A Punk in Preppy Clothing and Other Complications in Life

Life is like writing a novel—sometimes it’s hard to pick a genre.

That’s me. In writing and life, I’d rather let my freak flag fly. It’s too boring to pick a type and stick with it.

In junior high, I was at the top of my class and also a chunky cheerleader (shut up…it was a phase).

In high school, I was a metalhead preppy who graduated 3rd in her class, ran the newspaper for three years, and had friends that were jocks, freaks, “smoking area” people, music nerds, brains, and wallflowers.

In college, I didn’t rush a sorority and knew from before I arrived in Syracuse that I didn’t want to. The idea of spending four years trying to be like an entire group of people, following those rules, just didn’t appeal to me. I didn’t know what I was going to be in college but that’s the whole point, isn’t it?

(I turned out to be a Newhouse geek for three years, by the way, meaning I hung framed ads on my walls and read three newspapers per day and got excited by words like “media share,” “Pulitzer,” “Nielsen ratings,” and “Sulzberger”—we are a breed found only at SU and quite honestly are a little scary. There was a framed photograph of Len Berman in our building’s entryway, if that’s any indication.)

In my 20s, living in New York, I wore Doc Martens (which I still have) and J. Crew sweaters and a Gap jacket (it was the early 90s grunge mash-up look—don’t judge me). Then I briefly worked for a big corporate journalism outfit followed by a bank, both of which required me to use math and wear skirts and heels. Needless to say both were very short-lived (and when I say short-lived, I’m talking about a month each). I lived in the suburbs, I worked in Manhattan; I was a city girl with a country girl address which meant a long commute that translated to very little hanging out in the City on weeknights. I was supposed to be a yuppie but secretly desired to outwardly live up to the “slacker” moniker my age group had been given while making a million dollars before I was 30 (that sooooo did not work out).

These aren't my Doc Martens but they would have been if they made them then!

I moved to North Carolina, a conundrum in itself, to be a Yankee in the south and further complicated things by taking a job at an educational publisher at which I was the ONLY employee that didn’t have an elementary school teaching background. That’s right. I wore all black, they wore denim jumpers and apple earrings. I hung up a picture of Michelangelo’s David sculpture and was told by the suit that ran the operation that I had to take it down because it could be construed as sexual harassment. I met him halfway; I put a Post-It over David’s pee-pee. Once again, it should be needless to say that I did end up leaving that job for other opportunities.

Art or sexual harassment?

The thing is, I like being a square peg in a round hole. I always have. The fact that my iPod is loaded with opera and punk is amusing to me, yet totally normal. I kind of revel in the fact that I’m not really that easy to understand, and people that think they do get me usually end up being surprised when they find out some little factoid about me—you grew up in the BRONX? You have a masters degree? You’re 40?—that doesn’t seem to fit into their original perception of who I am. I’m tempted to get a nose stud just to throw everyone off their games right from the start but maybe we’ll just start with a tattoo in a visible place.

At 40, many think I should have defined my personality by now and “found” myself. I think if I find myself, there won’t be any reason to go out there everyday and keep looking.

My mom says I’m part gypsy, based on my penchant for bright, colorful, funky and loud accessories—chain rings, big hoop earrings, anything red or leopard-print—but only “part” gypsy because with that giant, fake, rhinestone flower ring I’m wearing black pants, a plain black shirt and black flats. “Gypsy” really might be the best way to describe my personality, though. I always think of gypsies as colorful yet dark, swirling, exotic, mixing up a mess of cultural images in a pot to simply see how they clash.

Gypsy Dance by B. Ingrid

I’m not trying to be this way. It’s just how I am. If I were a book, I’d be creative non-fiction with an undercurrent of fantasy, a little historical romance with a whole lot of chick lit, a few YA moments crossed by some noir nights, wrapped up with a little bit of whodunit and a whole lot of comedy, and a slight bit of melodrama at the climax. At least until I write my great “Gypsy Lit” novel that will redefine everything.

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7 Responses to A Punk in Preppy Clothing and Other Complications in Life

  1. amberherself says:

    You’re an excellent writer, I know that much about you : )

  2. Cris says:

    What? No mention of your thrilling time in advertising?

  3. The Smart One Today says:

    I love, love, love this post. You are such a great writer! AND, you make me smile. A lot.

  4. Troy says:

    Great post!! I was just searching preppy-punk clothing and came across your post which was inspirational and affirming to me in my 40s. I think I’m more round peg in a square hole as being holistic is my priority. Yet my mix seeks to find how the mash-up corresponds as well. Thanks for the share !!

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