Today I went shoe shopping.

I am not a woman who collects shoes. I do not have a closet jammed full. I have a coupla pairs of nifty sandals, a generic pair of Black Shoes, my trusty Birkenstocks and a pair of steel-toed hiking boots for tromping around after birds. And that is all. (Most the sandals I only possess because of Carlota’s dire influence.)

My tendency to charge out after birds regardless of footgear doesn’t help. Some part of my brain does not believe that shoes can actually be damaged by wading through muck. I regret nothing–I mean, there were blue-winged teals! c’mon! and solitary sandpipers–but man, that’s hard on a nice sandal.

“Mmm,” I thought at some point today. “It’s cold out. I should wear something that isn’t a sandal.”

And there my brain stopped, because I realized that other than the hiking boots–which are sturdy, serviceable, and also look exactly like a pair of sturdy boots that have logged several zillion miles, tromped through mud, gotten soaked, stepped in unmentionable things and been cleaned with the hose–I had nuthin’.

Now, I like the fluffy-sock Birkenstock combo, of course, but occasionally one wishes for something a little less actively funky.

I set out to buy a boot. A fairly low black leather boot with a chunky heel. Yes, the stiletto heels are dead sexy, but casts aren’t, except to a certain miniscule percentage of the population, and any attempt on my part to wear such a heel would result in broken limbs and a rapid education in the relationship between surface area and pressure.

There are approximately ten million shoes in this variety. The majority of them are uncomfortable. Some of them are ugly. Most of them are boring.  The tiny remainder did not come in my size.

Three hours andsix shoe stores later, I had started to see why some women go nuts over shoes. It is so damn hard to find a perfect shoe that it’s like finding a unicorn. If you trip over a unicorn, you do not go “Oh, well, I don’t need a unicorn right now,” you whip out the Virgin-O-Matic 5000 because eventually you WILL need a unicorn and you won’t be able to find one for love or money. Likewise the perfect shoe. I wonder how many perfect boots my eyes have passed over in the last few years? Curses!

(Did Doc Marten go out of business? I’m willing to be goth. I’m most of the way there already, as far as wardrobe is concerned. Why can I find no Doc Martens? Was that just a west coast thing?)

Eventually it becomes a kind of deranged hunt. I am no longer shopping for a pair of shoes, I am a shoe predator, stalking a wily prey beast through the vast consumer jungle, ignoring the lesser members of the herd, the distractions of chattering store clerks, the whooping cackles of the Mall Hyenas. The food court cannot distract me. The mall Santa waiting to be photographed does not stop me, and I will generally bolt in the opposite direction when confronted with mall Santas.* I have attained zanshin, the state of perfect no-thought with which to dispatch the foe. My old iaido sensei would be proud. (Actually he’d stare at me, shake his head slowly, gaze briefly upwards as if praying for strength, and mutter something about how his granddaughter’s the same way, and then probably make a fashion suggestion that would be astonishingly helpful for having come from a straight, elderly veteran.)

At last, success! Hidden behind the knee-length black boots (tempting, sorely tempting, particularly the ones with all the metal rings and straps, they’re like bondage boots, they look positively industrial, but seriously, when would I ever wear them?) I finally found a pair. They were not quite perfect, but they were much more interesting than most of the alternatives, having some decoration and a heel as wide as my fist. They were not terribly cheap, even on sale, but in addition to bras, bacon, towels, sheets and men, life is too short for cheap shoes.

*Look, I don’t care if I’m thirty. Those buggers still scare me.

You guys remember all those times I’ve told you that no ideas are ever wasted?

If you listen to nothing else I say about anything, if you discard all my thoughts on life and death and love and sex and happiness and misery and every other damn thing I go on about at the drop of a hat, for the love of Ganesh, remember that.

I swear it’s true.

And one of these days, hopefully I’ll be able to tell you exactly what prompted this speech, but for now, just…trust me. (Also, have I mentioned my life is surreal? It is. More so than usual.)

In other news, in a desperate effort to free myself from Harvest Moon, I picked up another game. (I had to do it. I hated my wife, my dog, my offspring and my assistant, and I wasn’t too fond of my horse. When you find yourself brooding that your cow is the only one you love, it’s time to hit the game store.) Fortunately I was out at the mall yesterday–one of my cheap bras suffered total structural failure, and I figured it was time to retire it and replace it–and I stopped by Gamestop and picked up the collected Devil May Cry trilogy on the cheap, which I had heard of but never played.

Thoughts:

1. The first one has the controls set up wonky and the first boss is so direly hard I gave up in disgust.

2. Started the second one, said “This is more like it! But…why does a giant squid have a motorcycle?”

3. A woman carrying Victoria’s Secret bags gets astonishingly good service in a game store. I can’t imagine why.

4. No, seriously, where is he keeping all this ammo?

So now I’m alternating between shooting and slicing my way through legions of demonic minions and scribbling down ideas. I think I may actually be working, but it’s getting hard to tell…

Speaking of failures…don’t try to scan copper leaf.

Klimt’s Octopus

The original is for sale, but I can’t do prints of this one–the reproduction failed horribly, and all my skills with Photoshop could not save it. I think copper leaf may simply reflect the light entirely wrong, and it washed out the octopus rather badly.

Oh, well. You win some, you lose some. I’m 3-for-5 on the gold leaf thing…which is probably why I keep hammering at it, since I hate failing!

Last night I dreamed that I was trapped in a castle, the doors blocked with thickets of bamboo. My captor gave me three days. “Find the song that was sung when you were born, and find the sword, and then you can face me.”

“Playing by the lunatic’s rules only works in movies,” I thought–sensibly–and attempted instead to dig my way out by following the pipes from the toilet–somewhat less sensibly.

After about two days of this, I realized that there was no way I was gonna get dug out by the deadline, and went looking for the song and the sword. I somehow managed to find both of these things–fortunately the sword was buried under some flagstones in the path of the sewage pipes–and manged to slay my captor after a fairly anticlimatic battle.

All of which would have been normal enough, except that I have no idea why I was being held prisoner by Willy Wonka.

Went in today to get my hair color touched up–the dark reds are not color-fast worth a damn, if they were paints I’d refuse to use them owing to lightfastness issues. Plus stuff was getting shaggy and needed a trim, and other areas….err….well, bugger shaving for a lark, anyway.

Owing to the season, my stylist/fashion overlord has taken to playing Christmas carols in the background.

While I approve of Christmas carols in their place, I must say that when you are in the act of having your pubic hair removed with hot wax, you don’t necessarily want “O Come All Ye Faithful” playing in the background.

I’m just sayin’.

So my buddy Linda calls me up…

L: “So what are you doing?”

U: “…I’m playing this…virtual…birdwatching…game…”

L: …

L: “Okay, get your coat, I’m getting you out of the house NOW.”

I deserved that.

Oy.

Had one of THOSE dreams last night. Sex and birdwatching. Not restful at the best of times, made significantly worse when it’s about someone you actually know and who’s bones you’d jump in a heartbeat if they were even remotely interested. Plus the ducks all turned out to be domestic variants and thus not countable on even a dream life list. Blargh. Foiled at every turn.

It’s days like these when I get a deranged urge to make a post to the effect that “first geographically compatible single male to reply to this entry gets lucky.” This lasts for about five seconds, and then my brain drags my libido back from the brink of insanity, smacks it repeatedly about the head and shoulders and yells “Are you out of your ever-lovin’ mind?!”

The Libido apologizes profusely (if somewhat sulkily) and agrees to go back into the basement. The Sense of Humor–whom I always visualize in these little scenes as an androgynous figure wearing the familiar hooded checkerboard robes in pale grey, and juggling hedgehogs, pomegranates, and three live mice–scuffs its foot along the edge of the cliff and says “Bet you’d get a great story out of it, though.”

“Don’t help,” says the Brain huffily, flipping up a trapdoor and kicking the Libido down the flight of stairs so revealed. The Brain is a tall, statuesque woman wearing a Greek toga and steel-toed boots. “Some things are NOT worth a good story.”

“Sez you,” mutters the Sense of Humor, removing the pomegranates and working two machetes and a hard-boiled egg into the pattern.

The Libido, who is wearing a Betty Page T-shirt, an annoyed expression, and not much else, stomps down the stairs to the basement, where the Sanity and the Faith in Humanity are playing cards. The Sanity has not been allowed out of the basement for so long that nobody’s quite sure what it looks like any more, although a Defective Squirrel is the best guess. The Faith in Humanity is let out on weekends for good behavior, and most resembles a baby seal wearing a crash helmet.

“We’ve really got to do something about that…” mutters the Brain.

The Sense of Humor shrugs and does a tricky crossover with the machetes and a sleeping hedgehog. “It’ll sort itself out eventually. You worry too much.”

The Brain snorts. “It doesn’t help when somebody keeps having dreams about it.” She stomps one steel-shod foot on the floorboards.

“It’s a subconscious,” says the Sense of Humor reasonably, “it does that. Freud said all dreams were about sex anyway, we’re just lucky enough to know it.” It pauses. “I grant you, I’m not sure what’s up with the birds…”

“Freud was an idiot, and it ought to cool its jets,” gripes the Brain, and stomps a foot again. There is a low subsonic moan from under the floor, a lonely humpback whale attempting to speak the unfamiliar language of subway trains.

The Sense of Humor starts to saysomething, and the Brain levels a gimlet eye on it. “And you! Aren’t you supposed to be cheering it up!?”

The hooded figure sighs. “Yes’m.” Hedgehogs go in a pocket, machetes vanish under the robes, and the mice run up the Humor’s sleeve. The egg simply disappears. The Brain has watched this process several thousand times, and still has never managed to see what happens to the egg.

Down in the basement, the Faith in Humanity deals the Libido in for a round of cards. The Sanity chitters moodily in the corner over its hand. The Libido sighs and picks up its cards. The Faith in Humanity smiles hopefully, an expression particularly well suited to baby seals, and hardly marred by the slightly concussed expression, or the vast quantities of duct tape criss-crossing its crash helmet.

The Sense of Humor pulls out a book, strolls to the edge of the cliff (which is framed in irregularly edged floorboards, more like a stage set than anything else) and opens to a random page. “Absolutely, Jeeves,” it read, down into the abyss. “The craving grew upon him. The newts got him. Arrived at man’s estate, he retired to the depths of the country and gave his life up to these dumb chums. I suppose he used to tell himself that he could take them or leave them alone, and then found–too late–that he couldn’t.”

The abyss made a hopeful rumbling noise.

“‘It is often the way, sir,'”–

The Brain turns and stalks away, across the cranial stage. Two thirds of the way to the wings, she spots the treacherous egg, which is lurking in a corner. It looks as if it is plotting something. She resists the urge to punt it into a wall with a steely toe. The Brain’s scientific curiosity gets them in as least as much trouble as the Libido, even if she’ll never admit it, but there are things too dangerous even for her.

In the basement, the Sanity peers down at its cards and says, “Got any sevens?”

“Go fish.”