Thursday, December 4, 2008


Hello my name is Sarah and I can never find boots that fit.

Thanks to a magical combination of genetics and lifelong activity I have enormous, muscley calves and a healthy cankle situation.

I've tried them all... J.Crew, Fitzwell, Naturalizer - you name the special boot and I've at least ordered it once (if not twice) and returned it.

I had one magical pair from Payless c. 1999 - but they look straight outta the wardrobe of Friends when Monica was making mousse out of Mocolate.

I have another pair that could use a stretch and another that's too stretchy and falls down when I walk 10 feet at a good clip.

This summer I discovered Duo Boots - a company out of the UK that offers boots that have various size and shaft combinations (tee hee - I could use that same phrase in such a different context, but it's just too easy).

Anyhoo - I'm happy to report that my calf size is somewhere in the middle (I blame my Brit ancestry for the situation now) and I have my choice of all available options.

At the time, the pound to dollar was somewhere around 1.83 and I wasn't about to pay $300 for boots that are worth 120 pounds... so I waited and watched.
And watched.
And waited.

Today it was 1.46 and I went for it - it may go lower (and if it does go to 1.25 I will be getting another pair).

Behold, the magical boot... being whisked my way across the ocean blue to be worn with skirts and dresses all winter long.


Next up... the Metz.. or maybe the Potenza... or the Samara...?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

10 Dimensional Hypermaze of Doom

So I got my wallet stolen 2 weeks ago.

From my office.

It appeared to be missing at 4:35 pm on a Friday - before I was due for a weekend that included a date, an out-of-town funeral and general unable-to-take-care-of-business Sunday-ness.
Of course the phone number to report a lost or stolen card is on the back of the card so I ran through the snow to the bank across the street - that closed at 4:30.
I banged on the window like some lame modern rendition of "The Graduate" until the teller came to the door and told me that the number I needed was ON THE BACK OF THE CARD.

*Blank stare*

She had her own card on her and gave me the number with a concerned looking manager watching from the lobby.

Card cancelled - requested a new one.

Done and done.

Weekend happens, followed by shortened holiday week and deadlines and Thanksgiving.

I got to the BMV on Black Friday - a good week after losing my wallet.
No line and smug that I was going to be able to accomplish this before meeting friends, I stepped up with my passport, birth certificate and social security card.


"We're sorry, but there's a hold on your license in Arizona."

"Wait... What?"

"You don't need to fill that out - here's the number, you need to clear this up before you can replace you license. NEXT!"

So I called the number and learned that there was an allegedly unpaid speeding ticket outstanding.

Now, I lived in Arizona TEN YEARS AGO.
Ten years is three years longer than you are required to keep records and last year at Christmas, I systematically shredded everything left from my life in the desert.

So they gave me my "complaint number" and the phone number for Mesa's courts - closed, by the way, on Black Friday.

There was both an automated phone and online service, but they didn't give me the date, and you need the date to get information - so I called back... again. (September 27, 1998, if you're interested).

I called the courts yesterday evening and sat on hold listening to the worst possible holiday muzak interspersed with static - and I began to wonder if this was some preliminary psychological torture meant to cause anxiety and lower resistance levels.

So I hung up and made a call...

To my mother - I directed her to files in my old room with what was left of my shredder-happy holidays.

This turned up an envelope with slightly illegible chicken scratch suggesting I sent a money order on October 11, 1998 for $97 to the City of Mesa (TA-DA!) - but chicken scratch is not evidence... so she also gave me the name of my insurance agent when I was out there.

She got a call.

She was going to contact their home office and go through micro-film archives - because, in Arizona, if you don't pay your ticket, you get your license suspended and they flag your insurance.

I sent an email to a cop friend about what to do.
I called a lawyer friend about next steps.

My ducks in a goddamned row.

So today I called Mesa - turns out I it went to a judge in 2006 and they dismissed it.
I owe nothing and they will be sending me an "abstract" that I need to take to the Ohio BMV.

So I called the Ohio BMV to see what's what.
Questions like - Is my license suspended? Will I have to retake the driving test? How much money will this cost me? all needed to be answered.

The woman I spoke with told me (in brusque BMV manner) that Arizona has not cleared me from the PDPS (Problem Driver Pointer System - heh) and that she had no idea what an "abstract" is and how it was going to help me.


I'm so happy I don't owe any money, I'm really glad my license is not suspended, and I'm beyond thrilled this came up now instead of later but I can't figure out exactly what it is I'm supposed to be clearing up. Nothing needs to be paid - or signed - so I'm still not entirely sure what the problem is.

Listen, I've lived at the same address for the past 9 years - and the address on my license 10 years ago was my parents' - which hasn't changed in over 30 years. AND my last name is so freaking weird and singular that one half-hearted Google search finds me in less time than it takes to sneeze.

Was anyone going to tell me about this mess?


So tomorrow I'll call Mesa AGAIN and listen to the torture music for 20 minutes and then ask them to please, please, please remove me from the PDPS and let me get on with my little life far far away from the soulless expanses of Mesa, Arizona.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Curse of the magpie

I steal things.

A turn of phrase, a scarf knot, a haircut, a color combination for a knitted project.

I put them together in my own way, but I'm simply a thieving, stealing, collecting magpie.

I used to feel bad about it and then a designer I worked for told me this...

"Good artists borrow, but great artists steal."

I learned the strength of visual cues and came to love the stories they could tell.

Switch gears to art-making. When it comes to art, I have very little profundity to share. I have ideas and concepts - I like to find elaborate metaphors for situations - but as for earth-shattering artistic concepts...

So when I make something, it's often variation on theme - or an outright copy.
And this troubles me.
And it troubles me that it troubles me.

In music, the variation on a theme is it's own legitimate work:
Vaughn William's Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis; or
Brahm's Variation on a Theme by Paganini.

Even in art, there are variations on canonical images.
The Spinario, The Annunciation or the Three Graces (second link is NSFW).

But for some reason, I have difficulty gracefully accepting compliments when I make something that is based on something else. There's this deeply seeded feeling that a copy can be made by anyone and it's only the original that has any worth.

Of course, in the process of creating this post, I see how silly that is - new ideas come from revisiting old ones. One artist posed the Graces based on something he read in a story, and that pose became the anchor of all other works that reference them.
What if a different pose was chosen?

You stand on the shoulders of those who went before - keep the strengths and find opportunities to change the elements where you can: color, medium, size.

It's a struggle for me to accept that even unoriginal is original - but in the meantime, this magpie will keep gathering beautiful, meaningful bits that together create a totally original nest.