals were, what they wanted, what time they were getting up to get them. I had no desire to be at Walmart when the doors opened, with the shoppers who camped out for three days prior. However, I was visiting my sisters in Seattle, when Jane suggested Target at four am. I decided to do it at least once in my life.

Snow was on the ground, and  it was raining mixed with a bit of sleet and very cold. Nothing could stop us, we were up to have an adventure.

I suddenly was a little bit excited. There seemed to be a palpable energy swirling in the air. We got to the parking lot which was unbelievably packed and waited for a space to open up. Jane spotted two lone people running to their car and laid on the gas, screeching as we pulled up to guarantee the space. We ran towards the door more to get out of the rain than to grab the advertised deals.

“Jane, hey!” Seriously, my sister ran into someone she knew shopping at four in the morning at Target. Ridiculous. It was hard to meander throughout the store like I usually enjoy, because there were stantions around the entire perimeter …to keep the animals at bay. I actually saw a woman hovering over bins with gloves for one dollar next to her already overflowing cart, while her husband manned the second dolly, I kid you not, piled high with  two  flat screen TV’s, four boxes of peripherals and a multitude of games.When an employee walked buy pushing a gurney with new games, the man jumped into the aisle and asked him if he could take four more boxes off the haul.

It was getting so hot, I slowing started peeling off the layers as waves of dizziness overtook me. I was beginning to not feel so well, but soldiered on to videogames, as I wanted to get the nephews a few that were on sale for insanely cheap prices. Surprise! There were none left. The bins that normally held hundreds of titles were sold out. Completely.

We agreed to make our way to the checkout line, following the arrows placed on the floors  like the yellow brick road. That was fun. We kept walking and walking until we realized we had traipsed the perimeter of the entire store. That’s right, the line was around the store. Jane asked a boisterous couple how long they had been waiting. Over an hour, and they seemed to be only at the half-way mark. There was no way either one of us was going to wait in line for two hours, if we were lucky, for slippers, notebooks and a couple of board games.

It was disappointing, if only because this was supposed to be a fun adventure and we felt a bit deflated. We drove by a few other astonishingly crowded stores, and settled on JoAnn Fabrics for some craft items. How crowded could that be?  The answer is, not at all. There were at best, sixteen women in line waiting for the doors to open. Since it was still raining, we waited in the car until the sale commenced. No rushing the doors, no pushing other hunters out of the way, no grabbing items off the shelves. Just a polite, genteel early morning of shopping. When we entered, the greeter asked us to wait a second while she got our scissors. I turned to Jane and naively asked if we had to cut our own fabrics for the sale. Why no! We were one of the first 100 people and got a brand new pair of scissors as a door prize. YAY.

I piled my Martha Christmas and Halloween sale items into the basket and got into line. Dolores greeted us with a huge, red-lipsticked smile and lots of retail cheer. She was fantastic; rhinestone bracelets, a multi-colored Christmas tree pin at her neck, and five gigantic glittery flowers adorning her beehive hairdo. Dolores made this all worthwhile.

Then came the Christmas sales, followed by after Christmas sales, then best deals of the year sales, and now the half-yearly sales spectaculars. I am a shopper chick and even I can’t bear it.

What I really long for is  simply Shoe Sunday.

When I got out of college and moved to New York I got a job in the buying division of Bloomingdale’s. I thought it was going to be a glamourous chic New Yorker career position.  I ended up spending much of my early time there in the basement counting Calvin Klein men’s underwear, while listening to a Lionel Ritchie cassette tape on my Sony Walkman. I was in men’s dress accessories, and though I wasn’t into the product, my co-workers were lovely. Especially the Cornell educated, dark curly-haired buyer. But even he wasn’t cute enough to make me want to stay in that department.

I finally got transferred to Young East Sider, where I reveled in Sonya Rykiel, Norma Kamali, Kenzo, and Michele Lamy. I loved the department, though my Long Island raised, obnoxious, childish, egotistic buyer left much to be desired. This was around the time that Bloomingdale’s decided to open on Sunday’s. Every assistant in the buying division was required to work at least one Sunday a month. To avoid mutiny, they gave you fifty extra dollars in your paycheck and a fifty- dollar gift certificate. Keep in mind I was only making 14,000 a year!

Most people didn’t want to work on Sundays, as they commuted to Jersey or just had better things to do. I on the other hand, was happy to pick up shifts because I decided since it was technically “free” money I hadn’t counted on,  the funds would be earmarked for shoes. I also got a hefty thirty percent off, so if I picked up even one extra Sunday that was two hundred and fifty dollars for shoes. If I picked up two, that was four hundred, and you could get some killer pumps for that at that time. Soon everyone knew they could come to me to pick up their Sunday shifts, which now became known officially as Shoe Sunday.

On one such Shoe Sunday, I acquired the most delectable alligator green Maud Frizon cut out pumps. They were to die for. I wanted to be a fashionable New York chick, so I bought a green wool Tahari dress to match, and cut off my incredibly long beautiful hair to have the short choppy doo everyone was sporting. I went to Bumble & Bumble and had a hairdresser who I now think was a shampoo girl, if she even actually worked there, cut my hair. She decided to perm it, even though I have very wavy hair. I looked like a natty French poodle.  I remember going home and trying to wash it out, not realizing I made it way worse. I wore gel in my hair  all winter long, but still felt like I rocked it because on my feet were the Maud’s.

As my hair grew back so did my personality, and I moved towards funkytown again. I started acting classes at night and on weekends frequented cool clubs. The flat super soft leather pirate boots in a myriad of pastel colors that looked like sand art, partnered with leggings and a washed silk jacket by Kenar took me to the after-work pick up joints, but on weekends it was all about neon and CBGB’s. I was obsessed with Norma Kamali, and I HAD TO HAVE the two tone suede black lace up boots to wear with my hot pink suede “outfit” which included huge fuschia geometric earrings,bright pink lipstick, tons of makeup and splatter paint gloves, which I still own. Not to mention the sneaker boots and black and white wedge heels that I partnered with the exact same fabric pants and gloves, topped with a neon green shiny jacket. I would give anything to have that whole mess now!

I left Bloomingdale’s to waitress and try my hand at acting, but I always missed the excitement of Shoe Sunday.

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Louboutins and Women For Women International March 24, 2010

Filed under: Life,Uncategorized — Geri Gordon Miller @ 9:13 am
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I was just catching up with a girlfriend, and she mentioned she had friends who stayed in her New York City apartment over New Years.

While in the meatpacking district having cocktails one night, they met a fantastic couple who was in town for the holidays as well. They were fun and many cocktails passed before the woman showed them the present her husband had bought her- a pair of beautiful, butter soft Christian Louboutins from the shop around the corner. After fawning over the shoes, the  man asked if they wanted a pair of the shoes as well.

YES, he went and bought them each a pair of $1200 Louboutins, just because he could. What an incredible gesture. For him, it was about seeing the gratitude and pleasure in these girls eyes. This is a gesture that changed their life in some way.

It would’ve changed my life in some way too…

Now, I feel slight guilt saying that, because think of all the good you can do with that money. You can pay your bills, go on a vacation, pay for healthcare:) Or, if you have lots of money you can do all that and buy the Louboutins, Choos and Guiseppe Zanottis, my personal fave. 

You can also sponsor a woman in a war torn country for three years with that.

 I want to share an organization that I think is incredible.  Women For Women International. www. womenforwomen.org

The sobering fact is, many women across the globe don’t have shoes. They have no water, or roofs over their head. They live in war torn countries and are trying to survive. WFW goes into these countires and teaches these women survivors of war how to rebuild their lives. They give them tools and training so they can take care of their families. Feed them. Teach them to be powerful empowered women.

For $27 a month!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Just give up a few grande  lattes and there you go.

I recieved the most beautiful and heart wrenching letter from my sponsor sister in Rwanda after our year together. She thanked me for helping her, and told me for the first time ever, and she was 50, that she had a real home. She built a house for her family, all 12 of them, a small tin structure with the money she made from the skills she acquired from my small donation. She asked for my picture for her wall so she could always remember the person who did that for her.

I could not stop crying, and felt like I should sell all my shoes(and everything I own) and go live there and help every single woman who needs a fighting chance. Being realistic, that’s not happening at this minute, however, I am trying to figure out a way to do something bigger to change the world.

One fighting step at a time. In my Zanotti’s.

 

snakeskin shoes, snakes March 23, 2010

Filed under: Life,Uncategorized — Geri Gordon Miller @ 9:00 am
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I was sitting thinking that no matter what, I had to get back to writing, no matter how tired or distracted I am. I started thinking about a few things I am going to write about, and I can’t get into the entire thought process, but I started thinking about snakeskin shoes.

And then I went back to a story my friend Amie told me…A girl she knew had a pet snake who she loved and slept with in her bed every night(I know, this is just where I should end the story.) One day her snake stopped eating, and wouldn’t sleep in bed with her-he would just stretch out across the living room floor. This went on for a few days, so she took her beloved pet snake to the vet, and he told her it was time to euthanize the snake. He had been stretching out to be long enough to be able to eat her. Eat. Her.

I cannot get the visual out of my head. So I decided to google “snake eating humans,” just to see if the image I envisioned was what it actually looked like.

Don’t do it. It is way worse than I pictured. No sleep for me tonight.

When I lived in New York I used to go to the Bronx Zoo and force myself to go to the snake house. I would get rid of my fears. I would stare them down, and then, when I stopped breathing, I would leave. I can’t even deal with garden snakes.

A few months ago a neighbor knocked on my door and asked if I had lost my pet snake. He found it. Noooooo, not mine, and where exactly did he find it and why did he think it was mine. The orange and green snake had wandered in his yard, which he found out wasn’t poisonous. What a relief. Cut to a week later, and a neighbor two doors down lets me know they found the snake in their basement. For weeks I was afraid to go to the back of my yard. Just the thought of the slithery orange and green reptile  I started sweating and my heart skipped a beat. Eventually he gave it to a reptile rescue, and i am hoping whomever lost it doesn’t have more.

I have an active imagination and I need sleep.

Someone told me a story once about a snake traveling through the septic system, and someone went to go to the bathroom, and looked down and there it was in the toilet bowl. Everytime I go to bathroom I look just to be sure.

About seven years ago my sister traveled through the Amazon. I will never, ever, forget an email I got from her when they got back to civilization and to an internet cafe. I want to say up front, I wonder if we really are related. 

She started the trip in basically a beat up wood dingy, slowing making its way down the Amazon at night, watching the eyes of alligators on the banks of the river watching them. Base camp was deep in the forest, where they were urged to go to the bathroom in pairs because a pregnant jaguar had just ran by. After a pregnant jaguar comes a male to protect her. The next morning was “hunting” for anacondas. As they waded knee-deep in the water where anacondas sleep, Julie asked how they knew they had eaten already. The answer was they just do. Hmmm. While swishing the sticks through the murky water, a swarm of killer bees suddenly appeared. The guide whispered to stay as still as possible, and the bees eventually flew away. When asked what they would do if the bees had tried to attack, the answer was jump under the water and hold your breath. With the supposed sleeping anacondas.


Those are some large, nasty looking , CARNIVOROUS snakes. I would have stayed at camp and taken my chances that I wouldn’t be eaten by a jaguar. No, I would’ve cried until there were no tears left, and demanded that everyone in the group turn around and take me back to modern society. No, I would never, ever, ever, go in a small canoe and travel in the amazon.

 There are just some things in life I don’t need to experience myself.

 

Drugs, Shoes… November 9, 2009

Filed under: fashion,Life,love,Uncategorized — Geri Gordon Miller @ 10:09 pm
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I just spent the day with my friend Darlene from New York who I  hadn’t seen in 18 years. We met waitressing at American Festival Cafe, which was in Rockefeller Center, right on the ice rink.

skating at rockefeller center     dana, geri, darlene bel grayson

There were so many people she remembered that I forgot, like my old roommate Doug,an over the top smoker, who lived with me and a couple other people in an enormous loft for the time; 2 stories with a wrap around balcony across from the Chelsea Hotel. I always say my only regrets so far in life have to do with real estate. That is one apartment I should’ve never given up.

 

The late 80’s in New York were really a moment in time. I had some of the best, most outrageous and wonderful times in my life when I lived there. The fact that I am still friends with many of those people says something. We bonded over alcohol, pot, shopping, sex, and acting  among other things.

 Not only was it a fun time to be in NY, it was much cheaper too. I think that apartment was like $1300. Right now, for $1300 in NYC you can get a 300 sq foot box studio with windows facing an alley. In the Bronx.

At the same time Doug lived with me, so did  Joanne from Wisconsin, who had short dark hair and the biggest, reddest lips I have ever seen. She waitressed with us as well. Joanne used to borrow everything I owned, and somehow never returned anything. I remember I had this cool pair of Kenneth Cole booties, that were black and had big silver buckles on the sides. Joanne swore she put them back in my closet, but I later found out she sold them on the street for a $5 bag of smack. seriously. Smack.  Try to go buy heroin for that cheap now. Or as a trade for a Kenneth Cole pair of shoes-not happening.  Although I never did indulge in drugs like that,  I have no idea how much it should’ve cost, but  $5 seems really cheap.  I guess it’s about supply and demand. Particularly for a drug dealer.
Cut to the mid 90’s, when i met my now ex. When we first spoke, he told me I was going to marry him one day. I told him I wasn’t even going to go on a date with him. How wrong I was. The week he moved in with me, he took me to the legendary once-a-year American Rag sale where he bought me FIVE pairs of shoes. I remember calling my sister and telling her this was the man I was going to marry. Unfortunately, I later found out he was bi-polar and self medicated with crack.  I am pretty sure he sold his shoes for crack. He sold everything he had for crack, including a $2500 Rolex for $250. If he only knew how much some of my shoes cost…

 

Boys are like Shoes November 5, 2009

Filed under: Dating,fashion,Life,love — Geri Gordon Miller @ 8:00 am
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I have a friend who every time she bought a new pair of shoes she would sleep with them. I did that every time I met a new boy.

But that was long ago. 

I recently was at an event and started chatting with a lovely girl who had great shoes on. I come to learn she met her husband on match.com. I am always fascinated by how you find someone of depth on these sites, and what about his profile attracted her to begin with. After conversing for some time, she suggested I shop for a man online the same way I shop for shoes. I pondered that for a few days, and realized that what I usually like in shoes, I like in boys.

I need to be in the mood for a certain type.

Tall, kinda sexy, stylish with an edge, smart yet fun. But occasionally,interchangeable with rugged and rock and roll.

Boys, like shoes, need to be the kind you’d fight to the death for. The kind of shoes you kiss when you first buy and feel lucky to have found them, but then are able to put those shoes in the closet and forget about them, only to rediscover the same fabulous pair at another time, and be just as happy as the day you bought them.

You want them to last a lifetime, but be able to store them for a rainy day. 

gerard_butler_96       NMX0DXJ_mn

 

shoes. an obsession.my story November 4, 2009

Filed under: fashion,Life,love,Uncategorized — Geri Gordon Miller @ 8:40 am
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I have been obsessed with shoes since I was little.11-3-2009_001

I remember every pair of shoes I have ever owned, and the circumstances surrounding each pair. I barely recall events of my childhood unless they are about shoes. Poor Patti Mangan. I wouldn’t let her come to my birthday party if she was going to wear her white go-go boots, because I was wearing my black ones. it was my birthday, and I needed to be the center of attention.

I have loved fashion ever since I can remember. My grandmother Sadie instilled that love of clothing in me. Some of my earliest memories are of her taking me shopping. I think back on going to Jacks Department Store with her and watching her try on clothes…and furs. Mr Reynolds, the furrier (I can’t recall someone’s name I met yesterday, but I remember him) used to give me real mink tails for my Barbies. I was the only girl I knew whose dolls had genuine mink stoles. They also lived in huge mansions with black panthers as sofas, but that’s another story altogether.

When Frye boots were all the rage, my grandmother took me shopping and we bought the coolest pair of “Frye Campus” boots, which have been in my closet up until about two years ago when I handed them over to my sister, you know, as a  as a sisterly bond. Plus, they didn’t fit me anymore.Frye Boots

pink clutch 001I still have the pink, butter-soft Ruth Saltz clutch with the sculpted leather rose she bought me, also at Jack’s for my high school homecoming. I wore it with a black, way too sexy for high school, but I was a virgin so who knew, column dress, that had different colored velvet patches around the neck in different shades of red, pink, and gold, and tied around me Greek style. To top the look, I wore LOTS of eyeshadow, winged Farrah Fawcett hair, and black suede platforms. I was verryyy fashionable. And my date my a football player from a rival school.

Getting back to my youth, I had a pronating foot, so at some point my pediatrition Dr Pewterbaugh,who gave us packets of green colored, licorice flavored pills after every visit, and had the solar system painted on his walls in the waiting room, thought I should get “special” shoes. We had to get them at Newswangers, and whenever we would go to get a new pair, all the salespeople would scatter. I would throw temper tantrums like you have never seen. “I will NOT wear the ugly orthopedic shoes. They are hideous!” Seriously, I was about 6. Even then I knew, shoes make the man, or girl as it were.

I had every new trend that came around: Earth Shoes, Kork Ease, Famolares, Tretorns, Duck Shoes, each a parallel as to where I was in life. The duck shoes were important as I was going off to college, and they did look good with the Fair Isle sweaters and cords…very collegian. But I was still into my platforms, especially my tan Kork Ease with the red roses carved into the wedge and foot strap, and what I really wanted was to be an actress and study in New York.

My father didn’t think that was a real thing people did, and I had to go to a four year college or support myself, which was never going to happen, as he craftily knew. I mean, I worked at Ormonds, the Forever 21 of its day, and spent every dime on clothing. Admittedly, he did offer up FIT, but I didn’t think I had the talent, and clearly lacked the desire.

So, I decided I would go to school and be a journalist. I mean, that is acting, kinda. Plus, I could cover wars and really important things, and that would be my way of showing the disparity in the world, and those jobs are easy to get…right. It seemed like it would be a cinch, and my dad was paying for the experience.

Then, the summer before college started, I got mono, and there was the possibility I may not be able to make first semester, so I was thinking if I couldn’t start with my friends, I needed a Plan B. The Peace Corps. It seemed very adventurous to go to another country and lend a hand, plus, I read in Seventeen magazine , no doubt with Jayne Modean on the cover,about a girl who volunteered and found true love with another like soul somewhere in Africa. Exotic! Romantic!  Daring! Fantastic! I was always interested in exploring other countries, I would be doing something noble, and let’s face it, I would be a world away from my father. We just didn’t see eye to eye. On anything. Yes, that was the answer. It didn’t matter that my strict father made the edict that I had to go to school somewhere within 3 hours from home so he could check up on me, but I actually thought if I paid my way he would let me go around the world.

But of course, being that I had maybe $100 saved, and, I didn’t even rough it at camp, let alone own a backpack, that wasn’t going to happen. Plus, I wasn’t ready to give up my platforms and the collegian clothes we had bought for a year in khakis and desert boots.