BioBooksAwardsComing NextContactBlogFun StuffHome

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Sand Vampires

One thing that happened at the conference, and continued to haunt me for a while afterward, happened on the beach.

I arrived at the conference early, and on the first day, I headed toward the beach. I was wearing tennis shoes, but I decided to walk on the sand anyway only to discover that my shoes had tiny holes and sand filled them. Especially the left shoe.

That had me turning around and heading back to the concrete. I took off the shoes, shook them out, and put them back on. I spent the rest of the day sitting at a table on the patio, looking at the ocean while I made notes on one of my story ideas. It was windy as heck. Actually, it was terribly windy the entire week of the conference, which made it miserable to spend time outside.

I didn't think anything more about the sand in my shoes until a few days later when right above my socks, I had a strip of red on my skin. It didn't feel like bites, so I thought sunburn, but I couldn't figure out how I'd gotten sunburned when I'd been inside at the conference for two days by then.

Every day I had that red strip over my sock on the left side and I began to suspect something was biting me. I hadn't felt anything, but that's what it had to be. I just didn't know--yet--where the bites were originating.

I began to suspect my shoes around the same time I left Florida. I switched to a different pair of shoes while I was moving and all my other shoes were packed--except for the tennis shoes I'd worn on the beach in Florida. The red strip began to fade and I was certain my shoes were to blame. Before my dryer was unhooked at my old house, I threw my shoes inside and set it hot. I let it run for an hour.

The new tennis shoes I was wearing, though, rubbed my foot wrong and after a couple of days, my feet hurt. Sure that the heat had killed all the sand vampires in the first pair of shoes, I switched back the night we moved into the new house. We ran and picked up dinner late, then fell into bed.

The next morning, the strip of red was bigger and brighter than it had been and now I had a few bites on my right leg too, right above my ankle socks. Grrr.

Now there was no doubt the shoes were to blame. It had to have been something in the sand at the beach. I did online searches, but nothing I turned up sounded exactly right for my situation. I talked to people I worked with who were from Florida and they didn't know what it could be either.

I was tempted to just throw those tennis shoes out, but I couldn't. You see, these were my favorite shoes in the whole world  (Skechers GoMeb Strada 2) and they don't make them anymore. This pair filled with sand vampires was literally the last one in my size I could find anywhere on the internet. There was nothing wrong with them except for the bloodsucking fiends inside them.

But, I thought, they're Florida sand vampires. What kills bugs faster than anything else? Cold! Minnesota doesn't have the wealth and size of bugs that Florida or Georgia have because the frigid cold for months on end kills them off. Taking my shoes to Minnesota wasn't an option, but I have an extra upright freezer--that's Minnesota cold. I put my tennis shoes inside. I'm not sure when I'll take them out.

Yes, they're still inside from mid-October. I just don't want to get bitten again and I don't know of those things are dead yet or not. I'm thinking about taking them out and spraying the shoes with rubbing alcohol. I'll post an update if something interesting happens on the shoe front.