I woke up at 4 a.m., which I wish I could say is unusual, but it’s not at all. Pretty much every other day I wake up at 3 or 4 a.m. You don’t have to tell me I should cut down on caffeine, drink tart cherry juice, exercise more, try journaling before bed, or take a sleeping pill. I have tried all those things and they do sometimes work to some extent.
My husband Dan said that if I’m going to get up in the middle of the night, I should try writing down my thoughts/to-do list.
This morning I was mostly preoccupied by thinking about what I am going to wear on Back-to-School night this week when a bunch of parents will be coming into my classroom wanting to know if I am a decent, hardworking person who intends to be nice to their children. Some of them would appreciate it if the children actually learned something in my class and most of them are hoping I am not the type to assign a crushing amount of homework. I know this because I am a parent and, as a parent, homework is hell. Mine, theirs, all of it. Because, you know, we need to eat dinner, take showers, clean the litter box, and change the sheets sometimes. Yes, it is true that my kids may be playing video games while I am doing these things myself and that is another part of parenting that stinks, but really, parents should not have to feed their kids a steady diet of vending machine crackers and fast food just so we can make time to slog through a few hours of homework with them every night.
And then there are the parents who think their kids need to be challenged and want them to do more homework.
But nobody is going to be able to focus on these details if all they can think about is the ugliness of my orthopedic shoes. If parents are anything like high school students, they care deeply about shoes, maybe more than they care about homework, although few would admit it.
I often read a blog for moms that is aimed at showing middle-aged women how we can wear trendy clothing without looking like idiots. In this blog, there are links to products from stores like Nordstrom because women my age are supposed to be able to afford things from Nordstrom. For example, one of the bloggers might take a photo of herself wearing a black, oversized sweatshirt with black leggings, black sneakers, and hair pulled into a loose ponytail. Her post will explain that this is her new favorite “edgy” look. The name of the brand of sneakers is highlighted so that you can click on it and it takes you to the store’s website, where you find out that these sneakers cost $298 even though they look almost exactly like the ones you just got on sale at the mall for $29.99.
So I read these stories periodically in effort to figure out how I can look more the way I am supposed to look instead of the way I do, which according to my husband and mother is “fine.” Isn’t it nice of my husband and my mom to say I look fine? Wouldn’t you find that comforting?
I also read blogs by other teachers about how they decorate their classrooms. The new thing is that everyone is turning their classroom into a cybercafe with couches and lamps and cool rugs and stuff. I am all down with this idea except for the small issue of space, funding, and possibly, learning actual things.
No, but I really might put a couch and some lamps in my classroom for the poetry readings if it weren’t such a long way for my one husband to lug it up two flights of stairs by himself. And he has enough to do. Presently, it is Sunday morning and he is at the school where he teaches making copies for his classes tomorrow. On Friday evening, we tried to take a nice relaxing walk through our neighborhood, but then some neighbors flagged him down and started talking about various repairs that he could make on their home at some point.
These are the things that cross my mind at 4 a.m.
I also read blogs by other teachers about what they do on Back-to-School night. In addition to wearing cool outfits and having classrooms that look like ads for Pier 1, they have slideshows that include an “About Me” slide.
What might I say on my “About Me” slide? That I am one of millions of English teachers who got her start writing bad poetry in her bedroom at age 12? I could mention that crickets and other insects have, on occasion, managed to cause major distractions in my classroom, but that because of my belief in karma, I sometimes prolong the situation by chasing the insect around until I catch it with my bare hands as the children shriek with excitement, shouting “Eew” and “How can you touch that?”
I could mention that I did, in fact, change my earrings four times before leaving the house and I could explain the process: I started with small hoops, which I thought might be too boring. Then, I tried some dangly moonstone earrings, but those were too much with the big tortoiseshell glasses I have to wear ever since the day I got the contact lens stuck in my eye. So then I tried the cupcake earrings, but wouldn’t those send the wrong message? I’m not actually all that playful, whimsical, or fun. Finally, I decided to put the small hoops back in even though they are boring. That is what I could tell people because there is a 90 percent chance that is what will happen.
I remember once hearing someone with a British accent say, “If people notice what you are wearing, then you are not well-dressed.”
There is a ring of certainty to anything spoken with a British accent.
Thank you for working through this with me. What I wear is not what matters most. It isn’t about me or my woman v. self conflict regarding cupcake earrings and orthopedic shoes. It is about growth. I am moving toward inner peace. As my favorite yoga teacher says, the divine light in me salutes the divine light in you. Namaste.
Do you think anyone will find that offensive?