“I Woke Up Like This”…Thoughts of beauty from a Black Academic, Wife, & Mother

By the title of this, you may think that I am going to post something about how fly I am on the constant. How I wake up with nothing but scholarly swag. I produce books in my sleep, my ideas flow with the ease of a mighty river, so much so that I have time each morning to put on my face, gather together “that” outfit and deliver the children to bus and school in at least a fabulous 3 inch heel. Because, well, I am amazing.

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I am amazing, but that is not my reality. Although there is an occasion or two where some of these elements come together, it is rare. And it hasn’t happened lately, because some things have changed.

I have a reputation, even as an academic writer, on real talk. Although, you could argue that my reality is still clouded with a slight academic haze, its still real-ish.  So, the subject for this edition of “sharing my world” is about coming to grips with why I do not just wake up and look like I stepped out of an episode of “Scandal” or “Being Mary Jane”.  For one, I know I do not have a stylist or even a wardrobe budget.  But, there is more.  I carry many things on many plates.   I mean, I have to use the plural, because my identity & position warrant it.  I can no longer say that I have a lot on my plate. I don’t get that privilege.  Most of the new roles I have taken on are by my own doing, yet, they have added a level of grind that I was not accustomed to.  For, I am a Black female academic with husband and relatively small children in the early to mid throws of my career.  That translates to…exhaustion on FLEEK. For those of you who do not understand this very contemporary vernacular, this means that I am tired as hell, beyond exhaustion, meaning my exhaustion is kicked up a notch.  This new grind brings other work with it.  It has become more than writing and research and teaching, there is an added level of getting out there, getting to places where my voice is a part of a larger conversation, with real people.

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When I hear the Queen Bee (Beyonce’) talking about “I woke up like this”, I translate this to mean, that I rise in the morning wanting to sleep more. I rise in the morning trying to figure out how to keep those fires from getting bigger, keep up to date with that research, keep your courses fresh and exciting, running an entity like the Du Bois Center @ UMass from the ground floor, fulfilling my service duties across campus and still arranging schedules with an equally busy husband to get children to soccer, ballet and Kung Fu.  I know I go to bed way too late and wake up way too early. I am productive, but realize I could possibly spend my time with more focus and purpose. I am happy with my life, but there is always that urge to just want a tiny bit more.

By more, I mean time broken up into neat little compartments, to be opened at the appointed time and dealt with regularly. If I had my way, I would have a dictaphone, sit back at my office with a great view sipping a glass of spiced rum on ice and my legs on the desk and just talk out my thoughts for my secretary to type out in the morning (shout out to the end of Mad Men, one of my many escapes in the world of Netflix binge culture). But its just me and my thoughts, with no dictaphone and so many of them floating around in my heat that I often loose them in the midst of living life and keeping a marriage and household going.

Yet, as I stated earlier, I am happy. For, I have faith in myself and my scholarly dreams. I know that many of these thoughts will come together to form coherent sentences that will equal a huge grant and provide for me an incredible research assistant to help gather the details with me as I work that meaningful project into the book of a lifetime.  Thoughts like this make me smile, because part of my reality is the power of believing in the work I do and the love I still have for the direction of my career.

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So, real talk, I did wake up like this. And my style game may at times be off. But, ah the thoughts and plans in my head, in all of those note pads in my office and those vast numbers of Word documents just waiting to come together on my computer, means that my beauty, at least academically, is like a bright shining light. As I smile and walk down the street until that next break when I pull it all together and put that pretty back on FLEEK.

Grind on & Blog out…

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