August 22nd, 2006

Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

It’s been an eventful week or two, fibromyalgia-wise. 

In the last issue of FMOnline I included several calls for willing interviewees. Not only did I get a bumper crop of responses (which doesn’t always happen), but it appears I also confounded the readers into sending me a bunch of complimentary email, which I like to print out and hoard in my pillowcase. (Kidding! I actually use them to perform little ceremonies at the time of the full moon.)


Then yesterday I got an email from Kate Jones, a great contributor to Fibromyalgia AWARE and FMOnline. She sent me a link to her first column in the Charlotte, NC, Observer, which I’d been eagerly awaiting—and with fun turns of phrase such as this one, I wasn’t disappointed:


North Carolina? Just right. I felt like Goldilocks, but without a family of bears to kick me out.”


Check out Kate’s clear-eyed look  at “the perfect place to live."


To top all that off, I was recently alerted to a web reference to myself that Google had somehow overlooked that last time I did a search to see who was reprinting my stories without paying me for the privilege. It’s pretty funny stuff, especially since Peter—a nice guy who was really open in our interview—seemed disappointed in the way I condensed his thoughts.


I have a standard line I use when trying to put reluctant interviewees at ease. “If anyone ever wanted to interview me—which would never happen—I think I’d freak out,” I confess to them. And that’s kinda true. It’s the interviewer’s job to make the subject feel comfortable enough to be forthright and forthcoming, to reveal things that might otherwise have gone unsaid. And how that personal material is used may stun the interviewee when she reads the published piece. (Not a position I envy my victims. Er, subjects.)


I hadn’t given much thought to the blow it could be to an interviewee’s ego if the time invested in an interview were reduced to a brief quote!


I’m trying to digest all the joy I can from these pleasant internet interactions, because I’m waiting for a wallop to arrive in my inbox. A medical professional with a very healthy self-opinion (too darn healthy, if you ask me. Any man that age who wears sunglasses that trendy is just too impressed with himself for his own good) submitted a story to the magazine.


Well, the first time I read it, the piece gave me some trouble. I set it aside and performed a series of brain-strengthening exercises to prepare me for a second pass. And the exercises worked! It was immediately clear to me that I didn’t have the first idea what he was talking about. In fact, for a brief, shining moment I had an urge to delete an entire paragraph (which was about five inches of an 8.5” long piece of paper) because it delved into detail waaaaaaaaaay too arcane for me. And probably for most of the mag subscribers.


But I squashed the urge, heaved a deep breath, and shot the doc a very, very polite note asking for a rephrase—a laypeople-friendly rephrase—of that section of the story.


This was particularly brave of me given my last face-to-face interaction with the man, which ended so badly that later, a third party took it upon herself to relay a request from him to me—because if he’d approached me himself, “it would have been baaaad,” she told me earnestly. (Maybe he was planning to impale me on his sunglasses. I guess we’ll never know.)


It’s been a few days now and I haven’t received any response, which could mean any one of several things: 

  1. He’s been too busy to check or answer his email.
  2. He’s working on my request, but hasn’t told me so.
  3. He’s giving me the silent treatment. (And I would not be the first person in the office to be so honored. Very mature, no?)
  4. He’s making plans for the impalement and doesn’t want to ruin the surprise.

Time will tell! But until the conclusion of this episode is revealed, I’ll just keep re-reading my adulatory email (the full moon isn’t for a couple of weeks yet!).