Last year at Christmas I spent a week with my fiance’s family. It was, to put it lightly, a trying time. Not because his family is horrible, but because they were anxious to get to know me and spend time with me, and I come with my own cocktail of neuroses and personal space issues which makes that difficult for everyone involved. Today I discovered that someone at another blog copied my writing about that week and changed a few details to make it sound like they’d spent a week with Johnny Depp’s family. Not an excerpt, no credit given to me, just blatantly lifted and claimed as their own.
I find it challenging to convey how disgusted I am. I’m absolutely sick over this. I make no money whatsoever from this blog. I accept no ads, I run no sponsored posts, I take no free products in exchange for glowing reviews, I have no affiliate links, and I don’t have a wishlist or a donate button. My good friend Greg is kind enough to host the site for me, so my only costs are the domain name and the time and effort I choose to invest…but I make nothing from it. Why do I invest my time, effort, and money? For several reasons: to improve my writing skills, to entertain, and, most importantly, to remember the things I’ve done.
I love to entertain through stories, silly pictures, and videos. I’ve been doing so online since 2004. I love it when someone takes the time to comment and tell me that I’ve made them laugh, or smile, or retch a little. I won’t cure cancer or put a rocket on the moon, but I do have my voice. In its own way, it’s a compliment that someone enjoyed my work so much that they wished they had written it…but it’s another thing entirely to take it and put their name on it, to steal my voice.
What makes this theft particularly vulgar to me is that it’s not just a joke they took, but my lived experience. It’s not just a funny story to me; it’s a difficult experience that I turned into a funny story and is thus a much deeper part of me than just a simple joke. To have someone else claim credit for the story without having lived through it makes me feel deeply ill.
In the past, I’ve thought it was a little ridiculous and self-involved to post a copyright notice on my blog, as if there was anything here that was worthy of being copied…but I included one nonetheless in the footer. I’m obviously not writing here for money, but I do want the credit for the things I’ve said, and I will not stand for someone else taking it. Not when I lived it. Not when I wrote it. My work, though published online for free, is not a free-for-all, and is not free of copyright. Before today, I wouldn’t have thought it would ever be necessary to state that outright.
*Update: Since this was published, the referenced post has been removed.
Since we’re not traveling anywhere for Christmas, this year we can put up decorations and not have it seem like a waste of time because we won’t be around to enjoy them.
We also bought a full size tree, so the mini tree has been relegated to the Lovecraftian Horror Dining Room. It was initially called the Eldritch Tree, but I’ve taken to calling it the “My Intellectual Property” tree.
In the living room, we’ve got more twinkle lights than a college dorm room and a barn wedding combined. Instead of topping our tree with a traditional (boring) angel, we went for a dinosaur.
Hark! A bright star in the east! …or a meteor come to destroy life as you know it, dino. One or the other.
There are a few schools of thought when it comes to tree decoration. One is to build ornament collections slowly over the years, amassing ones that are particularly cool or meaningful. Another is to have a tree that fits a strict theme. Still another is to buy as much crap as you can, as quickly as possible. My family always had two trees–one in the family room where the crappy children’s ornaments were hung, and a Victorian themed one in the living room that no one other than my mother was allowed to touch. (The whole room was pretty hands-off in general: white couch, stiff furniture, delicate antiques, a piano that I was supposed to play but never felt like playing until late night when no one else wanted me to play…the only time anyone ever really spent any time in that room at all was at Christmas when we exchanged family gifts and were cautioned to stay as far away from the tree as possible. Gifts from Santa arrived under the children’s tree so my mom wouldn’t have to worry about my brother shattering any glass angels in his present-induced frenzy.) I’ve got my Cthulhu themed tree, and I was hoping with the large tree to build up ornaments over time, but Jason’s mom clearly subscribes to the third method as a huge bag of ornaments I never would’ve chosen showed up on our doorstep last week. In an act of passive aggression (I’m a true Pacific Northwesterner now!), I altered one to be more us:
For the season, our T-Rex is known as “Santa Jaws”. We’ve got kind of a festive dino thing going on this year.
Actually, scratch that: we’ve got a festive reptile thing going on this year. Introducing Gibralter:
I saw him at an awesome Seattle shop, The Belfry, and when I saw his joyful smile, I knew I couldn’t leave him behind. So many taxidermied animals look blank or sad…but not Gibralter! His constant upbeat attitude is an inspiration to us all. “Did you just fart? GREAT!” “Oh boy, I can’t wait to handle raw chicken!” “Thank you so much for coming to my door and waking me up to share your faith with me!” “When you won’t swallow your pill and I have to wrestle you like an alligator, force open your jaws, and shove it down your throat….that’s my FAVORITE!” and my personal favorite “This meal is wonderful and I have no complaints about it whatsoever!” when in reality it could probably be used to spackle a fist-size hole and tastes that way, too.
In the spirit of Gibralter, Merry Cthulhumas, and in his path of destruction, may you be eaten first.