Wednesday, July 20, 2005

No secret is safe

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One of the most fascinating things about life is that we really do believe that we can tell a lie and it will never come back to haunt us. Our secrets will remain in the closet with the skeletons and last decade's bad fashion choices.

Life doesn't work that way.

People are social animals. They congregate, talk, interact and gossip -- and they tell their secrets, never revealing to the confidante (except in some cases) that they are in possession of a bit of information that will eventually turn back and bite them like a loved pet biting the hand that feeds them.

Secrets are like geysers, building pressure below the surface, struggling towards the light and eventually bursting forth in a dazzling display of power and fury.

Several months ago I offered to help someone out, someone who acted and talked like they couldn't afford the services of a professional editor. I offered to help for free. After a couple false starts, the author sent me their manuscript. When I received it I unwrapped the package and began to read, marking changes in grammar and punctuation and making notes. During this time I was told I might have breast cancer. The manuscript was put aside and I struggled with letting go of close friends and the man I love in the aftermath of the news. The manuscript was the last thing on my mind for a while. I finally forced myself to finish the task, put my notes and the manuscript in a box, wrapped it up and sent it off. The author, who had been on a long vacation, came back and asked where it was. I explained I sent it back to her a couple weeks before. She said she didn't get it. I hadn't insured the package. I didn't have the funds to do so and it wasn't insured when it reached me. I didn't think it was necessary.

She said the manuscript didn't reach its destination.

I explained to the author that I had made a copy of the manuscript and would go back thru it and edit it again, recreating the notes. Petulantly, she ordered me to forget it and just throw it away. Then she asked me why I would offer to help when I had no intention of doing so. My first answer, true to form, was a glib and sarcastic remark, "Because I wanted to steal your book and sell it as my own." Then I explained about my recent personal situation but she didn't care. She wanted her manuscript. I offered again to go back through the manuscript and she again ordered me to throw it in the trash. I explained I didn't work like that and went back to work editing. She shot more flaming emails at me and I got angrier and angrier at her. She could have afforded to pay someone for editing and she could afford to pay me, but I offered to help and because the post office lost her manuscript I was being blamed, flamed and defriended. The more I thought about her attitude and her lack of interest in my life the angrier I became until I realized I could not edit her manuscript in that state. I couldn't detach her attitude and vituperative comments and actions from the words. I could not remain impartial.

I did what she asked. I threw it away.

Nothing more was said and I considered it a closed case. After all, she didn't want me to redo the work and now I couldn't because I had emotionally crossed the neutral boundary and couldn't separate her actions towards me from the work. I went on with my life and continued writing in my Live Journal blog. In the meantime I didn't know it but she was trashing me on her journal in locked friends only posts. One of the people who friended me and has been reading my journal for a long time was also a friend of hers. In fact, the friend found me through the author's Live Journal blog.

During a recent dust-up with a close friend who showed her ignorance and venom publicly on my blog the author's friend offered a real life friendship. During the course of our phone conversations she told me how she found my journal. I related the manuscript debacle and she in turn told me that she finally understood the author's cryptic comments about the editor who was planning to publish the author's book under their own name. I could not believe my sarcastic comment had been taken literally. At first I wanted to confront the author publicly and tell her she needed to retract her statements and come out with the truth, but decided against it. No sense making things worse than they already were. The friend also told me she knew the allegations were specious because who and what I am shows clearly through my writing and were even clearer when she got to know me personally.

Then the author defriended my friend because she had gotten too close to me and my friend told me about it. I wanted to confront the author again but decided against it.

Lately I have been very busy with work and trying to make enough money to survive and set up my new apartment. I came here with only what I could pack in my car and since I drive a four door mid size car there isn't much room left when most of it is taken up by computers -- and not the laptop variety. I hadn't posted on my Live Journal blog for about a week and the friend was bugging me to post something -- anything. Yesterday I did.

Starting with the beginning of my silence during the week, I laid out the most interesting events of the past week, including an oblique reference to the author. Little did I know the author, despite defriending me back in December, continues to read my journal every day -- just like the close friend who made her journal friends only to keep me from reading her posts.

(Hint: I have no interest in reading someone who spreads lies and creates drama. When I am finished with a relationship, I don't go back to it like a dog to its own vomit. I simply walk away and don't look back. I suppose it's a fear of turning out like Lot's wife.)

The author fired off an email to my friend saying she was told the friend was really not a friend and that I "...would be attacking her behind her back as soon as [the friend] told her what [she] said" and that she didn't deserve " be called all those names." My friend is understandably upset.

I had second thoughts about what I wrote on my journal, but I stick by what I write and I don't screen 99% of what I write or make them friends only posts because I believe in being honest and up front about who and what I am. I have bad days like everyone else but I don't pretend they don't happen. They're out in the public eye in plain sight. I don't do anything behind anybody's back, although it could be said that this post is just that because it is on a blog that very few people have access to or know about. Basically, I consider this a haven, a place to let go with the things that bother me or hurt me or I need to say without worrying or fearing that someone will jump down my throat because they are protrayed in less than glowing terms. Few here know about my Live Journal blog and that is the way I want to keep it. I have to have some place where I am free to cast off the negativity that falls into my lap and slaps me in the face.

What I wrote was: "Oh, and I am utterly smitten by a tall young man with a shy smile holding a diploma in a cap and gown. His picture is in the frame that came with the box of stationery a certain Kansas City, Missourian left here and who has been bugging me, despite being chastised and castigated by a prevaricating, narcissistic drama queen obsessed with baseball an LJ denizen."

Nothing I wrote was inaccurate or false. She said I was cruel to her. I wasn't. In fact, she said she needed a Zip drive and couldn't afford it so I sent her a Zip drive that I wasn't using -- for free. She returned my favor by sending me a lovely little mouse pad that looks like a Persian rug. I still use it every day and it is my favorite mouse pad. She didn't get her manuscript so that means I was cruel to her. I'm to blame for the post office not getting her manuscript, despite the fact that since I didn't have any money coming in, outside of a few small checks for book reviews, I sent her manuscript back with the money I would have spent on food. But I was cruel.

My friend called me this morning and asked if I had gotten her email with the attached note from the author. I told her I had just read it and was about to reply. I expected her to be upset with me for the post but she said she was upset about what the author wrote to her and because the author assumed she had told me more than she had. Outside of telling me about now understanding about what the author wrote about the cruel person who planned to publish her manuscript under her own name and about being defriended because she had recently gotten too close to me, the friend told me nothing else.

The next shock was still to come.

The friend told me there was a lot she hadn't told me that the author had written about me in her journal in friends only posts and intimated it wasn't good at all. More than ever I wanted to email the author and jump down her throat. I didn't. I do not want this to escalate into another Live Journal drama like the one I just went through with my one time close friend, someone I called sister.

What surprises me most is that the author obviously still reads my blog. I guess she's waiting for news of a publishing contract for a book about a visibly half elf female bartender in California who ends up in the middle of trouble and murder and all kinds of mayhem. I keep an open mind about subject material in books and I have had to really stretch my imagination on a lot of things. But I would never steal another author's writing and certainly not something like that. I prefer to write darker fiction or fiction based on fact or biographies and true stories.

In some ways this situation is my fault. If I hadn't been open about what happened between the author and I when the friend and I first spoke on the phone, none of this would have happened. I wouldn't have found out the author has libeled me, and more than likely slandered me to her real life friends, or that she is still reading my journal. I should be flattered, but flattered is not how I feel.

I don't dismiss my friends because they choose to be friends with people I neither like nor respect. That's their call. That's their friendship and not mine. I do not play follow the leader nor do I defriend someone based on their choice of friends. I can't say the same for most other people and that has been clearly proven many times over the past weeks.

I also choose to live my life in public, putting my thoughts -- good, bad and indifferent -- out in the public on the Internet in plain sight. There is nothing up my sleeve but my arm and I don't use sleight of hand with the truth. I have been bitten in tender fleshy spots before and I didn't like the experience enough to spend the rest of my life wearing iron underpants. I don't sugar coat my words or pander to anyone's ego and there are no geysers full of secrets waiting to erupt in my future. I have enough trouble dealing with the truth to worry about secrets and lies. People don't like it when you tell the truth and they like it even less when you lay it out in clear view of the rest of the world. They are too wedded to their masks and makeup.

So, if the author ever finds her way here, she will see the truth in plain black and white and she can deal with me face to face instead of locking her lies and secrets behind friends only posts instead of dealing with me personally like a mature adult. Eventually more of her friends will get curious about the cruel and evil editor who hurt her feelings.

Which brings up another point. If she didn't get the manuscript, how is it possible that I hurt her feelings and was cruel to her over her writing? I wish I had copied the notes and re-edited the book so people could read how cruel an editor I am. Outside of telling her she needed to cut to the chase and cut out the first half of her long, involved introductory history of the main character to get to the middle of the action and then work the character's history into the story -- in other words: show and not tell -- the rest was all a matter of punctuation, grammar and word choice suggestions. I guess she didn't realize she needed to work on those, too.

What it all comes down to is what a practiced prevaricating Lothario once told me. Tell one person a secret and you tell the world. He was right. Too bad people need to lie and keep secrets -- except for the kind that end in happy celebrations.

I'll shut up now.

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