i think i am at the second stage of this grief/trauma bit: anger... i keep seeing discussions about outside forces... i keep seeing discussion that media is not honoring him correctly... i keep seeing discussion about what may have prompted his cardiac arrest... i feel so bombarded by all of this, when i don't really care about any of it... all i know is that my teacher is not physically here, and it hurts me to no end. i just want to scream that to everybody. WHY CAN'T YOU OVERSTAND THIS! MY TEACHER IS NOT PHYSICALLY HERE!!!
someone sent me an article stating that the cause of the cardiac arrest most likely was a result of his bout with lupus. i was actually quite aware that he was suffering from lupus (discoid lupus, as a matter of fact- the one which effects the skin; it was not as far gone as the one which affected jay dilla)). this has been confirmed on several medical websites for a while now. he's also been filmed at events supporting the research for lupus. this is not new news to me. it's been said he was diagnosed with having lupus around the same time he was getting treatment for being burnt in the infamous 'pepsi incident'. this was confirmed, in every medical website i looked up some time ago, by one of his doctors, arnold klein. this was also used as evidence in one of his court cases. there are also photos in the mid 1980s, (with his 'beat it jacket on in particular), where you see the 'butterfly rash' on his face, which is a symptom of discoid lupus:
it is evident in this photo:
HOWEVER! to say that this is simply the cause of his transcendence is upsetting, because it doesn't look holistically at how he treated himself. if he ate healthily (which apparently, he did not), if he didn't deal with as much stress as he dealt with over the years (almost his whole life); if he didn't overexert himself in terms of performance... if he just gave himself a CHANCE to just sit, breathe and reflect- if lupus is indeed the cause for his transcendence, would he have had an inflammation?
i do not care if the cause is lupus, cancer, anorexia; overdose on demerol, morphine or pills, chemical imbalance, schizophrenia... none of this matters to me. none of this takes into account the emotional and physical pain he must have been feeling, enough to ask the ancestors to take him away from this plane. discussing this in terms of a simple medical definition and diagnosis (even when discussing mental health issues) in my opinion would limit him as a full being, with a full range of experiences and emotions.
he suffered from a broken heart, and no autopsy report will ever know the depths to which he suffered.
i am feeling so upset now. i need closure, but not the kind i am being inundated with. i do not watch television; i already KNOW that BET or any other network is not going to honor him in a way fit for someone of his stature... he was a small person, but his presence loomed universally. he stood next to interviewers who were way taller than he, but when he performed or when he stood in front of cameras he grew. i have no expectations from media, so i create my own ways to honor him.
i have decided against going to california. there are millions of fans there already. ultimately i would love to be with others grieving just the same as i am, but i don't want to contribute to a circus. i just want to know he is at peace. and i know my presence in california will not confirm that.
i have also decided against looking at any coverage of a homegoing ceremony, if there will be any footage of it. i am sure i will hear about it.
i am still having difficulty looking at those three words together...
they were nice enough to let his music play at work all day... i heard him speaking today on one of the discs, and i choked up... i had to skip it. earlier in the day i cried in the aisles, when i heard him sing. the great irony is that it is only he i can listen to at this point, or no music at all. i had to turn on the vaccum, to drown out a song.
i am coming to terms with this, looking at his pictures; trying to look into his eyes. i look, and then i avert my eyes... i can look at most of them, but there is one... there is one i cannot. on my wall is an image, the gatefold centre of the 'jacksons' album, where all of them are there, their afros coalescing. i have the most difficulty looking at this image, with him in the centre, staring deep into the camera's viewer's/listener's gaze.
i wore the 'billie jean' outfit (like the one at the top image) today, to honor him. i kept the glove on most of the day... people told me i looked 'cute' or just yelled 'michael!' it was really hard to smile today, and i didn't really... i told people i was grieving when they asked how i was doing, and still, they laughed. i certainly recognize that people have their different ways of grieving (and their relationship to him may not be like the one i have with him), but still, it is frustrating.
all i need to know is that he is okay.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
i literally just got off the phone with a friend who commented on the short-term memory syndrome of people, in relation to emotional connection. all day, i have been encountering people who in my estimation think my dressing up like him seems like a trivial remembrance, or statement of irony. i've run into people wanting me to give them high fives; or there would be people laughing, yelling his name... i feel so lonely, having no people around to grieve with...
my appetite is still minimal... people want me to eat, so i do. i hung out with my friend on his radio show, where he played a remix of one of his songs, and i began to cry. i have been crying in front of people who i've never expected to cry in front of. whenever i talk about him, i pause, because it's still hard for me to say his name.
i want to go to california. i need closure. i need to know he is okay. i need to know he is truly safe, and at peace...
i did read an article today, which mentioned that his oldest child was in his presence when he transcended... i can only imagine what that is like. it was said that he thought his father was just being 'dad', playing around... quite similar to the scene in 'the godfather', when vito corleone collapses in the garden with his grandchild... poor children... they now have no father... he was in so much pain, and he loved his children with all of his heart.
in this time, children have been a part of bright moments in my life as well... when i went back to work for a bit to purchase things, i was told that a young child of a customer asked about me... her father said that when she heard the news of his transcendence, she asked something to the effect of, "isn't he the friend of the lady who works at the store? is she okay?" i was not even aware that this child acknowledged me, or knew of my love for him.
also, i saw my 6-year old friend as i was riding my bicycle... we hugged, then she placed her hand on me in sympathy. i also spoke with my niece (who is 7), and she asked how i was doing. i told her i was sad. she said, "yeah, everyone is sad. but he IS the king of pop!" those were the moments that greatly touched me... out of these cloudy days appear rays of sunshine. i know he would be very proud.
i have essentially refused to see news about him, but i have seen some things, with links that people have given and shown me and such... one of the pieces i saw actually DID confirm what i have felt in my heart (and what i wrote yesterday)- that he called on the ancestors to take him... he no longer wanted to be in pain... mental OR physical... he was tired of living under scrutiny, contracts and cameras... one of the issues that came up was his children... why would someone who loves his children so much want to 'not live'? sometimes, when you are suffering from major depression (which may or may not be diagnosed), it's difficult to see through that fog. because this is the place where i initially saw him when i began to truly love and respect him, this is what i have truly felt in terms of this situation. i have been in this same type of situation (with this fog where nothing in life mattered), so i connected with what i saw to be his depression.
i also saw in one of these pieces that he was diagnosed as a schizophrenic as a child... technically this would make sense, considering his various personalities in terms of songwriting and performance- from his childlike persona to his violent imagery (ala 'smooth criminal'). he has also claimed over the years that people were out to get him. this sentiment is all over his music (in particular the HIStory album). it's also evident in the letter he wrote on the 'bad' tour, where he writes, "i've been bleeding for a long time" (one of his major signs of asking for help, but PEOPLE DIDN'T LISTEN!!!). however, having grown up in an abusive household (as he climed) the way he writes would make perfect sense as well. whether or not this statement of his diagnosis is actually true, it is uncalled for. why would this statement be made NOW, in light of all that is going on? none of that should matter.
i saw something (which may have come from the sun, so there you go) mentioning the initial autopsy, which claimed he really did have skin cancer, and that he was healing from that... he was found to have 'peach fuzz' on his head, and was emaciated. one could claim, if this was true, that his cancer was in remission, and he was dealing with chemotherapy, which could be why he was taking painkillers (aside from all the injuries he's endured over the years from physical exertion). i cannot confirm this, until an actual legal autopsy report comes out.
a question would be, if all of this is INDEED true, why would he pass a 5-hour intensive health inspection with flying colours? if he did indeed have issues with his lungs, if he had skin cancer... he was also diagnosed with discoid lupus years ago... if he was truly this sick, why would the insurance companies and the concert promotions people allow this tour to occur?
the truth is, though, i don't want to know what the report says... no matter what the reports say, i know in my heart he had a broken heart.
in terms of food, i wanted to do a 'jackson diet' (sans KFC) this week-end... but i realized that i don't really like beans... he really liked enchiladas... and none of this would matter anyway, because i haven't had much of an appetite. i haven't felt much like doing anything; this is the only thing weighing heavy on my mind right now. i just have headaches from crying so much.
i am trying to figure out some other ways to connect, but i have difficulty finding them... in terms of my relationship with him these past two years, i realize i really have no gague of relating to him in a 'popular culture' sense; my connection with him began by looking into his eyes and noticing how troubled he was. how sad. i related his songs with this. i never really looked at his songs as completely fun- i haven't looked at his songs that way since i was six years old. for me, his songs were depressing. his songs described how lonely and isolated he was from the outside world. at the same time his songs discussed his perceptions of how the world worked; he engaged lyrically, and through interviews, all of our connections throughout society. this is why so many people around the world could relate to him. his art was extremely clear in showing us how flawed of a person he was- just like the rest of us are flawed. when people place him above anyone else i do not understand. he had hopes and fears just like the rest of us. how is he any different from us?
he was a victim of abuse just like i was, and he perpetuated the cycle of abuse, just like i have. be it self-abuse or whatever... there are varying degrees of that, and a lot more subtle than we care to discuss... my love, respect and admiration for him came in that realization that did not come with looking at his art in terms of popular culture; it came in terms of me looking at his art as a survivor. he's survived, but he hasn't healed. his art is extremely autobiographical, and full of pain. this is how i have viewed what he's done over the course of his career. how i have viewed him came from a place of pain.
so when people laud the global effects of 'thriller' or discuss the first time they saw him on 'motown 25' or soul train or whatever, i can't relate. i have related to him in terms of how i relate to myself as a being in this society, and this world.
this is why it is difficult for me to dance, or think of 'happy things' when it comes to him.
i do what i do because i want to honor him. and i do not do what i do lightly.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
it's extremely difficult for me to get my head around things... i am at a loss, and entirely conflicted- which was the case with my relationship with him in the first place... it's still hard for me to say his name, and when i did today it sounded entirely strange. i still feel as if he never left. but i know he has. and it's killing me.
there are all these articles discussing 'what killed him'. but i insist he left this plane with a broken heart. the more i look into the articles people have given me, the more i believe he's been making preparations for a long time with the ancestors. at least ten years.
it's been said that the life he led in his 50 years was fuller than someone who's even lived a hundred. this may be the case, but still, he hasn't reached his full potential as a human, because he was never given a chance to. we've generally only known him in performance mode. but now, in his transition, we are all learning about ourselves. i think this was truly his purpose for being here: to teach us about ourselves.
in concrete terms, more than anything i think what (or WHO) 'killed' him was jordan chandler. he has been so vocal over the years about his love for children, that if he were told there were no more children left on this earth he would slit his wrists. in 1993 when evan chandler (jordan's father) accused him of child molestation, this was the beginning of the end. this was when it was widely known that he became heavily addicted to painkillers. in 2005, when he was accused of the same violation by the arviso family, this WAS the end for him. the fact that CHILDREN, of all people, could be adulterated, just killed him. he seemed to continue to hold on, for his own children, for his fans and for his loved ones, but i think he was just at a loss. just looking at him after this point, his eyes seemed to have lost faith in humanity.
was he afraid of his own mortality? i cannot say... it has been said though, that he has claimed he was not going to live soon after the age of fifty. we have lisa marie presley's apparent essay, stating that he told her in seriousness that he was not going to live until an older age, shrugging his shoulders in concession, despite her protests of his statement... plus someone told me today that someone she knows overheard him discussing the fact that he claimed he was not going to live to see 51... if all of this is true, my intuition (from what i wrote in yesterday's blog) scares me. was my connection this deep with him, that i felt any sort of pain he was feeling? how many other people who did not personally know him saw this coming?
i think it's fairly safe to say that he 'died' before he got to the hospital. the question remains, if he chose to do this. it's not uncommon to revive someone after they have a heart attack, perhaps even cardiac arrest. did he just choose to leave this body?
when he demanded AEG (the concert promotions company) to put his cardiologist on their payroll for the tour, was he preparing for this moment? the cardiologist was his live-in doctor for two weeks (but with him for three years), before this moment. the concerts were to begin about two weeks from now. the coincidence of this is so confusing to me... two weeks with a 'live-in doctor'... why? it appears very much to me to be a hospice sort of situation. i am so confused... why would his doctor administer something like demerol to him, when there is a possibility he was taking other prescription medicines? did he take some without telling his doctor, then he took the dosage of demerol (or whatever it was) at the 'correct time' but it mixed with the other drugs, causing a cardiac arrest? was he just SO addicted to pills, or was he truly preparing for this moment of transcendence?
as i said, it's entirely difficult for me to get my head around things. i spent most of the day riding a bicycle, in full regalia: the glove, fedora, jacket with the gold embroidery, sequins and rhinestones, white socks and loafers... i just rode and rode and rode. i just stared off into space most of the time, so i think most people just went on their merry way. but some people were staring at me, and others decided to speak. there was everything from 'long live MJ', to 'rest in peace', to 'look, it's MJ' to someone giving a thumbs up sign, to just yelling his name outside of a car. there was also honking of a car horn. some pre-teen kids made the 'hee hee' sound, trying to mess with me, i think. one of the kids said, 'leave her alone, she is MJ'. at least this is what i heard. when i was downtown one man, as i was at a stoplight came up to me, his shirt tagged with about 10-12 MJ buttons, and gave me a hug. he asked me to marry him. his friend said, 'yeah, you should marry him!'
i ended up having a conversation with someone who stopped and wanted to take my picture. i began talking, and i began crying. the fact that i can cry in front of complete strangers over this situation is significant.
i spoke with pearljr., one of the biggest MJ advocates i know tonight, and she is extremely heartbroken and shaken up over this... like me, she didn't have an appetite, and could not sleep.
i wish i were here with a community of folks right now, who feel the same way i do, and who understand what i am feeling in this moment. it's quite isolating here in portland. it is gonna take a long time to cope with this situation. we must remain positive in light of everything, because that's what he would have wanted.
two days later... I. CANNOT. STOP. CRYING. i am making myself eat, i do not have an appetite. it is taking me a long time to get to sleep. my head and my eyes hurt from wiping my eyes so much. i am having difficulty formulating any clear statement, other than realizing that his lyrics speak miles about how i am feeling. i expect that that was what he wanted in the first place, to forge his place in popular culture as being appreciated for his art.
all i know is that i am speechless. i cannot even say his name right now, more or less look at it, because whenever i see it, that OTHER word appears next to it now. i haven't read any news articles, unless it was something someone sent to me. there are the well-known five stages of dealing with issues of transcendence (i REFUSE to call it 'death', because his spirit will never leave us). i am wondering how common it is to experience both the first and the fifth (denial and acceptance) at the same time- because that is EXACTLY what i am feeling. when i first saw the news (after hearing it from a house-mate and not necessarily believing it, because you know all the rumors that fly), the first thing i did, amongst a flood of tears, was to say 'no no no no!!!' and still, looking at his pictures, it's still as if he is still physically here.
BUT, the second i came home last night (the night his transcendence occurred) from doing an impromptu tribute for him for the radio, rivers just flowed from my eyes... i could not look into his eyes; those eyes i always so lovingly look at. he has the most beautiful eyes i have ever seen in my life- these deep, dark, LARGE brown eyes of sadness... and occasionally they would glow with pure joy. and i found that i could not look into them. this was my realization, my acknowledgment that he really, really has become one of our ancestors now... and STILL through this acceptance, i just kept saying 'no no no no...'
moments before i heard this news, what was i doing? listening to his music, of course... just like i've done every day. i have invoked, i have spoken his name every single day. and now i cannot speak his name. not without choking up, or drowning in rivers. maybe tomorrow, i'll change my mind, and i can say it with the same conviction as i had before... all i can do is stare... i lose focus... i had to work today, and all i could do was cry.
i have to keep going, despite losing a part of myself... i have spent EVERY SINGLE DAY, FOR TWO YEARS in the consciousness of this man. or he in the consciousness of me. i don't know if he will ever know how much he has meant to me, and has taught me about myself. these words i write now can never convey how i felt about him. his impact as an artist certainly did hit me (i did grow up with his art). but he has taught me so much about the way the world works. he has taught me so much about the gift of acceptance.
i love him so very much, and it is difficult for me to express this here. those who have known me throughout this consciousness shifting in these two years know how much he has affected my life, and how much i love, respect and appreciate him. and how much he has become a part of me.
just like my stepfather at the age of 50 (who i did not really get on with very well), this 50-year old man (who i have not physically met, but we have met in my dreams, and my subconscious) left this earthly plane with a broken heart. i sincerely believe he asked the ancestors to finally give him peace, and they respected his wishes. he had so much pain in his heart, and in his spirit, and he may have felt he could never be fully healed from that in this lifetime. he is in a much better place now. i have accepted that, but it still hurts me to no end.
it hurts me to know that he never felt he could reach his full potential (he has openly said that he was afraid of fulfilling this). it hurts me to know that despite having three wonderful children in his life (i can only imagine how they are feeling right now)- children who were the loves of his life- he may have been in more pain than they could have even foreseen. it pains me to know that he never knew how many people truly did love him.
and it especially hurts me to know that i had a feeling this was coming... when he turned 50 i had this deep feeling in my heart. i thought it was gonna happen sooner than it did. i was in denial, because i did not want to put this out in the universe... but it stayed with me. it kept haunting me right around his 50th birthday. when he DID turn 50 i had an extensive sigh of relief- but the feeling was still there. i had hoped that he would spend these years NOT in performance, but with his children. i had hoped he would spend these years into the age of 70, 80... rocking in his rocking chair, telling stories to his grandkids by the fire, with graying hair and some love handles...
...and then the 'THIS IS IT' announcement came... the dark feeling came back. i have written my feelings on his speech announcing the tour somewhere on this blog on another date... but when he announced doing ten dates for this tour, i instantly got mad at him- BECAUSE I WANTED HIM TO STAY HOME AND FINALLY STOP LIVING IN PERFORMANCE. i had sincerely hoped he would stop performing/touring, because he emphatically said he was not going to live like that, most recently in the december 2007 issue of ebony magazine. he's also been quite public about his dislike of touring. and there he went, accepting a 10 date tour, which extended into 50 dates. i actually was quite livid at the situation. but i did make attempts to get a ticket for one of these london shows. because, he was so adamant about this being his last series of shows. but of course, there was talk of the tour extending BEYOND LONDON if the london shows did well enough... the cycle begins again...
thus, he never, in the 45 years of his life in perfomance, he never, ever got a chance to just be a PERSON. this is what i was hoping for... but when i saw he was doing those concerts in london i knew that was never gonna happen. this is what hurts.
the development of this consciousness occurred as i was in the process of writing this book on him, where the goal was to make the connection between he and the rest of us- to humanize him. i have been distraught over whether or not i am to finish it. everyone i know has told me to finish it; but ultimately i am asking him for guidance. i am looking to his spirit for guidance in this.
i was told i should write what my feelings are surrounding this situation every day. so let this be the first day.
michael (oh, dear god...), if you are reading this (with your beautiful, large dark brown eyes) just know that i love you very much, and i am so, so happy for you now... it hurts me so much right now, but know i am happy for you, that you are no longer suffering in this life which gave you so much heartache.
and i know you are shining upon us still, because on the day of the... news, i saw four dogs sitting in one of those british mini cars, all staring at me, wating for their friend to come out of the sandwhich shop (that's your humorous side); and yesterday on my way to work (still grieving) i was on my bicycle and saw a group of kids (about 7 or 8 of them) learning how to ride bicycles (that is your caring side). there are still rays of sunshine amongst the clouds.
i love you so very much; and may you finally be at peace with yourself, and with the world.