Preparing…

Looking for the author of this image..

I’m compiling material for a panel at the American Studies Association conference, happening in Puerto Rico next week.  The title?

On Alter Egos and Infinite Literacies, Part 2 (An #AntiJemimas Imperative)

Read Part I here.

I’m presenting with Fleshy Prof but I’ll basically be playing myself (yeah, wrap your minds around that).  And the entire family is invited:  Zora Walker, the Sable Fan Gyrl, the WOC Survival Kit–even Pretty Magnolia’s fine ass.

This little intellectual endeavor comes at a difficult time.  Personally and professionally, I am heavy, struggling to find my voice and stake my claim.  Balancing, consolidating, and exposing the alters will be like walking into a cold classroom filled with hostile, condescending adults and stripping down to a bright red thong.  It will be sexy, nerve-wracking, and vaguely reminiscent of slavery.

While pulling the material for the presentation together, I’m realizing  I’m more of a practitioner than I ever thought.  The #AntiJemimas are more than a project.  They are a lifestyle (note the new blog title) and a survival imperative.  So what does presentating a practice look like…in practice?  How does it roll into the audience?  Does it wave goodbye when attendees come and go?  Does it LOL?  Does it (O_o)?

There is touching to be done in Puerto Rico.  Touching and laughing and mindstroking and healing are waiting for me.  And I can’t wait.

But damn.  I’m not really that much of a voyeur to be so exposed.

 

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Winter Has Come #CapricornSeason

Norma Wood. 17mm, f16, 20 ", ISO 200 Image Credit: Akos Kiss

To some, December means the end of the year, the end of the warmth and the return of caramel macchiato and pumpkin spice latte addictions.

For me, December means the end of stress, other people’s labor and the beginning of beautiful snowy landscapes, family gatherings and time I can call my own.  I have time to dive into ideas I dreamed up during the summer months and tackle fall’s loose ends.  I’ve always done my best writing and thinking over winter breaks.  Something about the cool air just clears my brain of all the clutter.

Winter is here.  Capricorn season is upon us.

And so is 2012.  Sooooooo much happened….

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Random Musings on Poetry

I just returned from hearing Rita Dove, poet and professor, read from the published Penguin Anthology of 20th Century Poetry (which she edited).  She is full of fun and laughter and sarcastic good humor.  I would be her best friend if I could.  She signed my journal and left a blessing: “Fill these pages with your songs.”

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Hero Work: Leslie Brown (+ Piri Thomas + Clyde Woods) #iRemember

Leslie Brown

Thinking a lot of academy thoughts this week.  Reading Telling Histories: Black Women Historians in the Ivory Tower.  

Dr. Brown just articulated better than I ever could what it is like being a College Educated Negress:

Where can students of color get intellectual validation that does not require them to so fully assimilate that they lose the best of themselves, their families,and their cultures? It occurred to me that through grade school and high school we had learned to compete, to keep up, but not to surpass; to stand alongside but not in front; to fit in but not to reshape.*

Standing alongside you begin to know the discomfort of ghosts.

And that pressure to assimilate, to choose between where your family is and where you are…well.

Piri Thomas

That feels a lot like the dissonance of being raised under the determined, near frantic optimism of a colorblind, post-Movement, Puerto Rican mother and an African-American father seething with internalized racism in cocaine80s Chicago.

And that feels a lot like wanting things and not having them and striving for things and not getting them, and dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s and still watching the goal move further away again and again and again, and picking up Piri Thomas for help and picking up Cherríe Moraga for help and picking up, good gawd, and picking up and holding close and hugging Gwendolyn Brooks for help and good heavens almighty, it feels like picking up Octavia and picking her brain and reading every word and holding her hand when things were too much….

And it feels a lot like frustration and tastes bitter as blood.  Because Piri is dead now. And it took over 24 hours for an obituary to post.  And I never had a chance to tell him what his work meant to me.  And Gwendolyn is dead.  And she lived in Chicago.  And I, knuckle-head high schooler I was, missed the chance to tell her what she meant to me.  And Octavia is dead.  And she lived half a country away and I was never gonna get to tell her what she meant to me but damn if only I could have.

And….

And it feels like the cold that sweeps across the back of your neck when you realize a mentor you loved like a father…his facebook page is still active.  Active. Alive. Living.  And you want to post something but you can’t.  Because how do you tell someone that you are also active.alive.living now but only because they lived?  How do you tell someone that you have survived this far in part because of what they were and that you are remembering them all the time and regretting every phone call you didn’t make and even that doesn’t make you feel better because you know they knew that they knew that you knew you were loved anyway.  That nothing you could do could lose their love for you.

And it feels like ……..

But is also full of promise.

After all, here I am.  Writing stuff.  Grateful for things like Facebook profiles and black Latinidad Twitter communities and emails from mentors that affirm that “yes, I check it too” and voices who check in with me from across social media to say, “Hey there.  Hey.  Hear my voice.”

I am still here.  Writing stuff.  Thinking thoughts.  I haven’t disappeared yet.

#Lawd

*Leslie Brown, “How a Hundred Years of History Tracked Me Down,” Telling Histories: Black Women Historians and the Ivory Tower, 262

A Monday Rant on Plan Bs, Job Markets and #History as a Profession


Read this today and I never should have.  Why?  

First, it was a depressing look at the past and future prospects for Ph.D.s in history.  

Second, it was a depressing look at the past and future prospects for Ph.D.s in history from both the President and the Executive Director of the field’s most prestigious (read: old-white-male-cantankerous-curmudgeonly) professional organization.  

Third, it was condescending as shit.  The solution to the poor job market and the tightening of university budgets is to stop seeing that Plan B (the not-a-tenure track job) as a Plan B.  

Huh???  

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On Alter Egos and Infinite Literacies, Part I

Fleshy Professional Avatar spent the weekend in Richmond, Virginia with colleagues and friends at the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History.  I tagged along for the ride, made a minor appearance in time to introduce myself to amazing and dynamic public intellectuals like @NewBlackMan and @DrJamesPeterson.  Then I dove right back in to life and work here in the DMV with the arrival of the Mobile Homecoming Project (@alexispauline and @juliawallace) for their week-long university residency.  This was another event Fleshy Professional Avatar was signed up to do but I hung out in the wings, dipping in when Alexis and Julia referenced their trip to AMC 2011 and the Shawty Got Skillz workshop, taking a breath of peace when I saw @Mdotwrites and as I was introduced to another professor-cum-insurgent.  And when I looked up, I turned around to find we’d formed a circle of womyn of color who do intense intellectual work and activism around saving our own lives in spaces that are almost universally hostile to everything we are and represent.  And yet…there we were.  Queering the space with our very own light energy, turning the room on its side and moving the group as a whole along a new wavelength of ultraviolet visibility.

For a moment, just long enough to breath in and out twice, I was able to be Kismet and Flesh at the same time.  The two bodies overlapped and co-existed in time and space together.

But it was only a moment.

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A Day in the Life, or “When You See It, You See It Everywhere”


Emergency personnel transport Ricky Ray Rector to an ambulance after an apparent suicide attempt. Rector shot himself in the head after shooting police officer Robert Martin in Conway in 1981. Rector was later put to death for the murder (via ConwayPedia, click)

An older man enters, maybe 50 or younger. Unshaven. Black man, skinny. Not visibly dirtier than anyone else in here (read: granola) but the faint smell of body soil sits in the air where he passes. He enters and yells something unintelligible. Loud. Everyone pauses. No one looks. Except me. And I look away quickly.  It is clear that there is something not quite centered about him.

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Death and Other Night Terrors

“It is not something you just let happen.  Your body knows how to do it, but you still have to do it.  Nevertheless, as it is when one is good at something, I enjoyed the effort because in many ways the effort was effortless.  I spread my wings and took to the sky.  No one heard from me for an hour.”

I wish I felt as confident as Onyesonwu, the sorceress-heroine of Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death.  She just took flight.  Me?  I need a blog post to mark what I already feel.

Time to take flight.

So many new things were happening, are happening, that I didn’t even have time to do an update.  With the help of the Shawty Got Skillz/INCITE Women of Color crew and YOU, my lovely & loving donors, I finally attended the Allied Media Conference.  I met activists, artists, bloggers, and organizers I’ve admired for years.  Years.  With @MdotWrites there in spirit, we rocked a session on using safe and critical use of Twitter.  I smanged some delicious pasta and radical POC conversation and made friends I hope to have for-ev-er (Dancing on Embers, I’m looking at you).  Care packages, skill share materials and more are on their way so make sure I have your contact information if you donated, purchased the skill share gift package, still WANT to purchase, etc.  (More info on this to come, don’t worry.  You will get reminders!)

And if you want to follow along with what the Shawty Got Skillz sharers are doing now or catch up on the back tweets, follow @ShawtyGtSkillz (no “O” in “got”) on Twitter, head over to the Shawty Got Skillz Tumblr, or search the #SGSZ hashatg.

I also moved back to the District.  I’m still soaking up the spectrum of sights, smells, and tastes I’ve missed for so long.  No, I didn’t romanticize you DMV.  Even when you’re ugly (#streetharassment, #Gentrification), I love you, because when I look into the worst of you I know I’m looking into parts of myself.  And I know that black & brown folk regroup and rebuild.  We will make it through this.  I can’t wait to re-join the fight.

I moved in with Mr… (Moment–

–go on and get that out of your system)

…which has been a lesson in love, patience, sexual stamina, money management and all the rest.  I’ve been officially banned from posting about it (what I wanted to do was make a new Tumblr because you know how I do) but I will be posting informal updates as the adventure unfolds (Hint: #LivingWithMr on Twitter).

And even though I’m back, I’m practicing a little bit of self-love & solitude.  Yes, even with Mr. here, because in a lot of ways I’m letting him take care of me.  According to Little Sis, this is my Year of the Hermit; I’m either going on a journey, sola, or I’m coming back from one.  She’s the numerology guru but I do feel it.  I’m reaching out less.  I’m micro-managing my real life social networks less.  I’m mothering less.  I’m journaling more.  I’m crafting stories and considering submitting them.  I’m making plans for Nuñez Daughter and iwannalive productions and focusing inward on what my dreams for the next two, ten, twenty years will be.  I’m babying myself.  And I’m learning quite a bit about myself and my relationships as I go along.  Good and bad.  Ain’t that always the way?

Maybe most important, and the reason for the title and the image, I’m also in the last stages of writing my dissertation.  There is a kind of death that this process requires, an execution I have been afraid to face–death of childhood, death of adolescence, death of certain radical dreams, death of certain assumptions about myself and life in general–but the time is nigh.  Not because I feel like the research is over–in fact, there is a world of documents I can’t wait to dive into.  But because circumstances demand that I move on to the next stage of my life.  And the more I discuss my state of mind with colleagues and friends, the more I realize most dissertations aren’t written because the writer feels the research is complete–they are written because the writer feels that something has got to give.  It may be financial or emotional, an impending job offer or a big move or a new marriage or a new baby or a death in the family.  Or the death of a mentor.  It may be that the sun shone through the window a different way that morning.  But if the effort required to write a dissertation is quantifiable, I’d guess that only 40% of it is the work of researching.  The other 50% is just mind & drive & courage.  That last ten?  Typing that b*tch out.

When I left the Little Town in New England, Asian Dancer put it just right.  In paraphrase, she said, “You are setting yourself up with the most perfect situation you could ever imagine, the best situation possible to finish this thing.  You’ll be in a city you love, with people you love and a man-piece who loves you for you to lay on.  You are going to write all day.  And then you are going to have sex all night.  You’ll have no excuse not to.  You’ll even want to.”

She’s right.  I do.  After all:

“…something must be written before it can be rewritten.”

This blog is about to be sporadic in updates.  And when I do write, expect to get an eye-full of ranting and raving about bad coffee and loud cafés, obscure requests from committee members and last minute dashes to the archive.  Along with learning more than you ever wanted to know about bondwomen’s reproduction, labor, market work and higglers, sex across the color line, libertines and debauchery, dances, tignons, 18th century birth registers, slave castles and poor soldiers, Afro-Atlantic maroonage, and other permutations direct from the experience of women of African descent during the period of African slavery.  I’ll also be throwing in the usual Sable Fan Gyrl, pop culture, day-in-the-life, political ranting riff-raff that is my escape hatch.  Can’t get too serious, right?

If I haven’t updated recently and you want to know where to find me, chop it up with me on Twitter (@KismetNunez).  It’s public so you can always lurk my timeline but I’d love to e-meet you so please sign up.  Or poke around the Confessions of a Sable Fan Gyrl Tumblr and leave a question in my Ask box (the really juicy, cuss-word filled ranting will be done there).  The WOC Survival Kit & my other friends will be updating on a regular basis.

In other words, I’m around.  I’m married to the E-Game, after all.  I’m just cheating on it with Ms. Diss.  Respect my mistress.

Till next time (& I’m stealing from @MdotWrites on this one but it’s inspired by @Nnedi):

Wings up.