THIRST Goes to Sea!

Thanks to dear friend, constant cheerleader, and intrepid reader Andy F., THIRST is enjoying a cruise.

Are you taking some books on vacation? 

Happy reading!
Mary

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Place rather than Choice for Renaissance Venetians…

This evening, under the generous auspicies of Waterbury, CT’s Silas Bronson Library, I’ll be talking with THIRST (www.fireshippress.com) readers and others interested in women’s lives as portrayed in my first published historical novel. 

 Place rather than Choice determined the lives of all women, as well as all men, who inhabited the Venetian Republic of the Renaissance period.  What allowed Venice to personify its appellation, la Serenissima (the most serene), was the highly regulated social contract among classes.  Nobili, cittadini, popolani, slaves, foreigners, clergy, and government officials were all subject to the scrutiny of the efficient and rationalized justice of the great sea power.  Mercantilism drove the Republic.  A pragmatic approach to social life might easily be termed the ethos of doing business.

Come “meet” the characters whose stories tell what it “felt like” to inhabit Venice’s 1613 world.

As protagonist Caterina’s nursemaid tells her about-to-be married charge:  “Now you must know, Caterina, this is our life.  Behind the grille with God, putana, a whore, or dowried.  One way or another, we are open as the lagoon.  Who knows what sails in?”

I look forward to seeing many of you this evening at 6:30.  The event is free and open to the public.  Books will be available for purchase and signing.

Grazie mille,

Mary

Bound Feet, Renaissance Venetian Chapuys-Now a Contemporary Writer’s Take on Shoes. Below, find “Women and Shoes: The Obsession,” by K. Harger

Do you ever fantasize about shoes? Do you ever have an adrenaline rush when you enter a shoe store? What about having a shoe obsession? So many women in this world have this obsession and may not even know it. Long before shoes with exotic names came into the picture, women have been shoe-crazy. Scientific research proves that women have been born to love and cherish shoes. When life gets tough there are shoes to fall back on and lighten your mood. Even though the financial aspect of this shoe obsession is overwhelming, having this “advanced woman’s disease” is psychologically beneficial to the brain.

            When buying a pair of shoes, women may not realize how much money is actually being spent because she is engulfed in their aura (Azodi). It is a reality that having this shoe obsession is exceptionally expensive and can make you lose money very quickly. But the positive effects of being shoe-crazy definitely outweigh the negative effects. Shoes alone boost a woman’s emotions to a higher level that is unattainable by any other object she puts on her body (Daily News Staff). 

            A woman should have as many shoes as she does moods. Shoes alone reveal more about a woman’s personality than any other piece of clothing she wears (Daily News Staff). A pair of shoes is the most powerful and assertive piece of clothing on her body. For example, high heels give a woman that extra height and human nature associates height with power; the taller you are, the more authority you have. Heels can literally raise your status because you are obviously taller when you wear them. Throughout history, only wealthy women wore heels; thus proving that shoes literally portrayed the level of class women were in. This bit of mindset is still wired into women’s minds today (Azodi).

            In addition, science shows that a single pair of shoes alone is a mood-booster. When trying on clothing or especially shoes, the neurotransmitter, dopamine, is released in the brain. This makes a woman have an incredibly high feeling that is similar to taking a strong narcotic. When purchasing shoes, guilt never sets in because women can rationalize and make their minds believe that it is a very reasonable purchase. But, the most important part to understand is that, unlike clothing, a woman can wear a pair of shoes multiple times in one week. This is exactly how a shoe obsession can go unnoticed for a long period of time. Then, when the credit card bill comes in the mail, the reality really sinks in (Azodi).

A shoe fanatic quickly becomes a shoe collector. Again, proven scientifically, buying shoes stimulates the brain’s prefrontal cortex called the “collecting spot”. There is no doubt that shoes are indeed a collector’s item and by collecting different types of shoes, a woman experiences an adrenaline rush for each new and rare shoe she acquires. This is what leads to women having more shoes than she actually wears on a weekly basis. Even though these “extra” shoes take up space in a woman’s closet, she does not want to give them away or throw them out because, what if an outfit calls for a pair of those “extra” shoes? This is what confirms that this fascination with shoes is in fact an obsession with collecting shoes (Azodi).

           Nevertheless, obsessing over and collecting shoes stimulates the brain emotionally. Each morning, a woman has the ability to express how she is feeling through her shoe selection. A woman owns her feet when she can master this skill (Lewis). If she does not have the luxury of picking shoes from a large selection in her closet every morning, then she cannot harness her feet properly in accord with how she is feeling. As stated before, out of everything she wears on her body, shoes show the most about her personality and mood. Their perfect fit gives the woman a new identity and fingerprint through which she reveals her deepest feelings (Lewis).

            From experience, every shoe that a woman acquires provokes some type of memory. Whether laughing with friends or crying with family, a single pair of shoes alone can provoke strong feelings. The hippocampus is located in the inner fold of the temporal lobe of the brain. This is the area of the brain that is used to store memories. Putting on a form fitting pair of shoes for the first time provokes an adrenaline rush. When adrenaline is rushing through her body, the experience is stored in the hippocampus area of her brain. This memory is hard to forget, so when a woman wears that pair of shoes again, that exact memory is automatically triggered and emotions fly high (Lewis).

            On a different note, the idea of obsessing over shoes has been hardwired into a woman’s brain ever since she was a child. The passion for shoes as a little girl began by watching fairytales. Shoes are a major theme in Cinderella and The Wizard of Oz. Primarily, in Cinderella the plot revolves around the prince finding the dreamy princess that lost the glass slipper (Lewis). Cinderella’s stepsisters try relentlessly to fit their feet into the slipper because they want the prince’s affection, but their feet clearly do not fit. Their dedication to a man’s affection is portrayed through the various attempts to fit into the glass slipper. This shows that a shoe has so much power over a woman’s emotions and that she would go to any extremes to obtain that level of affection (Lewis).

            In The Wizard of Oz, Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, gives Dorothy the ruby slippers from the Wicked Witch of the East, in order to protect her. The ruby slippers had magical powers that only Dorothy could unearth. The slippers symbolize what lies within the beholder: individuality, strength, and self-assurance (Lewis). At the end Dorothy recognizes what they signify and the shoes disappear because she does not need them anymore. Also, the color of the slippers is a very important trait. Their reddish, or more specifically “ruby” color, portrays power and inner strength. Maybe women have this major shoe obsession because of these fairytales that we watched as children; it certainly is a possibility (Lewis).

            Without doubt, I share this shoe obsession with many women. I have about sixty pairs of shoes, including sandals, boots, sneakers, flats, and heels. Similar to other women worldwide, I am very proud of this collection and obsession. Having so many shoes allows me to wear a different pair every day and really spice up my outfits. I am able to wear an outfit a second or third time by choosing a different pair of shoes. The careful selection of shoes in the morning can make the outfit look completely different from any other outfit I may have worn in the past. Having sixty pairs of shoes does not make me feel restricted at all because I know that I can brighten my day by choosing the right pair.

            But, it is not only about spicing up my outfits; when choosing a pair of shoes to wear, my mood definitely affects which pair I pick. For example, if I am in a dreary mood I will probably choose flats rather than heels to be comfortable. If I am in an upbeat mood I will probably go with sandals or a pair of peep-toed sling backs. Even though many people see the clothing before the shoes, it makes me feel positive and sure of my outfit by choosing the right pair of shoes each and every morning.

            From experience, shoes provide retail therapy. When feeling down all I need to do to cheer myself up is go shoe shopping. In the beginning of my junior year, academics were very difficult to balance and one Saturday I broke down into emotional distress. My mom knew right what I needed to do, go shoe shopping, so that is exactly what we did. To be quite honest, it boosted my mood for the entire weekend, made me feel more confident about my decisions and myself, and I purchased another pair of shoes – how surprising! This is when I realized that I had the “advanced woman’s disease.” But because of the lengthy retail therapy session, I was not headed for an emotional downward spiral, no, not at all; I embraced my obsession and was actually quite proud of it.

            In my opinion, every piece of research that has been proven scientifically and presented in this essay is completely accurate. I do fantasize about shoes sometimes; I do have that adrenaline rush when I enter a shoe store; and I do have a shoe obsession. Other women with this “woman’s disease” certainly understand how I feel and can relate to everything I have stated. Men and other women that do not have this obsession may believe that we are crazy and are wasting our money, but they do not know how unique these feelings are. They have to experience the feeling for themselves and step into our shoes for a day.

Bibliography:

Azodi, Mina. “Women and Shoes: A Love Story.” Cosmopolitan Web. 18 May 2012.

            <http://www.cosmopolitan.com/celebrity/fashion/women-love-shoes&gt;.

Daily News Staff. “How Many Shoes are too Many Shoes?” Daily News 2 Mar.

2008: Web. 18 May 2012. <http://articles.nydailynews.com/2008-03-02/entertainment/29428637_1_shoes-meghan-cleary-shopsmart&gt;.

Lewis, Cynthia. “Crazy in Love (Women and Shoes).” The Massachusetts Review 1

Apr. 2010: Web. 18 May 2012. <http://elibrary.bigchalk.com/elibweb/curriculum/do/document?set=search&dictionaryClick=&secondaryNav=&groupid=1&requestid=lib_standard&resultid=11&edition=&ts=9C76121C8A65FEC3CC67FCF29A281B7E_1337207751548&start=1&publicationId=&urn=urn%3Abigchalk%3AUS%3BBCLib%3Bdocument%3B178315012&pdfflag=y&gt;.

“Words Per Minute”

“Words Per Minute”

Author Graham Swift’s piece in The New York Times Book Review (June 10, 2012) nicely juxtaposes time travel for writers and readers of the novel.

From his piece:  A good novel is like a welcome pause in the flow of our existence; a great novel is forever revisitable.”

What are your thoughts on time and a book you enjoy?  I’d love to hear from you.

To satisfying reading,

Mary