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 things 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/hr. – 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 his 16 year-old bisexual lover 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 twelve 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 Svengali-like 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 for “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, 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 on board, 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”, the founder and president of his North American fan club. 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 her, 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 and, in her delusion, saw me as a threat. 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

THE ALLURE OF THE OLDER MAN

When I was a kid, in the late ’70s and early ’80s, I had the usual school girl crushes on Tiger Beat regulars such as Shaun Cassidy, Leif Garrett and Mark Hamill. Y’know, young, hot, puppy-dog cute celebrities that were maybe 10 to 15 years older than me. But, at the same time, I found myself gravitating more and more towards the “mature gentlemen”, shall we say.


My first older man crush was on Michael Nouri. I was 11 when I first saw him in the short-lived 1979 TV series The Curse of Dracula and, boy, did I fall hard for this smoking hot 34 year old actor. So much so that I started a fan club devoted to him. It only had three members, me and my two best girlfriends at the time. We called ourselves the “Brides of Dracula” and used red markers to dot little bite marks on our necks to signify that we were his loyal servants. Looking back on it now, I can see just how silly we must’ve seemed to everyone at school and at home. But, at the time, the feelings I had for Michael seemed very real.


My next crush was on the very sexy and distinguished British actor, Terence Stamp. I first saw him in Superman II as General Zod, in 1980. I was 12, he was 41 and every inch the smouldering and seductive older man I had, by then, developed an attraction to. I have followed his career ever since, and every time I see him in a movie or on TV I think back to that moment in Superman II when he commanded everyone to “Kneel before Zod!” Oh, yeah, I’ll kneel…and while I’m down there I’m gonna do things to you that’ll have Ursa taking notes, baby!


When I was 15, my attraction to tall, dark and handsome older men continued with Canadian actor, Duncan Regehr. He was in his early 30s when he first co-starred in the campy fantasy TV series, Wizards and Warriors, followed by V a year later. Oh, those eyes...that voice! I greatly enjoyed his work in Star Trek: Next Gen and Deep Space 9 but, lately, it seems he’s put acting on the back burner in order to concentrate more on his artwork. Not too many people know this but Duncan is a very talented and successful painter who, coincidentally, lives just a 90 minute drive south of me. Hmmm...


My crush on the delectable Malcolm McDowell came much later. I had watched some of his earlier work (Clockwork Orange, Time After Time, Cat People) on video when I was in my early 20s and thought he was good-looking but kinda geeky. Not really my type. But then along came Star Trek: Generations, the movie that first blended the folks from original Trek with the gang from Next Gen. When I first saw Malcolm, dressed head to toe in black leather, with spikey white hair, in the role of Dr. Tolian Soran, I fell madly in lust with the then 51 year old actor. Malcolm is in his 70s, now, and his career is still going strong.


All my life I’ve been attracted to older men – although I don’t think I’d turn down a date with a 20 year-old, either. I like to balance things out, y’know. Just to be fair.


KJC

MY WEIRD WORLD

I had a strong sense of adventure and thirst for knowledge growing up in Cornwall, Ontario (a small mill town on the St. Lawrence River, about an hour’s drive west of Montreal). I was a very logical and pragmatic kid, and far more mature than my peers, who were still playing with dolls while I was out hunting for fossils, studying plants and insects under a microscope, and contemplating the existence of God, Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy. But, then, somewhere around age eight or nine, I began to develop what can best be described as “paranormal sensitivities.” I learned that I could, on occasion, sense the thoughts and feelings of those around me, and predict future events.


Now, before going on, I'd like to assure you that I am not a flake or a whack-job. While I do believe in ghosts, aliens and reincarnation, I don’t believe in demonic possession, astrology, numerology, telekinesis, the Loch Ness monster, the supernatural healing power of crystals or that Stonehenge is a portal to another dimension. A person's future cannot be predicted by a deck of Tarot cards. Vampires and werewolves aren't real, and you cannot bend a spoon just by wishing it to do so.


That said, I'm sure there's a perfectly sane and logical explanation for what I'm about to share with you all. I just...haven't found it yet.


One day, in Grade 4, I told a classmate that I was sorry his grandfather was going to pass away in his sleep the next morning — and then, he did. It didn’t seem all that strange to me, knowing this turn of events beforehand. But I quickly discovered just how unwelcome this “gift” of mine was, as I got branded a witch by my peers and, for the next two years, 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, 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!”


My empathic abilities only got stronger as I got older. I had to quit working at the local Humane Society, after only four hours, when I was 14 because I was overwhelmed by the pain and misery emanating from all the animals locked up in the back room. I couldn’t go to large social events surrounded by hundreds of strangers because I was unable to block out all of their emotions. By age 16, I had developed a well-tuned ability to predict the future, as it related directly to me (meaning, it had to involve an event or situation where I am in the room). Case in point: while working part-time at a clothing store, an image popped into my head while I was chatting with one of my co-workers, and I told her a woman was going to come into the store in a minute, about 45-years-old with brown hair, wearing a green plaid coat. She wants to return the skirt she bought for her daughter a few days ago because it’s too small…and guess what happened a few seconds later.


Another situation, while on vacation with my family in Algonquin Park when I was 17 (1985), visibly unnerved my father, and that’s when I decided to keep the true extent of my abilities a secret from him. My parents divorced when I was 10 and I had very little contact with him and his new family, right up until very recently, when I moved to join him on the west coast. Anyway, during this summer vacation, my father, three younger sisters and I were exploring the park when Dad decided to take us to supper at Arowhon Pines. I’d never been to this resort before. And yet, as Dad parked the car and we all got out, I said: “This place is beautiful inside. It’s six-sided, with walls made of logs and a gorgeous stone fireplace right in the middle of the room.” My father shot me a peculiar look and asked if I’d ever been here before. I told him no, not physically, but in a dream, which was the only way I could explain my paranormal abilities in a way he might understand — which he didn’t, as evident by the look of horror on his face when we walked into the restaurant. It was exactly as I had described.


At age 22, my husband and I joined a few of his co-workers for a little get-together at one of their homes. It was my first time meeting them all and I was having a great time. That is, until “Rachel” pulled a Ouija board out of her bedroom closet and urged us all to join her in a séance at the dining table. I’d had a bad experience at a previous séance with some high-school friends several years earlier, so, I declined the invitation. As I sat on the sofa in the adjoining living room, reading a magazine, I was suddenly overcome by a profound sense of grief and regret as Rachel called out to her friend “Justin”, pleading with him to communicate with her through the Ouija board. Overwhelmed, I burst into tears and ran from the room, quickly putting an end to the séance. Once I’d composed myself, Rachel told me that Justin had killed himself two years ago, after a long battle with depression.


In October of 1999, I went to a car dealership in Ottawa, Ontario, to find a nice, cheap little car, as my husband and I were preparing for a formal separation, and he was taking our Ford Escort with him when he moved out in a few weeks. I fell in love with a used 1997 Suzuki Swift and started the paperwork to get a four-year lease. As I sat across from the finance manager, who was tapping away at his computer, I glanced down at his watch. A big, beautiful silver Rolex. “Nice watch,” I said.


The finance manager smiled, and as he moved to give it a gentle caress, the entire story of how he acquired the expensive timepiece flooded my brain. “Your father gave it to you,” I said quietly. “He knew he was dying of cancer, and he wanted to give you something to remember him by. Something to pass down to your son, as a legacy.”


The finance manager got that freaked out look on his face. The one I was, unfortunately, used to seeing on peoples’ faces at this point. “Uh, yeah,” he muttered. “He didn’t have anything to hand down to me, so, we went out together and I picked out this Rolex. How could you possibly know that?”


“I get these feelings, sometimes,” I said, then extended my condolences on the recent death of his father and switched the subject back to the car I wanted to lease — which turned out to be a lemon, by the way (Hmmm...why didn’t my ability to predict the future work when I first spotted the Suzuki Swift on the car lot, I wonder?).


One day, in the summer of 2009, I was patronizing one of my favourite shoe stores when a well-dressed, middle-aged blonde woman came in. Side by side, we sat on the bench, testing the patience of the only clerk on duty as we tried on dozens of shoes, modelling them for each other. After about 15 minutes, this woman, whom I’ll call “Joanne”, revealed to me that she was shoe shopping to try and cheer herself up after getting the boot from her boyfriend, just two days earlier. She was baffled by his sudden desire to end the relationship, and angry because he refused to return her phone calls and emails to discuss the situation.


Without hearing anything more than that, I suddenly blurted out: “He’s intimidated by you. He’s a 38 year-old construction worker, living in a one-bedroom rental, and you’re a successful 41 year-old business owner who owns a four bedroom house overlooking Parliament Hill. He feels that he doesn’t measure up, that he has nothing to offer you.”


The look on Joanne’s face...she was stunned. “How did you know he was 38? I didn’t tell you that. And I most certainly didn’t tell you how old I am.”


“Uh...lucky guess?” I chuckled, nervously.


“Ron’s a construction worker,” she pressed on. “And I do, in fact, own a home near Parliament Hill. That’s a pretty damn good guess.”


Reluctantly, I admitted to Joanne that I was an empath, and when people’s emotions are strong enough, little bursts of information are transmitted along with those feelings, and I can pick up on that. I could feel her anger and resentment at having been inexplicably dumped, and those emotions filled my mind as though they were my own.


Still slightly suspicious of my bizarre explanation, Joanne, nonetheless, asked for my advice on how to mend her relationship with a man she’d hoped to marry one day. Having been blissfully divorced for almost ten years at that point, I gave her the only advice that came to mind, then left the store — without buying anything (it doesn’t take an empath to know that the sales girl was not the slightest bit impressed with me).


In July, 2002, I lived in a basement apartment in Ottawa, with a large window that opened straight out onto the front lawn of my apartment building. I used to let Aries, my eight year-old gray cat, out to lounge on the grass, tethered by a 15 foot leash attached to a hook screwed into the ceiling of my living room, just inside the window. One day, I let Aries out to sun himself on the lawn, then went to work at my computer in the bedroom.


About three hours later, I went to check on him and discovered, to my horror, that he had broken free from his leash — but a good part of it was still attached to his collar, meaning he was dragging a ten foot rope behind him. I was very concerned that the leash would get snagged on something, putting him in grave danger. So, I went looking for him in the woods right behind my home, as he often went there to hunt and play when off-leash. But, hours later, with the sun now long gone, there was still no sign of him. It was nearing midnight, 10˚C and pouring rain. I had to get up for work at 6 am, so, full of guilt and fear, I abandoned my search and went to bed to try and get some sleep.


Sometime, just after daybreak, I had a dream that Aries was tangled in the bushes about 90 feet from my apartment building, and 7 feet away from an old gardening shed used by maintenance workers. He was cold, wet and very hungry, meowing for me to come and rescue him. I woke from the dream, put on some shoes and went searching for him in my pajamas, going directly to the spot where he told me he was in my dream.


And guess where I found him? Yup. About 7 feet away from the old shed, wet and shivering, his leash completely tangled in shrubbery, just as I'd seen in my dream. Aries and I have always had a special connection since I first adopted him at 6 months old. We were able to communicate non-verbally on a very rudimentary level (i.e. locking eyes and conveying each others needs and wishes, then complying, if we desired to do so) but this was the first time I’d been able to link with him, telepathically, from such a significant distance. If I hadn't found him, he most surely would have died of hunger and exposure.



I’ve experienced hundreds of bizarre situations just like this over the years and, I must admit, I'm at a loss to explain how I can do these things. It's just not logical. It took a while, but I've learned to embrace the wonderful mystery that is me, and I continue to explore and experiment with these...unusual talents...almost every day.


KJC

HOW STAR WARS CHANGED MY LIFE

The line-up was long, but I was determined to get inside. After plunking down $6 for a ticket, drink and popcorn, I bobbed and weaved through the crowd and, in a stroke of good luck, found a perfect spot in the balcony. An isle seat, six rows back. A moment later the lights went out and, accompanied by a blast of glorious horns, trumpets and strings, this appeared on the screen:



By the time Darth Vader’s Imperial Star Destroyer had finished its long, rumbling trek overhead, in pursuit of Princess Leia’s ship as she raced toward Tatooine, I knew my life had changed forever.


“Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.”


For those two action-packed hours, I was immersed in another world, another galaxy, far, far away. The laser gun shoot-outs, the totally awesome Mos Eisley Cantina, the riveting Death Star trench battle…it was almost too much for this 9 year old’s brain to absorb. And when it was over, and the last of the closing credits had faded from the screen, I left the theatre with a renewed sense of purpose. I was going to be a star!


“I don’t know where you get your delusions, laser brains.”


Before the script for The Empire Strikes Back had even been written, I was already reading books on how to become an actor (character study, voice projection, getting an agent etc.). My friends and I would dress up as various characters and act out scenes from the movie. They were all doing it for fun, but I was practicing my “craft” in order to improve my performance level.


“You can waste time with your friends later.”


I remember one time in particular, me, my older cousin, Melody, and a neighbourhood boy, whose name I have forgotten, were acting out a particularly emotional scene in the front yard of my cousin’s house. The one where Governor Tarkin tries to compel Princess Leia to give up the location of the secret rebel base, under threat of blowing up her home planet of Alderaan. I, with my long blonde locks twisted into that famous cinnamon bun hairdo, played the scene to the hilt, fighting back tears, all regal and defiant in the face of such insidious Evil. And then, right at the moment where Tarkin (aka neighbourhood boy) nonchalantly orders his henchmen to proceed with the Death Star’s weapons firing “test” on Alderaan, I yelled “What?!” just as some dude in a truck passed by. My impassioned plea scared the shit out of the poor guy and he lost control of the wheel for a moment. Thankfully, there was no other traffic on the road or things could have turned out very differently.


“Watch your mouth, kid, or you’re gonna
find yourself floating home!”


As the years passed, and two more blow-my-mind sequels had come and gone, I maintained my passion for acting but, alas, two years of high-school drama class and various roles in live theatre had not helped to quell my debilitating stage fright (i.e. vomiting, migraines & nightmares for several days leading up to a performance, and then forgetting my lines, missing marks – and occasionally passing out – while onstage). After barely squeaking by with a passing grade in my second year, my drama teacher quietly suggested that perhaps I might consider a different line of work in the entertainment industry.


“I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”


By the time I’d graduated high school at age 17 I had pretty much decided to abandon acting and work toward a career as a special effects make-up artist – with hopes of one day getting a really cool job in the creature shop at George Lucas’s Industrial Light & Magic. I got part-time work at a salon/day spa, doing fantasy make-up for people going to costume parties, and models for high-fashion photo shoots and such. But just before I was to move to Montreal to begin my professional training in special effects make-up artistry, family/personal issues forced me to stay put and devote all of my income towards taking care of things on the domestic front.


“Do, or do not. There is no try.”


So, then, in the early '90s, after I’d established myself as an internationally recognized voice-over artist and live radio personality, I got another brilliant idea. I was going to become a famous writer, along the same lines as Stephen King, Neil Gaiman and Anne Rice. While I never quite made a name for myself as a novelist, I'm still having fun exploring various creative outlets, such as screenwriting, comic book writing and lifestyle journalism. Who knows what might come of this, some day?


“The Force will be with you, always.”


I LOVE SHOES!

I make a decent living, now, but I grew up poor. So, I learned at a very young age how to spend wisely and buy only what I need. That said, I do have one weakness:


S H O E S !


They are an addiction, I readily admit that. I think I might even need to see a psychiatrist about this someday.


You think I'm joking? Well, you wouldn't if you saw my closet. I have well over a hundred pairs of shoes and boots — with matching purses — all in different styles, colours, heel heights and price ranges. I have some I bought at the Salvation Army or Value Village for $3 (never worn!) and some I bought at high end retailers for $200-$300. I love my cheap Zellers, Sears and Walmart brand shoes just as much as I love my Manolo Blahnik's and Jimmy Choos. Just like children, each are special and very important to me, regardless of their lineage.


And, being an artist, I'm not one to just settle for what I might find on store shelves. If the colour or style isn't quite right to suit my needs or the outfit/purse I'm buying them for, I paint and decorate them with chains, ribbons, rhinestones, pearls, beads, silk flowers...all kinds of doo-dads, making them one-of-a-kind functional works of art that I'm very proud to display on my size 9-W feet.


While I respect and adore my plain business shoes with the one or two inch heel, I tend to gravitate toward the more daring and sexy shoe. The higher the heel, the better! Remember that scene in Sex & the City where Carrie is walking down the street and stops dead when she sees a pair of kick-ass heels in a store window? "Hello, lover," she sighs with desperate longing. Well, that's me. When I need my shoe fix I go to the nearest mall and fondle every pair that catches my eye. I like to touch them, to smell them...sometimes I even kiss them, if I see no one is watching. If I have time, I try them on, and if I love them, I buy them.


Just try and stop me!


KJC

40 TV SHOWS THAT LEFT THEIR MARK

It took a while to compile but here's a list of 40 TV shows that had a significant influence on me in my formative years.


1. Gilligan’s Island (1964-1967)


2. Get Smart (1965-1970)


3. The Odd Couple (1970-1975)


4. Emergency! (1972-1979)


5. Adam-12 (1968-1975)


6. Bewitched (1964-1972)


7. I Dream of Jeannie (1965-1970)


8. Star Trek (1966-1969)


9. The Partridge Family (1970-1974)


10. The Brady Bunch (1969-1974)


11. The Six Million Dollar Man (1974-1978)


12. The Bionic Woman (1976-1978)


13. Wonder Woman (1976-1979)


14. The Incredible Hulk (1978-1982)


15. Charlie's Angels (1976-1981)


16. CHiPs (1977-1983)


17. Grizzly Adams (1977-1978)


18. The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries (1977-1979)


19. All in the Family (1971-1979)


20. The Jeffersons (1975-1985)


21. Mork & Mindy (1978-1982)


22. Happy Days (1974-1984)


23. Lavern & Shirley (1976-1983)


24. Welcome Back, Kotter (1975-1979)


25. Three's Company (1977-1984)


26. Eight is Enough (1977-1981)


27. Little House on the Prairie (1974-1983)


28. Battlestar Galactica (1978-1979)


29. Cliffhangers: The Curse of Dracula (1979)


30. The Dukes of Hazzard (1979-1985)


31. The Facts of Life (1979-1988)


32. The Love Boat (1977-1986)


33. Fantasy Island (1978-1984)


34. Spiderman (1967-1970)


35. The Flintstones (1960-1966)


36. Scooby Doo (1969-1972)


37. Knight Rider (1982-1986)


38. Voyagers! (1982-1983)


39. Miami Vice (1984-1989)


40. V: The Series (1984-1985)


I could go on and on (in fact, I had to trim this list down from about 50 faves, including H.R. Puffnstuf, Lidsville, Land of the Lost, Swiss Family Robinson, Bugs Bunny, Sesame Street, Muppet Show, etc.) but I think you get the picture.


KJC

BAD FIRST DATES

I was thinking earlier today, about my younger days, back when I was a nightclub dancer and lead singer of a pop/rock band, remembering some of the boys/men I knew and dated back then.


The first name that popped into my head was Gavin "Smith", born in England, kinda looked like a very young Hugh Grant. We'd known each other since high-school and socialized with a large, close-knit group of friends. We liked each other but one of us was always dating someone else, so it was a constant case of bad timing.


Finally, long after I'd graduated high-school, we decided to go out on our first real date. I was almost 20 by that time, Gavin was 17. After he and I had dinner at a really fancy restaurant, I took him to the nightclub where I worked to introduce him to all of my co-workers. Remember...he's 17. We weren't there 3 minutes when all of a sudden the police burst through the doors. At least ten of 'em, all looking for underage drinkers. I tried to hide Gavin in bathrooms and broom closets, moving him around from place to place, as a rebel sympathizer would try to hide a resistance fighter during a Nazi raid. But, alas, they did eventually find him. Not only did the poor boy get a fine for being in a nightclub — even though he didn't have a drop of alcohol to drink, he also got a permanent police record. All because I wanted to show off my hot new boyfriend to my friends.


Thankfully, Gavin laughed it off and we remained friends for a couple of years afterward — but not boyfriend/girlfriend, as I realized that night that he was just too young for me and not even close to being ready for the kind of mature, long-term adult relationship I was looking for from a man at that time. I've always considered Gavin as The One That Got Away, and often wonder how very different my life would've been, had I waited around for him to be ready to commit to a serious relationship with me, instead of meeting and later marrying a divorced man ten years my senior (what a disaster that turned out to be) in the late 1980s.


KJC


ADDENDUM: (January 2015) Gavin just contacted me via Facebook to reconnect and say Hi. How wonderful to hear from my beloved English Egg McMuffin after all of these years!


AN INTERESTING DILEMMA

Because of my work in the entertainment industry, I mingle with a lot of celebrities. Actors, writers, producers and musicians. Some are complete dick-heads that I just want to shoot in the head and bury in a shallow grave, while others are just the nicest, sweetest, most sensitive and intellectually stimulating people I've ever known. Ralph Fiennes is in the latter category. I've had the hots for Ralph ever since 1993's The Cormorant, about a man's twisted obsession with a bird. I thought he was drop dead gorgeous back then — those laser-beam blue eyes! — and, despite the quickly receding hairline, has managed to maintain his movie star good looks, I think.


So, anyway, after watching him in Strange Days a while ago, I did a little poking around on the internet to find out what Ralph's been up to since his stint as Voldemort in the Harry Potter movies, and up popped an old news story about a very brief fling he had with an airline stewardess while flying at 30,000 feet, and later that night, again, in his hotel room in Mumbai. The scandal came and went in a matter of weeks, but if you read the details of her side of the story you start to get a picture of a woman in a terrible mental state, spiritually, morally and financially bankrupt. She wasn't dealing with a full deck before she and Ralph did the quick and nasty in the jet's lavatory, and afterward, when the scandal broke and she lost her job, things got much, much worse for her.


It got me thinking about relationships, that spark of attraction and sexual tension that a man and woman feel when they first meet and get to know each other. It can be intoxicating, exciting...the thrill of a new romance. But what if you were Lisa Robertson? What if you were there on that plane with an absolutely ravishing, intellectually stimulating and hilariously funny man, a passenger, who made it quite clear with his words and actions that he was really enjoying your company — and was hoping to get to know you better, preferably while the two of you were naked? Would you risk it all...your job, your financial stability, your home and car, would you be willing to ruin your reputation and put yourself up to humiliation and ridicule on an international scale just to have a 20-hour sex romp with this man?



I wouldn't. Not a chance in Hell. I adore Ralph and, from time to time, fantasize about he and I doing it in the coat check room at a Vanity Fair after party, or in the boiler room in the basement of a hotel in Monte Carlo — BUT there is not a man on this Earth that is worth that kind of risk. I have a great life. I have dignity, self-respect and a strong spiritual centre — and I'll be damned if I'm going to throw that all away on a celebrity fling.


KJC

REMEMBERING JON-ERIK

On October 18th, 1984, I suffered a devastating loss when actor Jon-Erik Hexum accidentally shot himself in the head with a prop gun while on the set of his TV series Cover Up. After failing to recover from the brain trauma, he was declared dead six days later, his organs donated to those in need.



That was a really rough week for me. I was 16, studying to become an actress, and had been following Jon-Erik's career since his starring role on Voyagers!, one of my favourite shows, back in 1982. I took his death very hard, because I sorta knew Jon-Erik. While he was working on Voyagers! I wrote him a fan letter, just gushing about him and the show. He wrote me back a few weeks later and included some personal photos of himself on the set. Not publicity shots but candid pics of him and his co-star Meeno Peluce goofing around on set. I wrote him back to thank him, and told him I was studying to become an actress, and he wrote me back again, gave some career advice and even more photos of himself and Meeno (I think I may still have an autographed picture of him somewhere. I should try to find it.). Anyway, as the months passed and Voyagers! wrapped production, Jon-Erik and I continued to write to each other, right up to the month he passed away.


I found out about the accident on Entertainment Tonight and was absolutely sick with worry, praying that he'd recover. The day his parents pulled the plug I went into a deep, near suicidal depression. Jon-Erik Hexum was the kindest, most thoughtful and giving actor I had ever encountered up to that point. I'd hoped that he and I would work together — or at the very least, meet — someday. So genuine, caring and compassionate, he revealed many private things to me in his writings, and I will never forget how much he trusted me, a 16 year-old nobody from Canada, with his secrets. I still think about Jon-Erik from time to time, and wonder what he'd be doing now, if that prop gun hadn't blown a hole in his temple.


The world lost someone special when he died. :-(


KJC

WHY I BLOG

I dislike celebrity gossip sites such as Gawker, TMZ, Smoking Gun and PerezHilton immensely and if could sabotage their servers and take them off-line forever I would. I don't like people who spread malice by talking trash about others and flinging personal insults which they believe are funny and witty. It's a form of schoolyard bullying elevated to an international forum, and it's just despicable.



I am not a C-list blogger — or even a D-lister. I have no demographic, theme or target audience. My blog has a mix of personal, professional and humorous posts that are fit for anyone to read and, hopefully, enjoy. I want my blog entries to enlighten and inspire, to make you laugh and cry and get all fired up over an issue that is just as important to you as it is to me. I'm, generally speaking, a very friendly and open individual and, so long as you're a nice person with a good heart, I will consider you a friend and take the time to get to know you better, learn more about who you are, you're life philosophies and ambitions, because I really and truly care about you.


When I lay on my deathbed I want to be able to say that I made some truly awesome friends along the way, not that I had a strong readership in the female 18-35 demographic, y'know?


KJC