I am pondering. I am debating. I am making lists:

"Pro" here ... "Con" there.

I am having tearfilled conversations with friends I trust.

Yet I am undecided.

As many of you know, I am actively involved in copyright issues online. I have willingly invested a huge amount of time, energy and money in an effort to "fight the good fight". I truly believed that education would prevail.

[Gawd, it even chokes me up typing this.]

I find myself a beaten, tired, and disillusioned woman.

I actually dread booting my computer whereas I used to look forward to coming online:

Formerly, I would see the little email arrow appear and I would think, "Woohoo, Jann ... you've got mail!" Now I dread the lovely little email tone Netscape emits. I now find myself equating email with bad news.

I would check my referrer logs in eager anticipation to see who was visiting the various sites that I own. I find that I now almost fear checking the logs ... because it is within these logs that I find the "slings and arrows" that keep wounding my soul and breaking my spirit.

I make no claims of being an exceptional, visionary, or remarkable web artist or designer. I know that I have a good eye and a compulsion towards neat, tidy presentations ... and it is this bent towards anal-retentive perfectionism that has guided the creative evolution of Aspirations to Sweetness and my design site, Aspirations in Design.

I admit that these two incarnations were created as a labor of love. The monochromatic themes, fading lines, gradients, geometrics and images of my beloved state of Arizona were chosen so very carefully; each pixel truly means something to my artistic spirit ... and to the soul of a woman enchanted with the southwestern deserts.

A common observation made to me via email from visitors to both sites: "I have never seen anything like your site(s) online".

Sadly, you will now:

Aspirations to Sweetness (entirety) and images from Aspirations In Design have once again been stolen. Yes, it has happened before.

The man who purports himself to be a web designer took my site and added his text. He took my writing (poetry and prose) and added a word here and there ... and is claiming it as his own. He has the unmitigated gall to place his name on my copyright.

I guess that he believes that since he is many continents and miles away, he would not be discovered. Perhaps he believes he is above the law.

My heart is sick. I am choking on the nauseating bile of disdain, distrust, and disillusionment.

My first inclination was to fire off a hateful, angry email demanding the immediate removal of my images and writing. Alas, I have learned that angry and hateful approaches to anything in this world are not always the best choice.

As I looked at my beloved site, raped and maimed on his server, I began to emotionally deflate.

That artistic winged creature that lived within my soul feels grounded, unable to fly ... and no longer even desires flight.

I know there are many people who cannot understand how attached one becomes to their art. I know that many people would think, "Well, it is just a web site fer goodness sake!"

If you could crawl into my soul for just a brief moment, you too would know what it is like to be crushed from the inside out.

Why can't people understand that not only is the theft of someone's intellectual property illegal ... but morally unethical?

Don't people who steal understand the long reaching affects of their actions?

I am pondering. I am debating.

Sadly, the "Con" list is dramatically outsizing the "Pro" list.


Odd how fear changes as you grow older.

When I was a youngster, I was sure that something evil lurked in the dark crack of my closet door. For hours I would lay there in bed in the darkness of night, fighting sleep and fighting the urge to yell for "Mom". I would not move because I believed that if I kept still, the evil peering out into my pink and blue bedroom could not see me. My eyes, heavy with the need to sleep, kept watch ... waiting for the crack to widen into an ever expanding portal for evil to unleash its terror.

Often times, I would awaken to the bright morning sunlight with total surprise that I have made it through another night.

Just a couple years older, I remember watching television with my brothers. One night, Rod Serling of "The Twilight Zone" spoke directly to me ... because you see, I thought life WAS The Twilight Zone!

Rod Serling, with his penetrating gaze, stared directly at me and told a story about a wall inside a home that appeared to be solid but if you leaned against it, you were swallowed into a whirlpool effect that left me dizzy with fear. I was just SOOOO sure that our home's walls had these terrifying and deep child-consuming-voids. I refused for months to even stand or sit near a wall.

Looking back, I am sure my parents thought I was totally nuts.

My, what a vivid imagination I possessed.

As I grew older, the fears grew different.

Of course there were common, relatively standard fears that every teenage girl goes through: "What will I wear?" ... "Will he like me?" ... and yes, "Will my boobies ever grow?"

But it was at this point in my life that I grew serious about fear.

I began to fear disappointing my parents, so I became a straight "A" student. I feared disappointing my coaches, so I would practice at sports until I would fall from exhaustion. I feared not being popular, so I joined all the right clubs.

Later in life, I realize that these fears taught me many invaluable lessons.

As a young woman, I actually felt fearless. I had the world on a string, and that string was wrapped securely around my finger. I felt immortal, I felt indomitable, I felt strong.

Then one day I was faced with a hallway full of corpses of people I did not know ... the smell of their still warm blood penetrated my senses. Covered only in sheets, I could discern the outlines of the people. People that once were alive ... they were me and I was them ... people who once had the world on a string and the string had now unwrapped from their fingers.

My fear changed that day. Not only had the realization of my fear become tangible, but living my life to accept it, challenge it, and change it ... that was the path I began to follow.

My fears throughout time have changed.

Fear has brought me to my trembling knees begging God for help and guidance. Fear taught me trust God. Fear has urged me to go forward when quitting seemed safer. Fear has prompted me to reach out for help and in turn, fear taught me about helping others.

Many times people will say, "I cannot remember my childhood fears."

I am glad I remember mine. Fear taught me about aspects of myself. Fear helped me build character. Fear taught me about the real world and its often unreal expectations.

The fear itself made me appreciate those precious moments that we are given without fear.

Odd how fear changes as you grow older.

I still wonder however, does evil lurk in the dark crack of my closet?

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