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X: Do you want to support people in the Appalachians?

Beck: I don’t have a bank account sorry!

(immediately uses credit card to buy an overpriced coffee)

X: I thought you didn’t have a bank account.

Beck: It’s my mom’s card, thanks for calling me out.

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X: Do you want …

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beck

Covet Thy Facebook Friend

Am the only one who feels like the karma police when it comes to people who have wronged me? You know, like, “You made me feel awkward at a party once! So it’s not fair that you graduated summa cum laude!” or some variation on the theme.

I recently found out that this huge bitch I went to school with is… doing, well, all in all, some pretty unremarkable things, but I was nonetheless jealous when I fell for the obvious click-bait on her Facebook status and started reading her shitty blogspot. And like, yeah, okay, I “own” that I’m currently complaining on a shitty WordPress but at least I have no illusions about it. You know what I mean? Some people make blogger accounts and because they have a purchased theme they think they’re the next Emily Gould. Or whoever. Here’s a head’s up: You’re not. None of us are.

Anyway, let me break it down for you:

(1) She works two ordinary entry level part time jobs…and this is after a year or more of full time work. She described one of these jobs as ‘cushy.’  Like the creep that I am, I immediately glassdoored the salary and found out that it’s barely a step up from your standard, non-finance, non-consulting entry level salary. It’s ‘cushy’ compared to being a cashier at Target or I guess, her old job, which was as an underpaid personal assistant with no benefits, including no health insurance, which I believe she was legally entitled to but refused to ask for because it would ‘piss her already pissed boss off.’  The other job is ostensibly in the film industry and, if I recall correctly, is not only part time but also temporary.

(2) In this post she describes wanting to save up for the forms she needs to get an EU passport. I have an EU passport and am, through a technicality, entitled to another one. I have no reason to be jealous as it affords her absolutely nothing that I don’t already have access to (in spades!), but I have never been so insulted by a notion in my life. I immediately think like, “How dare you?” How dare you claim citizenship in a country that is absolutely not your own, a country you’ve been claiming you’re “from” since I met you, a country that you’re not only categorically not from, but that my parent is from? (And sadly, the extension to that is: how dare you speak the language, when I own property there and can barely muster a ‘hello’? Uh.)

(3) The other thing she wants to save up for are two trips, one to a place I’m going in a month and a half on my parents’ dime, and one to a place I lived in for three months…on my dime, but I got that dime from a trust fund.

When I write it all out, I guess the problem is abundantly clear and has less to do with me playing “karma police,” and is more…well, a more personal struggle. Sure, it’s plain, even unwarranted, jealousy, but it also comes from a place of fear. Fear that her dreams will come to fruition when mine…are…taking detours. If we take this all a step further, in a perfect universe, here’s what I’m envision and it’s probably what she envisions too:

A girl who has stable work and connections in the entertainment industry, who has the right to live and work abroad and no one—not her husband, not her mother—is stopping her. She has no baggage to weigh her down. A girl with a lot of potential to be powerful and successful. A girl who’s worldly, who’s well-traveled, who’s cultured in that way only a European or expat can be and who, if she’s not one herself, hobnobs with the rich and famous. A girl who hates me, to boot.

And then there are tangential images of rich men exposing her to things that I’ll only see in my wildest dreams and her, at thirty, flirty, thriving and tits perkier than ever, marrying the German equivalent of Prince Harry or like, the next Steve Jobs. Who’s also European. And in both scenarios they’re incredibly handsome. Jeremy Meeks handsome. But like, if Jeremy Meeks was a French rockstar.

The assumption is, of course, is that I wind up an utter failure. I guess that’s my insecurity and at the end of the day…my cross to bear—not hers.

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beck

The thing about stealing other people’s writing.

When it comes to the repercussions of my actions (particularly by way of sending people Facebook messages and anticipating a response, ‘liking’ posts on various social media platforms, messaging artists via Etsy about purchasing their work, etc.), I get so anxious that I’m convinced I’m going to pass out, or worse, shit myself. Luckily, the latter hasn’t happened—but the first has and more than once. I’m a nervous person and probably should be on some cocktail of anti-anxiety meds and anti-depressants, but I’m on neither, and thus exist in this space where I’m so afraid of my own digital shadow that there are somatic consequences. The problem with me is that this anxiety doesn’t make me a passive actor: no, I’m not afraid of the cause, just the effect.

So you could imagine the dilemma that arose when an ex-friend, one I had a messy enough falling out with to warrant her never speaking to me again, referenced an in-joke from a manuscript I’d been working on since 2011 on her Tumblr. Is she going to steal my work or is she just… reminiscing? She’d been among the most supportive during the bulk of my writing process, what would have become inside jokes with myself became inside jokes with her, and she even contributed her own character to the rich universe I’d created: the protagonist’s boyfriend. It was perfectly possible that, well, it was less about me and more about the role she herself had played. But still. This was no good.

She wasn’t referencing her own work–not the character she’d written–but mine.

The first thing I did was research copyright laws. The manuscript in question was my thesis, there was robust enough a virtual footprint that I could prove to anyone who asked that this was, indeed, my intellectual property, but would that hold up in a court? Did it matter my professor had seen me through writing and re-writing this for the greater part of six months? Luckily for me,  all signs ultimately pointed to yes. And then, for good measure, I manically submitted excerpts to any lit mag I could find, as well as posted them to my online professional portfolio (which naturally counts for shit, but you know, paper trails, etc).

The second thing I did was ask everyone I know for advice. Should I threaten to kill myself to prove that I’m the conductor of the train to crazy town and that I’ll stop at nothing to protect my art? Should I say something less…batshit insane, but still scary enough to put the kibosh on any novel-stealing-plans she had? The consensus was either ignore it or give it a subtle nod, an “I saw that,” but nothing incendiary. So I ‘liked’ it, reblogged it with a counter-joke and now I wait, on the edge of my seat, hoping to god she doesn’t acknowledge me or that I don’t wake up with a confrontational text/email.

The thing that’s really ridiculous about all this, besides the glaring issue of me being a self-obsessed shitbag, is that I’m pretty well entrenched in writing communities. I have a 4-year degree in writing. Playwrights, screenwriters, novelists, poets, journalists—I run the gamut on writerly friends and at all levels of success. I’ve worked (and extensively) in almost all areas of the publishing industry.

The theme that’s common enough is that successful writing is, as my favorite professor once put it, “magical thinking.” Good writing is difficult to sell, in any capacity, let alone poorly edited theses. The paranoia is, all together, unwarranted and after all, I wasn’t exactly writing One Direction fan fiction. And better yet: the girl in question is too lazy to write her own material, material I know she’s passionate about and has dedicated multiple therapy sessions to.

The entire premise is preposterous no matter how you slice it.

If anything, I should be a little taken aback that she’s clinging to jokes from a dead friendship (or sharing them with other people).  I probably shouldn’t even be lurking on her blog in the first place. Hell, maybe it was bait to confirm I was snooping. Because I do. Multiple times a day. And I know that she has an analytics app installed and keeps an eye on her visitors.

I mean, who else is visiting her site from Buttfuck Nowhere, New England at 3am with no referring link? 😦

Line, hook and sinker, I guess.

–Beck

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