Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Bell tolls for me

Is there any a time when "customer" and "service" go hand in hand? Today is certainly not the day.

The lady on the other end of the phone at Bell Canada was certainly pleasant enough. I had called in to upgrade my present mobile phone. I had waited what had been the alloted 18-month waiting period to get new hardware - a mobile phone and hopefully a new Bluetooth headset, given the new rules of the road in Ontario. A long-time customer (on the Bell accounts receivable list since the mid-90s), I was loyal to a fault. Despite many offers of upgrades by Bell's competitors, I was happy with the products and the services. Until today.

I was thanked for being a loyal customer. Yay me. But, I was then told that I would have to wait another six months for my loyalty to be rewarded. Boo Bell. And, there was no bargaining room. She had checked her computer and that computer was god. She then proceeded to tell me that my past 18-month rule had never been in effect and that I must have been mistaken. The customer was wrong, wrong, wrong. She then asked if there was anything else she could do to help me. Really. No.

I am a reasonable person, a little too reasonable at times. In the past, I would have accepted the two-year wait as a viable answer despite having an upgrade every 18 months since my first Bell cell phone. So, when she asked if she could do anything else to help me, this was my answer: Since your track record today is zero, there is nothing else you can do. "Oh, what else would make you happy," she asked. My answer: a new cell phone.

I hung up with a "Have a nice day" retort.

It's a small issue, having to wait until June to be more technologically connected. That's not the underlying issue. The real issue is that the Bell lady operated under the guise that she had actually helped me in some way. She answered the telephone and checked the computer. She did not take any steps past that to see if a supervisor could help me past her area of expertise.

I've worked in customer service and still do to this day. It's about customer retention. It's about going above and beyond. It's about making more of an effort than answering the telephone.

It looks like Bell's competitors will enjoy my loyalty once my contract is up.

Friday, January 22, 2010

What's in a nickname?

I used to tell people that I answer to everything, especially when they were embarrassed at getting my name wrong or forgetting it completely. They’d laugh and it would divert attention away from their faux pas. That’s just how I roll. But, what causes an individual or group to decide on a nickname? More specifically, why do my people, friends and acquaintances, decide what nickname best suits me personally?

My dad started it. He called me Boo, which he then lengthened to Booze, and I had to explain that I was not an alcoholic, at the age of three, when my dad called for his Linda Booze.

I know what you’re thinking: Linda Booze is not so bad, especially when you consider the next nickname to surface. Again, I blame my dad, since it’s his last name that caused it all. I do not wish to reveal his last name, since privacy is everything but it rhymes with this piece of male anatomy. Do you see where I’m going with this? Male anatomy? Rhymes with…

Yes. Foreskin. Foreskin. Foreskin. Foreskin. Foreskin. It’s kind of addicting – to put it out there. The name, not the appendage. That would be illegal. And kind of gross if foreskins were continually flapping in the breeze. I don’t know about you, but I would be desensitized after a while, all those penises all the time. Every.where.I.looked.

There’s not such a segue into the next nickname: Larry. There are more than a few people on this earth who do not know that my name is Linda. It started with my friend Selena, who, in a quest to keep me away from the scissors or the hairdresser when I was growing my once-short hair, decided if I did cut it off again that she would call me Larry. I never did succumb and go under the scissors but the nickname stuck, at least until Scribe was born.

I can't take credit for the Scribe label, though I think it's one of the coolest nicknames I've had or heard. Hell, I even call myself Scribe when I feel like talking in the third person. It happens occasionally and more likely on here. My friend Buddha, the best shiatsu therapist and friend around, is a Buddhist monk who is in the process of writing a book about saving the world. It's enlightening and entertaining, with many entries that make you stop and say hmmmmm.... I still laugh when picturing Ghandi popping a cap in someone's ass. You had to be there, and I was, transcribing Buddha's thoughts onto paper (or at least a computer screen and subsequent disk). He started calling me Scribe and thankfully this one stuck too.

So, Scribe it is. There is no more Foreskin and only the occasional Larry. Linda Booze still rears its head, only when my parents are in town and my dad's in a particularly reminiscent mood. Linda Booze I can handle. The others are another story. I don't have short hair and in no way resemble a boy (thankfully that stint ended in grade nine when I was out of my awkward phase), and even though I have balls at times, I have never had my genitals hanging outside of my body.Okay, it felt like that once after a particularly grueling Spin class, but that was a one-time occurrence.

If I hear a Hey You while walking down the street it's more than likely I'll turn around. It would be the same if I heard any variation of Linda and even Larry. And, if "Scribe" were to be yelled in any direction, I would run and throw my arms around the person since it's either one of you, my blogger friends, or Buddha, and all of you rock.

Scribe out, yo.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I had this funny little quip all prepared about nicknames and how they come to be, and how I got my many monikers, but it flew out the car window as soon as I pulled into the parking lot at the vet.

How ominous did that sound? You’re asking “Scribe, what happened at the vet. What’s going down?” The answer, bloggers, is Bella.

To be honest I haven’t felt like writing over the past three days. I’ve posted the nickname blog to the Blogger editor only to have it sit there, all written and nicely capitalized where it should be and I haven’t pressed the publish button. The tears have something to do with it.

It’s my life post-Bella, my soccer-ball head of a cat that has seen me through the good and bad, my first apartment on my own, my first marriage and first house and onward. Until Tuesday.

I wrote about her a while back. She wasn’t well. She was diagnosed with “borderline” diabetes. We changed her diet and considered insulin, but she continued to go downhill, drinking copious amounts of water and missing the litter box for both the liquids and the solids. She also soiled herself on many occasions and over the past three weeks, she decided that she didn’t feel like eating either. Her fur was no longer brilliantly white and soft. Her little lamb-like legs were covered in feces. I did wash her constantly, but she constantly ended up back in the same state. She was no longer the Bella I knew. I still loved her but she wasn’t herself and hadn’t been for a long while.

Nothing prepared me for Tuesday. I was stoic, or so I thought. I was emotionally attached but able to handle anything. Until she was gone, her pink tongue sticking out mid-lick. Oh, how I cried. I’m still crying, and I’m still walking by the basement door and touching it, believing her to be on the other side in her usual sleeping position on the top stair, or on one of the heat registers in the kitchen. She was a heat hog.

Yesterday morning was my worst. Just one day before she was yelling at me from the kitchen to shake a leg and fill up her dish. Even though she wasn’t eating a lot, she still loved the ritual of rubbing against my leg, mewing at me to hurry up. It was our routine and now it’s gone.

My life post-Bella will be different. I won’t tell you how she felt in my arms seconds after she fell asleep. I won’t tell you about walking out of the vet unable to breathe. I’m sure you can already imagine that. I will tell you what I will miss (not in this order):

  1. Bella wrapping herself around my legs and tripping me down the stairs. I didn’t appreciate it then but I miss it now (even the concussions).
  2. Headbutts. The girl could give the best headbutts (yes, concussions again!)
  3. Giving static electric shocks to each other each and every winter for 15 years.
  4. Her cries from behind the basement door after climbing into the ceiling and sliding down the cold air return and dropping herself into the crawlspace/storage area in my parents’ old house.
  5. Belly rub flops.
  6. Kneading (and being needed).
  7. Never having alone time in the bathroom. Between Bella and Kao, I never get any peace.
  8. Trying to train her to sit and wait for her dinner (and no accidents on the stairs). It was a test of wills. She won.
  9. Her very loud purr that sounded more like a pigeon than a cat. The girl actually cooed.
  10. Kissing the top of her head every morning and night.

A lot of people can’t understand why I’m still sad. A part of me wants to lash out at them, to beat them upside the head, take a bat to their knees. A smaller part feels sorry for them because they can’t understand that she was there for me when many people were not, and that makes her my family.
My heart post-Bella is heavy but grateful.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Scribe's Winter Wonderland... with Charlie Brown, the Grinch and a bunch of East Coasters

It's been a long time coming but the time is now -- to unveil my first-ever "Winter Wonderland" painting.

This is the piece that I had been working on and complaining about for about a month before its completion. I was worried, worried it would look child-like and worried that I hadn't done a good enough job. I'm over that now, so now that my family and friends have each received a copy of the painting as a Christmas card, it's time to release it on the blogging world.

To reiterate, the inspiration was the quaint cottages in PEI and a take on PEI's own the Grinch's Wooville in a frozen pond perfect for pick-up hockey games and ice skating, and to mix Christmas specials, a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. It's now hanging in my friend's bedroom above her make-up table where she can gaze upon it every day. Lovingly. And yes, the houses are supposed to look cartoonish. Got it? Okay then.

Now that this project is in the past, it's time to start on another. Last week was my first art class since the holidays, and bloggers, this time we're doing "runs." No, I don't have the runs nor am I going to take off running anywhere, unless a big-ass bear is chasing me. Even then, I'd have to think about it. The potential outcome, the risks. Will I make it? Or won't I? Is it really worth the effort then?

We're using paint runs to create interest and interesting shapes. Just this past program saw one woman nervous about drawing her very first tree, let alone a forest, create very funky and inspired forests simply by wetting the paint, tilting the canvas and watching the paint dog paddle through the paint. It was mystic and misty, and I vowed I wanted to try it. Now.

The time is here, and next week I'm going to get the runs underway. I've painted my background, layer upon layer and sealed in between, and a very low-riding, all-encompassing moon. I've got an idea in my head, but we'll see how it translates onto the canvas. If it doesn't, then I'll tackle it from a new way, with a new idea. I'm getting the hang of this whole creativity flow thing, bloggers.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The X-rated cutlery drawer

Can you imagine the cutlery drawer you'd have to use for this lot?

I’m so punny I think I just threw up in my mouth. A little. Okay, a lot.

Last night, the Man and I were enjoying a rare spoon. It was comfy, comforting and the closeness put me right to sleep. It was lovely. And I said so. In so many words:

“Sweets, I love when we spoon. I also like when we fork.”

He covered his eyes, groaned and rolled over. So much for spooning. I think I’ll have to revert back to the knifing.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Wow! I'm good

I just realized that out of the seven days we've gotten through in January, I've posted exactly five times. Not bad, grasshopper. Not bad.

I'll be back with more banter tomorrow. I can't bear to be without you!

Slang it!

Last night, I rapped out to Push It by Salt and her cohort Pepa, much to the embarrassment of The Man, who happened to be walking with me to the movie theatre to visit Pandora and the large blue people of Avatar.

I blame him. He did, after all, say “Push it real good.” That’s all it took and I was p-p-psh-pshing to the beat and waxing poetic about Pops and the kiss he was about to lay down on me. Fast. Or I’d get pissed. Is that piss drunk from the travesty of making out with an old man, or pissed as in angry that this old geezer was thinking my fine ass would be in close proximity with his wrinkly and droopy one? I like to think it was the latter. Hopefully.

Anyway, as usual, in the small hours of the morning I was thinking when I should have been sleeping. I rap. Badly. Because it makes me laugh and feel like a gangsta at the same time. True dat.

The Man thinks he’s a gangsta. For reals. I have to remind him that he grew up in Gaspe, Quebec, so close to the Maritimes that one friend calls him Newfie. Yet he still insists that he’s “Westside” (pronounced Wes-syeeed). He would stick a comb in his ‘fro, if only he had enough hair. He even does the whole W thing with his fingers, which I think is even more embarrassing than the Wes-syeeed crap. He’s even got the dog doing it. Okay, The Man manipulates the dog’s paw into the W, but I swear that dog thinks he’s Snoop Dog. Oh the influence he’s been under!

This post is more than how The Man makes me cover my eyes in disbelief. It’s more about how when we get older the slang we used to use or sometimes want to use sounds more ghetto than ghetto fabulous.

My Ranger friend and I were having a tête-à-tête just a few nights ago in which she ended every sentence in “bitch” or the plural “bitches.” I chose homefry, homeslice or any variation – homegirl – you get the picture. I also had jazz hands, but that’s another story for another time.

It got me thinking again as to the sayings that were popular in my formative years (read teeny-bopper stage). For me, it started with the Valley Girls. I was gagging myself and everyone around me with spoon. I was rad and narly and hanging 10 all over the place.

Some of my friends (The Man included) have adopted some of the sayings of today. Of course now that I’m under pressure I can’t think of any. Or, perhaps I’ve blocked them from my short-term memory because I remember what it felt (and sounded) like when my Mum, June Cleaver herself or at least a very neurotic version, said “Gag me with a spoon” for the very first and last time.

Sure, each region, state, province or wherever the hell you live, has its own dialect – a set of words unique to that area. Age brackets have their own dialect too and it’s a bit disconcerting when a foreigner tries to infiltrate the tribe. Just as a group of teenagers may have looked at me in confusion (and then alarm) when I was spewing forth the “Can’t you feel the music pumping hard like I wish you would,” so should they too if I used the word “fail” and I’m not talking about a science or driving test.

Words also change their meaning over time. When gay once meant happy, it now means something completely different. And swinging? Well, don’t get me started on that one!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Just "The Facts", ma'am

Okay, here's the lowdown:  The Man thinks I bore an uncanny resemblance to Jo Polniaczek from The Facts of Life. I say it was the big hair. It was the 80s, people. So, to throw fuel on the fire I'm posting a picture of me circa 1984 and one of the infamous Jo. You decide.

You like the big 'fro? I did too.

I like my 'fro better, bitch. Back off and get your own wave!

And, if I hear any strains of "You take the good, you take the bad," someone's going down, bitches. Down.

"You take the good
You take the bad
You take them all
and there you have
The Facts of Life
The Facts of Life."

Bite me, Jo Polniaczek.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Retro is in the heart

I remember when Nina sang about her 99 red balloons, I remember parachute pants and The Parachute Club. I remember ringing in the new year at Montreal’s Metropolis in 1991, just shy of my 19th birthday. I remember scrunching my socks down into my shoes and I remember when Lady Miss Kier was the precursor to Lady Gaga, singing about groove living in your heart.

A friend of mine was on Facebook last week posting videos that she labeled “retro” and that got me thinking: I was around when all of these videos were hitting screens across the country, so would I be considered retro?

I was there dancing in the clubs when Madonna first justified her love. I loved, loved, loved the video not for the raunchiness but because it pushed the envelope. And, I’m not one to linger in the past though I do like to reminisce about the good times, but who doesn’t.

I have long since retired my 80’s “Facts of Life” hair (The Man called me “Jo” when he saw a circa-1985 pouffy hair picture of me) and I’ve got no clothes hanging in my closet that would be considered 1990s, hell even millennium worthy. But, there are a few things I do hold onto dearly: Friendships and loyalties.

I have been blessed with a few very important long-time friendships. Anasatan and Mags I know you’re out there, lurking in the shadows. I first set eyes on Anasatan in my grade seven class, thinking at first that she was a cute Native Indian boy. She had the dark hair and darker skin. Little did I know she did have a bit of Native in her (among many others including French and Slovak). My crush was immediately crushed, stomped upon even, when she turned out to be 100% girl. Oh well, I got a new friend and that was okay by me. It doesn’t hurt that she makes the best perogies this side of the Iron Curtain.

Our friendship has lasted since 1982, taking a small hiatus while she got married and had babies and I rediscovered myself after my first marriage. It has not waivered since, and even during this hiatus where we did not know where the other turned up, we were continually trying to find each other to reconnect. She was never far from her thoughts and I from hers.

We’re now set to celebrate our Year of the Cougar/Lounge Lizard birthday next year. Next January will see the lot of us filling a hall with the most Cougarish outfits we can find and dancing the night away in celebration of each of us reaching our 40th year – our best year yet.

We’re both poised for greatness – fabulous at 40. I may hold onto things I love (I’ve got a china cabinet that used to reside in my grandmother’s kitchen that will reside in any of my dwellings and a chair from the same era and house), but more importantly I hold onto great friendships and a love of great music no matter the era.

If that’s retro, consider me guilty. Groove is in the heart, everybody.

And now for your viewing pleasure, here is a little video that captured my attention of a band called OkGo. It’s on YouTube. Enjoy. They’re very groovy.

Peace out, yo.

The Reiki Experiment

I’ve been experimenting as of late. While there’s no need to wear surgical masks or a HASMAC suit, there may be an occasion to wear a robe. White, black, pink… choose whatever colour tickles your fancy or any other part of your body (for which I am not responsible).

A few months ago I had an epiphany while visiting my Ranger friend. She’d just come back from six months in India, a combination of work and travel, and she’d come back refreshed, recharged and reinvigorated with love for the whole planet. And, she wants to save it one person, one molecule at a time. I’d gone over to find out more about her travels (I followed her journey on FB), and I also wanted to hear about a new venture she’d started – as a Reiki practitioner. I made the mistake of referring to her as a Reiki master. No, I was told, “not master yet. I’m still in super-sponge mode.” And so was I.

I was an energy sponge. Apparently, I didn’t have enough of my own so I had to rely on hers, steal, if you will.

For those who don’t know what Reiki is, it’s something called “healing hands” where your Reiki practitioner (some are even masters) will guide you through a healing process, to open yourself up to your inner eye using their own energy and healing transferred to you through their hands. What you see/experience during this process is totally up to you and your own psyche. Me, it took me to a place where I felt like a trespasser at first. Many minutes and quite a few tears later, I felt at peace.

It’s healing by the placing of hands, and it’s not as kinky as you think. Look at it as a massage for your soul. With her hand on my lower back and one on my head, Ranger transferred her energy to me, and with it, my mind went on a trip. The third eye thing? It really works.

I was transformed. Apparently, I had been carrying a whole load of guilt around for the past 10 years. Now, I’ve had a lot of guilt in my life. Have you met my mother? But this was guilt I didn’t even know I had and I had to ask forgiveness.

My mother-in-law died over 10 years ago of pancreatic cancer. She fought valiantly and managed to make it to our wedding in November (she was diagnosed in July). I loved her; sometimes I’m remiss to admit, more than my own mother. She also loved me, unconditionally and for that I am grateful and blessed.

She died in March of the following year and about a year-and-a-half later, so did my marriage, and that was the guilt I was carrying. I’m not going to go into detail of my divorce – where the fault lay and so on – because there’s responsibility on both sides. What I will say is that I felt horrible for walking out, not for my ex-husband, but for my mother-in-law because I felt I had betrayed her. I had hurt her only son not long after she had to leave. I had been subconsciously punishing myself.

Through Reiki and using Ranger’s energy, I had taken a journey in my mind, over hills and through forests to visit my mother-in-law and the whole judge and jury, only to feel love and forgiveness, the unconditional love she gave so freely in life.

Whether I was making it up or not (at first I felt like a fraud, searching for images to appease the master), I did take a journey that led me to feelings of forgiveness and light that filled my heart for almost a week.

Hoax or not, Ranger’s Reiki are definitely top on my list for things to try (and try again) in 2010.