Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Work: Casual Wednesdays

Last year, my principal made (and then rescinded) the decision to cut me from my department.  I saw this coming and so I was able to make some preparations prior to my fateful trip to his office.  I saw no point in bringing my folder full of positive performance reviews.  Clearly he had considered these, right?  Instead I focused on my wardrobe.

I thought a lot about what one wears to a firing --a suit? sweatpants?  I decided on a black shirt dress with a side tie and a big full skirt.  This was a dose of private gallows humor, as I attributed much of my expendableness to the fact that I was the only mother among those of us who were without professional status (and thus fire-able); this dress, in a different color and covered up with a scallop-edged apron, reminded me of something Donna Reed might wear.  Also, I wore pointy-toed, spike-heeled red lizard-embossed pumps; I thought they handily summed up my bitter disapproval of the entire affair.

In the month between my firing and unfiring, I spent a lot of time strategizing about my wardrobe.  Truthfully, I had always put thought into my clothing.  The scrutiny of a hundred opinionated teenagers a day will do that to you.  In that month of being fired, though, wardrobe decisions felt like my only place of power.  I relied often on the red lizard pumps.  When a former student e-mailed his support, he said that a friend of his in one of my classes had mentioned my shoes.  "Classy," he wrote, "dig?"  Why, thank you.

This year, though, I find myself moving in the opposite direction with what have become regular casual Wednesdays, and I'm not sure what this means.  By the middle of each week, I find myself unable resist the lure of denim.  Sure, I dress it up with cashmere sweaters and crisp blouses, and it's not like it's sweatpants. But it's certainly not a suit. 

It could be that after the drama of last year, I'm approaching work on my own terms.  Or, it may be that my new (and beloved) part-time schedule has shrunken work down to being just a portion of my day and not the day itself.  It's also possible that a tiny piece of me is daring the higher-ups to make something of it.

Insubordination by wardrobe.  Now that's a cause for dismissal I could be proud of.

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