A Quickie Post-ASA Thought from MZB

Now that the tan is starting to fade, I’m reflecting on my #ASA2012 experience.  There is a longer post in the works, but in the meantime, can we please discuss what makes conferencing so difficult????

Luckily, Moya ZB makes reflecting on this pretty easy:

“There’s so much great content at ASA but with a schedule from 8am to 10pm with no lunch or dinner breaks (with few meal options nearby) it becomes hard to sustain yourself as an attendee. American Studies can learn from its own interdisciplinary sub-fields, namely disability studies, and think about how to promote more wellness while conferencing.”

There it is folks.  Time, money, stress, social anxiety (if you are one of those), politics of academe, and the drama of travel are all there.  Conferencing is HARD.

But an amazing time was had by all!!  If you haven’t yet, check out the Alter Egos Media Tumblr.  Browse the posts to explore the life of an #AntiJemima.  I’m long post-conference and I’m still adding to it so expect new things to chew on in the many moons to come.

I wonder what Alter Egos III will look like?

#ASA2012

Who Want War?

 

Headed to Puerto Rico tomorrow to attend the American Studies Association’s annual conference.  The #AntiJemimas will be present and we are discussing social justice, radical womyn of color blogging, and alter ego identity.  Me and my co-panelists, Treva Lindsey and Uri McMillan, are going to set it OFF.

I couldn’t make the paper format work for the media I wanted to present so I created a Tumblr instead.  The better to share with the people back at home.  Check it out here:  Alter Egos and Infinite Literacies II.

Still, this is going to be a strange trip.  Puerto Rico is a homeland and a colonized space where (a fraction of the) residents voted to join the United States as the 51st state.  Contradictions upon contradictions and complications abound.  And while this is a conference I generally enjoy, the event is bound to host some really inappropriate and problematic behavior.  You know I’ll keep you posted.

If you are in PR, whether at home or visiting for #ASA2012, give me a shout.  My Twitter is open for business: @KismetNunez.

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.

 

Who Fears Death? (#PhDflow)

Who indeed?

The dissertation is submitted.  Let the hips shake.  Let the libations flow.  Let the words return.  (Lawd, let the words return)

My life belongs to me again.  I am a free woman of color.

Now…now….

…the real trouble-making begins.

(you are not ready)

Kismet Nuñez became a Ph.D. today.

There is so much goodness to come.  Please stay tuned for it.

I am accountable to YOU.

And I definitely could do none of this without you.  #gratitude

#wepa

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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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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Why I Got Stuck on 1 Sentence for 3 Hours Yesterday

This should probably be a Confessions post, but I feel good putting it here.  From my research (or now my writing) journal:

I am sitting here at the café, more frustrated than I ever wanted to admit to myself. Frustrated with myself, frustrated with language, frustrated with not owning a big dictionary, and frustrated because even if I did, I don’t think it would matter. I’d still be stuck swirling around in a history that no one understands.  I’d still be stuck with a bunch of words that mean almost nothing when placed in the context of women I am studying. They defy every one.  Sex. Race. Gender. Black. White. African. Afro-European. Eurafrican. Whatever these things even mean, whatever they were meant to mean, these are not women who fit very well into the categories.  Wife. Slave. Free.  Consort.  Libertine.  Mulatress.  Signare.  Mistress.  Rivale.  Harlot.  Slut.  And I’m having the damndest time wrapping my mind around how to even speak of this period much less speak of them and their world in a way that centers their ingenuity, their creativity, their industry, their love of self and family, their petty antagonisms, their jealousies, their bitterness, their violence and their pain.

I’m finding myself turning in circles. I turn to the dictionary, browse through the Ds, find decollage, wonder about the meaning of a word that suggests decoration of the neck, consider images of slave women wearing the iron collar —

Click Image for More Information

— and then fight not to cry.

I turn to my library, look for articles I can use for reference, for support, for a way of speaking about defiant women & nasty wenches.  I find a bibliography worth everything and nothing. Because I’m looking for more than just continental early black women’s history and less than literary ruminations on trips to slave castles. I’m looking for the truth–or a truth that I can use to apply to my work and begin to understand what I’m seeing.

Maybe it doesn’t exist.

I remember what Stephanie Camp wrote about trying to find the words to write about truancy and black women and sometimes feeling so frustrated she’d want to throw a book against the wall. And how she’d come back, again and again, to Deborah Gray White’s book, Arn’t I a Woman?.

And I think of Joan Dayan’s piece on Erzulie, and imagine the difficulty she must have had trying to piece together threads of reminisces on a woman, a lwa, an archetype, and how much garbage she had to fight through to make that body known.

I ended there.  Because after invoking the words of my personal heroes, I picked up my pen and started again….

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.