14 October 2004

I am opening my favorite dictionary. This is a very special dictionary, first because it was a gift from my grandfather, who died when I was 15, and second, because it's got curse words in it. It's hard to get a good dictionary with all the good curse words in it. And from 1975, no less! Let me tell you, Doubleday Dictionary is far ahead of its time.

So, I like this dictionary a lot.

I am therefore going to quote this particular dictionary's definition of the word "libel." A brief discussion will follow.

Libel: n. Law. 1 Anything written, drawn, etc.., esp. if published or publicly circulated, that tends to damage a person's reputation. 2 The act or crime of publishing or circulating such libel. --v.t. -beled or -belled, -beling or -belling 1 To publish or circulate a libel concerning. 2 To defame or disparage in any way. [libellus, dim. of liber book] -libeler, libeller n. * See SLANDER.

Okay. So Angelfire has this rule about not harassing, slandering, libelling, stalking, or similar crap. Fine. No problem.

So, I try not to engage in any of the above. Generally, it's pretty easy, since it's difficult to damage a reputation when one is using false names for most of the individuals about whom she's writing. Furthermore, there is rarely an occasion on which it is necessary, in this journal, to give specific identifying details about an individual. That is to say, I've NEVER posted physical addresses of individuals, and only rarely have I given out email addresses or described physical characteristics of ANYBODY mentioned in this journal.

So, assuming that I was doing some shit-talking about Pete Smith, it might seem appropriate for some of my readers to think badly of Mr. Smith. But I can almost guarantee, you wouldn't know Mr. Smith if you ran into him on the street.

The only identifying characteristics I ever give in this journal, aside from very brief physical descriptions, are descriptions of my relationships with people. For example, Neil is my boyfriend, Aaron is my best friend, Louise is my old room-mate, et cetera. If you happen to know me in "real life," you are probably already acquainted with these people. If you haven't actually met them, you're at least well aware of their existence and their relative importance to me. That's just how social interaction goes.

If, hypothetically, I were to say something along the lines of, "My ex, Jake, and I broke up under such-and-such circumstances," I maintain that this is NOT libel. Why not? Because nobody knows Jake's real name except those people who know me and talk to me on a pretty regular basis. Nobody knows what Jake looks like, or how to find Jake. If Jake were running for a public office, it's unlikely that his opponent(s) could use my journal against him. You couldn't go to Jake's house, or look up his family name in the telephone book. At this point, all anybody knows about Jake is that he's my ex. And a few details about Jake's personality. But nothing that wouldn't apply to damn near 90% of the male population of Washington.

Thus, Jake's reputation -- or rather, the real-life reputation of the person herein known as Jake -- is not damaged.

Therefore, it's not fucken libel.

Therefore, I'm not violating any of Angelfire's rules.

Therefore, fuck anybody who thinks he or she can email me telling me s/he's got a lawyer and threatening to take legal action against my piddly little website.

I happen to really like my website. It happens to be very useful to me, as a therapeutic tool and as a personal reference. Not to mention that I tend to think of it as my art form. So maybe it's shitty art a lot of the time. But it's what I've got, and I enjoy it.

And you don't fuck with my website.

To recap... To the absolute best of my knowledge, I haven't libeled anybody. I've done plenty of shit-talking, but the vast majority of the shit-talking is solidly based on the truth, with only the most minor embellishments. And last I checked, nobody had any real rules about shit-talk. I mean, maybe if this were a dictatorship or something, there might be a rule against certain forms of shit-talk. But this is the grand old United States of America, and last time I checked, shit-talk was perfectly legal.

So. I'm right. If you want to get a lawyer and be a whiny little bitch about the fact that you suck and I've published that information, be my guest. But then you'll probably be in the newspaper, and the newspaper doesn't use fake names. So, everyone will know that a.) Helena thinks you suck, b.) you're being a whiny little bitch, and c.) it's reasonably easy to find you and throw eggs at your home and family.

I don't think anybody wants that.

So. You take care of yours, and I'll take care of mine. And if you don't like what I say about you, then don't fucken read it.

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That said, Wet Cleanup is undergoing a few minor changes, as I suppose you've noticed. The archives are still alive and well and untouched, but not presently available for public viewing. The links page needs some serious updating anyway, and so do a couple of other things. Give me a little while to come up with a new background image for the front page; the old image was used with permission by this one dude who wants to sue my ass, or something, for "libel," and it would probably be a good idea just to delete it. It's an ugly picture anyway.

So, stay tuned for the re-appearance of the rest of Wet Cleanup in the Produce Section.

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It's been a weird week or two.

My doctor's office called to tell me I might have gestational diabetes, and that I need to come in for another blood test as soon as possible. That makes me very, very unhappy. Possibly having diabetes is a pretty bad thing. Possibly doing a little bit of harm to my baby every time I eat junk food is an absolutely horrible thing. Going to my doctor's office is an okay thing, but it's a long, long bus trip, and then the test is three hours long. That's kind of a shitty thing. And besides, the test itself is awful. They make me drink this gahd-awful orange soda crap (I HATE orange soda), and then stick needles in my arms. Let's just say that I am not a big fan of this.

I've had all sorts of troubles getting TO my doctor's appointments; I had to cancel one, and I missed a connection on one of my busses the other day. So, I haven't taken the damned test yet.

THEN, I lost my wallet, with my ID, my food stamp card, my Safeway card (for some reason, I adored that thing), a bunch of library cards and similar items, and about seventeen dollars in it. And a couple of cards of particular sentimental value, the nature of which I will leave up to your imagination. I still have my passport, so I'm not completely without identification. And I replaced my food stamp card yesterday with only minimal trouble. The Safeway card, for as much as I liked it, isn't really of much use to me, since I'm only in a Safeway when I'm in Olympia, which isn't frequently. I cancelled my debit card immediately, even though my bank account only has a grand total of fifteen cents in it, and they're sending me a new one... The only things I can't replace are the seventeen dollars (which I borrowed; it wasn't exactly mine to begin with, which makes it even worse...), and the cards of sentimental value.

In any case, it's a fucking pain in the ass.

But some things have been really good. I made lasagna last night, and most of it disappeared pretty much immediately. It wasn't the best lasagna in the world, but I took it as a rather high compliment when one of the individuals eating it slumped over onto the floor, clutched his abdomen, and smiled... That, and when one of the other individuals eating with us elected to clean the damned kitchen as some sort of payment for dinner. Weird.

I'm better at spiedies, pork roasts, and cream sauces. But my lasagna ain't bad.

This week, two of my room-mates had birthdays. I only managed to save enough money to buy one of them a present. So, I cleaned the bathroom for the other one. It seemed appropriate somehow. The bathroom was nasty. And that particular room-mate has a habit of leaving the seat up to reveal some scary-assed lifeforms. To the best of anyone's knowledge, the lifeforms are basically invincible. Many have tried to destroy them, but they always come back. When I sprayed them down with Scrubbing Bubbles, there was an audible scream. Seriously. It kind of sucks to tell somebody that you care for that his birthday present is a clean bathroom devoid of visible lifeforms, but I think he was pleased anyway. So, that was nice.

Last night, that room-mate bought pumpkins for all of us to carve. I LOVE carving pumpkins.

And finally...

...in a couple of days, I may just have a surprise for all of you gentle readers of Wet Cleanup. Maybe. And no, I am not telling what it is, no matter how hard anybody begs. Give me a couple of days. But it's a good thing, I think, so don't worry.

Oh yeah, and... I've gotten to spend a lot of time with Neil lately. Neil is wonderful. Even when shitty things happen, like when my wallet falls out of my stupid pocket, Neil's got this magical ability to get me smiling again in a maximum of about fifteen minutes. Sometimes when we're together, I feel like I'm in a big warm cloud of electric energy. It's been nearly six months, give or take, since Neil and I got together, and it still feels like it's only been about three days. They say that eventually the tingles and thrills wear off, but I just don't foresee that happening anytime soon.

All in all, it's been a pretty damned good week.

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Here's to love, happiness, and eight-cent-a-pound jack-o-lanterns...