The Infiltrator

Back in the early 1990s, when I was toying with the idea of becoming a full-time professional writer, I was dabbling in both screenwriting and hard news journalism. Practicing both trades, simultaneously, to see where my talents were best served. In 1992-’93, I was a huge fan of a TV series, called Forever Knight, about an 800 year-old vampire who seeks redemption for centuries of killing by becoming a Toronto homicide detective, bringing murderers to justice, while trying to find a way to become human, again. It was Canadian, so, low budget. But they did the best they could with the money they had, and I loved the show so much I decided to invest some serious time and effort into writing my very first spec script for it, with little expectation that I would ever get a freelance TV writing gig from it.


My idea was for Jack the Ripper to show up in present day Toronto, with Detective Nicholas Knight on the hunt for this immortal serial killer of street prostitutes, some of whom Nick regarded as friends (he was non-judgemental like that).


I was pretty fearless, back then. A shit-kicking trouble-maker who liked to rock the boat, fight the system and root for the underdog. That defiant attitude occasionally got me into trouble with law enforcement — which is why I was leaning towards a career in journalism. I wanted to stick it to The Man, as they say. But, for the moment, it was screenwriting that interested me, and if I was going to write a TV script about prostitutes working in downtown Toronto, then, I’d better do some proper research. And by “proper” I mean drive to Toronto and spend a weekend posing as a prostitute in the downtown core, observing, listening, taking mental notes of conversations between pros and johns, pros and their pimps etc. I was married back then, so, my husband was less than thrilled that I intended to put myself in serious danger by going undercover. But he knew he couldn’t stop me, so, while I walked up and down the same block on Church Street, from midnight to 3 a.m., one weekend in June, he followed me in his car, ready to pull me inside if it looked like I was in trouble.


It was an eye-opener, witnessing what those poor women went through every night. But what shocked me the most was learning that some of those girls, in skin-tight clothes and 6” heels, selling themselves on the streets for $50, weren’t much more than 12 or 13 years old. It sickened me but I couldn’t really do anything about it. Not right then, anyway. So, with pages of notes in-hand, I went home and started writing my spec script for Forever Knight. It was ¾ finished when the show was cancelled, in 1996. By then, other projects and responsibilities — and the pending demise of my ten year marriage — forced me to tuck it into a box and prepare myself for life as a single woman, with thousands of dollars in monthly bills to pay. That’s when I switched to journalism, writing freelance articles for newspapers and magazines, while trying to launch my company, P.A.Plus.


In 2001, seeking inspiration for stories to write, I started rummaging through my box of unfinished writing projects and found the spec script for Forever Knight. It reminded me of the night I spent posing as a street prostitute, and how infuriated I was to see children selling their bodies to fat, disgusting old men, while their pimps observed the goings-on, nearby. It lit a fire of determination under my ass and I decided I was going to write a story about Canada’s prostitution and child sex trade industry, going undercover in Toronto, once again, to get the research I needed to substantiate a story that could, potentially, go international, thanks to the internet. This time, I was going to be wired with an audio recorder, have a cell phone in my pocket — and a knife tucked under my very short skirt.

 

I spent three long nights walking the downtown streets, pretending I belonged, acting like just one of the girls, so, no one would get suspicious. I got names, memorized the faces of a few industry pros, pimps and johns, got background info on some of the girls and learned how they were forced or tricked into the lifestyle by men who got them hooked on drugs and, then, turned them out onto the streets to get the money they needed to feed their habit. It broke my heart, hearing about 12, 13 and 14 year-old girls who ran away from a miserable home life, only to end up here, frightened, hungry, cold and alone, every Goddamned day of their lives.


I had to do some quick-thinking and fast-talking when men in cars would approach me asking: “How much?” But, despite my efforts to blend in, eventually, the Jamaican gang that managed the block I was working noticed that I was doing way too much talking and not enough fucking. They followed me when I went into a 24-hour café for a quick refreshment and told me that I either start working for them, from that moment on, or I leave their territory, immediately. I was about to fire off on them, going into a rant about their shameful abuse of women, in an attempt to publicly embarrass them in a coffee shop full of people (cuz I’ve been known to do shit like that). But, then, I saw the gun tucked into one of the gang members’ waistband and decided I should probably just get the fuck outta there, ASAP.


So, with stacks of notes, research and statistics, and over a dozen mini-recorder tapes, on my desk, I started pitching every major newspaper and magazine in the country, asking if they’d be interested in hiring me to write an in-depth feature story about life on the streets for young girls who were forced into prostitution. Sadly, the typical response I got was (and I’m paraphrasing): “Nobody cares about underage whores. But, if you can get us an exclusive interview with Kiefer Sutherland...”


Ugh...really?


KJC

Dying to Get the Job

The worldwide problem of weak, starving, nutritionally deficient, anorexic models all starts with the designers. They draw sketches of outfits they'd like to make, using ultra-thin cartoon illustrations of women that are totally beyond any realistic proportions, and because designers envision these clothes on ultra-tall sticks, they only look right on ultra-tall sticks. They want to sell their merchandise, so, they make the sample size (the demo piece to be shown on runways and in photo sessions for retail buyers to examine) in size 0, 1 or 2.


If a model wants to work, she has to fit into that sample size. So, she's under constant pressure to eat less than 500 calories, per day, and exercise for 2 to 4 hours, every day. All so she can look like a walking corpse on the runway.



It HAS to stop!

Designers would sell a shit-ton more clothes if they designed and manufactured them in the sizes that women truly are in this world, and statistics show that the average North American woman is 5'5", 160 lbs. (size 14-16).

Wake up, designers. YOU are the core of this very serious problem, and the change starts with YOU.

KJC
 

Almost Famous


I know I'm a bit late but I finally got around to watching Almost Famous (2000), about a teenage boy getting the break of a lifetime after being hired by Rolling Stone Magazine to follow a band around the United States, in the early '70s, in order to write a story. I was feeling a sense of nostalgia as I watched this very sweet and earnest story about a young man striving for independence from his overbearing mother, and credibility as a journalist in the world of sex, drugs and rock & roll.


I don't often talk about my very early days in the entertainment industry, back when I was, first, a roadie for a popular band that was part Duran Duran, part Glass Tiger (oh, man, am I ever showing my age!), and, then, lead female vocalist for an '80s pop-rock cover band, performing songs by Bryan Adams, Madonna, Journey, Alannah Myles, Bon Jovi, Led Zeppelin and The Eurythmics.


It was as a roadie for In & Out when I learned just how suffocating  and disturbing  it can be to have dozens of fans follow you around everywhere and who just won't leave you the fuck alone. Anytime I was with any member of the band, shopping at a mall, going to the movies, taking a walk through a park, there they were, chicks following us, giggling, gawking, asking them for their autograph. It was at one of In & Out's concerts that I received my very first request for an autograph, from a girl who wanted my signature on a piece of paper, just because I worked for the band (strange, yes, but I complied with her request because I didn't want to hurt her feelings).


Then, there were the hardcore groupies to contend with which, as a roadie, was part of my job to manage. Thirteen, fifteen, eighteen year-old girls who pulled every stunt imaginable in an effort to get backstage, and who would do anything to score a romantic interlude with one of the band members, who were all very handsome, very intelligent and talented young men, aged 18 to 21. I was 18/19 when I worked for In & Out but, more often than not, felt like their babysitter  and moral compass  trying to keep them happy, do their bidding and, yet, keep them out of trouble I knew they might later regret.


Being the 20 year-old lead female vocalist in a band whose youngest member was 42 was another eye-opening experience. The four male members of Mirage were all married with kids, and hired me to complete a six month contractual obligation to perform at various venues across Ontario, after their female singer was seriously injured in a car accident. While we didn't have giggling teenagers following us wherever we went, there were still the groupies to deal with. Women in their 20s, 30s and 40s, who tried to get noticed by the guys, deluding themselves into thinking that they were more than just a quick fuck or easy blowjob in a nightclub washroom. This was also my introduction to a more public life as a semi-celebrity, with my own fan base of adoring men of all ages, trying to seduce me. I never once had sex with any of them and, a few months before my 21st birthday, became the girlfriend (and later wife) of a radio broadcasting celebrity, who had his own issues with being a public figure with a stalkerish female fan base.


It were these very early lessons about being a public figure and handling the adulation (and soul-crushing criticism) with class and maturity that helped me when I later became known, worldwide, as an actress, voice-over artist, comic book writer, celebrity publicist and talent manager.


KJC

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!