Wikipedia Von And The Case Of The Exploding Shoes

So this happened this past weekend:

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They just gave up.

And what was so weird about it was, I put no pressure or heat on the frames. As casually as any of you lenswearers would slide a pair of glasses onto your face, that’s how much pressure I applied, and, PLACK!! They just…fell apart.

But the event made me remember another inexplicable demise of something very necessary at a most inconvenient time:

[Cue Law & Order SVU’s dun dun dun!]

It was Memorial Day Weekend, 2012, and I was in Washington, D.C. to attend my sorority daughter’s wedding. I hadn’t seen my daughter or her chapter sisters since 2008, and hadn’t done anything sorority-related since, so this was going to be a reacquiantance/presentation moment for me. Gotta look good for the sorors!

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The Crowd Pleasers! 2003 – 2012. Rest in pieces.

So in my arsenal of outfits I included a pair of pumps I’d had since 2003, worn on very few occasions but they were crowd pleasers: black stiletto open toed pumps with a delicate ankle band, trimmed in gold with colorful, gilded flowers dotting the sides and back. Sooooooooper cuuuuuuuute.

I arrived at the Crystal City hotel midday, and attempted to contact my daughter but of course, day before the big event, she’s not going to be available to entertain me. I knew my granddaughter was standing in her wedding party, who I had yet to meet, but also not available. The only other sister I knew from our time at Vanderbilt University was also in the wedding party and likely unavailable.

Sucked hard for me, because D.C. ranks high in Cities I Like To Rawk My Balls Off In. So fine, no one around, not gonna bar hop alone in downtown D.C. (I’m crazy, but not THAT crazy), so I opted to curl up in the middle of my bed. I believe Die Hard was just about to start on one of the cable channels.

A text message bleeps my phone: where u at auntie?

Ohh snap. My niece! I figured since she’s part of the wedding party, she’d be too tired to hang out. But I had forgotten: she’s MY niece. Hits me with her room number.

My text back: Be there in 15.

She greets me at her door and we close the four-year gap in our lives with a big hug. I meet the other sisters in town for the wedding, not in the party, and finally, my grandbaby, proving she’s related to me, without question down to hang out for the night. After small talk we decide to bar hop with some other wedding attendees more familiar with the local haunts. I went back to my room, switched into Night Mode with the Crowd Pleasers on my feet, and we went our merry way via taxi to a segment of P Street where the other people were going to meet us at.

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Ready to rawk out D.C.

The gist of the evening: bar, drink, other bar, drink, club, flirt, drink, other club, dance. And again, we’re along P Street, not venturing any more than two blocks to visit venues. But while we’re at the last club, I feel a bit of a hesitation on the bottom of one high heel. It looks as if the sole was pulling away. I discount it as latent effect from the friction of dancing and keep winding my waist.

Last call at the bar, then city ordinance kicks us out, and we’re on the streets of D.C. loitering with other club bunnies. I am ANCIENT compared to these spry twentysomethings, so while they’re harangued by every other dude exiting the nightclubs, I stride over towards a brownstone intending to rest my weary body on a stoop. That’s when I hear STTTTTRRRRIIIIPPPPP! The entire bottom of my shoe pulls off! One of the ladies pauses her sorority strolling along P Street to assist me, by ripping the rest of it off. Then, because she thinks in the macro sense, she relieves my other sole, so that I can walk evenly on the residuals. That sister is going to run a nation one day, mark my words.

But then it was painfully obvious why shoes have soles in the first place, and any attempt to walk along the wide, cobbled sidewalks that are uniquely D.C. was causing me duress. Finally, a fleet of flying taxis and I spot The Red One, the red taxis will run you to Alexandria and Crystal City expressly. I clop clop clop from the brownstone towards the taxi, and that’s when I hear, “You are looking mighty fine this evening, Miss Lady.”

I stop my enflamed feet, stagger to balance on these Borgia-esque torture devices and plant my hands on my hips. “Yeah? Well I’m not feeling mighty fine.” Then I call over to my niece, “I’m gettin’ in this cab. Ya’ll comin’ or what?” I pay the gentleman caller no heed and continue forward, for as I continue to walk on these threadbare devices, they’re just falling apart. I’m feeling the sides of the shoes flap away, the ankle band now a clumsy means of keeping a semblance of shoe attached. Once in the cab, the shoes disintegrated.

Never in my life had I done the Walk Home From The Club With No Shoes On thing, but I had no choice.

But it gets better folks.

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Lovely wedding. Horrible shoes.

Next day, Wedding Day. I had bought a new pair of shoes to compliment the cobalt blue dress to compliment my daughter’s wedding colors. The entire time at the church, lovely. The entire time at the reception, lovely. It wasn’t until we went to the vodka bar along DuPont Circle that my shoes decide to fall apart. I’m beside myself. The Crowd Pleasers, fine, we’ll chalk it up to expired warranty. But I literally JUST BOUGHT THESE A WEEK PRIOR!

Mystery. Complete mystery.

Studying Humans in Nashville, Tennessee

Original Post Date March 20, 2013 at 09:25 PM

This blog shares social experimentation techniques that can help an author hone a more authentic storyline towards potential readers. No probes or electrodes necessary.

Last Wednesday I left St. Petersburg for a road trip to Nashville, Tennessee. I hadn’t left St. Pete since May 2012. Leaving the Treehouse, the name of my rented estate nestled amongst tall trees overlooking a lake, was easy as my writing partner shifted into doggie sitter. What gave my heart staggering palpitations was knowing my edited manuscript was sitting in a wooden cupboard. Not that Marie is a pyromaniac but I was worried about losing my editor’s notes. Extremist, yes, I know.

This trip was arranged by my talented business partner. She and another woman, a gifted singer, were attending a conference at the Grand Ole Opry Gaylord Hotel for their day job. I, like tick bird to a rhino’s hide, eagerly tagged along.

I took the first shift, oh dark thirty to noon. It was no coincidence that the Universe selected “Holiday in Cambodia” by the Dead Kennedys as my launch music out of the parking lot. The sleepy ladies bemoaned my punk love, but what they didn’t know is how significant this particular song is to Book One. I was listening to this song as I wrote a very crucial fight scenario. I felt the Universe wanted me to keep my manuscript in my field of consciousness even though I was driving.

I internalized the process of revision when I realized, hello, why not ask people what they find interesting? What do they read? What attracts them to a certain book or movie? It’s focus group time! Time to put my MS to use.

And so while my Nashville cohorts reinforced their product commitments, I made certain to small talk, mingle and yes, even eavesdrop on people.

Friday I spent the day at Vanderbilt University with young and progressive people. Not only did I get good feedback on what the kids are into these days, but they’re willing to help host an event on campus to promote Book One! Awesome sauce.

Good feedback came from individuals that reflected some of my characters. One gentleman I chatted up Saturday night was ex-military and very technically minded. Some concepts sparked intrigue while others he glazed over indifferently. Reading faces is a helpful tool in determining what works and what doesn’t.

Finally, I employed an open questioning technique on the ride home to experience how my road trip buddies respond. What I wanted to garner was what these women valued, what was ethical to them and what disgusted them. My protagonist is not a decent person but I have no doubt she’ll be likeable. So if I know what soft spots to push on actual people, I can have my character do that in her world.

I did all of this to keep the interactions in Book One as authentic as possible. I did not tell anyone that I was deliberately studying their reactions. It would’ve tainted the study. Thank you for participating in my social experiment road trip buddies and Nashville! Now to get back to work.