Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Changement de costume

I used to call it my monkey suit. It was the outfit I'd wear for work. The monkey suit changed over time, depending on how open-minded or stuck up the workplace was. Sometimes I could wear the outfit in my day-to-day life, but in my mind, this was still a facade, something I had imposed upon me that I had to deal with.

The last few jobs I've held did not have massive requirements on the wardrobe. In customer service, as long as its relatively clean and decent, nobody gave much of a fuck what you wear. As a fromager, I did not have tough requirements, and they already provided something of a required uniform, so having to wear black pants was not a big problem for me. When I came back to work after my leave of absence, even that requirement had apparently been thrown out the window. If anything, the sweat and constant dealing in animal fats and dairy products pretty much ensured that I'd go home and change before dealing with the rest of the planet.

And now, a new environment, both to work and to live. This was a very conscious decision on my part, a necessary change of circumstance, a consequence of my vacation. It dawned on me that I'd been underestimating and underusing myself. I was living in a troublesome area, in a dysfunctional apartment because rent was cheap, which allowed me to undershoot my salary expectations and use any extra cash to buy pretties. Which is well and fine, but it gets you nowhere, just a cluttered home.

And sacrifices. The previous place, besides the so-called humans living and breeding in that area had its own cost; after all, as a condition of the rent agreement we weren't allowed to live with cats, dogs, or other furry companions. Being animal lovers made this pretty hard on us, so this had to change; it was a condition in out search for new dwellings. We also had to consider that any new dwelling that would meet our requirements would certainly mean higher rent. So less pretties. No big deal, its taken care of.

The decision was taken even before I returned to work; at that time it made more sense for me to return to a secure job, that might not be fantastic, but provided the necessities. One less problem to deal with, the change took place.

The purge became necessary as well; you cant go through years of collecting all kinds of stuff without going overboard at some point. A big part of my purge decision involved the furniture. You get fed up with making due with what you have; it becomes necessary to get what you want. If anything, a theme, a sense of unity, a sentiment of order in the creative chaos, so that the mind can rest once in a while. That got taken care of too. The process isn't completely over; just because you get rid of things doesn't mean that you have a replacement that you want or can afford readily available.

And the wardrobe. It seems like an exercise in vanity, but if you upgrade your lifestyle, go all the way. I spent years in jeans and t-shirts (two drawers full of the things), and it gets tiring. If your sense of aesthetics are anywhere near developed, you see the need for some variety, some change in your appearance. In a work environment, you'll want to portray the image of someone who has things together, whether its strictly for appearances. Everyday jeans and t-shirts folks don't tend to get noticed and promoted. Or taken seriously.

I also happen to look good when smartly dressed, and can make the subtle but important difference between style and fashion. One is an art, the other a drug. Style requires a deeper statement than just whatever happens to be in season. You can have style wearing random pieces of vintage and new items, if the mind behind the image is creative. Too many people who claim style are noting but hipsters with an attitude, something to sneer and spit on.


I have made a commitment to myself: onward and forward. It has a cost. Being intelligent requires one to recognize the need for that cost, and the reward for the trade. Its not like I wont be wearing any more jeans and t-shirt, its just not going to be a fashion statement. Its just going to be another face I'll show the world.

The French refer to it as a "costume": what is interesting about this statement is that it reflects an American saying: life is a play. What the Americans haven't figured out yet is that not only is there more than one act, but that there's more than one play. You can change according to your role.

Just put on a new costume and act.

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