Sunday, February 27, 2011

Whatever Happened to "My Immortal"

On New Years Eve, when most people are out at parties drinking champagne, my friend Ari was giving me a full-scale performance reading of the horrible and hilarious Harry Potter fanfiction "My Immortal."  If you haven't read it, really, just look at the first few chapters (I ended after chapter four, where they "both smoked cigarettes and drugs")  and come back . . . I'll wait.

(la dee dee dum . . . Walton Goggins . . .  la dee dum)

Back?  Okay, good. 

So a couple of google searches for the infamous Tara Gilesbie turned up a twitter account and several fanpages, including links to her now-defunct myspace page (Ah, MySpace . . . for general losers, shitty bands, child molesters and cheating scumbags like my ex-stepdad.)  Whether any of these are really her is up for debate.  Whether she wrote the story as a joke or as an actual fanfiction from the deepest recesses of her black goffik Mary Sue heart, we will never know.

Oh Hi Ebony Dark'ness Dementia Raven Way
I wonder who she is and what she's doing.  Did she really slit her wrists because of all the trolls?  Did she go on to college, get her bachelors in creative writing and end up at Stonecoast MFA telling me I needed to work on my sentence structure?  Does she look back on this and find old pictures of herself in chalk makeup and Lip Service dresses and laugh her head off, or does she still turn out page after page of fanfiction, hidden away in a Mead notebook scrawled with anarchy symbols and upside-down pentagrams while My Chemical Romance blares from a stereo painted in white-out?  Does she admit that she is the one who wrote "My Immortal" and does she show it to people from time to time, pulling out the orignal notebooks with the math equations to prove it when they don't believe her?  Has she become the Tommy Wiseau of fanfiction, once so serious, now pretending it was all a joke?

Tom Servo Does Not Endorse Fanfiction
I ask this because, in my own stupid way, I was that girl.  I revile fanfiction as a rule, but if you go through my trunks you'll find tons of X-Files stories, complete with a Mary Sue named Gina and a lot of Scully hatin', all in spiral-bound Mead notebooks with Tom Servo drawn all over them.

I also have tons and tons and tons and tons and TONS of bad poetry, but I'll let you read my fanfiction before you read my poetry.  Yes, Morrissey, I wrote such bloody awful poetry.

And yes, I was a goth chick.  In my defense, I was a goth chick before it was cool, and only my finest dressed came from Hot Topic, because I was fifteen and I didn't have any money for an $80 lace dress when I could modify one from Salvation Army for $10.  My mom wouldn't let me dye my hair or wear makeup, so at least I was saved from that embarassment.  I listened to the Cure and the Smiths and Siouxsie and the Banshees, none of which were cool in Cobleskill, NY in 1998.  I watched Tim Burton movies before he was fashionable with the Claire's crowd, but, unbenownst to me and despite all this tragic hipness, I was just like every other idiot loser teenager.

The Author, Looking Goffik

I look back on those photos with a combination of embarassed laughter and envy.  Laughter because, well, I'm wearing Queen Amidala lipstick and a black lace dress with sleeves that drag when I walk.  Envy because I didn't care.  I wasn't a particuarly self-conscious girl; I didn't get hurt when people made fun of the way I dressed. I chose to dress that way, and I knew it had consequences.  I didn't care.  I miss those days.  I miss my striped tights and my long black dresses and my bad makeup.  I still have the dresses, and sometimes I put them on, but I look at myself and feel silly.  I'm not that girl anymore. Sure, I still have my Morrissey hoodie and I bought some skinny black jeans and sure, I've got a pair of striped tights that are really really warm, but I'm not Belladonna Ravenwood or whatever stupid name I probably called myself on whatever goth messageboard I frequented.  Despite what I told myself, it was a phase.  A long one, but a phase nonetheless.  I got to college, where I should have been "free" to "be myself" (already had that one covered) and was too lazy to go through the motions.  I didn't have a bus to ride, I had to hoof it to class and that's hard to do in 4-inch platform heels.  I realized myself had grown up and could move on to new fashion statements--the Tom Waits/Patti Smith/Jackie Boy inspired androgyny I went through when I lived in Brooklyn.  The Cyndi Lauper/New Wave phase I went through in grad school.  The Victoria Beckham skinny jeans and heels phase I like to pretend I'm in now (Victoria Beckam has heating oil and lives in California, so she can wear heels all the time).  Or the freedom to say, "fuck it, it's cold, I'm putting on my boyfriend's big wool sweater and I don't care."

And my writing changed, thank God.  But I look back on those with a sort of affection too.  Those were my first crime stories.  Writing those paved the way for the kind of writing that would help me make a name for myself.  Will I be sending them to Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine?  Probably not.  (Then again, they've rejected everything else I've sent them, couldn't hurt, right?) But maybe one day I will resurrect Gina, my first assassin, and make a name for her without Mulder and Scully.

Tara, wherever you are, I hope you're well.  I hope you've learned to spell.  And I hope you've learned to laugh at yourself . . . and maybe gotten some better taste in music.  If you want, I'll make you a Siouxsie mix tape.

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