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I don’t own any shoes and always go barefoot, a special person in my life asked me to devote a blog to that, thinking that people might be interested in my philosophy on that… so, here it is!

Days Like These

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A Justine-Eye view

A Justine-Eye view

Days like these mean a lot when you’ve had the blues. My little patio means a lot when I’ve had the blues. This breeze off the lake means everything. I’d go out on it in the blue kayak, but it’s just too windy to row against. It’d be fantastic, though, the waves on the lake rocking my little boat, spilling over around my heels.

Yeah, I’ve had the blues, mostly solitude, the loneliness of a divorced woman who had been married for a very long time and just can’t seem to find romance of any kind… (by the way, invitations to have anal sex do not constitute romance, guys). The man I really loved, months ago, decided to back off, and now my little “niece” (though in my heart she is more the baby sister I never had) is going away with mommy and daddy for a full month. I’m gonna miss little Molly’s smile, the heart-melting way she cries (like ice cream melting in mid July), and her warmth in those magical moments when she’s feeling shy or overwhelmed and she burrows into me to protect her. In those moments I become the lioness protecting her cubs, and there’s no room for anything else in my heart or mind but her needs. In those moments I know what clarity really means. Then of course there is the continuous chromatic drone of the exhausting battles and demons I fight day after day and year by year. I get worn down. But, as I drove into town today the big blue of the sky invited me to take stock of all I have. When the sky speaks to you, it’s best to listen, to answer, and follow the big blue wherever it needs to lead you.

I drove on under that very sky, past palm trees and Spanish moss, and knew I’d made it. I’m no longer in cloudy cold shithole Ohio, I’m in Florida, sunny Florida, exactly where I’ve always wanted to be. Nope, no California dreaming for me, no desire to go to Colorado or Washington to be in the mountains with all the other hippies, no, no thank you, I’ll take these swamps. You can have the mountain air, I’ll take the rich earthy air of the swamps and the deliciously fresh wet smell of the lake

I knew everything was going to be alright as I drove into the center of town, the taste of Indian food from Andaz on my mind, and the anticipation in knowing that I would be welcomed by my friends. Somehow it always seems a little easier with Indians, it seems to me they listen more, and are more comfortable with not only duality, but emotion–high emotion! Though, I know, I am generalizing. Of course, once I arrived the welcome was as sweet as ever, and the food spicy and everything I needed it to be, and the Masala Chai was perfect today, perfect for sipping and setting aside the noise in my head long enough to sigh and be grateful for each warm spice in the chai… oh, and for everything else. As I was paying my bill, one of the new guys came up and asked me if my fangs were original.

I said, “My fangs? These are just my teeth!” He smiled admiringly and told me I was lucky. I added that they make me look more like a tigress. I went to my car, sat and looked in the rearview mirror… I never really noticed, but sure enough, I do have fangs! I’ve always hated my teeth, crooked as hell, but I guess when perfectly normal canines are crooked enough to be turned ever so slightly outward they do indeed look like fangs. “Lucky?” I guess. This might explain the desire I have once in a while for certain people’s blood.

After admiring my fangs I went barefoot (of course) to one of my little weekly jobs, Badfinger blaring away in the background as I worked, rather like now.

The eagles have begun to speak. I can hear them in the trees. I live under the wings of bald eagles and walk the same ground dinosaurs (alligators) walk, and I just know if I sit here long enough the deer and wild turkeys will gingerly find their way across our lawn.

I had thought of going into town to my beautiful little studio to work, SAW, one more place I know that allows me to be my ever barefoot self, but the lake was calling me, and now that I am looking out over it, the eagles are calling me as well, inviting me to let go and fly. Though this silly pink body can’t fly, I don’t mind, I can let the wind and eagles do the flying for me, and the music, too.

In the background, my windows open, “Coppertone Blues” (from “7 Park Avenue”), the solo music of Pete Ham (of Badfinger) flies out my window on the wind, and I know what I am.

I am not my worries, not my loneliness, I am this… and this is me…

Justine's-Day

And I am home!

I am finally home.

And as I wind down, with little else to say, Pete Ham’s delicious “Dawn” fades down, and the wild psychedelia of “I’ve Been Waiting” reminds me that I need to take another hit and take a barefoot walk up the dirt road, after all, on a day like this, there’s only so much a computer has to offer.

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Lemonade

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I was napping. It was raining… and the power was out. The power had been out for some time already. Joe Courter knocked at the door and I thought he’d said he was going to sit in my patio–which isn’t a proper patio at all, it’s some lawn furniture under the exposed hallway that stretches from my room out at the edge of the woods to the rest of the house. It’s quite lovely, as something as simple as going to the kitchen for more water is an adventure like camping because, though there is an overhang, the hallway isn’t so much exposed as outdoors. Some nights I am greeted by choruses of frogs from the lake, other nights owls from the trees.

I got up and was surprised to find Joe sitting on my patio, I guess that part of me that was awake enough to hear him calling in from out my door hadn’t worked out that his announcement that he was going to be sitting on my patio meant he would be sitting on my patio in one of my green chairs. I sat with him and tried not to complain about how long the power had been out. It was dinner time and I was hoping to use the toaster oven. “Well,” I announced, getting up, “I’m making a turkey sandwich.” When I got to the kitchen I leaned out and asked if he wanted one. He did, I told him to sit tight, relax, I’d take care of it. I’m a tad old fashioned, and as unpopular as it may be, I enjoy cooking for the men in my life. To round out the orgy of self-realized sexist cliches… I was of course… barefoot.

But the power was out, which meant I had to get in and out of the fridge in one quick swoop… wheat bread, smoked turkey, pepper cheese, mayo, green pepper, spinach, onion, tomato, and no doubt a few things I had forgotten. I grilled the meat, peppers and onions under cheese, then put mayo, tomato, and spinach on the sandwich, cutting it attractively in that angular manner that always seemed a little uppity in the house where I grew up. A few sea salt and vinegar chips, and a small bowl of pineapple for desert. I have to say the sandwiches turned out fab, and as it turned out, thanks to the power outage, we were now sitting together and enjoying dinner on my patio. Something about the combination of melted pepper cheese over smoked turkey breast always excites me once I start eating it. It tasted even better out there overlooking the lake and listening to all the wildlife.

Finished, Joe suggested we go out on the lake in the kayaks, after all, there was no power, so there was no TV, no Facebook, no needless checks in on email. It sounded like a great idea.

It was perfect out on the lake, cooler by far than it has been, the moisture in the air was cooling rather than suffocating. As we paddled along we marveled at the mist hovering over the water along the shore like you might see in a photography print at an art fair. The lake was hot, hotter than the air, perhaps even hotter than my body temperature, and shallow too, it hasn’t rained much this year. I laid down in the boat to take a nap, or at least to rest.

A few moments into it and I realized that I hadn’t felt that relaxed in weeks! All that tension I had been carrying around was dissipating into the mist, hovering away, or vanishing into the air. Soon the distant traffic noises caught my ear. Seemingly they were a lot louder closer to the surface of the water, as I hadn’t noticed them when I was sitting up. Just as the sound was about to spoil it for me I smiled and felt thankful that I wasn’t out there on the road in some car going to pick up something as essential and unromantic as undergarments. Yes, things were good. We’d had a lovely meal, and now I was floating around on a lake realizing that there was nowhere I’d rather have been… especially in my room on my computer looking at nonsense on the internet. Maybe power outages aren’t all that bad after all. Well, this one wasn’t.

Barefoot To Remember

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In grass and sand I find
The heart of me, no more,
No less than my mad moon,
Spinning silver off its core.

Tears assemble a reckless line,
In a watch without a hand,
Numbers shift upon the face,
No center, no time and no command.

When storm-waves swell I walk,
To grasp me and sea and sand,
When downpours flood my hollows,
I follow what I cannot see on land.

Barefoot for dread of all I was,
And all that I am not,
Skin to ground before, behind,
Broken bottles full of rot.

I forge my way most gracefully,
Perfumes coward my regret.
I am barefoot to remember,
Am barefoot to forget.

Three Years Barefoot

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Barefoot Justine At Home

Barefoot Justine At Home

“You’re ill at ease. Adventurous people are always a little ill at ease. They’re shy. They aren’t bold the way people think they are. They go stumbling around breaking things, being scolded, always looking for a place where they feel they belong, they have that crooked look… of not really matching anything.”

Lilith (from the 1964 film, “Lilith”)

I haven’t been blogging much lately, to tell the truth, it started feeling rather pointless. Yeah, sure, guys come in droves to look at my pics, but I’ve realized how utterly hollow that is. Stared at and lonely, it’s not an inspiring state of affairs. But, all the same, each year I have marked the anniversary of my dedication to hardcore barefoot living, but this year, the anniversary (January 14th–my birthday) slipped past me, it’s nearly the end of February now. All the same, this blog entry has become something of a tradition with me, so I thought I oughta muster up the enthusiasm to keep it up, after all, I’m a believer in tradition.

“You can be barefoot and still have worries.”

Brigitte Bardot

Yep, a tradition is a tradition, but these exhibitionistic blog entries have begun to seem more and more like a spotlight on each lonely weekend. Men! Perhaps I’m too picky, but it seems every man I meet is prowling around looking for a plaything to shoehorn in around their more important activities. Guys, here’s a tip, maybe you should wait to ask a girl how she feels about anal sex until AFTER the first date. So where’s the enthusiasm, where’s that patented Barefoot Justine smile? Well, group, its in there, but it takes a while sometimes for it to grace my face, and part of coaxing up that smile is hard work, the hard personal work of celebrating the good things, of which there are plenty. The hard work I persist in doing. That’s what this blog entry really is, an attempt to purge the bile and look on the sunny side, to remind myself how good things are even when I am at my loneliest and most detached.

There are two wolves at my door, the one snarls and bares its teeth, it is loneliness, fear and sometimes even jealousy. There is a second wolf, and that one is the source of my strength, my passion, and my joy and inspiration. You know the old saying, and it is true… the wolf that wins is the one you feed. Here I am, forever remembering to feed the right wolf, but often forgetting and fattening up the horrid one.

So what has 3 years barefoot meant, anyways?

Well, it’s meant a lot. For one, it means that it can be done. What do I mean by that? Well, what I mean is that it is possible to live wholly without shoes, socks, slippers, sandals, anything! Yep, even in the winter. And, nope, there’s not a single thing in my home that would cover, warm or protect my feet. It’s been skin on the ground for 3 solid years now (and pretty much the same for years before that as well, I just hadn’t had the courage to burn my shoes once and for all up until 3 years ago). It can all be done barefoot, every aspect of my life, from doctor visits, to shopping, from work to visits to the courthouse, and from restaurants to business meetings. What it really means, 3 years barefoot, is that a person can live the life they want to live… so long as they have the courage and determination to make it so.

So long as they are willing to make the sacrifices… and more importantly, capable of reminding themselves of of how grand it is to live a self-actualized life even in the muggy air of a culture that works very hard to strangle that free spirit out of us.

Barefoot Justine Mara Andersen, dirty leathery soles

Barefoot Justine Mara Andersen, dirty leathery soles

“‘Reality’ is neither the subject nor the object of true art which creaties its own special reality having nothing to do with the average ‘reality’ perceived by the communal eye.”

Kinbote (Pale Fire)

We can make lots of things so, but sadly many of us never figure out that we have that power. More to the point, most of us are not up to the challenges of conjuring our daydreams into realities, whatever “reality” is. “Reality,” as any good Hindu knows, is a construct, most usually kept in place by the average man, and it takes extraordinary people to step outside of that reality, extraordinary people who can turn their backs on the petty expectations of a world of people who aggressively believe in the big shared construct… but that’s all it is, a construct. Living barefoot for 3 years is essentially a rejection of that construct. And boy does it rub some people the wrong way. Those people will work to stop you, to brainwash you, to force you back into line with the accepted construct they all have silently and unwittingly agreed to call “reality.” You know, that ever so “real” world in which sports actually seem important, that world in which people actually watch all the crap that’s on TV, that world in which Americans actually believe that the solution to gun violence is more guns (like say in schools, for example). It’s madness, folks, look around you, it’s madness! Yes, Virginia, the lunatics have taken over the asylum, but there’s no need to stay in the asylum with them, it is, after all, only a house of cards.

“‘Reality,’ (one of the few words which mean nothing without quotes)…”

Nabakov

And I am seen as mad for being barefoot? Madness and sanity are not democratic states of being, whole societies can be mad, and their constructs are created to make those of us who see the madness for what it is seem like the mad ones. One thing history, myth and religion teaches us is that “they” crucify those “madmen” and burn those “madwomen” who challenge the constructs, the collective notions, of “reality.” Sometimes I think “reality” is nothing more than the sneakiest and most subtle and insidious of propagandas.

I walk barefoot for a number of reasons, and one reason is that I have renounced the madness, that construct, to create a life, construct and reality that is highly personal. I know, many may find all this hard to accept, but trust me, it can be accepted. Some of us have to experience real trauma to be able to find ourselves and make that painful break from the construct the average man mistakes for reality.

Yeah, I know, I show a picture of my dirty leathery soles and then get all existential on y’all. But that’s what it’s all about, this journey. You can choose which wolf to feed, but you can also choose between getting in line, boarding the bus and going where everyone else is going, or you can take off and explore your own life from the driver’s seat. Face it, most of the people out there have taken the passenger seat in their own lives. Simply put, you can either be who they want and tell you to be, or you can be who you want to be. Frankly, it’s easier to board the bus and sit in the passenger seats with everyone else.

“Campbell: …A dream is a personal experience of that deep dark ground that is the support of our conscious lives, and a myth is the society’s dream. The myth is the public dream and the dream is the private myth. If your private myth, your dream, happens to coincide with that of the society, you are in good accord with your group. If it isn’t, you’ve got an adventure in the dark forest ahead of you.

Moyers: So if my private dreams are in accord with the public mythology, I’m more likely to live healthily in that society. But if my private dreams are out of step with the public–

Campbell: –you’ll be in trouble. If you’re forced to live in that system, you’ll be a neurotic.

Moyers: But aren’t many visionaries and even leaders and heroes close to the edge of neuroticism?

Campbell: Yes, they are.

Moyers: How do you explain that?

Campbell: They’ve moved out of the society that would have protected them, and into the dark forest, into the world of fire, of original experience. Original experience has not been interpreted for you, and you’ve got to work out your life for yourself. Either you can take it, or you can’t. You don’t have to go far off the interpreted path to find yourself in very difficult situations. The courage to face the trials and bring a whole new body of possibilities into the field of interpreted experience for other people to experience–that’s the hero’s deed.”

Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers, (The Power Of Myth)

Either you can take it, or you can’t, honestly, sometimes I can take it, and sometimes I can’t.

“I will not conform and I will not submit,” that’s my motto regardless. I thought it always had been, but it wasn’t, not until after I’d faced my own mortality twice, after I had lost my home and gone bankrupt, not until I realized I had nothing to lose. It was then that I really had the courage to find out what it really means to not conform and to not submit. But here’s the funny part, group, back when I played the game and rode on that bus, I got nothing back in return for my forfeit, whereas now, when I have accepted my path and have individuated, now that I am stubbornly barefoot, living as an artist, and following my bliss, I am finding that things are working out a lot better. People give me more work, they respond better to me than they did before. I see no reason to get back on that bus. Actually, I’m rather superstitious about it all. Things are so much better for me now that I am afraid of any compromise when it comes to my vision of who I am, and I am barefoot. No, I won’t put shoes on just for this one thing… that, my friends, is a slippery slope.

Barefoot Justine Mara Andersen's bejeweled feet

Barefoot Justine Mara Andersen’s bejeweled feet

Yep, another year barefoot, and I have done it all, gone shopping, gone out to eat, gone to the doctor, travelled, you know, I’ve done all those things barefoot that everyone thinks is impossible. How many times I have heard people lament that they’d go barefoot all the time if only they could get into restaurants and grocery stores… well… you can get into restaurants and grocery stores barefoot, the catch is, you actually have to want it enough to see it through. Oh yes, there are excuses, cop-outs, but that’s all they are. I wanted it, I won’t cop-out, and here’s how I do it:

Smile, look people in the eye, wear bell bottoms or a skirt, be discreet, and go about your business as if it’s the most natural thing in the world for you to be barefoot. Sure, there will always be busy-bodies who think it’s their job (which it isn’t) to make sure all the rules of their fragile little construct are obeyed… but those boneheads are surprisingly few and far between. Wanna go barefoot all the time?… be charming! Charm them, they’ll leave you alone… except for the real bitches and assholes… some people you just can’t work with, they are too far gone, too deep in the tar of the average man’s construct. Some of them you can defeat, but many of them have rooted their concrete so deep into the illusion that they just won’t budge. I should feel sorry for those people, but I don’t, fuck ’em! Fuck ’em!

Let me say this, if you don’t go barefoot, and you wish you could, it’s not THEM, it’s not the stores, the restaurants or the social pressures that are stopping you… it is YOU that is stopping you. If you want something, you have to get off that damn bus.

Yep, 3 years uncompromisingly barefoot, and my feet are fine! I’m fine! My soles are leathery, I have no callouses (those just crack and hurt–sorry foot-community, callouses are NOT good, buff ’em off!) My feet are no longer deformed by those little bacteria incubators everyone calls shoes. My toes have a healthy spread, they’re not all cramped together like the lotus feet of some victim of Chinese foot-binding. Shoes are a cultural aberration.

“So, Justine, where’s the fun? This blog entry seems rather dark,” you might be thinking, well, the fun is coming. In the words of the Pythons… “Wait for it!”

What does 3 years barefoot really prove? For a start it means that I’ve proven I’m not fooling around. It proves not only that it can be done, but that it can be done well. Sure, it’s risky at times, but so is bicycling, playing soccer, and sitting around too long in front of a computer. Nope, what I am doing is no more dangerous than skiing, texting and driving, or bags of Cheetos, things most people don’t consider all that unthinkable. Ever notice how people will celebrate boxers but look at a barefoot person like they’re nuts? Ever notice how we celebrate skatboarding and mountain biking, but find going barefoot entirely too risky? See… y’all see what I mean by the construct and how fragile it is? For example, you can break your neck skiing… yet people are horrified at the possibility of getting a sliver of glass in their foot. My brother got a compound fracture in his leg from playing soccer, his bones punctured the skin of his leg… yet my parent’s forbade me from going barefoot because I might catch a cold! Crazy, right? And by the way, you can’t catch a cold by going barefoot.

(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen's feet with concert ticket and souvenir...

(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen’s feet with concert ticket and souvenir…

What were the highlights of my barefoot adventures this year? Well, quite readily, my outing to the Cheap Trick concert (which I wrote about at length in this same blog) was spectacular. It was thrilling, and took me back to those wild-child days. I mean what could be more perfect than being stoned, barefoot, and clad skimpily in bleached cut-off shorts at a Cheap Trick concert? Not much. The grass was lush and moist as I danced and danced until the grass and dirt had compacted into a delicious green clay-soft pad under my soles. I had left the house lamenting that I was single and going alone, but as soon as the band took the stage, as soon as they started playing I was reduced to tears and trembles, and realized that this was a moment I needed to indulge in, a moment where my solitude was a blessing.

Of course there were my many adventures with my dear friend Joseph Blue Sky (see pic below taken by Joe during his last visit–no feet, but it’s a cute shot!). We have such fun together. And we have adventures, plenty of stumbling about laughing and, on my end, wishing we could live like that every day. He lives in Ohio, by far too far from my swampy home. But earlier this year I traversed (alone) from Florida to Ohio in a rental car to see him as well. And again encountered snow under my feet in West Virginia!

Barefoot Justine in the forest with Joe B. Sky (taking pic)

Barefoot Justine in the forest with Joe B. Sky (taking pic)

Of course I went to numerous meetings and met with clients barefoot, something that throws them off until they start working with me and realize just how dedicated and inspired an illustrator I am. Still, there’s something ticklishly subversive about standing around barefoot in a room full of people with ties and business casual clothing on. I mean, really, who goes to meetings barefoot? Yep, it is very possible to live a professional life barefoot. The trick is that you have to be damn good at what you do (in my case, illustrating and even animating), and you have to be committed without apology to the decision to live barefoot. If you mean it, they’ll go along with it, and usually with a genuinely interested smile, yep, I’m forever answering questions about my feet, especially in winter (which in North Central Florida can still be cold enough to be annoying).

Mostly, there’s the simply pleasure of living in a town where people are more open to eccentricity and individuality. There is support here, for my self actualization. They dig that here, where I live. Mostly there’s the rich life I lead at home, surrounded by growling alligators, soaring eagles, deer, armadillos, and even the occasional otter. I have forest land to explore in my savage state of half-nakedness.

Barefoot Justine Mara Andersen wild in the forest

Barefoot Justine Mara Andersen wild in the forest

Yep, that’s me up there in that pic, running around topless and barefoot in the woods. Fortunately I’ve never been busted for it, though I’ve had to turn tail a number of times. Being something of a hermit, it’s lovely to have all this land to play on. Getting back to nature, that’s one of the biggest pleasures of my life. The ground here is unfortunately challenging, we have ticks, chiggers, and horrid little spiny things and thorns everywhere, but that’s all just part of the fun, isn’t it? There’s a metaphor in there somewhere.

Basically what 3 years barefoot mean is that I’ve done it! I made a decision, a challenging decision (to never wear shoes), and as afraid as I was that it wouldn’t work out… I’ve made it work! Of course I have had to live and accept a different life. Instead of enslaving myself to the American Delusion (or “American Dream” as it is generally known), I chose to leave that illusion to mom and dad. My ambition was to live barefoot, and as part of that to live a sustainable life. For years and years I dreamt of the day I would shed not only my shoes and socks, but my mortgage, cable bill, and all the expectations of “THEIR” reality. I wanted to live cheaply out in the woods, a smaller and simpler life with a view, and here I am 3 years later living in my little cottage-room in the woods, barefoot and low-budget. Sometimes all it takes to live the life you daydream about is a drastic change in expectations. Maybe, after all, some of our dreams may not be so unattainable, maybe it’s our expectations that are holding us back. Maybe before we even try living our dreams we have to let go of everyone else’s.

“Like every great religion of the past we seek to find the divinity within and to express this revelation in a life of glorification and the worship of God. These ancient goals we define in the metaphor of the present — turn on, tune in, drop out.”

Dr. Timothy Leary

Inane Insane

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(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen… barefoot outlaw!

(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen… barefoot outlaw!

Yep, it happened again, and under the usual circumstances, and from the usual sort of person. I was at Walmart (I know… shame on me… but if I want waffle batter, carpet tacks and the first season of Happy Days on DVD where else am I gonna go?), carefree in my bare feet thanks to my former victory there. See, last year I had been kicked out of a Walmart for being barefoot, so I called Corporate, because I knew Walmart didn’t have a “no bare feet” policy, unfortunately most of their employees are ignorant. It was confirmed by corporate that I was within my rights to live my life as I choose, so they called the manager and assistant manager, and I was called by both… and they apologized on behalf of the idiot security guard that had kicked me out. I, of course, took names, so that the next time I was kicked out I would be able to say: “Speak to manager so-and-so.” Problem solved… uh… unless you’re in a different Walmart.

The main reason I shop at Walmart (beside the fact that–thanks to Obamacare–I have NO insurance and my prescriptions are less than half what they would be anywhere else, and besides the fact that I am not traveling all over Florida looking for three different non-corporate shops just to pick up three items I could have just as easily found at Walmart, and besides the fact that a friend of mine once chastised me for bitching him out for shopping at Walmart by saying “It’s not the fault of poor people that they shop where the prices are lowest–and sister… am I ever poor!), but I digress, the main reason I shop at Walmart is because the freedom and right to go barefoot wherever I please is very important to me, and I prefer to shop in stores and visit restaurants that respect my right to choose.

The right to shoes, the right to choose, I choose barefoot!

But, as I was saying before, I had won this battle once at one Walmart, but I was now across town in the safer Walmart, minding my own business, shopping in my freshly cleaned and perfumed bare feet (see photo form today above) when a foul little troll of a woman in a blue vest came along with her very best Seven-Dwarves Grumpy face on and started with “Ma’am… you can’t be in here barefoot.” I told her that I could indeed, that I didn’t have to leave, and that I have called corporate about this once already, and Walmart has no policy regarding bare feet.

Well, not being willing to let it go at that she walked off bitching about how they have food at Walmart.

OK… see… now this is the part that set me off, and for many reasons. Firstly, she’s dead wrong, no matter of opinion here at all. I was 100% right and within my rights. There are NO codes with the Florida Department Of Health, nor with the DBPR, see quote below:

“Good day ,

Regarding your inquiry DBPR- Division of Hotels & Restaurants does not have any regulations regarding barefoot patrons at an establishment.

Best Regards,

Roger Xxxxx
Regulatory Consultant
Division of Hotels and Restaurants
Bureau of Sanitation and Safety Inspections”

Also, here is the letter from the Health Dept. stating that it is NOT a violation:
FL2009.pdf

So as she walked off continuing to bitch me out under her breath, I shouted back “And it is NOT against health code regulations, and it is in fact against the law to state and enforce laws that do not exist. You need to learn your company policies and do your research!” And that was that. I told her off, and frankly, felt pretty damn good about it, too. It’s about time I start coming out on top in these ridiculous situations.

But let’s leave the legalities aside and talk common sense about the absurd notion that somehow my bare feet are going to contaminate her can of Chef Boyardee Ravioli.

Let’s start with simple science (or, rather, basic common sense), how in any way are my feet going to spoil or contaminate anyone’s food? Are these people eating off the floor like dogs? Though I realize many of them are functioning at about the same intellectual level as a schnauzer, I doubt they actually are eating off the floor at Walmart. Besides that… any dirt on my feet is already on the floor in spades! Additionally, isn’t it obvious by any but the most pea-brained among us that shoes are not only no cleaner than bare feet… but far far filthier! Let’s face it, most foot-infecting bacteria worsen or are even caused by those little bacteria incubators we call shoes. Additionally, I had just walked out of the shower and gone shopping, my feet freshly cleaned. When was the last time you washed, scrubbed, exfoliated and perfumed your foul stinky shoes? Never… so, I ask… which are filthier… feet or shoes?

Let’s add to this that I, in my bare feet, have NOT been out back by the Dumpster, nor have I tread over the deli floor, nor the loading docks and trucks… I ask you again… are my feet or were her shoes filthier? See what I mean… there is NO logic to the concept that my feet are going to contaminate food (and shoes are not!)

Additionally, as this Walmart didn’t even carry produce… how in the fucking hell were my feet going to infect her or anyone’s sealed can of pumpkin spice Pringles? The whole idea is, at it’s core… utterly absurd. beyond the realization that these people are ignorant of their own policies and health codes, what they fear is so absurd as to be surreal. I can’t even wrap my head around how anyone would believe that my feet are a greater danger to their prepackaged foods anymore than I can figure out how they think my feet, as opposed to shoes, stand a greater chance of infecting a bag of EXtreme Cool Ranch Doritos?

It’s insane people, simply insane.

But, in the end, this little lamb scared off the troll, I bought my stuff and came home, and now I am sitting smugly in my room for having beaten the bullshit back for one more day.

“Justine… fighting for truth, justice… and (reluctantly) the American way!”

Best Barefoot Rock Concert Story Ever!

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(This is another of those barefoot-heavy entries… if you think that’s “weird” or it simply bores you… move along… nothing to see here!)

(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen's feet with concert ticket and souvenir...

(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen’s feet with concert ticket and souvenir…

Though I kinda work at not living in these moments, I think we all keep track of the things we missed out on. I no longer keep track of them to stock the shelves of my inner-bitterness library, I keep track of them so I can damn well do the things I missed out on. Last night I made good on one of those things I had missed out on… and I made good on it in a BIG way! I didn’t get to enjoy those heyday rock concerts, my adolescence was wasted on bad timing (among other far more frustrating things), so I kinda missed a lotta stuff. What I’ve really missed is that today, pop culture sucks, but then again I’ve been looking back and bemoaning the garbage on the radio and everywhere else since I was 14. Boiling it down… what I really missed were good old fashioned dazed and confused rock concerts. Nope, I ne’er got to get high and sneak barefoot into a rock concert. Last night when I went to see Cheap Trick in Ocala Florida… I got to make up for all that… and I couldn’t have done any better than seeing Cheap Trick barefoot, dazed (“with a little help from my friends”), and surrounded by palm trees in beautiful sunny Florida!

First off, before I get into the narcissistic “Me me me” wallow that is the cornerstone of this blog, I just wanna say… Cheap Trick kicks ass! They always did… and still gloriously do. It does my heart good to see aging rockers who only age skin deep, these guys still play hot and tight! More importantly, they seem to be having a ton of fun. Lots of rockers do turn into dinosaurs, they get ragged around the edges as they age, but unfortunately they sand away all the ragged edges in their music, phoning in lackluster lifeless highly polished and sweetened low-to-no energy music… NOT Cheap Trick! Like McCartney, these guys still have it… and they have it big time. Funny thing is, I wasn’t really a huge Cheap Trick fan (not so far as I knew), and for no particular reason… other than that I was simply obsessed with the Beatles (who came along well before my time), so no other band was really able to get through the magnificence of the Beatles to make much of an impact, but in the background of my life Cheap Trick were just kinda there. Not only were they there, but like Badfinger (who I eventually fell dippy in love with), Cheap Trick’s songs had made an impact, one deep enough that I have found myself lately returning to “Cheap Trick At Budokan” over and over again, and before I knew it, those tracks that weren’t hits, and that hadn’t interested me much, were slowly becoming my favorite songs (“Need Your Love” for example… WOW!)

On a whim I thought, “I wonder if these guys are touring anywhere near me,” so I popped on their site… and talk about timing! Hell yes, they were coming in like a week and half right here to Silver Springs! I was ecstatic, and didn’t even know why… as like I said, they weren’t my favorite band, but I did realize something. I realized that every time I heard “I Want You To Want Me” or “Surrender” I felt myself melting, falling back into the warm embrace of that good old seventies magic (yeah, I know Cheap Trick were a big deal in the eighties, but in my heart they will forever be a seventies band–even though I was, again, too young to have enjoyed the seventies properly). They, like few other bands, put me right in that very particular headspace. The brilliant part was that as they played last night I realized that Cheap Trick were a NOW band as well… nothing tired or lifeless about their performances or music at all.

The big frustration was I couldn’t find a single person to go to the show with, so I had to go alone. This sucks… but then… I’m used to doing every damn thing alone anyhow, so I guess it just didn’t much matter. In the end I was glad I was alone, as I was able to sink into a highly personal experience. The other anxiety was… am I gonna be able to get past the cops and gate barefoot? I won’t wear shoes (haven’t in years), and I don’t even have any to pack, so I had to depend on the illusion of soleless sandals and a long skirt. I got right in, and once out of eyeshot of the cops, security personnel and staff, I stripped off my skirt and went happily along in my bleached cut-offs. I wasn’t fooling around here, I had dressed the part, little shorts, a scarf for a belt, and a flowery top that shows my belly button and buttons low… and of course the usual array of ankle bells, toe rings and accessories.

Cheap-Trick-Rick-Nielsen-Robin-vintage-70s-retro-classic-rock-music-musician-photo-mono-stereo-lp-vinyl-pop-art-1Seating was no problem, there were plenty of spaces for me and my lone lawn chair right up close to the stage. The view I had was tremendous, a tad stage left. I missed the opening act (who were pretty grand in their own right, but I wasn’t there for them–and I needed to go find a discreet place to… let’s say… get into that seventies frame of mind), and when I finally sat down and Cheap Trick’s audio introduction came on I found myself getting goosebumps! It was a potent celebration of their music and accomplishments.

When they took the stage the most unexpected thing happened… I found my heart was fluttering, racing, and I was tearing up, and it wasn’t just ’cause Robin Zander has always been so superhumanly hot. I mean, this was it… there I was… barefoot at a rock concert, just like I always should have been–as it turned out, I hadn’t missed it at all, that experience was still there for me, thanks to Cheap Trick. The music came on loud and hard and swept me off my feet. They opened with the same song they opened with at Budokan:

“Hello there ladies and gentlemen
Hello there ladies and gents
Are you ready to rock?
Are you ready or not?”

I was ready! Below is their set-list.

Hello There (THE opener!)
Elo Kiddies
Big Eyes (Budokan… hell yes!)
That 70s Song
California Man
Tonight It’s You
Ain’t That a Shame
Magical Mystery Tour (Beatles… damn straight!)
Borderline
She’s Tight
Ballad of TV Violence
The House is Rockin’
Need Your Love
Stop This Game
I Know What I Want
The Flame
I Want You to Want Me (Be still my heart!)
Dream Police (Better than I remembered)
Never Had A Lot to Lose
Surrender (Hmmm yes…)
Goodnight (Naturally)

I let go, I let go of anything but that part that wanted to open up and have the experience I had missed… I was THERE! Before I knew it I was standing up front dancing and letting the music take over my body. I was simply ecstatic! And so were a couple of the men nearby, who I am privately proud to say, were stealing glances my way. It’s nice to still be able to catch men’s eyes. The grass and ground under my bare feet were moist and delicious feeling, and I could smell the aroma of rich trampled soil and lush green grass. As they played I realized that even the songs I didn’t know were turning me on, and the songs I never cared much for… well, now I very much cared for them. Cheap Trick convinced me utterly and wholly, and like Badfinger before them, I will no longer take them for granted, and like Badfinger before them, I will most definitely be seeking out their albums, slowly collecting the whole bunch of them… and yes, I will go see them every chance I get. Between you and me… I have a thing for the bass player (Tom Petersson), who has aged quite nicely.

Song after song I found myself in the moment, and nothing mattered but me, the band, and my bare feet on the ground.

One of their bits of schtick is to toss guitar picks into the audience, and by that I mean by gobs and handfuls! Finally, when they tossed the picks over to our side of the stage, they were flying all over and hitting the dark ground, booted and shod people tromping and rushing in after them. I got my ten toes the hell out of the way, there was no way I was entering into that melee. As I settled back into my place, my left foot sinking back into the grass, down in the dark I felt the tiniest little sensation of something as it tipped over against my toe (something I NEVER would have felt with shoes on) and I thought “THAT is a guitar pick!”) so I bent down into the darkness and picked it up… sure enough… there it was! See below…

(Barefoot) Justine scores a pick at Cheap Trick concert

(Barefoot) Justine scores a pick at Cheap Trick concert

And if you look at the top of this post, you can see my bare feet, the ticket and pick both pictured (against the toe it had leaned against) in a pic I had taken right after I had gotten home from the show.

Yep, folks, had I not been barefoot, I never would have felt or found that pick… and I didn’t even have to fight my way through the crowd to get it. My friend Joe Blue Sky says it was a sign. Yeah, I guess it is, and I think it’s a sign that I’m living life right–at least by my own rules.

And while I’m at it… you know who rules?

Fucking Cheap Trick!

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Cheap Trick… you were the fuel that fired this dream-come-true… thanks, and good night!