I wrote my first story when I was three years old. It was a classic feminist tale, one inspired by the frustration I felt while playing a Mario game on my older sister’s Gameboy. Why did I have to save Princess Peach every time? Why couldn’t Mario be the one who was kidnapped for once? So I wrote my own story, reversing the narrative. There were no damsel-in-distresses in my world: only women who beat up the antagonists with an umbrella.
I’d lock up the little rainbow Care Bear journal those stories were written in It was an artifact of a distant childhood, lost in history until high school, lost until I decided to become an archeologist and really dig deep into my personal lineage.
I went to a little arts school in Baltimore County, Maryland, where I majored in literary arts. Auditioning for the school, I thought writing was “kinda cool,” and when I got in, it only seemed natural to pick it over the two law magnet schools I’d gotten into. And, indeed, it was “kinda cool.” Our classrooms had couches, we had workshops with teenage angst poetry, there were literary feuds—it was the kind of surreal writing dream I never knew I wanted.
So I began my descent into the rabbit hole at this school. I swore off poetry until my junior and senior year, proclaiming it for hipsters and nerds, but when I actually sat down and wrote a poem, I found that I kind of liked it. It turned out I was pretty decent at it, so I continued with it. I thought of my life as a black and white film, shot with a grainy 15mm lens, before I began to take writing more seriously.
Once, I used to briefly live and study in Gyeonggi-do, South Korea. I went to Ewha Womans University in Seoul and had to commute over two hours to actually get to my classes. On the crowded 900-bus from Anyang to the outskirts of Seoul, I used to translate Emily Dickinson poems from English to Korean, and I found myself memorizing these lines, writing them in Korean on the foggy windows. It was here I learned the power of writing, as I made new bus buddies who wanted to talk about poetry to the foreign girl. Literature truly connects in a unique way, transcending international borders and linguistic barriers.
Now I go to the Fashion Institute of Technology. I study International Trade, but I never really forgot how writing made the narrative of my life bleed from black and white into color. Yeah, sure I’m a business major, but I still discover pockets of poetry in my mundane everyday routine. I read for three different literary magazines, I’ve taken workshops with Brooklyn Poets, and now I’m interning at the Sundress Academy for the Arts! As I grow older, I’m finding that this is something I want to do for the rest of my life.
Ashley Hajimirsadeghi is an undergraduate at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Her work has appeared in Into the Void, Corvid Queen, and cahoodaloodaling, among others. She attended the International Writing Program’s Summer Institute and was a Brooklyn Poets Fellow. Currently, she is trying to figure out a happy intersection between her writing, film, and photography endeavors.