Friday, July 20, 2007

Anxiety Dreams 'R Us

It's become conventional wisdom here at Casa Afrogeek that I am incapable of writing anything unless it's about myself. In grad school I was smart and clever and quick-witted, but 5 years on the tenure track and two kids have apparently addled my brain. So instead of having something smart to say about the NAACP burying the N-word (are they purposely trying to be irrelevant?) or how spot-on Mark Anthony Neal is when he suggests that many black intellectuals have a deep dislike of black youth and black youth culture, I will share this.

I've been working like a mad woman on the James Baldwin book (which is very near finished) and have found that I am more productive if I take a short afternoon nap instead of trying to write with sleepy brain. I woke up from this afternoon's nap in a panic because of this dream:

My daughters and I are riding on a CARTA bus on our way to meet Alison, my prolific and insanely smart friend. We never make it to our destination, though, because my daughters get off the bus at a beauty salon. Apparently I used to work there and when we enter everyone is happy to see us. The owner of the salon immediately gives me a pile of paper containing hundreds of messages from former clients. My waking mind recognizes all the client names as names of students. It is then that I realize that, in the dream, I used to be a college professor but am no longer. I don't know why I left my job or why I'm no longer a hairdresser either. The final message is from a student who is now in law school. She's telling me about having read Paul Laurence Dunbar's "We Wear the Mask" in one of her classes and how excited she was that she knew the poem already because she read in my class. When she offered a reading of the poem (the one she learned from me), however, the professor shot her down. "This poem," he said, "is not about the Negro's dissembly. It's about his dissemblage."

Then I woke up. Isn't that a crazy anxiety dream? And why is my sleeping brain making words ("dissemblage"?)? I look forward to finishing this book for lots of reasons, not least of which is a good night's sleep.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Afrogeeks Get Married!

Okay, so we were already married. But we did renew our vows a few weeks ago. Walter took the pictures. Here we are in all our geeky, sappy glory.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Are you some kind of feminist or something?

I am used to having repetitive, vaguely annoying conversations about my name. For instance, my first name--Conseula--is spelled unconventionally (the "u" usually comes before the "e"). This causes people to pronounce it in the oddest ways (I get Kon-soo-luh alot) and to tell me "You know, your name is spelled wrong" (this happens more often than you would think). My last name--Francis--is a homonym for my daughter's first name--Frances. Do you know how many times in the last seven years I've had to answer these two questions: "You named her Frances Francis?" and "Don't you get confused?" In response to the first question, I always say, simply, that my daughter has her father's last name, not my own. Which brings me to the name conversation I rarely have anymore.

I taught Governor's School this summer and many of the kids in my class were fascinated by the fact that I didn't change my name when I got married. Here is a conversation I had on the last day of class:

Student (as I am writing down my address for her): So what's your real last name?

Me: (briefly confused by the question): What?

Student: You know, your real last name, your husband's name.

Me: My *husband's* last name is McCann. *My* last name is Francis. I didn't change my name when I got married.

Student: You didn't want to claim your husband?

Me: I "claimed" him when we got married.

Student: But don't you want to show that you're married?

Me: What does my husband do to show that he is married?

Student: He wears a wedding ring.

Me: I wear the matching ring.

Student: Why didn't you change your name?

Me: Because I am a grown up with a life and identity and profession that didn't disappear when I got married.

Student: Are you some kind of feminist or something?

So many of things I take for granted--not changing my name, not staying home with my children (a whole other conversation), feminism--were new and exotic (and maybe a little disturbing) for her. It's been a long time since I've met someone like that. Though, to be fair, she was only 17 and still has lots of growing up to do. Maybe I will be the first step in her feminist awakening.