Wednesday, October 10, 2007

here it is

Well, folks, it's been a long hard slog, huh? Click here to read the article.

I will add my own corrections here, since Josh is a little wrong about some stuff, but that's what happens with journalists, eh?

1. Janna St. James lives in Batavia, which is a suburb of Chicago, I believe. It's also good to know that her married name is Priggie, just in case she starts putting herself forward as Janna Priggie, "friend" of some other celebrity or eligible beefcake out there in interwebsland.

2. Jesse and I did not exchange clothes so we'd know what each other smelled like. Eeeew. I'm strange enough without having to add to it, friends, thankyouverymuch.

3. I'd broken off with the younger man before I was even talking to Jesse again. One had nothing to do with the other.

4. I didn't ask Harlan if I could bring Janna to his house, just the new puppy. Harlan's a lovely man, fabulous writer, and I do believe this could be the first time ever in history that he's wrong about something, but wrong he is.

There're other little tiny hiccups in the article, mostly to do with timeline, and some more things to do with me, but fuckit, it's my life and I have to live with the shit I've done; I've learned to roll with the punches. The important thing is that the facts about Janna Saint James are correct. Copies of the article are on their way to all Chicago-area publications, just in case they would otherwise miss it. Did I mention it's this week's cover story?


Jennifer said...

I wish you the very best.

merkley??? said...

the story was great.

i have an internet stalker that has been wrecking my shit for the last two years. i feel like putting janna in touch with her. is it karma if i make it happen?

Anonymous said...

Thank you, jenz. and merk, I think the world as we know it would implode if the two internet freaks were to meet. If you're gonna do it, make sure they meet up in Washington DC, preferably when Congress is in session so we have some collateral damage.

e_h said...

hey- i once met the drummer of matchbox 20. wanna hang out? really though, i met him.

. said...

Holy shit, hon - this is outrageous. I just read the article, and I'm so sorry.

I knew, intellectually, that there are freaks on the Internet. I never dreamed that there could be someone so twisted and persistent and screwed up as all that.

Heal. Recover.

I wish you the best

Anonymous said...

e_h, I once met the drummer of the Wallflowers. Really. We should totally hang out.

maggieliz, I'm doing my best to do the healing and recovering. My therapist has been through the whole mess with me. I only wish Janna would have her head seen to. Thank you for the kind words.

williemayshayes said...

ha wow you're an incredibly stupid, weak person to let this happen.

Anonymous said...

williemays, thank you so much for your insight. May I add that you're insensitive and unlikely to get laid anytime soon?

Unknown said...

lolz.... two years? Jesse James??

Anonymous said...

julian - ORLY!

Amary said...

Aw, honey, I am so sorry that happened to you.
What a bitch that woman is. And what a kind heart you must have.
Incidentally, I went to elementary school with a guy named Jesse James. Some parents think they're comedians. It wouldn't have been a red flag to me, either.

Charlene said...

I don't think you're stupid or weak at all, but I do think you're far, far, far too trusting. And from what I've read here and at the magazine it seems that you feel that being trusting is a good thing. It is not.

Being overly trusting is a very dangerous trait to have. In fact, it's possibly the most personally dangerous trait a person can have. Most of us are like this when we're young, but we learn by the old school of hard knocks that you can't trust someone you've never met.

Women especially who "like to think that people are generally good" are much more likely to be strung along by attention whores like Jenna, more likely to be scammed (and I wouldn't be surprised if this wasn't Jenna's long-term goal), and even more likely to be assaulted and/or killed.

You have to learn to be suspicious of people you don't know well. Being skeptical does not make you a lesser person. Being trusting does not make you a better person. Learn to be careful and you'll save yourself a lot of heartache in the long run - and perhaps even more.

Appletini said...

The story sparked my interest because I'm an Audrey. Really. That's my name.

Anyway, hon... you are one hell of a kinder Audrey than I could be. I'm incredibly impressed that you didn't go ballistic on her, and I'm equally impressed that your friends didn't either. You have some really GOOD friends there. If there could be anything good to come out of this situation, it must be knowing what great friends you have.

Peace to you.

Pixel said...

All things considered, I think you have a pretty good attitude about all this, and applaud you for being willing to speak up.

Williemays is an asshole.


Anonymous said...

Susan - lots of people have weird names, so that is never a red flag for me. Charlene - don't worry, I don't trust nobody now, not without three forms of identification. I may be dumb, but ah kin learn. Audrey - ha, I love your name. I do have really good friends, and I may well have gone ballistic on her if I'd been present when she was kicked out of my house, hence the Ellison intervention. Lynne, I am on the same page with you about williemays, but his namesake was a helluva hitter.

marble said...

I'm at a loss to figure why in all that time you didn't insist on meeting your dream man... Just a quick weekend jaunt to at least hold him in your arms and kiss him wasn't compelling enough to make happen?

I would think alarm bells would have gone off after his 18th excuse why he wouldn't see you.

Anonymous said...

beth - hopefully the timeline I posted above will explain some of that. Or not. Sigh.

Jennifer Emick said...

What a strange, awful thing. This person did a horrible thing to you, and in your shoes, I would be out for blood. I've seen a lot of internet fakers over the years, but you apparently met the master of them all.

Cameron Reilly said...

I'm sitting here in Second Life with a bunch of people I mostly only know from their avatar sharing Josh's article with them. What a mind-blowing story, even for someone who has been around the net for 13 years and seen a lot of weird shit. Josh writes a great tale. Hopefully he turns this into another brilliant screenplay. It's a story that needs to be told on the big screen.

n/a said...

I came here after reading the article and I'm really sorry you had to go through that. My mouth was gaping open the whole time I read the article and your blog (and all the links to Janna's blog, etc). Crazy sh*t, indeed.

Good luck to you.

Janne said...

I'm an active participant on a message board that experienced, as a group, a weird, complex, truly warped hoax that lasted almost two years. The details are different, but the result was very similar: lots of hurt feelings, wrecked friendships, a bitter taste in everyone's mouth.

There are many kinds of thieves -- some steal your money, some your possessions, some steal things that are less tangible and harder to define, but no less real and no less a loss.

I think people who do those things, no matter what it is they're stealing, count on the basic goodness of others. For most of us, that means giving people the benefit of the doubt, waiting until something negative happens before acting in our own best interest. This is the impulse that leads people to override their instincts and be "nice", to their own detriment. Our blindness, even short-lived, gives the unscrupulous ones the tiny opening they need. For me that's part of the lesson of this story: act in your own best interest at all times. Listen, to yourself most of all. Pay attention.

An old instructor of mine told me once, while I was in training in my complex, difficult job: if your gut is telling you something's amiss, it probably is. Act on it.

jasonrhode said...

Hey Audrey,
I'm assuming this is the actual person in Olson's story. I hope it is. Assuming you're the same person...

Don't listen to any of the punk fools above. Man, some people just want to make themselves look good. They don't mind if the price for fellating themselves is hurting another person. I find it kinda funny that williemayeshayes and julian were willing to read the article, *then* go to your blog, and *then* comment.

Remember that episode of Seinfeld when George travels across a continent just to try to diss a guy? Same as the above. Who are they to give you advice when they haven't had their heart broken?

Anyway, I've been fooled too. I have sort of an odd story about this kind of thing as well.

And I am a journalist myself. I know we can get it wrong, or at the very least, be too free with the embroidering. But that's beside the point. Most of the people in the world are good, but the Internet allows bad people, or good people with bad inclinations (like leaving mean comments on someone's blog) to be at their worst. But that's the price of being human, right? We extend our hand and sometimes it gets slapped away. On the whole, however, we turn our palms out for a reason.

You seem like a good person. I hope it'll get better for you.

Anonymous said...

jason - I was just gonna say what kind of nut would pretend to be me, but I guess we know the answer to that question: someone like Janna.

But seriously, it is me, the tragic, dumb, underwear-sniffing Audrey. I am listening to everyone. It's not that I'm thick-skinned, or a glutton for punishment, but I'm open to all feedback, which is why I'm doing my best to read comments and critiques out there in internet-land, and to respond to points I deem salient. Some of it hurts, but not as much as I've already been hurt, so I'll live through it.

People will always be dispensaries of advice and judgment, it's axiomatic.

It seems a lot of people have stories, I'd like to hear yours. And despite having been shat on by the likes of Janna St. James, I also believe that the good outweigh the bad, metaphorically at least. And kind words carry more weight than the bad ones do, so yours will cancel out the next ten assholes. Thanks for that.

acanthe sauvage said...

It's very easy afterwards to look at something and say "why didn't I guess, why didn't I SEE??" because with the benefit of hindsight we're all-knowing. It's different from the other side. I used to congratulate myself on never being taken in - some work I did years ago gave me a good nose for emotional manipulation but boy, does pride go before a fall (and could I possibly use any more cliches in this comment???). I was 'had' by a woman purporting to be a man in an internet community I was part of. Not in a big, life changing way but it was bad enough for me. Doh! Did I ever feel stupid, angry, bitter, stupid. Did I mention feeling stupid? Particularly so because it forced me to confront what I'd been *hoping* for with what I thought was a him.

Now, I'm less trusting than before and I don't like that. I don't like myself when I'm bitter or mistrustful so, I'm trying to get over that too.

The other thing I try to remember is that while the internet does make it easier for people like Janna to trick strangers, other people just do it in every day face-to-face life too. People lie and cheat just as much in "real" life as they do on the internet. Munchuasen's by proxy existed long before Munchausen's by internet.

Hell, that's a really cheering thought isn't it! But remembering that does stop me from dwelling on the 'evils' of the internet, because despite the fact that there are also bad people out there in real life too, I don't go through real life mistrusting everybody I meet because I once met a liar. Well, only a little bit ;-)

I have met some good people via the internet and I think you have too. One thing that strikes me reading the article is that you do have some good friends who care enough to help you when it matters. That's a pretty big plus. Just colour me Polyanna...

I wish you nothing but good things in the future.

Anonymous said...

I'm with ya, acanthe. I blame my own ego to some extent, I always thought I was a good judge of character, but also knew my weakness was not pushing people who were easily pushed by others. Janna must've seen that in me too. One of the big ironies is that she and I were discussing that very subject when Harlan called. I was telling her about a friend of mine who was a pushover, so I'd let her get her way more often than not.

Still, I've had a history of trusting people and having it come out all right - the Italian fashion student I met on a bus from Newark Airport back in '83, who asked me about how the YMCA was to live in (ew), and I offered her the other bedroom in my apartment till she got herself a job at Macy's. The woman I met at work who had an ex in common with me and we went in together on our first flat, she is a dear friend still, even though we're 6000 miles apart. Many of the boyfriends I've had who could have easily had the opportunity to take advantage of me and didn't. Josh bleedin' Olson, who I met on an AOL message board and, aside from his somewhat irritating superior attitude sometimes, is like the brother I never wanted.

My point being, I've had more good experiences with my instincts than I have bad. But the bad one, mamma mia. I've always been thankful for my friends, I just really do wish they'd've let me in on the whole confronting Janna plan, because you'd better believe the aftermath wouldn't have been as easy for her to rationalize. I would have most definitely involved the police. Most definitely.

Spanky McCloud said...

Thank you for posting her picture. That will go a long way in hopefully alerting people to who this monster is.

Anonymous said...

Mr/Ms McCloud (I hesitate to use your first name lest those pervy folks who obsess over the panty issue get the wrong idea) - I will do what I have to to ensure Janna St. James doesn't have an easy time headfucking anyone ever again. My pleasure. Really.

jasonrhode said...

Hey Audrey, sent you a mail to the old address. Even if we don't talk any more, hope you do well. Later.

des said...

Hi Audrey. I read your story first through the article Josh wrote, and then found your blog. I don't know if you even check this anymore, but I felt compelled to comment anyway.

When I was about 15 I met a guy named Matt online who was very friendly and protective towards me. He quickly set himself up in the role of surrogate big brother. During our friendship, he told me long, involved stories about his life. He was kicked out at the age of 15 after he'd finally gotten sick of his dad beating on his mom, and fought back. He went to live with a woman and her beautiful granddaughter, whom he fell in love with. They married when he was only 18. He somehow became a paramedic (without having gone to school for it, based on the timeline I worked out of his lies). While he was working one night, right after he left home, he was called to the scene of an accident--his newly wedded wife had been killed by a hit and run drunk driver. He told me many more stories about his life, the majority of which I have come to realize are complete and utter bullshit. At the time, I wanted to trust him. I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, even though my instincts were telling me something was off and that his stories didn't add up. I was clueless as to why someone who pretended to genuinely care about me would feel the need to make such things up.

I have since encountered numerous other people online who have seemed to be pathological liars. One in particular was a woman who posted a lot on a forum I frequented. She disappeared, and a few days later her daughter took over the account, telling everyone her mother had been the victim of a horrible attack. Something was fishy though, and after some investigation my friends and I discovered no matching accounts in any papers or crime logs. I still believe the woman staged the attack and her hospital stay, and posted pretending to be her daughter, solely to garner sympathy and attention from the community. It seems like the anonymity and freedom of the internet encourages them to make up grandiose, delusional tales.

I empathize with your pain. All I can say is that there are a lot of sick people out there and that I'm grateful you've let your story be told so that others can realize they are not alone in having been duped by people they trusted.

Aust said...

Hey there-

Firstly, I stumbled upon this little shit show tragedy today on a plane and find it totally compelling! On the surface it's proved massively entertaining.

Secondly, this is horrific and I'm sorry. It's always slightly sad to watch someone else's tragedy and find it entertaining and a channel to get riled up, mad, whatever.But the reality is, this is your life. And that shit is fucked up and you deserved NONE of it.

Thirdly, it makes me think of my older life. While a lot of comments you get are people saying, 'hey, i've been fooled too!' I lay on the other side of the spectrum. I've been a manipulative, sick person. Granted, this was age 13-19, from which I then got sober and woke up to seeing how I'd dicked people around, and I've since made amends and now it's 8 years later and I live by a whole set of different principles, yada yada. I didn't go to the extent she did by any means, but I made up boyfriends and tragedies and spun a web of lives. Not to mean or hurt anyone, but it was as though if someone else believe I was someone or something else, I could see the reflection in their eyes and believe it for a second. And as someone as sick as I was, there is such a layer of survival/denial going on that even when I was called out on it and my castle of lies was falling down, I would feel angry and slighted that they didn't believe me. I knew I was lying. And I don't think I was a bad person. Just a very desperate girl. And that doesn't make it less horrific (and I was a kid). However, that's what makes this story so interesting for me. When I read it, I have so much hatred for Janna. Which in a sense, is a hatred for who I once was. But then there is a slight empathy for Janna. Again, I want to make it clear SHE WAS WRONG and i'm not taking her side. That was unacceptable on every level. But I think she's less evil and more just extremely sick and desperate and distorted. And I really hope one day she'll wake up from the fog (if she's capable...I wasn't until I was), try to make it right by all the people she's harmed and get her life sorted out, so both her victims, and herself can heal.

Lastly, and I feel weird saying this because I know you've been through hell and back via this woman, but I don't think this lady who essentially bullied the hell out of you should necessarily be bullied back. And again, I have no place saying what you should or shouldn't do, so I hope this doesn't offend, just explaining my thought process. I think a press story (and there have been many) and court are totally fair, as you're not only warning people to be careful, but also aiming to get what you deserve in damages, which is also legitimate. But you seem so angry in your blogpost. And if anything, I wish you to heal and be positive and let go, as well as not try and shame her and name call and try and reach out to her old life to embarass her. Because you've been embarassed and fucked with and it sucked. So it seems like taking a higher road might be taking her to court and doing whatever else, but not gunning at this woman with a mean spirit. After all, she's publicly known as a totally nuts, manipulative, vermin. She steals other people's lives and has fake relationships as her way of feeling pleasure. That's a pretty sad person there. I don't see her life ending in rainbows and ribbons.

I hope none of this comes across as condescending or righteous. I'm internally wearing my team paula/aubrey shirt with my popcorn in hand swearing at this lady. I'm just trying to think a few layers deep here. And hey, one way I could be way off is that she 'could' be a legitimately dangerous person.

Anyway, just thought I'd reach out with my perspective as a once sick, sad, manipulative girl just trying to survive with the most fucked up tools I had to do so. Hope you heal, lady!