You Ain't All That, Bitch. Get Over Yourself!

 

Unfortunately, I have faced this scenario time and again since I got back into the dating scene after my divorce, in 2000. I may not have a PhD or an MBA but I am wicked smart, talented, creative and driven to succeed at everything I try. Over the years, I became a much sought-after writer, publicist and business manager, based not only on my professional skills but also because I'm a cunning, ruthless, street-smart bitch who doesn't take shit from anybody.

During my few attempts to introduce myself to men who didn't really know me, and develop what I'd hoped would be the beginning of a fruitful, intimate relationship with them, I discovered, much to my dismay, that they were rather...vocal when it came to critiquing my writing skills and education level. Often ending their scathing reviews with words like "honey," "darlin'," and my personal favourite: "cupcake."

For instance, I emailed one man, last spring, who went online looking for an intelligent and enlightened female companion who was as successful in business as she was dominating in the bedroom. Naturally, I was expecting a favorable reply to my query but what I got, instead, went something like this:


"Hey, babe Tnks for reaching out I Googled your name and red your blog. Your a decent writer but itsobvious you still have so much to learn.maybe i could teach you a few things, cookie. Let's get together for coffee OK"


You know what really pissed me off about that – aside from the fact that he was irritatingly condescending and misogynistic? I'm a multi-award winning writer who's made a pretty good living writing hard news stories, biographies, celebrity profiles, newspaper & magazine articles, TV and movie scripts, comic books, advertising campaigns...and this guy...this ASSHOLE whom I just asked out on a date...is a part-time gas station attendant, who still lives with his fucking mother!





In a baffling display of extraordinarily hostile misogyny, men sometimes call me a conceited bitch for agreeing with their compliment on my looks, talents and abilities, or daring to assume that I am intellectually and financially compatible with them. It’s almost as if they feel I should rebuff or deny my own accomplishments or physical attributes, and just pretend to be less than I am, in order to make them feel better.
 
 
For instance, a few months ago I responded to this online personals ad from a local man who was seeking a true and real connection with a woman, not just a quick fuck at a motel. He wrote:
 
 
"I'm a hard-working, successful, 48 year-old professional in the financial services industry, making in excess of $80,000 per year. I own a 4,000 sq. ft. home in the north end of town and a beach house right on the Pacific Ocean, in Parksville. I'm divorced with twins in grade 6, and have two German Shepherds that I love to spoil and smother with kisses. I'm very active, 6' 2" with an athletic build and have been told, many times, that I am very good-looking. I love hiking and boating, going to antique stores, curling up with a good book. I'm well read and enjoy Shakespeare just as much as Stephen King. Seeking a socially, intellectually and financially compatible woman, age 30-50, who loves animals and kids, for a deeper connection beyond the physical."
 
 
So, I replied:

 
"Hi. My name is Kelly. I own and manage three successful companies and make a yearly income that is comparable to yours. I'm a public figure in the entertainment industry, with a background in acting, screenwriting and television production. I'm also a freelance journalist and award-winning graphic artist and photographer. I love kids and have two cats that, like you, I also love to spoil and smother with kisses. I'm not athletic, by any stretch of the imagination, but I do love to go for walks and hikes, play tennis, swim at the beach etc. I have gorgeous hazel green eyes and an ever-changing hair colour (brunette, this week). Would love to hear back from you!"


His response?


"Fuck, lady. You really think you're something wonderful, don't you? Telling me how wealthy and successful you are. Well, you ain't all that BITCH. Get over yourself, you fat fucking cunt!"



Come on, guys. Either you want a woman who is your equal, a truly compatible mate in almost every respect, or you don't. Stop wasting your time (and mine) looking for the imaginary version of the woman you think you want but are truthfully intimidated by.

KJC


You Know I Love Ya, Mista J!

I was a hard-core Days of Our Lives fan, from about 1979 to 1992. As a "shipper" I rooted for so many couples to stay strong and true to each other, through their many trials and tribulations (and WTF? storylines).

One of my favourite oddball couples of the 1980s was Eugene and Calliope, played by the extraordinarily versatile actor, John de Lancie, of Star Trek fame, and Arleen Sorkin. Arleen later went on to voice the role of Harley Quinn in Batman: The Animated Series, and I loved her interpretation of the character so much that, when I became a voice-over actress in the early '90s, I duplicated Arleen's voice/accent for various roles in commercials etc., and it was a favourite amongst paying clients.

Apparently, I'm not the only one who liked Arleene's voice in the role of Harley Quinn, as many other actresses have also tried to duplicate her take on the character in other Batman/DC projects. I still think Arleen does it best though, don't you?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNGUU2-ZYZ8&app=desktop

The Monster in the Closet

I just woke up from a nightmare. Not about ghosts, being buried alive or drowning in the middle of the ocean. My monster was...a deadline!



In my dream, a well-connected writer friend told me to pitch her an engaging project for a children's magazine, like OWL or National Geographic Kids. In a matter of minutes, I conjured up a story about a brother and sister, two Dora the Explorer types, who learn that their parents, adventurous treasure hunters, like Indiana Jones and Lara Croft, had gone missing in Europe a few days earlier. Kids reading the magazine had to study and rake through every page of the magazine for clues about where their parents might be. It was a clever way to get kids to read all of the articles and study all of the pictures and advertisements (most important), and then formulate potential hypotheses about where the parents might be, based on about 15 clues sprinkled throughout the magazine.

"Brilliant," said my writer friend, and then went straight to her magazine's publisher, an Anna Wintour/Rupert Murdoch type, with my pitch.

A few hours later, my friend came back and said: "My publisher loved your pitch. Can you have the entire story and game plan, including character mock-ups and all of the written and visual clues, worked out and emailed to her by Sunday night? She wants to read a detailed pitch on Monday morning."

"Are you kidding me? It's 8 p.m. on Friday. I can't have a pitch like that ready to go in 48 hours. I'm working all weekend!"

My friend started to get really nervous and agitated, reminding me that she put her own job and reputation on the line by vouching for me (a moderately successful writer/journalist) with her employer, and promising that I could deliver. She even went so far as to say that, if I screwed up this opportunity, I'd probably never get a staff position or freelance writing gig at any of the 20+ newspapers, magazines, TV news outlets (like CNN) or online resources (e.g. Huffington Post) that this publisher/mega-mogul owned.

I tried to shrug off my friend's doomsday prophecy but she really put the pressure on, to the point where I almost started to cry. That's when I woke up.

So, yeah, that's a professional writer's nightmare. Hmmm...I wonder what architects, accountants and real estate agents dream about.

KJC
 

Remembering Ralph McQuarrie

How's this for a #throwbackthursday?

I'd forgotten, until this popped up in a Google search of my name, that CBC quoted me in a news article about the passing of Star Wars conceptual artist, Ralph McQuarrie. They grouped my tribute in with quotes from celebrities, such as Wil Smith and Simon Pegg, and people who actually worked with Ralph at LucasFilm -- including George Lucas, himself! I was deeply honoured.

CBC: "As mourners took to social media to express their gratitude, several high-profile friends and fans weighed in."

http://www.cbc.ca/newsblogs/yourcommunity/2012/03/star-wars-artist-ralph-mcquarrie-dies-at-82.html

There's a Sucker Born Every Minute

CTV's W5 recently did an undercover expose on fake psychics who con gullible, desperate people out of hundreds sometimes thousands  of dollars, promising to lift curses and guide them through difficult times, such as the loss of a job, end of a marriage or death of a family member.


This was a great story, and I'm glad CTV took a serious, in-depth approach to it. First, know that I am, in fact, psychic. Or, more precisely, empathic/intuitive. I have paranormal abilities that I cannot explain and don't really understand how they work or where they come from. Details on that, HERE.

So, knowing all of that, here is where I stand on the issue of paying "psychics" a shit-load of money to give you advice, cleanse your aura and help you talk to dead family members:

DON'T DO IT.
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, GIVE YOUR HEAD A SHAKE
AND SMARTEN THE FUCK UP!

So, why do I feel so strongly about this, even though I believe I am a legitimate psychic? It's simple. Predicting the future is a guessing game, like Charades or Pictionary. You get clues from body language and facial expressions, you analyze and hypothesize, based on previous experience and the Law of Averages, and come to conclusions based on feelings and intuition. Hardly an exact science. Whether you are genuinely intuitive, such as myself, or not, it is all still just a guessing game. You have no true, tangible product or service to sell, like a hotdog vendor, florist, real estate agent, event planner or architect. When those people charge a fee for services rendered, they deserve it, because the product or service is real. The proof is right there in front of you.

When I tell someone I get the sense that their spouse is cheating on them, or their boss is looking for someone to replace them at work, it's all just speculation and intuition. The future is fluid and ever-changing. What I feel and sense about the coming weeks or months in your life may be true, right now, but every decision you make, from deciding what to wear to work, what to eat for lunch or which route to take to the grocery store, changes that future. So, you should never, ever, EVER pay more than $5.00 for a reading, because it's not even close to being definitive. I get so angry when I see newspaper or online ads from Lobelia's Lair or the Calico Cat Tea House, here in Nanaimo, charging people a ridiculous amount of money to tell them stories, filling the minds of sad, gullible and desperate people with false hopes, wishes and dreams.

Crystal balls are just carved and polished chunks of pretty, semi-transparent rock. They have no power, beyond producing a mild electrical current. Wet tea leaves clumped together at the bottom of a cup cannot predict your future, nor can the position of stars in the night sky, for that matter. Tarot cards are nothing more than stiff pieces of paper, printed with colourful illustrations (that were designed by graphic artists) and distributed by the thousands from factories in China, India and Taiwan. There is no magic, here.


It's no big deal to pay a couple of bucks for a "psychic" reading – so long as you understand that it is all JUST A FUN AND SILLY LITTLE GUESSING GAME. OK?

KJC

Reflecting on 48 Years

As my 48th birthday quickly approaches (March 27th), I've been reflecting on my life...who I am, what I've done, what I still hope to accomplish before I die...and it's been an interesting journey, to say the least!

I had a shitty childhood. Nothing horrific, mind you. I was never beaten, starved and locked in a closet for a week but, after my parents divorced when I was ten, every day was a struggle. My birth mother was, and remains, an emotionally stunted high school dropout with no moral code of conduct. We were always short on cash because she couldn’t hold down a legitimate job, moving my baby sister and I from home to home because she couldn’t pay the rent, forcing me to change schools every few months, which made it impossible for me to forge long-lasting friendships with my peers. Mercilessly bullied by my classmates for being "different" and repeatedly sexually molested by family members and my mother's boyfriend from age 12-18, I ran away from home more times than I can recall. Top that off with a breast cancer scare at age 19 that left me with a permanent 4" scar across my right boob, and it's safe to say my youth was just one miserable day after another.

When I was 20, I met and later married a notable figure in the Canadian broadcasting industry. Tall, handsome, charming, intelligent and very funny, Michael would’ve been the husband that every girl dreams of marrying, if it wasn’t for the fact that he had some serious mental health issues. Plagued by anxiety, severe depression, paranoia and a profound lack of self-esteem, this divorced man ten years my senior was an absolute nightmare to live with during our ten years together. I lived in constant fear of his wrath and, while he never once laid a violent hand on me, his Machiavellian manipulations and relentless accusations of impropriety ultimately alienated me from my friends, family and co-workers until he was all that was left in my world. Finally, at age 30, I’d had enough of his psychotic accusations and emotional manipulations, which had all but destroyed my soul, and I gave him the boot.

It took a while to rebuild a life for myself as a single gal living in the big city (Ottawa) but, by 2005-06, I had become a successful voice-over artist, and forged some great relationships as a publicist, personal assistant and image consultant for several Hollywood celebrities. I also dabbled in acting, screenwriting and television production, interior decorating and set design...I was working 90 to 110 hours a week – sometimes 25 to 30 hours straight – with nothing to eat all day but a handful of cookies. Literally running on fumes as I partied with Sting in London, danced with Robert De Niro in New York, and attended the Oscars and Emmys in L.A. with people who would later leave the event clutching a golden statuette. I had an agent, an entertainment lawyer, a business manager, an office secretary, personal assistant and bodyguard/chauffer on-call for special occasions. I was raking in about $200k per year as the trusted confidant to several Hollywood powerbrokers...and, unknowingly, the hectic lifestyle was killing me. More on that, later.

For many years, I had been working on a multi-media project, called The Black Tower, which I’d been developing for the North American market as a TV show, with a companion webcomic series and video game. Phase One, the webcomic, launched in August, 2008. Though not a financial success because it was free online (a teaser for the TV series), the first issue of The Black Tower was a huge hit in comics/sci-fi geek circles and I suddenly found myself the object of much attention by fans who wanted interviews, autographed headshots and printed copies of the webcomic. My email account was inundated with fan mail from people all over the world. It also caught the attention of several actors and writers for Lost, Heroes, Smallville, Supernatural, Buffy, Angel, Stargate: SG1, Battlestar Galactica and other genre shows who wanted on board the project, should I ever manage to sell the TV series rights.



I pitched the project to various production companies all over North America where it got a few nibbles from development executives. But, then, all hell broke loose after the economic crash of 2008, and Hollywood did not escape the carnage unscathed. Networks started laying off its stars, screenwriters and producers in a desperate attempt to stay in the black. Greenlit film projects were suddenly put on hold, and TV pilots that might’ve sold, otherwise, were dismissed as too expensive to produce for the upcoming season. The Black Tower died a slow, agonizing death, along with my dreams for a future as creator/showrunner on a hit TV show.

Meanwhile, in an effort to avoid bankruptcy, many of my clients had to let go of some of their staff. The housekeeper, the nanny, the chef, the personal trainer...and me. One by one, they cut me loose until I was down to my last three non-celebrity clients, making less than $2,000 per month by the end of 2009. My health was also starting to deteriorate. Chronic fatigue, blurred vision, fainting spells, insomnia and dramatic weight loss (60 lbs. in four months). I thought things couldn’t get much worse.

I was wrong.

In March of 2010, I took a live-in position as a household manager, personal assistant and nanny for a middle-aged jet-setting couple in Toronto, with a five year-old son. In order to fit all of my things into their 300 sq. ft. nanny’s suite, I had to sell, give away or trash 70% of everything I owned. It was brutal! But, in a way, I was kind of glad to be rid of all that "stuff" and start fresh in a new environment. Unfortunately, by the end of my first week, I realized I’d made a horrible, horrible mistake, as the woman of the house, "Mary", quickly revealed herself to be an immature, selfish, self-indulgent Jewish princess who went out of her way to make everyone around her feel like shit, with her cruel comments and backstabbing accusations. Angry, bitter and ruthless to the core, she repeatedly dug her well-manicured nails deep into my soul, with behaviour so shocking it had me in tears on several occasions. I was so relieved when, two weeks into my new job, I was let go because we discovered that their son was allergic to my two cats, who lived with me in the nanny’s suite. My relief quickly turned to panic, however, when I suddenly realized that, just days before my 42nd birthday, I found myself homeless, unemployed and flat, dead broke.

I moved from temporary home to temporary home, living like a gypsy with what few meagre belongings I had left, after a flood destroyed almost a third of the stuff I had in storage during my brief employment in Hell House. I got a part-time job making $900 per month as an overnight janitor at a health club, while trying desperately to secure employment in the Toronto entertainment industry, which was still suffering the effects of the economic crash. Sadly, everyone who once sought my guidance and opinions on their TV and film projects (I specialized in viral marketing and social media) were no longer returning my phone calls and emails enquiring about job opportunities on the very same projects that I had consulted on just months earlier. By the spring of 2011, I was $42,000 in debt, living in a shitty little 400 sq. ft. basement apartment in Pickering, and working a dead-end minimum wage job that only exacerbated my ever-declining state of physical and mental health.

Then, along came Dad to my rescue. Happily retired and living alone on Vancouver Island, he invited me to come live with him and start a fresh new life on the west coast, after having filed for bankruptcy and losing my car, my two beloved cats (sickness & old age) and still more personal belongings, which I had to sell in order to eat. With much anticipation, I flew west in late June, 2011, in hope of finding full-time employment in Nanaimo, a safe, clean apartment and a new perspective on my future.

It took a while. There were a few nasty bumps on the road after I got here, not the least of which was being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. That, unfortunately, took about three years to get under control, with meds, proper diet and exercise. But, now, I can honestly say I’m happier than I have ever been in my entire life. I only have to work five hours a day to pay my bills, I have no other debt beyond monthly rent, cable, hydro and cell phone bills, I own a cute little 1993 Honda Civic, and live in a gorgeous, brand new apartment just two blocks from the Pacific Ocean. I spend leisurely afternoons reading, writing, sculpting, baking cookies, watching old movies in bed with my two new kitty cats, or taking a stroll along the sandy shores of Nanaimo, chocolate ice cream cone in hand.

I've made some wonderful friends here on the Island and, even though I haven't completely let go of my life in the entertainment industry (if a voice-over gig or temp job on a local movie/TV production falls into my lap, I’ll consider taking it – and I’m still dabbling with TV scripts, with little expectation of ever pitching/selling them), I feel the time has come for me to switch gears in this next phase of my life. Focus more on my artistic side, writing freelance magazine articles that I may or may not decide to publish, and creating works of art to sell at craft fairs and galleries, or on the Front Street boardwalk to the thousands of tourists who visit Nanaimo every summer.

Yes, life is good, again.
 

The view from here.

 

My Online Dating Profile

Now that I've been living on Vancouver Island for a few years, I think it's time for me to get back into the dating scene. Nothing serious, mind you. I have no interest in being anyone's steady girlfriend or casual fuck buddy, for that matter. In the city where I live, it’s virtually impossible to meet good-looking, highly accomplished middle-aged intellectuals who are still single, so, I’ve been checking out a few of the online dating websites. Sadly, I’ve noticed that they typically cater to two major demographics: heterosexual singles looking for love & marriage, and heterosexual singles/married people looking for a brief hook-up with a stranger. Who I am and what I want doesn’t really fall into either of these two categories. Therefore, I’ve decided to post a detailed dating profile on my blog, just to see if anyone out there might be interested. Here goes:

NAME: KellyBelly68

SIGN / AGE: Aries / 48 – but I act and feel 25 most days.

GENDER / ETHNICITY: Female / Caucasian

MARITAL STATUS: Divorced since 2000, no maggots – er, kids.

PHYSICAL STATS: 5’1” tall, 160 lbs., hazel-green eyes and an ever-changing hair colour (I get bored fast). No tattoos or piercings in weird places. I have an hourglass figure (44-34-44), however, my boobs swing back and forth across my tummy when I walk without a bra on (just try and get that visual out of your head!). I have pale, near-flawless skin, which I maintain by bathing in the blood of a hundred virgins at least once a month.

PERSONALITY TYPE: I am a high-maintenance alpha-bitch who loves being the centre of attention (it’s my world, you just live in it). I’m highly motivated and ambitious – although I do have a bad habit of procrastinating to the point of not finishing a task in a timely manner (it took me five weeks to write this online dating profile). I’m not really a “joiner” or team player. I don’t like to follow the rules – unless I’m the one that made them – and often think so far out of the box that people are like: “Is she on crack?” I don’t smoke, I don’t do drugs and I rarely drink. I enjoy dancing, yoga and long walks on the beach but am not athletic by any stretch of the imagination. The only way you’ll get me to join you for a run is if we’re heading to a 75% off sale at Aldo Shoes.

RELIGION: I don’t belong to any organized religion but my interests tend to lean more towards Buddhism and Wicca (no, we don’t worship Satan, you moron). I believe in reincarnation of the soul but absolutely do not believe in angels, demons, Heaven or Hell, as described in most religious writings – which are, essentially, just myths and fairy-tales. If you belong to an organized religion, if you pray to and worship a deity, if you are willing to fight, kill or die in the name of some imaginary, all-knowing, all-powerful supernatural being, you are a fucking idiot.

SEXUAL ORIENTATION: I’m an asexual-bisexual, which means that I am equally attracted to both men and women but – and here’s the big BUT – I don’t often have sexual intercourse. It’s not a religious thing, it’s biological. That's just what my brain and body want. All my girl-parts work just fine, thanks, and I do enjoy a good spanking now and then. I would just rather go shopping or watch a great movie on TV than do the horizontal mambo with someone, five times a week.

CAREER: Gosh, where should I start? Let’s see...screenwriter, comic book writer, television producer, actress, voice-over artist, celebrity publicist, personal assistant and talent manager, image consultant, wardrobe stylist and fashion designer, hairdresser, make-up artist and aromatherapeutic masseuse, life coach, investigative journalist, award-winning photographer, painter, sculptor and mixed-media artist, interior decorator, professional organizer and home stager, florist, caterer, event-planner, receptionist, commercial/industrial cleaner, property manager...and what do YOU do for a living, huh? Huh?! Slacker.

PETS: I’m an animal rights activist who’s come close to getting arrested for protecting animals from horrific abuse. I’ve smashed car windows to rescue dogs in 60ºC heat, I broke into a home in the middle of the night to rescue a cat and her newborn kittens who were left to starve and die in the basement, I’ve staged protests/boycotts against Gillette for their ghastly animal testing and helped shut down a puppy mill...Uh, sorry...What was the question, again? Oh, yeah. While I love all creatures, great and small, I have a particular fondness for cats. Right now, I have two adorable furballs: Maive and Sierra. But if I ever own a large home in the country, I intend to adopt/rescue a hundred more, thus becoming the reigning Queen of Crazy Cat Ladies.

FAVOURITE TV SHOWS: Brady Bunch, Partridge Family, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Get Smart, The Flintstones, Spiderman (animated, 1967), Scooby-Doo, Little House on the Prairie, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Andy Griffith Show, Star Trek, Doctor Who, CHiPS, Land of the Lost, Swiss Family Robinson, Columbo, Space: 1999, Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Charlie's Angels, Love Boat, Fantasy Island, The Curse of Dracula, Three's Company, Family Ties, The Facts of Life, Simon & Simon, Magnum P.I., Remington Steele, V, Knight Rider, Voyagers, Miami Vice, X-Files, Cheers, Frasier, Alias, Forever Knight, Xena, Hercules, Babylon 5, Charmed, Lost, Heroes, Stargate, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Smallville, Supernatural, Law & Order, CSI, Monk, The Librarians, Psych, Arrow, Orphan Black, The Listener, Castle, Murdoch Mysteries, Sleepy Hollow, Grimm, Agents of SHIELD, The Magicians, Gotham, Being Human, Lucifer

FAVOURITE MOVIES: Rear Window, North By Northwest, To Catch a Thief, Dial M for Murder, Roman Holiday, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, To Kill a Mockingbird, Cape Fear, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Them!, War of the Worlds (original and Tom Cruise remake), The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, House on Haunted Hill, That Darn Cat, Escape to Witch Mountain, The Sound of Music, A Christmas Carol, The Wizard of Oz, The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby, The Omen, Carrie, The Shining, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Andromeda Strain, China Syndrome, Grease, Xanadu, Star Wars (IV, V & VI – don’t even get me started on the travesty that was I, II & III), Close Encounters, Superman, Blade Runner, American Werewolf in London, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ghostbusters, Poltergeist, E.T., Flashdance, Footloose, Star Trek movies (except for the mind-numbingly puerile “reimaginings” by J.J. Abrams), The Lost Boys, Fright Night, The Terminator, Mannequin, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller, Romancing the Stone, The Little Mermaid, Aliens, Ghost, Frequency, Groundhog Day, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Batman, Basic Instinct, Fatal Attraction, Goodfellas, Casino, Spiderman, Donnie Darko, Blade, Underworld, X-Men, The Matrix, Cube, Ginger Snaps, Paranormal Activity, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

FAVOURITE BOOKS, MAGAZINES & COMICS: Peter Pan, Carrie, The Shining, Christine, Pet Sematary, Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, Queen of the Damned, Amityville Horror, Coma, The Sentinel, I Vampire, Vogue Magazine, Architectural Digest, Canadian Screenwriter, Alive Magazine, Batman: Year One, Witchblade, Spawn, Watchmen

FAVOURITE MUSIC: My tastes are all over the map. I’m a big fan of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons and listen to it 8-10 times a week. I love old country classics by George Jones, Patsy Cline, Bill Monroe, Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson and Tammy Wynette. I love the smooth sounds of The Eagles, Simon & Garfunkel, Carly Simon, James Taylor, Abba, Wings, Chicago, The BeeGees, The Carpenters, Jim Croce, Hall & Oates, Toto, The Alan Parsons Project, Gino Vannelli and Elton John. But I am a child of the ‘80s, so, I love the best of what they had to offer, from Pat Benatar, Lionel Richie, Blondie, Billie Joel, Duran Duran, Journey, Corey Hart, Prince, Madonna, The Eurythmics, Howard Jones, ZZ Top, U2, Culture Club, Foreigner, Genesis/Phil Collins, The Police/Sting, Bon Jovi, Tina Turner, Wham/George Michael and Tears for Fears. Some more recent offerings I enjoy are from Evanescence, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Loreena McKennitt, Coldplay, Ellie Goulding, Three Days Grace, Pink, The Tea Party, Sarah McLachlan and NIN. But my passion – my absolute passion – is for jazz, swing and R&B. I could listen to Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Vince Guaraldi, Natalie Cole, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, Ray Charles, Toni Braxton and Sade all day, every day.

I AM SEEKING: Male or female, non-smoker, age 35-55, for casual dating. You don’t have to be rich, famous or outrageously successful to keep me interested but you do have to be gainfully employed with a steady paycheque, because this mamma ain’t gonna lend you a dime to pay your rent or phone bill, you dig?

Having your own car would be a great asset to our relationship. Having your own Learjet? Even better – although I don’t like to fly or travel. It’s just nice to know it’s there, waiting for us in the hangar, just in case we decide to take a weekend trip to London, Paris or New York.

Do you like cosplay? One of my former boyfriends played a seductive vampire in a mega-hit horror movie back in the 1980s. I’ve got a thing for vampires, so, if you’d like to dress up head to toe in black leather, put on some fake fangs and guy-liner, I would eagerly volunteer to be your “victim”. Another former beau co-starred in Frank Miller’s 300, and I found the gladiator costume he wore to be quite a turn-on. I think we could have lots of fun playing Gladiator & Slave Girl, sometime.

As you’ve probably already surmised from this dating profile, I have a bit of a warped and sarcastic sense of humour, and don’t care too much if I hurt somebody’s feelings while expressing my opinions. Have I scared you off yet? No? OK, well, that’s a good sign. If you’d like to get together for coffee sometime, email me at kellybelly68@hotmail.com (not a real email address, BTW)

KJC
 

A Screaming Good Time

When I was 5 & 6 years old (circa 1974), I lived next door to a very sweet, elderly couple who became like a third set of grandparents to me. My fondest memories are of the Saturday afternoons I would spend on the living room sofa with the man, watching SHOCK THEATRE, which were mostly black & white B-movie horror flicks from the 30s, 40s and 50s. We would eat junk food, cover our eyes during the scary parts and scream at the appropriate moments. This precious year in my early life cemented my passion for horror movies, and I later welcomed Carrie, The Shining, The Exorcist and Poltergeist with open, loving arms.


Take a Walk on the Wild Side

I hate to travel. Always have. Getting to the airport on time, the check-in process, being sandwiched in with dozens of complete strangers on a plane, for hours and don't even get me started on hotel booking screw-ups, language barriers, currency confusion, weird food and digestion problems, questionable washroom facilities, guarding my personal safety and belongings in a strange place...ugh! I did it for work but only because I had to, to make money.

Then, along came Google Earth and Google Street View. Now, I can safely stroll down a street in Sydney, Paris, Toronto, Bogota, London, Venice, Reykjavik, Moscow, Beverly Hills, Hawaii, Rome, Brooklyn, Madrid...I can get up-close and personal with the CN Tower, Uluru, the Eiffel Tower, Alcatraz Prison, the Devil's Tower (which, oddly enough, always seems to give me a craving for mashed potatoes), the Burj Khalifa, the pyramids at Giza...just so many wonderful hours of enjoyment on my 27" HD monitor  without having to worry about negotiating my way through sweaty, smelly crowds, getting lost or mugged, getting sick after contracting God knows what, or having to pee in a hole in the ground because there are no toilets.

When I have the time, I like to just wander around in the middle of wherever, using Street View to check out the apartment buildings, houses and front yards, the cars people drive, the neighbourhood businesses, the people walking down the street or riding on their bikes. A slice of life, a moment captured in time, in another city, somewhere in the world.

Well, earlier today, I got a glimpse of what life is like at a home in the Lucerne Valley desert, on North Shore Drive, northeast of San Bernardino, CA. A man in a lawn chair, lounging in the shade under the trees in front of his house, while his big, black dog lies flat on his side, baking in the midday sun. I'll betcha he's got a few good stories to tell.



Or, just maybe, I'll create one about HIM!

It's Hard Out There for All of Us

Lately, I've been thinking about just how fortunate I am to have had such an incredibly diverse work history, rich with experience in everything from retail, food service, admin/reception, janitorial and hotel/hospitality to interior design, acting, screenwriting, voice-overs, public relations and working as a floor director and production assistant in live television.

I've always been very fluid and open to new challenges, and have never really had an "I'm too important to do that," kind of mentality. For instance, I once worked as a janitor in an office building while simultaneously doing publicity for an up-and-coming movie star (who's now a multi-award winning actor-producer-director making $80 million per year). I also worked as a retail clerk while putting in some serious time as a personal assistant and career manager for Academy Award winning actors, writers and producers. I've also worked a fast food job while doing acting and voice-over work in national commercials for Ikea, Tide, Volkswagen, Dove, Telus, Rogers, Tim Hortons, TD Bank, Audi and other companies, never once thinking that making great money and being a public figure in the entertainment industry somehow meant that I was just too busy or important to do other far less glamorous jobs. It's my flexibility and willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done that makes me so desirable to prospective employers.

But what if you're an actor, writer or producer, with a string of hits going back several years, decades, even, and you have a line up of awards on your mantle that's almost as long as your IMDB credits – and then, suddenly, the work just stops. No one is buying your series pilot pitches, anymore. No one is hiring you as a staff writer on a show. Casting agents won't even look at you for a walk-on role, anymore.

Sadly, I know so many people who've been incredibly successful in the entertainment industry for so long, that's all they know how to do. They can't get a job at McDonald's, Walmart or the Holiday Inn. They won't even think about re-training to become a doctor, lawyer, or structural engineer at age 40, 50 or 60 and I feel so bad for them. The emotional strain, the panic, the desperation of trying to pay the bills and keep the spouse and three kids fed...I got a very small taste of that after the crash of 2008, when work became very, very scarce for millions of people. But I was able to bounce back because I have experience and training in dozens of fields of employment.

How awful it must be out there, right now, for these wonderful, talented people.


 

Women in the Comic Book Industry

In addition to being a comics lover since about age 10 (the first one I ever bought with my own money was the graphic novel retelling of Star Wars, 1978), I'm also a highly experienced, multi-award winning writer with a background that includes everything from corporate slogans, TV commercials and promotional pamphlets to lifestyle magazine pieces, celebrity bios, screenplays and hard-core investigative journalism stories (I once went undercover to infiltrate a prostitution ring in downtown Toronto). I was also the editor in chief of an online news site where my main duties were to proofread and edit stories submitted by seasoned journalists from CNN, NBC news and major newspapers across North America. I'm a damn good writer, and believe I am fully capable of writing a comic book.

With the guidance and support of my comic book brethren, including Jeff Mariotte, Geoff Johns, Brad Meltzer, Jimmy Palmiotti and Jason Badower, I went to the message boards at Comic Book Resources to announce my project in the works, The Black Tower, in 2007, and to inform my fellow comic book geeks that I was in need of an artist who would be available to draw & colour at least the first two or three issues (of a planned 36) for $12,000 per issue.

Well, the venomous, hateful, misogynistic and patronizing remarks I got in the comments section below my post hours later were just so shocking and unbelievably hurtful. These were my fellow comic book lovers and sci-fi/fantasy geeks, telling me to "fuck off, loser", "chicks can't write comics", "why don't you go back to washing the dishes, bitch, no one wants to work on your stupid Black Dildo".

The most hurtful comments came from comic book veteran, Jim Valentino, whose remarks were so patronizing and condescending I felt as though he'd assumed I was just some stupid, misguided teenager instead of a highly accomplished writer which he would have discovered if he'd just spent 10 seconds Googling my name.

I was so angry, I tore into him on the message boards, and after a heated debate between he and I over the inclusion and respectful acceptance of women in the comic book industry (which was read by hundreds of people), he retracted his misogynistic statements, wished me luck on The Black Tower and deleted the entire thread on Comic Book Resources, so, he didn't look like an ass online for all eternity (Google has a long memory).

I love comics! My favorite characters are Batman, Venom, Jean Gray/Phoenix, Spider-Man, Spawn, Wonder Woman and so many others I won't take the time to list here. I'm also fully qualified to write comics, the proof being the 100,000 plus readers and fans of my work from all over the world, including writers for Buffy, Angel, Lost, Heroes, Star Trek, X-Files, Smallville, Supernatural and Battlestar Galactica.

OK...I got that out of my system. Now, if you don't mind, I have a sink full of dishes to get to.

KJC

 

HEROES Revisited

While cleaning up my hard-drive today, I stumbled upon this old picture, from May of 2009. It's a page, taken from the NBC hit show HEROES online graphic novel series, "Rebellion, Part 3: Family" with artwork done by my friend, Jason Badower.




Jase and I were pretty close during his stint on the HEROES graphic novels. So much so that, in addition to providing the cover art for my mega-hit webcomic, The Black Tower (when he was already insanely busy and under constant pressure from NBC), he chose to honour our friendship by putting my name in the above-mentioned HEROES comic, which was not only seen online by millions of people all over the world, it was also chosen by executives at NBC to be a special edition print comic to be handed out to fans at San Diego Comic-Con. Do you see my name, in the top panel depicting Broadway, in New York City? Just looking at the page, now, reminds me of all the fun times that we, the fans, had when HEROES was at its peak.

KJC
 

Value Village is a Rip-Off!

This has been burning my bottom for the past ten years. Now, I really feel I need to vent.

VALUE VILLAGE IS A RIP-OFF!!

When I started shopping there back in 1998, you could get a T-shirt in great shape for $1.99, dress pants for $3.99, a leather jacket in like-new condition for $9.99, and some excellent pieces of home décor (vases, candle-holders, picture frames) and housewares (dish sets, pots & pans, toaster, coffee-maker) for an unbeatable price.

Then, around 2005, I started to notice the prices starting to inch upwards. The afore-mentioned T-shirts went up to $3.99, dress pants were $6.99, a leather jacket that needed some work/cleaning was now $12.99, and a ten year-old coffee-maker cost $8.99. I also noticed that the stuff I donated wasn’t realistically priced for a thrift shop. Shirts that I originally purchased at Value Village a year earlier for $1.99 and decided to re-donate because it no longer fit were now priced at $4 to $6. Suede and leather skirts, pants and jackets that I originally bought there maybe two or three years earlier and gave up for the same reason were now being re-priced at $19.99 to $29.99. Empty frames, framed photographs and artwork in their décor department were selling just shy of what you could pay for brand new at Dollarama, Walmart or Target.

Since 2010, the price of things at Value Village has just gone absolutely bonkers. Last year, I donated a matching glass bead necklace/bracelet combo that I bought new for $8 five years earlier. A few days later, I found the set in their display case, broken up, and separately priced for $10 each! I also donated a cast iron tea pot that I bought at President’s Choice for $12.99 ten years ago but had rusted too much for my liking. Days later, I found it in their housewares department, priced at – you’re not going to believe this – $49.99. What the fuck?!


Leather jackets with torn pockets that reek of cigarette smoke now cost anywhere from $39 to $120. Cheap shoes from Walmart and Target, some of which are still selling at these major discount stores, can be found on the racks of Value Village at $3 to $10 more than their original retail price! Just today, I found a crappy little wall plaque with its original Liquidation World $1.99 price tag still on it, and Value Village has the unmitigated gall to slap their own $5.99 price tag right above it!

I did some Googling today and discovered that
I’m not the only one outraged by these ridiculous prices. Folks who’ve written to the Canadian and U.S. head offices to complain are just getting the brush-off. And the working situation at stores all across North America has been compared to sweat shops, where staff members are demeaned, humiliated and intimidated at every turn.

I think it’s time for me to seriously rethink my thrift-shopping habits and devote more of my time and money to places like the Salvation Army.

KJC
 

Satanist! Sinner! Repent!

Soon after I moved to Nanaimo from Toronto, in 2011, I got a fantastic new job as a Continental breakfast hostess at a quaint little independently owned hotel. The manager was impressed with my 20+ years of experience in hospitality services, and loved my warm, friendly disposition and “can-do” attitude.

I took to the job like an old pro, learned quickly, and became fast friends with the front desk and housekeeping staff. I was having a great time – and it showed! I greeted every person who entered the café like they were guests in my own home. I was engaging and enthusiastic, talked to everyone I had a chance to while keeping the coffee hot, the milk cold and the muffins fresh.

Every day, the feedback I got from hotel guests was nothing but positive. Men gave me their business cards, telling me they looked forward to their next visit to Nanaimo, so they could see me again. Women approached me with warm hugs, saying I was the best breakfast hostess they’d ever seen. A perfect fit for the job – and it was evident in the tips I was getting. The usual take from the other café girls was about $3 to $8 per shift, while I was finding $20 bills in my little TIP BOX, wrapped in notes saying: “Wow, you’re awesome. Thanks for starting my vacation off on the right foot!”

So, four weeks into this wonderful new job, the manager called me to a meeting. I thought perhaps it was to discuss a raise or promotion to a supervisory or front desk position, as I told him during my interview that I intended to work at the hotel for many years and eventually work my way up to a management position. But, sadly, that was not to be. In fact, it was quite the opposite.

In his office, the manager looked across the desk at me, a frown on his face. “I’ve been getting some...strange feedback from guests about you,” he said.

I paused, bewildered. “Strange how?”

The manager fidgeted uncomfortably in his chair. “Just...people have been making some weird comments about you and I, uh...I just don’t think you’re a good fit here.”

My heart sunk.

“I don’t understand what you’re saying,” I said quietly. “I’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback from hotel guests. I’m warm and friendly to everyone. I love my job and I do it very, very well, so I’m really confused, here. Can you please explain to me what you mean by ‘weird’ and ‘strange’ because that makes absolutely no sense to me?”

“I’m not going to get into any details or name names,” he said, nervously. “You’re just not a good fit as a café attendant.”

I stood there in stunned silence for a moment. “So...you’re firing me?” I managed.

He lowered his gaze, nodded.

Tears began to well up in my eyes. Again I tried to pry some more information out of him about why I was being fired and, again, he was evasive and dismissive. I stormed out of his office, furious and in tears.

About an hour later, as I sat down on my sofa at home with a huge bowl of ice cream to pacify myself, I went over and over in my mind every possible reason why I was just fired from a job I was so obviously perfect for...and there was nothing.

I turned on the TV, started watching Brad Meltzer's Decoded. This episode was about the Statue of Liberty’s possible connection to the Illuminati, a secret society of powerbrokers who seek to rule the world in a New Order of government. And that got me thinking about other secret societies and their connection to pagan religions —

“Holy shit! Is that it?! Is that why I was fired?” I said, as I jumped off the couch.

You see, about a week earlier, as I was putting out a fresh batch of cinnamon buns at the café, a middle aged black man and his sister came in, my very first guests of the day. The woman sat down at a table, the man approached and asked for my name. After I told him, he said, “Kelly, have you accepted the Lord as your true God and Saviour?”

I cringed a little but it’s my job to be polite and engaging to everyone who walks through my doors, so I said, “Yes, the Lord is with me.”

“And do you talk to God every day?” he went on.

I smiled. “If by ‘talk’ you mean have a face-to-face conversation with God, then, no. But I do feel her presence, guiding me through life.”

The man cocked his head, visibly confused. “Her presence? God is male not female. What religion are you?”

I looked around at the empty café, hoping that someone would walk in and interrupt our conversation. But, alas, it was just the three of us. So, I took a deep breath, said, “While I do have an academic interest in all religions, my beliefs tend to lean more toward Buddhism and Wicca.”

“What does ‘Wicca’ mean?” his sister asked from across the room.

“It means I’m a witch,” I said matter-of-factly.

The man’s face went ashen. “You are an agent of Lucifer, the Dark Angel. A minion of Satan!”

Oh, Jesus, here we go, I said to myself. And then I thought, This is a perfect opportunity to dispel a few myths about Wicca, and engage the man in a rational, intelligent theosophical discussion about the existence of God. (Yeah, I know. Naïve. But that’s me.)

“Actually, Wicca has absolutely nothing to do with Lucifer or Devil worship,” I said, with a gentle tone in my voice. “It’s a nature-based religion with a female deity at the head, sometimes called Gaia or Diana. We’re all about love, charity, compassion and acceptance, respect for nature and the protection of animals. We don’t fly around on broomsticks or dance naked around bonfires, sacrificing newborn babies to the Devil. We rescue abandoned kittens, pay the vet bill for stray dogs that have been hit by a car. We organize bake sales to raise money for kids’ sports uniforms. We reduce, recycle and reuse. Basically,” I said, laughing, “we’re all just a bunch of tree-hugging granola-crunchers trying to do good in the world.” (BTW, I know there’s a lot more to Wicca than what I just said here, but I didn’t want to spend an hour trying to explain all of
THIS to him.)

The man frowned, shook his head. “Lies. It’s all lies,” he said. “Lucifer is trying to trick you into thinking you’re doing good when in fact, it’s all just a ploy to seduce you. Diana is really Lucifer in disguise and he’s tricking you because he wants your soul.”

“That’s not true,” I said as gently and politely as I could. “I’m a good person, with a loving heart and compassionate soul. I’m not being tricked by anyone.”

He grasped my hands. “You must believe in God, Kelly. You must pray for forgiveness for your sins. Otherwise, on Judgment Day, your soul will be damned to eternal hellfire if you continue on this path to wickedness.”

I was starting to get a little nervous, now. I’d had religious debates with Christians, Jews, Wiccans, Buddhists – even a few Scientologists – many times in the past, and they were all perfectly sane and enlightening discussions. But here I was, stuck in a room with a religious fanatic who, I started to suspect, was playing with one card short of a deck.

“Do you believe in Jesus?” he pressed on. “Do you believe that he died on the cross for your sins?”

“I do know for a fact that Jesus, the son of Mary and a carpenter named Joseph, existed 2,000 years ago, yes,” I said, nodding. “I’ve seen the documentaries on the History Channel — ”

“Then, you must repent or your soul will be lost to Satan.”

I was getting really uncomfortable by this point, so, in an attempt to end the discussion and get back to work, I said, “Sorry, but my soul doesn’t really need saving. But thank you, though.”

I took a step toward the kitchen, he grasped my hands again, tried to pull me to him. “Kelly, what can I say? What can I do?” he asked, an almost desperate tone in his voice. “I have to find some way to save you. Judgment Day is coming. You don’t really want to spend eternity in Hell, do you? Pray with me now. Deny your allegiance to Lucifer and pray to God for forgiveness.”

“That would be a complete waste of my time,” I said, perhaps a little too curtly.

“Why?” he asked.

“Because, I don’t believe that there’s a supernatural creator of the universe, pulling the strings of fate and deciding who lives and who dies. God is just a myth. A fairy tale.”

Thankfully, another hotel guest entered the café and I excused myself to tend to his needs. Moments later, as the brother and sister got up to leave, he approached me one last time.

“God bless you, Kelly,” he said.

“And may Diana bless you, protect you and surround you with love,” I responded as sweetly as I possibly could.

The man winced, as though I’d just insulted him, then left the café with his sister. Never, for a moment, did I suspect that he would go to the manager with a complaint about me.

So, why, exactly, did I get fired from a job that I loved and did exceptionally well? Was it because I refused to be converted to Christianity by a mentally unbalanced evangelist? Was it because I expressed my interest in pagan religions with a hotel guest who, by the way, had no right to prod me for information about my personal beliefs? Or was it because I said I didn’t believe in God?

To this day, the manager of the hotel refuses to tell me.


KJC


ADDENDUM: For those of you who might be a little confused because I said, earlier in my blog post, that I feel the presence of God guiding me through life and, yet, later deny the existence of God altogether, please allow me to clarify.

I believe that every living, sentient creature on this planet has a soul (an energy source, if you will) and these souls are all interconnected, yet independently functioning parts of a greater force in the universe, which is completely neutral. It has no thoughts, no feelings. It does not make decisions or manipulate the fate of anyone. I absolutely do not believe that there is an all-knowing, all-powerful God floating around in the sky, deciding whether or not a terrorist bomb will kill 30 people or 300, cursing a man with cancer for being a homosexual, or manipulating it so a six year-old girl from Alabama wins a beauty pageant because her momma prayed real hard.

In that same vein, I also do not believe there is an equally powerful opposing deity (Satan, Lucifer, the Prince of Demons) who spends his time seducing members of the Human Race into doing his evil bidding, with the promise of great wealth and power in return for their servitude.

This might seem like a lot of far out, New Age bullshit to some of you. But, hey, it works for me!

CitiFinancial Wanted to Be My Pimp

“Hey, Kel, remember the day that rep from CitiFinancial tried to force you to become a prostitute in order to pay back your $15,000 loan?”


Yeah, that was a really, really bad day, amongst a plethora of really bad days leading up to that shocking phone conversation on Friday, June 25th, 2010. I remember it so well because it was the day before the start of the G-20 Summit in Toronto, and I was living with my cousin and her family in Courtice, a suburb of Toronto, while desperately searching for employment in the GTA. For several days I had been watching news reports of the violent protests downtown with much trepidation, hoping that none of my activist or journalist friends had been arrested by police, who were getting pretty heavy-handed in their attempt to maintain order.

Just a quick background for people who don’t me: I work in the entertainment industry as screenwriter and television producer, with several years experience in print and broadcast journalism. I’ve also worked as a celebrity publicist, personal assistant and talent manager, making some pretty decent money – until the economic crash of 2008. That global financial disaster changed my life, in so many horrible ways.

After losing several clients in the early days of the financial crash, my income plummeted to just under $2,000 per month. Unable to pay monthly living and business expenses, I started charging phone, cable, hydro and other bills to credit cards, and when they maxed out I felt I had no choice but to apply for a bank loan. Everyone turned me down. Everyone, that is, except for CitiFinancial, who was only too happy to grant me a $15,000 consolidation loan – at 25% interest.

I barely managed to keep afloat, financially, for another year as I lost even more clients due to the economic crash. Now $40,000 in debt, I was forced to sell off my personal belongings (clothes, shoes, purses, books, collectables, electronics etc.), and went days without eating in order to pay my monthly expenses, including the CitiFinancial loan, which was $550 per month. By March of 2010, I’d lost my home (left before the landlord could issue me an eviction notice), my entire life savings and my one and only remaining client. My cousin, Tina, let me live in her basement while I searched for work – anything – just so I could get back on my feet, again.

That’s when I got the phone call from that female customer service rep from CitiFinancial. She wanted to know why I’d stopped making my monthly payments several months earlier, so, I told her that I was homeless, flat-dead broke and unemployed but very aggressively seeking work in Toronto. Unsympathetic (as they usually are), she insisted that I make a payment in order to keep my account from going to collections.

“Honey,” I said. “The only way you’re going to get a dime from me is if I start selling back alley blow-jobs at $20 a pop in downtown Toronto.”

I expected a laugh, a nervous chuckle...something. But, instead, silence on the other end, then: “Can you please hold for a moment?”

“Sure,” I said, as I fumbled through the silverware drawer, looking for a spoon.

A minute later, the perky female rep came back on the line. “OK, I just spoke to my supervisor and she said to go ahead and do that, please.”

I dropped the spoon back into the drawer. “Do what?”

“If you want to avoid having your account go to collections,” she pressed on, “we insist that you make a $100 payment, in good faith, at the nearest CitiFinancial office on Monday morning. However you need to do that.”

I was stunned but, thinking that she was joking, I said: “OK, so, you want me to drive to downtown Toronto this weekend and perform sex acts on complete strangers for money. Then, when I’ve got $100, you want me to go down to a CitiFinancial office and hand the money over to a customer service rep. Have I got that right?”

“Yes,” she said, without hesitation. “If we do not receive that $100 cash payment on Monday morning, your account will be sent to collections.”

I shook my head and laughed. “OK, sure. Thanks!”

I hung up the phone, still laughing as I made myself a bowl of chocolate ice cream. Of course, I didn’t take her seriously. But I suppose I should have as, true to her word, two weeks later I received written notice that my account had been sent to a collections agency, and thus began many months of threatening and harassing phone calls.

Infuriated by this point, I sent a formal written complaint to CitiFinancial’s Customer Complaints department, detailing my presumably recorded phone conversation with the rep who tried to coerce me into performing sex acts for money in order to pay back my loan. Essentially making CitiFinancial my pimp, I emphasized in my complaint.

I fully expected a serious complaint such as mine to end up on the desk of someone very high up in the ranks at CitiFinancial Canada. After all, if news got out that one of their agents tried to coerce a client into performing illegal acts and then insisted that they pass the proceeds of those crimes on to CitiFinancial...well, it would become an international scandal!

Boy, was I ever naïve.

A few weeks later, I got a very terse email reply from an anonymous front line customer service rep who told me that the woman I spoke to on the phone had been appropriately disciplined (whatever that means) and they would not pursue the matter any further. The rep went on to chastise me for being a delinquent client and told me that any further communications should be directed to the collections agency, as CitiFinancial has now closed my account.

Really? That’s it? A rep from a major banking institution tried to force me into a life of prostitution and...that’s all you’ve got to say? No apology, no explanation, no follow up? Just “thanks for telling us, you can go fuck off, now.”

It’s a good thing I’ve got a smart head on my middle-aged shoulders because, if this stupid phone rep had pulled a stunt like that on a scared and clueless 20-something year-old woman – who felt no option but to comply and was later raped and beaten behind some building at Yonge & Dundas – they wouldn’t be able to dismiss it so quickly, like they did with me.

KJC
 

Bullies 101

I've had to deal with bullies all of my life. Some of my earliest memories, since the age of five, have involved encounters with physically and emotionally abusive assholes who, for whatever reason, decided to make my life a living hell. Regrettably, the growing use of cell phones, social media websites and blogs among adolescents, teenagers and supposedly mature adults has only made the bullying phenomenon worse since I first faced these pathetic douche-bags back in kindergarten, and it breaks my heart every time I hear about a young person committing suicide because they think it's their only means of escape.

In an effort to share what I have learned and, hopefully, be an inspiration to others to stay strong and not give up hope, below is a list of some of the bullies I've had the misfortune of encountering in my life.


SCHOOLYARD BULLIES
I grew up in Cornwall, Ontario. A small mill town on the St. Lawrence River, about an hour’s drive west of Montreal. Every brick, every tree, every molecule of oxygen in that grimy little town was saturated with the stench of sulphur and other noxious chemicals from the Domtar paper factory, located in the west end, and (IMHO) it greatly affected the brains and personalities of the 45,000 denizens who dwelled there. Anyone who expressed a talent or interest in the creative or performing arts was outcasted and bullied by their peers, as actor Ryan Gosling can attest. He and I both grew up in Cornwall and, although I was a few years older than him, we were both repeatedly brutalized by schoolmates who had little tolerance for anyone who dared to be different, to express freedom of thought and exercise their gifts. Fortunately for Ryan, his mother removed him from that situation and home schooled him. I, on the other hand, was not so fortunate.

I had a bit of an attitude problem when I was a kid. By “attitude” I mean I was courteous and respectful, and expected the same in return from those I befriended. I was also far more mature than my peers and had a strong sense of right from wrong. Sadly, I was disappointed time and again by schoolmates who were arrogant and cruel to everyone around them, who borrowed my belongings and then either lost or damaged them beyond repair, who threatened to end our “friendship” (or beat the shit out of me) if I didn’t do whatever they demanded, which sometimes included shoplifting, throwing rocks through peoples’ windows, smoking, drinking, taking drugs or giving the cold shoulder to other friends who’d been nothing but loyal to me. You know that old saying “With friends like these, who needs enemies?” Well, my entire childhood was filled with ruthless frenemies that I could never trust or count on to behave with decency and respect.

It also didn’t help matters that I was...shall we say gifted with paranormal sensitivities? Somewhere around age eight or nine I became aware that I could, on occasion, sense the thoughts and feelings of those around me and predict future events. FYI: it is so not cool to tell a classmate that you’re sorry his grandfather is going to pass away in his sleep the next morning – and, then, he does. That little slip-up got me branded as a witch by my peers at a Catholic grade school, and for the next two years I endured some pretty brutal taunts and beatings. The classmate whose grandfather had died cornered me on the school bus and blew salt into my eyes in an effort to exorcise the evil inside me. Later, I was run over by a boy on a bike (still got the scar on the back of my leg), held under water and nearly drowned by three girls during swimming class, poisoned with Drano by a classmate who cheerfully offered to share his can of Coke, and set on fire – twice – by a group of kids chanting “Burn the witch! Burn the witch!”

Back in those days, virtually nothing was done to help the victims of schoolyard bullying. As far as the school staff was concerned, if they didn’t witness the event, it didn’t happen. In fact, reporting the abuse only made thing worse. As for parental intervention...well, my parents were clueless and ineffectual in dealing with the issue, so, I was left to fend for myself. It wasn’t until I reached age 15 that the schoolyard bullying stopped. By then, I’d learned to love and accept everything that was weird and wonderful about me, and made short work of anyone who tried to take a stab at me, both literally and figuratively.

CO-WORKER BULLIES
A few weeks before my 19th birthday, in 1987, I got the coolest job ever. Working the confection stand at the only single screen movie theatre in town. The manager, Glenn, was quite a character. His very first job was working at the theatre as a teenager, training to be a projectionist. As the years passed, he moved up the ranks to manager. A position he, regrettably, was not entirely qualified for.

I loved Glenn like a favourite uncle (I got married at the theatre 30 minutes before a Saturday matinée, and Glenn was my husband’s Best Man), and did my best to keep things running smoothly. I had a strong work ethic and always did what I was told, when I was told. After a couple years working the concession stand, he promoted me to assistant manager (unofficially and with no real power, mind you, because Glenn didn’t think a chick should have that much control over the theatre – or him). My responsibilities were to train new staff, ensure guest safety and comfort, fill in for ill or vacationing staff and assist with minor repairs to the building. Because of my background in business management, marketing and public relations, he also relied on me to be the friendly face of the theatre, to warmly welcome guests, promote the business in the community and devise marketing strategies to bring kids into the Saturday afternoon matinées. I absolutely loved my job but it had some serious – and I mean serious – drawbacks.

As I said earlier, I adored Glenn but he was truly inept when it came to managing a constantly revolving staff and the thousands of customers who poured through our doors to see movies like Aliens, Terminator 2, Die Hard, Ghost, and Star Trek V & VI. He had no backbone when it came to enforcing workplace policies and procedures, and often hired losers and slackers who were only putting in face-time for the cash ($4.75 an hour. Wow!). They cared very little for the job and even less for their co-workers.

One co-worker in particular, I’ll call him “Steve”, was a bad apple, right to the core. A 21 year-old gay man with a major chip on his shoulder, he hated everyone and had a persecution complex that bordered on psychosis. He bullied the staff and dominated Glenn, who mostly just hid in his office when things got ugly, too afraid to fire him for fear of repercussions. All of the staff, including myself, tried to stay the hell out of Steve’s way in order to avoid the stinging insults, snide remarks and threats of violence. He occasionally got physical with me, grabbing my arm, pushing me against a wall – he even threatened to kill me when one of his 16 year-old boy-toys started flirting with me. It was a major relief to everyone when Steve quit after four months in order to attend college in another city. Good riddance to bad rubbish!

SPOUSE BULLIES
When I was 20, I met and later married a notable figure in the Canadian broadcasting industry. Tall, handsome, charming, intelligent and very funny, Michael would’ve been the husband that every girl dreams of marrying, if it wasn’t for the fact that he had some serious mental health issues. Plagued by anxiety, severe depression, paranoia and a profound lack of self-esteem, this divorced man ten years my senior was an absolute nightmare to live with during our ten years together.

It was subtle, at first. The suggestions about what I should wear when we went out together, how I should wear my hair, how high the heels of my shoes should be, what colour lipstick was "appropriate". But, then, he started telling me what friends I could have (I was absolutely forbidden to be alone in a room with a man), what family members I could associate with and what job I could have. I was perfectly happy working in the retail and hospitality industries but that just wasn't good enough for Michael, whose celebrity status dictated that I elevate myself to his level, both socially and financially. He pretty much forced me to join him in the broadcasting industry, molding and manipulating me for many years until I was nothing more than a female version of himself, a mere shadow of the exciting and vivacious young woman I once was.

I lived in constant fear of Michael's wrath and while he never once laid a violent hand on me, his Machiavellian manipulations and relentless accusations of impropriety ultimately alienated me from my friends, family and co-workers until he was all that was left in my world. Finally, at age 30, I’d had enough of his psychotic accusations and emotional manipulations, which had all but destroyed my soul, and I gave him the boot.

EMPLOYER/CLIENT BULLIES
Soon after my divorce in the late 1990s, I launched a temporary services agency, called P. A. Plus (your personal assistant – plus!), which remains my main source of income to this day. I provide a wide range of services, including secretarial and administrative work, catering and event-planning, floral arrangements and gift baskets, shopping and errands, house/pet-sitting, home and office cleaning/organizing, writing, graphic arts and photography services, marketing, public relations and promotions. I even do haircuts, manicures, make-up application and image/wardrobe consulting.

I’ve had dozens of clients from all walks of life. Architects, accountants, interior decorators, structural engineers, general contractors, computer scientists, waste management consultants, real estate developers, bike shop owners, photographers, commercial property managers, fitness club owners – even a few celebrities. My training in psychology and sociology, combined with my natural empathic abilities, has helped me cope with a wide variety of personalities. I’ve had some frustratingly indecisive clients who constantly changed their minds about what they wanted from me, while other clients were very precise in their instructions and expectations. I’ve also had a few high-octane clients with big personalities – and even bigger egos (think Tony Stark/Iron Man). That’s cool. I can totally handle that. What I can’t handle are the ruthless, caustic, self-indulgent whack-job clients.

In the spring of 2010, I moved from Ottawa (my home for 15 years), to Toronto in order to take a full-time, live-in position as the personal assistant and household manager of “Gary” and “Mary”, a wealthy, jet-setting couple in their fifties, with a five year old boy that I was expected to baby-sit, on occasion. During the first few days of my employment I developed an affection for their son, “Evan”. Sweet kid, very well-behaved. The same, however, could not be said for his mother. By the end of my first week, I realized I’d made a horrible, horrible mistake. As kind, gentle and respectful as Gary was, Mary was the complete opposite. An immature, selfish, self-indulgent Jewish princess who went out of her way to make me feel small, insecure and unappreciated at every opportunity.

I’m a well-educated, highly-skilled professional in my mid 40s (not to mention a public figure in the entertainment industry with a worldwide fan base), and yet she kept treating me like I was an insignificant peasant, fresh off the boat from Cambodia. Remember the original Star Trek episode entitled “
Elaan of Troyius about an abrasive spoiled brat of a princess whose tears made men fall in love with her? Well that was Mary, only without the tears. She bullied everyone around her, in person and on the phone, trash-talked people behind their backs all the time, and had the same kind of tantrums you’d expect from a three year-old (screaming, throwing things, slamming doors etc.), with no regret or remorse for her actions. Embarrassed by his wife’s behaviour, Gary felt compelled to explain that because Mary had come from a wealthy and privileged background, with a throng of servants who catered to her every whim since she was a child, she treated people in the “service industry” (meaning everyone from general contractors, plumbers and interior decorators to teachers, nurses, waiters and nannies) like they were beneath her.

Naturally, I was dreading the idea of spending the next five years of my life working for that bitch on wheels (I signed a long-term contract), and wondered how the hell I was going to get myself out of this situation. Thankfully, the perfect solution presented itself less than two weeks into my new job when it was discovered that Evan was allergic to my two cats, Aries and Gillian, who lived with me in the nanny’s suite. With her thin mouth twisted into a grimace of distain, Mary insisted that I just had to go. A few days later I was outta there, dead broke but very, very happy to be free of the clutches of that screeching banshee.

CYBER BULLIES
Because I work in show business, I have intimate access to certain people in the industry. Actors, screenwriters, producers etc. A few years ago, I contacted a Los Angeles-based actor I’d never met before, hoping he’d be interested in a supporting role on a TV series I was developing for network television. This actor, let’s call him “PL”, was married, with a successful career in the industry up to that point. Although he was not an A-lister, he had an international fan following and an official website in order to promote his work and make himself available to his fans.

PL liked my pitch and agreed to come onboard, both of us hoping that having his name attached to the project would increase my odds of selling the show. With PL’s permission, I posted a notice on his message board to introduce myself and announce that he was involved with the project. Dozens of fans from all over the world posted their congratulations and well-wishes. I even got an email from “Trista”, one of PL’s most ardent admirers. She was very excited by the news, so I emailed back to tell her how much I appreciated her support. She replied, telling me a little about herself and I responded, telling her a little bit more about myself. Soon, we were corresponding eight to ten times a week, getting very friendly and personal with each other. At no time did I suspect that Trista wasn’t nearly as mentally or emotionally stable as she seemed in her emails. It was only after about seven months of communicating with my “sista-friend” via email that I discovered some very shocking and disturbing news about her.

While surfing the Internet one afternoon, I stumbled upon a website whose sole purpose was for people to post rude and disgusting jokes, stories, insults, celebrity rumors, porn pics...just the absolute worst things you would never want to see on the Internet. To my absolute horror and dismay, I found several posts from Trista discussing me and my relationship with PL, who had become a dear friend of mine by that point. She copy/pasted excerpts from our numerous email exchanges where I mentioned my unhappy marriage and subsequent divorce, details of my health/weight problems and brush with cancer, my social, religious and political views...just so many very personal and private things. In Trista’s posts, there were about 25 of them, she insulted and scoffed at every aspect of my personal and professional life, my physical appearance, my intelligence and various creative talents. She condemned my relationship with PL and suggested that he and I were having an affair on his wife. Trista encouraged anyone reading her posts to join in the “fun” of insulting and degrading me and, much to my chagrin, many people did.

I emailed Trista to confront her but she just laughed me off saying she had the right to free speech and would go on saying anything she liked about me. It was only now that I realized just how jealous she was of my friendship with PL. He and I emailed each other and talked often on the phone, and yet he never replied to any of her emails. Now that she knew I found her disgusting message board posts, she went back to the website and posted my real name (I had a different professional name back then), my email address, home address and cell phone number, urging anyone reading the info to find me and take me out – and I don’t mean to dinner!

The next few weeks were pure hell for me. I got dozens of phone calls in the middle of the night from men whispering “Slut!”, “I’m gonna get you, cunt!”, “You’re dead, you fucking bitch!” I also got anonymous emails from people detailing how they were going to kidnap, rape, torture and kill me. I wanted to go to the police but, after discussing the situation with PL, we realized that if I did, this whole thing – which, so far, was just a bunch of really juvenile assholes having cruel fun – would turn into a media shit-storm that would deeply affect his marriage and his career.

So, I changed my phone number, cancelled my email account, went totally off the grid for three months while I waited for things to die down. I had my lawyer monitor the offending website and track Trista’s actions, in the real world and online, over the next year or so. Eventually, she got bored with attacking me and moved on with her life which, unfortunately, hasn’t amounted to much. As for PL, he got divorced a few years ago (which had nothing to do with me), moved to Europe and started a family with a lovely young woman. We remain on friendly terms to this day.

KJC