Off-campus, though? That's a different story. Thanks to JoVE and to Lady English Professor for giving me the idea of writing about the things we wear when we work from home.* You know, what we wear on the writing days, the reading days, the grading days, the deadline-crunch days. Usually, we're not wearing skirts and high heels and makeup. Often--and I mean no offense--we look terrible. This is cliché, even: while "elbow patches" is a very well-known professor aesthetic, "crazy slob writer" also has some popular cultural traction. Thus Michael Douglas in Wonderboys:
It's funny because it's true, am I right?
When I work from home, I have a very limited set of things I wear. My Magical Work Slob Un-Outfit comprises:
- Pink Crocs with some princess stickers on them, courtesy my five-year-old
- Fuzzy 'white' chenille slipper socks
- Grey baggy Old Navy yoga pants -OR- pajama pants
- T-shirt that I slept in the night before
- Super-fuzzy Lululemon hoodie -OR- ancient grey wool cardigan -OR- overized superlong terry cloth bathrobe
It is important that my hair Not Bug Me, so I usually pin my bangs back somehow. It is also important not to wear makeup or contact lenses, so that I am able mash my face into my hands in despair, or have a nap, without making a big mess.
I kinda look like this:
(I guess there's a reason for the stereotypes ...)
I can happily spend entire teaching days all dressed up and feel stylish and comfy. I can go to lectures by visiting speakers, a bunch of meetings, and sit in my office prepping stuff for class and answering student emails. However, Real Thinky Work (research, writing) as well as Real Slog Work (grading marathons) for me necessarily entail wearing my Magical Work Slob Un-Outfit. I just can't write anything more complex than an email in an Outfit Project outfit, because when I try, I feel helplessly and hopelessly constricted by garments with no spandex content, pants with fasteners, shirts with buttons, bras with underwire, shoes. I freak out. Even my hair bugs me and I start grabbing at paper clips to try to hold it back. Paper clips.
But maybe that's just me. Maybe my discomfort is legitimately physical: who can really rewrite our shared understanding of the (im)materiality of digital culture when slumping forward toward the computer screen makes that weird second button on the fly of their dress pants dig into their belly button? Or maybe it's psychological: I've said before that writing makes me literally itchy, no matter what I'm wearing, and writing is maybe just so very awful for me that I'm trying to externalize that discomfort somehow. Still. The Magical Slob Work Un-Outfit gets things done for me.
What about you? What do you wear to stay home and write? Why?
* And if you want to know what other people's writing spaces look like, Lady English Professor has put together a slideshow of submitted photos from the Waterloo English Department faculty and graduate students, and they're on the blog. (Mine's the one with the cat and the gin.)