A story about shoes

I, Sharon, am what is known as a Bad Blogger. I fail to blog frequently not because I have nothing to talk about or no interesting things to report or any deeply original thoughts to share. Over the past several weeks I have thought of about fifteen different things to write about and mustered up the energy to actually write none.

So it’s a little embarrassing when my dear boyfriend, who has taken to blogging with alarming gusto, diligently takes photos, writes blog posts, rattles off a list of upcoming post subjects in conversation, and—get this—has enough posts prepared to set several to auto-publish so that they appear spaced evenly throughout the week. This will not do, boyfriend. I can blog too.

So without further ado—today we went to the Alameda Point Antiques Faire, which occurs only once a month and is big enough to convince you that one could very plausibly repopulate the earth with antique buffs and hipsters. The website boasts that there are 800 sellers at the fair(e), but I’m fairly sure I entered a wormhole into a universe of infinite booths, because I found myself standing in the middle of the grounds and seeing what looked like miles of tents in every direction. We spent more than four hours there and barely saw half of what was there.

For two antique-buying greenhorns, Bryce and I did exceedingly well. I won’t spoil his fun by reporting what he got (as you might expect, he’s got a number of blog posts planned over this) and I’m proud enough of my little haul to spread it out over several posts.

So! If you ever find yourself at one of these antique shindigs, here’s a tip—you will get great deals at the end, when all the sellers are packing up and are tired and want to get rid of their stuff to the point that you could probably buy George Washington’s teeth for two cents. As sellers loaded their costume jewelry and typewriters and mahogany dressers into trailers, we somehow ended up in a little tent full of shoes. It kind of felt like this:

I’d been looking at vintage shoes and struck out all day. Maybe I have stupid taste, but I’m not a fan of the pointy-toed d’Orsay thing that all vintage shoes seem to have. But this tent—it was magical. Shelves of shoes of all different styles, many of designers I’d actually heard of. I made a beeline for one shelf and saw one thing: a pair of gray suede pumps with solid wooden heels. I’ve been wanting a pair of gray suede heels forever.

I couldn’t tell, just looking at them, what size they were supposed to be. My shoe buying experiences are somewhat limited to 1) filtering online selections by size and 2) spotting, in budget-fashion-ish stores (Ross, TJ Maxx, et. al) lonely left shoes plastered with giant “6.5” stickers wedged between a half-empty Burger King cup and a misplaced sneaker.

The tent owner, a kindly gentleman, came over. “They’re organized by size,” he said, gesturing proudly to the shelves.

“Where are the six-and-a-halves?” I asked, hopinghopinghoping and picking up the gray suede pumps. The soles bore Cole Haan’s logo.

“Well, these are the size sixes,” he said—my heart fell a smidge—”but a girl tried that pair earlier and said they ran big”—yes!—”so they’ll probably fit you if you’re a six and a half.” Thank you, fellow tiny-footed girl!

(Just for the record—yes, despite being reasonably tall, I have little feet, and sometimes even 6.5 shoes are too big for me.)

I tore off my sandals and stuck my foot in. The angels sang. I slipped the other shoe on and hopped around on the pavement. The four-inch heels felt like nothing. Guys, this is what happiness feels like.

“Looks great. She could be a foot model,” Shoe Gentleman said to Bryce.

Flattery aside, I knew the pattern. Girl finds shoes, shoes are perfect, shoes are expensive, girl leaves shoes, girl is sad, roll credits. “How much are they?” I asked Shoe Gentleman.

“Well…I was asking $35 for them, but since I’m closing up I’ll sell them for $30.”

“Could I have them for $25?” I asked tremulously. Yes, this is how I haggle. Yes, I am bad at haggling.

I could see Shoe Gentleman’s brain whirring as he quietly weighed the situation. Whir, buzz, clank.

“Yeah,” he said reluctantly. I knew not to push it. If I were my mom, I could probably have bargained my way down to nothing, but hey, I should support the local economy. I kept my face impassive as I dug around for my cash, but inside I looked like this:

Shoes! Shoes! Shoes! I got beautiful shoes! HAPPINESS!

As soon as I returned to the land of internet, I did some frantic Googling and discovered three things:

1. The shoes are Cole Haan “Josephine” pumps in Ironstone,
2. A pair in size 9.5 are going on eBay for $190, and
3. The original retail price, according to Neiman Marcus, is $248.

Boo-yah! I win.

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How I almost set my apartment on fire

I feel ever-so-slightly iffy about posting this because as I still live in said apartment, blogging about this is essentially an admission of guilt if Housing sees this. So let’s hope this blog post doesn’t make me homeless.

Anyway. This happened a couple weeks ago; I was getting mysterious bug bites on my legs and I was sick of it. I’d heard that burning candles can keep bugs away (though I looked it up on the internet after the fact and found that non-citronella candles are actually ineffective. Whoops) so I bought a 99-cent pack of tealights at Target and a small glass tealight holder. Lit candles and open flames are banned in my on-campus apartment, but that’s a stupid rule, right? It wasn’t like I was going to start a fire or anything.

I proceeded to burn the little tealights in the evening, feeling rebellious and sophisticated. One night, as my little tealight burned, I decided to tidy up my room. As I threw away scraps of paper and such, I thought that it would be fun, for no reason, to burn little bits of them in the flame.

I know. This is where you’re banging your head on the desk going “Sharon. You’re such an idiot.”

The thing is paper actually burns a lot slower than you’d think. I’d tear off a small corner of paper, set the tip of it in the flame, and watch as the fire caught, slowly ate through a bit of paper, and die out before it had even made it an inch up the scrap.

So it went like this, me cleaning, occasionally lighting a scrap of paper, and then throwing it away.

Soon I found the large bundle of recycled paper that my glass tealight holder had come in. I duly ripped off a piece and touched the tip of it to my little candle.

It went up in flames faster than I could blink.

I quickly tried to blow out the little fire quickly approaching my fingertips, but the thing only burned more. I could feel the heat searing my fingers, so I dropped it.

On the pile of the rest of the very flammable recycled paper.

There’s no calm way to say what happened next.


So I had this huge inferno of paper blazing on my desk. I did the only thing that made sense: I grabbed that fireball with my bare hands and ran to the bathroom, thinking that I’d throw the burning mess in the toilet, where it couldn’t burn anything else and the water would put it out and ow my hands hurt ow ow ow.

Here’s the thing. Paper on fire is still paper. And if you, in elementary school, ever folded up a paper note and tried to throw it to your friend across the aisle only to have the paper flutter impotently into the very visible middle of the aisle, then you too have learned the hard way that throwing paper is a bad idea.

So kids, throwing paper is a bad idea.

Because as soon as I saw the toilet, I pitched that awful burning fiasco in my hands towards it. And instead of landing safely in the toilet bowl like I’d hoped, the blazing inferno showed that it was still capable of having air resistance, and landed on the floor right in front of the toilet, where it kept burning.

OhgodohgodI’mgonnaburndownthewholeapartmentmylifeisover, I thought, running to the sink and filling my toothbrush cup with water.

That’s when two things happened: the paper ball of hell magically burned itself out, and the fire alarm went off, causing my roommate to run out saying, “Sharon, what happened?”

I quickly stomped on a smoldering corner of paper. “Uh, I lit a candle,” I offered lamely.

“I didn’t know a candle could cause that much smoke!” my roommate exclaimed, fanning at the smoke alarm.

“Well…I kind of set something else on fire,” I admitted, eyeing the scorch marks on the outside of the toilet, and hoping they’d come off.

For a week afterwards, our bathroom smelled like smoke, there was ash on the floor no matter how much I tried to scoop it up, and our toilet had some characteristic scorch marks which have thankfully come off by now.

I’ve also promised my roommate (who I later told the whole story in a fit of penitence) that I’m not going to burn candles anymore.

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In which I supposedly bought $500 of candy

On the airplane I was given a customs declaration form to fill out and present to officials when I landed in San Francisco. When I got to the bottom and it asked me the total value of the items I was bringing back, I blanked. I hadn’t bothered to itemize the things I’d bought to bring back to America, and I wasn’t sure how much they cost altogether. I decided to put “$500” as an arbitrary but safe, all-encompassing number.

When I got to the customs official, he looked at my form.

“Austria, huh?” he said, glancing at what I’d filled out.

“What were you doing there?”
“Studying abroad.”
“Cool. What did you study, European history?”
“German and music. I’m a pianist.”
“Cool. $500 worth of stuff, huh?”
“What did you bring back?”
At this point I completely could not remember what I possibly could have spent a hypothetical $500 on. The first thing I could think of was the pile of Mozartkugeln in my suitcase.
“Yeah…and souvenirs and stuff.”
“Okay…here you go,” he said, handing my customs form back to me.
I took my form and headed to baggage claims, thinking that to the customs official, I was going to be known as That Girl Who Went to Austria and Came Back With $500 Worth of Candy.
Thinking back, the majority of that $500 is actually probably sheet music.

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