Gabrielle's Life and Writings

Gabrielle Lawson, writer of Fanfiction. I will use this space to keep a journal about my writing, the progress I'm making, stories I'm working on, writer's blocks I'm having, our adoption process and progress and just life in general.

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Location: Missouri, United States

I'm multifaceted and highly educated. I have a BA in History and an MA in Museum Studies. But I couldn't make a living in a museum, so my hobby--computers--became my living. I'm now a charter member Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician. I aspire to be a professional writer and/or poet. I am a Christian and have been living by His grace for the last four years or so, despite the MegaStress and now the GigaStress. He keeps me going, and displays His glory still, in my life.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

How It Worked Out with Netflix, and Other Matters


Well, I did write to Mr. Hastings. But I also put Season 5, Disk 4 on the top of my queue and carefully examined the disk when it arrived. If it was scratched, I reported it and got another. I did this until my next payday, a fortnight (that's how we budget) in which we'd pay for our Netflix subscription (and get $9.99 off), and sent back 4 disks, reporting all as scratched. Then I bought one on eBay for $15. It arrived today and my husband reports no scratches, just some lint. I also got a letter back from Mr. Hastings and Rob reports they are refunding us 3 months worth of fees so that I can replace my disk. So in the end, it worked out. Netflix is still the best deal out there for a service like this, and Blockbuster is going backrupt apparently, so I wouldn't discount them, but make sure you double-check the DVD you're sending back.

In other news, our adoption is moving forward. We were able to get out CIS documents for the I-800A. We got an appointment for the fingerprinting set for 9am on the 23rd. But two Thursdays ago we got that done early, so we are hoping that this week, we can get our I797C approval letter.

I did manage to write two short scenes of Philippe's Alien Us the other day. I've got a lot dragging me down (besides the good stuff above), so it's hard to find my muse, so to speak. My student loan payment jumped up $140/month which was not a pleasant surprise. Money was already tight as Rob is off from H&R Block and will only start out slowly until tax season starts again. Add to that that we had to renew our memberships for our home insurance (the memberships to the Missouri Farm Bureau gives us the lowest cost out there for insuring our home) and Melaleuca (not much but not welcome this present budget) and renew licenses for the truck and Rob. His birthday is Wednesday and this year, his driver's license expires. And I need at least an extra $10 for the doctor this week as I have to go in and see about all my spasming. I don't shake as much as I used to but I spasm at the drop of a hat. I think that's worse. I want to see if there's anything I can do about it. I'll go Tuesday. Add to that, I got in a fight (on IM, no less) with my sister the other day. I say I've read a good adoption parenting book. She says "I'm afraid you're overanalyzing...." and it goes downhill from there. Tried to end it with a truce, but she wouldn't admit the latter was criticizing my parenting. Well, I just had to drop it, it was late, and we still had at least an hour before I could go to sleep, leaving me roughly 4 hours of sleep before getting up for church. So, not the best weekend. Makes it hard to write.

    Status of Stories
  • Philippe de la Matraque's, Alien Us: Wrote 2 scenes of Chapter 19.
  • The Honored: Back burnered for years now. Fondly thought of.
  • Purgatory: No longer in Purgatory but I do have a writer's block and it's my turn.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Netflix has wronged me!

This is what happened. We rented Out of the Ashes, a very good movie. I took it to watch on my netbook. In my netbook's DVD drive was Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Season 5: Disk 4 as I'd been doing a rewatch and just finished watching "Doctor Bashir, I Presume." To protect my DS9 DVD, I put it in the sleeve for Out of the Ashes. I forgot, however to switch it back. Friday evening, I sealed the envelope and my husband dropped it in the mail on Saturday.

Today, I knelt down next to my collection and pulled out the box for Season 5, so I could put Disk 4 away and get out Season 5. That's when I noticed I still had Out of the Ashes. I called Netflix on my way to work. I was told that this happens a lot and I shouldn't give up hope. They don't rent the DS9 series so it should be easier to get my disk back. The rep filled out a property return report.

When I got to the office, I checked my email and saw that I had an email from Netflix at 7:44am saying they'd received Out of the Ashes. I called back. It's in the hub! I told them what time it was scanned. I was told not to worry, the contents are hand-checked twice. They'll find it and send it back to me.

I waited. At 1:41pm, I got an email saying our next DVD was on it's way and should arrive Tuesday. At 6:42, I got an email from Netflix saying this: We contacted our warehouse to attempt to find the personal property you returned to us in place of our movie. Regrettably, we were unable to locate or identify your disc. We are very sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

Inconvenience? One disk from a boxed set of DS9? I don't think that's an inconvenience. It's a travesty. I called back. They said they get millions of DVDs and it's easy to miss one. Mine. I asked why it couldn't be tracked as we know it was at the hub at 7:44am. They don't have any reports to track who scanned it and where. It was probably on its way to the next subscriber who wanted Out of the Ashes. They don't track to be able to say when it went out or to whom. The subscriber will probably report it as a wrong disk and maybe it will be found then as my report is on file. At this point, I have no faith in that. I was offered a $9.99 credit! That's not even the charge for a month! (We have Blu-Ray so ours is $11.84 a month.) They wouldn't budge.

I asked to speak to a manager. He said the same thing. I find it hard to believe that in this day and age they can't even track their UPC scanning! They do carry the Deep Space Nine series so the first guy either lied or was incompetent when he looked it up. They did not double-check the contents of our envelope and sleeve or they might have caught that this disk with spaceships on it was not the Holocaust story, Out of the Ashes and and, and oh, this subscriber has a property return report. Did they even check it? So either that rep lied about the double-checking or there was incompetence at the hub when they checked it in 7:44 in the morning.

I asked if they'd give me one of their DS9, Season 5, Disk 4 disks, scratched up as they probably are since they'll be keeping, and renting out, my not-so-scratched-up disk. He said no. He wouldn't budge from $9.99 even though if I lost one of their DVDs, we'd have to pay $20.

I am livid, to say the least, by the incompetence and uncaring nature of a company that will just assume from this point on that my property is theirs. I am hurt to have lost my disk with some of my favorite episodes on it and now have an incomplete set.

If you are a Trekkie or Trekker or fan of Star Trek, my fanfiction, or even of another fandom who can empathize with me, will you join with me in writing them? Their CEO is Reed Hastings and this is the address:

Netflix Corporate Office

Attn: Reed Hastings

100 Winchester Circle

Los Gatos, CA 95032

Please reference our account under my husband's name: Robert Person and my married name: Gabrielle Person. And please, pass this on to as many boards, lists, blogs, and newsgroups to get others on board. The more pressure is put on them, the better chance they'll a) make serious restitution to me by either finding my DVD, replacing it, or giving me proper compensation to replace it myself, and b) realize they had better start tracking this stuff better so that other people aren't ripped off simply because they made a mistake.

    Status of Stories
  • Alien Us, on hold. RL has sapped my creativity and Netflix isn't helping!
  • Purgatory, revived with Valerie Shearer, but also on hold for the same reasons
  • The Honored, alas, still on that back burner, but hey, I did post a short story called Welcome Home.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Adoption in High Speed

I mentioned rather briefly in another "recent" post how we signed up for an adoption agency that works with Poland. Note, this is not the normal order of things, but we feel it's definitely God's work. We signed up for EAC (European Adoption Consultants) just about a week before that lady sent her son back to Moscow like a bad printer bought on eBay. Russia threatened to close aodptions to the US. They didn't but it wasn't certain right then. And Russia did make it harder. We were still $29,000 out from adopting one child in Russia and now it was going to be harder still to get there. We decided to look elsewhere before we made any further commitment to EAC. We looked at Waiting Children from China. One that I'd rather taken to from last August was still there. I cried a lot and prayed and asked my family how they'd feel if we gave up on Russia. It was a tough decision as I felt God showed me my daughter in that dream. Well, we finally made the decision. We emailed for information on the Chinese girl (age 9) and filled out a preliminary form only to find another family had decided to adopt her. She had the most beautiful smile. I hope she is happy with her new family! We got an email from our home study agency in which she added that she'd had a contact with an agency that works with Poland and we might be interested. We looked into it and scheduled a call for Sunday, April 25th.

We missed that call because we were burying my beloved Pooder in the back yard. Mimi (from the agency) understood and we rescheduled for Monday, April 26th. We talked and liked the idea of it. We told her we were updating our home study and we'll consider it together and let her know. I really liked it and Rob was open to it. I'd been to Poland before (so had Rob, briefly) so it is a little less scary than Russia. We heard that if we were willing to get a child older than 8, it could happen quicker as Poles adopt many children under 8. Sibling groups were also an option and it doesn't cost any more to adopt siblings than it does to adopt 1 child. We only have room for 2 so 2 was our max. Well, on Wednesday Mimi called to ask if we had a draft of our home study update. I said, no, but we have our completed home study from last year. She said to fax it to her and told me about a sibling group of 5, where the younger 3 were being adopted. They don't like to adopt those three out without knowing the oldest two will be going somewhere. She thought of us. It's a boy and a girl. Angelika is 9, the oldest of the five. Jarek (short for Jaroslaw) is 8. We faxed our home study and signed the confidentiality form. We had the referral on Friday. We sent in our application right after. We also sent 30 questions about each of the kids and the family.

Usually, it's the other way around. You apply then you work on your paperwork and pay your fees and eventually get a referral. We got kind of fast-tracked on that. Well, after that, Mimi got us our first three packets of info and we paid some more fees, joined the online PAPA group (Polish Adoption Parents Association). I attened a Love and Logic course and we prayed and thought about Angelika and Jarek. We finished our home study update and waited for approval. We got the draft and proofread it. We sent it back. It was sent to Mimi and there were adjustments made which I proofread. The Polish attorney preliminarily approved it. We had to send $500 and a application to another home study agency to approve it as our home study agency is not Haque Accredited and Poland is a Hague country. So we're just waiting for that agency to finish up them we should be able move forward with our dossier and immigration papers as well as apply for grants and low-or-no-interest loans. We got answers to our 30 questions on Wednesday of last week and found traits in those kids that were like Rob and I. They feel like our kids. We officially accepted our referral!

We're officially expecting! We could be travelling by September! We still need at least $13000 but with the ability to apply for grants and loans that could be much easier to obtain. And God willing, we'll have our kids before Christmas!



    Status of Stories
  • Alien Us: Philippe is working on Chapter 18...slowly.
  • Purgatory: Resurrected by Valerie Shearer and myself!
  • The Honored: Still on the back burner.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rental Car Fiasco solved--but not to complete satisfaction


I finally heard from Budget at the airport for myself. He called and my husband answered yesterday. They agreed not to charge us for the scratches. They did take off $30 for our coupon. So we were only charged $109.22. That is acceptable. However, I'd like to know that the people involved, especially the manager on duty Sunday night, Matt McGee, are at the very least reprimanded for the way I was treated.

So that's settled, financially anyway. It's even less than I budgeted for. We can still pay off that credit card this month.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Update on the Rental Car Disaster


I called Customer Service today and they said that since it's a claims issue, I have to take it up with the location. In other words, the same people who are trying to screw us. They did give me the name of the general manager--not the guy I dealt with last night. But if she doesn't help (I left VM), or if she's in league with them, we have no other recourse. I suppose, I can try to fight the charge on my credit card.

I tried calling again this morning and didn't even get an answer. I was on hold for more than 20 minutes. I had to hang up. I tried several more times and finally got through...to her voicemail again. Now that I have her extention number, I can call her directly and leave another voicemail without waiting on hold.

After a fourth voicemail, she finally called me back but told me I had to speak with someone else and gave me his extension and transferred me. And, of course, I ended up in voicemail. I called again over an hour later and again, got voicemail.

He finally called and said he'll look into it on his end. At least he spoke to me respectfully but I don't trust anyone at that company yet. We'll see.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Don't Rent from Budget and other news

We just returned from a road trip to St. Louis. We returned our rental car early to the MCI location (Kansas City airport) of Budget and forgot our contract at home. They couldn't find a copy of the contract that showed that we had pointed out scratches on the hood of the car. I stayed while Rob went back to get the contract. When I handed them to them, they accused us of lying. They said they had no proof that Rob didn't write the S and circle on the hood on the contract. That's not the way their guys do it and they would sign it and take the yellow copy.

This is how it happened on Thursday night. We were late picking the car up. The counter agent was helpful but one thing did make me suspicious. He said the car was pre-checked and there was no damage. We checked the car anyway, in the parking lot around midnight. We found scratches on the hood. We saw the counter agent in the parking lot and told him. He said to tell the guy at the exit booth. I got in our car and Rob drove the rental ahead of me. I saw him hand the guy at the booth the papers. The guy wrote on them and handed them back. We drove away.

We didn't look at it after that, just stuck it in a bag and went on. Maybe we should have but that guy in the booth should know his job better than we would. When we returned the car, the lady at the counter went out to check it and said there were scratches on the hood. I said, I know, we pointed that out when we checked the car out. She went and look for a copy of the contract and couldn't find it. I sent Rob back home to get our copy. While waiting I said they either did a sloppy job on the pre-checks or they are intentially trying to snare naive customers. Because, if we could see those scratches at midnight, walking around the car, they should have been able to see them in the daylight. The lady tonight clearly saw them. So how were they missed in the pre-check? How was there "no damage?" So then when I have the papers, the manager comes out and says that maybe Rob wrote in the damage. I said we wouldn't know how they mark it. He said the circled S was common sense, but then he said it's not how they do it. He said the guy standing next to him was in the booth that night and he would do the paperwork right. Of couse, the guy next to him wasn't going to admit to doing a sloppy job, so he went along with it. I was--still am--livid! I wanted to speak to someone higher than the manager. He gave me his card, which I pointed out wasn't higher than him. He said if I called that number, I'd get it. But when I intended to call, he said it would just ring there. I said I'd find the number. I tried on the internet on my phone but I got a mobile site with limited information. So I called the reservations number on the coupon I had. They gave me the customer service number but Customer Service isn't opened until Monday at 7:30am. It was Sunday, about 10:30.

Finally, after I called back again and at least got a sympathetic reservations agent, they said I could leave but the counter agent said the car wouldn't be "returned" and we'd be charged for extra days. I said no. I also said I absolutely would NOT sign any accident report for an accident that didn't happen. The manager said he's close out my contract now but he couldn't give me a receipt with out an accident report. I said I wanted it in writing because I didn't trust him.

I told them I'd be calling Customer Service tomorrow and I'd never rent Budget again and I'd tell everyone I could not to rent Budget. They have some serious customer service issues and, in my opinion, are actively scamming customers and maybe getting away with it with customers who give in to their lies.

Other News


Seems kind of incongruous to the above topic, but since I wrote that tribute to Pooder in my last post, I think I should update anyone who read it. Poodie died shortly there after. He came home and didn't want to do much. But he did eat. He did drink. He did jump up on the bed to be with me. We had to force his pills down his throat though and we had to pull him up from under the bed the next day and do it again. Later that night, he wouldn't take them for anything. He isolated himself and could hardly walk. He would not take his medicine. On Sunday, we knew he was absolutely suffering and got him to the car to take him to the emergency vet. Not to save him, but to help him go peacefully. I held him in my lap as Rob drove. One the way, he was gasping for air and listless. I petted him and told him I loved him. He stretched two times and then I thought maybe he was gone, but with the movement of the car, I couldn't tell. We got to the vet and a nurse checked. He was gone. They put him in a box for us and we buried him next to the pond in our backyard. It was a hard day. It still hurts.

We missed a call from an adoption agency scheduled for Sunday because we were out there burying him. I emailed and they rescheduled. We talked to them on Monday night. It's an agency that works with Poland. We were seriously considering it when she left a message Wednesday to call her. I did and she told us about two kids we might be good for. We signed a confidentiality statement and got the referral. We wrote up some questions and sent in our application. We are now actively working to adopt from Russia. The two children are siblings, ages 8 (boy) and 9 (girl). We haven't got answers to our questions yet, but we pray and hope these kids will fit us and that we will be accepted for them.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Pooder


Pooder is a cat. He's my cat. When I returned from Europe, I was cat-less. My family had lost my Symphony, a wonderful silver tabby I'd had for 6 years. So after a few months without a car, I answered an ad from someone who could meet me at the shopping center close to home. She had only managed to catch one of the two kittens she had and brought him. I could see right away that he was part Siamese, but she insisted, "No, his mama is a tiger stripe!" Well, I stopped arguing, but I can tell Daddy was Siamese. Poodie has big blue eyes and tan colored points, but those points were striped with the stripes he got from his mama. Back then, he was named Amadeus and would blanch out any picture I took of him. It was 1995, I didn't have a digital camera. All I'd get was a white blob with two eyes. He was 9 weeks old when I brought him home in a bag.

He didn't live up to his lofty name. He just wasn't dignified enough at the time. He was clumsy, knocking my knick knacks off their shelves. And sometimes, it wasn't clumsiness. Sometimes he just bapped them off with a paw. (Later, when I lived with my dad and my sisters would visit and sleep on my bedroom floor, those knick knacks were very likely to whack them on the head!) So, Amadeus had to go. I called him several variations of "kitty poo" before I ended up at "Pooder" and it seemed to fit.

A year later, Poodie (a derivation of Pooder. There are many: Poodie Pie, Pooderhead, Pooderboggins) and I moved to the DC area. He got lost that first week when my roommate's friend left a door open. Fortunately, I found him in the tall grass beside the house. Poodie had a flea allergy and food allergy and ended up with a spot on his tummy that just wouldn't heal even though he had no more fleas (thanks to Advantage) and was on Science Diet (a food Symphony had eaten when she had food allergies). The vet said that when a cat has food allergies, they are likely allergic to chicken and most food, even Science Diet, has chicken. So Poodie went to Iam's Lamb and Rice and he healed up nicely.

The next year, we moved to a different part, though still in the DC area. We roomed with my friend Phil. And Phil spoiled him like mayonaise left in the sun. Poodie had him wrapped about his paw in days. Phil had this black canvas chair that Poodie loved to sit in. Then no human could sit in it again. What do you get when a mostly whitish cat lays in a black chair? White fur. Tons of it. He liked to chaise a mouse on a string as you ran around a corner.

Three years after that, I realized that Poodie was lonely in my apartment. I'd moved to an apartment of my own after Phil graduated law school. I'd be gone from 6:30 in the morning for work to nearly 11 at night due to church functions. He needed a buddy. So I adopted Rigby, a 4-month old, 9 lb Maine Coon mix. Poodie used to play before Rigby, but Rigby just usurped all play and Poodie let him do it. They got along great though, and sometimes they'd have these great Chase-and-Wrestle games. Two beefy boy cats running through the house and then tusselling in a rolling ball of fur. But it was never a fight. Just play.

We moved back to Missouri after a year and lived in an apartment for three more. It was just the three of us and a younger sister of mine (I have 4). Eventually, I bought a house and so could get more cats. I adopted Zmrzlina from my sister. She had survived a severe anemia at 7 weeks, so she got a middle name of Raphaelle, which means "healed by God." She was a tiny thing. My sister brought Lina's (short for Zmrzlina) 2 siblings who were twice as big at 11 weeks. Poodie would love on those babies, holding them down so he could groom them, or snuggling with them while they slept. He'd tussel around with Lina. She was the size of a 7-week-old and he was 15 pounds. They'd be rolling round and round, and she wouldn't make a peep. If he was hurting her, she would have. He wasn't. He was playing gently even though he was wrestling.

Sometimes Rigby would terrorize Lina. He never did like the younger kittens. He'd chase her and on several occasions, Poodie got up and chased him as if to tell him to stop. Later, when Rigby turned on Thumbellina (another kitten I got the next year) and really, maliciously tried to kill her, he know of at least one occasion when Poodie got into it to stop him.

He was a good big brother to Elora Danan and her litter, too. They were born in the basement, soon after I got Thumbellina. I couldn't resist Thumbellina. She had long hair and extra toes. I didn't stand a chance. Elora was born in the basement to a mamacat I fostered for a friend. She had 4 brothers and sisters, and eventually, they all had to come upstairs so they could socialize and not become feral. So there were 9 cats upstairs, 6 of them kittens. Poodie would groom them and snuggle and play with them, too.

Eventually, four of those kittens got adopted and Rigby got adopted out when he wouldn't give up trying to kill Belle (short for Thumbellina). Elora Danan stayed and grew to a BIG Maine Coon mix. We started fostering for a local shelter last year and I must say, Poodie isn't so much a big brother then. He was pushing 14 years old and just not that active anymore. But he still snuggled by the babies after he got over his hissing. He still groomed them now and then. And once in awhile, he'd even be spied playing with them.

Well, Poodie will be 15 in June. If he makes it. I think he will, but he's not well now. He went to the vet earlier this week and they found his belly full of fluid. He went to a specialist today, who found possible cancer on his liver and one of his kidneys. They can't biospy because of all that fluid. We can't afford surgery. I hate to say that, but it's just not doable. We're going to give him more steriods so maybe he can feel better. Maybe that fluid will go away and a biospy can be done. Either way, we'll just make sure he doesn't suffer. We'll make him feel good until it's time to go.

This post is in honor of my companion, my baby, for nearly 15 years. He grew into dignity a few years back, and is definitely worthy of Amadeus, but he's just the best Poodie there ever was. I'm sad and I don't want to lose him. I wish I had a money tree in the back yard, or a rich uncle who left his fortune to me. I wish I had a million bucks and I'd do everything I could to get him another year, another month.

He's not really suffering now, so I do think he'll make it to his 15th birthday on June 16. I hope he'll make it long after that, but I think I need to start preparing my heart for the day I have to say goodbye. Please keep him in your prayers. He's a very good cat.