County Fair, Bookstores, Cookbooks, and Being a Road Hazard

I don’t know how these long post-less periods occur. I’m always thinking about my next post. I sign in. I check up on my account. I read other blogs I follow. I think about things I would like to talk about. It just somehow doesn’t happen. I think part of it is because the next entry, ideally would be a Fiction Update, but I haven’t made any progress, so there’s no point to that. Instead, I’ll blather on about random stuff.

Went to the Alameda County Fair on the Fourth of July.

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An Apology.

I realized, as drizzle speckled my windscreen, that I was lost. My headlights shone into the vacant space in front of the vehicle and were reflected back by an intense fog. Lost. Figures. I’m new to this. I’ll always be new to this, I think. I’ll never do it quite like they can. The others on the road can tell. I think they can smell my fear through the steel.

I had begun to lose confidence in my map-reading abilities, to say the least. Actually I had been ambivalent about them before this night, but sometimes you have to throw yourself headlong into a situation without looking back—how else will you ever get anywhere? It gets tiring, alone at home with the reruns. You grow restless, want to feel some sunlight on your skin.

I knew I was in a familiar neighborhood. I recognized the warped street signs, the shadowed landmarks. But I didn’t know how to get from point A to point B, from panic to refuge. Frustrating, not being about to get someplace when you’re around crap you recognize, stuff you see everyday shoved in your face plain as day, like a joke with a rimshot.

You mentioned that I could call you. You hoped that I would call you. You were never subtle. I never thought I’d pick up the phone, until I found myself squinting in the dimly lit car cabin, thumbing through my contacts for your number as the heat in the resting car began to dissipate. I had assumed before that even being new at this, I would get along just fine on my own, reading my own map, but this night was different. Because it just was. And that is all.

You picked up, not quite believing it was me, and not quite believing I would ask you to help me find my way. To be perfectly honest, I called, not quite believing it was you, and not quite believing I was asking you to help me out with the map. Maybe it was the drizzle or the fog that pushed me. Maybe it was the darkness.

Together we talked our way through it, stumbling through awkward verbal moments and your recurring incredulity, a few heavy exhalations billowing into our receivers. I don’t think I really believed you knew the best route. I think I had just grown tired of going at it alone. I think I just really needed to hear someone else’s voice in that moment.

For a while after that, you would accompany me on drives and be my navigator. I have to say, you made it a point to help ensure that I obtained some kind of confidence, not just behind the wheel, but in all my endeavors. That is invaluable, and I appreciate it, probably more than you know. But this couldn’t last forever, and I knew it from the get-go. For that, I apologize. I regret wasting your time.

It is quiet now, in the cabin, as I drive down the road to all my familiar haunts. I’m not as intimidated by the warped signs and waning sunlight anymore. I’d rather be home before dark, but I accept that, of course, I will occasionally be stuck out in the dark. My only hope is that next time I get lost, I call someone as helpful as you were.

 

 

Ode to Pancakes

I like pancakes.

No really, I do. I really enjoy pancakes. Breakfast ‘o’ champions, in my book.

Now that I make my own pancakes from scratch, I love pancakes. Strong, healthy, hearty pancakes are warm and filling to begin with. Krusteaz and Bisquick ain’t got nothin’ on good old fashioned whole grain flour (whether the grain you’re using is wheat or anything else). Add to that the triumphant feeling one obtains from mixing her/his own flour and baking powder and other pancakey whatnots into a giant metal bowl and you’ve got a breakfast to be proud of.

I like waffles too. We even have a waffle maker floating around somewhere in the garage. There was a point in time, maybe eight to ten years ago, when my family would make pancakes at least every weekend, because dad gone it, we had a waffle maker, and we could. That waffle maker taught me an interesting thing about the vital differences between waffles and pancakes.

While the convenience of having a machine do the cooking for you is, honestly, incredible, that doesn’t mean that your waffles will turn out perfectly. Waffles are a finicky bunch with unpredictable personalities. You have to measure your batter perfectly or you’ll end up with thin, brittle, waffle-like biscuits that will make your breakfast plate cry tears of condensation. God forbid those crispy misfits actually have holes in them. It’s one thing to have a waffle that fails to be crisp on the outside while soft on the inside—the waffle ideal, for sure. It adds insult to injury when your waffle is cardboard and won’t even hold your syrup in its admittedly clever square-shaped basins. Oh, the pain of watching perfectly good syrup dribble straight through your food, pooling beneath your waffle’s steamy underbelly.

No, it’s in those ways that waffles fall short of their syrup-coated cousin, the pancake. True, waffles have an ingenious syrup-reserving design. The late comedian Mitch Hedberg once said it perfectly: “I like waffles better than pancakes. Because waffles are like pancakes with syrup traps. They say to syrup, ‘You ain’t going anywhere, don’t even be trying to creep down the sides. Just rest in these squares, if one square is full, move on. When you hit butter, split up.’”

Syrup traps. Touché.

But how can one resist the subtle, seductive curves of a perfectly round, perfectly brown pancake? How does one refrain from salivating at the sight of an amber-colored drizzle sliding gently… gently down its smooth exterior?

This isn’t to say I always make the perfect pancake. I’d say I have a 40/60 percent chance of burning one of my pancakes, usually the second one since the pan’s already so hot at that point. Since I only make two, I pour them thick, and since it’s hard to check if a huge pancake is done on one side, I tend to overcook that side. It’s a bad habit, I know. If I worked in the kitchen at an IHOP my behind would be on the curb by now.

These days I like my pancakes best with agave nectar, Earth Balance, and a tofu scramble on top. Oh wow. Yeah, that’s a treat. That’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner right there. I only recently learned how to make a tofu scramble worth the effort. It’s not the seasoning that makes the tofu, like in other tofu dishes. It’s not even the tofu that makes the tofu scramble suitably scrambley. It’s the other stuff inside the pan. I used to think that well seasoned tofu was enough. Lightly seasoned eggs were enough, back when I ate eggs. Simple seasoning might fine be for other tofu dishes, but no. No, no, that is where I was misled. Tofu scrambles need glorious heaps of vegetables in order to be worthwhile. They make for a good opportunity to clean out the crisper. A sausage substitute or pan-fried soyrizo goodness will also serve you well. Add that, plus good seasoning, plus a carefully planned approach to what goes in the pan and when, and then tofu scramble sings.

I mention all this breakfast stuff because I bought agave nectar for the first time a few months ago. And wow. Wow. That stuff is delicious. It pours better than honey and maple syrup, works as a sweetener in lots of different ways, and it tastes milder (and in my opinion better) than honey. The only drawback is that it’s kind of controversial—some say that because it’s supposedly insanely high in fructose, it shouldn’t be consumed at all and to call it a healthy substitute for anything is completely wrong. Hm. Disturbing. There doesn’t seem to be a perfect sweetener out there. Until I manage to buy some brown rice syrup or some other alternative, it’ll still be better than so-called “maple syrup”, which is mostly high fructose corn syrup anyway unless you’re buying the super-pricey fancy-schmancy stuff that I really can’t afford right now. The happy medium, of course, was comparably inexpensive agave nectar, which you can now find in two-packs at Costco!

The bottom line was that I really needed something to put on my pancakes. The last time I made pancakes, I failed to realize that I’d run. Out. Of. Syrup.

Tragic.

That’s one of the drawbacks of both pancakes and waffles, at least your typical breakfast ones. They must be eaten with something. Trying to eat a couple of pancakes alone. It’s like the whole “seven saltines in a minute” scenario. After a while you just can’t stuff any more into your mouth. There gets to be a point of Peak Pancake. This is why I only make two moderately big pancakes at once, rather than a stack of them. I never have to feed that many people anyway. There’s another Mitch Hedberg joke about pancakes that I must admit is completely true: “As a comedian, you have to start the show strong and end the show strong. …You can’t be like pancakes. You’re all happy at first, but by the end, you’re sick of ‘em.”

Guests.

This is a complete and total rant. An angry one. I still can’t figure out what’s wrong with my iPhoto pics, so I guess in a weird way my irritation is the only reason I have an entry tonight.

I am so irritated. Ugh. I can’t stand it anymore.

I HATE guests.

More accurately, I hate your guests. I especially hate when they invite themselves to our house on their whim, and you for some reason are not outraged because “that’s how we do it in Nigeria”.

You know what? I don’t give a damn how they do it in Nigeria. I don’t know if you’ve forgotten this, but they do a lot of crap wrong in Nigeria, and all over the place for that matter. I don’t care whose culture declares this an acceptable practice. I don’t care where these cultures exist. I don’t care why they think it’s okay to do it. You know what I think? It’s rude, it’s obnoxious, and it’s inconvenient. And please, spare me the patronizing “Oh, they’re not guests, we’ve known them since we were in Nigeria!” bull. I can’t stand that crap. Why?




One: This is a very simple concept– I am not you, and your friends are not my friends. I never for the life of me have been able to understand why you think I should be so sycophantically attached to your friends. Why I would want to answer the phone if I were to see them on the caller id, or why I would want to talk to them and share superficial aspects of my pathetic life with them? I don’t even do that with my own friends. I don’t want to talk to them about “how school is” or “what I’ve been up to”. They don’t really care, and I don’t really want to talk about it. Why am I obligated to attend their utterly inane parties? That’s another thing I hate with a fervent passion– parties. They are never fun. They are never time well-spent. They are nothing but me sitting alone, avoiding too much of that pointless “mingling”, trying not to step on too much spilled food and drink, and protecting my ears from music or a Nigerian movie that’s blaring on too loud.

Two: Because if they weren’t guests, we wouldn’t have scrambled to clean up the house before they arrived, and you wouldn’t have have had to run out to the store just to get a box of 7Up, even though you’d literally just gotten home from work and were tired. Then, when they arrived four! freaking hours later, you wouldn’t have had to sit there dumbfounded when he asked for “just water. Or I’ll have juice. Juice.” We don’t have any juice in the house. We don’t have any filtered water in the house, just tap. We might have been able to provide these things if he’d have called ahead of time and scheduled a reasonable time to show up at our house, like a considerate human being. Yes. This man, your “friend from the old country”, randomly decided he could show up at your house with a same-night-phone-call’s notice, and then has the gall to ask for a beverage we can’t even offer as if he’s ordering a meal from freaking Applebee’s, without so much as a please or thank you in sight.

And then he happens to bring his son along. I am as irritated by your friends’ kids about as much as I am irritated by your friends. I hate the inevitable comparisons, and I hate the fact that they are often times things that I am not, things that I am still struggling to be. I hate that all your friends love to brag about their kids. I hate everyone waiting to see when I will finally make something of myself. I am livid at the fact that you expected me to like our guest’s son simply because he attends the school I should be graduating from this year, and clearly am not. “He goes to State!” you said, grinning as if I should have been beside him right that moment, showering him with confetti and blowing a damn party whistle. Yeah, he does. Good for him. Meanwhile, I don’t. This is somehow supposed to make me feel better? I’m supposed to be clicking my heels together and celebrating some sort of victory? Why, exactly? Do you at all think about what you say?

I have to get out of here. I am reminded of this fact every time one of their spontaneous “non-guests” arrives with practically no warning. It is one of the ultimate reminders that I hate where I am in life, and that I’ve let this nonsense go on too long. What am I doing, anyway? It’s time for me to get up and do something about the aspects of my life that need to change. 

One Glove

As I mentioned earlier, I’m an ardent Michael Jackson fan. There may be some confusion as to what I mean by “ardent”. Allow me to define it for you: I’m a sparkly-glove-wearing, fedora-loving, crotch grabbing, message-board-posting, memorabilia collecting, moonwalking Michael Jackson fiend.

I can’t help but to feel the need to post my feelings on Michael’s recent passing here. He was and is a huge part of my life, and I feel obligated to explain why and how to those who don’t understand his astounding impact. Funny enough, his impact on me is vaguely blog-related, but even if it weren’t, I’d still have written and posted this. I wrote  and posted it back in July. It was originally posted initially on my Xanga blog. Although I haven’t been there in a couple of years, I felt compelled to place this post there. The reasons are explained after the jump, in the entry.

It is today, finally, that I am able to express what I’ve been feeling in regards to Michael Jackson’s death. Almost two weeks later. In the early morning after his memorial. The final curtain call. The true goodbye. It took until now.

I bet you have two questions: 1) Why are you telling us on Xanga, especially now, out of the blue? and 2) Why do we care?

Well, to answer one of those questions, you don’t have to care, and it really doesn’t matter if you care. You can click back if you feel so inclined. This post is primarily for me anyway, I suppose.

But if you’re curious, then time for a step backwards.

I have been absent from the Xanga blog circuit for almost two years. I created my account in, oh, February 2005 or so. Something like that. Dates don’t matter, and I’ll try not to bother with too many details, especially since this post is about Michael Jackson. I posted about… geez, what did I post about? Whatever was in the news, whatever was in my life. And, perhaps most notably, I wrote a lot about Michael Jackson. A lot.

Some things haven’t changed. I obviously still write, and writing has been my life’s passion for the vast majority of my existence (…or maybe not so obviously. I guess you couldn’t know that unless you actually know me, or I told you). Though I left Xanga (and eventually, regular blogging for the most part), my Michael Jackson fandom never waned. It evolved, perhaps, but never dwindled. Not through personal struggles, increasingly intense school responsibilities, breaks from the fan boards, overall mental checkouts… nothing kept the Bad album from getting regular play in my stereo, or the occasional weekend-long DVD collection binges where all I (sometimes with the sporadic company of family members) would do for a few hours at a time was sit around watching Michael’s short films on the couch, surrounded by snacks.

This blog was, for a short and exciting time, a bit of a hub. I felt connected with people, which as I’ll explain later, is a really important part of my love for Michael in the first place. I could speak and feel heard. I suppose that’s the purpose of blogging in the first place, but I especially felt at one with fellow MJ fans. There was a surprising number of fans here. When I signed up on Xanga, being an MJ fan was, eh… a rocky road, you could say. Hey, it wasn’t 1984 anymore, and it hadn’t been for a long time. There was something incredibly comforting about seeing other fans’ Jackson-centric thoughts pop up in fresh blog entries every time I logged in. Some of it– most of it– was on the fluffy end of the spectrum, as tends to happen in fandom, but a lot of it was truly beautiful, thought provoking, and insightful. There were a lot of genuinely inspired conversations sparked.

And that’s why I feel that in some odd way, it’s kind of… I don’t know. Appropriate? Comforting? A step toward closure? For one or all of those reasons, I feel compelled to add this place to the (short) list of places at which I post a blog describing my thoughts and reactions, my healing process. Xanga, in being an outlet for my fandom and a source of lasting connections and friendships within the fan community, unintentionally became a part of my fandom as it existed only a short time ago. For a little while in life, there was simply writing and Michael. That was it. No inhibitions. Just two loves. I was at a point in my life defined by my desire to connect, to find some kind of worth in the steady stream of words I found myself needing to share. Not just as a writer, but as a person. I needed reassurance. I’ve always kind of needed reassurance. I still need reassurance, really.

And I think that desire, that longing, is probably the best place for me to begin explaining exactly what Michael means to me. Because really, how can one explain where she is now without explaining how she got there?

I was kind of a lonely teen.

I know what you’re thinking already. “This isn’t a story we haven’t already heard,” you’re saying to yourself aloud, scrolling down to check exactly how much longer this self-indulgent rant is. You’re right about that. This experience is rampant in the MJ fan community. You are right. And when I say I was lonely, this isn’t to say that I had no friends. I had great friends. My loneliness wasn’t the lone wolf, antisocial kind of loneliness. Well it started out that way, not by choice.

Middle school was a living hell, and even if you weren’t a lonely preteen, I’m sure you can attest to that anyway. I truly felt completely alone in my pre-and early teens. I was the new kid at a tiny, conservative Lutheran school. I was shy, and they didn’t understand that. There were 17 people in my class, and by the time I graduated, I was close friends with approximately one of them. I would eventually befriend two more of them in high school, but I’ll get to that soon enough. I was excluded, mocked and teased, and deceived. I was too dark, too ugly, too short, too thick. My hair was weird. My slanted eyes were weird. My reserved nature and my soft voice were weird. My “ethnic” name was weird. My life was the stuff of a horrible young adult novel.

Now, at this point in my life, I was no stranger to Michael Jackson. Are you kidding me? I grew up listening to Michael Jackson. I had the privilege of having parents and an older sister who enjoyed his work. I am a member of a family of fans of varying degrees. I’m easily the most passionate, but my sister is quite an enthusiast herself. Even my younger cousins have inherited the torch from me. We are a family of Michael Jackson fans. But it was in my early teens that I began walking the path that would lead me to the love I have for Michael today. I had always listened to Michael’s work– we had CDs and tapes and a copy of Moonwalker lying around that we would be glued to as a family every so often– but something changed, something clicked rather suddenly.

It’s always the magic that hits you first. For example, Moonwalker has always been one of my top favorite Michael-related anythings. I sit and watch Speed Demon and marvel at Michael, clad in all black with all his friggin’ badass belts and studs and grommets galore, dancing like his body consists of pure energy. I lose all control of my ability to restrain myself from moving– I simply must move something. A twitch, a toe tap, a bob of the head. I can’t help myself.

But one night, I listened to the words in Michael’s work with a newfound sense of understanding. It was like I’d finally flipped some kind of internal ON switch and I was receiving messages like an antenna. Like I was listening to the words for the first time. Listening to him speak for the first time. It wasn’t just music, it was a dialogue. And oh my God. He was talking to me. He was really saying things. To me. And then it was about more than the magic, more than the apparent and undeniable musical prowess, more than the countless worldwide admissions that this man was genius beyond compare. He was unparalleled complexity translated into notes and lyrics that we somehow absorbed and were strangely nourished by.

It’s not just that he composes, arranges, sings, and dances to music that is aesthetically pleasing, although that is true. It’s that… in that music exists a part of himself, and somehow, I understood, on some primitive, spiritual level. I don’t know how I understand it. I don’t know how any of us understand it, really. We just do. It’s a transmission of creativity and beauty and wanting and concern. There is anger there, and there is a lot of sadness. You might say, “Well isn’t that what music’s really about anyway? Isn’t that the whole point? Doesn’t every artist do that?”, and I would say to you, “Well sure, but I want to you look at the past 60 or 70 years of music and really think about who truly, genuinely, accomplishes that. And for every artist that did accomplish it, I dare say that Michael did it with more honesty, ingenuity, and raw talent. That may be only my opinion, but a whole lot of people see what I see too. I mean, look at what this dude did to people! Women wanted him, and men wanted to be him. Oh yeah, and men wanted him, and women wanted to be him too.”

I found in him a man who wasn’t only the most insanely talented singer and dancer we will probably ever know. I dug deeper. I read, and watched, and kept listening. I found a man who was troubled, more troubled than I could ever imagine. His past was a sad one. His present was sometimes a sad one. All of a sudden my own problems seemed less daunting. I didn’t always feel like I fit in, but at least I had the opportunity to be around kids my age and discover that much. Middle and high school end eventually. Life as a spectacle, for Michael Jackson, would never, ever end.

I found a man concerned for life on earth. He wanted to heal the world, and I wanted to. He wanted to reverse the destruction of the planet, and I wanted to. His humanitarianism moved me, and reminded me to stay as aware as possible. It probably moves me even more now than it did at the time. Michael is the reason I began volunteering. He’s the reason I explored the issues behind vegetarianism (even after he’d reluctantly left) and eventually became a practicing vegan. He’s the reason I vowed to use my own talents to better the world in any way I can.

I found a man who made people respond in ways I couldn’t even have imagined. You don’t have to speak English to understand him, to feel him. He transcended language, race, creed, ethnicity, and nationality barriers. For once, it didn’t matter.

I found a perfectionist, a man who strived to be the absolute complete and total best, a man who used his abilities to touch souls, inspire happiness, break down barriers, help heal social and economic wounds in any way he could, and literally change the world. I could never dream to do as much, but I can certainly aspire to do the best I can, like he did.

I found someone kindhearted and troubled, but tormented by others in spite of that. Someone who, to my outrage, was seen by the population at large as nothing but a punchline. I didn’t understand how anyone could look at him as anything but a deeply scarred human being, one that deserved reverence, and perhaps even more importantly sympathy, some consideration for his circumstances as the root of what we often saw as a puzzling or eccentric life.

My sense of isolation changed eventually. By the time I got to high school, people had matured beyond actively excluding or mistreating people, and other such middle school nonsense. But social circles are still as stringent in high school as they are in middle school, and making friends is never easy for some no matter how old that person may be. I made friends, sure. I had great friends, even. But I always felt somewhat out of place amongst the three groups I drifted between early on. For most of the time, it was a very, “alone in the crowd”, “square-peg-in-round-hole” kind of loneliness. I spent a lot of time, especially as a freshman and sophomore, eating lunch alone.

And so every night I’d retreat into the oasis I’d discovered back in middle school. His voice was like a velvet envelope. I just wrapped myself in it and sent myself off far away. My nights were largely comprised of disappearing into my room and leaving Michael’s music on repeat. When my family got tired of it, I bought a pair of headphones and usually fell asleep wearing them. I thought about him every day. I printed out my favorite photos and used them as models to sketch him. He fit into every equation. Everything added up to Michael Jackson.

I joined Xanga, and as you now know, my enthusiasm bled into my blog. As I stated before, I felt a lot less lonely speaking my mind and sharing my interest with others. I met a lasting friend through Xanga, we still talk via email and message board posts. Michael did that, lol. It’s not like Michael made high school easier, or more fun, he wasn’t a magic wand. He just helped me feel understood, and that translated to other parts of my life. And I loved the way he did that. He made me feel like a part of a community, and I am. He made everything else a lot better.

Looking back on this post, it makes at least a certain amount of sense to me– why at first I couldn’t manage to sit down and limn the thoughts and emotions that accompanied the departure of my idol. I think this post proves that there is so much there, so much to be said, and a lot of it is intangible. It’s experiential, this entire phenomenon, the condition of feeling connected to Michael Jackson in this way. You just have to feel it to know.

I don’t know why, exactly, I stopped writing regularly. What changed? If my fandom stayed the same, then how did the Michael-centric blog posts ever stop? I don’t know. I could probably throw out a few things here or there. Life started to get in the way of the writing. My own self-consciousness about my writing began to get in the way of the writing. I ran out things to write about with a “fresh perspective”, or at least what felt like one. My enthusiasm– about my work and about my life– had melted into a puddle around my feet. Life had become a bit monotonous and I didn’t want to be wind up chirping that one, resentful, warbling note.

Cut to June 25th, 2009.

My mother, sister, and I have been working all year on planning a trip to Nigeria, where my family’s from. We’re leaving in about a week. This trip will include a stop in London, where Michael happened to be planning to start his farewell tour. We had known for a while that we probably wouldn’t be able to go in London, but that hadn’t stopped us from trying early on. My sister stayed up late for hours the night tickets went on sale, trying and trying to purchase some. No dice.

I wasn’t thinking about that trip, though. I was wasting time as usual, sitting on the internet doing God knows what, I don’t remember, who remembers what random crap they were doing before something shocking happens? CNN was on in the background, and seconds before I prepared to get up and save a little energy by turning the TV off, Wolf Blitzer calls at me through the speakers over my shoulder. I hear the name “Michael Jackson” and immediately turn to the television. He says that Michael has been rushed by paramedics to the hospital… something involving his heart… not much more information.

I was startled, but not yet frightened. After all, lots of people are rushed to the hospital and are fine afterward. This was our Michael we were talking about, here. He was one tough-as-nails dude, regardless of what people thought his persona or physical stature implied. He was no stranger to hospitals, anyway.

But within the course of a mere two hours, my emotions would soar out of control upon each news update. Things got more and more serious. I knew, fairly quickly, that this could be the end.

And it was.

“Did you cry?” My sister asked when she arrived at my house from work. It wasn’t anything snide or anything, no annoyance at the idea of me getting worked up about a man I’d never met. In fact, her tone was rather melancholy and empathetic.

I nodded. I purposefully left out the fact that I had in fact shrieked upon hearing the confirmation and promptly fell into a bawling mess of tears. Crying would have been an understatement. It only lasted a few minutes, but it was intense. They weren’t even tears of total sadness yet. No, those would not come until the next day, when the reality of the previous day’s events had sunk in and I actually peered off into the future and realized Michael Jackson was no longer a part of it. Those tears were tears of initial shock, just indescribable disbelief.

Pain, and anger. Life isn’t fair, I know, but sometimes the universe likes to remind you of this in absolutely hideous ways. I was pained by the fact that it happened like this, pained that he never got to go out doing the one thing in life that brought him joy, pained to think that he may have never, really, truly gotten what he wanted– peace.

“I feel like we lost a member of the family,” she said to me that evening.

I feel a little silly saying this, because it comes across as so utterly melodramatic, but when I heard Michael Jackson had died, I felt in some way that a part of me had died, or at least was missing or different. I knew I wasn’t crazy for feeling this when I heard my mother admit to roughly the same feeling– and my mother is one of the most rational people I know, rarely prone to sharing sentimentality with others.

It was the end of a chapter in my life, a chapter in my fandom, a chapter in our cultural history. A time never to be duplicated. It’s all gone. All we have left is music and memories. Old VHS cassettes with MJ marathons on them. Dolls and trading cards and buttons and wrinkled posters with tattered edges. The echo of his musical sound waves filtering into space. It’s funny, because while he was around, it felt as if that was sort of enough, like the physical presence of his music was all that mattered. Without him here, something feels strangely empty about it all.

It was an end, it was finality, not for fandom, but just… *struggles for words* just in the way I lived, knowing back then that this man was even just still breathing and looking up into the same sky I looked up into.

Well, in the spirit of all my former blogs, this post is long as all hell and took me forever to write, but I have never been more content with a discussion of what Michael means to me. Even if I never post here again, and that’s okay. Like I said, this post is about closure. Posting about Michael here feels like coming full circle, like an acknowledgment of that unique time in my life.

Michael, I never actually met you, and you had no idea I even existed. But you mean so much to me and so many others. Thank you. Thank you for putting up with us. Thank you for sharing yourself, your humanity, your brilliance, with us. Thank you for bringing us together. Thank you for caring so passionately. Godspeed…  and goodbye.

 

Christmas Eve/Mission Statement

It’s Christmas Eve. No matter what you celebrate (or don’t celebrate), I hope everyone’s warm and snuggly with family, and anxiously anticipating tomorrow.


On to something else that might be fitting for this particular time of year:





I wrote this for one of my television production classes, but my dad recommended that upon restarting my blog, I should post it here as sort of a way of letting people know more about who I am and where I’m trying to go. So here you go. It’s written in the form of NPR’s “This I Believe” segments.

I believe in late nights serenaded by the whirr of an aging desktop computer, basking in the glow of the monitor, and crying until my head throbs. Or I guess in other terms, I believe in writing.

In fact, words are probably the one thing I am surest of. I must be, if I can spend years staring at blank Word documents, depriving myself of sleep and overall satisfaction with myself until I feel like smashing my head through a plate glass window. But still, I return to the chair, knowing that somewhere amidst all the frustration and self-doubt will come those precious few hours when all of a sudden the prose spills forth from me almost as profusely as the swear words had just a few minutes earlier.

It wasn’t always this way. I knew that I wanted to write since I was eight years old. When you’re eight years old you can do anything, but time and teenage angst can beat the confidence out of you like some punk with a baseball bat. I would like to say that I’m beyond feeling that way, that at some point during my teen years my fear of being incapable was proven unfounded. Not really. I am in a state of perpetual uncertainty. A chapter that I think is excellent one night is crap the next morning. To be honest, there is only one very specific moment in time when I know that what I’m doing, what I love, is right for me. It’s at three am, when I can’t pull myself to bed not because I’ve spent the last several hours skimming blog posts on Oh No They Didn’t! whilst slowly damaging my hearing beneath the blare of my headphones. I can’t sleep because finally, I can’t bear to leave my protagonist hanging there in mid-action on the page, as if dangling off a cliff, waiting for me to rescue him. I go to bed that night feeling like I climbed—no, leapt over—Mount Everest. That’s when I know I can make something of this.

And so I guess I really believe in dreams. Which actually leads me to my father. I have an incredible mother and sister as well, but my relationship with my father is different, because I am more like him than I could describe to you. He’s a writer too. He also knows what it’s like to be on the receiving end of that bat. But on top of that, he knows what it’s like to aspire for big, big things. I’m a first generation American, one of two children of Nigerian immigrants who arrived in San Francisco on an uncharacteristically clear and sunny day in 1984. Dad had made a career of his words in Nigeria. He’d worked in both print journalism and radio as an entertainment critic and a playwright, respectively. When he got to the states, all this changed. Doctors and schoolteachers in one country find themselves holding jobs and not careers out here. His writing had no outlet, nowhere to go except into a folder on the family computer.

My mom recently helped me see this in a new way. She and I and my sister and niece were coming home from long trip to our native Nigeria. I have never been fond of the exhausting side of travel—the luggage hauling and the long layovers and the constant takeoffs and landings. At that particular moment in time, I was glued to the seat as the plane ascended at 500 miles per hour, one hand clutching the armrest and the other squeezing my mother’s. Mom looked down at me with a sympathetic smirk. “You don’t have to be scared,” she said with her usual calmness. The plane shuddered and trembled, and I practically cut off her circulation, but she just smiled at me, like Mom’s supposed to. “Nothing’s going to happen.” I tried to tell her that she had no way of knowing this, no real reason to believe that. She just looked at me and said, “You still have so much to do with yourself. Look at you. Do you really think you would even have the opportunity to go back and forth between Nigeria and California if you weren’t meant to do something with it?” That’s when I thought to myself, Now that’s believing in someone. I’ve always been ambivalent about the idea of fate, but who’s to say that one might not receive an occasional cosmic nudge in the right direction?

So because of this, I believe in dreams. I certainly believe in my own, but I hope that someday I can be selfless enough to be passionate about someone else’s. My parents’ primary interests have always been my sister’s and my dreams. They would never have left their careers, families, or home, if they weren’t. She and I were their big, big aspirations. In my father, I could not have asked for a more supportive, encouraging human being to share my ambitions with. He has always made me feel like nothing short a worthy protégée, and for that I am immensely grateful. I guess it’s because of Mom, Dad, and Sis that I believe in family as well.

I spent days and days agonizing about how to get all this onto paper. I didn’t know what I believe. Or how to translate what I believe. Or whether or not I really wanted anyone to know anything about what I might believe. But what do you know, it’s done. I guess I’m doing something right.

Mindstride: A Primer

Ah. Feels good to be back in the old chair again.
Hi there. I’m T.

“T”, of course, is short for a full name, but maybe I’ll tell you that later. I’m extremely identifiable by my name, and I’ve always appreciated my anonymity.
This blog is a third incarnation of a chronicle of my life—my long-term goals, my interests and hobbies, my thoughts, dreams, and other cliché stuff.
I first started blogging in February 2005, when I was around seventeen, pushing eighteen. I had an old Xanga account—ha. I still have the account, and the blog is still up, but I stopped updating it—I think the last posts are from sometime in 2007. If you want to look at them (and laugh along with me), the address is xanga.com/princessfedora.

Aside from feeling ready to move on from Xanga (at the time, I was just hopping onto the Myspace bandwagon), I fell into a point at my life where I just wasn’t really sure what to say any more. For some reason, I felt stretched for subject matter. To a certain degree, I still feel this way. My Xanga blog was about current events, tangential thoughts, and Michael Jackson. Yes, really. That Michael Jackson. As an ardent fan (to this day), I found that there was actually a fairly active fan community on Xanga, where other young fans found a place to discuss his impact on our lives in a positive, supportive place. I actually met (and still talk to) some of my closest fan friends through Xanga.
After Xanga, I started posting blogs on Myspace. The address is here, if you’d like to see. The funny thing about Myspace though, is that blogging is probably one of the last things people really do on that site. It’s kind of like Groups or the Forums. Utterly useless. Who joins groups on Myspace?
Interestingly, I didn’t have a problem being one of only a few people who ever read my blog. It served as an effective outlet for my thoughts, even though I have a hand-written diary. I guess this was part of the problem, though. After a while, my Myspace posts turned into a pit of self-pity and adolescent angst. I mean, I never cut myself, I never wrote dark lyrics or poetry, I never did any of the things that people associate with angsty blogs. But my posts became tainted with a sort of negative vibe. School was getting to me. My job hunt was getting to me. But the most pressing of my concerns was my self-doubt, my fear that I was not, and could never be, the writer my heart longs to be.
As much as I’d like to say that I’ve gotten past that fear, I will freely admit that I have not.
My return to blogging is sort of my way of working to overcome that, not to mention my way of making up for the time wasted in worrying about writing instead of just writing. Now is the time, maybe more than ever, that I cast my doubts aside and work toward my goals with a renewed sense of ambition. After all, I’m not getting any younger. ;) Please feel free to join me along the way.
One last thing: today is my birthday. I’m twenty-two years old today, and holy crap, the years are actually starting to add up. I mention this because I would like to present myself with a challenge. All I want in life, at this point, is progress. Here’s to hoping that by my next birthday, I’m closer to where I want to be, and that this entry marks the beginning of real efforts—emotional, physical, psychological efforts– to get there.