Yes I lectured at MIT in my pajamas, so?

I’ve returned from that upstart new Cambridge in Massachusetts where I spent the last few days of my trip floating around for meetings at such cool places as MIT and Harvard.  I was asked if I could give a seminar at MIT on short notice, so of course I agreed.  However, I woke up Wednesday morning and realized I was out of clothes appropriate for giving a seminar at MIT.

There is a bit of back-story here, of course.  In 2004, when I was about to leave for my first ever trip to Europe (England and Portugal, and yes it’s odd that I then moved here less than 2 years later in 2006…) I bought a new suitcase at Target (of course!) from the Eddie Bauer line (of course!).  It was a beauty, two separate compartments, plenty of room for 2 weeks worth of clothes.  This has been my only suitcase for all the years since; I have a rolling tote and a non-rolling tote, but until this latest trip I had no other suitcase.  However, I had started noticing that it was a bit big for certain applications.  It was slightly (less than 1 kg) over when we went on my music trip a few weeks ago, and I was lucky that Ryanair did not call me on it.  And that was really frustrating because it wasn’t even full!  When I went back to the US in June it was also not full (although of course the weight restrictions were more liberal) and so I had started thinking of acquiring a second, smaller, rolling suitcase.  Which I did, the day before I left for Boston.  It now became a point of pride that I had to pack everything I needed for this trip into the new case, which I figured would be no problem given that the conference was casual and summer clothes are just plain smaller.  Since I’d be going to three different cities on the east coast, and sharing the car to Maine with three others with luggage, this seemed like a great idea at the time…

It probably should have been okay.  The issue seems to be my ability to count how many days the trip was actually lasting.  I knew it was a full week at the conference, then 3 days in Cambridge, so ten days, right?  Uh, no, there were two extra days in there, it was actually 12 days.  Now I got lucky in one respect, as I always always pack extra underthings and socks, knowing full well that especially in summer showering more than once daily can be nice.  However, I appear to have not sufficiently over-packed to make a 10 day suitcase work for a 12 day trip WHEN so many of the days were “professional” and not planned too far in advance (like the MIT lecture, which came up with 48 hours notice such that there were already few clean things left that late in the trip).

So back to yesterday morning, picking up just as I’ve noticed that the majority of the t-shirts I had with me were in the “dirty” laundry bag.   I was sitting in my summer pajamas, plaid capri pants with a brown t-shirt, when I pulled out of the remaining “clean” clothes pile… my pajama top.  Also a brown t-shirt, but one that I would not wear out of the house.  For one thing, it’s a sleeveless muscle-shirt, not a real t-shirt.  In addition, it has some strange little mini-pockets that clearly do not hold anything but are whimsically placed.  In my jet-lagged haze at the beginning of the trip, I must have grabbed the wrong brown t-shirt (the one suitable for day-wear) and worn it to bed, not noticing that it was the wrong one.  Frantically I started digging through the rest of the clothes only to discover that this was it–the only item that I had left that was clean and could potentially be layered with something to form a suitable outfit for the MIT lecture was the silly pajama muscle shirt.   When life gives you lemons, dress in layers.  And play wild with the color combinations.  All week I had worn the light khaki pants with a light khaki cardigan when needed, and a white cardigan with white capris.  The white partially-buttoned  light cardigan over the top of the PJ shirt hid the sleeves and the pockets, but I really needed the khaki slacks and not the white capris.  So mix and match I did, the shoes were not ideal, but then again, what was ideal at this point.  After 12 days on the road and three cities, I was ready to come home!

Epilogue: The lecture was really fun, the questions were hard but good, and the one person to whom I confided about the pajama shirt claims he never would have guessed.  Of course, it was a “he” not a “she” and I’m not asking whether any “shes” saw me and thought I looked a bit odd for the circumstances.  I flew home over night last night and am now about to crash again, had a two hour nap this afternoon and then dragged myself into work to check for disasters.  A long day of meetings tomorrow and then it will be FRIDAY NIGHT and a FULL WEEKEND AT HOME hoorah.  I need it.  There is a hell of a lot of laundry to do! 🙂

6 responses to “Yes I lectured at MIT in my pajamas, so?

  1. MIT is probably the last place where students and faculty would care for such an issue. Your concerns about giving a lecture in pajamas would be more valid if it was at Harvard instead. 🙂

  2. BTW, what was the lecture about?

  3. Amit–thanks! I don’t know, it still felt odd. Maybe because I had held MIT in reverence for so long; as a child I wanted to go there so badly!

    I had actually done an informal lecture at Harvard the day before. There my problem was two-fold: (1) it was very humid and by the time I found the room I was going to, I was quite sweaty and had to ask for tissues to wipe my face (I know, totally disgusting!) and (2) my weight has been fluctuating the last few months between stress and trying to get stress under control, and I had to give the lecture sitting down because my trousers were not going to stay up without my hitching them up periodically! Fortunately this was a small group of only 1 faculty member and his team, but it was still less than ideal 🙂

    Both days I was lecturing on mechanics of materials, which is my specialty. If you’re keenly interested I can email you some boring research papers on the subject 🙂

  4. One solution to the problem of too much luggage is to find a washing machine while you are away. Hotels are perhaps not the place to do this though – on one occasion it was cheaper to buy a new T-shirt than wash the shirt I’d spilled coffee down.

  5. If you’re keenly interested I can email you some boring research papers on the subject

    Please do. 🙂

  6. Pingback: Oh the indignity « Not From Around Here

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