The final chapter of my personal fannish history: an overview.
"I Am Insane, And You Are My Insanity."*
-:- -:- -:-
Part Three: Believing liesTell me lies, tell me sweet little lies.**
You tell lies thinking I can't see,
You can't cry 'cause you're laughing at me.***
[Spoiler alert: if you haven't read my story A View to a Kill
and you're thinking of doing so, don't read this until you have. (I'll be posting it over on my fiction LJ soon.) If you have read it and found it disturbing, you might want to skip this part, too. Because what you've read isn't the original story, it's my edit, which toned it down significantly.]
I watch Gaslight
every time it comes on, to remind myself that I didn't lose the broach, or move the painting, or take the pocket watch. I do it to remind myself that no matter how little I feel I understand reality, I am most definitely in touch with it. And that no matter how many times people act as though my being a diagnosed crazy person means I can't be trusted to look at a clock and tell the correct time, the truth of the matter is, I'm more logical and pragmatic than most of them. And if they're simultaneously being unkind to me and questioning my sanity, they probably have an agenda of their own.
There were a couple of novels I just listened to, about a cop and the female serial killer he was pursuing. Only she caught him and tortured him for days until she finally killed him--and then resuscitated him. Eventually he was rescued and she was imprisoned, but he couldn't put his life back together. She was all he could think about, and every Sunday he would go out to visit her, on the pretext that she was giving him the names of her other victims, but that wasn't why he went. He needed to see her. They had become entwined in some kind of unhealthy fleurs du mal , and even though his wife wanted him back, and his partner loved him enough to do anything for him, the healthy world couldn't sustain him. He'd become addicted to her sickness as surely as he was addicted to pain-killers.
Sometimes that's how I feel about Ioannia.
It isn't that I didn't know she was lying to me--there were things she said that were too far-fetched to be believed even if I'd wanted to, and they were nudged further to the edge of unbelievability by the lies I could prove were lies: the Christmas present she claimed to have sent, which not only never arrived, but which she didn't investigate the mysterious disappearance of. The times she'd say she was getting a phone call from someone else, only to claim the next time we talked that she hadn't spoken to that person in months, couldn't get a hold of her. She didn't bother to keep her story straight. Why should she? I wanted to believe her, and she's an expert bully. Any questions would be overridden with what a bad friend I was compared to everyone else she knew.
And it wasn't as though she actually listened to me. Hour-long, two hours-long conversations we'd have, with her telling me how she'd spent the afternoon at a neighbor's house, polishing the woman's diamonds. It made me think of a stoned Johnny Fever staring at his palm and asking, "Did you ever really get into your hand?" Or contradictory stories about her life that made her sound like a combination of Mary Sue and the heroine of The Burning Bed.
I knew she was a liar and a bully, I knew that she wasn't interested in me, and that she was trying to make me paranoid, alienate me from Starsky & Hutch
fandom (which I was dabbling in again). That last part seemed a fool's errand since I was already nicely alienated from Starsky & Hutch
fandom, but it was interesting to watch. I have no doubt she would have tried to alienate me from all of fandom, if she could have, only she didn't know the people I knew, and that made it harder. (She used to tell me about the Starsky & Hutch
people talking about me, which should have made me paranoid, but I was just bemused. None of the people she mentioned were people I knew, or at the most, had met briefly at MediaWest. I'd wonder what they could be saying about me, not knowing me either. But I didn't care.)
We wrote a story together, a Wiseguy/Starsky & Hutch
crossover called A View to a Kill.
It's conception was an IM conversation where the idea came up of Hutch going to Sonny to get help killing Gunther after Starsky's death in Sweet Revenge.
I was terribly excited about this, and we decided to write it together. I promptly went off and wrote a bunch of it, gave it a lick and a promise edit, and sent what I had off to Ioannia.
For a while, everything went all right. Ioannia wrote parts and I wrote parts. Then . . . she told me she was writing parts, but she never sent them to me. I got very confused about what I was supposed to be writing, so I stopped, waiting for her to send me her parts.
That didn't happen. And then it didn't matter, because Pat died. (I know, Pat died at the end of Part Two. But there's overlap. We started the story in March and Pat died in June.)
That was really when Ioannia stepped up her--attack? Seduction? Some kind of combination of the two? Before she had been like Glinda, floating in in her pink bubble, the disappearing, and while I wanted to spend more time with her, I was busy.
After Pat died-- Well. Ioannia assured me she was the only one who understood what I was going through, and even though it was very clear from the things she said that she had no idea what I was going through, she was the one I was talking to on a regular basis. I got lots of calls and cards the day and the day after Pat died, and then I never again heard from most of those people. I don't blame them. We weren't friends.
I wanted what she said to be true.
I was amazed to find out that I could still write, even with Pat dead. And I wanted to write something hard. (Since Pat's death, I've found I have no patience for soft stories anymore. The gentle stories with the happy or poignant endings annoy me even to think about. To comfort myself, I watch The Manchurian Candidate,
and Mildred Pierce, Gaslight
and Panic Room.
I'd rather watch terrible things happen to people. [That's not completely true. I still love The Big Chill,
and all the other movies that I've already seen, where I know the people. But I don't want to meet any new happy people.])
The hardest thing I could think of to write was the A View to a Kill,
so I took it out, asked Ioannia to send me what she had so I could piece it together, then we could finish it, or I'd finish it. Whatever.
After that we worked together smoothly. The only problem (for me) came when Ioannia sent me Frank's murder and the aftermath. Hutch had cut out Frank's tongue and skinned him alive.
Are you horrified? I was horrified. It wasn't something I would ever write, or ever want in a story with my name on it. But in all writing collaborations, the other writer always comes first with me, which is one reason I wonder if I'm a real writer. I told her it was horrifying, but I didn't tell her it was horrifying in a bad way.
We finished the story.
It was a beautiful autumn day, and I was terribly happy. We came up with a pseudonym which I could find if I looked for it, but which I don't remember right off-hand. The story was incendiary--Hutch murders two FBI agents, two heroes from Wiseguy
; he sleeps with Sonny Steelgrave; and Starsky is dead. Oh, and he dies in the end. Incendiary.
We sent it off to Flamingo for submission to one if her Dangerous
zines. I sent it. From a yahoo account made up just for that purpose. As far as I knew, there had been four people who knew about the story before I sent it out: Ioannia, my friend from Twin Peaks,
Pat, and myself. I talked to Ioannia later that day, and I was giddy about it all. She was supportive, but while I called it our story, she always called it my story. From the moment I sent it to Flamingo, in every conversation we had, she disavowed any responsibility for A View to a Kill.
When I'd correct her, say that she'd written fifty percent of it, she'd demur and insist it was all me. I think it was supposed to sound like modesty, but I was just confused, and wary.
Flamingo was very interested in the story, wanted it very much. There was a SHareCon that fall, and I went to it (and things went about as badly as they could have without me ending up dead or in prison), but at one point Flamingo asked me if I would read over a story she'd had submitted. It was a crossover with Wiseguy,
and she needed someone who knew the universe. Oh, and was it all right if it was dark? Because this thing was ultraviolet.
I had no idea how to react to this. My purpose in the pseudonym was to protect myself from the fallout I was afraid was going to come my way, and to have it judged on its own merit, with out the baggage of my name. (I'm using the first person singular here because I can't tell you what Ioannia's motives were.) I hadn't set out to deceive Flamingo, it was simply a byproduct of keeping myself safe. (I've always wanted to like Flamingo, but I've always had the feeling she was . . . impatient with me. And I did want her to read the story cold, without knowing I'd written it.)
I never heard from her about it again. The few times I talked to Ioannia where the story was brought up, she insisted it was my story, she hadn't written any of it, it was mine, mine, all mine. And like I said, it made me wary.
My "friendship" with Ioannia had ended with her telling me what a selfish, self-centered person I was because I didn't ask about her cancer every time we talked. (Did she have cancer? I have no idea. She told me she did. When she told me she'd been diagnosed, I sent her roses. But now, a few months later, I "had never acknowledged her cancer" and was self-centered because I didn't start all my conversations with her with, "How's your cancer?" I had foolishly thought that starting a conversation with "How are you?" meant the other person could answer as they chose, and that if she'd wanted to talk about her cancer, she would have. Instead she told me about various sordid encounters she'd had with a particular TV star, his personal life, and her unhealthy (her word) preoccupation with him. She also accused me of talking about her behind her back, that I "multi-tasked too much" and had sent her IMs meant for other people. Since I knew I hadn't been IMing with anybody else, I knew this was a lie. I didn't bother to defend myself. I almost never can. My first reaction to this kind of thing is to make it stop so I can go someplace safe and think about it. All she did was scream at me some more, claimed I was threatening her, and told me that no matter how badly I behaved, everyone would still love me. (I can't explain how ominous this sounded, like the sort of thing a cult leader would say to someone who was trying to escape.) Finally she said she was too busy for this and we'd talk later. I knew later wasn't ever going to come. I wrote a long rebuttal to everything she'd said, but I never did anything with it, and it's very possibly gone now, stolen with the iBook.
The story was still out there, unpublished. Eventually it was coming close to the time the zine was to be published but I hadn't heard anything about the story--not me, not me under the pseudonym. I had assumed some edits would be necessary, so I contacted Flamingo from the yahoo email. There had been a death in her family and she was running behind on the zine. But she sent it to me, with some questions.
Perfectly valid questions they were, and I fixed the parts that I'd written. But there was a problem with the ending, with the way Hutch died. I hadn't chosen his method of death, so I had no answer for this question.
I called Ioannia and got no answer. I left a message--I probably left several messages, until I got to the last message which boiled down to, "I don't know how to answer this question, so I'm just going to change the ending."
That got her attention. She called me back, and once again acted as though she had no idea what I was talking about with trying to edit "her" part of the story, because there was no "her" part of the story. It was all mine.
I was at work when she called and didn't have time for this bullshit, so I told her I'd see her online that evening.
That evening I had one of the most singularly bizarre conversations of my life. Ioannia kept insisting that "it" wasn't hers, that she'd contributed a word here and there, but that was all. So I asked her to please be specific about what "it" she was talking about. I wanted her to officially disavow all rights and responsibilities to A View to a Kill,
but she wouldn't do that. Instead she got on her paranoid horse and rode like mad, claiming I was threatening her and that I had always been like this, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Finally I told her that if she really believed she hadn't written any of the story--though by my count, she was responsible for approximately half of it--I was going to have to re-write the parts she'd written. She wanted to know why, and I told her I couldn't publish something, purporting it to be mine, when I hadn't written it. She continued to say she hadn't written any of "it" and continued to refuse to specify what "it" was.
Eventually I called April and told her the whole story, because I knew I was going to have to tell Flamingo everything that had happened, and I was very nervous and unhappy. I hate lying to people, and I felt I'd done something--I felt I'd betrayed her, betrayed her trust. Talking to April calmed me down, and I called Flamingo and told her the whole story.
Except she already knew that I'd written the story. What I remember is her telling me that she'd read part of it that I'd sent to StargalE.
Which I had never done. I'd never sent anybody anything, except Ioannia. And if I was going to send it to anybody, it wouldn't have been StargalE, who had, just a few months before Pat's death, accused me of endangering her health with my lousy housekeeping. That accusation still haunts me. We weren't even on speaking terms at that point because she was insisting I needed therapy (because it was helping her so much) and I was dubious about the usefulness of therapy, at least for me. (By the way, that's still true. I love Diane, but I'm not seeing her to try to fix myself, I'm seeing her so I have a support system when my mother dies. She's my emotional insurance policy. And it is nice having someone to talk to, and I use her as a reality check. But as a far as breakthroughs in understanding myself go, I make those here, or when I'm out walking.)
Anyway, that explained why Flamingo hadn't sent me the story to read over for her. She had assumed that I'd just wanted to use a pseudonym, and she was respecting that. I don't know if she knew I hadn't written it alone; I can't remember. I was so upset, my mind wasn't absorbing information properly.
I told her that I was going to have to make substantial edits, which seemed to displease her--she liked the story the way it was--but I told her I was not going to have a story published under "my" name that wasn't entirely my story. This was a Thursday, I remember that, and I told her I'd have the story finished by Monday.
And I did. There were a few small things that were Ioannia's that I left as they were, but by the time I was done, it was my story. I pretty much just cut the scene of Hutch killing Frank, leaving it to the reader's imagination. No skinning. No tongue being cut out. No nothing I wouldn't be proud to have in a story. I got it in on time, and with the pseudonym of Paula Alquist, Ingrid Bergman's name in Gaslight.
When I started writing this, I contacted both Flamingo and StargalE, to see if I could get some clarifications as to what exactly happened. Flamingo gave me a little information, but claims not to remember exactly what happens, and says of Ioannia, "[Ioannia's] view of the truth or of the way events happens rarely jibes with anyone else's. Hers is a fluid, creative reality. Trust your memories over anything she might tell you." Which is a nice way of saying she's a liar and not to be trusted.
StargalE has not only not answered my request that we talk, she's blocked me on AIM. (I have to confess, that makes me feel good in a mean way. I like the idea of her hiding from me, even if it's only because I'm bothersome and not because she's ashamed.) I've also sent her several emails, which she has not answered.
Of course, there's no advantage to any of them to tell me the truth anyway, so even asking the questions are just a waste of time.
I'm not trying to blame my lousy track record with friends on fandom; I had a lousy track record long before I found "organized" fandom. Friend-wise I'm attracted to control freaks and women who are either very busy or have short attention spans. The control freak thing is an attempt at finding someone who can help to organize me, and the other is distant women. I lost so much attention from my mother and grandmother and aunt, all at the same time, and I've been trying to get it back ever since. Someone like Pat, who was very much not distant, couldn't make up for that. I'm trying to win the attention of someone too busy to give it to me. This is not fandom's fault.
My point was to show that fandom isn't any different that the rest of the world. It isn't a safe haven where your own personal problems will be coddled by everyone else. It just feels that way, for several reasons.
One thing melodyclark
said in response to my first post was, Fandom is like everywhere else. The difference is that it brings tons of emotion and, in the case of erotica-laced fandoms, tons of sexual energy into the fray.
She went on to elaborate that the sexual energy is there even in gen fandoms. We're caught up in these fictional relationships that contain so much intensity, and to varying degrees we're living vicariously through them. It makes the real relationships we make just that much more intense, and therefore more painful when the nice show Starsky & Hutch
has mean fans.
Another reason is that for so long, fandom was like a speakeasy, where you had to know someone who knew someone to get in. That's changing, but until media fans are seen as as ordinary as a sewing circle, we're still going to have that feeling of drawing together in a world that doesn't understand us. The assumption there is that we understand each other--and we do. We understand that we all consider some form of media very, very important, and we become emotionally invested in the relationships of the characters.
And that's as far as I'd say any real, across the board understanding goes--and I wouldn't be surprised to find out I'm wrong about that. Some writers understand why I write, but not all of them. Some non-writers probably understand, too. Trying to create a ven diagram of fans who understand each other in one way and not in another probably wouldn't be any easier than doing the same thing for the population of the United States.
Fans are not better than other people. Fandom is not the nicest place in the world. Every time I read someone talking about how some of their fan friends have done something wonderful for them, and then saying how nice fandom is, I feel like screaming. It's not because they're fans, it's because they're your friends! And your friends are supposed to treat you well.
*James Cole**Little Lies,
Fleetwood Mac***I'm Down,