Or I’ll come to WordPress…

Sometimes it feels like everything is moving so swiftly. That there are so many (new) films to watch and essays, poems, and novels to read. I get overwhelmed. And then I tell myself to spend less time on Twitter.

I miss the intimacy of WordPress.

I miss having the type of friends that pull me out of myself.

This morning I wrote an entire story about a woman and a stop sign. It was set on a street that resembles one I used to walk down in Providence. The woman reminds me of the protagonist in Cauleen Smith’s Drylongso. I wrote this story all in my head before I was fully awake.

I’ve been trying to study the structures of long form personal essays. I need to practice.

I think sometimes, my study of creative writing has inhibited me. I don’t want to start writing something if I’m not going to put in the work to make it good. And that is a lot of work and I don’t really have the time and I have bigger writing projects I need to focus on. So I’m just not going to write that thing.

Or, I’ll come to WordPress and write a list of random thoughts.

She, Unsung


  • I spent the last 3 months of 2013 working the most ridiculous hours. (This song was the thing that got me going on many mornings).
  • The last few days of 2013 felt like they were quickly unravelling into a mess and I did not fall completely apart (thank you Saturn)
  • I’m ready to get back to my own writing.
  • The work I put into 2013 has created so many possibilities for 2014 and I am both anxious and excited.

The kinship persists.

The first time I read One Day I Will Write About This Place, I was so moved, I held on to the hardcover long after finishing because I had felt some sense of comfort from its presence. A fully romanticized kinship between Binyavanga and I had blossomed. I wrote a short thing about the book on Muse & Words.

The second time I read it in an attempt to write something more thorough and smart-sounding about it. I still have notes and excerpts all over my phone and computer from this piece that never revealed itself to me.

The third time, I skimmed the memoir in preparation for a book discussion. The four of us sat around two wobbly tables we had pulled together at the coffee shop. In recollection, the discussion was mostly mundane. There was a change in the style of writing as we moved toward the end: less rigor, less imagination, less demanding of us. There was a conversation about national and self identity that we superficially grasped at. But what stands out in my memory from that discussion: we all noticed the loud silence about his sexuality. He seemed to hedge around it on a few occasions. Most notably when recalling an incident while attending boarding school. One of the discussants (maybe to prove that she was in the know), declared that she had heard rumors of his gayness from people who knew him well. In recollection, I was more dismissive than forthright in my denunciation of her outing him. (Many times today I’ve imagined that she’ll email me to say “I told you so” and that will be my second chance to be confidently defensive.)

This most recent reading of One Day… is a bit different. In an essay, published as a lost chapter to the memoir, I find that my romanticized kinship persists:

I am five when I close my self into a vague happiness that asks for nothing much from anybody. Absent-minded. Sweet. I am grateful for all love. I give it more than I receive it, often. I can be selfish. I masturbate a lot, and never allow myself to crack and grow my heart. I touch no men. I read books. I love my dad so much, my heart is learning to stretch.

Quick + Random: Sexual Identities

1. Indeed there is a power in naming things, in finding others like you, in finally seeing yourself. But there is something incredibly overwhelming (annoying, even) of ‘asexual/demi-sexual’, ‘romantic/aromantic’, ‘heteroromantic/biromantic/homoromantic’, …

2. I would love to see more conversations like this but less academic and more situated in the everyday, the personal.

3. That’s really all I’ve got.

height + gender + fashion

(this video is part 2 of a 3 part series; watch part 1 here).

At the end of the video embedded above, Ayishat talks about not wearing heels (a truly radical act for very short women) and not introjecting ideas of gender when it comes to her personal style. It feels liberating just to watch her, considering how I’ve navigated gender and size in my own style.

When I was about 14, I bought a pack of boxer shorts. I don’t remember what my mother said when she discovered them in the bag with my other purchases, but I do remember my dad coming to my room after he came home for work. My father usually held his temper with me, but not that night. I returned my purchase soon after.

At 21, I lived alone in South Florida. I spent a lot of time shopping to fill the time. I wore whatever I liked (but not in the most creative ways). I had a coworker, who was also sub 5′ and “into fashion”.  One day, she lamented about not being able to wear ballet flats. I wore them regularly so I looked at her with confusion and asked why. She was too short, they were made for tall (and preferably thin) women. I had never considered my body type in this regard before.

Alas, 7 years later and I’m discovering Ayishat Akanbi. So geeked!

h/t StudioAfrica

black-eyed squint

“you old black-eyed squint!” | nina with the wicked wit and the black-eyed squint | wicked wit, black-eyed squint


I’m reading Our Sister Killjoy by Ama Ata Aidoo. This book is pretty amazing. The protagonist, Sissie is a young Ghanaian woman who has travelled extensively. She is described as having a black-eyed squint. Her way of seeing the world is racialized in a way that is particular to black people. I’m wondering who else has written stories about young African women solo travelling in the 1960s/1970s.


the obvious question: is the squint too narrow and thus limiting or is it well-focused?

Random Thoughts

1. There really is no correlation between one’s confidence and the quality of work one produces. And for that reason alone it’s really amazing to meet (in person) folks who have a strong online presence and personal brand.

For the shy, for the falsely humble, for those who have yet to learn how to push that ego out of the way and say “this is my work,” know that:

“The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensities.” – William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming.

So yeah quit that false humility shit but don’t be a hype man for some bs.

2. I’m really doing this writing thing. Like, it’s not a game.

3. Some poll says only 25% of black women want to be in committed relationships. This is weird when you compare it to the percentage for black men: 43%. And when you consider what the media has been saying about single, lonely ass black women. I’m too lazy to go look for the originally published data and survey. I actually don’t care about the numbers. I’m curious about black women who want something other than traditional ways of monogamous commitment.

Really I’m just curious about me.

I used to reject marriage. I used to say that I had issues with commitment. (There was that one time that I had to remind myself to breathe at the very moment the boy I was having fun with expressed his interest in something serious and long-term and ceremonious.)

Then a friend told me that there was not a finite amount relationship types. That just because I hadn’t found comfort in the options I was presented didn’t mean that I would be forced into something (like forever-lonely-singleness) by default. She told me that it was up to me to decide what I wanted. To create what I wanted.

Go figure, I could create the life I wanted.

4. Sometimes I hear other folks’ stories and I introject their narratives. This week it was Dambudzo Marechera:

“It was also at Oxford that Marechera’s lasting affair with alcohol really began, an affair that was to reach a colorful apogee at the Guardian fiction prize ceremony where he shattered the face of the genteel British publishing establishment by hurling plates and wine bottles at the chandeliers. He carried too much baggage, was too sensitive, too uncompromising to really fit into British society—or to lie low like other African students did, focusing on their studies, counting the days until they returned to their countries. He was also temperamentally unsuited for the student life; his approach to literature and to learning was too personal, too subjective for the university curriculum that encouraged a more uniform and regimented approach.”

He died at age 35, homeless. It seems he really grappled with issues of the world and his place in it. Some people really can’t just numb that shit and keep it moving.

5. I really have a limited vocabulary so I’m proud of myself for using the word “introject” in that last thought. Though I’m not sure if I’ve used it correctly.

6. I haven’t finished reading this opinion on The Essayification of Essays but I like the ideas of essays as “attempts”, as something that asks you to get comfortable with ambivalence.

7. I’ve been wanting to hold a baby a lot lately.

People made of goodness

They tell the story of an old woman who–despite wrinkles, the sufferings of age, the stings of ingratitude, and even loneliness–was still all heart. Some people are like that: they are made of goodness, their every look spreads tenderness, and from their hands caresses fall all the year round.

- Patrick Chamoiseau, “A Pumpkin Seed” (Creole Folktales)

Thinking through heterosexual appropriations of queer

I’ve been called a “cultural lesbian”; told that I’m queer because of my gender politics. I’ve resisted these labels because NYC taught me something about heterosexual appropriation of queer identities.

At a recent academic conference, I chatted with a doctoral student who was presenting his work on queer politics in “postcolonial” Africa (or something like that). I asked him about this thing of appropriation, of heterosexual people identifying as queer because of there politics. In some way I asked if sexuality needs to be removed from the politics of sexuality. He responded with a question: does the appropriation feel different if we factor in the appropriator’s race, class, or other identities? Consider a black, working-class, heterosexual man identifying as queer…

It gave me pause. But now I’m thinking why does this matter? Why is it important (?) to see, for example, black heterosexual folks id’ing as ‘queer’. Is it because of ideas we’ve internalized about race and homophobia? Or is it because it’s marginalized folks, in effect, pushing themselves further from center?