Silver Linings, Tarnished Or Not

Time is weird.

I am feeling time different these days. I’m not going to say I’ve managed to climb out of this anxiety hole. Today was one of the worst. I don’t want to deal with the depression I feel creeping in. I don’t have time for that. It’s just terribly inconvenient.

I am, however, tired of writing about it. I need to step outside of it, at least for a few minutes.

Anyway, these last few weeks have blended together in such an odd way. I’m writing this on Tuesday and I already have 36 hours in at work for the week. I haven’t had a day off (or an evening) in over a week. I’m tired.

There were three things that happened recently. Three things that were odd and, even if two of them were annoying as fuck, they did serve as a distraction.

We’ll start with today.

I got to work this morning around 7:30, which is when I usually go to work. Lately, it’s been much earlier, and nice to goof off a little this morning rather than rush out the door 30 minutes after rolling out of bed.

So, I opened my email. Not my work email. My email. Fuck checking work email first.

I got an email from a woman I don’t know letting me know I had been plagiarized.

This woman was driving to work, listening to the morning show on her radio.  107.5 Frank FM in Maine. 

One of the morning DJ’s, Heidi Knight, read from a list, she acknowledged it wasn’t her list, but she didn’t cite the author. This woman who emailed me tried to find the article on the radio station’s website and couldn’t, so she did an internet search and found the article. One of my Huffington Post articles. When she read my article, she realized that not only did Heidi read my article, but her little aside funny remarks were played off as her remarks, and came right of my article. My good Samaritan tracked me down through the Huffington Post article and let me know what happened.

I swear to christ, I spent 5 minutes trying to decide if I was pissed or flattered. I mean, hell, I’m funny enough to be on a morning show?

In the end, I decided I was slightly more pissed than flattered. It’s just not cool to lift someone else’s work. The woman who emailed me said Heidi told the story of having breakfast while looking like shit and sitting next to women all wearing infinity scarves as if she had experienced that event herself.

What the fuck? That’s my actual life. My life. It’s unnerving and goddamn annoying that someone else tried to pretend my life was theirs.

My life has been difficult and it’s a goddamn tire fire right now, but it’s my life. Mine. And the other thing that pisses me off is The Huffington Post doesn’t pay. I didn’t make a dime from that article, but I’m pretty fucking sure Heidi got paid for her day of work. Where she lifted my words and assumed my life. For money.

So, I sent an email through the station’s contact page, sent a Facebook message, and tweeted at them.

They responded on Facebook messenger. They let me know that Heidi used some of her own words and they were posting my article on their site giving me ALL the credit. I have no idea why he capitalized the word “all”. Why wouldn’t I get all the credit? I fucking wrote it. Then, he said to keep up the great work!!

I responded that giving me ALL the credit was certainly the least they could do. I also pointed out that most consumers of their product probably were LISTENING on the radio, not READING their site.

He didn’t respond again.

I’m kind of bummed, I wanted to take my frustration out on someone.

Which nearly happened on Sunday afternoon.

I had to go to work Sunday afternoon for a software upgrade. So many things had already gone wrong that it was getting comical. By comical, I mean gut-wrenching. 

It was raining and I got on the entrance ramp to the freeway. There was a car in front of me and one behind me. The car in front of me was moving a little slow, but traffic was already slow anyway. The car behind me, this sleek, white BMW started flashing their lights at me.

I checked first to make sure my lights were on. I thought maybe they were telling me my lights were off, which would be weird coming from someone behind me rather than driving toward me, but still. Maybe.

My lights were on. All the way down the ramp, they kept flashing their high beams at me.

I was already stressed as fuck, tired as fuck, and my night was just starting. The light thing was starting to freak me the fuck out.

Is my car on fire?

Am I dragging a child behind me?

Have they mistaken me for one of America’s most wanted? 

The BMW stayed behind me and kept flashing their lights, so I got off the next exit because, by then, I was pretty sure my car was about to explode.

The light at the top of the ramp had just turned red, so I put my car in park and got out. There was an old man in the passenger side of the BMW and old woman driving. She looked to be somewhere between 70 and 80. She rolled her window down.

Me: What’s wrong? Why are you doing that?

Old lady: You are driving TOO SLOW.

Oh my fucking god, are you kidding me? Does she know who she is dealing with? I am so stressed out that I actually googled “symptoms of a nervous breakdown”. (no worries, I only had 7 out of the 10 symptoms) For all that is fucking holy, I have never in my life wanted to beat an old woman before. 

Me: You do realize I can only drive as fast as the car in front of me.

She flipped her hands at me in a dismissive way and I got back in my car because the light was about to change.

I considered sitting through the light, but I didn’t. I had to get to work.

I drove the rest of the drive to work alternating between “what the fucking fuck was that?”, relief that I wasn’t on fire or dragging a body and super glad the terribly violent thoughts were subsiding. I’m really not a violent person at all. It’s disturbing to really, truly want to hit someone.

The third thing was not upsetting at all, it was a lovely experience.

I got an email last week from a woman who is helping an author research a book she’s writing about patterns we learn as humans and getting stuck in a pattern of bad decision making. She found me through one of the articles I’ve written about being married multiple times and asked if I would agree to being interviewed.

She lives in London, or at least I assume she does. She lives somewhere in England. She used to work for the BBC, but now does freelance work.

It was such a fun interview and after we finished, we stayed on the phone and talked a while longer.

I am pretty sure we could have talked for hours. We had so many similar feelings and experiences and it felt good to speak with someone and feel connected in no time.

We both agreed that it felt wonderful to make a new friend who can make no demands, at all, since we live thousands of miles apart. I love email friends. I love our non-electronic friends that sounds dirtier than I meant, but I have never been one to have a huge circle of friends. I find that exhausting. But email friends? Hell yeah, that is the shit.

Even if they don’t use me in the book, it was completely worth it just to have our chat.

I got interrupted in the middle of writing this for…wait for it…wait….wait. YES! A work issue. 

I can’t wait for this to pass. I can’t wait to get my life back. In the meantime, I will continue to search for the silver linings. Even the tarnished ones.

Edited to add: It is Wednesday now. I sent the station manager at the radio station a Facebook message saying that I didn’t see my article anywhere on their site. He said that they discussed it on air this morning and gave me credit for my work and directed their listeners on where to find more of my work. I guess at this point that is all they can do. Well, they could have offered an actual apology. He apologized by saying “I’m really sorry you were upset” which is a not-apology. “I’m really sorry we ripped you off” would have been an actual apology. 

Add your comments below. Profanity is encouraged, but not required. ;)
  1. It’s cool that someone cared enough to let you know about that radio station stealing your material. (Let’s face it… that’s what it was.) I know how you feel. I used to hold a statewide position here in GA in which I wrote a lengthy information-packed newsletter for amateur radio operators and emergency responders every month. Another guy got a job for a magazine, in which he was supposed to provide information about the happenings in our state regarding amateur radio every month. He asked me if he could use some of the info I’d already amassed, and I said sure. Stupid me. I had no idea he was going to use my stuff word-for-word and claim it as his own. When I decided not to seek re-election, he left his job at the magazine. Coincidence? I think not!

    I stay quiet most of the time, but I LOVE your blog. You’re honest and real, and you can make me laugh out loud… even through my tears. Thank you.

    • Michelle says:

      Thank you for your kind words, I need all I can get right now. I am exhausted and feel like I am hanging by a thread.

      And no, I don’t think that was a coincidence. I had a similar (MUCH smaller scale) thing happen. Someone loved a post I wrote and asked if she could do a similar post and reference mine. She did. She changed a FEW words and basically copied my post…I thought…yeah, that isn’t what I was giving you permission to do.

      I know a LOT of sites have shared my work without permission because I occasionally find my articles, but they at least credit me.

      • Sherri says:

        So I’m the snitch who reported them to you in the first place. As I mentioned, I have a pet peeve about plagiarism, but you are right, it’s super creepy that she was talking about your life as if it were hers.

        And someone needs to give Frank FM a lesson in what plagiarism IS. Changing a few words doesn’t make it not-stealing, especially when you are claiming someone else’s work as your own. And yes, they do a lot of top 10 lists on that show. So now I have to wonder how many times they’ve not only stolen the list, but the stories and thoughts that go with them.

        It’s beyond laziness. I mean, seriously. How hard is it to have your own opinion about a top 10 list?


        And please keep in mind, I’m from Maine too. Actually, I’m more from Maine than Heidi is, since I’m pretty sure she’s a transplant. Don’t judge us all by her 🙂

        • Michelle says:

          I don’t know that you deserve the “snitch” title. I really appreciate you letting me know! And I certainly wouldn’t judge everyone in Maine because of this. I dole out judgement case by case. Unless the person is a Nazi. Fuck all Nazis. Haha

  2. Cecilia says:

    Imagine if her entire career is based on ripping off other people wittier than her. It could be.

    P.S. In my fantasy you stayed stopped at the light.

    • Michelle says:

      I know! It could be, this woman who emailed me said they do “lists” all the time. Assholes.

      I really did want to make her wait through the light, but I was so stressed out about getting to work that I let it go.

  3. You know what’s fantastic about the internet? You can share your thoughts, your writing, and your art with the entire world. Or at least anyone with an internet connection. You know what sucks about the internet? Any asshole, even ones without an internet connection, can rip off your thoughts, your writing, and your art. And that has consequences. If Mozart had gotten paid what he was owed for performances of his work he’d still be alive today. Sure, he’d be 261 and yelling at Paul McCartney to get off his lawn, but the important thing is something something respect.
    Still, you know what they say: imitation is is the sincerest form of flatulence. I think that pretty well sums up people farting around on the radio.

  4. Pia says:

    I’m sorry Michelle. I understand the feeling of “am I chopped liver?”

    As I’ve had work lifted into books—my name was put in but nobody told me, paid me or said where I could be found. I found out that as long as it’s X amount of words and the book’s Y amount of words it’s perfectly legal and it frigging sucks.

    Worse–I’ve read things and thought: “this sounds very familiar. I know it.” Then I’ve looked at my writing and it was with some words changed. Nothing I could prove as just enough words were changed but I’m a sorta unique thinker with my own style and….

    • Michelle says:

      So so frustrating. I also have my own way of thinking and presenting things and can recognize myself pretty quick. This isn’t the first time it happened, I just felt really creepy about her telling stories about MY life as if it were hers. Fuck that.

  5. Michelle, you poor really have been having a bunch of shit lately…hope this is the end of it and you start a new path of wonderful things coming your way. Why do the bad things come in bunches…and the good things are few and far between…hugs to you my friend..keep looking for the “good”….

    • Michelle says:

      Thank you. I am so looking forward to a new path. I just have to make it happen and I have no idea what to do. I feel paralyzed when I think of doing something else.

  6. Sue says:

    The honking baffles me. I’ve had that happen before. What am I supposed to do – pass the honk forward, run over the car in front of me? The dismissive wave would have pissed me off greatly. The lack of apology for the plagiarism makes me think they do it all the time and just hope not to get caught. Scumbags. I’m sorry you are having such a hard time.

  7. Mary K says:

    When I read the part about the woman blinking her lights at you I immediately flashed on the meme that says something like, “Someone honked at me to get me out of my parking space faster. Now we have to sit here till one of us is dead.” Good for you for getting out of the car and confronting her. I never would have had the nerve!

  8. Lisa K says:

    Oh… Sweets.
    You are such a better person/woman/human than me.
    I would have caused a big ol’ traffic jam. Old biddy… I’ll bet her old ass husband was just dying… but he knew better than to redirect her anger towards him… not his first rodeo 🙁

    Someone stealing your work has definitely got some flattering feelings, but, all in all, not cool on their part and that’s why we have rules… which they DID NOT follow and a real apology would have taken 90% of your fury and screwed over feelings away so you could enjoy the good feelings of being recognized and having your work rewarded.
    How WERE they gonna react to people commenting on ‘Heidi’s’ story???
    You do sound different.. a little more ‘up.’ (For lack of a better word) I hope/think/feel you are working the other side of the mountain and your brain is catching up with the ‘aaahhhhh.’
    I’m stuck at home again this week, so I have a grace period from stupidity in the world, and it is wonderful. Maybe not the reason I’m stuck at home, but the ‘sshhhh’ is very nice.

    • Michelle says:

      I am not up at all. It’s gotten progressively worse, but I am a bit more numb. I just want my life back because working from dawn til dusk is killing me.

  9. Shani says:

    Awesome things first—I’m glad you were able to connect with someone! That’s always great.

    As for radio liar my hope is that the woman is ostracized from media life because that’s straight up bullshit. I’m glad someone tracked you down and let you know what happened!

    You’re nicer to that old lady than I would have been. Especially if I got out of the car in the rain.

    Eventually you have to take time from work. I learned that the hard way and then I was just handed a reminder recently. So I took the first weekend I had off in literally months. And I’m trying to stop working from home (though I do still work on the way to work and home). I’m still an emotional mess and stressed out but I’m a stressed out mess who now shuts her work computer off sometimes. Progress? Maybe?

    • Michelle says:

      Yeah, it has become such a habit that I am stressed as fuck if I DON’T have my laptop on at home. I am NOT turning it tonight. I am nearly positive of that. Probably.

  10. Deborah says:

    Get the name of the station. We will share it on social media, with the intent that all friends CALL that station and tell them they heard they were stealing work and passing it off as their own on the air. Tell them to say unless they post links to your site on their webpage and issue and ON AIR APOLOGY, we’ll call their sponsors. It’d be fun to see what they do next.

    Here’s the thing – I was a morning show DJ. I had to be up at the butt crack of dawn to get to the station and put together the show, including assembling the news feeds (it was a small, but popular station in MI). I wrote my break material the night before, or at the station in the morning, if the news had something tasty. I had a morning show partner who would literally just show up and open his mic. There was no time to review material, and if he didn’t like what I wrote, he would just not turn my mic on ( we were in opposite studios and could see each other through glass, but he had the controls). I fucking HATE that kind of lazy-ass performer. That morning show host was too fucking lazy to write her own shit and cribbed yours. She should be made to feel just as uncomfortable as you did when you found out she did it. That can be arranged.

  11. AmberLynn says:

    That radio station is like Walmart. They screwed me over once, didn’t apologize, didn’t offer any kind of compensation for their faults….and still failed to change. I am sorry! Hope life turns around this week…. you’re over the hump now!

  12. Doug in Oakland says:

    Damn, Michelle, I want to warn you about what can happen if you work too many stressful hours in a row, like I did, but I don’t want to stress you out by doing so.
    So, instead, I’m gonna do this:
    Please try to take care of yourself as much as possible under the circumstances; even little things can make a big difference.
    And if you have to be ripped off by assholes, it’s still kinda cool that someone knew your work and liked it enough to recognize it and tell you what was going on.
    How’s that for an optimistic take on your situation?
    Oh, and let me dig out my Irish for a minute and say may you be feeling much, much, better very, very soon.

    • Michelle says:

      I’m going to take a guess that is what brought about your stroke. No worries, my friend, you don’t stress me out. I do feel like I’m breaking down a little, but I’m okay. I just woke up from a 2 hour nap and I only worked 7.5 hours today. I’m not working tonight or tomorrow night. Randy and are going to see the Flaming Groovies tomorrow and my big man is super excited about it.

  13. I’ve had weeks like that. It will pass. It may pass like giving birth to a 12 pound baby on the side of the road during a firestorm with Godzilla screaming in the distance….but it will pass. The interview sounds fun. I recently had an experience where I talked with someone who had a similar traumatic experience in her teen years and there is something so validating about that. Take care of you. XOXO

  14. Paula says:

    Ok, I am going to reframe this bitch that plagiarized your post. (Sorry in advance to you Mainers, I have a mission here.) First of all she is on a radio station in Maine, fucking Maine. That’s what I have always aspired to do is be on the morning show in Maine. My daughter-in-law is from Maine. Her parents are a little different so I know some of what I speak.
    Second, my son says people who drive BMW’s have paid so much for them, they think they own the road. I have actually seen evidence of this first hand.
    Third, said son is in IT. When they have projects going, he has had geniuses that design something and not test it. Of course it craps out when they go live.
    The good thing is the email friend. I like those, too. I, like you, don’t have time for friends. Email friends are the best.

    • Michelle says:

      I absolutely CHERISH my real life friends, they are more family than friends. I just don’t have MANY real life friends because I only have so much emotional energy for physical interaction. I can rock the shit out of a lot of internet friends. Like here. I LOVE talking to you guys, it makes me happy.

  15. Julie says:

    I’ve been waiting at least 15 minutes in a line at the dry cleaner! The dry cleaner! You’d think customers were having gowns and tuxes custom tailors to meet with the queen of England!! Anyway, you’re description of the car fiasco made me laugh out loud in line. I got quizzical stares. Don’t care. Thank you, once again, for brightening up my day and making me LAUGH!
    p.s. I am still waiting…..

    • Michelle says:

      Dear god. I came home from work and took a 2 hour nap. That is quite literally the first time I have taken a nap years. I can’t even remember the last one. I hope, more than anything, you got your dry cleaning by now. haha

  16. “Discussed it on-air” is code for “Even though Huffington Post are too cheap to pay their writers, they are still a huge company and our legal department doesn’t want us to get sued for copyright infringement, so we needed to make a substantial correction.” Also, when someone says, “I’m sorry you were upset,” to me, I respond with, “I’m sorry you’re such an asshole (or something more specific regarding HOW they upset me).” Because it’s literally the same thing.

    Sorry about the shitty stuff, but FUCK YEA NEW EMAIL FRIEND!

    • Michelle says:

      Exactly!! I hate not apologies. And yes, new email friends are awesome. Today was better. Maybe the issues will start slowing down. I don’t expect to have things calm down until after the first of the year.

  17. Maria P says:

    “relief that I wasn’t on fire or dragging a body…” I lol’d.
    Once my husband was driving and this woman driving beside us started screaming and gesticulating at him through her window,
    while driving (on the highway) . We were puzzled. He truly had done nothing. So we just had to laugh. WTF

  18. emelle says:

    I’m glad you at least found some silver linings. Hopefully, you are creeping out of the hole, what with that two-hour nap you had!

    I had to call out sick to work today. Hate that shit. I sure hope my stomach stops doing cartwheels before I tuck in for the night (even though I’ve been in bed LITERALLY all day). My silver lining? I haven’t been hungry enough to eat anything today (yes, trust me, that is a good thing).

  19. mydangblog says:

    Plagiarism sucks. I used to have a follower who would post the exact same topic as me a couple of days after every time I uploaded. It wasn’t exactly plagiarism but it was still annoying. I really admire the fact that you confronted the idiot tailgating you. I can never understand those people–my attitude is go around me if you don’t like my speed!

    • Michelle says:

      Exactly! And it’s hilarious because if anything, I need to slow down. I just understand that two cars can’t occupy the same space at the same time and therefore couldn’t go faster than the car in front of me. People are so weird.