Yesterday was my 40th birthday. I woke up hungover so I cancelled on the brunch plans my friend had made and let my abusive ex dote on me with fast food and foot rubs while I got super stoned and watched the new season of ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’ all day long.
Throughout the day I moved one time, from the bed to the couch, and then one more time, from the couch back to the bed. I ate so much fatty fried food that when I got on the scale this morning it said ‘127’ instead of ‘123’ (like it had the day before). I know, 127 is still pretty skinny for a person that’s 5'7. But jeez, four pounds in one day? I don’t know if I should be ashamed or impressed with myself.
My life is not what I thought it would be by 40.
I haven’t been able to sustain a consistent romantic relationship for longer than a year and a half since I was in college. Can that be? The most consistent, lasting relationship happened when I was in my early 20s? That sounds absurd. What went wrong?
I think I imagined people would take me seriously by this age. And I suppose my students do. My teenage, high school students, each of whom I see for a total of three hours a week, I guess they probably take me seriously because they care so much about their arbitrary grades. God forbid they upset their parents or ruin their chances of getting in to that top school because of a bad grade on one of the arbitrary tests I create for them in order to put some arbitrary numbers in an arbitrary grade book.
The grown-ups around here definitely don’t take me seriously, though. They think I’m lazy because I take advantage of the sick days I’m legally allowed to take and because I leave when I’m done with the work I have to do (rather than stick around to twiddle my thumbs until my “contracted hours” are up which is three and half hours after I’m done with my last class on Tuesdays and Thursdays; it’s ridiculous to stay here for that long. But people get upset when you exercise free thought and agency around here, I guess).
The other day my friend in administration decided to approach me about what I wear to school everyday. I guess she is my supervisor now seeing as how she is in charge of religion (it’s a private catholic school) and I teach social studies. Makes sense that she would be the one to be concerned about everyone coming to work looking the part, putting on the right superficial show, right?
I had been wearing essentially the same thing every single day for years. I was rockin this muted, arguably gender neutral ensemble of fitted khaki pants, saucony sneakers, and a sweater. It was not over the top in any way. It was definitely not distracting to the learning environment. It was simple and straightforward. And it was me. It was my style.
“Dress code? What about the dress code” I asked her when she confronted me about it.
“Your pants,” she said.
“What about my pants?”
They were definitely not jeans. You could argue that they were a bit on the casual side. You could point out they were fitted or even of the ‘skinny’ variety. But they were definitely not jeans.
I pointed out that my pants were no more denim than her pants. After some vague, passive-aggressive back and forth she says,
“Well if you’re going to refuse to change your pants, at least make an effort with your shoes.”
“Ok. Thank you for the feedback,” I said sarcastically as she walks out.
So nice catching up with an old friend, huh? So nice to feel encouraged and valued (and not at all insulted) during the hardest, most disillusioning year of my teaching career. So nice to be reminded that what matters more than arbitrary grades and rules is creativity and human connection.
Hah. I guess this virtual/hybrid/impossible learning environment has given her a moment to pause and realize how she can better serve the population by taking on the job of ‘fashion police’. I mean, somebody’s gotta do it, right?