Sunday, November 20, 2011


I've written about clothing before.  Truthfully, it fascinates me the way our clothing affects so many facets of our lives.  How we feel, how we act, what role we are playing at that particular moment; how others perceive us and how we think others perceive us.

On Thursday I dressed as professionally as I could. Black and neat, with my hair in a bun and my nerdy librarian glasses.  My department and I were meeting with the assistant superintendent for the school district.  I imagined I looked a little like Professor McGonagall from the Harry Potter books.  She is, after all, the English professor of the magic world, with the ability to transform and to show others that way.  Loved, feared, respected and sometimes unexpected.  That's what I was going for, only without the stage makeup. I'm not saying that clothes make the man, but the meeting went well.  I feel as though we have won a battle in the curriculum war.  I offered her the instrument I created to gauge teacher's reactions to the AC curriculum and she seemed pretty excited.  She referred to the Pearson company as "the vendors" and assured me that in no way would I have to listen to them in accordance with classroom visits. Probably the best scenario I could hope for.

Friday I wore jeans- it is Jean Friday at our school and the students and teachers wear jeans and a school tee-shirt.  I am often mistaken for one of the kids on these days.  It cracks me up.  I zipped home after school and took Eleanor to the vet.  He never knows what to think of me.  Sometimes when I come in, I wear my professor clothes. Sometimes it's sweats and Friday, it was middle school togs.  And honestly, even if my vet were wearing a suit you would still guess his profession from his burly bearing, high crewcut and the giant scar across the face.  Yeah, he's got character.  And he always remembers me and my friggin' old cat.  I think he secretly wants to do a case study on her but doesn't like to write.

Friday I also went to my doctor.  Yeah, with 20 minutes to spare from closing time.  I am going to put this in polite euphemistic terms on purpose so as not to over-share or embarrass myself. I've been having girl problems for about three months and it's gotten worse.  As it turns out, the clinic didn't have the equipment to look properly under the hood, and I have a bad history, so he recommended that I go to the emergency room to make sure I wasn't dying, then to come back next week to order regular tests.

I don't like going to the doctor.  I don't like being sick. I intensely dislike hospitals and dislike even more when I'm the one who has to be poked or prodded or subjected to cold instruments and drugs.

A regular person might have gone straight to the emergency room, post haste, tout suite, no delays whatsoever.  Not me.  I went home. I called Grey- who was coming down anyway- and discussed the situation.  I did not want to go.  I didn't know what to wear, what costume to put on to give the right impression to medical personnel.  Frankly, I didn't have the right clothes. No scrubs, no latex gloves and nothing like a lab coat to lend me credibility in that venue.  Plus, I knew they were going to hit me with needles and ask me questions that my own mom doesn't ask.
"I'm leaving here in a few minutes. I can meet you at the hospital."
"Really? I don't want to go. Can't it wait until Monday?"
"You'll be freaking out about it all weekend if you don't do this."
"Sigh. Alright. But I'm taking a shower first."

And I did.  I put my hair up and took a long enough shower that I was only at the hospital for half hour before he showed up.  And when he walked in the room, I was ready with my costume: floral green/blue unbuttoned in the back hospital gown, clean ankle socks and a pretty argyle scarf around my neck to keep me warm.  The nice nurse provided me with a heated blanket so that I wouldn't get too cold.  Grey held my hand through all that fun stuff and said comforting things.  We made jokes and talked until the doctor came back in with test results.  He wore what he always wears; a pair of black jeans and a tee-shirt.  I found out that he owns four pairs of identical black jeans.  The khakis and collared shirts are for work. This man is exactly as he appears.  He is straight forward and says and does and wears what he means.  In all, it wasn't a bad date, given that I had an IV stuck in my arm the whole time.

The doctor said I wasn't going to die right away.  She didn't know what was wrong with me but she knew what wasn't wrong and that's just as important.  She gave me prescriptions for pain and sent us on our way with a stern admonition to see a gynecologist next week.  Fine. I will go. Glad I'm not dead yet.

For the weekend, I wore the costume I like best: sweats and a tee, with a cup of coffee and my nerd glasses so that I can be as comfy as possible and not worry about who I am impressing or how I will be perceived.  I know that some days I have to dress up.  I'm going to meet Grey's family for Thanksgiving and when and if I ever get an interview at a university, I will need to worry about wardrobe and hair and make up.  And Saturday, I picked up my gown, doctoral hood and tam at OU.  The mom waiting in line to pay for her child's sweatshirt and travel mug seemed very impressed and congratulated me.  That night, I watched my roommate and her niece get dressed to go dance at a powwow.  She took out a suitcase and said "I've got to put on my Indian clothes." And indeed, she looked beautiful and regular and very different than her "other" life as a librarian with her hipster glasses and layers of twinsets and knee boots.

I don't think these things we wear change us.  I mean, I'm 38- what more can you change at this stage of the game?  We wear specific clothes for mourning, for church and religious functions, for getting married and in many cultures, for coming of age.  Rather, I change clothes for a purpose and use the idea that other people perceive me based on my appearance to my advantage.  Costumes both mask and express who I am, shows aspects rather than defines and most of the time, playing dress-up is just plain fun.


  1. Hi, I saw your link on FB and came over to check out your blog. I like it, you are a good writer.


    Bill Hensley