To Send or Not to Send? (A Self-Indulgent Fantasy!)

“Sometimes a fantasy is all you need…”  

Sometimes a Fantasy by Billy Joel is from the seminal album Glass Houses. I must have listened to that album hundreds of times in the 1970s!

Before I get into the nitty gritty, I wrote last week I’d update you about working with the editors on my book Birth of a New Brain. I’m reviewing their feedback, and I’m editing every day for hours until I speak in tongues, but please, I ask you for an extension, because something else came up! 

It all started yesterday with WhitePages Premium.

I was searching for author Martha Manning’s new email. She’s a psychologist who I interviewed via email in the 1990s for a magazine article. Manning wrote Undercurrents about her ECT experience, one of the best books I’ve read about ECT. I wanted to send her an ARC of my book to see if she might possibly endorse it. (I take breaks from editing to do that sort of thing.)

Well, it turned out that I found it impossible to find an active email for her, so I finally spent a whopping $1.00 for a five-day trial of WhitePages Premium. I plugged in Manning’s name and I was given not one, not two, but six emails for her, including the email that worked for me in the 90s, but all six emails are now stinkers! I was dismayed, to say the least. 

Had I wasted my precious dollar???

It turns out I did not. WhitePages Premium gave me surprisingly accurate contact information for other professionals and even celebrities I’ve been in touch with over the years, so it wasn’t a sham.

I tell you this because:

a) You might want to use this resource.

b) I used it in a moment of weakness which I’d like to share here. Just to be clear, I don’t recommend that you do anything like what I contemplated doing. I want you to learn from my wicked ways!

Si vous plait, allow me to explain.

Some of you might remember my Bad Manners post.

In a nutshell, last year I was excited to learn that my college writing instructor’s play was being produced near my home. Despite my severe social anxiety, I went to the matinee and listened to her speak about the play afterward. It looked like she was doing well. 

I made 100% sure she received a package I left for her at the box office.

I don’t usually do that kind of thing, but I had brought a letter and some gifts for her. After going to that trouble, I gave it to the stage manager because I didn’t want to bug my teacher, and I was freaked out in general.

I spent all afternoon writing that letter, thanking her for being a great influence on me as a writer. I filled her in on my writing career after college, my bipolar diagnosis & its harrowing aftermath, and my upcoming Post Hill Press book. I included my contact info.

I never got a thank-you, not even a one-liner email. 

I know that when we give someone a gift, we should have no expectations. It shouldn’t be “tit for tat.” (Sorry, that’s a dumb phrase you won’t catch me uttering out loud, or writing again for that matter.)  

But I still believe in my heart of hearts there’s no excuse for rudeness.

I wondered if my teacher now felt I wasn’t worth her time since she was no longer just my teacher, but someone who had partnered with one of the most famous and successful writers of our century. (By the way, I know how ridiculous this all sounds.) Maybe she didn’t want to associate with someone with bipolar, or someone who was a small potatoes writer like me. Maybe she had a crisis, right? Who knows.

I certainly don’t know.

I may be a mess of a human being, but I’ve tried my best to thank the kind people who popped up in my life no matter what their status has been.

So let’s go back to WhitePages Premium and see what all the fuss is about!

Believe it or not, I had forgotten about what happened with my teacher, but when I played around with WhitePages Premium, I put her name into the tabs. Up came several emails for her, plus her address which I already knew was accurate.

I wrote this draft:

Dear Teacher,

I want to thank you so much for not thanking me for my letter and gifts. I was shocked I never got a reply because I don’t think you would have ignored my letter in 1991.

However, I learned a valuable lesson – I must have learned a lesson since you were one of the best teachers I ever had, but I just don’t know what the hell it is.

All my best,

Dyane

PLEASE NOTE I DIDN’T SEND THAT GROSSLY IMMATURE EMAIL!

Plus, I read it to Craig and he talked me off the “I’m gonna press ‘send’ ledge.” Moreover, this teacher and I live in a small town, and I don’t think I should burn a bridge with her in that way. But dang, I was tempted to send it!

What would you do if this kooky scenario happened with a teacher you admired…who you connected with and never forgot even though you had sh*tloads of unilateral and bilateral ECT?

Let it go?

(That’s what my Frozen soundtrack-loving girls would sing at me!) 

Thanks for reading, and have a good week!

Love,

Your friend who loves to air her brain’s dirty laundry

 

The first two lines sum it up so well: 
“This is a story about two writers. A story, in other words, of envy.”

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Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press in October 2017.

post-hill

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10 thoughts on “To Send or Not to Send? (A Self-Indulgent Fantasy!)

  1. I find it really painful when someone I’ve worked with a lot blows me off. Kindness and Unkindness exist in equal measure and I’m finding more and more following up a second time with someone and give them a second chance to respond is working out well with researching my book. A lot of people who did research and found out previous research (drug co funded) was bogus and said so tend to disappear, but I’ve found a few credible pioneers in neurology who gladly share their research and findings with me.

    My question: When I let all this info fly will I get fired from all my ‘content providing’ nongigs??? I might. The politics of TD are crazy.

    I wonder what the politics of your project were. I’ll bet you did research too. Congrats on ms. allison

  2. I do the exact same thing! Mr A is my go-to before I send anything that got my adrenaline going while writing. I get easily fixated and feel that the only way out of that intense and encompassing state is to confront the person, and usually that is in writing as I don’t have access to other contact details. On another note though, as an academic I get why she may not have thanked you. There are usually guidelines regarding receiving gifts etc. from students as well as she may have just not been sure how to say thank you. It took me weeks to say thank you to a student for a gift once, and we had the type of relationships where we caught up for coffees and stuff. Anyway, it still sucks and hurts. Don’t think your gesture was not appreciated though. Hell she said nothing, so you could tell yourself that she was super overwhelmed by the loveliness of it all… xx

  3. Aw, SpyDy…I don’t know what I would have done! I’m pretty sure I’d have typed up the message, too, but I don’t think I’d have sent it. It’s hard, though, when people aren’t good about gratitude. But then I’m sure I’ve given that impression to others, too. I got married in the middle of my third year of graduate school; I wasn’t able to work on the gift thank-yous until after I graduated five months later. I felt bloody awful about that time frame, but I’ve read it’s better to send thank yous know matter how late than not at all. So who knows? Maybe your teacher will send you a note out of blue in, like, three years. Until then, you just keep on that editing without driving yourself too nuts. I can’t wait to order my copy! Love, Java Jean xxxxx

  4. I agree with Jan. I often assume someone’s behavior is in response to me when it has nothing to do with me. Great exercise to write, but not send the email – to get it out of your system. Thank goodness for Craig!

  5. It can be frustrating, but I think your daughters’ theme song sums it up there. We can’t control other people and sometimes we’ll never know why they react in certain ways. Just keep trusting that you’re doing the “write” thing, and it’ll come to fruition. And I bet your best endorsements will come from people who really do care and are truly proud of you and the work you’re doing. As always, prayers for you, Love!

  6. Hi Dyane,

    I’d be upset, too, if someone I admired didn’t even thank me for something I’d put a lot of time and effort into. I’m guessing there’s an explanation–not that the person whom you admired is trying to snub you, or has terrible manners. I’d be tempted to send an email just asking the question, “hey, did you ever get my gift I sent you via your stage manager?”
    Sometimes when I’m angry, I have to write a letter over and over until I’m no longer angry. Sometimes that takes four or five revisions. And sometimes the letter or email never gets sent at all.

    Here’s hoping you find an answer to the mystery.

    Carol

  7. Hi Dyane,

    I’d be upset, too, if someone I admired didn’t even thank me for something I’d put a lot of time and effort into. I’m guessing there’s an explanation–not that the person whom you admired is trying to snub you, or has terrible manners. I’d be tempted to send an email just asking the question, “hey, did you ever get my gift I sent you via your stage manager?”
    Sometimes when I’m angry, I have to write a letter over and over until I’m no longer angry. Sometimes that takes four or five revisions. And sometimes the letter or email never gets sent at all.

    Here’s hoping you find an answer to the mystery.

    Carol

  8. You really don’t know if the stage manager even gave her the gift. In this day and age I don’t trust anyone.
    You have bigger fish to fry right now. Forget it! If she recd it and did not reply then good riddance . If she did not receive it then that is unfortunate. Save your $$ fit your mother’s upcoming birthday!❤️🎼

  9. I can SO appreciate your deflation and disappointment, as well as your powerful temptation to send that deliciously inappropriate email. But. Being at a remove from the situation, I can assure you with 99.9% confidence that your former teacher’s lack of response had nothing to do with you. NOTHING. Zero. Nada. Yes, maybe she had a crisis, or the stage manager forgot to give her the package (did you check?), or her life blew up, or she’s mired in a relationship that includes psychotic jealously. The point is, it’s NOT you. And you did a nice thing, and what you wanted to do.

    It’s still frustrating as hell, but frustration is preferable to assumed rejection and humiliation, no?

    Now go listen to the Stones: “You can’t always get what you waaaaant, . . but if you try some time, you just might find . . .” You know how the rest goes 🙂

    Cheers.

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