Tag Archives: barefoot lifestyle

Wonderful New Photos Of Barefoot Justine

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New pics of (Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen by Haley Stracher!

Imagine any woman’s body issues times TEN! That, folks, is me… and I’m sure that those of you who know me will nod and understand… considering the circumstances. So, I have had this little fantasy that one of these days I would find someone to take pictures of me, pictures of me that would show me as I HOPE I look rather than pictures of me that spotlight how I fear I look. I had a feeling this could and would happen, and I am delighted that it has happened and has happened now. I got a call from Haley Stracher (wix.com/haleys728/1) who started taking kind and caring photos of me for a project she is doing in which she wanted to document the daily life of a cancer survivor. Some of these photos are playful and posed, but even those are pretty much an extension of the vain and self-conscious way I live.

The photos below are all raw and from her files, unedited, no retouches… just me and her taking lovely photos with available and natural light. The beauty is that since there are no filters and no Photoshop trickery, I know that this is actually what I look like… HOORAY!

The below photo is easily my very favorite!

(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen at home

(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen at home, pic by Haley Stracher

A nice close-up from the same session:

(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen's bare feet

(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen’s bare feet

The moment I dread most… that mirror view!

(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen... mirror mirror on the wall, who's the grooviest chick of all?

(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen… mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the grooviest chick of all?

That, directly behind and under me, by the way, is my room…

(Barefoot) Justine "monkey" Mara Andersen

(Barefoot) Justine “monkey” Mara Andersen

I absolutely LOVE our swampy Lake, and living on it is the BEST!

(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen overlooking lake Newnan

(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen overlooking lake Newnan

After checking out the lake (see above), I take part in my favorite pastime at my favorite place, kayaking on the Lake…

(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen on Newnan's Lake

(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen on Newnan’s Lake

Hmmm… too many shots of me with eyes closed… here they are open!

(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen eyes open

(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen eyes open

I love the movie ‘Gator Bait starring Claudia Jennings, and sometimes I enjoy taking the kayak into the swamp and tromping around like “Desirae…”

(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen starring as... 'Gator Bait

(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen starring as… ‘Gator Bait

(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen in the kayak

(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen in the kayak

These photos are raw, and perhaps not the ones Haley would have picked for artistic reasons (sorry Haley), but I think they represent me well, and as far as I’m concerned, that is the really important issue… isn’t it?

There will be tons more of these to come, so keep checking in!

Why Did I Come To Gainesville?

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(This entry is a continuation of “Why Did I Leave Akron,” which you can read at: https://barefootjustine.com/2014/01/24/why-did-i-leave-akron/)

Lord-Ganesh-9I am often asked, “Why did you come to Gainesville?” or “Why did you choose Gainesville?” Of course I did, in the end, choose Gainesville, but it was not a destination… I didn’t even know there was a Gainesville. As I elaborated on earlier, my ambition was not to get anywhere in particular (though I’d always dreamed of living in a place with palm trees), my ambition was to escape the gravity of Akron.

Up to March of 2012 I had been continuing to live in a foreclosed home… waiting. It was not a home worth fighting for, beautiful as it was, it was situated in a place that was getting more and more dangerously “GHETTO” with every passing year. Still, it had been a home for a very long time, so losing it hurt. I knew, though, that I needed out of Akron, and not simply because of what my doctor had told me, but because the city had become dangerous for anyone, especially for a woman like me.

I had been mugged at gunpoint a mere few blocks from my home, and slowly the predators were learning where I lived. One day, after going out to find two of them leering at me from the corner, waiting for me to walk their way, which I often did (and you can see more of this in my web-comic “Why Justine Is So Scared,” under web-comics). I turned around when I saw them, got in my car and never again walked anywhere in my neighborhood.

I had been working as a cleaning girl, and scraping by… so long as I didn’t have to pay mortgage or rent. I had quit my job at ACME after starting my cleaning service. I was gathering clients, but never enough to make a living of any sort. One of my clients, a couple, had mentioned that they were moving to Florida. Up to that point those two were my favorite clients. I asked them, jokingly, if they needed a live-in cleaning girl. They said, sure, I could go along. We all laughed and I went home.

The next week I asked if they were serious about my going with them. They, as it turned out, had very real need of a third person. You see, he was sick and needed to move to a warmer climate, and she had to stay back in the Akron area until their home sold, primarily to hold down a job. I, of course, was going to be responsible for getting her husband around on errands and doctor appointments, for being around in case of emergencies, cleaning and painting their entire house, and to help get their dogs back and forth to the vet and stuff, and in return for all this I was given an empty room with a deflating inflatable bed in it–you can see what’s coming… right? We came to an agreement, talked out the major potential complications, and I walked away ready to take that leap of faith.

First thing you have to know is that we were not headed to Gainesville, but to Ocala (for Christ’s sake!) I had no connections in FLorida, no work prospects, nothing. I didn’t even have any money to speak of. This was going to be a major leap of faith. In fact, my faith played an important part in all this. I had just converted to Hinduism, and was wholly in love with the religion, the Hindus, and the Temple. before going I expressed my misgivings to one of the most dedicated devotees, who simply said to me, “So long as you have your faith, you will be fine.” Leap of faith indeed. I had the Temple Priest perform a blessing before Ganesh. I had brought in my art, art that I needed to find a publisher for (I never did, but I found something wholly unexpected, as it turned out) and a beautiful ceremony was performed over my work. I had also recently had my murti of Lord Ganesh blessed as well, and it remains one of my most holy objects. I carried that Ganesh with me as a passenger the whole trip.

Barefoot Justine's feet... pretty pink polish.

Barefoot Justine’s feet.

I started selling guitars, or whatever I could do to get some money. In the end I budgeted out what little money I had into envelopes, enough envelopes to help me get by in a bare minimum sort of way for 3 months while I tried to find some way to make a living in Ocala. I sold my car before leaving Akron and packed that money into an envelope so that I could buy a car in Florida. That was it, I packed my stuff in poor old Joe Blue Sky’s house and a storage unit. It was a total do-over on my life, no home, no spouse, no strings, no responsibilities, no prospects, nothing but a no-net reckless free fall towards (fucking)Ocala, and off we went! Oh… yes, indeed, I had gone off barefoot, no shoes! That at least was a divine liberation.

We landed in Ocala, and though I tried to establish myself there over the first two months, nothing there was working. For a start things between me and the couple I had traveled with were uncomfortable. I won’t go into those details, but let’s just say that I began to feel a certain kinship with Cinderella as my inflatable bed began deflating and I realized that I was supposed to be their grateful barefoot maid of all work in exchange for this empty room and leaky inner-tube of a bed. I soon found myself down to one month’s worth of money and absolutely no prospects for work or clients or anything. It was a depserate time, as I also knew that come the end of our agreement in a few months… I was also going to have nowhere to live. Things were looking grim. But at least I wasn’t in Akron!

I was trying all manner of things to get word out and find work. I was trying to find a place to have classes, was trying to find clients for cleaning, was trying to find students for private lessons, was trying all I could think of. At one point I was passing around little portfolios at the local college in an attempt to get a show of my work, an opportunity to lecture or teach… anything. I walked into the gallery at the college and this lovely dark-haired girl jumped up with a huge livewire smile and said, “Where the hell did you come from? RUN!” Meaning, Ocala is not up to you, girl. I had come to realize this, but this girl, this signpost, this Avatar of God, was telling me something very real behind her hip and energetic hotness. I was going on to the copy shop in Ocala after my brief encounter with this tattooed savior. I didn’t know anyone in town, not a soul, but I had talked to this guy at the copy shop a couple of times as he was a fan of the sort of illustration that I do and did. I told him I was getting no play in Ocala, and he said that he loved Ocala, but it wasn’t going to work for me, that I needed to go to Orlando or Gainesville. Well, I knew I didn’t want to be a guppy in the Orlando land of sharks, so I asked him about Gainesville. Basically he told me it was known to be very hip and progressive and that I would do well to look to Gainesville as a better fit for me.

I had nothing else to go by, so I took the copy guy’s advice (I don’t recall his name, but he was wearing a blue vest and an orange name tag, so I figured he was qualified to give far-reaching advice in regards to my future), and I planned a trip to Gainesville.

And that was exactly when the uncomfortable crap between me and the couple I had travelled with started to turn way weird. Things had been deteriorating, but soon they were working together via the phone, creating this paranoiac cabal, planning the strangest passive-aggresive attacks I’ve ever endured. Again, I won’t go into details, but I will tell one classic story. SHE Who Must Be Obeyed had come down from on high (Akron) for a visit and invited me to have dinner with them. I agreed, eating only veggie kabobs, as I was vegetarian at the time. Me, thinking this was some sort of reconciliation or peace treaty, thought nothing of it. The next day around the pool they asked when I was going to pay for the share of vegetable I had eaten during dinner! I think with that little story told, there is no need to go into further details. This was a pettiness of titanic proportions… which ironically matched the titanic proportions of her fat ass. Oh my… I think I just got a tad catty!

I went to Gainesville for the Spring Arts Festival, took one look around and thought, “I could live here!” Of course I had no idea how to make that happen. I had tried to work my way into a similar community in New Hope Pennsylvania, but that had not worked at all. I was wondering how I could possibly find a way to get by in Gainesville before I ran out of the 4 to 6 weeks worth of money I had left before I quite literally was hopelessly penniless. I had researched Gainesville a little and had discovered SAW (The Sequential Artists Workshop) and thought that a place that taught comics might be a good fit for me, the problem was, the comics biz never thought I was much of a fit for them, so my hopes were rather timid. I walked into SAW unannounced off the streets that very day, doing all I could to hold down the stink of desperation that must have been oozing from every pore. Tom Hart (SAW founder and fearless leader) was a bit taken aback at what he later described as “this crazy barefoot woman coming into my school looking for work,” and began working up the right words to tell me that he was running a small school and didn’t really need me. Fortunately, Tom is an insightful guy, and when he looked at my (frankly stunning if not staggering) portfolio–the same portfolio blessed by Lord Ganesh–he saw something in it that most other people have routinely failed to see. Tom saw that I had not only talent, but a very disciplined and professional variety of talent–something rather rare these days in the anything-goes world of contemporary comics. His eye saw not merely an artist, but a professional who could actually function in a classroom setting. Add to this that I had quite a teaching pedigree as well.

Tom said to me, “Let’s get you a class and get some money back in your envelopes.” Which, of course he did. Tom may remember it differently, but he took my class, and after the first session sent me an email that literally said “I am begging you to commit to teaching our first one-year drawing program.” Poor Tom, I don’t think he realized what he was getting himself into. Handful that I may be, at least I deliver!

From that point I began to sleep and see my obligations through in Ocala, but lived for Gainesville. This was when things in Ocala began to get weirder and weirder by extremes.For some strange reason I felt the need to see this agreement I had made with this strange couple through to the end, I think my anger at being in this abusive situation was being overwhelmed by my sense of decency in regards to the responsibility I felt towards this sickly pathetic man and the dogs (who I loved dearly). I also knew that there was nothing in this situation for me. They tried to change their game plan and their passive aggressive bullshit became less harsh, as they realized that at this point they needed me more than I needed them.

I wanted out of their house and into a place in Gainesville, so I began hunting around for a cheap place to live until I could get on my feet. Over the next month or two I was shuttling back and forth between Gainesville and Ocala. Things between the man in Ocala and I were getting very hot and contentious, we were fighting like a couple on the verge of a messy divorce. We were having the kinds of marital battles that I remember seeing on seventies cop shows, problem was… we weren’t married. Unmarried or not, I wanted a fucking divorce! I had just gone through the end of a marriage to someone I loved, so this just plain sucked… sucked like a Yoko Ono record.

By this time I had met Joe Courter through Tom and worked out a deal where I could rent a room in his house super cheap (thank God for Joe!), the problem was, I was still obligated to this Ocala situation for seemingly ever. They had not yet even come close to selling their home, and the deal was that I was to stay with them and care for him until they sold their home.

During one of our laundry outing I had gone to a little spiritual shop outside of Ocala and bought a lovely statue of Ganesh–remover of obstacles, as I had obstacles that needed removed. By now I had scored my room in Gainesville at Joe’s and had started to stay there a couple nights a week, but I was itching to get loose from this Ocala situation, problem was, they had to sell their damn house. The day after I bought that Ganesh I started to notice that the murti was chipped and broken, and intended to take it back the next day. This Ganesh was of profound importance to me, considering what I was up against, and I did not want a chipped and broken Ganesh. This Ganesh had work to do. I had a major obstacle in my life, and it was this awful situation in Ocala, this long and interminable wait for them to sell that damn house in Ohio. How terribly profound and auspicious that on that same day I was to return that Ganesh, I was pulled aside and told that they had sold the house! I was free to go!

And that, is how I cam to be in Gainesville. And by the way, that chipped and broken Ganesh I placed high and in a place of prominence in my room. He stands back there like a sentinel watching all who pass through my door, standing watch over my life, my room, and my dreams.

Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha!

(And remember to read the first half of this saga at: “Why Did I Leave Akron,” which you can read at: https://barefootjustine.com/2014/01/24/why-did-i-leave-akron/)

My Birthday: 2 Years Barefoot! (with a splash of Paul)

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(This entry is a rant, a birthday barefoot McCartney rant with a certain random quality to it… but in my Maya it all makes perfect sense)

My birthday is upon me, January 14th. I am now 4; or in normally gendered years… 36; and in secret years…. well that secret is for God (and a few people who “know to much”) to know. That date also happens to coincide (roughly) with the day I stubbornly and absolutely abandoned “my” shoes, not that I had been wearing them anyhow. So, why is “my” in quotes? because shoes are never mine, they are THEIRS! Shoes are not of my spirit, they are something that had been forced upon me up to that point, rather like a prison sentence. Shoes are a part of their, or your, society, don’t try and convince me I need to stuff my feet into those culturally abhorrent suffocating torturous bacteria incubators. Two years ago this January 14th (yep, that’s 2 human years wholly committed to being barefoot) I decided to liberate myself from even the pragmatic arguments that persuade lesser barefooters to submit. Two years ago I said no, I will not submit. I will not conform. I will not be bullied, coerced, guilted or given “common sense” lectures. I am barefoot.

I had always loved being barefoot, had always done it, but had never committed to it. At this point I don’t even own shoes, nor socks, nor sandals, nor hose, nor slippers, nor even a Christmas stocking. I’ve saved a lot of money. Anklets and toerings outlast shoes big time! Funny, but poor as I am, I often feel guilty for “blowing my money” on anklets… but considering what I would have blown on shoes, from now on I’m just gonna shrug it off and buy whatever anklet I want. Take that Nike! Just do it, huh? Well, I done did it. Or as Ghoulardi said, “If you’re gonna do something… do it!”

I imagine there are a lot of questions… like… WHY? Why is it so important that I stay barefoot all the time? And here’s the thing, if you are asking the question at all, then I doubt any answer I could give would make sense to you, but I’ll go ahead and give a few.

Firstmost I suppose the answer is… ’cause I want to. This is my manifestation in Maya, you wear shoes through yours if you please.

But for a longer and more in depth firstmost: as far as I’m concerned, there’s not much difference between wearing shoes and going out every day with gloves on, or a blindfold on, or earplugs in. Being barefoot offers me a world of sensation, and I do not want such delicious sensations muted by shoes any more than I want my hearing muted by earplugs or my sight dulled by shades. Of course some might then ask, “aren’t you afraid of cutting your feet?” No more than I worry about something flying in my eye because I’m not wearing a blindfold; no more than I am worried about going deaf if there’s a loud noise ’cause I don’t have my earplugs in. I ironically, do have hearing damage, permanent, from when some bonehead at a Ren Faire set off a cannon… damn, shoulda been wearing my earplugs. Think on that, yes, indeed, I could hurt my feet, but is that a reason to wear shoes anymore than that single cannon blast that gave me permanent hearing damage is a reason to wear earplugs day in and day out? Nope. Seems like simple math to me. I do realize that if a corporation came along, say like the Nike or Purell people, and found a way to make billions on earplugs… everyone would be running about with earplugs in… and looking at me as if I were nuts for not wearing them. Shoes, like earplugs and shades, are a choice, not a necessity.

So, what’s the payoff for being barefoot? There are many, but it’s primarily a hedonistic if not fetishistic thing, as well as a spiritual exercise. Being barefoot demands that at every moment I be alive in the NOW and fully engaged and aware of where I am at every moment. It’s a way of shutting down the noise in my ears, the bullshit that drags me down. Being barefoot is a pure and simple pleasure that overrides bad moments. I can endure a lot of drudgery if I can do it barefoot. Quite simply, life is more fun barefoot! Look deep down… you know that to be true… no no… look deeper…. see it! Ah… there it is, the way the truth and the light: life is more fun barefoot.

Why did I choose to just do it? Why did I choose not to listen to that sensible self that would have me encased (against my will) in shoes? Blame some of that (like a whole lotta stuff in my life) on cancer in Korea and nearly drowning in Thailand. There came a time after that, after I had confronted my mortality in a very real way, when I thought to myself… fuck this! After all, isn’t “fuck this!” a major motivator… had Edison not said “fuck this working in the dark shit,” we wouldn’t have track lighting. There are things I want to do in this life, and I’m damn well going to do them! If I love being barefoot, then barefoot I will be. Nothing like facing your mortality–DEATH–twice in 6 months to set a person straight. That combined with the inspiring whiskey drenched misery of the period that followed the cancer and near drowning. I had worked as an illegal immigrant in Chile and had to spend all the money I’d made escaping the country. I came home to suffer through a divorce, foreclosure and bankruptcy. I was bitter, broken, and a whiskey drinking alcoholic. Why did I decide to commit to going barefoot 24/7? Because I had nothing to lose! I still have nothing to lose. Let me hip you to the real rub… none of us have anything to lose… there is NO security out there.

“We can do what we want
We can live as we choose
You see there’s no guarantee
We got nothing to lose”

Paul McCartney, New

When seeking truth I always turn to the sages.

Nothing to lose, so I do as I choose, and I choose to live without shoes. And it’s my right, the right to shoes, the right to choose, I choose barefoot! I choose to be free and brave in a land that promised I would be allowed to do so… it hasn’t worked out that way. Just like with the Native Americans, America breaks its grandest promises… ask ANY intelligent foreigner what they think of the myth of American freedom and bravery. Go ahead, ask ’em. One thing you learn when you are barefoot… we are not truly free. Our basic and simplest personal liberties are not granted to us under the great American God… the ONE TRUE God in America, and it ain’t greed… it’s FEAR! Sorry folks, not a lot of freedom and bravery here amongst the purple mountains majesty, but plenty of fear. We’re afraid of lawsuits, we’re afraid of germs, terrorists, glass, gays, gun control, socialism, and bare feet! Ever try going barefoot in restaurants? Here’s the deal… ain’t no health codes nowhere no-how, but everyone is so afraid that there is that they forbid it. Can’t go barefoot to the Top here in Gainesville, can’t go to Chopsticks Cafe, so you know where I can go? Foreign restaurants. See, the Vietnamese, Mexicans and Indians aren’t as uptight as we are, and evidently are far more educated in regards to healthcodes than their American counterparts. I love you Saigon Legend!

“There is a fine line, between recklessness and courage
It’s about time, you understood which road to take
It’s a fine line, your decision makes a difference
Get it wrong, you’ll be making a big mistake

Whatever’s more important to you
You’ve got to change what you wanna do
Whatever’s more important to be
That’s the view that you’ve gotta see”

Paul McCartney, Fine Line

Paul McCartney singing out, again, about being genuine, fearless, true to self. McCartney has been utterly true to his nature… hey folks, believe it or not, those poppy and old fashioned songs… he does them because he loves them and is fearless enough to mix them in with his darker and more experimental work. The man’s work gives me courage to stick to my convictions. The courage to be barefoot. The courage to, like Paul, be grossly misunderstood. Oh well, it’s not McCartney’s job to be understood by cynics, just as it’s not my job to be understood by the thoughtlessly shod.

How long do I plan on staying barefoot? Forever if I have my say. I guess this means I won’t be getting on any planes anytime soon, thank God. Airports, the one place Americans can go to have it rubbed in their faces that the terrorists won… who needs it! The things I can’t do barefoot don’t bother me much. The things I can do barefoot thrill me. It’s worth it. So I don’t get to go to an airport and have some flunkie tell me to take off my shoes and then put them on again… how fucking random is that anyway? OK… so explain to me why it’s OK to stand around barefoot in the airport when they want to rummage through your stuff… but not before or after then? What the hell is that? Random brothers and sisters, that’s what it is… random! I don’t do random. Well, I do MY random; your random, their random, not my bag.

Yep, 2 years barefoot, imagine that?

I imagined it, now I’m doing it. If you’re gonna dream it, you might as well do it. And THAT, my friends brings me to another point. I used to dream, I dreamt big, real stinking big. It turned out that the dreams I had been dreaming depended on others. Did you get that? That’s the trouble with a lot of dreams, they depend on others to be properly fulfilled, on others to judge you worthy, on others to buy your stuff, give you the job, choose you, make you famous and popular… those are not practical dreams. Any dream that requires another person, or many people, in order for it to be brought to fruition is not a dream I am willing to dream anymore. I am finished with dreams that are beyond my control. I dreamt of living barefoot… I am living barefoot, and no one, not the Top, not Chopsticks Cafe, not CFOP is going to control my dream, nor make me submit, nor make me conform. I dream things I can accomplish on my own now. Being barefoot, that is under my control, that is a dream that is self contained. I can choose to live that dream. If you’re gonna dream, learn the difference between dreams that leave you at the mercy of others and dreams that depend solely on you. It’s on you! It’s all on you. It always was and it always will be.

“There were rules you never told me
Never came up with a plan
All the stories that you sold me
Didn’t help me understand

But I had to get it worked out
Had nobody who could help
So then in the end it turned out
That I had to do it
By myself…

Lief’s a game rags from riches
Dogs and bitches hunt for fame
Difficult to know which way to turn

Lay the blame on the snitches
Wicked witches fan the flame
Careful what you touch in case you burn”

Paul McCartney, Queenie Eye

Thanks Paul, as for me, I won’t be touching anymore dreams that depend on others for their fulfillment. And that lesson the dogs, the bitches and I have learned through being burned. Barefoot… that is a dream I can fulfill, and no one is going to stop me.

Peace, Love and Bare Feet, (and a couple kisses if you want ’em…)
Justine

Addendum: Speaking of the whole barefoot birthday McCartney thing… I just got back from seeing the Beatle tribute band Rain with Miriam. Of course I went barefoot. It amused me that more than once people in the crowd responded enthusiastically over the seemingly apparent fact that I had dressed up for this thing. Funny thing is, as Miriam pointed out, these are just my clothes. I hadn’t dressed up for Rain at all… I dressed for Tuesday! I wore BIG bell bottoms with holes in the knees, plenty of toe rings, a beaded belt thingie, a dyed lace frilled blouse with breezy open sleeves, a denim vest, bangles and bare feet, a bindi, silver feather earrings, and my Ganesh medallion and Shiva choker; and over it all my fluffy freaking frizz-mop hair, a long purple knit duster (which is cool ’cause the sleeves of my blouse hang out the ends of it like something from Sade’s time), a denim purse, and well… isn’t that enough? I think people expect far too little of themselves when they get dressed. So, no, this wasn’t a costume, it was simply Tuesday.

Good thing this show wasn’t on Wednesday… they’d have gotten an eyeful then.

A Hard Day’s Night Barefoot

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Again, before I even start, I want to state that this is a barefoot obsessive entry… if that’s just not your thing… move along… nothing to see here.

Ahh… but if it is…

Barefoot Justine's feet... pretty pink polish.

Barefoot Justine’s feet… pretty pink polish.

Yes, what a night, one of THEE grand nights. Downtown Gainesville, A Hard Day’s Night at the Wooly… in 16mm no less! Fab! I was going to go, by myself if I had to, but Sheanah agreed to go with. Anyhow, one would think I’d be writing about the movie, grand as it was, but something else stole the show for me: the delicious sensation of being barefoot… in the words of Kate Bush, “Mmmmm yesss.”

I know, I’m barefoot all the time, but for some reason (actually one none too surprising to anyone who really knows me <>) I was feeling especially… say… happy about being me. And usually, not too far around the corner from that is my feeling particularly happy about being barefoot. It came over me all at once, the sensation I live for but find more and more elusive as time goes on, and the sensation was that of truly FEELING what it meant to be barefoot: the sensuality, the wildness, a pinch of danger and the sweet sweet feeling of soft bareness with a faint glow of vulnerability all around the edges. It was a delicious as Mexican chocolate ice cream.

As I waited for her meeting to be over I closed my eyes and sat in appreciation of the sweet simple pleasure of being barefoot, I just let it have me, and for the first time, perhaps ever, I was really happy I had a nice long little wait on my hands–my fault, as always I was too early. The best part was, it didn’t slip between my fingers like water, and when I let it slip, I was capable of getting it back. It seems the more I live barefoot, the harder it becomes to find that feeling of freshness and totally-on sensuality, but tonight I had hold and wasn’t letting go of the reigns.

Soon my wait was over, and she was ready to go to the movie. Being out was in and of itself a grand pleasure, I’ve become a bit of a shut-in of late, so I managed to take it all in as we walked: a friend, the night walk itself, being barefoot, the beautiful Florida night in downtown Gainesville… and we were walking on to see The Beatles A Hard Day’s Night in 16mm. Oh, how could this NOT be a great evening? Well, I could have found a way to let that happen, but I chose instead to revel and wallow in the vibe, the buzz, the Beatles, and my bare feet.

Of course once the opening of the first chord triumphantly rings out in that film and song… I’m away, swept up out of my seat and into the full graphic black and white glory of this masterpiece. God is that movie funny, and I can say without hesitation that A Hard Day’s Night is the most energetic film ever made… and yet it knows enough to slow down and let us catch our breaths. It is not a surprise that a Beatles’ movie would have great timing and pacing.

For some reason (wink) the movie seemed longer than ever… though that taffy-pulled sense of time did nothing more than encourage me to sink ever deeper into the lovely world of frenetic Beatlemania.

Fortunately, the night did not end there, no we had ice cream in our plans. I tell you, I don’t know if I could have faced the end of A Hard Day’s Night without the promise of something sweet. So we walked down through town, blocks and blocks on a perfect night, past college bar after college bar, all the while my bare feet taking in every nook and crannie of the concrete, my pores soaking in every shimmering moment of the night.

OK, so it’s a tad florid… yet these words are still not shining with the same truths I enjoyed in those moments. I was a tad worried about glass, past all those bars, but I stepped on glass just yesterday, and all it did was stick to my pad… I have thick soles. Not impervious by any means, but thick.

Along the way I felt a solidarity and comfort at the sight of another barefoot girl in the streets around the bars, and she had no shoes with her, her feet healthy and happily bare. We didn’t speak. I’m not sure were even steeping in the same maya.

The perfect flow of simple hedonism kept coming as Karma Kream had my very favorite flavor… Mexican chocolate (it’s got cinnamon in it!), and lo and behold, my barefoot sister was there as well. We took our ice cream and walked the long walk back, none of it any less at any moment, and Sheanah and I talked about how good it was to be out, and both of us with our chocolate ice cream to keep us centered on how good things were right then and right there. Now I could just have well have written about hanging out with such a cool woman… but right now I’m just really feeling the vibe of being barefoot with tremendous joy, and so glad I was out with someone so wonderful as I was enjoying such bliss.

So I came home and checked my soles, a little whitish around the heels from all the sidewalks, but surprisingly clean. My soles seem to repel dirt. Oh well, you can’t have everything, but, then again, who needs everything anyhow?

This Just In: Barefoot Justine Takes a Hike!

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Well, that headline was lame… not so much a hike as a casual stroll on a whopping hot and humid day through Paynes Prairie. Might as well start this little photo essay (or whatever it is) right, and since any hike (or casual stroll) starts out with my feet… here’s the first pic.

Barefoot Justine's "hiking boots."

Barefoot Justine’s “hiking boots.”


I love these Florida parks that have these walkways over the swampy bits. Thing is, I’ve always been enamored of Florida scenery, ever since my first vacations here I dreamt of one day being among all this! This thick wet greenery really moves me. Some people go for mountains, I go for Spanish moss and alligators… no joke!
barefootjustine.com Paynes Prairie walk

barefootjustine.com Paynes Prairie walk


The views from the walkways are always thrilling for me. I’ve still not gotten over the novelty of living here. Not only do I live “here,” in Florida, but I live RIGHT HERE in the Paynes Prairie watershed. In fact if you look at the map of the park while on the trail you can practically see our house on the map… well, not really, but the lake I live on is HUGE on the map!
barefootjustine.com Paynes Prairie from the walkway

barefootjustine.com Paynes Prairie from the walkway

barefootjustine.com Paynes Prairie, more from the walkway

barefootjustine.com Paynes Prairie, more from the walkway

barefootjustine.com Paynes Prairie, again from the walk...

barefootjustine.com Paynes Prairie, again from the walk…

barefootjustine.com detail of the Florida flora

barefootjustine.com detail of the Florida flora

barefootjustine.com birds at Paynes

barefootjustine.com birds at Paynes


A couple lovely shots, close-up of one of the birds. My timing was great… check out the second shot… the money shot I got when it puffed up!
barefootjustine.com bird

barefootjustine.com bird

barefootjustine.com Hell YEAH! The MONEY SHOT! Puff up little guy... puff up!

barefootjustine.com Hell YEAH! The MONEY SHOT! Puff up little guy… puff up!


Also got some lovely shots of flowers… very delicate and complicated… like me! Well, not sure how delicate I am, but I’m sure as hell complicated.
barefootjustine.com pretty flowers #1

barefootjustine.com pretty flowers #1

barefootjustine.com pretty flowers #2

barefootjustine.com pretty flowers #2


And so we were walking back, and I took a few more shots. Sorry gang, nothing spiritual happened, no revelations, nothing terribly clever, just a collection of scenic shots of the area in which I live… and live well and happily, I might add.
barefootjustine.com the walkway upon our return

barefootjustine.com the walkway upon our return


I have always loved these big swampy trees, too, so knotted, so ancient, so Rackhamesque!
barefootJusine.com big lovely Florida trees and stuff

barefootJusine.com big lovely Florida trees and stuff

barefootjustine.com last pic of the day, LOVE this tree!

barefootjustine.com last pic of the day, LOVE this tree!

Barefoot Justine Is a BAD Influence

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Barefoot Justine's bare feet overlooking the backyard

Barefoot Justine’s bare feet overlooking the backyard

Oh, am I ever a bad influence. Is it good or bad that I’m not even trying to be one? So, I’ve spent the summer teaching at an art camp at the Doris (Gainesville’s community arts center), and each week a new crop of kids. Of course there are tons of questions and lots of disbelief that I don’t own shoes and live barefoot. Yes, and many times the kids are, through me, stripped of their silly inhibitions about going barefoot, and along with those, their shoes. It doesn’t take much. One week I had a crop of girls, lovely girls, so sweet, so creative… how I miss them. Adorable. What a rotten influence I was on them.

I had written about them earlier in a post about bare feet and teaching. There was a boy in the group, but the poor boy, surrounded by estrogen as he was, he didn’t stand a chance. Anyhow, I won’t repeat the story of that week, those kids, and our bare feet, look back for that entry. But that post of mine about them all going barefoot on account of me has an addendum.

Today I was talking with one of the other women at the Doris, and she said she had visited the parent’s of one of the girls I had corrupted with my wild barefoot ways. I assume it was one of the kids from my precious class, but it could have been one of the darling daughters of one of the others in the Doris clan. Anyhow, the mother had said to the kids, “OK, get your shoes on, we’re going out.” To which one of the girls said, “Uh uh, no, I want to go like Justine.”

I do wonder if she got her way or not. Hang on little girl, one day you can go barefoot all you want!

Barefoot Justine and the backyard

Barefoot Justine and the backyard

(While being vaguely off-topic, I’m gonna go ahead and post the other pic of my feet I took that kinda goes with the one above. My big nails are still a little orange from the iron oxide stain I got from wearing nail polish all the time… been letting them return to their original glory. Watch it with the nail polish girls! Gotta let those nails breathe!)

Why Bardot?

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IMAG0340I’ve always loved Brigitte Bardot. I’ve watched as many of her movies as I could find, and have read several books on her, and I knew I loved her ’cause I could relate to her and understand her (similarly de Sade and Hans Christian Andersen). I mean isn’t it obvious how much we are alike, Bardot and I? Apart of course from her being rich, powerful, influential, successful, social, and sexy… I mean apart from all that we’re a lot alike. Yeah… uhm… we both wear heavy black eyeliner… that’s something, isn’t it?

I know she was neurotic, temperamental, highly emotional, had a propensity for going barefoot in public… oh and was bat-shit crazy, too. So I guess we do have more in common than black eyeliner. All joking aside about our obvious (and unfairly in her favor) differences, I do relate to her, and I think primarily in that the things she says that many people find annoying, silly or incomprehensible, are the very things I relate to most and understand all too well.

But before I get specific, let’s take a moment to put her into perspective. Keep this in mind when considering Bardot, prior to Bardot sex symbols were in large part artifice, almost character actors, see Mansfield and Monroe. Bardot was different, she was raw, real, uncompromisingly herself. If she was the fantasy of every man and the envy of every woman, it was not an act people were relating to, but something far more powerful, it was BARDOT people were fascinated by, the real deal. It was even said, and somewhat often, that she didn’t act, she existed (though I believe Vadim coined that phrase). Keep in mind also that she was the sexual predator, NOT the prey, and THIS was revolutionary, so much so that even Simone De Beauvoir wrote about her. So with her revolutionary status in perspective, let’s get personal.

I’ve had this unread biography of hers (“Bardot – Eternal Sex Goddess” by Peter Evans) sitting about in my collection for years. The other day I realized that I would finally like to read it. It’s been great, surprisingly understanding and full of insights rather than judgments. More importantly there are tons of great quotes. And it was in these quotes that I’ve started to really see why I relate to her on so many levels, and I’d like to share a few of them.

For example, Brigitte Bardot had this to say when discussing fear of being dead and forgotten:

“Being forgotten I don’t worry about, everybody is forgotten eventually, the grandest moments are dust in the end. But dying is horrible. There should be another way to end something as beautiful as life. I don’t know what is going to happen to me next week, tomorrow, not even tonight. But I do know for certain that I must die some day and the future is death. That frightens me a lot.”

It was a comfort to read of Bardot’s very real and very honest fear of death, as I too, for a long time now, have had an unnatural, consuming, and haunting fear of death. Though it seems to have lessened for me now as I am finally living my life. All the same, her articulation of the fear chilled me, especially “That frightens me a lot.” Me too. See, I didn’t always fear death, no, I was a fundamentalist Christian and just knew I was gonna go to heaven. Well, when I was realizing that Christianity was causing me far more pain than comfort, I was also entirely losing faith, and this left me with a hollow fear of death that could sometimes paralyze me. Trouble is, I just couldn’t fake that I believed in the Bible no matter how much easier it would have been. Fortunately, after years of soullessness I found Lord Shiva.

But wait, there’s more! Though I spend so much time alone, her thoughts on being alone moved me, and while I think I prefer being alone, the substance of her thoughts around it hit home.

“I hate to be alone. I get very anxious when I’m alone. Solitude scares me. It makes me think very strangely. I get anxious about life and death and war… I don’t want to think so much. That’s why I am always with good friends. I need distraction from the anxious thoughts, the black thoughts.”

Black thoughts indeed.

The quote below is not from Bardot, but from the author. Listen to this lovely description of her life:

“Brigitte had managed to close down her social life to almost hermetical proportions by film star standards. When not working she lived mostly within the walls of La Madrague, or on her remote and rambling farm near Bazoches forty-five miles outside Paris, going barefoot, in jeans, listening to records (including interminable Bach), reading, playing the guitar, swimming, fussing over her pets for hours. Even the most intimate houseguests–and she was never without someone close by she could completely rely on–couldn’t be sure of their welcome from day to day, even from hour to hour.”

Much of this I find very familiar, other parts of it not so much, but a solid chunk of it hits home very directly: Barefoot, jeans, playing guitar, and for me, having one person I rely on in my life and very close by. And though I do not live in La Madrague, I do live a solitary life down a dirt road in a lovely room on a lake with a beautiful view of the forest and animals that I truly love to have as neighbors. Though I don’t swim in the nude, as Bardot did on her lake, I do spend a lot of time floating around topless on a kayak napping and listening to the birds.

Moreso, Roger Vadim (her first husband and director of “And God Created Woman”) had this to say about Brigitte:

“Brigitte’s real trouble is that she doesn’t really like people. She is like a selfish child living in a nursery world of her own creation. She cannot accept she is part of a larger society.”

Dear God.

Does that ever sound familiar.

I suppose if I have learned anything from Bardot and her remarkable candor (and I have learned many things), it’s that this is my nursery world, and I may want what I want, and and I may feel what I feel.

When I grow up, I want to be Brigitte Bardot, though it would seem neither of us are in a hurry to grow up. And in that way, I can most definitely relate to her.

To Whom I Turn

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To Whom I Turn

99l/11/huty/13289/38To barefoot Brigitte Bardot I turn for slinky sensuality, eccentricity, and all things feminine,

To Serge Gainsbourg I turn for romance and filth in equal measures,

To Mother Maybelle Carter I turn for music and technique of such deceptive simplicity,

To Alphonse Mucha I turn for grace and elegance, inspiration and humility,

To Jack Benny I turn for timing and loving laughter,

To Wally Wood I turn for paternity, lineage and erotic whimsy,

??????????????????To Paul McCartney I turn for pure creative spirit, craft, and more hope and optimism than I have within, and to Wings I turn for Prog Rock power Pop and joy,

To Joey Molland, Pete Ham and Badfinger I turn for more of the same,

To George Harrison I turn for spirit and finesse,

To Ravi Shankar I turn for mastery,

To Joseph Blue Sky I turn for comfort and equality,

To Lake Newnan I turn for peace and sky,

To the wise I turn for leadership, towards leaders I never turn,

arthur-rackham-cinderellaTo Arthur Rackham I turn for lines and awe,

To Townes van Zandt I turn for vulnerability and pain,

To Andy Griffith I turn for morality,

To Tom Hart I turn for forgiveness and openness,

To Hans Christian Andersen I turn for flights of fancy,

To Joe Courter I turn for family in my Gainesville home,

To my grandfather I turn for fatherhood and an easy going nature I envy still, and to grandma for love,

To Universal I turn for horror,

hoo-hist18cutTo Hoolihan and Big Chuck I turn for my youth and innocence,

To the Marquis de Sade I turn for madness, my own dark heart, wicked eroticism, and far more cynicism than I care to bear,

To dark chocolate I turn for bliss,

To Jess Franco I turn for groovy sleaze,

To Chuck Jones I turn for insightful laughter,

To the Beatles I turn for perfection,

To Kahlil Gibran I turn for truth,

1338389798-lord-shiva-wallpaper4To Lord Shiva I turn for spiritual power,

To Lord Ganesha I turn for success,

To dear Goddess Durga I turn for a woman’s strength,

To myself I turn for questions,

To the past I turn for hope, peace, and the future,

From the present, I turn.