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.

 

Cinderella Set Us Up March 25, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Geri Gordon Miller @ 8:28 am
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I was talking with my friend about Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, the Lesley Ann Warren version; how much I loved it, and  knew when I got married I would have an ermine collared dress.

I didn’t, though I did walk down the aisle to “Ten Minutes Ago.” The tables were covered in tulle and glitter with a large snow globe in the middle, which housed Cinderella and her carriage . Cinderella Barbies festooned the stage, and my dress was Cinderella-like. My cake was awesome. It was different layers with whipped cream icing, and the Prince Charming and Cinderella Barbies  were so heavy the cake ended up tilting. it was fantastic! Loved it. 

 I did not wear glass slippers, but heavy satin Steve Madden platforms for comfort. 

I am pro-feminist, which is such a contradiction to the Cinderella tale. But it is my guilty pleasure, and I like to think it’s more about your dreams coming true. Like The Secret. Which I think is a bogus pile of garbage. I have been talking to David Letterman for years about my illustrious career, and having long conversations with O about my documentary, and, um, they haven’t manifested.

We also played “Impossible” when the bridesmaids and men walked down the aisle. And then the mice turned into horsemen. See dreams DO come true!

Following the ceremony, “The Prince is Having a Ball”  blasted from the speakers as champagne flowed. A psychiatrist officiated, and friends read from The Little Prince, The Owl & The Pussycat, Dr. Seuss, Erma Bombeck and an Apache Wedding Prayer. Instead of carrying flowers, we all carried “bouquets” made of gold wire wound around crystals, which I made on slow bartending nights. What can I say, I’m capricious. 

 I am always told that was one of the most fun weddings, ever. It was on the Warner Hollywood Lot, and there was an abundance of alcohol with  karaoke entertainment. My ex is Korean,and aside from the karaoke stereotype(you couldn’t wrestle the microphone away from he and his sisters. Really)  in Korean tradition, the two families bond during the ceremony with a toast cemented by shots of sake. We had all our friends and family partake instead to cement the union.  My dear friend and couture wedding dress designer Liz, said she doesn’t remember anything after the toast.

My wedding dress was stunning. It had an underneath layer of tiny iridescent sequins that glistened when I moved in a kickpleat and the sleeves.  

    

The dry cleaners thought so too. When I dropped it off, the two South American girls who worked there kept fawning over it, exclaiming how it was the most amazing dress they had ever seen. When one of the girls went to put my info in the computer, she told me it was down, but they would hand write it for me and when I came back in they would give me the computer receipt. Since I had been going there for the past two years, I thought that was fine.

When I went back to retrieve my dress, the dry cleaner didn’t have it. He said I was lying, that I brought in a pantsuit: that’s what the computer said. The two girls had already mysteriously quit and went back to South America. I called the local newscaster at the time who would go after deadbeats for you. I can’t remember his name, but his motto was” I’m XX and I’m in Your Corner!” He was short and stout and balding, but always managed to get the job done. When he got back to me , he said the old owners had sold the business.  I would have to sue the new owners, who would in turn sue the old owners if I wanted anything from them. It would’ve taken longer than my marriage lasted.  

That was an omen regarding the future of my union.

My friend ran into Lesley Ann Warren on Robertson a few years ago and politely told her how she loved her in that telecast, how wonderful she was and how it shaped her childhood. Apparently, Ms Warren was not too happy to only be known as Cinderella. It’s a lot to live up to. Though Julie Andrews seems to be just fine.

I have often thought about the glass slippers, and wondered why the costume designers chose them. I have come to the conclusion that when they are empty and alone, it means you are desolate, but when the foot is fully in them, you are now complete, sated.  Lesson: empty shoe-your life is meaningless, full shoe-your life is overflowing with joy. This is not a good thing, but the imagery is powerful.

Or maybe they just liked the way they looked.

And the Prince galloping up on his white horse, hoisting you on side-saddle, and then carrying you off to your new castle…how could we not have dreams of wanting that.

She was beautiful, fulfilled and happy!  

Chapter 2: Real Life Does Not Work Like That. I’d rather have the horse.

 

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.

 

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…

 

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.