12:51 p.m. - September 03, 2007
You know, I've always felt that I lag behind my peers, that I'm out of step (and touch) of the world around me, whether it's wearing Levi's in an age of boutique jeans, building sandcastles at the beach while others tan and make nightclub plans, or in the latest example, (re)discovering disco. Yes, that's right - I missed it in the 70s, wasn't interested in the brief flare-up of the late 90s - and now I can't get enough. Yesterday I was thinking about how fun disco music is, about how it just makes me happy and carefree, and quickly realized that it's not my porn or underwear collections (really, it's the same thing!) that will cause me the most shame after I am dead and my belongings are pawed through and the secret life that is my life is reassembled piecemeal; no, I worry most that my iPod selections will cause the most what the hell? moments.
I am the same - travel often to unexciting places, train teachers, advise district coordinators and curriculum developers, smile and am researching what will be my fourth book. My fourth book - just thinking it makes me smile shyly, as if good fortune picked the wrong person but I'm too dishonest to 'fess up. I worry that this new book is wrong, whether written by the wrong person or wrong for readers, or wrong for both reasons or wrong for none of those and for others. Anyway, I'm doing a lot of research into Black history and some of the resources I'm combing through are even more fascinating than I thought they would be. It is exciting to track down resources that were supposed to be burned as inconsequential, only to be stored in an attic trunk and recently re-discovered, uncatalogued, untouched, and raw. In other words, every writer's dream. I've shared my materials with Carolyn, one of the premier (Black) authorities in the field and seeing her enthusiasm doubles mine, even if I feel a little guilty about doing the research. Combing through the Alabama State archives, or Duke University's Tillinghast Family Papers and the messiness that is Louisiana, I'm assembling a Black history that I wish could be a stand-alone text, but which has to form just a part of my fourth book. And parallel to all this is the uncertainty that just doesn't fade or go away - am I on the right track? And as quickly as I think that, I also know that people will buy whatever I write. How's that for a sobering arrogance? The point is sharp but often said now, that I have redefined the field. I don't know if that's true, an honor, curse, or invitation to failure but that's where I stand. Precarious perch, indeed.
So - I travel often, come home to ice cream and a quiet house, settle into my guilty pleasure chocolate leather chair with ottoman, and look out the window into the dark or light and just think that despite everything, the acclaim, the money, the being a minor big shot in my chosen field, all I want is to share my life with someone who smiles when I open the door.