Polaroid Memory

The following I wrote in an effort to find sleep after finishing Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. In the first few chapters she suggests writing of childhood. Since I am still a child, I have years of material to pull clearly from. I had taken a trip to France the summer before freshman year and stayed for eight weeks. During one of those weeks My cousin brought me along to a church camp in Switzerland.


It wasn’t cold, surprisingly. Summer by the snowy mountainside had granted the privilege of soft, cool humidity, making the team task of dish washing less insufferable. We had eaten our lunches before anyone had come into the lunch hall, entering into a makeshift boiler room where all the dirty dishes were held. A sweet older Swiss woman greeted us, assigning us to different stations (one of which I can no longer recall but I imagine had something to do with organizing). I was given the duty of washing and drying whatever dishes came by. I kept my mouth shut while the rest of my team joked around with each other while completing our task, a flood of dirty dishes descending down their miniature elevator in quick increments.  I hadn’t spoken for so long that I began to feel my throat swell up permanently until the older woman turned to me and asked my name.

“Kirsten,” I said affirmatively, my shoulders instinctively rolling back with pride. Her face broke out into the widest and most cherub like of smiles.

“What a wonderful name! My nephews name is Kirst.” The name is male supposedly, and I had never heard anything like it. She began gushing over her dear nephew in a way I couldn’t help but smile at because she’d been the second person in my three months of solitude that my name and presence had provided pure joy to.

The other person had been a month before during another forced camping trip. His name was Adrien, mixed Danish and African and the eye of my cousin’s affections. I would tease Edna about him constantly, but I wholly understood her infatuation—hazel eyes, smooth skin, and a devilishly kind smile. He spoke fluent English—he was one of the few campers that did—so he felt like a saving grace. His only flaw was that he smoked weed the way Mafia gangsters smoked cigars and it had been causing a rift in his family as of late. 

At the introduction of my name he had told me that my name was danish (I was already perfectly aware of its Germanic nature but I ate up the compliment ravenously) which he loved because he was danish. I shot an onslaught of questions about his background, all of which slip my mind now, before he was pulled away into a rugby game. The ball was blue and white and rubbery and I was wholly confused by the sight of it. They ran across the wide, open clearing tossing the ball back and forth, offering now and again for me to join for me to decline and quickly retreat to the side away from the commotion. My eyes remained on Adrien still. We’d bonded so quickly over so little, I couldn’t help but want to kiss him as a form of compassion, of thank you, of a possibility of the romanticized future of summertime romance that has never been in reach.

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Daydreaming All the Time

I don’t talk about this often, but it’s something that I’d like to make more of a habit of sharing. I have MADD, also known as MD, and in longer terms known as Maladaptive Daydreaming Disorder. Personally, I don’t think of it as much of an issue . I find the habit helps pass the time in my daily life and cancel out unpleasant experiences. It also motivates me towards other productive endeavors like writing, exercising, and introspection. Before I go on any longer, I’ll try to explain what exactly MADD is.

Maladaptive Daydreaming was a term first coined by Eli Somer, an Israeli professor of clinical psychology, in 2002. The disorder is characterized by obsessive daydreaming that can last hours on end with little ability to pause or prevent. People who’ve identified with the disorder find that symptoms are characterized in excessive pacing, inability to prevent daydreaming, and triggers like music or quiet spaces that can induce a vivid daydream. MADD is not the same as daydreaming while riding in a car or imagining music videos for a certain song. MADD is typically tied to those who’ve experienced trauma as a coping mechanism, but ultimately is just that: a coping mechanism. If you want to read someone’s own experience with MADD (I can’t believe I’m saying this) Buzzfeed actually wrote a good article on it.

I don’t pace and I don’t always need music to fall into a daydream. I’ve been stuck in this limbo for almost a decade now, mastering the ability to conjure up sharp consistent melodies in my head and play out thorough storylines for weeks on end no matter the environment. My paras (characters) and paracosms mean a lot to me. Some characters I’ve known since I was kid, and have grown and evolved as people just as much as I have.

I really want to talk about this, give you a glimpse inside my brain. If you don’t know me all that well, this is a pretty solid start.


1. Do you use a repetitive motion to stimulate daydreams (rocking, pacing, etc.)? What is it/are they? Can you daydream without repetitive movement?

I don’t have a repetitive motion for daydreaming, which is why it’s easy for me to daydream no matter where I am. However, I don’t daydream if I’m in a social situation and I’m being directly addressed. I do daydream when I feel anxious (walking in the hallways at school or sitting around in orchestra).  I also have locations that tend to be daydreaming spaces—my kitchen, my room, and my car. It’s only if I’m alone though.

2. Do your daydreams get violent? How do you feel about them? How do you respond to them?

When I was younger they could get violent or intense. I once had daydream storylines that involved my paras getting assaulted or abused. Since I’ve started high school it doesn’t go that route. I don’t think there was a particular reason why outside of playing with human emotion. It never affected me directly but I’m not sure if I could emotionally or mentally handle being in a violent situation.

3. When are your daydreams the happiest?

When I’m sleepy drunk or generally happy. Since my main paracosm surrounds the idea of a group of friends making content, it’s happiest when they’re just hanging out with each other. 

4. Do you daydream in first person perspective? Do you have a parame/avatar?

Sometimes. In the main paracosm I do, but in adjacent ones, I typically don’t. It becomes more like watching a movie, because that’s what they’re explained to be: movies, videos, television shows, or online series’. I become more engaged if I daydream from a first person perspective. I don’t have a set parame, I just relate to certain characters more than others.

5. Do you have (a) linear daydream(s)? How long has it/have they been running?

All of them are linear. The longest has been since I was eight and the shortest started a few months ago. Some daydreams do eventually end and the longest running one has evolved greatly.

6. How did you discover you had madd? How do you feel about it?

I discovered it when I came across a post on dissociation. I only dissociate when I’m under too much stress at once and it’s not connected to DID. When I read about MADD I remember thinking ‘Holy crap that’s me! I thought I just had an overly active imagination.’ It was very validating and didn’t disturb me too much.

7. How do you feel about your characters/paras? Have you ever fallen in love with them?

I fall in love with anyone I care deeply about. Some I’m more connected to than others since some of them only serve a single purpose or don’t have an enriched personality (I always feel bad about that but who has the time). I don’t think I could ever fall in love with a product of my own imagination, but I think it’s affected my perspective on what I expect from any form of relationship.

8. Do you know any other MD’ers personally?

Not to my knowledge. I’m also really bad at participating in communities on or offline.

9. How did you feel about it before you knew what maladaptive daydreaming was? Did you think it was something everybody does or that you were unique?

I always thought I was unique, that I just had imaginary friends that just made life more interesting. Every now and again it would upset me because of the fact that it’s not real and I didn’t feel comfortable mentioning it to people since I could never figure out how to describe it. 

10. What most influences your daydreams? Realtime events? Books? Movies?

A mix of everything but more so stories. They could come from music (concept albums), books, and movies/shows (rarely). People or specific characters have an easier time finding their way into my daydreams. 

11. If you have a parame, please describe them. Are they much like you? How do you feel about them?

I already addressed not having a parame but there are a few characters that I’ll connect to more easily.  Generally those characters tend to be a little neurotic, calming and/or cold in nature, and take on dominating positions. They’re never exactly like me, more like different variations of my personality. The closest one to me is Galia—has anxiety, is a writer, and tends to act overly mature or maternal. We’re not quite the same and I usually imagine her being shorter and cuter than I am. But we’re both black and female, and she’s the para I’v e had the longest. 

12. Do you have favorite paras? Why are they your favorites?

Yes. It depends on what story I’m stuck on at the moment or if I’m developing their personality. Currently my favorite para is Savannah Carpenter. I’ve come to like her because of how off-putting her personality should be. She’s very distant and has a very mean, deadpan sense of humor but she’s so talented that everyone kind of ignores it. My all time favorite is Jordan Mills. He’s alway been a comfort to me and has taken on a guardian angel type role.

11. How old are the majority of your paras?

The age range of those that matter is 17-22 on average. It’s sensible since it’s easier for me to imagine how people around that age interact because those are the people I’m around. I’ve always had a tendency to imagine people way older than me and it’s only recently that they’ve come to be my age.

12. If you could give your paras any advice, what would you tell them?

Don’t try to control what cannot be controlled. Believe in your abilities and do what you can when you can. That’s am everyone kind of thing

13. Do your paras appear in a style other than realistic? For example, like anime or in the style of a video game?

No. It’s too weird for me.

14. Do you have OCs?

A majority of my paras are OCs but there are non OCs too. The non OCs are usually from things I’m obsessed with. Once they’re acknowledged they remain apart of the main paracosm forever. It also makes sense since I imagine things as apart of our current reality with a bit of leeway around usual conventions. However, the more time progresses the more realistic my paracosm becomes.

15. Are any of your paras adopted from existing fiction? From real life?

Yes. I’m not going to say from where. You can draw assumptions from what I’m obsessed with at the time if you want. 

16. Where do you get names for your paras?

The older ones were random chance or adopted from real people until they evolved away from the person they were inspired by. The newer ones have slightly more meaningful names by like a fraction. Some have names that I might use in the future. 

17. Do your paras have tragic backstories? Will you share a few?

Yes, the main ones. I’ll go through some of them:

Galia (Gigi): Born in Huntsville, Kansas, moved to Encino, California around age 8. Has three siblings named April, Katelyn, and Nathaniel. Nathaniel who’s nine years older than her died at age 18. Katelyn who is now seven to eight years older (she was originally Gigi’s twin) is the stable one of their family and grew up to become a counseling psychiatrist. April who is now four years older (used to be four years younger) was a depressive and suicidal teen who eventually turned around and grew up to work successfully in fashion. Galia has severe General Anxiety Disorder and eventually started seeing a therapist age fifteen and soon after took medication. She also has milder OCD and is generally characterized with high functioning neuroticism. She’s nineteen and trying her best.

Desiree (Dez): She only goes by Dez. I imagine her real name might be an identity trigger for her. She was born and raised in Brazil until age eight when she moved to the U.S. to live with her dad. Her family has a long heritage of hierarchy leaving a family head for each generation. As a child she lived with the family head for a short amount of time and was subjected to abuse that she doesn’t speak of even as an adult. Coming to America she knew little English and wasn’t able to befriend other ELL children due to not knowing anything other than Portuguese. She eventually made friends with Camille and they’ve been close ever since. She hadn’t learned to cope with her childhood trauma until a couple of years ago. She’s twenty and grinding. 

Sophia: Sophia’s backstory is more gapped. The worst she had experienced as a kid was polio and the experience brought her to her closest friend for the time. As a teenager she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder during a severe depressive episode that nearly ended her life. She’s doing pretty well for herself now running a media company. Sophia’s backstory is the closest to my own “sad backstory.”

18. Are any of your paras deceased? How did they die? How did you feel?

In the main paracosm, no. They either move, stop working or simply disappear. In the adjacent universes, there’s a higher chance of death and it happens in all sorts of ways (supernatural, realistic, etc.). It doesn’t hurt me too much since it’s just me writing out a story in my head.

19. Are your paras human? Mortal?

Right now, everyone is. For a small fraction of time they were monsters with different abilities. I prefer human paras simply because it’s more accessible and I like playing with reality.

20. Have any of your paras ever completely disappeared/vanished from the daydream world? Is there a story behind it or was it an unconscious occurrence? Do you think they might return? Do you want them to?

All the time, whenever they no longer serve an ideal purpose or there’s other characters that fulfill their role in a superior way. I don’t really want them to return when they do since it makes it harder for me to keep track of and properly develop everyone.

21. Have your characters committed a crime? Have they been to jail? Are they legally innocent? Are they socially innocent?

Yes. I can’t remember thinking out a jailing sequence, but since I daydream stories, conflict has to arise. There’s lighter crimes like underaged driving and heavier ones like assault or murder. I haven’t thought through a story like that recently enough to remember the consequence given. The most recent “crime” was when one of my characters was actively giving access to confidential government files while also actively manipulating his friends to involve themselves in unsafe situations. They’re both still very upset with him, but he still works as a government historian.

22. Do your paras often find themselves in dangerous situations? How/why? Do they go looking for trouble? Does trouble look for them?

A lot of my paras tend to act out in a self destructive manner when conflict arises. Some situations are dangerous physically while others are dangerous mentally (involving themselves in toxic relationships etc.). Usually it’s the fault of hubris.

23. What do you associate with your paras? Colors? Smells? Words?

Everything. They have whole personalities with different aethetics, different senses of fashion, different interest/aspirations. The only thing that doesn’t differentiate very well is taste in music.

24. Has a para ever broken your heart? Have you ever broken theirs (through a parame)?

I don’t get involved directly in a paracosm. People get hurt just like in reality because the paracosm is based in reality. I like bringing characters pain in general whether I’m writing or daydreaming.

25. Has a para ever made you physically cry?

Not because of something within the paracosm. 

26. Do you act out your daydreams? Do you speak to/through your paras out loud?

Yes. I’m trying to stop doing that.

27. Have you ever been caught daydreaming?

Multiple times. Fun fact: Every time I’m asked if I’m talking to myself I lose half of my life force.

28. What do you most dislike about being a maladaptive daydreamer? Are there things you like about it?

The only thing I don’t like about it is having too many stories in my head that I can’t write down. Otherwise, I’ve come to deeply appreciate it. Maybe therapy will change my mind.

29. Briefly describe a daydream.

I had a daydream going about Agneau, the story of a boy named Joshua who’s the son of a cult leader. I’m not going to elaborate because I’m actually writing it out. However working through a daydream helps me formulate worlds better for my writing. 

30. Do you daydream to music? Is music a necessity to daydream? Do you wear headphones? How loud do you keep the volume?

I daydream intensely to music. I once spent a nine hour car ride daydreaming to pass the time. It isn’t a necessity for me and I have to wear headphones to daydream along. I never let the volume go past 3/4 unless there’s too much outside noise.

31. Do you have models/faceclaims for your paras?

Sometimes. For example, Moebe (pronounced like Moby Dick) looks like this:

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I don’t always have specific faces for all my paras but I do know what they’re supposed to look like. If they end up in my writing like Moebe has it’s more distinct.

32. Does daydreaming energize or exhaust you?

Energizes. It’s socializing but without the anxiety and provides all the adrenaline that writing or watching a good movie provides me.

33. Do you think there is a pattern/correlation between your daydreams and how you daydream them? For example, are your daydreams more violent when you’re lying down?

Not in that aspect. It’s more like the setting can be affected based on where I am. Sometimes the interactions are too, but that’s pretty rare. 

34. Do you have distinct daydream triggers? Do your daydreams come and go as they please?

If I’m alone I’m gonna daydream. I only stop when I’m working on something or around other people. Even if I’m in a crowd I’m imagining a character next to me. It eases my anxiety and makes things more interesting. I’m pretty in control still. If I feel like being alone than I’m alone as myself.

35. Does your mood affect the amount of time you spend daydreaming? Or their intensity?

If I’m feeling too sad or anxious I can’t daydream. The sleepier I am, the more I daydream. 

36. Have you ever had daydream block? How did you feel? How did you break it?

Sometimes. I usually just come up with a new story or force something interesting to happen. It’s like writer’s block for me. I just have to poke at it until it shatters. If it lasts too long I can start to feel dazed and numb.

37. Have you ever had abusive paras? If it is not too sensitive to share, will you tell us about your experience with them?

I haven’t.

38. Do your paras directly affect you in thisverse? Do you only interact with them in fictional scenarios or do you find yourself reaching for them in realtime, too? For example, do you converse with them mentally when facing a difficult situation?

Sometimes if I’m getting ready to enter an unpleasant situation I’ll use fictional scenarios to make them bearable. For example, if a school day is particularly daunting or I’m too jaded to get through the day, I’ll pretend that I’m bringing along a person to shadow me  as I walk from class to class.

39. Do you only daydream fantasy? Do you dream about thisverse?

I mainly daydream in reality, just not my reality. My main parcosm isn’t set in my home state.  It’s been set in other places like LA or NYC or even Salem, Oregon. When I’m traveling I’ll imagine it to be set where I’m travelling to. It just doesn’t make sense for the main paracosm to be in my home state since they work in entertainment. 

The adjacent paracosms are usually set in a futuristic version of our universe. A future where the government has shut down and archived the internet.  A future where there’s a desolate wasteland of a city. Other times it’s just a vague story setting like the suburbs.

40. Do you do research for your daydreams? How much? How often? How deep?

If I end up writing them I do. I also research once aspects of reality come in, but not purposely for the daydream. It bothers me in general when a story has inaccuracies if I can help it.

41. What was your first maladaptive daydreaming experience? Do you remember it? How did you feel about it?

I remember it, but I won’t recap it. It was weird but I was so young but I don’t think it bothered me. 

42. When did you know what you did was different?

As soon as I realized that people a) grow out of their imaginary friends and b) that imaginary friends weren’t supposed to be fully formed people ten years older than you.

43. Do you ever daydream through the perspectives of paras of the opposite sex? How is it?

No. I definitely have full control over how they act, just not from a first person point of view. 

44. Do you experience any confusion between fantasy and reality? Does daydreaming leave you in a haze or in a dazed state?

No, I tend to have a very firm grip between my daydreams and my real life. I think it’s mainly because I’ve always kept myself out of my daydreams as a prevention because I know subconsciously that if I don’t I’d get too easily sucked into them.

45. If you have a parame, do you experience any dysphoria because of them?

I don’t have one.

46. Do you ever rewind your daydreams and re-daydream old material?

If it’s a music video sequence, yes. I also do it if I’m starting a new storyline and I’m trying to iron out the kinks,

47. Do you remember your daydreams in detail?

Yes. 

48. Do you edit your daydreams? To what extent? How often/how much does your brain block you from controlling things?

I change details like I did with Galia if it helps everything else make more sense. I also change details to line up with the real world when I can, but other times I don’t care enough because it’s literally me entertaining myself, so who cares. I also find that the more imperfect things are, the easier it is for me to hold onto reality.

49. Do you get excited when you see or hear a para’s name in thisverse? When you see someone who looks like them? When you see something you associate with them?

I don’t remember seeing anyone who looks like an OC but I’d be unnerved if I did. I love meeting people who have less common OC names and if an OC is based off of someone in any way, it makes me feel more connected to them. I don’t associate things actively with OCs since they’re usually aesthetics or topics I enjoy.

50. How might you describe maladaptive daydreaming to someone who does not experience it?

It’s daydreaming if your daydreams ran like a movie that you could never turn off and are constantly trying not to watch.


I feel it’s important to remind you that I’m just one person and that MADD affects everybody differently. Hopefully it will be added to the next DSM as a disorder but as for now there is still speculation over its legitimacy. But with each day and each emerging anecdote we see, MADD may be more of a reality than anyone could have imagined it to be.

I hope you gained insight into the mind of a maladaptive daydreamer with my answers.

Trust the Process

If you look around my blog menu, you’ll discover a quote. The quote comes from a Youtuber that I had followed closely during my sophomore year of high school and I find that the idea of trusting the process, allowing life to run its course is becoming increasingly crucial with each moment I continue living. I’m about to begin my final year of high school in about a month and against what I’ve allowed those around me to believe, I am light years beyond terrified.

This summer has been a strange experience for me. It started in melancholy, relaxed into  joy before tumbling into the slow and languid heat haze that summer begins to have around mid July. I didn’t do anything particularly intriguing or unique. I didn’t travel, I didn’t work, and I went out with my friends on the occasion (half out of love and half out of necessity). Still I’d argue that this summer has been eventful as far as the happenings inside my brain.

I’ve never thought much about the future beyond high school that wouldn’t be considered a hypothetical possibility. For awhile I didn’t deem it necessary. Yet the more I think about life beyond the brick walls of my hometown, the more it excites me. I can feel the ache in my body from all the growth I’ve done and I know in my heart and soul that with the right push I could be what I’m destined to become.

I used to be overly concerned with impressing people. I always felt this need to prove myself to my elders, my peers, and even those who may look up to me as an ideal. I’m not a particularly glamorous person. Interesting is more arguable, but I’m not one to let any form of relationship that isn’t extremely close be an open forum. But I’d like to change that a little bit. I’d like to engage more in what it means to be human. I’d like to breathe in and let go and allow myself to finally enjoy the feeling of coasting along. I’d like to fully trust the process.

A dear friend of mine stopped by yesterday for the sake of company (my heart had never been warmer). We spent the day inside, but I don’t think I’ve ever done so many things that bring me pure joy at once. Eventually we started to talk about our anxieties when it came to applying for schools and an unexpected calm came over me. I couldn’t figure out exactly how I was able to provide any comfort for an emotion that has been keeping me up late at night and bringing pain into my stomach until I realized why.

None of us know what we’re doing. All of us are constantly improvising, hoping, praying to a higher being that we’re not royally fucking ourselves and others over. All of us constantly feel confused or unqualified or not enough. All of us are scared to some degree or another. I find it to be the beautiful and cruel epiphany.

This coming year I will remind myself to trust the process. Even if I don’t get into or can’t attend my dream schools, or everything goes to absolute shit, it will all be okay.

Just trust the process.


 

Hello there. I’m going to try and write on here more, kind of document my senior year adventures etc. You should subscribe if you’d like!

A Nine Year Obsession

I talk about Michael Jackson a lot. He’s one of the the few topics that occupy my brain frequently aside from the current state of the music industry, the shambles of the American foster care system, and the budding career of Timothée Chalamet. I’ve thought so much about Michael in my few years of living that it has at certain points been a strong part of my identity.

Today, June 25th, is the day he died and I’m realizing that I’ve never really talked at all about why I value Michael so much. My love for Michael’s work is not special at all; he was the twentieth century version Beyoncé while simultaneously being more flawed and vulnerable. He changed an industry and the public perception of black men in the mainstream while simultaneously managing to reach a level that appeared beyond human. He was incredible in every sense of the word.

Except I didn’t know or care all that much for Michael until June 25, 2009 when CNN was doing their usual 24-hour streaming cycle. I was about to go to bed and my parents were sitting on the couch, half listening as a image of Michael’s stark white face appeared on the screen, probably followed by a reel of him performing in his elaborate shimmery outfits during the ’80s and ’90s.

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I remember (albeit vaguely) asking my mom about it, leaving her to gently explain the concept of death in all its permanence. I went to sleep, leaving my overactive imagination to comfort me as I tried to imagine who this ‘Michael Jackson’ person may have been like. Then the obsession began.

It was slow at first—watching music video reels on an old YouTube engine and sneaking my parent’s greatest hits CD to play in my room over and over as I flipped through the album booklets pages. My dad used to have a giant Ebony magazine collection and I would search by the years to find potential articles about Michael, reading casually about his career and not overthinking  whenever I had to look up words like ‘pervert’ and ‘pedophile.’ We’d just have to deal with that later.

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By August I was as much of an MJ expert as a third grader could be, fully equipped for my first day at a public school. As I stood outside waiting to walk into my new classroom I bumped into a small hispanic girl with dark curly hair. I couldn’t tell you the details of the exchange but I can tell you that I found my best friend over our intense obsession over Michael. We spent as much time together as possible, sending letters through our school’s mailing system (I still have all of them), and spending recess walking around the playground exchanging any news we learned about Michael and fawning over his kids. We especially liked Blanket, now known as Bigi, since he was only a year younger than us.

But friendships in elementary school are flimsy so we eventually grew apart, sometimes colliding into each other every now and again. (If you ever read this, I hope you know that I’ll always be rooting for you and you’ll always have a special place in my heart, V.)

Anyways.

I’ve come to learn that with time we gain perspective and Michael Jackson’s legacy was no different. Into middle school I began to gain new perspective and I’d say a lot of it has affected how I am on a monumental level, more than I think anybody including myself well realizes. I need to warn you that the following events were at a time that everybody in human history prefers not to look back. However, I can not gloss over them because they are the pinnacle of this retelling. I also need you to not try to expose me anymore than I am about expose myself. I look back on this era of fandom with a chill down my spine and a coal-sized lump in my throat.

I don’t know why but after creating an Instagram in the sixth grade I was pulled into an online Michael Jackson fandom, MJFam for short. It was typical of what I find of most fandoms—stans, fan art, useless discourse, and fan fiction. In retrospect, the fact that Michael retained such a rampant fanbase three years after death and almost ten years after career death was remarkable. It was hard not to be enamored seeing people who cared just as much about a person as I did, especially with an endless supply of adorable cartoons.

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But I’m not an artist (at least not a good one), I’m a writer. So naturally I fell down the fan fiction wormhole. I remember staying up late on my iPod touch scrolling through Instagram for fanfic writers, trying to read through as many ‘chapters’ of some soapy romance fiction, reveling in the idealized version of the King of Pop. However, Instagram is a terrible platform to post lengthy fan fiction so I quickly came across a little site called mjfiction.com.

What is mjfiction.com? Why reader I’m. glad you asked. MJFiction is what happens when you make a single website for one specific tag on Archive of Our Own (ao3), Fanction.net if you’re old school. It’s a terrible site with good intentions but horrible content. You get the idea by looking the story covers:

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Remember, I’m a writer so you know for a fact that I wrote Michael Jackson fanfic back in the day and I can promise you that it is all unreadable. I don’t regret it because I wouldn’t have ever started writing my own stories if it wasn’t for MJFiction. I definitely wouldn’t feel comfortable enough to share my writing publicly either. Writing fanfic is also the reason that I started doing graphic design. Fandom can work miracles.

Fan fiction did reach its limit for me eventually. I didn’t just want to read other people’s stories, I wanted to know him as much as I possibly could. I came across Jermaine Jackson’s biography about his brother not long after. If you’re interested in reading a well written biography I would recommend reading it. I began to see Michael less as a mythical creature and more for who he actually was: a man with an impeccable talent and a catastrophe of a personal life.

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I grew to have a very deep appreciation for Michael. He was a kid from the humblest of beginnings: he grew up in the ghetto of Gary, Indiana, forcing his way into what would come to be known as the Jackson 5. He was an artist at heart and extremely sensitive, a trait that worked against him over time. He was such a shy adolescent and being in the Jackson 5 messed with his perception of not only himself but the world around him. He always strove for perfection and greatness, and his personality quirks made people grow more skeptical of him. He had a tendency to hold on to more childlike ideals and fantasies and was a true philanthropist at heart. After years of obsessive research I’ve concluded that Michael probably could’ve been saved before it all started if the world had been a little more different. And I guess therapy wouldn’t have hurt either.

I won’t entertain some of the darker aspects of his life that had been brought to the forefront towards the end of his life. Which is a blatant lie:

  • He wasn’t a pedophile–his ’90s and ’00s allegations have been proven to be apart of a scam with families who have been known to spark legal controversy in the name of a buy out. Was he obsessed with children? I guess. Did he enjoy things that usually were for kids? Yes, and I hope you would too. Did he have a tendency to form close bonds with children? Yes, although that skill eventually backfired. Upon further research I believe it’s less about pedophilia and more about unaddressed childhood trauma. Joe Joseph along with a lot of the industry people they grew up around left a very negative impact on all of the Jackson children. Fame is hard enough today, but it was a thousand times more awful without the ability to connect easily with the real world and having to sensor your reality constantly.
  • He didn’t bleach his skin. He had vitiligo. If you want rundown of all his medical history, here it is.

But why talk about Michael at all? I believe that Michael Jackson’s legacy is forever ingrained in whatever legacy I will make for myself. I sense it in the music I choose to listen to, the videos I choose to watch, and the “celebrities” I choose to idolize. I believe that Michael’s legacy has forever shaped the way I view art and how I walk through the world as an artist of my own accord. Each day I find myself taking new aspects of him along with me. I wonder sometimes if I’ll ever let go of this obsession and yet the longer I hold onto it the more I question if it was ever an obsession.

I don’t know what you see when you hear the name Michael Jackson. But when I do I think of the picture at the top—my favorite picture of him—and I feel like we’re one in the same.

Just two kids trying their best to become the best.

the utmost kindness

His jaw slacks ever so slightly

as his laugh echoes around the chambers of my heart,

the ripples cascading down my veins,

Soaking up the oxygen in my blood until I am light and weak again.

 

Do I love you yet?

I can’t help the way the stars reflect so clearly within my eyes now,

and I wonder how he became the cure to the ailment that plagues being human.

 

I want to hide in between the hollow ridges of his rib cage

easing his breath,

matching it with mine as I slowly grow to be with him,

welding my soul onto his:

Intertwined.

 

He brought me flowers,

their petals wet from morning dew and the deep smell of pasture.

And he’s beginning to try so hard

and I watch as the stress begins to pull lines across his face.

 

Do you love me yet?

You can’t help the way that valleys form themselves across your cheeks,

and you wonder if you had ever really laughed in your entire life.

 

You told me three days prior

that you wish you could live in my head,

sorting away the thoughts that haunt me hours before I can rest.

 

And I told you

that I have never known such kindness.

Daring to be desired

In Call Me By Your Name, a film directed by Luca Guadagnino, there’s scene in which two of the main characters—Elio’s father, Professor Perlman, a historian and Oliver, an American working with Professor Perlman for his thesis—look through pictures sent to them of ancient Romanesque statues. The statues are mainly of men, each hold a certain ambiguous curvature to them, inspiring Professor Perlman to comment that it’s “as if they’re daring you to desire them.”

I’m enamored with that phrase: daring to be desired. It speaks of an unspoken beauty, one built on alluring instead of catering, an inarguable elegance to the whole affair. Confusing but understood. The only thing I’ve thought to myself since is how wonderful it would be to be so captivating.

I consider myself beautiful. I try not to argue with the fact too much, since there are plenty of other things for me to gripe about. I especially like to think of my hair as my best feature, because my hair is truly the only medium I can truly become whatever I decide I want to be at that moment.

I’ve never been at odds with the coils on my head. Being black and female, there’s a history that comes with my hair, especially since it’s natural and I find that the history makes my hair seem more beautiful than it objectively is. Older black women adore it, for it makes them warm inside to know that little black girls like me don’t face as much scrutiny for the curls atop our heads as they may have when they were younger. White people find my hair to be this amazing attraction, a shapeshifting essence just full of small surprises.

I don’t mind at all. I’ve always enjoyed the reactions, the compliments, the curiosities. My hair allows me to be a bit more interesting than I am on the surface level, as if it’s the opening to the tunnel of all my tiniest idiosyncrasies. But at a certain point during the first semester of my junior year, I simply stopped—no braiding, no styling, nothing. I had gotten my afro cut the semester prior, so my hair was too short to do much with until it grew out a little more. By the time it did grow out and I started to get creative with scarfs and hair care tricks, it didn’t matter anymore. I found a sense of center, of ease, and it was blissful.

Over winter break I decided I needed to change once again, and everything shifted out of place. The hair wasn’t the problem: sleek black box braids never hurt anybody. It was me. I lost all of my cool, my calm, my sanity at a certain points. I fell into a bit of an identity crisis for a while, because every time I looked in the mirror, I saw the thirteen year old version of myself, a version of myself I could only describe as a self-devouring monster.

I had always been in control of my hair. I could color it as much as I wanted without consequence. It could be short. Long. Wavy. Curly. But the power of one minor slip has the potential to unravel everything. However, box braids are meant to left alone for at least a month, so I found other ways of shuffling myself back together. I meditated for a while, talked to people who mattered, cut out people who didn’t. I followed routine with my hair, and every now and again do something different. Soon I came to like the long extensions on my head and the way little kids giggled whenever they saw a bunch of tiny braids cascaded across my shoulders.

And I cut them today.  And soon they will disappear.

And sitting on the floor typing away, the roots of my curls, pushing back against the bunches of intertwined strands, I feel desirable, although quite far from myself.

Last Thursday as my mother drove me home from school, a rarity now that I can do it myself, I told her about an article I read about free locs. I reminded her about my 5-year hair plan I made in the eighth grade, around the first time I braided my hair pink, recalling how I had wanted to cut my afro short freshman year of high school, and then twist the strands into locs my freshman year of college.

She turned to me, smiled and told me, “That would be cute.” I felt excitement bubble in my chest at the thought of free locs on my head because free locs weren’t meant for beauty but convenience. Yet they had always allured me with the expression of life and living they seemed to stand for. I’d only imagine the scrunched up look on my father’s face if I came home with them, but I didn’t mind it at all. All I could think about was how desirable I’d look with as much life on my head as there would be in my eyes.

 

YELLOW AND GOLD ARE NOT ONE IN THE SAME

tires keep rolling,

creaky and slow like an elder.

quick stops—not quick enough to save anyone

just quick enough to try.

a parking lot of “trying our best.”

a sea of metal; blue black red

yellow? never yellow.

yellow isn’t cool, it’s happy and bright

but gold, oh gold,

gold is everything.

gold in the children’s teeth,

the grimiest of them

glimmering in the grey sky,

in the rainy sky,

dripping, hot, metallic.

it burns their skin

melting down to bone,

singing lonely hearts

that fills themselves with

yellow snap pics

pics of dicks

pics of chicks

picks to be saved for the apocalypse

they smile behind the

yellow barn in our

yellow flower state

to find their yellow car in

heaven. so let their

tires keep rolling.