Blogging is Hard; What's a neoNuma? and "Blues in the Rafters" by Jan Carrington
I get asked regularly what "neoNuma" stands for. Well, it's a bit of a story and not very interesting at that, but let's get it out in the open and out of the way, shall we?
I suppose I've always expected, on some level, to have my own company as I remember even back in college playing with my initials (N.E.O.) as a prefix to . . . something. When you have initials like that, you should use them, yes?
Well, three years ago, now, I was finishing up my M.A. in Interdisciplinary Arts at Columbia College Chicago. My thesis project was a comic book (Body of Grace--still amply available, by the way) that I wanted to self-publish. I went back to the neo idea (as I like to say, I was neo before Keanu existed) and started googling names with neo as a prefix.
It is amazing how many neo_______s there are in the world.
neoworks, neowerks, neo productions . . . I don't remember what all I tried, but that gives you some ideas.
Then I remembered that I'd read that many new companies were using made up words for trademark purposes. That's why you have words like "Cingular" or (to make a Lutheran reference) "Thrivent." They aren't real words or else they're misspellings of words and so you know they're associated with a particular product or service.
And so I started babbling. A sort of brainstorming speaking in tongues. neolala neobaba neobula neonuma . . .
neonuma . . .
Pneuma--Greek for breath, wind, spirit.
I liked it. The anal retentive part of me is a bit uncomfortable with the mixing of Latin and Greek, but I'm pretty much over that now.
And so I published Body of Grace under the name neoNuma Arts. Later that year, I produced a dance concert in Chicago, featuring Adler Danztheatre Project of Chicago and the Kathy Dunn Hamrick Dance Company of Austin, Texas under the neoNuma Arts name. When I moved to Houston, I filed my "doing business as" paperwork and started looking around for things to slap this name on. My friend, Misha Penton (artbymisha.com) designed a logo for me and here we are. I put neoNuma Arts on one other project, my self-published collection of church newsletter writings, Thirty-Six Echoes, but I consider Able to... to be my first real publication. The other publications were just me practicing on myself before I practiced on someone else.
Anyway, that's the story of neoNuma. Are you stll awake? I hope so (or that you skipped down to the important stuff below).
The third story in Able to... is Jan Carrington's "Blues in the Rafters." I placed this third in part because it continued, somewhat, thematic threads from "Light Readings of Ebony," but also because it lets you know, if you're reading straight through the collection, that I played a little fast and loose with my own rules.
Perhaps I should state the rule I had for myself: I wanted each story to have a clear super-power and I wanted it to fit into the sentence, "this character is able to __________."
"Blues in the Rafters" is basically a ghost story, so I easily enough completed the sentence with "able to communicate with the living," or, depending upon the day, "able to communicate with the dead." Both are correct for this story, but I believe there's something more going on in this story that takes it just a step beyond a typical ghost story.
And it's hard to talk about without giving too much away.
But I'll say this . . . it's a story about legacy, about remembering, about keeping something alive even as we all eventually die. In that sense, the communication across the divide between life and death isn't so much the super-power as is the the ability to pass on the legacy.
So you see, the sentence isn't completed so easily or definitively.
And that almost had me reject this story, but I justified its inclusion because it also does something not many stories of this type accomplish. Jan wrote a story that could very easily have slipped into sentimentality but she avoids it beautifully. The longing in the story isn't cheap emotion. What's more, she manages to work a joyous aspect into the sadness and longing we all feel when separated from a loved one by death.
I think you'll be glad I included this story in the collection.