#‎AGDoCGotY
American Girl, keep giving us Dolls of Color for Girls of the Year.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Why I'm An Outsider: Part Eight: Summer Chaos in AG > 18 and Persona Non Grata, or How I Got Banned (Temporarily) From A Goddamn Community I Started

Felicity in a flower garden. I need all the floofy pictures for this one.
Good lord it's almost October. Where did my month go? Oh, right. Seasonal Affected Depression. Or something like that. Fall comes on and I get moody and sad like a punk. Pbbbth. Well, that should be the best time to pull this painful tooth of my time in the AG fandom in the late 2000s, right? Right.

I've been trying to do my posts in chronological order, which is why this one has been hard to get to. Which is probably why I've been putting it off forever, even though I wrote about it once before. But not in a huge public format like this. But I can't get to the garbage that happened to me on AGPT if I don't get through the garbage that happened to me by my then-best friend in the fandom. I honestly thought it had happened after my AGPT shit, but when I started to dig through the archeological mess that is my recordings, I found out that no, this happened first. Fun. Welp, can't have my arsenic til I have my strychnine.

So, the setup, for those new to the Outsider Series who will later go back and read the other seven posts.1 By summer 2007, there were two major American Girl groups to participate in, not including flittering  message boards which were the way tweens and teens begged for fandom attention before bokeh pictures with song lyrics on Instagram. The first major gathering of AG fans--called, appropriately enough, AG Fans MB--was slowly dying after restricting everyone from the group that didn't fit into their doorways, because you can't live when you close your communities to a small faction. But I was beyond them for the most part. I was part of two major AG fandom communities. AG Playthings was the big, open forum gathering, like the main hallways of a high school. AG >18, which had been started in summer 2006, was the back woods near the school where we smoked, drank, talked shit, and shipped queerly. They worked in balance with each other: AGPT was the public place found when searching for American Girl collectors,2 and AG >18 was sort of an open secret place where you could talk some shit and not get hit. I'd started it with my then best friend, PNG, whose name--online or otherwise--I don't use. AG > 18 was doing pretty good at that time. That April, we'd installed two new mods: Bean and Colette. This took the modship of AG >18 to a grand total of four, including me and PNG. We were a self-running community, so we didn't need huge amounts of moderating. At most we were just semi-public figures, who if some one needed some business taken care of beyond public work, we did it. But we were all friends of varying levels, and PNG was my closest friend. To the point she had my address and even my phone number. She complimented my sewing. She praised my Fel-Beth shipping--I was even writing fic.

So that's why it hurt like a motherfucker when, in the summer of 2007, she stabbed me in the motherfucking back.

Prologue: Not Such a Sweet Baby Face
Part One: Finding AG Fans, or How Periods are Bad For Children
Part Two: There's Fundies in My Fandom
Part Three: The Wicked Witch of Customizing and the Birth of AG > 18
Part Four: Halloween is for Jesus, or How Otters Offended a Nation
Part Five: The AG Fans Revamp: No Pagans Allowed 
Part Six: The Great Mass Banning of Aught-Six
Part Seven: The Rise of AG Playthings  

I don't know that I've actually talked about how PNG--short for Persona Non Grata--and I ever met. So let's go back to a little place called Fandom Wank. Little I say, but this was a huge community on Journalfen--a Livejournal clone, now eaten by bears and all the records digested--that had a section of it called the Jurisprudence Laws. These were the laws of wanking and fandom that people came up with, after rather egregious BS seen. After a lot of racist shit said in fandom and elsewhere I had written a law that was later crowned Tubman's Law, a subset of the well known Godwin's Law:
 By trying to equate black racial oppression–which involved millions of people being taken away from their countries and carted across the sea, where many died or got horrible diseases, and then were used as free laborers and were more mistreated than animals and then, even after being freed, being basically treated the same, with hundreds of years of oppression, hatred, and prejudice thrust onto them simply because of the color of their skin–to things that doesn’t compare at all, you automatically FAIL AT LIFE. And the argument. Especially the argument.    
Violators will be strapped into a seat tightly and made to watch movies such as Roots, Rosewood, and Once Upon a Time…When We Were Colored.3 EDIT: Other punishments will consist of (via fernwithy) spending one week working very hard in the fields, with evenings spent in the relaxing occupation of getting seeds out of raw cotton. When their fingers stop bleeding, they may return to the internet and rethink their position. Unless they are tempted not to rethink it, in which case, lather, rinse, repeat as necessary. Also, some stubborn ones will be made to sit at a counter in their nice clothes and have various condiments and liquids — some of human origin — thrown and dumped upon them.
ETA: from the comments – “another example Tubman’s Law is co-opting Civil Right speeches to support racist notions. e.g. ‘I don’t see color, I judge people by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.’”
(ETA: Wayback Machine link)
PNG later commented on the post, asking if I was the Nethilia from other American Girl places. Yes, I was. We chattered a bit in the comments before we exchanged AIM messenger names, which was the style at the time (like wearing an onion on your belt). And thus started the friendship.

We were close. We exchanged phone numbers, and in the era of not unlimited minutes I ran up our cell bill talking hours to her. We talked shit back and forth over AIM. She ran eBay sales and I'd look at them and--if she asked--I'd shill bid, to kick the price up a touch or spark interest for others to bid on. Yes, I know that was unethical, but a little bid here and there that I wasn't going to fulfill wasn't so bad, was it? It was just tweaking the system. According to her then. To me it is still wrong, and I shouldn't have done it.

She sent me lots of gifts. Among them were Addy's School dress complete with the pin; a little black baby doll that I used as Esther,4 some My Little Ponies, a mini-Addy, off brand clothes for Marisol,  stuffies: various bits and bobbles. But the three big things she sent me? Otters for a birthday gift--direct from AG in fact--Beth Cady for a Giftmas gift, and Marisol as a "don't worry about it, pay me back later whenever" extra gift.

Over half my gang was from her at the time.
In fact, since she liked my sewing so much, she wanted me to make her four outfits for her. At the time an AG outfit went for about twenty-five to thirty bucks, so this was a fair exchange, and she would think about what she'd like to have me make her--likely Addy clothes, since that was my favorite thing to design and make.

I sent her gifts too. As I found AG books at Half Price Books, I'd gather up boxes and send them to her. I’d gotten her the entire Kit, Kirsten, Molly, and Felicity series, and I believe a good portion of Sam’s, Addy’s, and Josefina’s—at least 2-3 of each six-set, as well as some of the short story books whenever I found them. I couldn't do much in return, what with being very unemployed at the time and my husband a full time college student--he graduated in Spring 2007, but before then we were two twenty-somethings living in a one bedroom apartment in Redmond. So she didn't push me hard to pay her back--just when I could. I was and in some ways still am a generous person, so I wanted to give her things back to show I cared. That's the weird thing about me. I think about people and getting them stuff when we share a fandom. At some point, I was sent a Kit head that had been attached to a a Battat--now known as Our Generation--body, with no clothes. The idea, she said, was to get a body donor and make my own Kit, by getting all the extra clothes for her. I eventually decided this would not do, and sent it back to her, with no harm or foul. 

In Fall 2006, I got a job working for Nintendo in their customer service department, and what I assumed might be a seasonal position to get me and my then-boyfriend through the holiday season became a nearly full time job as a contract hire--I was not technically employed by Nintendo, but I worked there, and they paid me well. Well enough that my boyfriend and I could get on our feet more than we had been. Since we weren't sure how long I'd have my job, when the Wii launched I got that for the Bae and he got me Felicity.

It was about January or February of 2007--right after the Great Banning of Aught-Six--when she started asking me when I was  pay off things that she had sent me, particularly Marisol. The launch of the Wii had ramped up my workloads to the point that I was coming in, taking calls my entire time without breathing room except for breaks and lunch, and then coming home with calls still ringing in my ears. So my days off tended to be not looking at anything but my computer or my gang, trying to recoup; I didn't have two days off in a row most of the time, just once before it was back to the call ground. I'd pull out sewing once in a while, but not as frequently as I had before my job. Still, Otters and Beth Cady had been gifts, so I only had to pay back for Marisol's purchase of about a hundred bucks. I told her that I would an outfit I designed, Addy's Jump Rope Dress; a reproduction of Addy's Patriot Dress; and two others that have since been forgotten. She also asked me to make her some outfits to fit her Esther doll, but not as part of the payment back; I had drafted patterns, but I'd only made Esther one dress and drawers. I tried my best to get anything done, but I didn't, and finally she asked for the patterns and said she would make her own because she wanted to learn to sew. I scanned them and sent them to her for her personal use, and she told me again not to worry about the outfits and I could get to them when I could.

This was Esther, and she never got another dress or shoes.
In February--I was still working--I filed adult taxes for the first time ever and, because of my bracket got a refund of about 800 bucks back. Since we were financially tight still, I asked my Bae before buying anything for myself, and he said that it was fine for me to spend my refund on me because it was from my working. So I did a huge direct from AG order for myself: Addy's entire birthday collection, some small extra like shoes, some things for Felicity, and other stuff.5 I also got Kaya and Josefina in a private sale along with several things for them, and so added Josefina's accessories in with the order. I told PNG about this and she cheered me on--my first actual, factual, big Order from AG! I was starting on a journey of getting all the Addy stuffs, really. But, um, before I did, could I send her $96 for Marisol? Then she wouldn't have to worry so much about the outfits, and we could be clear. I did that, with the Bae's permission since it was his account.

As I said up ahead, the Bae graduated from college that spring. My mom came out to attend, as did his parents, and I took time off from work to attend--since I was a contractor, it wasn't vacation time, just "I won't be in these days, don't schedule me, no money for Neth." This dropped my checks, but it meant that I got to spend time with family.

Soon after the graduation weekend, PNG got on AIM while I was on. We hadn't talked much, because I had been busy with family, but I greeted her warmly, and asked her how things were going in AG > 18 and elsewhere. After some rather tight conversation, she came right out with what the topic was.

I had slighted her greatly. I hadn't paid her back fast enough for Marisol, and furthermore now that she was thinking of it she had sent me Otters and Beth Cady when they had been a burden for her to buy--Otters especially, as a brand new doll from AG that she and her mother had rushed the order on so I got her in the Ready for Fun outfit and not the upcoming I Like Your Style outfit. And there was the matter of all the other things she had "gifted" me, like Addy's school dress or Esther and other things that she really could have gotten more money for on eBay but had sent me because, after all, we were friends. I wasn't being fair to her, making her wait so long for the stuff she was owed. She lived on a tight income with her mother and her sibling, and what I was doing by not giving her what was owed was upsetting her and was jeopardizing our continued friendship.

I felt horrible. Had I really short changed her? This girl had gotten me three dolls and a lot of other things after a short time of knowing me, after all, and here I was not holding up my side of the bargain. I mean, I had already sent her Addy's Jump Rope Dress, but no other outfits yet. I apologized, and offered to get working on her outfits as soon as the time with my Bae and family was past.

PNG didn't want my sewing anymore, she said. She wanted things from AG directly.

What should I get her? I asked. An outfit for now, and another later to pay off Otters and Beth Cady?

I want Addy's Table and Chairs, she said.

Um.
I balked. She wanted me to send her furniture? And one of the more expensive sets? After already sending her PayPal money and one outfit I'd made myself? Um...

I owed her, she said, and this would be one big way to clear it up.

...well, okay. But I was low from taking time off for my Bae's graduation, so I'd line things up after I got my check in. She said that was fine, and the conversation went short. I spent the next week and change panicking that I was making this huge purchase for her, but calming myself by assuring myself that that once she got this piece, we'd be even and I wouldn't have to worry she was being short-changed.

Just before I got paid, PNG popped on--she had started talking to me less and less--and said that asking for the table and chairs was too much. Oh, whew, thank goodness--oh. She wanted outfits and accessories that added up to that much. Well, okay, I thought. Fair enough.

Later that month, when my paycheck cleared, I placed an order for the following items to be sent directly to her: Kit’s Reds Fan Outfit, Kit’s Scooter Outfit, Samantha’s Talent Show Dress, Kirsten’s Flannels, and Kirsten’s Hair Ribbons. She had asked for either the flannels or the hair ribbons, but I'd felt so bad about making her wait so long that I just did both. This came out to over a hundred bucks before shipping, which was about how much she had paid for Marisol--but it should cover any fees for Otters and Beth Cady. It arrived a week or so later, she said she'd gotten it, and so we were now even. Friendship out of jeopardy! I hated being beholden to her for so long, and I hoped this would make things okay. She said it did.

So we were even and clear now, right? I'd not only paid my half back for Marisol, Beth Cady, and Otters, but the gifts that she had gifted me. Everything was all right now.

...yeah. No.

But first. A little side note on a community member named eternitat. She was an adult collector like us, and dippy and somewhat annoying--she didn't like the feel of pants, she always took all her pictures in a specific pose, and she was small enough so she often wore AG clothes but complained they didn't fit her right and AG clothes really needed to be adjusted in design for women with breasts. Annoying and thick as a post, but mostly harmless.6 She got on our nerves, especially when she said clueless, stupid and bigoted shit--more of which I'll get into later, probably--and we would call her on it. One of the big ones was when we were talking about booze and she said something about Native firewater, and we all went "dude what the entire fuck." Annoying, irritating, but she kept participating and we just kept sniping back when she said something pants skirt on head dumb.

 But at a point sometime in the life of AG >18, PNG went and banned eternitat for no reason other than she was being irritating. Then she put up a poll to see if the community would agree to have her back. We all said "she's a dumbass, but we don't ban people for being dumbasses, put her back." The post was deleted, and eternitat was made to reapply to get back in. This in its way hurt her feelings, and she later left.

Side note over.

After Bae's graduation, he and I--needing more space for less rent--started to look for new apartments. We located a good place about a half hour north of where we were living, and started to plan to pack and move. My mom scheduled time off some to come up to help me pack and move things, since I'd be at work and she could pack and sort while I was off taking calls back to back for eight hours a day.7 So I bought some plane tickets so she could come out. We'd spend time together, and we'd even go to the launch of the last Harry Potter book--she'd read them all after me, and I was going to get her a copy to read--and to the fifth movie together with my Bae.

Remember the promise that I was not going to get any more gang members until I had space? Well, I had space again in my apartment, and I still wanted Kit. I found a good one on Craigslist--she had all her accessories and was only short her underwear, but had a knock off set, for a low cost. I tucked her away from the others, got the Red's Fan outfit for her since that was one of my favorites, and once we had started moving things to my new place, I made up the story that she was left behind by a prior tenant two months before we moved in and, upon seeing all my little gang members, hoped she would fit in--which she totally did. (I need to recode and reupload the album). She fit right in and everyone loved her.

Meet Kit!8
That summer, PNG decided to go to MCM for the first time and visit Collette and her partner. About a week before MCM, I'd say about that Thursday--so around July twelfth--she got on AIM telling me what she thought of all the nice things they might have at MCM. They would have dolls, and maybe even outfits and retired accessories--this was before they were mostly restricted to overstock. Did I want anything? Sure, I said. Colette and several others had gone to MCM before, and gotten me things, and if she was willing to do it I'd adore that. I made a mental note of what I might ask for--I had a custom planned around a Blonde!Elizabeth, so I was going to swipe her clothes, and maybe ask for a historical outfit here and there. But I didn't say specifically what I wanted her to get me, if anything, yet.

Then PNG dropped the bomb. 

If I wanted anything there, I would have to pay her up front and she would then credit me back for what she didn't get. She wanted a minimum--minimum--of five hundred dollars, sent to her PayPal account, because she didn't have the money to buy me anything without money up front.

I couldn't do that, and I told her that upfront. I had just paid for my mom to come visit me, I was in the middle of a very big move, and there were bills in moving that my job was covering because my Bae was still looking for employment while we lived off his parents' generosity and the remaining balance on his loans. I'd pay her back weekly for anything she got me, but there was no way I could use my Bae's PayPal account to sent her that much all at once, and I wasn't going to even ask him to do that kind of thing.

I couldn't just pay her back weekly, PNG said. Hadn't I said that with Marisol and Otters and Beth Cady and everything else? She'd waited months, and she wasn't going to wait again. Send all the money, or accept that she'd get me nothing.

Fine, I said. I just wouldn't get anything through her.

Fine, she said, and the conversation was over, I thought.

...yeah. No.

Yeah, no, indeed, as Naomi found out.
Sunday prior to MCM, I was off from work, so I got and gone out places with my mom for a mom and daughter day together. We came back from our time together, I opened up my e-mail while my mom decided what she was going to cook...and I had been removed as the maintainer--aka Mod, of AG >18. Wicked, one of the other members, had also been banned, and had contacted me asking what had happened because she had been told there had been a mod conference to have her removed and me as well.

What mod conference? I hadn't been part of a mod conference. I had been out with my mother. 

I had Colette's Bean's, and PNG's e-mail, so I sent a mass email that basically boiled down to "when the hell was there a fucking mod conference to ban me and Wicked from AG >18? Cause I was not part of this what the shit?" I was somewhere between pissed off as hell and confused as fuck, and so demanded some fucking answers on why I had been removed from a community I had helped found when I hadn't done anything wrong to anyone at all. I felt ganged up on, and I wanted some answers. Maybe I shouldn't have said the things the way I said them in the e-mail, but I did. I was scared and frightened and wanted to know what was going on.

Soon after I hit send--and went to try and gather my wits, unable to have a proper meltdown because my mother was there and I didn't want to meltdown in front of her over internet things--I got an IM ping.

It was PNG.

Bean and Colette were not part of my demodding. She had orchestrated the whole thing, and she wasn't taking it back. I'd shown bias and unfairness towards members, promoting some over others, and taking unfair sides. I had broken promise after promise to her regarding money that I had owed her, and she just couldn't fairly mod with me in a position of power undermining her need to keep things safe for everyone. I was welcome, she ended, to continue to post to the community but I was not going to be a moderator anymore. I was in essence graciously “allowed” to be part of the community I helped found.

WHERE? I had never been unfair to anyone! I might not be perfectly nice and fluffy to everyone, but I'd never just banned people for being around or been biased! Meanwhile, she'd fucking banned one member just because she was annoyed with her, she'd banned Wicked, and now she was throwing me out of modship over some trumped up charges I hadn't ever done! I demanded to know where I'd been unfair or cruel or hateful to anyone. She wouldn't say. She just kept saying I was no longer worthy of modship. It was my fault and I would have to accept the consequences. Colette--who didn't do much modding--and Bean had no fucking idea what was going on at all, and wanted to know what had happened. I didn't even know what had happened, which was the most infuriating part as this involved me.

I was not rational at this point. I admit this. My mother was in town so it wasn’t like I could just fall into hysterics as I tended to do when stressed. Bae was unemployed and this was stressing him out regarding funds, since I was the one with the job. And I was in the middle of a move. None of this excuses my in the heat behavior, but it happened.

I cursed her out and blocked her from my AIM list, telling her not to speak to me until I was in a position to talk to her. This was to give me time to calm down and then ask for a more straight answer when I wasn't mad enough to spit blood. I posted angry cursing on my livejournal, under a lock and removed her from my friendslist before I did it, which was the way of the nets at this time. 
I mean, honest-fuckingly. Removed as mod from AG over 18 with NO FUCKING warning when I'm a founding memeber. And I know what happened, and who did it, and the so-called reason by said person holds less water than a rusted through sieve. I'm so mad I could cry, but my mom is here and while [Bae] understands that the internets can piss me off, my mom does not and I'm not about to have a breakdown in front of my mother.
 

I am going to pack, and then when I'm not so mad I could just walk out the comm and tear down all my posts and never return and watch the fucking place FALL, then I'll see what the shit's going on. This is the second fucking time something I've helped found has lead to people turning on me and picking the worst fucking time to do it. This shit happened with Pokemon Defenders,9 and I'll be damned if it'll happen with AG > 18.
Comments screened, because I'm so pissed I could cut anyone who crosses me right now. This is NOT the time for this shit.
I then got up from the comp and went to pack before I went and pulled and deleted every post I had made, salting the earth behind me.10 A little later, I checked my comp. Since she was blocked on her main username, she'd gone onto her mother's and sent me a message saying--as her mother--that she hated me for breaking promises, that I’d been nasty to her daughter, and that I’d deserved what I’d gotten and she hoped I never came back to the community.

I then checked the comm. I couldn't see a single locked post.

I’d been banned. From a comm that was my baby.

Less sense than Otters in a red rooster hat.
Meanwhile, PNG had made a post in AG >18 that said due to personal problems with her and unfair modship, I was no longer a mod of AG>18. E-mail her for any information on what had happened and she would explain things fairly, but that my side was irrational and unable to be trusted, so she had the full, true story.

So what happened with that? Funny thing.

The comm members raised fucking hell. I hadn't done anything wrong to anyone! I was a good member. I was the most active mod, the other founder, and whatever personal issues she had with me were not worthy of banning me from the community. And she'd also banned Wicked as well, what the shit. If I was not fairly and properly reinstated immediately, and she didn't step back from her clear attempt to pull a Napoleon on me as Snowball,11 they would leave and there just would not be a community because none of them would stay under her ownership. They would start a new place, and if she was going to act like this, then she would not be allowed to be a member.

Yeah. Pretty much what should have gone down did.

A few hours later, her mother got on AIM. Having been IMed earlier under the same name--which I had closed--and told I was deserving of what had happened, I was all on guard and I all but told her to go to hell. No, her mom said, we needed to talk this out; the last message hadn't been her, it'd been PNG. Can she call? No, you can't call, my mother is asleep on the couch and I'm not about to let my phone ring.

PNG's Mama started by saying that her daughter had been stressed out by several things in her personal life involving issues with her father and her family, and so she'd just taken her stress out on one thing she could control, which was AG >18. Since I was the more beloved mod and founder, she put me out. And well, according to PNG, I had broken sworn promises to pay her and PNG's Mama back for the costs they had incurred Otters, Beth Cady, and Marisol as well as all the things she'd sent me.

What about the order I'd sent and the money I'd sent through PayPal? I said. Cause I did that.

When did you do those?, PNG's Mama said. PNG said the money came from eBay and she hadn't seen any of the things I had sent.

The fuck they did, I said. I have records of both on the PayPal account and on my AG account and bank account. I've sent about $200 worth of stuff and money to your daughter, not including my gift boxes I've sent over many months. Furthermore, if she still wants that Patriot Dress replica, I have the fabric and trims in my house right now and can do that. But don't for a hot fucking second think that I've shorted you or your child any money. I'm even and then some, even though I was told at first that Beth Cady and Otters were gifts. Furthermore, she had also banned Wicked, who hadn't done anything to anyone.

I'll talk to her about it, PNG's Mama said, because if you've paid her back she hasn't told me any of it. But for now I'll fix this. PNG's Mama then went into her daughter’s livejournal account--which she had the password to-- and unbanned and remodded me to AG > 18. She also re-invited Wicked to the community (who, it appears, was banned on the same whim I was) and deleted the post about me being banned. Wicked never came back, though we still spoke on other places.

But, PNG's Mama said, I could only remain in modship on two conditions. First, I had to speak to PNG and unblock her on AIM, so we could talk one on one. Two, I was to publicly say in AG>18 that my banning was simply a misunderstanding and that everything was okay now.

This is the part where Neth needs a hug.
This was more than a fucking misunderstanding. I had been really fucking betrayed, not to mention that her mother had been lied to about money and things I'd sent PNG. And I felt like, I could have walked away. I could have. It was sorely tempting, but I'd put too much into the comm to walk away. I did not want to give up something I worked on and built into what it is because of someone else's irrationality. I could walk away from AGF because I didn't invest in it. I hadn't made it into what it is. I wasn't tied in. But AG > 18 was my baby. I didn't wanna give up my baby.

So I fought and dug in, even though it felt like the comm was never going to be the same. Do I fight for what I helped create and make it back to what it was in some way? Do I work until I can't take it anymore and then just cut and run? Do I wean myself away slowly? There was so much I did there that I don't want to lose. I felt like if I walked away, said no and let her leave me out, I would just be conceding defeat. That I'd look like I can't make amends and that I'm willing to abandon a comm I helped build over petty bullshit that, while I admit I did have a part in in some way, I didn't take nearly as far as PNG did. But felt like I didn't know when something like this would happen again. That it might happen again. That I'd always feel like my own maintenance and even use of the comm was contingent on other people's whims.
 
So I decided, at the time, to keep face for the moment until I had my position back. I was reinstated, I got on the community, and and I publicly posted that "everything was okay" as I was told to do. I then struck through my post on my eljay--didn't delete, just struck it--and said in semi-public that all was well. We would talk the next day, face to face. Well, IM window to IM window.

I wake up, I go to work, I take straight hours of calls, I come home. I get on AIM.

PNG pops on. And she starts explaining.

She was just, you know, really stressed out, with the upcoming trip to MCM's and Colette's and everything going on in her life. She had a meltdown. She wasn't rational, and you know, it just wasn't her fault that she had targeted me. She was sorry she had brought the drama she was dealing with in AG > 18.

Not for banning me. Not for demodding me. Not for smearing my good name and saying I had broken promises to her. Not for taking her issues out on me. Just for "bringing our drama into the community." 

PNG went on to say that I was just as wrong as she had been. I hadn't paid her back soon enough, and that had made her stressed out. I hadn't ever paid her back when she had expected it.

Nothing about the outfit I'd sent her. Nothing about the order I'd sent her. Nothing about the money I'd sent her. None of which she had told her mother about, and all of which she had hidden from her mother, I was led to believe.

I've had people attack me multiple times in my life, after trusting them. So at this whiff of the potential of being hurt again, when I once loved and trusted someone? You only have to shoot me in the foot once generally for me to get the message.

I told her outright that I was very hurt. Since I had only been apologized to for the drama she had put into AG >18, I only forgave her for that. But she had not apologized for anything else, and so she would not be forgiven for any of it. I told her that I would not trust her again for a long time--if ever again. And, while I would not block her from my IM list, I did not want to talk to her. PNG was not to IM me until I IMed her again, and that would be when I was ready to speak to her again. I would make the first step, and she was not to step to me until I did it.

She signed off.

That Wednesday I was off from work again, so I went to Pike Place Market with Mom, and that Thursday she headed to Colette’s to visit her and go to MCM. We did not speak before then.

A very short time later, I got an e-mail from her e-mail address. It was her e-mail, but her mother's words according to the text.

PNG's Mama said that I had not kept up my end of the bargain. I had cussed her daughter out--which I won't deny that I did, I have a cursing mouth, I probably dropped some "shits" and "fucks" and "damns" in our talk. She said I was acting like a bratty child for not talking to her daughter anymore after that talk we'd had, for saying that I wasn't going to forgive her for all she'd done, and that and that she'd remodded me and let Wicked back in on the sworn promise that I'd make it all better. Her daughter was really upset and hurting over what she’d done. She was repentant. I should do no less than forgive her because that’s what people do, they forgive and they let go. I was remodded to make things look better, PNG and her had done their jobs. It was my job now to get over this childish hurt, and I had to make them all better right now.

Childish hurt. Really. 

My initial reaction was to email her right back and say that her daughter hadn’t been repentant worth a damn, that I had done what she said and made it look like everything was better in public but it wasn't, and that I’d been told by her to cover her daughter's fuck ups by saying it was all better when it really wasn't better at all. But I curbed that impulse and filed away the e-mail, because I didn't want to go with my first impulse again.

A few days later, Colette said she'd rather not be a mod, as she felt that she wasn't really modding and it was an empty title. All right, then. I publicly let this be known, then went in to de-mod her--and found that only Bean and I were mods. PNG had been demodded. I hadn't done it. What it most likely was that she had seen that backlash and removed herself as a mod and owner, if her mother didn't do it so that she couldn't kick me out again.

I finally emailed her mother a few days with a clear mind (as clear as I could get). I was rational and polite and didn't even say "damn." But I was honest. I was still hurting from what I felt was--and still feel is--an unwarranted stab in the back from a person I considered a close friend, with no warning and little explanation other than "stress" and a need to control something. If this made me appear childish, so be it. I stood by my sent money and order placed as fair compensation, and said that she could give me a list--minus Otters, Beth Cady, and Marisol, because $200 and an outfit I had handmade was above and beyond the payment for them12--where I owed her family. I would pay her back financially so as to clear all debts between us and end this, unless she still wanted outfits, which I would do.  And I wanted this under her e-mail, not PNG's, because I wanted this under her record, not mine.

PNG's Mama e-mailed me back under her own email.

And called me everything but a child of the gods.

I was a leech. I was a sponge. I was a horrible, worthless, evil, abusive person. I was a cruel and horrible wench who had manipulated her child, who kept weak-willed people around me to keep up the illusion of power and prestige. I wasn't worth anything. Anyone who was my friend was only my friend because I had intimidated them into being so. My boyfriend was only with me because he couldn't find someone better, but when he did I'd be dropped on my ass. No one loved me. They just were scared of me. And I would one day find myself empty and alone and abandoned and it would be all my fault. Balance it out? I could only balance it out by getting away from her and PNG and any other member of her family. She swore that if I made contact with any of them again, she would make my life a living hell.

Trust me, if you don’t want to have any part of me, I’ll happily comply. So I deleted the e-mails--all of them. I deleted the phone numbers from my phone. I deleted their e-mails and addresses from my address book, and I deleted any names I had been contacted under off my AIM list.

I wiped their contact information out, and I stayed the mod of AG > 18 with Bean. I moved into my new place, my Bae found a job that was doing well for us, and I grieved the loss of my friendship.

And PNG remained a member of the AG > 18 community. I made sure not to say anything to her at all. When she made any comments on the community and they were e-mailed to me, I deleted them instantly. I installed a program add on to my browser that made it so that any comments she made were killfiled unless I chose to open them. The one time she commented to my ElJay afterwards, I deleted her comment and banned her from any further comments here.

I didn't contact her again. But boy, did she try to contact me. She commented on my comments. She commented on my posts. She said hurtful, hateful things. She called my sewing bad, she called my words and thoughts ugly, and she almost never let up. She spent the rest of her major time at AG > 18 time trying to bait and bicker me into talking to her in any possible way, until finally several other members went off on her and told her they knew what she was trying to do and that she was being a petty brat, when she knew I wasn't going to speak to her at all.

It was two years later, after she continued to bait me and poke me--after she was made a mod on AG Playthings, and after I was already banned--that I posted anything about what she had done, in a locked LiveJournal post. I swore then to all my gods by name, invoking their titles, that I would never, ever, post about her on my LiveJournal again.

Which I didn't. This isn't LiveJournal, and this is my story.

A few months later, the news came through that all the hinged AG trunks still out--Addy's, Kit's, and Josefina's--would be modified to have lift off lids. I had a moment of misery because I had always wanted the classic Addy trunk but really couldn't order it right then--or more accurately, shouldn't. In part because of that payback order I had made. Maybe I could order by Giftmas, but by then they would probably all be lift off lids, so it was likely that it was just going to never be mine.

And then, a fellow collector--who I'd like to keep anonymous here on my blog, one of the few times I'm down for that--ordered and gifted it to me. With no warning. I came home, there was a huge box on my porch from AG, and it said in a note that "Everyone should get their AG Grail." I opened it up.

It was Addy's Trunk. 

I'm surprised I could even hold the camera straight, I was crying so hard.
I fucking sobbed when I got it. My Bae heard me start crying and when he saw it he was shocked. I pulled it out and I kissed it and I cradled my head against it and I cried for several minutes straight that Addy's Trunk was gifted to me. And I am always open about the fact that someone gifted that to me and I am extremely grateful for that because they never had to do that. I try to pass that generosity along when I can--in small or big ways.

Yeah, the reason this is in this post?  PNG took this as a visible example of how I was a leech. She basically accused me--in another place--of manipulating people into buying me and gifting me AG things. I whined and overplayed how poor I was growing up, and told sentimental melodramatic pap so people wouldn't look deeper and just baby me and give me things that I was clearly ungrateful for.13 She accused me of being a master manipulator and implied that the only reason I kept talking about my past (when it probably wasn't nearly as bad as she thought) was that by doing so I'd make people feel bad enough to gift me what they did and overlook any faults I had lest I call them racist or something.

That's one of the kinds of things I dealt with for years and years, until she realized that I would have no part of it and it was all her acting out and I wouldn't snap back. That's when she finally left me alone, like I wanted her to. But she continued to smear me in places where I couldn't say anything back.

The Gang at the time.
Normally, I would not jump ahead in the story, but I want the entire story of PNG to be as contained in this post as possible. So let's tap ahead some to...oh, about 2011, after I was pretty much out of most major AG communities. Thereabout.

I was checking my e-mails, and saw an e-mail from someone I didn't recognize. I opened it up...and it was from PNG. I believe it was to explain her actions so far down the road, asking for forgiveness maybe, or to do that thing some therapy suggests where you're supposed to reach out to all the people who you have wronged and send an apology.

To this day, I have no idea what that e-mail said, because I saw who it was from and deleted it without reading further.

I am not much of a forgiving person. As the Aretha Franklin song goes, I am willing to forgive you but I can't forget, cause you really really hurt me this time.14 Except no. I'm not willing to forgive either, when the crimes against me are so painful and hurtful. And that is what PNG did. She stabbed me in the back, then said it was my fault for having such a soft spine. And I do not, will not, and cannot forgive her ever.

It's not that I hold grudges against people, and I don't care about that pithy statement about holding poison inside killing the person and anger hurting two people--you mostly. I am a child of Athene's Wrath, of Persephone's Backlash, of the Furious Winds of Fierce Oya. And that means I believe in righteous anger and in some cases, absolute abolishment from my life. I don't "hate" PNG, or anyone else that has hurt me in such grievous ways. Hate implies that I feel anything.

It's just that I stopped giving a fuck about anything about them. About their life, about their actions, about their existence. The person who wrongs me becomes, as you see written here, as she will always be referred to, as Persona non Grata. Damnatio memoriae.15 The Management of Neth has decided that you will cease existence in her sphere. I eject and purge them from my life the best that I can, and I do everything to move on other than to tell the stories. And if they come back and speak to me again, in any capacity, I generally act as if no contact was made, because as far as I'm concerned you aren't.

That sentence wasn't cut off. These people just aren't. And I have done it before PNG, and I am likely to do it again.
 
If you've paid any attention to the musical Hamilton, you'll know about the Reynolds Pamphlet, the most bumpin' song about writing about adultery ever. What you might not know is that it was president James Monroe--left out of the musical--who helped leak some of the data about it, and that Eliza Schuyler Hamilton squarely blamed him for his part in the public exposure of America's first public sex scandal. In the 1820s--two decades after Alexander's death--Monroe came to visit Eliza, hoping to break down the barrier between them that had lasted since then. Eliza let him speak, and he gave a well-spoken speech about how it had been many years, and that time heals all wounds and past differences could be forgiven and forgotten. Then she replied, "Mr. Monroe, if you have come to tell me that you repent, that you are sorry, very sorry, for the misrepresentations and the slanders and the stories you circulated against my dear husband, if you have come to say this, I understand it. But otherwise, no lapse of time, no nearness to the grave, makes any difference." And Monroe, a two-term president, before these crisp words, left and never returned and never spoke to Eliza again.

That's the kind of reaction and action I hella respect. When you hurt me that fucking badly, and then compound on it when you continue to target me after you swung at me, that's it. Things are over. You don't get a make up reunion, no matter how long down the road it's been. I don't and won't forgive--and no lapse of time makes any difference.

Sometimes the lesson from losing a relationship of any kind--romantic, business, friendship, family, internet association, what have you--is that you as a person are capable of utterly and irrevocably fucking it up. And there is no reunion, no redemption, no reconnection. There is no second chance. There is nothing to repair that. You're done, and you will always be done.

Just because you say you're sorry, doesn't mean people are obligated to forgive you. Ever.

And if I'm one of the people in this world that you learn this from, then I'll be one damn effective teacher.

Sometimes, sorry isn't enough.
"You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better." - -Anne Lamott

--Neth

1 Go back and read the other seven posts. They're good reading.
2 Not so much that, now.
3 These were the racial "black people getting fucked over" movies of the era. Now we can make them watch others such as 12 Years a Slave, Selma (especially that opening when the four little girls are murdered), and the entire first season of Underground.
4 Specifically, a 10" tall Lots to Love Baby Steps called "Fun Felicia" by Berenguer. This was a popular doll to use as Esther at the time; quite a few collectors had these dolls to be their Esthers and other versions to be the little sisters to characters.
5 I topped out the shipping, actually. And then a few days later there was a free shipping code. Isn’t that always how it goes down?
6 Like the book.
7 I started taking Wii calls the weekend after launch in November. The calls didn't stop being back to back swamped until that August. I was stressed the fuck out about the phone work I was doing, let me tell y'all.
8 Also lol my old ass comp tower, those were the fucking days.
9 Pokemon Defenders was a Pokemon guild/community on Gaia Online, who was having its heyday during a time when a lot of people thought Pokemon was garbage and a game for babies (around Gen 3/Gen 4). It fell apart cause of drama, including accusations that I as "Champion" was wielding a lot of power without giving a lot of fairness to the other members of the "League". A bunch of Leaders got together and put up a poll asking if I should remain in charge or if they should have someone else be the League Champion, as an overthrow of power. Which--fun times? Happened while I was out of town dealing with the fact my grandmother was dying. That managed to get pulled back, but almost all the other Leaders left and soon after, the community fell apart.
10 Take note of this impulse. It comes up later in this series.
11 Animal Farm ref. They didn't actually say that, but it's a good ref.
12 Otters full cost with shipping cost under $100, because this was when AGs were about $90. Marisol cost about $100 with shipping. And Beth Cady had been purchased for only about $25 including shipping.
13 Example story of my past I tell tied to AG: one of the reasons I have sentiment for the Pioneer era is because, when I liked Laura Ingalls Wilder, my mom would explain to a seven year old why the lights were off and would be for a few days was that we were having "Pioneer times"--because she didn't really want to say "it's because we're back on the power bill and can't pay it til later." PNG openly said that this was a stupid story and that my lights weren't cut off that often.
14 The song is about cheating. But the chorus fits.
15 Damnatio_memoriae--Latin for "condemnation of memory"--is a practice of just blotting someone out of a record so that they are never invoked again if possible; particularly, politically, but it has been used socially to remove people who have caused or invoked great scandal that a person does not want to be touched by.

10 comments:

  1. Life is way too short for crazy mean people like them. I'm sorry she put you through that. SHE sounds like a manipulator. It is so awful when someone you care about turns out to be a snake.

    I am glad you cast her to the abyss!

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  2. I remember that Esther doll from the Giftmas Surprise photostory (which was very cute). It sucks that you had to deal with so much BS, not only from this person. WTF does she get off asking a friend to pay her back for gifts that she made? But I´m glad at least the gang members that came to you with PNG´s involvement were not tainted for you and you can still enjoy them!

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  3. It's funny. I remember when things went down, but obviously not the details til months later, but I hadn't caught the tail end of the manipulation accusations until now.

    In the months before I got the whole story the first time, and just knew there was some drama, I actually MET PNG, her sister, and a friend of hers at a doll meetup. I was the only person present who hadn't been hanging out with them (the friend's brother also came but knew them) longterm and it was kind of awkward since I was the only one who hadn't come in the same car/felt like people were hanging around not sure of how to shake me. PNG mentioned having developed a reputation as being "scary" in the fandom, and you know, given the random bannings, I can definitely see where that came from.

    After I found out the details, maybe about two-three months after that meetup, my parents were curious one night as to why I didn't go to any more doll hangouts or make an effort to hang out with them more.

    Uhmm well.

    But yeah, there were definitely some weird vibes even at the time we met. PNG seemed a bit proud of being intimidating, and was kind of demanding and overly assertive through the experience. I can only imagine what she was like with perceived "grievances" against you.

    I'm so sorry all of this happened. I did go through a friend breakup with someone I recognized was being toxic after a number of years of thorough manipulation and codependant bullshit that I drank in like so much kool-aid, and the hurt is something I've been trying to work on getting over to this day. I really admire your ability to move forward while not excusing any of the awful things done to you, and it's helping me to find perspective on my own situation. I'm glad you're still with us and active in the fandom. You've really educated many people, showed us some awesome historical information, and have personally helped me to see where some of my unintentionally racist microagressions in the fandom may well have hurt people in the past, and how I could learn to do better. Without watching you speaking your truth, I don't know that I would have come to the knowledge on my own. I'm so glad you haven't let the poison that was thrown your way drive YOU out!

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  4. Can I just say right off the bat how much bravery this took to write out? It reads and I'm sure felt like a slowly dawning nightmare. I've been in emotionally abusive relationships before and I know how hard it can be to go postmortem. Your commitment to this series was already impressive, but holy sh!t, this went above and beyond, especially when what you're describing is so awful.

    I'm not going to dwell on the horribleness of this person, only to second that I'm glad you can enjoy your dolls purged off that association. A life lesson I learned was that sometimes awful people can be associated with great things, and it's okay to still enjoy the great things and not deny yourself them, regardless of their origin. With time, they can even become a point of pride and a reminder of something you survived and are stronger for having gotten through.

    Though you don't need the damn kudos of some random stranger folk person, I present them anyway because I hope you feel pride in having gotten past this awful experience.

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  5. I doubt you need them, but I give you all the validates. And Internet sparkle points for bringing Anne Lamott into this. <3

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  6. This takes bravery to say publicly.

    I have had a friend like PNG, who WAS my BFF from sixth grade until we were 22. Basically a decade. And then? Well... I found out, the day before my 22nd birthday, that my boyfriend at the time, and my BFF, were "together." She believed him that he and I were "not together", even though we were. End of our friendship, basically, and that relationship, naturally. Some months later, I was dating a new guy, whose cousin was dating her brother, and he pushed us to make nice. We did, but the friendship was never the same. The trust was totally gone. There wasn't a lot of closeness anymore. Fast forward to 2013-- I'm engaged, preparing to marry my now husband, in Las Vegas. I post that news on Facebook, and out of all of my friends, some only online, some that I know well, ONLY former BFF posted something negative. About how I was "destroying my life, living in a fantasy world, and that she couldn't sit around anymore and idly watch me do so." She didn't do so in a private message, she did so on the post itself. Twenty five or so positive messages, and then hers. And then about ten more from friends, asking who the fuck she was, and why the fuck she had to be such a goddamn killjoy.

    While shopping for my wedding dress, I promptly told her to fuck off and more, IN A PRIVATE MESSAGE because I'm passive aggressive like that, then waited. She had the audacity to send messages back... and to have her MOMMY message me like PNG did to you.

    This was while I was in SoCal; she was in our hometown of Longview, WA. She still is. She's till not married, still never had any boyfriend other than the one she stole from me, still obsessed with anime and obscure Swedish hardcore rock death metal bands. I'm still married (our third anniversary was April 20th of this year), sometimes happily, sometimes not (LOL), and have many interests and loves.

    I won't make the same mistake twice... she's my PNG. And anyone who WAS a friend that's mutual friends with her on Facebook? They're also PNG's.

    People do some seriously sucky and fucked up things. And that someone did them to you, who has so much talent in so many areas, is seriously fucking uncool.

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  7. Wow, people can be so rude and hateful. I hope sharing your story is cathartic and that you never have to experience it again.

    I'm so glad you made it through, and will continue to send positive thoughts your way.

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  8. I think a lot of people have their own PNG in their past by the time they get to be in their 30s . Someone that seeks to feel better about themselves by putting someone else around them down. What cuts so deeply is the incredible amount of trust placed in them before the PNG commits an act of betrayal so great that the other person can no longer tolerate it. I am glad that you are no longer around such a toxic person and that they have finally left you alone. On the bright side, you have come out on the other side now knowing how to identify another PNG so that all that pain can be avoided before it even begins.

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  9. Wow.

    I'm confused about PNG's age/maturity (allowing for the possibility of developmental delay). The way her mom stepped in...either PNG is capable of handling (or in this case mishandling) her own finances and Mommy needs to butt out, or the mom should have been more involved from the beginning.

    More than that...what an awful thing to do to someone. I would have been very hurt as well, and I agree that the hurt doesn't just disappear because someone gives a half-hearted "apology."

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  10. I can relate so much to things I've seen in the AG community and with my online friends.. Relating so much.

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Trolling, pointless bigotry, and hating for the sake of hating will be removed, as will any post screaming "first" because no one cares. Cursing is fine, as I curse myself. I still expect you to act like you have home training. This is not a Free Speech Zone. I reserve the right to delete comments or tell you to piss off. You post, you stand by your words, and all the consequences of those words, even if that consequence is getting your ass handed back to you. Don't come in my space, spit on my floor, and expect me to call it a swimming pool. I can and will cuss your entire ass out. If I told you not to comment, and you comment, your comments will be deleted.

If you are under 13 your comments will be removed; you're too young to be on the internet unsupervised and you know it.