You Can Pick Your Friends, But You Can't Pick Their Noses

In the middle of an embarrassing meeting yesterday morning in NYC - embarrassing because I interviewed for positions requiring heavy phoning in the midst of a trading room (my former career) and I'm almost deaf as a haddock - my cellphone vibrated galore, flashing text messages.

"Do you want to answer that?" said the kind gentlemen seated across from me. He met me fresh from college, a lifetime ago. Intermittently, over the decades, we kept in touch.

"What?" I asked.

He pointed at my cellphone. I saw several messages.

"I'll get to them later," I said.

He leant forward to make it easier for me to lip read. "Listen, all the jobs that you can do, you can't do anymore."

I'm sure you know the old saying, "Don't quit your day job!" when it comes to anything of the arts. I didn't quit, I was attritioned even though I wanted to quit. Despite book sales, I still gotta pay mortgage, insurance, food and deer repellent. And thought that re-entering the job market would help.

He added, "You're clearly disabled. Anyway, there aren't many jobs out there. Stick with the writing."

The meeting then turned into a social one. It ended with him displaying a kindness and generosity I haven't received in so long; my eyes brimmed with tears.

Afterwards, I read the text messages and was appalled. In a previous blog, "Don't Pee on my Leg and Tell Me It's Rain," I wrote about someone in my past who requested to "pick my brain." Like me, she wrote a novel and wanted to self-publish. It took me months of research on the web and in the library to accumulate this knowledge. Information freely available online, mind you.

I don't like asking favors of anyone unless I can reciprocate. It's a big issue for me. However, for every good deed someone has done for me, I try my best to repay. I may be a big-mouthed, complaining kvetch, but at least I want to leave my carbon footprint as a big-mouthed, complaining kvetch who's a woman of her word.

So, when someone asks a favor of me, esp. someone with a tenuous link to me, and declines any form of reciprocity, my natural inclination is to walk away. For then I know the true nature of that person and the relationship. It ain't a nurturing friendship, that's for sure!

It turns out that my previous blog had a lot of fall-out. Not on me, mind you, but on others. In the blog, I complained that the brain picker moved her public relations' material from her own page on FB to a group page, a page designed for a high school class to reminisce and reconnect for the upcoming reunion. Others who witnessed on FB what I complained about pretty much said the same things on that page underneath the brain picker's promotional material. Not as sarcastic as I could be, but nicely.

Quel drame! Mind you, I was in NYC contending with this damn deafness, going to other kinds of meetings and appointments while addressing texts and FB messages from several people who were upset about the developments. It was disconcerting. Most of all, it was distasteful.

Why would they be so upset about FB postings? It was personal; the people involved grew up together. It was like a family fight where mud-slinging reached a fever pitch. Indeed it did! The brain picker selected the wrong victim, one of the nicest, mildest people I ever knew and cast her in the dubious and evil role of a bully. A bully!! WTF? Are we undergoing high school antics again at our age?!

She then segued into posting it on her blog. A major distortion of all facts.

All of this would be laughable except that once again, it was ANOTHER free advertising and marketing pitch from the brain picker. At least it was on her own FB page. Although she used the FB blast message device to drive the point home. As I was in NYC and didn't know how to disable that function on my iPhone, I fumed.

At my next meeting, a social one with a best-selling author, she asked me why my cellphone was jumping around on the table.

"Oh, drama on FB." I succinctly recapped the situation in 800 words, forgoing all really cool chitchat.

"Now that my interest is piqued, let me read this damn blog," she said. "You'd think the way she's promoting it, it'll be a blockbuster," and she laughed.

Out of respect for the brain picker, I don't want to repeat what was said about her writing acumen. It's not fair to diss someone's writing when they're starting out in the profession. Hell, the best written review I ever got from a reader was the worst review I ever received!! And that review devastated me. It hurt. It stung. It made me second-guess, something I do about everything. So, I'll refrain out of deference for the profession.

One piece of advice I can dispense to the brain picker or to anyone who wants to publish: if you're going to promote, advertise and market yourself to the public, you better be prepared for pushback. Not everyone's going to embrace you or your work. That's a bitter pill to swallow.

It was also a lesson I learned a while back on FB. I didn't concur with a sophomoric, facile political statement from someone I kinda knew and wrote my opinion. (I failed to mention: I'm a big-mouthed, OPINIONATED, complaining kvetch.) An opinion that apparently didn't sit well with that person. As a free thinker, I don't follow political lines; I follow my own way. That person went wild. I eliminated my statement and thought that was enough. Well, it wasn't. That person put up posts throughout the web demanding that I make a political statement because I was an author. Hey, I may be an obscure author yet, by virtue of my profession I am a public figure.

Now I shy away from political statements, only to make comedic remarks. I developed a thick skin insofar as comments to or about me and/or my book(s), something I have to do, or else I'll go mad. Yes, I've my share of good and bad book reviews, some posted online, most emailed to me directly, others scribbled on paper tied to rocks hurled at my windows. Yet, I feel honored receiving both good and bad. It's the fact that readers spent the time from their busy lives to put down their thoughts. I respect that.

Getting back to the brain picker - if this is how she's going to react to criticism, she's got a rude awakening!!!

# # #

This is a work of fiction. Names, character, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

No comments: