Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Here’s the thing. This week the rent check bounced, in a few weeks the ivy league is going to want its money, two days from now I have to pay the credit card bill and tomorrow I lose money again when I pay for my unlimited metro pass because getting from Brooklyn to Manhattan is cheap, but not cheap enough. That leaves me with what I’ve got to deal with today. And what I’ve got to deal with today is a hole in my shoe. I’ve got holes in my Uggs; four years old, broken in, weathered, worn, once chestnut colored and now dishwater-dirty having been raped by the streets of New York. I got a hole in my right Ugg and it hurts.

Moving to New York has turned me into a guy in some respects: the kind of guy that can’t give up his favorite pair of shoes. You’ve probably dated him. He uses electrical tape to keep his shoes together when the stitching comes undone. He’s always looking for Shoe Goo at Duane Reade and even when you haul his shoes out to the trash and buy him new ones, you find that same damn pair on his feet when you take him home to meet your mother. I’m that guy now. But I’m a girl so there’s more stigma attached.

My mother beat it into my head growing up that the shoes make the outfit and that people always notice what you have on your feet. If you don’t know, I’ll break it to you gently: People judge you by your shoes just as much, if not more so, than by your face. Before you go flipping through the Rolodex of all the shoe mistakes you’ve made (Crocs), remember, I’m in no position to judge. I spend my days looking like an Inuit traveler lost on the streets of the big city. But even an Inuit will tell you; Uggs are hard to give up. They’re comfortable and in the colder months, they keep your feet warm. Though they’re not rainproof or even meant to get wet, I’ve worn them through many a storm in NY. But it was the last storm we had that did me in. As sheets of rain came pouring from the sky, a puddle of street-water came rushing into the chamber of my right shoe. My sock got soggy and so did my mood. I panicked. This was a sure sign from God that the boots had to go. We’d had good times. They’d kept my calves and toes warm. They’d been made fun of when I first arrived in New York, and they’d survived to see the day when everyone wanted a pair and sported them casually. But I wasn’t ready to call it quits. My Uggs, are series 5479 Cargo II Uggs with a reinforced all terrain lugged sole for traction, and a utility pocket with a buckle strap for stuff like gum, your friend’s drugs or laundry quarters. These boots are the kind you can’t buy anymore, the kind you can’t even track down on the internet—they’ve developed the cache of a limited edition item—like the 1977 Star Wars Burger King Collector Glasses. Those were cool. People bought them while supplies lasted. And then they were gone. Lucky for collectors, eBay landed. But I can’t even find my boots in my size on eBay and I’m not in the market to buy the newer model.

So for now, I’ve come up with a doable, affordable solution. Poverty makes you thrifty and though I’m embarrassed to reveal my solution, I am proud to say it doesn’t involve electrical tape. Nope, I’m using shoe inserts instead. With the inserts in there, I can’t feel the squishy water that sneaks into my right shoe on rainy days. I’ve bought myself enough time to come home and take the shoe off before I can. This, I figure, is a great way to avoid the athletes-foot I might surely get if I leave my foot in a wet shoe. I’ve also bought myself a little more time with my favorite boots.

Poverty is about ingenuity right? It’s about stretching things, making things last and getting more than your money’s worth out of something. The little things you fix and the things you get away tend to make you smile again. The little problems you solve are the ones that remind you that you’re not as helpless as you sometimes feel.  So go ahead, judge me by the shoes I wear…Just don’t tell my mom I had Uggs on when you saw me.