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.


Alison said...

Damn! Yes, that is definitely an anxiety dream. I hope I wasn't in the dream as a source of anxiety, but it sounds like maybe I was.

Hairdresser was one of my first back-up career plans. In Cookeville you could go to Mr. Wayne's Beauty School, and their slogan was, "A career in less than a year." When school got tough, Catherine B and I would reassure each other that if need be, we could have a career in less than a year.

claire said...

Were you clothed on the bus? I wonder why you left hairdressing? What a great dream -- but james baldwin is the one who needs to be buried.