Thursday, September 27, 2007

Trying To Strike A Balance

An incident related to some ongoing drama in my personal life is causing some soul-searching for me... and at the same time, there is a productive exchange about blogging as it relates to promotion (and what and how much to share) going on in my publisher/author private group at Phaze.

So, I'm gonna share. For a forty-one year old man with all the worldly experience I have, sometimes I can be incredibly naive. Most often, it is one particular area. I have a difficult time anticipating the lengths to which people will go to serve their own ends when it conflicts with how far I would go.

While I have many beliefs some would consider aberrant or deviant, in most ways I am an extremely moral man. For example, in my shared home e-mail account with my wife, I refuse to open an e-mail addressed to her. Even if it is one that is obviously on a subject that concerns both of us. I just don't want to go there. It's an invasion of her privacy, in my eyes. Yes, we are married. Yes, there are all these definitions in law about joint interests and property. Yes, it is on my computer. But even if I were to accidentally open an e-mail addressed to her, I would have feelings of shame about having done so. See, it is not for me. That is, in my eyes, the end of the argument. The ultimate point.

Others in my life do not share this reluctance and it causes me some dubious moments. Mostly because I still have not learned to guard against this. Case in point is shared information. Photographs, poetry, prose... details about someones personal life. I have a blind spot that I still have not learned to shine a light in. And, it does me damage.

My most recent employer had zero problems searching my desk when I was on vacation and during that search they had zero reluctance to delve into files clearly marked personal. In that search, they discovered copies of my contracts with Phaze. It is the belief of some people in my life that this discovery contributed to the decision by that employer to part ways with me. Actually, one biased but credible source (my mother) feels that it was the majority of their decision. I honestly can't say she doesn't have a point. The nature of some of my fiction is diametrically opposed to the point of view on life espoused by the senior management of that employer. To be blunt, heavily Roman Catholic employer vs. Erotica writer. Now, I knew that. So why did that info exist in my desk for them to find? Because of my blind spot. I would never go there, and I expect them to be as adherent to my sense of honor as I would be. A mistake, at the least.

Also, I had a subordinate in that job who had a major personality conflict with me. She also carried a grudge against me because I fired a friend of hers. He was stealing from the company, but see... that wasn't the point. I caught him and fired him, so therefore I was responsible for his being fired, at least in her world. I knew she was actively seeking my dismissal. She had ample opportunity to notice where such things were kept and could, and perhaps did, aid in their "discovery."

That same person was in places multiple times over the last year I was there in which I could have disciplined her. For example, in a job where security is everything, she went home one night and left her keys sitting on the break room table. This was discovered by me after everyone else had left. I took her keys home and went out of my way to deliver them to her before work the next morning... on a day I was scheduled off, even. That was enough cause for me to severely discipline her or even fire her. But this transgression has never been, and now never will be, brought to the attention of those who still employ her. And what did my loyalty to someone who disliked me engender? Did she appreciate the gesture of keeping it between us and making the result purely a verbal warning? Apparently not very much, or at least not in a lasting manner.

I have this blind spot at home, too.

So, do I teach myself to go through life wary? Do I teach myself to think like her, or like my former employer? How long can you stare into that abyss before it begins to replicate itself inside of you? There has to be a balance, a place where I can still protect myself and others while maintaining my moral position.

But, obviously, I haven't found that balancing point yet...


Sherri said...

Darlin', I'm like you in many respects -- it was 3 years before I felt comfortable going into Jay's underwear drawer to put away his clothes when I folded laundry. My ideas about privacy are not unlike yours.

However, I'm a lot more paranoid. It's simple. I don't assume ANYONE else has my standards. That's been so, so , SO proven to me that it's like breathing now. I don't assume.

And it isn't really that I live my life in paranoia. I have simple rules. What I consider private I treat the same way I treat something I consider precious and valuable -- I put it away, I keep it from access by those who might be tempted to take it, and I don't flaunt it. If you work in an office where you can't leave food overnight in the breakroom fridge, then you sure as hell can't keep anything personal in your desk.

Best solution for computer safety I've found is a key drive. Since my laptop is my own, I can keep things there, but in general, everything important is on my keydrive, which stays with almost all the time.

If it's paper, put it under a lock (preferably in a fireproof box). That's just safety as well, as accidents and house fires happen. Treat it like an expensive watch, a rare book, or a World Series Home Run baseball.

BTW, I kinda miss you. Hugs, darlin.

Will Belegon said...

I miss you, too... or perhaps that should be "two." When things calm down here, and you are settled as well, I think a visit is definitely in order. It will be wonderful to get out from under the microscope and just be.

BTW, we still have a certain bunny...

Kate Diamond said...

I'm always very careful not to do anything writing-related at my work computer (high school English teacher vs. romance writer: yes, some conflict). So that hasn't been a problem for me.

Yet people in my life often call me naive, because I like to believe the best of people. Yes, sometimes it causes me a little heartache. And sometimes I let my loved ones get away with a bit too much.

But the fact is that I've been less disappointed than most of my worldly-wise friends and colleagues.

Case in point: I tend to believe the best of my students, and I want to be pleasant to them. If they have a sob story, I tend to believe them (well, at least the first time). One of my colleagues--who really does care about kids, and is quite wonderful--takes a "knife to the soul" approach and can't understand my method.

But I think I get fine results. And I'd rather not go through life all cynical and closed-off.