Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Blues in My Bones

I am into the blues. This is rarely true of people my age, at least in this area. Most people under 30 that I hear this from are hipster wannabes who say it because it sounds cool, but in my case it's a bred-from-birth genuine love. I was raised on the blues by my father, a blues singer, and mother, an avid blues fan. As kids, my sister and I were taken to blues festivals where we danced on hillsides to performances by the legend of those we'd only later realize we were lucky to get a glimpse of. I've seen Buddy Guy and BB King and a whole lot of other people you've never even heard of.

My stepfather is a guitar player for a local blues outfit called Big Mike and the Perpetrators. Last night, they played at a local benefit concert and, having nothing better to do and having been a delinquent fan of late, I went. It was so great see so many locals greats in one place, many of whom have known me since tweendom and were shocked to see I'm a real-live, grown-up, almost-married lady. I discovered that, if it's possible, I think I love the blues more now than I ever have. I'm a better dancer now, so it's more fun to get out on the floor and shake a tailfeather during the faster numbers. I had forgotten what a comfortable place the dance floor at a blues show is. Unlike the rock fans I'm used to seeing at Brooklyn clubs where my fiance's band plays, blues fans are unabashed about dancing; they don't care how they look, they have got to move, they don't have a choice. These are my people and on the dance floor with them is where I belong.

I realized I have taken the blues for granted. Maybe that's appropriate. It's the blues, it's used it, it will be there for you when you come running back after a long time away. In my life, it's always been around, but in the real world, all the local bands have trouble getting gigs and finding places to let them play such great music. Anyone who is fortunate enough to see a local live blues band play should appreciate what a great show they are getting for the small price of a cover charge. These guys don't play for the money (what a joke!), they play for the love of it and that's what makes them great.

So the next time you see live local blues advertised and think "That sounds cool. I should go to that," and then forget about it, don't. Make a note. Put it on your calendar. Invite some friends to come out and do something different for a change. Tell your favorite local haunts you want to see a blues night fit into their calendar. You and they will be amazed at the crowd it draws. These guys deserve to play great music and you deserve to enjoy it.

Some great local North NJ blues bands:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Is-Shoe

(Bad puns are my life. Deal with it.)

It all started with a picture in a magazine. All girls, when they get engaged, are "supposed to" start looking through endless pages of wedding magazines to draw inspiration for their own wedding, so I did. One of the few ideas I found to steal was a unique spin on "Something Blue." The picture showed a model pulling up the hem of her poufy white gown to reveal electric blue shoes. How cool. It was one of the first things I decided about the wedding.

I didn't really think about it for a while after that. As I went gown shopping, I brought along a trusty pair of black slingbacks with 3" heels that are about as high as I'm comfortable going. I'm normally a flats-and-sneakers girl. I love pretty high heels, but my lifestyle doesn't demand them and I tend to catch a lot of flak from people who think they're unnecessarily uncomfortable when I wear them without occasion, so I own few and I mostly leave them in the closet. Flats and sneakers are more comfortable anyway and can be just as cute. A side effect, however, is that I am not a High Heels Girl.

Which would be fine, providing I hadn't found the deal of a CENTURY on a pair of shoes I never thought would ever find their way into my closet: Manolo Blahniks.

I'm a Sex and the City fan and I ascribe a certain reverence and awe for the designers that were constantly mentioned on that show. So imagine my surprise when I absent-mindedly clicked on a banner ad on a fashion site I frequent and discovered the shoes Carrie wore in her wedding to Mr. Big. In my size. At HALF PRICE. I *agonized* over these shoes. Such a deal! So pretty! Nicer than anything I've ever owned! But so much higher than I'm used to! And still a lot of money for shoes I'm unsure about! And I never spend that kind of money on some silly thing I just want!

In the end it came down to this: Fuck it. You only get one wedding.

I clicked through the order process, apprehensive the whole time, since the site seemed like it could be a little fly-by-night. It had all the right secure transaction logos and I REALLY wanted these shoes. I never got a shipping notice and spent about 6 nervous weeks fearing I'd been scammed and not only was I not getting the shoes but I was also going to have my identity stolen. But then! Victory! One day I came home from work to find a battered shipping box from China* and, inside, the most beautiful shoes ever created by man.

*I realize the shipping origin and the price probably means they are knockoffs, but I live in blissful ignorance. Don't spoil it.

And then the test: trying them on. I had tried in vain to try on a pair in a department store to make sure to order the correct size, but alas, ritzy department stores that carry designer shoes don't carry them in sizes to fit my giant clodhoppers. Natch. (Thanks, Dad.) I slipped them on very carefully in my living room and...OUCH. Determined to give it a go, I took a few tentative steps around the living room. Ow. Ow. OW. Defeated, I slipped them off and carefully repacked them until I could decide what to do: stick it out in beautiful, painful shoes or give up, sell them on eBay and replace them with something more practical.

I modeled them for my sister, who knows more about shoes than almost anyone I know. She declared that they did fit, that the pain was from my feet not being used to shoes of this caliber. No kidding. These things give me Barbie Foot. But, with practice, I could learn. I had recently bought a similarly high but much cheaper pair of pumps. I could wear them around the house and build up a resistance. And if it didn't work I still have the option to resell the beloved MBs and go to a backup shoe.

Except that when I announced that I wasn't sure I would wear them to the wedding, there was an outcry of opposition, none louder than from those who had seemed to think that this plan was a silly one at the outset. They all want me to wear these shoes. I Had To wear these shoes for all womankind, for every girl who dreams of designer shoes but never had the chance to wear them.

The Home Practice Shoes weren't getting very much use. I'm not on my feet much at home, unless I'm cooking, in which case it seems somewhat dangerous to be wearing unstable, mostly open, 4" stiletto death traps on my feet. I decided I needed Training Heels. A morning spent avoiding work yielded a great deal on a pair of red patent wedge slingbacks, which arrived this weekend and are on my feet as I type. I'm a little wary. The wedge/platform combination means that my heel-toe height difference is not as great as I'd hoped and as I stomp around, I find I walk like a Clydesdale in heels. My hope is that any extended time spent in Not Flats will train my feet to feel that this is the norm and, from there, a leap from 2" to 4" won't seem so great.

Who ever thought so much trouble could come from just a few inches?

That's what she said.

(See above re: bad puns.)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Whither Blog?

Maybe, considering I haven't updated this in almost 6 months, I should call this "Withered Blog." (or "Withering Blog" for all the sarcasm. Rimshot please!)

I've been a fan of blogs since they existed. In college, I wrote a piece about blogging for the campus paper before 'blog' was thought of as a verb, or even before more than half the people in the country had even heard the word. I still read some of those blogs today.

I've also had several of my own blogs. There was a long-lived LiveJournal, a short-lived blogspot page devoted solely to whiny self-pitying posts that my LJ readers were tired of. I created this blog in...I think 2007 and it's been good, but obviously I've been out of touch for a while. And even before that, it was more of a personal blog, a "what I've been up to" blog, for busy people to keep up on my life. But the older I get, the less of my personal life I'm willing to share online. I even started a cooking blog recently, but that's lain dormant for the last three months as I cannot seem to make myself produce writing on one topic consistently (plus I was having trouble putting pictures into the entries, got frustrated, and gave up).

Still, I feel like I need a place online for my voice. Somewhere where I can post things that are longer than a tweet and more lasting than a status update. I want to be like my blogging hero, Sarah, who's site is always interesting, frequently updated, on a range of topics and has a wide appeal. I'm not sure what that's going to end up being. I may just continue to write here and change the format, I may create an entirely new page.

I have stuff to say and I need a place to say it, is what I'm sayin'.