So, what have I been up to?
Other than wasting the $40 I paid to purchase my domain name, I’ve been…. in grad school. That’s right. I did it. I made it. I clawed my bitter way back into the ivory tower of academia, and somehow, I’ve been alright.
Sure, it hasn’t been roses and daisies and long slow walks on long slow beaches (although I have pictures to share of all those things, and they are lovely), but I’ve been alright. My first half a semester in graduate school studying writing has been a exercise in stress management and what the yungins like myself call adulting. This adulting is really just a combination of all the things in life that people hate to do or keep track of. Menial labor to keep the system systeming and food on the table. Each individual learns to take their little part and play it or fall out of the system all together (or rather fall into the more undesirable aspects like debt, homelessness, class registration holds, etc.) I’ve done my part and learned how to write a check. I’ve purchased health insurance but not a parking pass. I’ve registered a car and transferred my license from Connecticut to Maryland. I still refuse to call myself a proud Terp, but every now and then, you might find me Terpin’ around campus. I bought a bike and bike to campus most days. I’ve taken an interest in home remedies for the common cold (my favorites include but are not limited to hot garlic broths, ginger teas, and garlic foot baths). I’ve finally quit smoking cigarettes and it feels gooooood. I’ve rekindled my interest in jewelry if only as a way to avoid stressing myself to death on a daily basis with thoughts of decolonial doing and being and the ontology of blackness and whether I am black before a woman or a woman before black or if thoughts of precedence and presence obscure the issue of presentation and interpretation.
I’ve bought second hand furniture and come to love it in the way that one loves used creaky things, the way one loves their own body. I cut ties with the people who were no good to me. I cut ties with the people who were some good to me but mostly bad. I’ve made efforts to strengthen ties with those people I know are good for me and that I’m good for too. I’ve learned to notice what I’m good for and to cook a delicious curry chicken. I still haven’t gotten down meal prep.
In terms of school, I’ve learned that anyone who expects you to read 600 pages of critical theory and/or fiction only wants to see you fail in the most vilest of ways. I’ve learned that vocabulary can be recovered (thank god), but that spelling mistakes are forever (unfortunately). I’ve learned that it is possible to wake up in the morning at 7:00 a.m. and find something worth staying awake for. I’ve learned that I belong where I am and that no one but myself can take it from me. I’ve learned that there are things in life that take time, like being approved for car insurance, and while patience is a virtue, passivity is self-harm.
I’ve learned that it is better to face yourself than push the world away. I’ve learned how to get things done and keep most of my hair. I’ve learned that I can survive on McDonalds, but McDonalds doesn’t care if it kills me or ruins my sweet curves. I’ve learned that the way I move through the world, the way I see the world and make it my own, will not be appreciated by everyone but that I, a black woman with a weird past, have value.
I’ve learned that the world can be beautiful but is filled with as much, if not more, pain. I’ve learned that no matter how close the truth gets to your face, you can still tell it no. The truth can fly across the country, answer all your questions, behave with the utmost civility and grace, the utmost credibility, and that someone can lie, blatantly and with no remorse and still receive a seat on the Supreme Court. I’ve learned that to live is to be determined by things you cannot control, and (and this can be worse some times), I’ve learned that even the things you think you control can and will endeavor to hurt you, not maliciously, but as a way to exist.
Sometimes these things I discuss in the classroom haunt me day and night. I read Corregidora by Gayl Jones for my African American Lit course and felt myself internalizing the Corregidora women’s pain, compelled to bear witness with my body and my heart. I felt in reading the novel that Jones is someone who understands intimately what it means to be born into a scene of pain and violence which can never be reconciled and which may never be put to a close. Yet, still I hear Helene Cixous urging me to Write!
Still I feel myself in my body and find myself remembering that in all of this experience and knowing and learning, I have a body that walks and eats and shits and sleeps and feels deeply everything that touches it and everything that is near it. Still I find myself on the path of reclamation even in the face of pain. What does it mean that pain and trauma and loneliness are my heritage, not just as a black woman but as Maiasia Grimes? It certainly doesn’t mean that death is all I have. It means that I have work to do, work that could drive me crazy or drive me into myself.