Friday, October 15, 2010

I'm a Liar, Liar...Pants on Fire.

"Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?"

Well do you?

If I'm being honest here (and how can you trust me based on this entry's title alone) the jury's still out on the God part, but as for the rest of it, that IS the standard I hold others to as a lawyer and interrogator in a court of law. Perhaps to my detriment, it is not the standard I impose upon myself amidst the court of blogging.

Should I? And do you? In all honesty (there's that promise again) I'd really love to know what my fellow bloggers and readers think and advise and practice because in truth (possibly) I've blurred the lines of fiction and non-fiction and as a result I am feeling about as gloomy as the gray areas in which I've painted for my words to inhabitant.

There is no denying (a complete falsity if I ever heard one) that one of my favorite all-time novels is One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. This American gem (says me, but maybe not them) examines the varying dimensions of truth and lies or misinformation and exaggeration far better than I ever could. In my opinion (if it were valuable, which it's not) the very bestest of literature, film and art delves into the question of untrustworthy narrators, what is truth, what is real, do we all see blue as blue or is someone else's blue really red?

No matter, in OFOTCN, the main character, a patient in an insane asylum, our narrator and possible protaginist, reports on the physical, mental and emotional torture he undergoes as a non-crazy inmate in a sadistic crazy world. He is the victim. They are the enemy.

Here in lies the rub...Is he being truthful and truly being treated so poorly and yet no one believes him because they think he is completely bonkers and completely medicated and therefore he is imagining evils and wrongs that have never occurred? OR is he completely bonkers and completely medicated and therefore he is imagining evils and wrongs that never did in fact occur? The story really wants us to know, I think, (and who care's what I think, honestly), that PERCEPTION IS REALITY. And, ultimately, even if this guy is completely wrong and in fact completely safe and well-taken care of and looked after and loved, in his eyes, in his mind, in his reality he is unhappy, angry, mistreated, afraid and alone. But does that make what he feels and what he believes and how he hurts and how he envisions the world to be any less valid? He sees what he sees, he feels what he feels, he hurts as much as he hurts. He lives a reality and an existence. And if he feels hurt and betrayed and unloved then shouldn't his feelings be acknowledged, addressed and attempted to be assuaged?

What does this have to do with me you might ask? And the fact that I'm a no good, dirty rotten scoundrel AND a liar, don't forget (which is 100% true by the way) is that I did in fact (and I got a neutral fact-checker to confirm) hurt someone recently that I cared about. By telling my version of the truth about him, which wasn't even true at all. A guy I dated pissed me off recently and I was mad at him. And I envisioned him as a cold, callous and sadistic creature who used me only to feed on me like a parasite to make him stronger while having complete disregard for the sickness and weakness that would result in my own body.

The absolute truth, and nothing but the truth, is that I'm sorry I hurt him. I'm sorry that I said things about him, true or not, fueled by misinformation or anger or the green-eyed gaze of a jealous monster. I was mad, I was angry. And I wrote words that embodied how I FELT and not necessarily exactly how things WERE. Is there a difference? Of course there is, but how should we approach this variation when we sit down to write something personal and creative?

In the blog-world, a lot of people blog to rant and rave, to vent, to digest, to self-reflect or even to shock and awe to appeal to a hungry audience. It's an online diary. And everyone, even Bridget Jones knows that diaries are full of crap. But a blog isn't like any old diary. Because its public. Even if no one knows your name. Because our blogging community is small. Smaller than you'd think. And even if we haven't met in person we have personified our language into faces that can be looked upon, liked and admired, hated and resented, remember and judged, for beauty or for ugliness.

I'm not the only blogger whose come under fire. Recently, CityGirlBlogs had a similar dilemma when a male friend of hers didn't like being the topic du jour in her much more infamous prose than mine. While he insisted he was "a private person" and didn't appreciate the recognition, she calmly explained that he had known about her blogging from the beginning, that she didn't give details to expose his identity and that she thought he supported her work. They left the conversation at an impasse with her not knowing whether she'd ever see or speak to this man again. This sounds eerily all too familiar.

What's the point of a blog if I can't write what I want and think and feel? Can I blog then if and only if it's the truth, the absolute truth, and nothing but the truth, and therefore friends and foes alike can't cry wolf or libel? Is my first mistake letting anyone in my circle of friends or family or coworkers even know that this "journal" exists? With total anonymity there is no censorship, with some publicity there comes consequences -- say only nice things that people want to hear or perish.

Ultimately, I can't defend attacks from an enemy whose war I never wanted and whose peace and friendship I always sought. And I can't pretend to be someone I'm not or limit myself or how I really feel. I can't be with a person that only dates me because I "up their value" as a person themselves and who finds me acceptable only when I do the right thing, say the right thing and act perfectly composed and witty. CityGirl's man got past this, I'm afraid mine will not. But CityGirl only ever told intimate details about this gentleman as far as I can tell and didn't disapprove or denounce him or deem him unworthy in any respect.

I can honestly tell you, dear reader, that I take some "artistic license" in my blog posts. Most of who and what I write about did in fact happen and does in fact exist in the real world. But sometimes two bad dates morph into one, sometimes my hatred of my boss or my ex-boyfriend takes on fantastic fantasy of impossibilitude that no man, real or imagined, could ever really be that bad. Haven't you ever verbally beat your ex-boyfriend to a pulp to your girls as easily as if he were a dead horse? Would you prefer if I never said hate and only said dislike? Shall I say she's vertically challenged instead of midget height? Tell me, dear reader, what you would like to hear, and I shall respond in kind. Cater to your every whim, and try to become the person, dare I say, the image, that you require me to be. After all, my name is "BOURBON TODDY." Didn't you imagine me to be a bitchy bourbon drinking drunk? Who hates the world and everyone in it? Which is in fact a fact, by the way, real and imagined.

But whoever I may be in cyberspace, I promise to thine own self to be true outside URL walls. You can rely on one thing, perceived or imagined, blog or no blog, that I am in fact flawed. (No fact checker necessary). I have a temper. I'm a drunk. I'm a poor dresser and what's worse I don't know how to do my hair and I wear little makeup. I've been fired once and peed in public twice. I have brothers and sisters who love me and brothers and sisters who don't speak to me. I have parents that I worship and parents that I avoid. I've even pushed someone out of a cab after taking their last dime. And while I can't do math to save my life, I can get you out of a speeding ticket or write you an essay on any Kafka in a jiffy, even if it costs me my license or integrity. I did drive all day in a snowstorm, during college the day before my first law school exam, to pick up three cold, stranded friends who had broken down on the side of the road far from home. I do care about you more than you'll ever care about yourself. And I will never give up on you or anyone else or any problem no matter who much it hurts or how hard it gets. I will always be honest about how I'm feeling, whether I have any right to those feelings or not. And I will never LIE to you, to your face, where it really counts. Despite appearance that I'm a jackass and an asshole and an idiot, I am smart, I am energetic, I am cheerful, and I am very considerate of strangers and aquaintances alike. I am talented, I am funny. I am a good person, worth knowing and befriending. And I will try harder than you to be your friend, even if you stare back at me saying you don't want the same. And even if I fail to win you over, I'll still know in my heart that I am worthy still- I have worth. I know that I "up people's value." Some people's value anyways, whether or not I still up yours. I'm willing to take that chance. Despite, popular belief, unlike the sometimes cramped and censored confines of the blogging community, life is not small or suffocating and there's isn't one version of reality...there's a great big world out there, with a lot of black and white and grey and people in it. And after all, after all I've said, if I've said anything at all, the only truth that really matters is --I'm only human-- And you can depend on that at least.

Cheers to that,


Susanlee said...

I didn't imagine you as a snarky bourbon swilling drunk. I find you quite charming. As for the blurry lines between truth and fiction in the blog world, for me, it's not an issue. I'm painfully honest with my readers, primarily because the blog is the place where I can bear to be honest with myself. I don't censor myself, and yes, feelings have been hurt (unintentionally) and apologies have been made. That's the risk I take in having a non-anonymous blog. The fact is though, that this is your world. Don't cater to other people. You're the one that lives in it, and so you have to hang the curtains for yourself.

Toddy said...

Susanlee, thank you for your words of wisdom. You really do always know just the right thing to say. Truly a gift my dear! I like the idea that in your blog you can be truly "honest with" yourself. That it is about yourself and not others, though I'm sure you enjoy the dialogue and community of other bloggers as well. That's how I feel. That I blog for myself but also to stretch myself, to learn and yes to be entertained and challenged and educated by others. Care to share vague details of when you've hurt someone by blogging and how it turned out? I'm not sure what colors my curtains are, but I promise they match the drapes. :-) Cheers, T.

Giant Butters said...

Yeah, I hear you on this. Being your true self on your blog can be a challenge. I censor myself all the time because I've upset friends/family, etc.
Sometimes it isn't worth it to be totally honest. Instead, I often just try to use humor or something else to mask the true emotions. I wish I had the balls to be totally honest all the time, but I think if my friends knew the insane shit that I really thought, I wouldn't have any!

City Girl said...


Thanks so much for your email and for linking to my post. It is tough to find the right balance. Your blog is *your* own outlet for personal expression and should remain as such. But, when you write about loved ones, it gets tricky.

I think that the guys I date are okay with my blog in the beginning, but that doesn't last for long. I include a lot of detail, which works for my readers, but not for the guys themselves.

There's no right or wrong, though, so if what you wrote feels right to you, it is.

C_Girl said...

Very few of my real life friends know about my blog, and none of the guys I date know. I struggle with whether or not that is fair, especially with regard to the main guy (Lieu). I try to balance between being scrupulously honest and remembering not to take cheap shots simply because I am anonymous; the veil of my anonymity is actually quite thin, and words have power.

But as my sister reminds me, it's my blog and ultimately I can say whatever I want. No truth commission will indict me. You have that same right.

Toddy said...

Giant Butters, CGirl and City Girl. Thank you all for your comments. I think its a really interesting and worthwhile topic so I appreciate you being apart of a dialogue about it. You all make valid points. Words do indeed have power and the old adage "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words may never hurt me" has never really proven true. I think its finding a balance between sharing your identity and true thoughts and being true to your audience and loved onces. As always, Cheers, T.