Covad has been sucking my balls for two months now. Ever since we canceled our DSL account with them at the end of January, they have been playing Wacky Party Games with my money. Every time I call, they're like "Oh, I don't know why we haven't paid you back yet! Here, I'll escalate it to Level 2 for you!"

"That's what they said they did last time."

"Well, I'm doing it now! It should take three to five business days!"

What?! No.

I just called again and was told that the finance department got it March 11th, and that the finance department told them yesterday that it would take "at least a month (from when they got it)" so "it should only be another week" (that's two weeks, assholes. "at least" two weeks.) so I told them that if I didn't get the money by Friday, on Monday I would begin legal action. My roommate, who works retail and knows how to do these things, called them back and kicked several levels of ass. He talked to the supervisor of the supervisor I spoke to, who said he would "send it up through his channels" tomorrow and that that would still take four or five business days.

Here's the letter I'm going to send them if I haven't gotten paid by next Wednesday.

Dear Covad,

Since we canceled our account with you at the end of January, you have:

  • neglected to refund the pro-rated fee for our last month of service, instead crediting it to our canceled account;
  • charged us for another month of service after the cancellation, deducting it directly from my bank account, which caused other transactions I made to bounce;
  • repeatedly failed to send these charges to the finance department, despite telling me that you had done so;
  • repeatedly failed to put the refund through to my bank account;
  • given me different and ever-lengthening estimates as to when I would receive this refund every time I called.
There is no excuse for any of this. I should have been refunded the pro-rated fees for January immediately. Instead, I did not even know that I was due those fees until the second time I called, when I was finally told the total amount that had been "credited to my (Covad) account" and asked where the extra money came from.

I should never have been charged the extra month of service. Because your company only offers one form of billing, automatic deduction, that illegal charge was taken directly from my bank account. I did not even know about it until I discovered that my checks had bounced. When I discussed this with a Covad representative, I was told that my bounced check fees were not Covad's legal responsibility but that they would "go half-and-half with me" and pay $25 of them. At this point, this argument seems patently ridiculous, since none of Covad's behavior with my bank account reeks of legality.

Furthermore, every time estimate I have been given on this refund has expired, one after another, often apparently because no one sent the refund order to the finance department. When I spoke with Dana last week, she told me that the finance department did not have a phone number and does not speak to clients, and that the finance department was currently very behind and saying it would take "at least a month" to refund me this money. That's "at least a month" from the date that it was finally actually escalated to finance, which is "at least a month" after Covad began owing me money. And there is still no guarantee that I will get my money at that point.

Therefore, I am giving Covad until the end of this week - Friday, April 9th - to refund my money. That's a total of $75.60 for pro-rated January fees, illegally charged February fees, and subsequent bounced check fees. If by the close of business on Friday my bank has not received this refund, I will refer this matter to my lawyer.

Sincerely yours....

I feel her coming closer

I think she might just free me. Again. So clearly I want to be released from the chains that bind me. How desperately I want to let go.

It always makes sense in the beginning. I have run so hard and so fast for so long. I'm ready to stop running. I'm ready to allow myself the happiness I have earned.

As the Gin Blossoms once said "29, you'd think I'd know better...". I do know better. I'm not getting any younger and I've got to stop shoving myself back into the proverbial closet due to fear and uncertainty. I suppose some people experience their awakenings, or crises at 30. Perhaps I'm lucky to have come to terms with mine a year early.

The time has come to get up and live. I cannot build my life around being afraid of hurting someone. If I look back in 30 years and realize that I've been unhappy all this time, then all the work I did to make sure I didn't step on any toes...well, it makes no sense.

Several years ago, I came to the not-so-startling revelation that I was a lesbian. I was open and honest about it. It's not been a secret, but I did stifle it because I couldn't deal with causing my husband any pain. An act is not a marriage. False fronts and insincere smiles aren't going to get anyone anywhere.

Hi, Life, it's nice to meet you. Let's get on with it.

Over the past couple of weeks things seem to have changed for me quite a lot and I’m not entirely sure why. I suppose growing up is a good thing because it means you are closer to become the person you will be for the rest of your life. That sounds kind of scary I suppose and I little bit weird too. Not only has my outlook on life changed but so has my age, I have now grown to the grand old age of sixteen. Sixteen, that sounds kind of scary and I feel like there is a huge weight of pressure on my shoulders. It shouldn’t really be like this, I know it shouldn’t, but I do realise that as you grow up things have change and it can’t be the same forever, as much as I would like it to be.

When I was a young child I used to love birthdays and everything that surrounded them but even a week on from my birthday I am still thinking of it as a horrid day. It isn’t really the thought of getting older; it is the thought of things being centred on me for one whole day. It was my sixteenth, I should have been extremely happy and excited, like everyone else was for me, but all I could wish was that the day would finally come to an end. From experience I know that my Mother hates everything about her birthday because she is becoming older but that just isn’t the case for me. To me it seems rather bad that I have already started hating birthdays at such a young age when I have so many of them to come. How can I prevent this? Perhaps next year I won’t even mention my birthday, that might just work!

As Easter looms I can see my GCSE’s coming even closer and I am filled with dread and worry. People around me try to tell me that everything will be OK and that I am bound to sail through my exams but this just seems impossible. I try and broach the subject with my Mother but she is just like everyone else, sure that I will pass easily without any problems and I can’t help feeling that thought is just so far away. I am now six weeks and counting until I walk into that hall for the first time and take my numbered seat. The only comforting thought within my mind is that I will know my friends are in the same room and wishing me well; another thought that rears its ugly head is that my Mother will be at work thinking I will easily pass.

I have been thinking a lot about the current system and how I really do not believe it is the best way; it just causes too much stress. I want to be a teacher, to help people to learn the way I have been helped but I can’t help thinking that this system would just be the wrong way to do so. Children, like me, should be happy and enjoying their childhood and I wish I’d had more time to do that this year and that is what I want for the next generation. Is that so wrong? I don’t think I could bear to see my children as tired and stressed out, as I have been other the past two years of my life, maybe it is time for change. Like I said before, change can be good if it is done in the right way.

I can't wait to meet you.

Hello in there. Can you hear me yet? Those books say that at this stage you are beginning to hear. You have ears now. I put my head against the roof of your temporary home to see if I can hear you inside. I hear strange sounds that could be you, but yet could also be sounds of other things, like food digesting.

I can't wait to meet you.

Can you hear me when I read this book to you? The Tale of Peter Rabbit. It's a good book, don't you think, little one? Daddy's reading this book to you, do you know that? This is my voice.

This is my soul.

I wonder what's going on in there, what it must be like for you. You are making so many discoveries, but yet there are billions more to make once you decide to come out here and play.

I'll show it all to you myself


I can't wait to meet you.

Come out soon, but not too soon. I'm sorry, take your time, I shouldn't rush you. But I just can't wait, you know? I guess you'll be here soon enough. Just a few more months now, and then I'll get to see you, see you get Daddy's good looks. Or Mommy's. Oh, I know you'll be beautiful, girl or boy. Yes, you've been a bit shy, haven't you?.

I can't wait to meet you. See you soon, little one!

Just don't frickin cry too much!!

Kyoto, Japan
from the foreign female perspective
Day : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

We spent the day sightseeing in Kyoto again, hitting up the area around Utano with the aid of another all-day bus pass. The first breath of fresh air after exiting the cramped quarters of the youth hostel was indescribable. Even the bus smelled wonderful in comparison.

Our first stop was 龍安寺 (Ryouanji), a temple in western Kyoto that is nationally famous for its 15-stone rock garden. The garden is quite small for being such a renowned thing, and while it was pleasantly austere and clean, I was hardly inspired. I am not a Zen scholar, nor am I knowledgeable on the subject of the Asian aesthetic, but I thought it was lovely and peaceful despite the huge crowds staring and audibly counting each stone.

Next we took the bus to (Kinkakuji, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion). We were funneled through gates in the midst of about a hundred other tourists who were entering at the same time, and after paying the admission and elbowing around a bit, we managed to see the temple. It was quite a sight to behold.

Upon closer inspection, the gold almost looks fake. As is the case with the vast majority of historical landmarks in Japan, Kinkakuji was the unlucky victim of several fires and destructive forces. We came to the tentative conclusion that whoever was in charge of the most recent rebuilding of the temple might have just dropped by the hardware store, picked up some gold spray paint, and saved himself a few million dollars.

But I know that’s not true. And the temple is quite impressive. If you look very closely, you can actually see the texture of the gold, so no worries.

We bussed it over to eastern Kyoto to walk the Path of Philosophy since it was such a nice day, and stopped for lunch at the same place as before. We ran into Cyrano (we think that’s his name, though he looks nothing like Gerard Depardieu), a French train driver guy who was in Japan on a booty call and was staying in the same room as Aaron and Kyle back at the Youth Hostel.

We pondered the meaning of life as we strolled along the path bordering a tiny stream, tried not to hit our heads on the hanging sakura branches, and managed to avoid the temptation to push slow walkers into the water. The walk was breathtaking, really, despite the crowds, and it made me think about the significance of cherry blossoms in Japan.

We returned to the Youth Hostel too early after it began to get dark, but it gave Kyle a chance to call his loved ones finally. His mom and grandma had been calling my phone and leaving messages at 4am for several days, but it took a while for us to figure out the international calling system and actually remember to do it. I’ve never once made an international call from Japan. Sad.

After calls were made and we were beginning to get restless, we decided to take a walk around the area in order to escape Utano for as long as possible. It was dark and fine, and after walking along the main road for a ways we found a deserted shrine to sit at and talk for a while.

Everyone was in a better mood afterwards, and we optimistically returned to Ooo, tuna to go to sleep.

Day : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

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