Musings of a young dame making it in this Texas-boy controlled world.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

I Feel Like Music Died With You

[This is nothing like what I had written down. Caught a wave and decided to ride it. Not a day has passed since I heard that I've havent shed tears. I've cried for the loss of such a talent. I've cried because one of my childhood, adolescent and hell, adult heroes is gone. I weep when I think about how he was ridiculed and remained such a gentle soul. I'm filled with profound sadness when I think about how he was marketed. Literally, sold.]


I can't do like most people and pinpoint a certain time when you became an influence on me. For as long as I can remember, you've been there. Your songs, your moves, your voice. The moonwalk was (and still is) the coolest dance ever. Thriller was always the ultimate scary video. On weekends, my friends would gather at my house to watch Thriller and "Are You Afraid of the Dark?". Thriller was always scarier. Your signature dance moves were what everybody in my dance classes tried to imitate when it was freestyle time. You were at every family function. Showed up when it was time for the Soul Train line at the summer BBQs. Like the members of Immature were all my boyfriends (which one depended on the day), you were my aunties' boyfriend. And they fought over you. There's a hilarious story in my family that involves my two aunts, a poster of you and a red leather jacket. Let's just say it ended with my grandma's belt getting aquainted with both of their rear ends. Everybody in my family had a story about you. You were just there.

I'm an 80s baby so when I came of age, American had already began to witness your change. All the things that made you "weird" to the world were already in place. Your skin was already lighter, NeverNever Land was just your house to me & The Trial was over by the time I turned 9. But then, even though I was never familiar with the brown faced boy who sang "ABC" and "I'll Be There", I started noticing a change in you. How you looked, even the way you spoke. I was so upset with the change that I asked my mother why that was "happening" to you. She told me your changing appearance was because you didn't like being Black. At that moment I understood you. I, too, didn't like being Black. I didn't understand myself. I grew up in a neighborhood where the only people that looked like me were the ones that lived in my house. And both my parents were old, so Black kids for me consisted of me. I was on exhibit every time I went to school. At one point in my life, I looked my mother straight in the eyes and said "I want to be white." So to hear that I wasn't the only one that thought dark skin was wierd didn't make me think you strange, it made me feel understood.

As I got older, old enough to purchase my own music, I got your "Scream" single on cassette. The B-Side was "Childhood", and it came with an insert with a picture you had drawn on it. It was a little boy, crowding in a corner, holding his knees to his chest, with the words "Have you seen my childhood?" written on it. I must have drawn that picture 15 times. Then I understood you even more. I was a sensitive artist child too, who constantly felt misunderstood, especially by my parents. Soon after, my daddy purchased the two disc HIStory CD and I stole it. Each and everytime my parents would upset me I'd storm to my room and play "They Don't Really Care About Us". I'd listen over and over to you scream "If Martin Luther was livin', he wouldnt let this be!" The outrage in your voice as you sang about equal rights and treatment resonated with me. I'd be lying if I said that song didn't influence my interest in African American history. (And anyone who knows me knows how HUGE that is.)

Then, it wasn't cool to imitate you anymore. Your dances were only done for laughs. The only songs it was ok to listen to were your older ones. I transformed "You Are Not Alone" from a song of comforting reassurance to a mocking endless joke. Your arms-open-head-thrown-back long scream was no longer epic, it was silly. Your flooding pants and white socks? Not vintage chic, they were aging pop star geeky. So I tossed you to the side. I still jammed when you came on the radio, but I now no longer held whole-CD-singing-into-a-broom sessions by myself. Even my mom didn't think you were cool anymore. I played "Heaven Can Wait" for her, marveling at the lyrics and she said it was "ok". When people would make jokes about you, I remained silent. I didn't agree with them, but my silence may have very well lead them to believe I did. And I did nothing to persuade them otherwise. I stopped pulling out my dad's Thriller vinyl to stare at you in your angelic white with the cute baby tiger. You were a forgotten about Woody to my shiny new Buzz Lightyear of New Jack Swing, SWV, Boyz II Men and TLC.

I grew up and renewed my love of all things you. The fashionista in me declared your jackets cool again. As I took back to dancing, the way you stopped on a dime coming out of your spins was amazing. The lay-outs and the jazz dance influence in the "Bad" video made you ahead of your time. Your lyrics were simple, yet uniquely worded, studying them helped me learn to write songs. Your crystal clear tone sent chills when I'd listen intently. Your cape was back intact. I was back in love with all things King of Pop.

Love is a losing game.

For five whole days now I've been in an emotional spiral. I switch from station to station creating my own endless stream of your videos. Reveling in your genius. Wallowing in my sadness. I've been crying like I personally knew you. I've been asking myself why I've been so consumed with sadness. I've told myself it's because I'm mourning such a unbelievable talent gone so unexpectedly. Said it's because although 50 is not young, it's not old either, my parents are both past that. Told myself that it was because of how shameful the way the world/media treated you in your final years was. How they made you more punchline than human. The truth is, I'm mourning for all those reasons and more. The reality is you are a hero. And heroes don't die. Heroes may grow old, they may retire and rely on stories, exaggerated as they're told, to maintain their greatness in people's minds. Heroes are even allowed to get down and out, so when they rise, people believe that they, too, can overcome any situation. Heroes do a lot of things. But they don't die. So I've been trying to think of way to keep you alive. Because that little girl in me that sang "Man In the Mirror" and believed a girl like her in a different country was being kept warm by the coat she gave to Salvation Army, that girl, she won't let you die. She'll forever live in a world where there is Michael Jackson, where every awards show holds the possibility that you'll pop out onto the stage and bust out your signature dance moves; where there is still a chance that you'll release another album. That stubborn little girl won't move from the place where, after you finish your 50 London dates, there's a chance that she'll be able to finally see you in concert in the USA.

As for me, I know being an adult consists of accepting things I may HATE and may not understand. Adults offer justification like "it was his time." So I'll accept that I'll never see you Moonwalk in person. I'll accept that I'll never been in a huge crowd full of people and hear you sing "I want to love you, pretty young thang" and feel as though you meant those words for only me. I'll accept all those harsh truths and more, but I still won't let you die. Your message of love resonates in me. And I've got renewed determination to love better. To love more, harder, more abundately.

Somewhere underneath these tears that curtain my eyes, there is an understanding. I know you wouldn't want people to mourn your death. You would want people to hug their daughters and sons more. You would want parents to think before "playfully" making remarks about their children's still developing faces. You would want childlike love to reign in the hearts of all those who say they are touched by you. So I'll try my best. You're a big part of the reason I believe in the power of music. You can actually say you changed the world through song. That's awesome, as were you. And I'll make sure nobody I know forgets it.

Ashley E.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Where Do We Go From Here

I have never felt so unfulfilled in my life.

My job is so meaningless, just a way to pay the bills and keep money in my pocket.

I meet the most beautiful little boy today. He couldn't have been older than 4. His eyes were so bright and receptive to everything the world had to offer and I could tell that he had yet to witness the cold realities life too often serves up.

As almost always, I'm at a crossroads.

More hands hurt now. Damn sidekick.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Just Me

In the past week or so, I've had like 5 customers tell me that I can't possibly be from stl. And while that gives me some reassurance with the knowledge that I don't say "hurr" and "thurr", it also makes me wonder why I never seem to fit in.

I always feel out of place, everywhere I go. I always feel like I am the only one who thinks like I do, the only one who feels like I do and generally like people just cannot relate to me.

It's funny how it was never cool to be different and now that is all anyone wants to be.

Random musings posted from the new sidekick.

I can only be me, like it, hate it or misunderstand me, but I will not change for the world.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

General Classroom Building no longer....

I've had a few proud moments in my life, but something happens to me everytime I think about this:

The fact that within the last few months, I've lost two excellent black leadership mentors, pioneers on the campus where I spent my last two college years is a hurtful reminder that we're not here forever.

How many of us get to do something, be a part of something that actually MATTERS?

The first.

It's the FIRST building on a 168 year old university to be named after an African American.


The FIRST. A choice word that implicates more to come.

And I can say I was a part of that.

Accomplished isn't the word.

I imagine this is what the term labor of love exists for.

I'm overwhelmed.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


There's a quote that's been stuck in my head for a few days now.

"It is when we are not afraid to fall that we fly the highest."

It's a moral that I should have taken away when I read one of my favorite books, Johnathon Livingston Seagull.

It's the same sentiment the Coach Carter-catapulted- Marianne Williamson quoted-Nelson Mandela credited- "Our Deepest Fear" speech holds.

But I like it better.

Once I accept that falling (and also failing) is an option, although not THE option....


.....I can write again.
Without fear that words will fail/leave me. Write without fear that my words will betray me and show things I never meant to display.

...I can love again.
Without fear that I will give myself, my all to a man/boy who doesn't deserve it. Without fear that pain and love will once again become so synonymous, so intertwined that it takes me years to decipher between the two again.

....I can achieve.
Without fear that I won't perform up to my standard. The one I hold myself to. The ones others hold me to.

Maybe, just maybe....

When I quit looking down and remembering how the ground looks, I'll be able to appreciate the vastness of the sky.

Maybe when I realize that once it hurts, that's all it can do.

I can live.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


He inspires me.

He believes I'm great and I don't want to let him down so I try to be great.

I've always had a thing for people who are openly flawed, probably because I try so hard to mask my own imperfections. He is in such an internal struggle and I'm rooting so hard for him to finish on the side of good. I see such potential in him. It's amazing how he inspires me even while he fights to become the man he wants to be. His environment is against him. His friends are a hinderance. And while he's not yet completely free, I feel like he's no longer entrapped. Funny thing is, I feel his partial freedom began due to his physical confinement.

As always, I find myself placing distance between us simply because the pull frightens me. The last time I saw him it was hard to leave.

It's so easy to not write back, to not call. But how do you disconnect someone from your mind?

Why am I always running from good?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Still hanging in there...

This is not so much an entry as it is a reminder to myself to actually write an entry.

Things are so slow and yet so fast at the same time for me right now.

There's so much to talk about, so much to say, and I will in time...

I need to write in order to sort it all out, but right now I really don't have time.

I'm only at this computer because Larry ( has got me entranced with this damn Jazmine Sullivan song, "In Love with Another Man".

I'm taking my LSAT this Sat and I'm scared. I've never been afraid to take a damn test, but for some reason this feels so different.

I'll be back.