This Stuff Just Happens

So the funny thing about passing my comprehensive exams is that I now have no idea what to do with myself.

It’s reminded me, this feeling, of a moment in Fanspired’s story, “Conversations With Head People,” a Wincest tale in which a meta-version of Fanspired herself tries to explain to Sam Winchester how much agency he possesses as a fictional character within her writing:

I only try to write honestly and this stuff just happens […] I can’t help the way you react, or the issues that get raised in the process. That’s your doing. All I do is ask ‘what happens next?’ and you answer me.

Right.

I keep asking, sure, but there’s no one to answer.

Oh, I have shit I should be doing: a couple of conference proposals, revising my prospectus, catching up on the theory I’ll need to draw from as my project moves forward.

And my class steams ahead, too; I always have my students to think of, true.

But–

I feel as though I’m in limbo. Not in a bad way at all, but more like a liminal space.

When your official status can be described as “all but,” perhaps that’s not really surprising.

I don’t know.

I suppose the next concerted push will come in a year’s time (knock on wood), when according to the Powers That Be, I should be applying for jobs.

In the meantime, in essence: my purpose is to read and write, to study and create, to research and to make something new. Or new to me, at least.

It’s kind of bizarre.

My academic self, the one that tends to ride herd over any other facets of me, is stuck in the needle groove of the question: what happens next?

(Waits with baited breath; looks over shoulder.)

Right in the Face

20121102-171617.jpg

The wall over my desk at school is slathered in SPN-related paraphernalia. It’s like the real-world equivalent of my tumblr: part inspiration, part visual outburst, part happy zen space I can visit when grad school gets too weird.

The image above is in a particular place of prominence: a pseudo-Dean half-naked, open, and willing spread out over the hood of the Impala.

Hell yes.

Now, given that, in my life as a grad student, I openly proselytize for the Church of Gay Incest Porn, having this picture over my desk didn’t strike me as particularly notable: it’s sexy as fuck, sure, but it’s not pornographic. And the only people that see it on a regular basis are my officemates, fellow students, who’ve grown accustomed to my discussions of Wincest, Destiel, etc.

To be more blunt: they know that I research porn and I write porn. End of story.

So it struck me, yesterday, when the presence of this image in the physical space associated with (assigned to?) my academic persona became notable and even laudable to someone else.

Let me explain.

Continue reading “Right in the Face”

Emphasis On “Professional.”

meta!misha’s a professional. like me.

originally posted on my tumblr. hence the awesome lack of capitalization.

i’m in my second year of a phd program now, which means my cohort and i aren’t the newbies anymore. at times, the first-years seem to think i know stuff that they don’t.

that is terrifying. and a little bizarre. because, wow. no.

(and yet, part of me says. and yet.)

when it comes down to it, i’m afraid of being read as “smart.”

which, for someone in graduate school, is nine kinds of crazy.

Continue reading “Emphasis On “Professional.””

Fleeing In Terror’s Probably Not The Best Option


I’ve finally figured out what’s bugging me, what’s dragging me down about the coming semester: the fear of other people’s expectations.

This time last year, no one expected anything from me because nobody knew what I could do. Including me. I just figured: I don’t want to suck. So I’ll go quietly about the business of not sucking.

Now there are, I don’t know, expectations and shit. There isn’t a question of can I do well; I’ve done well, at least in academic terms, and the expectation is that I’ll do so again.

I don’t want to screw up–which isn’t new–but I feel like there are people watching, now, for whom my screwing up isn’t a question. It’s like: you’re here. You carry the name of our program out into the world. And you’re not gonna fuck it up.

Even my editors and the admins of conferences I’m attending, it’s inherent in their communications with me: you’re not gonna fuck it up. You’re a professional. This is what you do. We trust you to come here or write this and talk intelligently about this stuff.

Which is fucking terrifying.

I’ve realized that I like going in with no expectations–my own or anyone else’s. I like flying in blind, with no one knowing me or my work and being like pleasantly surprised or whatever that I’m not a complete idiot. That I do know how to write, sometimes. How to speak, less often.

But that shell’s been spent and the bullet’s long gone. Don’t get to be a virgin forever, I guess. Now I gotta give the people what they want, what I think they want, and it’s no wonder that reading acres and acres of fanfic rather than putting any of my stuff on paper looks pretty fucking fantastic from here.

I’ve internalized all of this crap, is what I’m saying. And it’s acting like a major block that I’m allowing to prevent me from getting shit done.

Dude. I’m scared.

Back to Life. Back to Reality.


things I’ll miss about summer
:

  • watching my cats sleep through the afternoon
  • having the windows open all day
  • teaching myself to make random cocktails
  • spending whole days reading slash fic
  • spending whole days writing slash fic
  • not having to go to class
  • drinking beer for no reason at three in the afternoon
  • fireflies and my amazing, self-regenerating geraniums

things i’m excited about for fall:

  • hanging out with my brilliant and talented colleagues
  • going overseas for the first time in over a decade
  • moving one semester closer to the end of my coursework
  • being busy and not having as much time to worry
  • coloring in my map of the US on election night
    (blue for obama; red for romney)
  • reading things a prof assigns that I wouldn’t have otherwise
  • spending all day studying slash fic
  • spending all day writing about slash fic
  • watching and then dissecting season 8 of supernatural
  • juggling too many balls in the air and seeing where they land

Right Next To The KY

A few weeks ago, I wrote this impassioned, angsty post about my squick points in SPN fandom. I was very specific. I was very serious. I was very delusional to think that everything would stay so neatly within the proper boundaries.

Especially since past me wrote, then:

But I guess I see the whole notion of squick in slash as generative, as a way of delimiting one’s imaginative [sexual] boundaries and then shifting those borders as needed.

Which, at the time, I thought applied to other people. That my “imaginative boundaries” were firmly planted; once negotiated, now settled.

And I was pretty freaking certain about the Stonehenge of my squick: real world. As I said then:

So I actively avoid learning anything about the real world side of SPN.

Enter Tumblr. And Stonehenge falls.

Still, it seems that past me was at least aware of this possibility, though I tried to couch it in terms of my scholarship, ’cause that’s the shell I run to when I’m freaked:

Maybe it’s just temporary. Maybe it’ll be like my once avowed opposition to J2… a taboo that flew by the wayside thanks to my research on meta slash fic.

Right. RESEARCH.

Sam loves research. He does. He keeps it under his mattress, right next to the KY.

Shut up, Dean.

So this week, when I found myself happily reading J2 and liking it, for gods’ sakes! and it wasn’t even anything I could vaguely point to as being useful in this paper or the next one, I had a moment of: oh shit. Who am I? What have I become?

Well, that goes without saying by now.

Then I self-flagellated myself to a friend, someone I can count on to slap me down if necessary, and this person said:

Dude. There’s good stuff in every genre. If you’re reading it and you like it, it makes you happy, then do it. If you don’t and it’s not, then stop.

Basically: stop angst-ing about reading porn. Jesus.

Now, I still don’t want to know about anyone’s kids, or people’s marriages or ways of working or dogs or whatever–see? I’ve already said too much. But I’m less terrified of what will happen if I do, accidently. I still don’t seek this shit out, this kind of real world knowledge, but if I pick some up through an AU J2, really. My brain will not explode. And I’m not, therefore, a terrible person.

I can be amused by stuff like this and not forfit my professional fangirl card, not lose the illusion that I can summon cool detachment in the middle of Wincest and go “hey, yeah, I can use that. For RESEARCH.”

Because I totally can.

This is a long way of saying, I guess, that the fences are still flexible in my corner of fandom. Which I knew, but. I guess I wasn’t ready for the pastures to move so soon, you know?

I guess what worries me is that I have a tendency, once I drift into a particular subgenre as a reader to want to go there as a writer. But I’m sure that won’t happen here.

No freaking way.

Always Already Possessed

20120408-120420.jpg

Writing is a physical thing, for me. The closest thing I get to an aerobic workout.

I spend a lot of time flailing, when I write; gesturing and pointing and dancing along to whatever music I’m listening to, whatever music is stuck in my head.

I talk back, I talk to, I talk out.

I bite my lip a lot.

Try to avoid seeing myself in the screen.

Look away and type. Close my eyes and type. Think faster than I can type.

When it’s too fast, when I can’t catch up, I write things down on paper, shove the pencil across the page and sketch and suggest and get closer than I can on the screen, sometimes.

I shift in my chair. I pet the cats when they hop up, hold the little cat in my lap and poke at the keys with one hand.

I sing.

I watch the screen for signs of email or Facebook or anything that gives me an excuse not to write, right then.

I flip between my story and my paper and my exam–between I want to do, what I am doing, what should already be done.

I curse, when I have to. Cajole the words to come, sometimes. Try to hold them at bay, at others.

I spend a lot of time unconscious, when I write.

My friend asked: “How can you not see this, in this piece? What I see? Didn’t you write it?”

And I said yes, of course I did, but I wasn’t conscious, at the time. Not in the same way.

And that’s when it’s easy to write, times like that, when it’s necessary, when it’s not me. When the text just comes and I have to get out of the way and transcribe, just type, just let the letters form on their own, without me.

It’s awesome, sometimes, and scary. Writing like that. Like muscle memory. An autonomic function that just is. Just does.

So someone watching me write? Might think I was possessed, a little. And they’d be right.

And sometimes I feel as though school–the first 12 years of it, at least–was designed to exorcise those demons, to drive them out and pour clarity, obedience, respect down my throat, into their place.

And those things rested easier, I guess, gave me less of a hard time than the demons that drive my writing did. But wow, was I boring, and shit, was I unhappy, and I think I’ll take possession over that, everytime.

It’s Time For A Check Up

20120406-161930.jpg

So my grad program wants to know: what have I accomplished this year?

First, I made a lot of mistakes.

I spent too much time comparing myself to my colleagues, measuring myself against an imaginary standard that I manufactured in my spare time and spoon-fed with paranoia.

I spent too much time listening to certain people in my life, both in academia and not. Wasted too many brain cells trying to apply logic to things they said that made no sense then, that make no sense now, and that ultimately don’t mean a damn thing.

I didn’t spend as much time on some readings as I should have, spend more time on others than they really deserved.

At conferences, I didn’t go to enough panels. Didn’t talk to enough people.

I put myself down too often.

I forgot to press “save” more than once.

Dicked around too much, in general.

Waited until the last minute to start my work when I sure as hell knew better. Not all the time, but at least one too many.

Didn’t talk enough in some classes. Talked too much in others.

I got up too early, too often.

Didn’t spend enough time with my students’ texts or spent far, far too much.

I drank too much coffee. Ate too much bad food. Didn’t take up smoking.

Didn’t drink enough booze.

I wasted too much time not writing.

But then, I made some good choices, too.

I presented at my first conference and managed to write something, to say something, that sounded like me: funny and sarcastic and smart.

Presented at a second and, when the room wasn’t as friendly, that time, I didn’t beat myself up about it.

I said “thank you” when people praised my writing, my thinking, my teaching. Didn’t question or try to talk my way out of the compliment. Just said “thanks.”

I said “thank you” when someone told me “You can do better,” because she was right.

I was a little too honest a little too often and, man, was it good.

I started watching Supernatural.

I started writing slash fic and, damn, has that changed my life.

People I don’t know, will never know except via the internet, read my writing and liked it and even came back for more, even saw more in my texts than I did, than I can, than I could.

I remembered how to learn strategically, how to get what I need from a text and move on to the next.

I became myself, in my teaching.

I discovered porn studies and critical discourse analysis and feminist film theory.

I submitted abstracts without fear because, hey, the worst they can say is “no.”

[Or is that “yes”?]

I had colleagues ask me to submit panels with them and said “yes” instead of “why?”

I had papers accepted at a hardcore feminist conference, at pop culture fests in the US and in Switzerland, at a grad conference, at a regional MLA deal.

I didn’t listen when some people gave me misguided–if well-intentioned–advice about my academics, my career, my once-and-future “marketability.”

I accepted that other people in my academic life might actually mean it when they offer help, or guidance, or direction. And that these people might be good advocates, for me. That they want to be, if I’ll let them.

I interviewed my academic idol, saw the mask fall, and figured out that I have to hack out my own path as a scholar. Figured out that douchebaggery can trap, can take even the best of us.

I embraced my inner Rage Cat and then learned how to let him go.

I said “yes” more than I said “no.”

I wrote a love(d) letter and got back something, someone that I’d lost.

I stopped waiting for someone to give me permission to do what I want to do in my research and just–did it.

I realized that I might have something to say, after all, and that some people might want to listen.

I became a writer.

I became “KT.” Or “CC,” all at once.

What Inspiration Looks Like

20120310-134835.jpg

I’m never more productive as a fic writer than when I have other crap that I should be doing: papers to write, student work to comment on, emails to respond to, reading to complete for the coming week. Ho hum.

Something about resistance, about pushing futilely back at what will have to get done, eventually, is really freakin’ inspirational. It’s no mystery as to why I started writing Supernatural fic over Thanksgiving break, or why my Cas/Dean series was born during a period when I was supposed to be prepping papers for two conferences, or why inspiration for my new series has popped up, helpfully, during spring break.

And yet, I can’t neatly separate these two worlds, ’cause they all live in the space in my head, I guess. For example, reading rhetorical theory in concert with writing “Take A Look At Me Now” meant that Cyril Welch’s notion of what “good” writing does—it reflects “what is” and writes towards “what could be”—ended up in Sammy’s mouth; in a very different context, mind you, but still. It wasn’t conscious, which is what I find weird or interesting, I guess. How much of me—or whatever’s rattling around in my brain at a given moment—ends up in my fic.

It’s kind of awesome, actually; writing towards a mirror, like that. Maybe it’s like Lacan says: the image of the other is the figure of desire, the manifestation of what is not us and what we cannot have, but what we spend our lives trying to reach, obtain, make part of ourselves. We want what others tell us we should want, too; our sense of what we should desire is shaped by those around us: our parents, our culture, our peers. So somewhere in my negotiations with the mirror, my attempts to make material something that isn’t me—something I desire, fine, ok [jesus, can you blame me? sheesh.]—some part of me springs into being, or comes into focus.

And wow, does that sound overly earnest and self-absorbed. But it is Lacan, after all. I think that’s like, required.

28 Days Later (Rush Still Can’t Keep It Up)


Ok, Rush.

So part of the paradigm you’re operating in–on which your rhetoric relies–is that women should be ashamed of being on birth control.

Because using contraception, in your mind, means, ipso facto, that we are sluts. That we have what is, in your opinion, “too much” sex.

Your rhetoric relies on the power of shame, that central tenant of control wielded by the dominant [male] discourse.

I cannot alter the fact that this sense of humiliation over our own sexuality is deeply ingrained in many women. That it was once dug into me.

But what I can do is deny you and Santorum and Darrell Issa and any other dickless wonder with a bully pulpit the opportunity to shame me.

See the image above, Rush? This is my birth control pack for the month. Just one active pill left, one bullet in the ol’ hormonal chamber until my next cycle starts. Look closely: you can almost see the loose morality oozing from the bubble pack, can’t you?

I’ve been on birth control since I was 21. And yup, it’s kept me from getting pregnant for over a decade now. And it’s also regulated my cycle in a way that my body could not by itself. But mostly, it’s kept me from getting pregnant. When I have sex. With a man. Quell horror!

Rush, frankly, I don’t give a fuck what you think of, well, anything, but you must know–you have to learn–that your on-air idiocy has consequences for those whom you attack and, mercifully, for you, too.

Any woman’s decision to take birth control–to take control over our own bodies, over our own reproductive systems–is none of your damn business.

Neither is the apparently flaccid state of your dick any of mine, but so long as you keep coming after me and mine, I’ll keep posting this and reminding anyone who reads this that your radio show is the audio equivalent of Brett Favre’s cell phone photos of his junk: desperate, misguided, and a goddamn guarantee that you ain’t getting laid anytime this century.