Mr. Bright Side


Sometimes I get annoyed about men’s fashion. Men’s work clothes are so bland and uninteresting–pants, shirts, ties, jackets. Period. Khakis. Whoo hoo! Dangerous. I used to get irritated that the women in my offices could wear things that were basically more casual and comfortable (say, by not having a bolt of silk knotted at their throat, for example). In Arizona, it was worse, because women could come to work in what were essentially muscle shirts with collars on them and it was fine. When it was 116 outside, I totally considered putting a collar on one of my sleeveless shirts rather than put on the thick, biohazard suit-like clothes of the office guy.

Maybe there’s something in the air lately, but I’ve read and heard from several writers this simple sentiment:

“Thank god I don’t make my living through writing. I’m so happy I have this other job as a nurse/math teacher/graphic designer to keep me going.”

The remarks stunned me a bit. While I feel lucky to have a job where I get to work in the “literary world” somewhat, and meet writers, and plan events for them, etc., I sometimes wonder if things would be better (would it be awful to say “easier”?) if I were teaching college. For poets, I think university jobs are sort of the elephant in the room (if you don’t have one). I wonder, for example, if it would be great to have summers off so I could trot off to writing residencies, or how great it would be to work three or four days a week so I could travel for readings and everything.

And it’s hard to remember all the unpleasant parts of teaching that I don’t have to deal with, like paperwork and tenure review committees and politics and bureaucracy. Because it’s easier to focus on what I want and don’t have rather than what I have and don’t want. (It’s a personality flaw, admittedly.)

So, I don’t get to go on writing retreats longer than a long weekend, and I don’t get long summer days to read books and write new poems. I work about 50 hours a week in one of the most fun jobs a writer can have. And I’m good at it, too. I don’t know if I would feel so excited to do something I was only 75% good at.

So what’s the bright side of fashion? That although my closets are full of pants, shirts, ties, and jackets, most of them don’t ever go out of style. Thanks, black pants, white shirts, etc! That’s money in my pocket. To go buy more clothes.

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