Tuesday, January 13, 2009

sage and black, black and sage

Something about winter makes me crave sameness, some flatness of detail. I have in my possession a pair of sage-colored slacks of a perfect cut, with a little stretch, with a pair of lean cargo pockets placed at an angle so that they actually look good on a woman of my shape. And I have, also, a lean ribbed turtleneck in black. One pair of black merino socks is thicker than the others and I found a pair of black wool Danskos at a local consignment shop, a few months back.

Now I ask you: why should I ever wear anything else?

I switch to pajamas at night, a black velour cardigan and sage velour slacks. I could look just about the same, 24/7!

I actually love clothes—I do! I found four new just-right ribbed turtlenecks in the pre-Christmas sales, because my brown one shows wear and my purple one sports a nasty hole under the arm. Last year no stores stocked ribbed turtles, so this year I purchased every non-pastel color available: bright pink, dark apple green, black (sigh!) and a beautiful charcoal grey. But the grey does not match the sage pants, the favorite pants, THE pants. And I don’t “feel” bright pink. The dark apple green required some convincing, and a floral scarf to make up for the green-ness. Grey, pink and green can be worn with the black slacks, sometimes, or jeans in a pinch. No ribbed turtleneck should be worn with wide-wale corduroy black pants, though I sometimes match them anyway, when I’m going out to sit at the coffee shop and I want a pair of warm slacks AND a warm neck. The closet holds plenty of winter options.

But somehow I only want to wear… my winter mom-uniform, writer’s uniform, student uniform. Sage. Black.

So my New Year’s resolution is an odd one: I will wear different clothes every day. And if I plan to see people at any point of the day, I will apply makeup in the morning, as if those people matter and as if I matter. And if I applied makeup during the day, I will wash my face before bed. In an office or store environment, all of these resolutions would simply be expectations. Here, I could get away with wearing the same thing every day, and perhaps no one would notice, but I might feel apologetic. After awhile one day bleeds into the next in my memory, no day all that different from any other.

Somehow a fresh set of clothes each day equals some sort of dignity. What kind, I do not know. I do know craving sameness of clothes and avoiding face-washing seem to lean toward depression, always a threat in the short days of winter. Perhaps this change-of-clothing thing is some sort of incantation or prayer against darkness. It’s a necessary resolution. I am keeping it.

Guess what? Yesterday I wore the green turtleneck and cords, and the day before I wore the pink turtleneck under a black cardigan, so almost no pink was showing. You know what that means? Today, I slide on the sage pants (cargo pockets!) and black turtleneck with a sigh. With my wool Danskos, my feet rest firmly on the floor and are WARM. Someday I will write a treatise on the benefit of warm feet in winter, a new element of my life in drafty New England.

But for today, I get to wear my sage-and-black uniform happily and with dignity. Even though I am writing, at home, I am ready to see people, should any appear. Already it’s a good, good day.

Today I revisited the pack of Official Documents for my masters program, as a refresher. The 15- to 20-page critical essay that will become my graduate lecture is due in five weeks, which translates to 20 “working” days with kids in school—barring kid-sickness and snow days. While polishing this academic essay I’m supposed to continue with new writing, with seemingly endless reading. Believe it or not, this “twenty pages in twenty days” is good news: I thought I needed drafts of my creative thesis (100 pages), too, but apparently those are due later in the year. I’m double-checking on that fact, later in the day.

My critical essay plays with Robert Farrar Capon’s Supper of the Lamb and MFK Fisher’s How to Cook a Wolf, to look at how each writer approaches meaning and humanity via food and hospitality. At least, I should say, that’s the plan for now. To “essay” is to try—I will have fun trying.

My next residency is in late March—SEVEN required books to read between now and then, besides more research for my critical essay. Then nine more books in late spring as I pull together 100 pages of creative writing from the past two years.

I graduate August 1, in Santa Fe. Want to come? Let me know and I’ll get you details.

And today I also sat down with a pen and wrote and wrote for hours, filling pages. Still so much to write! I know I've been a sporadic blogger, and I think it's likely to continue this way for a few more months. Thanks for hanging around.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps I need to join you in making some similar resolutions, make-up, clothes changing, yea, even face washing. I'm right there with you. Georgia is cold in the winter! And, the rooms in my house are cavernous and I fear the heating bill. My uniform(s) of choice rotate between turtle necks--covered in complimentary fleece... uhummm, 2 of which I wore in Boston. Today (and yesterday) my favorite cotten cable sweater! My days are divided MWF and TTH therefore, I get away with repeating the outfits on alternating days! I figure no one notices anyway! They do notice the RARE occasion make up. ha! Keep up the good work!! Anna

Kristine said...

But, you know, Denise, you're so damn gorgeous that most of us probably wouldn't notice if you wore the same clothes all the time. And makeup on you? Gilding the lily, my dear :)

Dyana said...

I totally identify with this. Today was my day off, and like most days off, I kept my hair pulled back, no makeup, am currently wearing (no joke) jeans and a black t-shirt with a sage sweater over it. And my house shoes.

I feel like I look like a moose, all brown and shabby.

Denise said...

Maybe we are trying to blend into the forest, Dyana, or assume Landscape identities.

Today: BROWN turtleneck, sage pants. Moose-like, yes.

Kristine, you also are worthy of great praise.