Sunday, July 22, 2012


I got a pair of Birkenstocks. I'm at that point in my life.

Strangely enough, I got the idea from "The Devil Wears Prada," which I rented on Netflix a few weeks ago. If encouraging its viewers to go shopping was the movie's intention, it succeeded nicely, because "The Devil Wears Prada" inspired in me a deep want for clothes. Anna Hathaway just looked so pretty in her perfectly-fitted little jackets and skirts that cost thousands of dollars in real life but she got for free because she worked at a fashion magazine. But every time she was out of the office, walking around the streets of New York or Paris in those ridiculous shoes, my feet ached in sympathy. The soles were all too thin for the cobbles in her Lower East Side neighborhood, and the heels were not at all conducive to the amount of running around her boss made her do. There's studies that show the long-term damage feet and legs sustain from regular high heel-usage. I already wake up in the middle of the night from cramps in my feet and calves if I've done a lot of walking; there's no way my body could take a pair of stiletto Jimmy Choos.

But the want--the deep, gnawing WANT for new, pretty clothes! I must have STUFF! I stared at a lot of people's feet on the subway for the next couple of days, which is totally okay and not at all weird because in New York everyone looks at everyone else's shoes, and I determined that T-strap sandals are in this summer. And one of the fashion websites I joined, Rue La La, was having a sale on Birkenstocks, so there you go. T-strap Gizeh Birkenstock sandals for Big Island Rachel. They're so comfy. I regret nothing.

I know that a girl's Birkenstock phase is usually in college, when she's attending Take Back the Night rallies and only wearing clothes from No Sweat. But I grew up country. My only shoes in high school were rubber slippah and white tennis shoes all chewed up from hiking. When I went to college, I went from farmland to urban Honolulu, and my roommate was a SoCal fashionista who took me shopping every weekend. I wore heels and full makeup to class and was usually the best-dressed person at the poetry slam. Little silk scares, y'all.

Living in New York, I've almost started to regress. I never wear makeup, because the pollution makes my eyes tear up and it would dissolve into a soggy raccoon mess by lunchtime. I always wear my hair in a tight braid or a bun because I'm afraid of what's on the back of my subway seat. And I don't wear high heels. The last time I put on a pair of heels was for the Tom Sawyer ballet in Kansas City, and while I looked great and it was a lot of fun, it's just not going to happen for me in New York. I walk a mile on concrete sidewalks to get to work every morning, spend my day in an office with concrete floors, and walk another mile over concrete to get back home at night. I need a flat shoe with a thick, chunky sole that can absorb the shock of all that hard concrete. So, Birkenstocks. I just wore them for a week straight and my feet feel fantastic. Can Anne Hathaway say that?

Well, probably, because she's a movie star and can afford to have some peasant rub her feet with crushed pearls and shea butter every night. But I'm a union member and I don't believe in exploiting the working man. Birkenstocks, y'all. Birkenstocks.

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