Sunday, June 03, 2007

Keeping up appearances

Yesterday I had a long phone conversation with HK, and then another slightly less lengthy one with Bert. This isn't news in itself, as I've been spending a lot of time on the phone lately--but in the course of those conversations HK happened to mention that she'd been doing a serious number of stomach crunches every day, and Bert mentioned that he'd started going back to the gym.

Well, of course, you might be thinking. It's summertime, so everyone's getting in shape.

No: it's summertime, and our 10-year college reunion is in less than a week.

I'm not so big with the exercise, but I've begun my own regimen: 8.5 or 9 hours of sleep a night, and to bed by 11 or midnight. 64 oz of water a day. No crying. Because while I've generally been doing okay with regard to That Thing That Happened, I've had consistent trouble getting as much sleep as I actually need, and what with that and even the occasional meltdown (most recently, Friday night), my eyes have seen some serious dark circle and puffiness action, which I find is just not my most fabulous look. And it would be a shame to disappoint my pretty clothes by looking haggard in them.

I don't think there's anyone in particular whom any of us is trying to impress--speaking for myself, I can say that none of my exes or ex-crushes is important enough for me to want to dazzle (although, okay: I wouldn't absolutely hate it if I did), and they're all married anyway. But at a time like this I think that everyone does want to project something that seems like her best self, even if more for herself than anyone else. And like it or not, it's the external self that first telegraphs a message of success or the lack thereof.

Hence, these physical self-improvement projects. Hence, the repeated trips to the mall (where, God help me, I just bought another pair of shoes).

Bert and HK and I are all, I suppose, behind the ball in some ways--not currently partnered, not property owners, and with no savings to speak of--but we're otherwise doing respectably enough by the standards of our graduating class. Bert's been doing HIV/AIDS public policy work in New York and will be starting a grad program in that field next fall. HK has worked a variety of interesting jobs, lived abroad for a couple of years, and just graduated from one of the approved law schools (nevermind that she hated it). And as for me, well, I guess that I have a Ph.D. from an approved institution, and now I have a tenure-track job (nevermind that it's at a school most of my classmates won't have heard of--at least it's in a blue state in the east!).

And although I do feel some anxiety over the probable greater success of many of my classmates--those nice homes, summer homes, spouses, and exotic travel--one of the nicest thing about Instant Name Recognition U is that even the corporate-climbers tend to have a sincere interest in and respect for the arts, the liberal arts, and the more unusual career paths. All those lawyers and bankers? Most of them kinda think they took the easy path. They know their jobs aren't particularly interesting, and they try to make up for it by getting season tickets to the opera and the symphony and reading the latest literary fiction. In my experience they love to hang out with people they can romanticize as having "pursued their dreams."

But you know, nothing says, "I have an amazing life that I love" better than looking gorgeous and prosperous, or as close to those things as one can reasonably come. And it's not only my college classmates I have to impress: I'm also having lunch with Advisor, who has a tendency to notice--and to comment on--matters of self-presentation.

So, we're trying over here.

10 comments:

Black Sheepish said...

You're gonna knock 'em dead, Flavia, especially with that dress, but mostly with your gorgeous, fabulous self. Have a wonderful time. Enjoy your new clothes, enjoy your friends, enjoy a martini, or two...
Love, BS

phd me said...

And you will no doubt succeed! Feel like posting a pix of the outfit? :)

Sisyphus said...

Feel like posting a pix of the outfit? :)

Or, the shoes?

Ianqui said...

But you know, nothing says, "I have an amazing life that I love" better than looking gorgeous and prosperous,

Well, given what we do, it might be hard to convince people that you're prosperous, but the other things you mentioned--gorgeous and well dressed and satisfied with your intellectual career and liking where you live...those are even more important and people will be jealous of you for it!

Tiruncula said...

I can feel the fabulousness from here. You will knock 'em dead in that dress. I hope you have a truly excellent, hydrated, and restorative time!

Flavia said...

Okay, okay! If I manage to take sufficiently non-identifying photos (either of persons or of places) at the reunion, I'll post them at least briefly.

But these are the likely outfits:

1) Day One: long, lanky pink trousers (bought 2 years ago at J. Crew, on sale for FIFTEEN DOLLARS) and a sleeveless v-neck black top. Open-toed black mules.

2) Day Two: Myrna Loy-ish red patterned dress in a jersey material. It's definitely a daytime dress, but may be one of the sexier things I currently own. Bone-and-black vintage slingbacks.

2) Evening of Day Two: the fuschia dress pictured in a previous post, with dangly pearl earrings and a string of pearls (all fake, of course). Excessively pointy, excessively high stilettos in pinky-ivory colored leather (I'm not crazy about the pointy, but DSW beggars can't be choosers).

perfesser said...

Oh my! You think about this quite a bit. I have nevern gone to a reunion and I never will. I'm happy with my life, and I hope my high school and college mates are happy too ... I have nothing to prove to anyone. Wishing you the best.

medieval woman said...

No pressure! You're going to rock that reunion! The clothes sound fabulous and so are you.

Anonymous said...

oh man, you are going to look fabulous and have an amazing time. I wish we could be there with you, especially since we missed our own. (we could crash yours, what's a year or so at this point?) Send our best to all!

-J & G

Earnest English said...

Flavia, not only will you look gorgeous, but stylish in those clothes. Fabulous. So get some cucumbers to put on those eyecircles. You know, those of us who have allergies in the summer have those allergic circles under our eyes. If Advisor says anything, just say you have those blue state in the East summer allergies.