I had a really funky dream the other night. Like so super funky, I have no idea what it means or even how I feel about it. All I know is it was twisted, I mean for-real-seriously-fucked-up-what-the-hell twisted.
I don’t know how it started, but I am pretty sure it started out as a longer dream and I can only remember the ending, but this is what I remember:
I was at a writing conference – or reading conference, basically I just know it was hella crowded and there were booths on writing and different books for sale, when I came across someone I haven’t seen, spoken to, or had any other communication with for four years. Now there is a reason (okay several reasons for that). She was someone I considered a friend even though she could be hurtful and negative – this was before I took a good look at the influences in my life. I got sick, like rare autoimmune disease, chemo, multi-organ failure, terribly terminal prognosis, etc. and she stepped up acting like a cheerleader for my cause, which was just staying alive. She started a Facebook group (it took a week to persuade me) so I could update friends without worrying about privacy settings if I did so on my wall.
Within just a few days though, things got… weird. She claimed it was a group for me, and we were both moderators, but if I posted an update from the hospital she would get upset. If I invited friends to the private group instead of allowing her to go through my friend’s list she was upset. And she made my friends, friend her, in order to be eligible to join the group (which is one of the reasons I started doing it myself). People made inquiries about sending me stuff, and apparently they did – in care of her – and I never received it unless it was sent directly to me. This included money, because she was asking for money without my knowledge.
After I had my “miracle recovery” and was getting used to being in remission, I decided to start my own editing and writing services business. I was still homebound and would be for some time, and while I still had a long way to go physically, I was going absolutely crazy being homebound when my mind was functioning normally. I love books, and that is the main reason I did it. I have an English degree and then a Master’s in Creative Writing – it’s my passion. So this just made sense. And I was good at it, and so referrals and authors came in serious numbers.
I was thrilled and I told my friend how happy I was because I thought she would be happy that I was happy. But she wasn’t. She accused me or stealing her idea, because apparently she had started an LLC that focused on resumes, online copy-editing and website aesthetics. Sure, I did those things too, but I was focused on books, so I wasn’t sure why she was bothered by what I was doing. She said she wanted to do books, and I was taking her idea and stealing potential clients.
Now even then, still on low doses of chemo (because chemo-brain is seriously a thing) I knew this was wrong. I mean at least half of my friends started doing this after I did. They were friends from graduate school. I never thought they were taking my idea because it isn’t an original one. It is a way for working writers to pay the bills doing something they paid way too much money for multiple degrees to state: Hey, this is what I’m good at.
And this friend didn’t even major in English. She didn’t go to graduate school. She wasn’t a writer and didn’t even journal. So what was she so angry about? I majored in this. I went on to get a post-graduate degree specializing in this – I was a book nerd, and a real working writer. I wasn’t about apologize for something I did that was not only wrong, but the only thing keeping me sane and making me happy at the time, giving me purpose when I needed to find one, though I did say I was sorry she felt that way.
To make things less tense, I offered her a resume gig so she could get some work and I was so over-booked it was ridiculous. I figured this was what she was most passionate about, so why not. Since she was a consultant on a single gig, I figured it would be simple enough. This was the deal and this was the deadline and did she have any questions. She didn’t and she got started on the resume. She was late by 36 hours, even though it wasn’t a rush job. She had tons of excuses and I was irritated because of how it reflected on me and I was in my first year of business. But I didn’t say anything, and when I got the resume – I thought I would have another stroke. It was awful.
While in graduate school I had worked in Human Resources and I’ve also volunteered in different job centers before so I know my way around a resume. I almost considered not sending this to the client, but figured since my policy was he could request any changes for free, I would see what he thought. Well, he hated it, and he should have. But my friend refused to make any changes, defending her format, which she named after herself. That was then I found out this was the format she used for any and every resume job she did. She claimed it was universal, and it was. It did almost every single universal resume formatting no-no. And she didn’t rewrite any of the actual text.
So, I let her keep her money and did it myself. Lesson learned, I would not be doing that again. But my not sending her anyone else became an issue, so I tried one more time, but this time it was a BASIC and short copy-edit. I assumed she couldn’t argue grammar and believed she knew her grammar well enough. She didn’t end up keeping the job. Instead of actually working on it, she would just shoot me vicious emails about how she didn’t like to be told what to do (I had told her she needed to use the Chicago Style for the paper and emailed her a free resource on how to properly format citations within that style) and wouldn’t be micromanaged like she was an employee when she wasn’t (I email her two hours before the deadline because I had not heard back from her and didn’t want another late issue).
I ended up doing that job too, and this time she was not paid. And I was over it and her. The things she said in the email were just catty and terrible, but they didn’t even make sense. I mean sometimes when a person rants, you can see through the heightened emotion to some sort of trigger that can make sense. She just felt I had wronged her by starting a business and owed her for everything she did for me while I was sick. A few weeks later, is when I discovered she was collecting things for me, which I never knew about or received. I mean, even though she lived ten blocks from the hospital I was at, she didn’t visit me once. Not once.
She retaliated by turning me into some business office and stating I wasn’t reporting wages and wasn’t licensed. It made me worried I would get into trouble, even if I knew I wasn’t doing anything wrong. It’s kind of like getting called into the principal’s office and trying to figure out why. Since I was operating as a sole-prop and had not made enough (and I have only been operating just shy of six months) there was nothing to report. I was in the clear. (I already researched the sole-prop thing, no licenses or registrations were needed where I lived at the time.) I moved the next year and incorporated my business as an S-corp.
I have never spoken to her since that second chance at one of my gigs, and I have no plans to. I didn’t go around telling our mutual friends what happened because that just stirs the drama pot. I moved on. But moving on doesn’t mean I want to be around her or speak to her. So why the hell was she in my dream? I hadn’t thought of her in ages, and there isn’t any anniversary or something else to come up that might trigger it. Not that I could think of anyway. But her appearance wasn’t the only messed up thing in my dream.
In my dream, she was at a table promoting a book. I snuck a peek, but kept my distance and then I realized it was HER book! I mean this is a person who doesn’t even journal. Doesn’t like writing – WTF! I know we live in a world, where we can’t believe some of the crap that gets published while so many wonderful stories and authors go unnoticed, unpublished and unrecognized, but this… there weren’t words. And then I saw it was her second book! Her first book to her left was about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which I am totally obsessed with. Like that show was my religion. More than a show it helped get me through the bad times and stay strong.
In the dream I hid behind a column, sneaking a few more looks. Then I took a deep breath and told myself, “Come on, be the bigger person and tell her you’re happy for her. At least, it will shock the shit out of her.” And then my dream-self did. And she just gave me this mocking amused look with a little surprise mixed in, opened her mouth – and then I woke up. What the hell?
I have no idea what to make of this dream or what it could possibly mean. I haven’t thought of this person in years. I don’t harbor any resentments, I just don’t need that in my life. I haven’t felt betrayed by anyone lately, I am not worried about being betrayed. I don’t feel jealous or feel like someone is violating my territory… every rational explanation does not apply to me. So why did I dream about some terrible person who was crazy-jealous of me and accused me of taking what was hers, doing exactly that to me. And I don’t mean she isn’t allowed to write a book, only that she doesn’t like writing or have any desire to, and she doesn’t like the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (So yeah, the fact that one of her books was about the show – I am seriously like, huh?)
Dreams are crazy and I guess sometimes you can’t make sense out of them, no matter how much you try. But at least this one isn’t bugging me or making me feel anything after like how nightmares can fill you with dread and especially happy ones can fill you with longing and/or contentment. This dream was like seeing something bizarre fly by you on the street and you’re like, “What the hell?” And then a few minutes later – it’s gone. Forgotten. It just doesn’t matter anymore.