The Stories of Michelle Rodriguez


My Obsession

Posted by [email protected] on June 12, 2012 at 6:15 AM

Most of my fellow Phantom fans already know the story of my first experiences with “The Phantom of the Opera”.  That I first heard the music in a high school freshman choir class.  That I fell in love with the storyline at the same time as I was discovering my own talent for singing.  That I felt like it was my story in some bizarre, alternate universe sort of way.  That I used to act out scenes from the show in my bedroom behind locked doors complete with a Christine cloak…  OK, I hadn’t gone into that much detail perhaps.  Suffice to say, Phantom of the Opera is my obsession in life. It goes beyond just something I possess a great interest in to something that has shaped me as a person and continues to mold me to this day.


There is a very big difference between something we love and something that is an obsession. Things we love often change with time, and though they leave a lasting imprint in our lives, they lose a bit of their initial first passion.  It’s like that cliché of a couple breaking up and one person telling the other, “I love you, but I’m not in love with you anymore.”  I’ve had a lot fall into that category.


To me, an obsession is something we don’t grow out of; it grows with us.  At 14, I fell in love with a disfigured, genius musician named Erik.  A fictional character changed my life literally.  At 14, I loved the romanticized ideal of his story, and I let it construct my changing views of life and the world.  I was enamored with the basic principle of a man no one else could love and the undoubting assertion that I could be the one to love him (yes, a fictional character!)  I was utterly determined to have my hands on any and everything Phantom related.  I don’t know why in my twisted mindset owning things that embodied the characters meant so much, but I had to have every music box, ornament, doll, everything bearing a man in a mask or that could somehow be misconstrued to represent Phantom (ie. the Christine cloak, which was from some random Halloween costume!).


And what great lengths I’ve gone to in order to own such things!  There used to be a San Francisco Music Box Company store in the mall, and since I was there weekly for Chinese food Fridays with my sister, I insisted on walking by the windows to see if there were any new music boxes. A few times I was lucky enough to have funds on-hand to buy one at sight, but sometimes I had to wait and became an impatient crazy person until I could go back and get it.  One night I even made my mother drive the half hour trip back to the mall in the pouring rain because they only had one of the new Christine and Raoul “All I Ask Of You” globes left!  Yes, that was insane, but obsessions have this tendency to consume.


My obsession wasn’t just for the musical version.  I read every piece of literature ever created having to do with Phantom. At the time, I had to special order half the books because they were no longer in print…back when you had to actually go to a bookstore to do that sort of thing.  Or I printed out page after page of fanfiction online.  That was how I got started writing my own stories for Phantom.  …And the obsession grows.


The first story I wrote was as a final project in my freshman choir class and it included a girl Phantom!  It was silly and cheesy, but I did get an A+ on it, so I suppose it worked out.  But it wasn’t until college that I decided to try my hand at writing the real, canon characters and developing my first real Phantom story.  By that time, I had read dozens of other people’s stories online and was never completely satisfied.  So many included a new female character, and to me, who wholeheartedly believes in soul mates and eternal love, that concept never sat right.  Imagine any story you know picking up where it ended with one of the main characters replaced by someone new…  It just felt wrong.  I could never find enough stories that gave Erik a happy ending with Christine, which I felt was the ideal ending to the story.  So I decided to write my own.  Hence the start of my vast collection!


Obsession is writing almost 70 stories and 2 full novels about a set of established characters, throwing them into different scenarios and playing with them like I own them.  When I first started writing, I never thought there were people who would appreciate what I do or share my so-called obsession.  But two years ago I got up the nerve to post a story on the fanfiction websites online, and it changed my life.  Before that, I lived in a bubble with the things I loved.  I didn’t tell anyone (aside from those living with me who knew I had a sick infatuation!) and I kept my writing all to myself.  On the day I hit the “POST” button and submitted my first story, I popped that bubble and opened my heart and soul to the world through my writing.


Obsession is something that is carved onto our very bones.  It is something that hits you to your core and anchors inside of you, never letting go.  I’ve grown and changed since my Phantom obsession started.  I went from a daydreaming high school kid who kept fairytales always spinning in her head to a married adult who learned what love means and how to feel it and portray it in language.  My life experiences have changed my views of the Phantom story, showing me new nuances and details, helping me put myself into the characters’ heads in ways I couldn’t at 14.  I’ve grown, and instead of abandoning the story I love so much, I’ve let it change me and change with me.  And the characters have become so real that they are practically friends.  When I work on my original novels in between Phantom binges, I always have Erik and Christine to return to; I can fall back into their heads like a safe haven and build new dreams for my first love.


I would hope that everyone reading this could relate with things they have their own obsession for. Yours might not go to the extreme that mine does; I don’t fathom everyone daydreams of disfigured, masked men carrying them off to sing in an underground domain, but whatever it is, if it shapes your life and views of the world, if it has had such an impact that you could never imagine yourself as the same person without it, then it might just be an obsession.  And that is not a bad thing!


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Reply El
7:35 AM on July 12, 2012 
So, finally I have time to post the promised comment! :) When I read this blog entry of yours I found myself nodding and nodding and nodding (and smiling). Because me too, I have my obsession. It's not Phantom, actually - though I deeply, honestly love Erik. It's Darth Vader. Sounds weird? Not at all! :)
The day I watched Star Wars with my dad (I didn't even want to watch that "boring Sci-Fi-stuff" in the beginning), I was hooked. I was fascinated. I liked the story. And I wanted to know more about that cute little Anakin (it was Episode I we watched and I was eleven - so hey, I thought he was cute!)
That was back then when there were only Episodes I, IV, V and VI out there, so we continued of course with "A new Hope". And when Darth Vader came onscreen, my obsession was born. Do you know his german voice? Amazing! Deep, dark, rather cold. But in my head, it was warm. (At least when he was talking to me!) It still gives me shivers, every time I hear him speak. (And I know his lines by heart?)
I wanted to find out everything about this man! And quite a mystery he was back then! I didn't know what had happened to him, so I tried to imagine. (Never got close to "reality" though.) I re-watched all episodes, skipping the parts without him. (And his death in episode VI, because for me, he's not dead. I only saw him die once and I cried my eyes out that night. Yes, a little girl of eleven years crying for the arch villain of the galaxy. No one understood.)
I started dreaming. Thinking of background-stories. Of how he survived that fight at the Second Death Star. I went to see episode II in cinema. With my dad. I was nervous like crazy because the movie was rated PG 13 and I was only eleven! I thought they wouldn't let me in! Well, no one asked me about my age, of course. ;)
Still young enough to play, I started my "Star Wars Ranch" - I had little horse-figures representing my beloved characters. I still have them, of course, and I remember those games with a smile.
You mentioned your collection - I love it. And I understand it. Because me too, I drive through the pouring rain to get a rare Star Wars book. I count the days back to when a new book about Mylord is published. First I had all of my Star Wars stuff in a trunk, it was like a treasure for me. I did open it every night and marvel at my collection ? books, newspaper announcements about the movie coming to local theaters, figures, my Star Wars diary ?). Well, the trunk is way too small now and my collection is spread all over my place and my parents? apartment. And my car. If someone wants to do something nice to me, all they have to do is give me something about the Dark Lord.
This year I?ll be wearing my first screen-accurate Star Wars costume, as you know. That I chose a handmaiden?s costume from Episode I is no coincidence - Episode I was the beginning of my obsession.
Still, there?s one thing I don?t do. I don?t write Darth Vader.
Reply Ritika
12:00 PM on September 10, 2012 
Now here is a freakishly wonderful thing. When i first started reading your blog, it almost felt that someone had dug deep into my mind and spilled out all that i felt and had been thinking about. My imaginings and taste for all what the Erik is about and my obsession about everything phantom is just as yours. the extreme kind...i too sing out loud songs like a soprano alone or behind closed bedroom doors,i too imagine a masked angel like presence watching over me lovingly and sometimes i too believe that it can be my story as well. My obsession is all there, it started when i was 20, and its been a whole year now, and my obsession and passion for it just grows with time sometimes consuming all my thoughts. I had thought of distancing myself form it as it became my complete life and i couldnt think or do anything else but after reading your blog, I am inspired! i too now look forward to how this grows with me now! i am happy that i dont have to abandon it anymore...thank you for sharing your story!
It felt truly amazing to read it as i felt that i am reading my own story..

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