Hey, Assbutt! Just Shut Up And Enjoy The Paranoia.

So I got good news, bad news this week.

Good news: I had papers accepted at two more conferences for this fall. Which means four conferences in the next four months. Woo!

Bad news:  Two of the conferences are within 10 days of each other in September. And the other two are within 10 days of each other in November.

And did I mention that the ones in September are OVERSEAS?

My dad: …are you sure this is a good idea?
My lovely spouse: …are you sure this is a good idea?
Me: NO but for now I’m going with YES.

I mean, let’s be honest: on the one hand, this is seriously fantastic. People want to talk about Supernatural and fan practice! About women and the negociation of desire! About teh Wincest! Yay!

On the other: WTF was I thinking? Hell, what the hell AM I thinking?

In truth, I’m trying not to. I almost had a panic attack yesterday, when the last acceptance letter came through. I had 10 seconds of happy, of “I am freaking amazing” and then bam! Right to “I gotta breathe in a paper bag and/or vomit.”

Or just roll into a ball and write some nice fluffy Destiel.

And I know this comes off as bragging, or something, but truly, it comes from a place of angst. As one of my colleagues pointed out last week, being an academic means embracing a life of paranoia, fear, and imagined inadequacy. We send out proposals and essays and articles and just cringe under our desks as we wait for a response, which, inevitably, even when it’s a yes instead of a no, feels like a big old Molotov cocktail right in the gut because then we actually have to DO the thing we’ve said we could do and holy fuck does that suck, sometimes.

Exactly.

But most of me right now is like: WTF is wrong with these conference types? Don’t they know that I’m just wanking about SPN? That, at some level, this can’t be “scholarship” because it’s so fucking much fun? That my business card (if I had one) should really just say “professional fangirl”?

I mean, I get to read slash fic AS HOMEWORK. Come on. Seriously?! How did I get so lucky? (Or the world so delusional?) I mean, yeah, then I have to write about the hot sex, rather than just write it, but still. It is fucking awesome.

So I’m grateful. And, when I let myself? Very happy. And utterly and completely freaked out.

…where’s that damn paper bag?

Zora Neale Hurston, My Ornery Queen

This week , I had my first piece of academic writing accepted for publication: an essay on Zora Neale Hurston‘s autobiography, Dust Tracks On A Road, that’ll be part of a critical anthology.

Let me say: this is awesome. As a nascent scholar, publication on the list of “stuff I’m supposed to be doing,” along with giving presentations at conferences, being an active member of our department, etc.  So go me.

And second, as a writer: this piece, this essay, is the first that I wrote in graduate school that was really proud of. That I really liked. In part, I think, because I became so fond of Zora Neale in writing it.

I’d read Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God as a senior in high school, and created a parody of the story in a short film we did for that class [for the record: I played Tea Cake.] But it wasn’t until I took a grad course on Hurston [and, by extension, the Harlem Renaissance literary movement of which she was a part] that I came to appreciate her incredible skill as a writer, an anthropologist, and a chick-ass chick.

But here’s why I really love Zora: she was a goddamn mess.

She was so creative and stubborn and determined to do what she wanted to do, when she wanted to do it [provided she could get the necessary funding], that she pissed off a lot of people. Like, almost everyone she ever met, eventually. She studied zombies in Haiti and voodoo in New Orleans and the folklore of Eatonville, Florida–the town where she was raised, the town she couldn’t wait to escape, the town she couldn’t stop coming back to in real life, in her work. She studied under Frank Boaz, fashioned messy participant observer-type studies, crafted novels and short stories. She wrote for money. A lot. She wrote her own story over and over again–and, as she said in Dust Tracks: “there was some truth in it.” She lied about her age, her marriages, her childhood.

She died alone and broke and just about forgotten.

But her words kept going, Alice Walker found her and wrote “Looking for Zora,” and Z has slowly, steadily risen back up to the place that she would tell you she damn well deserves.

So I love Zora for all her messiness, her ornery nature, for her willingness to live life her way, even if it meant making terrible mistakes and lose friends and going around being forgotten for 25 years. Because she found her way back.

Zora, darlin’, this baby step forward for me? It’s all you.

If you’re curious about Hurston’s work, I highly recommend her short story “Sweat.”