WPW: First Day of Fall 2020 Semester


Here Are All of Lady Gaga's Masks From the 2020 MTV VMAs | Billboard

Some of us are teaching online, and some of us are teaching m2m (mask to mask). Some of us are teaching hyflex and hybrid. Some of us are staring into cameras. Some of us are gazing over masks, and some of us are doing both–teaching to students in classrooms and students online at the same time! Here’s one thing we all have in common: We’re all doing the best we can.

Let’s start with the masks.

Lady Gaga

Well, we can’t all be Lady Gaga, can we? But y’all still got some pretty cool masks. Let’s take a look.

Some of us are wearing your uni brands on your face (like Caitlin is here):

Some of us are showing our favorite colors and animals (like Karol does here):

Some of us let cool patterns accent our style (like @DrCamHughes and Erika do):

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Some of us go for pretty-in-pink (like Monica does):

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Some of us go for the university issued black (like Paul here):

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And some of us are making masks for others (wow, Monica!):

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Let’s take a look at the unmasked:

Some of us, such as Erika, also remember to document that we have faces before we put on those masks!

Some of us who are teaching m2m are hanging out in our university offices taking mask breaks or getting ready to mask, like Kristen and Linda here:

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Some of us actually dressed up the way we would normally dress for the first day of class, but actually sat in our offices and taught online (like Brett here):


Some of us are happy to have made it to school with our masks and then back home to unmask (congrats, Jim):

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Some of us are teaching online and sporting the “telemarketer” look (like Rhonda here–I had to go with your joke, Rhonda, but I’m sure your students will thank you for wearing the headset!):

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Some of us are enjoying mask-free times and wearing lipstick (like Randi Marie and Vivian):

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Some of us are enjoying not having to wear shoes (hi, @professorafox):


Some of us experiment with Zoom backgrounds (as Robin does):

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Masked or Maskless?

And some of us forgot to take pictures! (I dedicate this empty space to you!)

Space Empty Background Image - Free image on Pixabay

What I Wore

I did not forget to take my picture! Oh, no!

I wore my Revlon “Cherries in the Snow” lipstick with my clear plastic glasses (which I haven’t worn since March). I wore a zebra-print Rachel Zoe top I bought for $10 last fall when things were on sale at TJ Maxx. I never got to wear it, so I wore this new blouse that had been in my closet for almost a year. I wore some two-year-old RBX jogger pants to be comfy. Oh, yeah. Don’t forget the blue hair!

Here’s a close up of the blouse and pants:

Keep Calm and Zoom?

Was your first day the best first day you’ve ever had? Probably not. Was mine? Definitely not. I felt best at the beginning of the day. As the Zoom classes rolled on, I felt less confident about it all. I have hope, though, that things will get better day by day, week by week.

I’ll keep reporting back with my Zoom wear. Feel free to send me pics of yours, too!

No matter what, try to keep calm and carry on as Lady Gaga does.

Lady Gaga Saves The 2020 MTV VMAs

Dark Academia


Ah, it’s another lovely summer day in the middle of a pandemic (or is it just the beginning? who knows). I’m sitting here thinking, wow, I haven’t written a blog post for What Professors Wear in ages even though I’ve been professoring (made up that word) it every day this summer. Am I on contract; am I teaching summer classes? No, but I am working every day–working on designing three new classes for fall, stressing about the two articles I am supposed to write this summer, wondering where I’ll find the energy to complete my tenure application, etc. etc.

Then, this article was sent to me by a friend. Then I saw it on Facebook. Then I knew I had to blog about it.

This article is about “dark academia.” Full title and opening image are shown below:

Academia Lives — on TikTok

School may be out indefinitely, but on social media there’s a thriving subculture devoted to the aesthetic of all things scholarly.

OK, y’all know I’m going to disagree with this, right?

Known as Dark Academia, it is a subculture with a heavy emphasis on reading, writing, learning — and a look best described as traditional-academic-with-a-gothic-edge; think slubby brown cardigans, vintage tweed pants, a worn leather satchel full of a stack of books, dark photos, brooding poetry and skulls lined up next to candles.

Yeah…no. It’s not my subculture. Sorry not sorry. I love to read, write, and learn, but I’m definitely not one to wear brown cardigans, tweed pants or blazers, leather satchels (and that word–really??), or anything gothic. I don’t have a HP house. I don’t subscribe to one personality type. But I am a Taurus. 😀

Don’t get me wrong. I own black clothing, a lot of it. If you see me wearing a black shirt, it’s because I am offsetting polka-dotted or leopard-print pants. If you see me wearing black pants, it’s because I am wearing a turquoise and pink hummingbird shirt. I own a couple of cardigans. The one I just bought is an oversized lemon yellow sweater! And I plan to wear Jane Austen pins all over it or don my pearl-tie or gold bowtie.

Frieed Women V Neck 3/4 Sleeve Knitted Button Up Cardigan Sweater

So what’s being posted on TikTok or Instagram that fits the bill of “dark academia”? According to the article’s author, Kristen Bateman,

A typical post may involve teens showing off their argyle sweaters to classical tunes, followed by a series of photos of leather-bound books, handwritten notes, a page from “Wuthering Heights” and a shot of classic Greek architecture.

Oh….Wuthering Heights you say? Greek architecture?

Here’s another image from the article to show how you too can be a part of this subculture:

But what do I know? The Dark.Academia Ig page has 13.6K followers! And if anyone still cares about Tumblr, here’s that page.

Bateman dishes on what is so appealing to many people about “dark academia” and how you can become a part of it.

Though it can sound niche, part of Dark Academia’s appeal is the fact that it is both more approachable aesthetically than other popular internet subcultures — one example being Cottagecore, the internet aesthetic inspired by a romanticized interpretation of rural life — and also emphasizes inclusivity and gender fluidity.

To be part of Dark Academia, you don’t have to have access to a country house, a field of flowers, a big kitchen for baking or an expensive prairie dress. Most of the clothing Dark Academia fans wear is vintage and can easily be found in secondhand stores or sites.

I’m a fan of secondhand stores, and I support inclusivity and gender fluidity. Does that mean I should join the “dark academia” club? I don’t think I’m the actual audience for this subculture. According to Bateman:

As study halls, workshopping essays and round table discussions go virtual, and many students are left wondering when they’ll be able to dress up and go to classes again, Dark Academia is filling the void.

“I think a good part of Dark Academia is aesthetics, but it’s also a community,” said Declan Lyman, 15, who posts Dark Academia videos on TikTok. “The more you get into the whole vibe, the more you feel connected to other people in the tags. The main point is a desire to learn.”

I’m all about finding ways to fill the void right now. I mean is this pandemic ever going to end? When will I have f2f relationships again? But I won’t be falling into the “dark academia” camp for a few reasons:

  1. It doesn’t fit my personality. I like bright colors and designs!
  2. It valorizes a dead poet’s society kind of vibe (white men + boys club doesn’t feel inclusive or gender fluid to me)
  3. Calling it “dark academia” feels problematic. But to explain what I mean by this will be complicated. Instead, I ask you to think about it.

But maybe you are looking over this “dark academia” attire and thinking, oh, that’s my vibe! Maybe you’re thinking, I love to wear tweed, brown, black, and gray exclusively. Maybe you’re wanting to say, hey, who are you to criticize me?

I’m not criticizing you, but I am responding to the idea that this palette and certain traits associated with the “literary” or “scholarly” is being pitched as a subculture built on what seems to be nostalgia. But for what?

And why would we want to subscribe to the idea that professors–aka scholars–only dress a certain way and that we’re trying to fit into a certain mold? I don’t find this inclusive or helpful.

Chew on that! 😀

Yes, I Wore Pants to a Zoom Meeting Today


You might be thinking “duh!” after reading the title of this post, but hear me out. There are people who do not wear pants to Zoom meetings. The guy in this video didn’t wear pants to a meeting, and then he forgot to turn off his mic at the end of the meeting. Here’s a screenshot of that video:

I don’t Zoom a lot, but I attended a division Zoom meeting today. I decided to “dress up,” which means 1) I wore pants, 2) I wore something besides a hoodie, 3) I combed my hair, and 4) I put on some lipstick.


I wore pants.

These pants look like jeans, but they’re not! They are sweat pants that look like jeans!

The whole look. I wore a forest green top (from The Limited) with a plum fleece vest (from L.L. Bean). I didn’t wear socks or shoes.

Proof that I combed my hair and put on lipstick.

OK, kids, what have we learned today?

  1. Wear pants while on Zoom.
  2. Sometimes pants can look like jeans but are really sweat pants.
  3. Sometimes it’s good to brush your hair.
  4. Sometimes you can put on lipstick.

The end.

An Unexpected Gift: Opera

The COVID-19 world we live in now has taken a lot of stuff away from us. It hasn’t given us much good, but it has gifted us something, and that is free opera streams!

On March 17 I began watching The Metropolitan Opera’s free nightly streaming of their Live in HD series. These performances were originally staged over the last ten years at the Met in New York City. A single performance was recorded and then shown in theaters across the country on a single day. You had to buy tickets to the theater, and these tickets cost at least $25 per person. If you want to subscribe to Met Opera on Demand, it costs $14.99 a month.

The free streaming began on March 16, and at this point is continuing in perpetuity (I hope). I have watched almost all of the streams. Below I add my list arranged in alphabetical order by composer, and I explain what I thought about the productions. I share some pics from the Metropolitan Opera’s webpages.

Nixon in China

Adams’ Nixon in China: I didn’t actually finish this one. This was the first opera I have heard in English, and it was just weird. I didn’t enjoy the language or the singing. Plus, the storyline was a little too “real” for me. See the title for a clue!

Anna Netrebko, Diana Damrau, Sondra Radvanovksy Headline Week 3 of ...

Bellini’s Norma: I’ll admit that I watched some of this in a focused manner, multitasked while watching most of it, and zoned out through some of it. It is a story of a Roman who basically has this affair with a Druid woman (and they have kids) and then dumps her for another Druid woman. It’s a tragedy, and one of the most difficult operas to sing apparently for a soprano. The lead male character was a jerk, so I had a hard time getting into this one.

Les Pêcheurs de Perles

Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de Perles: This production starred my favorite soprano, Diana Damrau. It also starred two of my favorite male singers, one of whom is Mariusz Kwiecien. The costumes were bright. The music was beautiful. The love triangle was interesting, and the story did not end the way I expected it to conclude! Spoiler: a change of heart and none of them died, but one of the guys burned down the townspeople’s homes to help his frenemy and love interest escape death by the mob.

Adriana Lecouvreur

Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur: This opera was quite sad. It is set partially in the theater of the 18th century and really reminded me of a play I read during my dissertation planning, Lee’s Rival Queens. The protagonist is an amazing actress, and her nemesis is a princess. In the end Adriana dies a tragic death at the hands of her rival, and it’s so sad because unlike so many heroines who welcome death in operas, she does not. She says she doesn’t want to die even though she knows she has been poisoned and will soon perish in the arms of her lover. The soprano, Anna Netrebko, said in an interview how difficult it is to play this part because she actually feels so emotional every time she performs it.

Don Pasquale

Donizetti’s Don Pasquale: I loved this one! The quick singing was a feat. It made me smile. The premise is there’s this old guy who wants to deny his nephew his inheritance by marrying a young woman, and then he finds out why old men should never marry young girls–they’ll make your lives miserable. The fun of this opera, too, is that the young girl is in love with his nephew and the old guy’s own doctor is in on the joke to dupe him into thinking he’s marrying his sweet, innocent young sister. Nope!

The Metropolitan Opera Is Offering Free Virtual Shows This Week ...

Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment: This was one of the first few operas I watched, and it was a comedy. Lots of silliness. I enjoyed it. It had a lot of physical comedy.

Lucia di Lammermoor

Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor: I remember seeing this opera in person at the Tennessee Theater sometime before 2011. I remember loving the end of this one because Lucia goes crazy! This is an interesting tragedy that shows what happens when you try to control a woman. Let’s say just don’t! She gonna give you a bloodbath!

Metropolitan Opera | Nightly Met Opera Streams

Dvořák’s Rusalka: OMG, this one was amazing. It is basically The Little Mermaid, but darker–much darker. The Met production is amazing. I mean there’s a water nymph and a guy painted in green who is a water gnome (Rusalka’s dad). The “Eric” character is not nearly as nice; he’s a jerk and he gets what he deserves in the end; unfortunately Rusalka does not have a happy ending.

Roméo et Juliette

Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette: This production is one of my favorites so far. It was Shakespeare, so yay, but it was not. This production was set in the 18th century, which I love. It starred Diana Damrau and Vittorio Grigolo, whom I enjoy watching and listening to separately but together so much more! The adaptation was interesting, too. It kept all the right stuff from the Bard’s play, while cutting what it needed to cut. The staging was gorgeous. I felt happy after watching this play even though of course it’s a tragedy. It just made me so happy to see such beauty and hear the fantastic music. I also thought the singers had great chemistry. The love was believable.

The Merry Widow

Lehár’s The Merry Widow: The best part of this “opera” is the music and dancing. The singing is not bad; it’s just in English and there is a lot more spoken dialogue than singing. It feels like more of “musical” than an opera, then.

Così fan tutte

Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte: Oh, Mozart. His opera is so…Mozart. The music is catchy and clever. The pianoforte is delightful. But…the plot is borderline sexist and misogynistic. Oops, that makes it a challenge for me to enjoy! The production was oddly set in the 1950s, though, and mostly at a theme part. The production included actual fire eaters, sword swallower, a snake handler, and more. Bizarre. I think I saw this opera staged at The Bijou theater in Tennessee when I was in grad school, but maybe not?

GP at the Met: Boris Godunov | About the Opera | Great ...

Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov: The most disturbing opera I have watched. It’s graphically violent. The police beat and murder the people. The mob beats and murders the police and boyars. All of this is shown onstage with fake weapons and blood. Most of the characters are despicable–even the leads. I didn’t care about any of the characters, and that’s rare.

Les Contes d’Hoffmann

Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann: Oh, boy! A cross-gender-cast role. A female singer plays two parts, actually: one is a female muse; the other is a male friend (real or imaginary–it’s hard to tell) to the title character, E.T.A. Hoffman (based on the real poet). I love that this opera is all about imagination and the mind. It’s about what inspires this poet and how he sees the world. Oh, and there’s a robot love interest.

Metropolitan Opera | La Bohème

Puccini’s La Boheme: This was the first Met opera stream I watched. I wish I hadn’t missed Carmen the night before, but oh well. I had to see the opera that inspired Rent. I knew the plot already, but I had never seen the opera in full. This production was well cast, and it was a lot of fun to watch. I really enjoyed it. I watched it all in one sitting in an evening.

La Fanciulla del West

Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West: A hybrid Western/opera. I was amazed by how it felt like I was watching an old Western movie, but as an opera. There was a saloon, a rabble, a showdown, guns, horses, cowboy hats, romance, Jesus, and a lot of singing. One of my favorite operatic singers, Deborah Voigt, was in the production.

Madama Butterfly

Puccini’s Madama Butterfly: I remember seeing this opera in person at the Tennessee Theater sometime before 2011. I was told it is one of the most famous operas, so I expected to love it. I thought Pinkerton was a jerk then, and now after watching the Met’s production I am convinced. God, this is a heart-breaking opera! The Met’s production, of course, was amazing. It even had puppets in it!

La Rondine

Puccini’s La Rondine: This one was bittersweet. The Met production was set in the 1920s, so the costumes and set were beautiful. Two of the best singers starred as the lovers, and what I really like about the plot is that no one is trying to keep these lovers apart. What ultimately breaks them up is the idea of societal shame. The woman is what you might call in 20th-c. terms a mistress, but she falls in love with a stand-up guy who wants to marry her, and she decides that she cannot do this because it would jeopardize his reputation. I almost cried when I watched this one because it felt so real, contrary to so many operas that feel removed from the real world.


Puccini’s Tosca: I didn’t realize this opera’s story is based in part on Othello, but the evil Baron S. compares himself to Iago, and what follows is reminiscent of the “ocular proof” from Shakespeare’s play; however, it’s not a man who is jealous and seeks revenge on his lover, but the woman, Tosca, who does so after being tricked by the bad guy. Luckily she has a change of heart. Unfortunately, she ends up betraying her lover in trying to save his life while he is being tortured by the secret police, the head of which molests her, but she comes out on top after she negotiates freeing her lover and kills that guy. But then there’s another twist in Act III, and Tosca and her lover die! Oh, the anguish!

Il Barbiere di Siviglia

Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia: This one made me laugh. The singing. Oh, the quick singing! Such a famous opera. I’m so glad I got to see The Barber of Seville. It’s funny, clever, and delightful. If you ever get a chance to see it, you must.

Nightly Met Opera Streams: Rossini's Le Comte Ory - Guild Hall

Rossini’s Le Comte Ory: This was a fun opera full of cross-dressing–some written into the opera (men dressed as nuns) and another due to cross-sex casting. A female singer played the part of a male love interest, which made it even more interesting in a bedroom scene! The staging was fun too–it was set on an 18th-century stage to give the viewer the sense of watching a play (supposedly set in the 1200s) within an opera. Lots of levels of interest with this one. I watched part of this one at night and the other half in the day time.

Strauss’s Elektra: Holy hell, it’s based on Greek tragedy, so you know it’s gonna be intense. And it was. The production I saw was set in a kind of modern-day/timeless world that was Greek, but not ancient. The staging was minimalist, and I appreciated that, but gosh it was painful to watch this one. The style of singing was jarring (wait til you get to my Wagner posts below). Everyone is miserable. Everyone. The end is weird, but at least not graphically bloody as I was expecting. Yeah, I watched this late at night and then couldn’t fall asleep.

Der Rosenkavalier

Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier: Another cross-dressed opera. A young male lover was played by a woman, and they are in love with an older, married princess. This one isn’t a comedy, though, like Le Comte Ory. It’s a melodrama. There was a lot smooching and caressing in this opera, and it was interesting to see the Met being so progressive (meaning–so 21st-c.) in its openness to same-sex desire. The Puccini opera could displace the desire through its almost farcical nature. This one shows the intimacy of true love and the hardships of real relationships. One more thing: the actual men in this opera are all man-handling jerks.

Eugene Onegin

Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin: Oh, the suffering. Friends fighting. Unrequited love. Pride. This one has all the emotions…and a duel scene. (Yay?) Plus, the staging was minimalist while at the same time colorful and creative–lots of bright colors, everything kinda square and off-kilter. I enjoyed it, but I remember dosing off a few times while watching it late at night. I really shouldn’t watch late at night if I get up early. I remember having gotten up at like 4:30 a.m. that day. (thanks, anxiety!)

Das Rheingold
Die Walküre

Wagner’s Ring Cycle (4 operas over the course of 4 nights–like 20 hours!) Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung: OMG, I’ve always wanted to listen to the entire ring cycle. I never imagined being able to see the operas. Now I have done this. I watched each opera in the series, and whoa am I so glad I saw them at the Met (well, you know what I mean). These productions included an amazing mechanical stage apparatus that twists and turns and is the size and height of the stage. Pieces move. Actors/singers would run up and down the device, sometimes with wires.

That alone was worth watching the operas, but the music was fantastic–everyone knows the sound of Die Walküre. Dun-da-da-dun-da-dun-da-da-dun-da-dun-da-da-dun-da, dun-da-da-dun! The horns!

And whoa, the plot! I mean, hello, this is the original Lord of the Rings. OK, not really. Tolkien, apparently, vehemently denied being inspired by Wagner. And yet. If you know LotR and you know the ring cycle, you can see some parallels. Regardless, I absolutely loved watching this series. I loved the Rhine-maidens. I loved the Valkyrie, especially Brünnhilde. She is one of my favorite characters now. It was also really fun to watch the Wotan/Wanderer character (we know him best as Odin) develop.

Even though there are four operas, I actually watched them over something like eight days because each one is so long–most were about 4+ hours. I feel like I have checked off some lifetime achievement now that I have seen the ring cycle. Quarantine achievement unlocked!

Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg:

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

I watched this one while I was working, so I didn’t pay as much attention to it as I could have. It was entertaining, though, but I don’t have much to say. I think it was about a singing competition to win a girl. 😦 Heck, I don’t even remember finishing it.


Wagner’s Parsifal: You know, watching and listening to some Wagner productions is easier than others. This one was haaard to listen to, y’all. I mean it was long, painful, and non-melodic. It was like hours of people singing slowly and did I say painfully? 🙂 The staging was cool. I really appreciated that. It was an art piece, really, but the singing. Oh, kinda like nails on a chalkboard. That’s the version of Wager that’s not fun. Just wait until you read my post below about Tristan und Isolde.


Wagner’s Tannhäuser: I also watched this one while I was working, so I didn’t pay as much attention to it as I could have. It was entertaining, but I don’t have much to say except I remember thinking that the two singers didn’t have a ton of charisma together. I did appreciate how Tannhäuser was shamed for having spent a ton of time in Venus’s house (yup, that Venus). He wanted to marry a virtuous girl, and e’rybody was like nope! This was one of those everyone dies operas.

The Met's Musically Strong Tristan is Lost at Sea : Seen and Heard ...

Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde: This one. I could not finish this one. It was the first of the Wagner operas I watched. At first I was super excited. The set was amazing. Then the singing began. I was like, what is this? It didn’t sound anything like Puccini or the Italian and French operas I had watched. Those operas had beautiful songs. This one really felt like people were speaking operatically. And the vibe was so painful and misogynistic. Really hard to watch, so I gave up after two hours.

Verdi’s Aida: I’m definitely a Verdi fan. He’s the yin to my Puccini yang. Aida is a great opera–it is the total package: great music, great singing, great storyline, great costumes, great set…and this staging was a big wow! The choice of singers, too, was great. I love the Anna Netrebko and Anita Rachvelishvili pairing. These rival queens show up in a few operas I’ve seen. They are great together. I felt the chemistry in this production, and I’m so glad I got to see it.

Don Carlo

Verdi’s Don Carlo: I really enjoyed this one, too! It was the first time I saw/heard Roberto Alagna, and I became an insta-fan. I like everything about his performance here. The storyline of this opera is also really moving and fantastic. The prince falls in love with his intended bride and she with him, but then her father marries her off to the old king. OMG. Then there’s the loyalty subplot going on with the prince betraying his father by supporting a rebellion, and he is sent to prison. There’s a bromance going on in the opera, too. The set was amazing. Can you tell I loved it?


Verdi’s Falstaff: Verdi is so versatile. He has these amazing, sweeping, tragic love stories. Then he also has something fun and playful, like Falstaff. Shakespeare fans know Falstaff. We know the Merry Wives of Windsor, too. This opera has all of that and more. The Met production I watched was set in the 1950s, which was cool. The guy who plays Falstaff apparently has been singing that role for his entire career. It was neat to see this one.

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Verdi’s Macbeth: He sure did like Shakespeare! I’m glad I got to see this production. It was riveting. The performances were stellar, and the staging was haunting. The witches were like a coven, not merely three. Lady M was really devious, and Macbeth was really a bad guy. You know he’s a bad guy because they chose a baratone to play the part! The murder of Banquo always makes me sad, but this one really hurt.

Metropolitan Opera, After Shutting Its Doors, Will Offer Free ...

Verdi’s La Traviata: This was my first Verdi opera to watch, and I fell in love. I fell in love with Verdi. I fell in love with Diana Damrau. I loved everything about this opera–from the beginning we know we are going back in time, and we learn how Violetta came to be in the sad, on death’s door state she finds herself in at the end of the play. It’s like we are in her dream in which she goes back in time and relives a certain portion of her life. This is also the first opera I saw with Juan Diego Flores–he’s such a great singer and performer, too.

OPERA NEWS - Metropolitan Opera Broadcast: La Traviata

Verdi’s La Traviata AGAIN: I’m glad I have had the chance to see two Met productions. The first one I saw (listed above) was staged in 2018. The second one is from 2015. The first was set in the early 1700s; the second is “timeless” but looks to be 1960s-1980s. The set is a bare set that slopes, and it has a gigantic clock in it to mark the passing of time. The doctor remains on stage for much of the play, but he is really more like Father Time or a Grim Reaper figure. The singers, as in the other production, are Met all-stars. The tenor, Matthew Polenzani, I’ve seen in a bunch of productions; the soprano I saw in La Fille. After watching La Traviata a second time, I can say without a doubt that this is my favorite opera.

I am going to keep watching opera, but I’ll end this post. I am grateful to The Metropolitan Opera for giving everyone the gift of free opera streams. It has given me something to look forward to every day. It has reminded me of the power of a great story to make a difference in everyone’s life.

WPW: Teaching Online in the Time of COVID-19


Here we are…teaching online because it is the “safest” way for us to do so. In the age of COVID-19, we are not getting in our cars and driving to work. We are not packing our lunches or picking up coffee at Starbucks. We are staying home because it is the right thing to do, and we are probably not worrying too much about what to wear to “work.”

I know that I haven’t given a crap about what I’m wearing. I’ve been at home for 25 days now, and I haven’t worn a pair of jeans, a sweater, a jacket, a button-up shirt, cute shoes, or jewelry. I haven’t worn mascara (except for one day) or lipstick (except for two times).

I have been wearing sweat pants and sweat shirts. Yup. And they aren’t even color coordinated. Nope. I just pull whatever items I first see in the drawers.

Here’s what I wore on my first teaching day–my Lighthouses of Maine sweat shirt:

Day 2–this ancient Calvin Klein sweat shirt (with stains on it!) and some really worn in/out Kensie sweat pants:

Day 3–this Sonoma shirt from Kohl’s and these American Eagle sweat pants:

Day whatever–#grlpwr hat and a Dallas, TX sweat shirt:

On this day I went to get grocery pick up.

Here’s what I wore for a Zoom meeting with some faculty and staff:

Note the BB8 sweat shirt #rollmodel

Working at home doesn’t inspire anything with buttons. Elastic waistbands, stretchy materials, drawstrings: these are the things we wear when we sit day after day and work on laptops.

There have been days where I thought that I should put on some jeans. Then I thought, why? The other day I wore some exercise gear. That felt like dressing up.

Does this sound depressing? Probably. Is it depressing? Probably. It is what it is.

Maybe I need to take my own advice–you remember that time I said, “Even though you are staying home you should dress up for yourself”? I was trying to inspire you, yes, but also myself. Maybe one of these days I’ll wear something other than loungewear.

I’m not going to stress over it, though, and you shouldn’t either. Wear what you want. Do the best you can. Stay home. Stay well.

Love to you all!

The Meaning of Love - Joshua Hehe - Medium

WPW: What I Wore Before Online Teaching


I have been teaching for two weeks since my university moved all classes online. When I would go to work before this change, I enjoyed “dressing up,” which means I enjoyed creating outfits, selecting accessories, and basically caring about how I looked.

Here are some pictures of the outfits I didn’t get a chance to blog about for What Professors Wear. I share these with you to serve as a point of contrast for what is to follow in the next blog post.

Alright, I wore this outfit to a job interview (I was on the committee, not the one being interviewed):

Actually, I have a few pairs of MK leopard print pants in different colors! I also got some clip-on heart earrings and enjoyed wearing them with a kind of 80s-inspired hair style:

I only got a chance to wear those earrings twice during the F2F portion of the semester. Here’s the other look, and notice the 80’s styling:

I got that Austen shirt on one of those $6 t-shirt websites. Here’s a closer look:

This picture makes me laugh because Austen’s eyes look kinda druggy. Either that or she has been pulling an all-nighter.

Oh, hey, I also wear leopard-print shirts. Here’s a Michael Kors sweater with some fake pearls that I think were my grandma’s. Notice the hair–I really enjoyed that comb-over:

In addition to leopards, I also have a thing for cat-wear. The first pic shows a cute pin a friend gave me. The second shows a picture of my own cat, Fluffy, on my socks. Thanks to the in-laws for having those made for me!

On that last day I ventured to campus–not a teaching day, just a day to be around and chat with students who needed to talk about the news that they were being sent home and that we were going online–I wore this outfit. It was mourning attire for me: black and gray:

Let me follow up on the “Sawce-box” button. I picked this up at ASECS ages ago in the book/publishers room. It’s a reference to Samuel Richardson’s novel, Pamela. I have taught this text a few times–you either love it or hate it. (I’m in the love camp, FWIW.)

If you want to know what saucebox means, here you go (courtesy of Merriam-Webster):

I have been known from time to time to be a saucebox. 😀

In my next blog post I will show you what I have been wearing since moving to online teaching.

Social Distancing: Let it Snow/Let it Go

I have been social distancing for 24 days now. During these 24 days it has snowed twice, but only one of these days was a true snow. It doesn’t always snow a lot in March in Maine, but sometimes you get a nice, hefty snow that lasts a day or two.

That snow happened on March 24. It snowed at least 6 inches over the course of the night, and when we awoke, it was a winter wonderland yet again. I knew the snow would melt that day because the forecast called for temps in the 40s. That meant that I had to get up early and get out there and enjoy that snow, so my husband and I went for a walk in the woods.

Are you ready for some snow pics? Sure you are.

Are you ready for some close-ups of yours truly?

Oh, yeah. I also made a snow angel:

Here’s a video of the stream in Vaughn Woods

The second snow didn’t meet my expectations. The forecast said one to three inches, but we didn’t get much–maybe an inch–and it melted quickly. 😦 So instead of playing in the snow, I had to “let it go” and move on.

Let It Go': A Global Hit In Any Language | Texas Public Radio

I don’t think we will get any more snow this season. The forecast calls for rain, and possibly some flurries, but they won’t stick. It was actually quite warm yesterday, so I’m hoping spring is on its way.

Social Distancing Day 6 – I’ve Lost Count

OK, that’s not entirely true. I know it’s been 17 days since I self-isolated/began social distancing. I haven’t seen any friends, family members, colleagues, students, etc. in person since March 12. Today is March 29.

I had planned to write a blog post for every day of social distancing, but I began to feel overwhelmed by all of the work I have to do to exist mostly online. I have been plugging away at various research projects. I have redesigned my courses. I have been grading. I have been emailing.

Being on the computer as much as I have been in the last 2.5 weeks has actually been hard on my body. I have rheumatoid arthritis. I seem to be suffering from some osteoarthritis, too. I need movement, so walking has helped, but I also need to not spend as much time on the computer. My joints don’t like it.

OK, enough complaining. Let me show you what I’ve been up to that’s not being on the computer. I have been streaming opera.I have been taking walks.

Metropolitan Opera streaming

This has been by far the most exciting thing I have done in 2.5 weeks: watched opera on my computer, which is plugged into my TV.

I have enjoyed watching these operas so much! Watching Wagner’s ring cycle has been the highlight of my isolation. I will never forget this experience. I am so grateful to the Met for streaming these operas. I’ve never been to the Met. I’ve always wanted to go. When this coronavirus shit is over, I’m going to the Met!

Walking around

#s 1-4: You want to be outside but not around (living) people? Go the cemetery. You also get to see lovely gravestones and reflect on all the people who’ve been here before you.

#s 5-7: The capitol building is one of my favorite views. I mean, who doesn’t like that architecture.

#s 8-10: Walked the other direction to Hallowell, walked past the house we used to rent, it was sunny so my lenses went dark, and the DQ closed. 😦

#s 11-15: Walked by the Y to get to the trail and saw the playground taped off, walked by the wastewater treatment plant and it smelled, walked under Memorial Bridge, and finally saw this cool pink and yellow something.

These pics are posted in order, but one day is missing–the snow day. Look for that in my next post!

Social Distancing, Days 4-5

Three days into blogging about social distancing, and I got sidetracked. By what? Working on classes, book editing, spending too much time on the computer and needing a break, worrying, etc.

I’m ready to get all caught up now. Even though every class period will be a work in progress, the book editing project has been submitted (thus freeing up some time and energy). I’m still gonna be on the computer a lot from now on, but I’m trying to work on the worrying.

Day 4 (March 17):

I honestly can’t remember if I left the house on this day. I don’t think I did. If I had, I would have taken a picture to document it. I did watch my first Met opera online stream that day, though. Oh, and if you watch it on their nightly schedule you get it for free. It was amazing. I’ve always wanted to see La Bohème live, so this got me close to that. I decided to take pics of my TV to document that I actually watched the opera online.

Musetta is much more enjoyable than Maureen from Rent in my opinion.

Day 5 (March 18):

I went on a walk on this day to another part of the Rail Trail in Hallowell. I usually start near the YMCA in Augusta. On this day, I started at the other end of Hallowell.

I saw what one expects to see: the actual train tracks, trees, blue sky, the Kennebec River, etc.

I also saw this sign, which seemed appropriate in this time of social distancing:

What risk? Well, there were people on the trail, but we kept our distance. The six-foot distance, to be precise.

I also saw some elusive Maine graffiti (there’s really not that much in the state compared to others):

How Mondrian?

And of course, I saw a true portrait of America–the red solo cup (and the added bonus of a clear plastic cup from some coffee place?):

I’ve got about a week’s worth of posts to catch up on, so I’ll be back soon. Later!

Conference Fashion…at Home


Raise your hand if you were supposed to go to an academic conference–or even better run one–this spring….That’s a lot of hands! So you are totally bummed that you don’t get to go, and you hate to miss out on the papers and all, but what about the fashion? Don’t you hate missing out on all that, too?

My friend Ula L. Klein wrote the following guest post for What Professors Wear (this blog, y’all) to share her thoughts on what you’re missing out on when you don’t get to go to your conference–it’s more than academics and socializing. It’s FASHION!–and to show off her super cool clothes!

Going to conferences is an important part of my scholarly life, and the connections I’ve made at conferences have seeped into my personal life as well. I have made life-long friends through scholarly conferences, in addition to gaining a much-needed infusion of excitement, information, and inspiration in my scholarship from the presentations and conversations I have at conferences. By far, the conference with the biggest impact on my life has been the annual meeting of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ASECS).

ASECS is a conference that balances socializing with in-depth scholarship on all aspects of the eighteenth century. And while most of us go for professional and intellectual reasons, the social and sartorial side of things are all part of the experience. Many of us have special outfits or shoes we bring to the conference to show off to friends and fellow scholars who we know will appreciate our efforts. This year, due to the coronavirus, however, the conference was canceled—and for good reason. Still, it made me a little sad to think about not just the loss of scholarly connection and intellectual satisfaction—but also the loss of an opportunity to be fun and fashionable.

So I arranged to do a What I Would Have Worn photoshoot at home recently, with my wife as impromptu fashion photographer. My Day One outfit is black leggings with teal, empire waist tunic and transparent sleeves, paired with black and pink Fleuvog heeled maryjanes and a long necklace that would not look inappropriate in a Jane Austen adaptation. I piled my hair up high as a nod to the fact that I am a Serious Scholar (height of hair plus heels = intimidating, which is OK if you are a young-ish female scholar working to establish respectability). Day One of the conference I was going to be presenting, so I wanted to wear my Most Serious Outfit on that day. It’s also the day of the largest conference reception, so it’s a good day to have height in a crowd.

Day Two is more colorful and relaxed, though still very professional. I paired teal slacks with a flowered blouse, black blazer I’ve had forever (with sleeves rolled up), and brand new red Oxfords from ModCloth. Day Two I was going to be chairing a round table, rather than presenting, so I opted for a colorful outfit that shows more of my natural personality while still being professional. Added bonus: the bright colors are good to catch the attention of presenters when they are almost out of time. Hair is styled half up, half down, to show I am professional, but still approachable (I was actually told that this was an optimal hairstyle for women on the job market when I was in grad school…)

Pro Tip: having your hair pulled away from your face is a great tactic when doing public speaking as it lowers your chances of playing with it while you speak, which can be distracting for the audience.

Day Three is by far my most casual outfit, as I had hoped that I would spent a good chunk of Day Three sightseeing in St. Louis, the site of the conference. Still, I wanted to make an appearance at the conference for part of the day, so I opted for comfortable, fun clothes that can still look professional. Day Three of the conference is usually the most relaxed anyway, and it can be nice to show your fun side. I paired a black and white striped top from LOFT with black slacks, a maroon cardigan (also LOFT) with a faux pearl brooch, and maroon Converse Chucks. The slacks, cardigan and brooch are still professional, while the Chucks and stripes make this a perfect conference-to-weekend outfit. The soft fabric of the top is also a nice change after the more “professional” fabrics in the other work tops.

All pants and day one and two tops are from Motherhood Maternity, as I am currently 6 months pregnant. I love that they were both on sale, though, and that they look uber professional and classy; I will definitely keep them in rotation postpartum.

Pro Tip: Never pack anything for a conference that you won’t be comfortable wearing after 5 hours! And if you’re like me, you only wear heels while at the conference, and you change into your Chucks for dinner on the town.

Make up: I regularly wear eyeliner (top lid only) with metallic (but subtle) eyeshadow in pink and gold, under eye brightener/concealer, eyebrow pencil, and blush (I have a sallow complexion so this helps me look as energetic as I feel). For a conference, I add a pop of color with lipstick. A bright red is bold and fun and literally matches every outfit. I don’t bother with contacts at conferences as bold glasses frames are nearly as crucial to The Look as bold footwear.

And that’s a wrap! Who knows? Maybe some of these outfits will make the cut for next year in Toronto, or maybe I’ll have other fun outfits to wear. I’ll definitely be wearing these outfits in the fall at my new job…unless we’re still all-online. In the meantime, I may just wear them for fun around the house or when I video conference with students. Dressing up for work makes me feel creative, professional, and fashionable, and it’s definitely something I’m missing right now as I prepare to work from home through the end of April, and possibly the rest of the year.

I’m right there with ya, Ula. Preparing to go to a conference is so much more than writing that paper and giving that presentation. It’s a chance to network. It’s a chance to see friends. It’s a chance to create a mini-fashion collection from your own closet and walk that runway (well, walk around that huge conference hotel more like).

It’s going to be tough to dress the part for teaching online at home for the rest of the semester, too. But we should all make it a point at least to pull out those great shirts and be seen on Zoom or whatever video conferencing platform you use. Who cares if you’re wearing sweatpants. Just wear that cute top, that awesome brooch, those crazy earrings, that glittery eyeshadow. Cheer yourself up by dressing up. Your students will probably appreciate it, too.

Love to all!