Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Time For Sweatpants

This past week I had a terrible stomach bug. My tummy had been acting a bit strange even the week before this past one, but this last week really became a problem.

Tuesday morning, I woke up feeling really nauseated, so I tried going back to bed. When I woke up a bit later and didn't feel any better, I figured I might as well head to school, since sleep wasn't going to fix me and I had a very full day.

During my second class (my first of the day, since I had slept through my first class), I just didn't feel very good, and went to the restroom. Very carefully, I squatted down (in my high heels), and threw up just a bit - you know, the awkward little half-throw-up that you don't really feel justified calling vomit, but is still unpleasant. I was quite careful to not let my dress-pants touch the ground, and went back to class, still not feeling great.

After a weird day of canceling meetings to take naps, and generally not feeling good at all, I went back to the school for the second part of an internet marketing seminar I had signed up (and paid) for. About 20 minutes in, I got that peculiar feeling that lets you know with no uncertainty that you're going to lose it — I made it to the restroom, sat down (in my dress pants) on the bathroom floor, and threw up.

Since I have reasonably long legs, when I sat down on the bathroom floor, girls walking through could see that someone in the stall was not feeling so good. I had about six pairs of feet walk by and ask me timidly if I was okay. I said I was fine, and thanks for the concern, that I had just thrown up, but would be okay. I was simultaneously a faceless invalid and a public story. I then went back to my internet marketing class, and after about 20 minutes decided to go home, even though the class wasn't over. I then slept for over 12 hours.

As I'm sure my readers know, I put a good deal of stock in the idea that dressing well makes you feel better. I'm the girl who thinks cute shoes help you do better on tests (and even if they don't, at least you make a smashing failure), and I never wear sweatpants in public unless I am going to or from the gym right then. When I was sitting in my school bathroom, throwing up in my business casual, I realized why we wear our comfiest, grubbiest clothes when we're sick.

Part of it is elastic waistbands are good for upset stomachs, but more than that, our yucky clothes say that we're just not up to par. In a sense, it is the most honest thing to do — when you're lying in bed, wondering if you have the flu, you are admitting you're sick. You're not trying to put on a brave front, you're wishing for some peach-apricot jello, lemon-lime gatorade, and your mom. You're admitting that life is not "business as usual," that you're in pain, that you need help.

To a large extent, our economy has had a stomach bug experience much like mine. It was sick for quite a long time, but went to school, dressed nicely, and hid the problem. Then the housing bubble popped, and instead of going home and raising the white flag, admitting illness and moving on, there were multiple bailouts, and it quickly became apparent that we were bowing to the porcelain god while trying to keep our slacks off the bathroom floor. The business casual, the face of professionalism, the soundbites were all hiding a nasty stomach bug that was making us lose our breakfasts — and our 401(k)s.

After a couple of days, I was fine. I did, however, have to sleep a lot, and cancel a number of meetings. I lost a lot of time and productivity, but I got better. At this point, I think our economy may need to do the metaphorical equivalent — take a hit now and heal, rather than continue throwing up in high heels.

I threw up in:
Blue dress pants, black sleeveless turtleneck sweater, silver hoop earrings, dark gray metallic owl necklace, black and silver watch, black and silver ring, and black and gray wingtip-inspired heels.