Friday, May 29, 2009

Adventures In Direct Sales: It's Hard To Have Principles

Some of you may be aware of exactly how racist, sexist and otherwise unpleasant my boss is. I don't think I've talked a lot about that trouble here, primarily because I've been really ashamed of the fact that I just don't know how to react at this point in time.

But enough is enough. It was bad enough when it was just me dealing with his nonsense, but there are new people working with us now, and his bullshit is going to start affecting them one way or another.

First of all, I'll do a brief cast list. J is the boss, an upper-middle class white man in his early twenties who has, even by his own admission, always had it "pretty easy." C is his wife, who is also the office manager. I like C. She evidently used to be quite the little gothy princess, and was a very strong and independent woman. Now she's pretty firmly under J's thumb and doesn't even decorate her home the way she likes anymore, because J won't let her have "those skulls and crap" up in "his" house. It's sad.

The new hires are S, a white man in his early twenties from a conservative, upper-middle class family; M, a young, fat white woman (who the boss told me "still has a pretty face") from a very similar family background as S; T, a black man around his mid-twenties who moved here from Ontario and from all appearances has a relatively middle-class background as well, though I haven't had a chance to talk much to him about that; and N, a First Nations man in his early to mid twenties whose family is on the lower end of "middle class." Then there's me, a mixed race (white and First Nations), queer woman from a family that always lived well below the poverty line, who has suddenly found herself with a whole lot of passing privilege to examine. I look pretty white, I'm in a hetero relationship, and I've carved out a fairly middle class life for myself, which differs hugely from my childhood.

When this new group first got hired, the boss was telling me that in the original interview group, only about half of which would end up getting hired, there were two Sudanese people, who he refers to as "purple people." He says, "they're so black they're purple." I was stunned into silence by this line of conversation. What made it even more horrific was when he flat-out said, "purple people aren't people." He's talked a lot about black people in general having "zero work ethic," said that as soon as a job gets a little hard they quit.

J's opinions of First Nations people are none too flattering, either. He's got story after story of times that "some Indian" either screwed him over in business or caused some other kind of trouble, and he uses these to justify his blatant racism. He doesn't like to hire First Nations people because "customers get nervous when they see an Indian on their doorstep. It's not my fault, just how the world works." Because, you know, it would be too much for you to just hire whoever is qualified, regardless of race, and stand behind your employees if a customer starts shit with them?

One of J's favorite things to talk about has been the fact that I have made a lot of sales to First Nations people. Apparently, I "can sell to brown people like nobody's business. Now we just need to get you selling to some white people, so you actually get some financing applications approved." Because, you know, everyone who isn't white has shitty credit, and everyone who is white has GREAT credit. That actually came up once, when he got all bent out of shape because he saw a customer's last name on a contract, guessed that she was First Nations, and said, "Oh, great, now I'm all worried that she won't get approved." I got a bit irritated and told him to not talk like that, pointed out that I have First Nations blood and maybe he should watch what he says. His response? "Yeah, I know you're Native, and I also know what your credit looks like." Followed by a self-satisfied smirk.

When the new group was doing their practice demos for friends and family, J's big beef was that N and T were doing theirs for their families, who, "you know, being black and Native, probably don't really have any money. Thy're not gonna sell anything that way."

All in all, he's a misogynistic, racist fuckwad. This isn't even getting into the details of the dynamic of his and C's relationship, or how he talks about women in general.

It's already become clear that S is J's favorite, closely followed by M. She may be a woman, but at least she's soft spoken and traditionally feminine. J has already pointed out to me that M "dresses better for work (she wears skirts and tops that apparently show the right amount of skin) and doesn't have an attitude like you do." Because, you know, it's bullshit when women demand respect and fair treatment. And I should be wearing a skirt for a job that involves a lot of movement and bending. (I've stopped wearing shirts that show pretty much ANY cleavage, and now the big issue about my clothing is that "it's too butch." I can't win here.)

I've given this a lot of thought, and I know that I'm walking a fine line in a lot of ways. I have to be aware of my passing privilege, because I don't want to come off as some white person who figures they know what's best for the persons of colour, coming in to "save" them. But I can't allow J's racism to stay a secret. And if race were taken out of the equation, if the boss were talking shit about someone behind their backs for any other reason, it'd be right to tell the other person about it, so I figure this is the same thing. So today I told T everything, and next time I talk to N I'll tell him the same stuff. I can't decide what, if anything, to say to M. She seems aware of the undercurrent of misogyny and hasn't said anything about it, but who knows what's actually going on in her head? She could be feeling like she's the only one who gets it. I don't know what to do.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Health At Every Size

I'm by no means an "expert" on this subject, but I think this is something that really needs to be addressed and more widely accepted. You can read a bit more about HAES here, here, here or a million other places on the internet. A lot of the blogs I link to from here talk about HAES and related theory.

It's not fat that's the problem. Poor eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle are bad for you, no one is arguing with that. But what if you're doing everything "right" and you're still fat? Or you're doing everything "right" and you're still really skinny? That's where the concepts of HAES come in handy.

One thing: a lot of people argue with the "eat what you want, when you want, in an amount you want" concept, because they figure that, left to their own devices, they would just devour the entire planet, or at least their weight in ice cream. And at first, yeah, you might. Because cookies or cake or whatever have been so firmly ingrained in your mind as "bad" foods, the taboo will make them much more appealing, and you'll want to just stuff your face with them. But after a while, when you start to realise that you can have a cookie or two whenever you want, you don't want them as much. You'll learn to listen to your body's actual cues, learn that your body actually WANTS nourishing food, like fruit or veggies, and with the mindset that you're not "bad" if you eat a cookie, you'll be more comfortable just having one and putting the box back.

For better writing about this subject, check out The Rotund and Shapely Prose, then go read Lessons From The Fat-O-Sphere, by Kate Harding (founder of Shapely Prose) and Marianne Kirby (The Rotund). Do it!! There are also a billion other fantastic blogs dealing with the same subject matter, I just linked to these two today because I wanted to plug their book. :P

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Coming Clean...

The past two months or so, I've been having some "inexplicable" health problems. The reality is, I know what's causing at least some of them.

I've been purging. A lot. At least two or three times a week, sometimes every day for a few days when I really feel like shit.

I keep trying to stop and falling right back into it.

The last week or so, I've been throwing up involuntarily after meals. Not every meal, but most of the stuff I've tried to eat in a day, my stomach just doesn't seem to want. I've been living off a lot of liquids, because they're easier to keep down. And my stomach HURTS. Not nausea, just cramping pain.

On top of this, I've been off my meds for a prescription ran out. So the last...two weeks? Ish? I've been extra special.

Yesterday, I got scared and went to a doctor.

As some of you know, I don't have a family doctor right now. My old doctor, who I'd been going to for years, turned out to be a bit of a...well, a useless, unethical fuckstain, for lack of a better term. I tried to talk to him about my disordered eating, the psychological problems I've been having and what I feel is contributing to them, and he just wrote me a prescription for Effexor without even wanting to talk about anything else. When I insisted on going a little deeper, explaining to him how long some of this (specifically the self-harm: about a year ago I progressed from pulling out hair and slapping/pinching myself to actually cutting, and that scared me) had been going on, and how it related to stuff I'd gone through as a kid, guess what he did?

He phoned my mother.

That's right, when your patient comes to you and says "my mother beat me and let her boyfriend rape me," the NEW treatment is to just call the mother. Let her, her ex-husband, and ALL the siblings on that side repeatedly phone and threaten me. (I've changed my landline, but have had the same cell number for years now, and they all got it from my sister.) Let a couple of them actually show up at my house to call me names and intimidate me in person. Let her get a lawyer and try to take custody of my child. Never mind that it'll never happen: Social Services has a file on her a foot thick, I'm sure. The point is, I've been through a metric fuckton in the last year, and now I'm dealing with my chronic physical and mental illnesses without a family doctor.

Anyway, what I did was go to the doctor that we saw last week for Ronin's stuff. He's awesome. He's referred me to a psychiatrist, written me a new prescription for the crazy pills, and also prescribed something called metoclopramide. (Yeah, it's a Wiki link. Deal with it.) It's TERRIBLE for long-term use, but it'll get me re-fed for now.

So, this is me saying....I'm not okay. At all. I've tried to be all "Ooooh, lookit me being so tough," but I'm not. I don't know what to do right now, except just throw this out there and ask for prayers/happy thoughts/love/whatever.

And for those of you sitting there going "I knew she was still fuckin' crazy," good for you. You win. Some things really don't change.

Excerpted from an entry in my super-secret ninja LJ

I wish I could stop hating my stomach. I love almost everything else about my body-the way my hair grows stick-straight but thick and tangled like prairie grass, the way my eyes always betray my feelings, the shape and colour of my lips. I love my powerful shoulders and back, my arms that are much stronger than they appear, my full breasts that have both fed my son and aroused my lovers. I'm absolutely infatuated with my own pussy, from the plush outer lips to the velvety wetness inside. I can't get enough of the way my muscular legs look and how much they do for me. Sure, there are other little details of my body that sometimes irritate me, but in truth I usually feel that they add depth and uniqueness to my beauty, like tiny inclusions in a radiant gemstone. But my's too big, there's too much baby-fine hair on it, it bulges and rolls in places that I can't stand. There's a slight overhang where the muscles have never been the same since being severed for the c-section that brought my son into the world. It makes my pants fit poorly. Sometimes I hate it less than usual, but I never love it, and I wish I could.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Adventures In Direct Sales: Why Do I Stay?

There are a few reasons I'm still doing this job. First of all, the reality is that as much as I want to hang myself half the time, the money is better than I'd make doing anything else at this point, and I need that. There's all the usual bullshit about how I'm just not qualified for a hell of a lot, and what I can do doesn't really pay well.

The biggest thing, however, is that I'm a fucking moron and I got myself in deeper than I can dig out. See, the way I got involved with the company is that the boss did a presentation for us. I wanted the system, Chris was ambivalent about the whole thing, and we knew we really couldn't afford it. The boss suggested a program that they offer where you fill out all the contracts and such for the purchase, then work for ten weeks and they basically pay for your machines. Sounded pretty rad. I was also looking for a new job at the time anyway, so after the first week or so, when things were pretty good, I decided to go full-time with this. The part where I'm a moron? All the purchase and financing contracts are in Chris' name.

Now, if I quit before my ten weeks is up, a few things happen: the machines get repo'd, we still get billed for them, and Chris has a repo/collections on his credit report. That's the worst of it. I don't care about the system anymore, aside from the fact that we'd still get billed for it and be out 3 grand for something we didn't even have. Besides, it IS a good system, that's why I wanted it in the first place. But I can't be responsible for us being out that much money AND Chris' credit taking a hit. See, I'm a fucking moron and I got myself into this. That's why I stay.

Adventures In Direct Sales: Just...No.

More background. I have thus far been the only "associate" in the Saskatoon office. This means that my training has been...unique, to say the least. There hasn't been time or resources to properly train me, so I've done everything by the seat of my pants. The boss hasn't actually watched and reviewed my presentation yet, and hasn't given me a lot of the information that new hires would usually get during training.

This week, there was a hiring cycle and training class going on. One of the managers from Calgary came out to help with that. Funny thing is, not a single person was hired. Apparently, no "quality people" wanted the job. Interesting, I say. Anyway, this freed up today to work on my training. Bear in mind that I've been doing the presentation that I figured out myself from the bits and pieces that I was taught for almost two months now. So, the three of us sat down in the conference room that was supposed to be used for training this week's crop of new hires and went over my dem.

Hoo, boy. Apparently I've been doing EVERYTHING wrong. Now, this wouldn't bother me as much if the boss would acknowledge that it's because I got inferior training. But no, a good chunk of this stuff he insists that he did teach me, I just "wasn't paying attention." I know this is bullshit, and him just covering in front of his Calgary buddy. Besides the fact that I think the two of them were being too harsh on me...there are some things that I feel I've done extremely well which they felt the need to pick apart anyway. Of course, they made sure to point out that they "weren't trying to gang up on me" the whole time both of them were tearing apart everything I did, without a compliment or any buffer for the criticism aside from "you really know the science and statistics side of things, but your knowledge doesn't matter if you're presenting it this way." Um, thanks?

But wait! My presentation is not the worst they've ever seen, and they don't think it's the real reason I'm having so much trouble! You know what IS the problem?

My appearance.

I'm aware that I don't look quite as amazing as I always used to, at least from a wardrobe perspective. I used to have a whole closet full of clothes that were just perfect for work like this: professional but still pretty, pulled-together without being stuffy, and just the right dash of sex appeal thrown into the whole mess. However, I've gained a LOT of weight and gotten rid of all those clothes, and haven't spent the money on a FULL new wardrobe yet because my size and shape are still fluctuating so much that it's pointless to do so. I've bought enough pieces to get by as I can afford them. Now, neither the boss or Mr. Calgary today would flat-out say that I end up looking either slobby or slutty, but that was the gist of their concerns. They talked a lot about the need for "well-fitting" work clothes and how it's problematic when clothing "puckers and bunches and just doesn't look right" or is just too big. Gaping blouses are bad, but so are blouses that are too loose around the waist and shoulders.

Hey, guys: grow a pair of DD's and then go find blouses that fit. I fucking dare you.

Another concern is that the clothing of mine that DOES fit is...well, just inappropriate. "I didn't want to say anything," says the boss, "but it's just that it's all really....well, clinging. You know, in...certain areas." I get it. I have boobs. I cannot dress them to your specifications. I have not achieved the proper madonna/whore balance for your business desires.

Look, I get that I have to dress appropriately for work. But I'm trying so fucking hard, and it doesn't make it easier that every time I find something that kind of fits me, I either gain or lose weight and it all goes to shit. I don't need a couple of young guys (both younger than me and sure that they know more than I do about EVERYTHING) pointing out that sometimes my blouse rides up when I move around and you can see my love handles a little, and it's probably grossing out the customers. (Not their exact words, but it didn't take much to see that's what they were hinting at a few times.)

Also, the reason I have trouble selling to older couples and single women? Probably because I "look like a homewrecker," according to Mr. Calgary. I mean, never mind the fact that I've wrecked at least one home in my day (totally by accident, I swear); where the fuck does he get off saying that out loud?

Sexism and privilege at work, folks.

So, because my day hasn't been awesome enough, I was on my way to a 6:30 appointment and started to feel queasy. I pulled over and went to get out of the car, and I guess I wasn't fast enough. Yep, I barfed on myself. So, I was allowed to go home and shower. Isn't that nice? Unfortunately, I was wearing my last clean pair of pants, so I think I'll have to phone in and say I can't make an 8:30 because I have nothing appropriate to wear. The boss and Mr. Calgary should appreciate that, right?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Adventures In Direct Sales: Overreacting?

I've run into my share of crazy people doing this job. And probably your share, too. :P Some of them have been just amusingly kooky, while others have been downright frightening. What's unfortunate is that when I tell my boss about the really bad ones, his reactions range from flat-out not believing me and accusing me of just trying to get out of work, to insisting that I should still have finished the presentation in spite of being in a situation that is more terrifying to me than he can likely wrap his head around.

Let's take a situation that I've been in several times in the past few weeks, with some variations. I introduce myself to the man who answers the door and go inside. I see his wife, possibly some kids. I attempt to introduce myself to his wife, and she mumbles her name, then looks at her husband. He shakes his head at her, and she spends the rest of the time I'm there staring at the floor and looking like a scared puppy. That's bad enough, but I can usually muscle through and finish the demo if I have to. (See why I call my job "soul sucking?") What gets me really upset is stuff like what happened yesterday morning, when the domineering husband in question first of all said that "on the phone, it sounded like there was supposed to be a man coming to do this," and then actually grabbed my hands and pushed them away from what I was showing. Seriously, he grabbed both my wrists and pushed my hands to my sides. At that point, I decided to cut it short. If the guy's wife is sitting there looking terrified and he's the kind of person who will, without hesitation, put his hands on a stranger? Yeah, that's not somewhere I'm going to be staying for long. After that, I went to a house that smelled so strongly of human waste that I could smell it on the way up the driveway. When I called my boss and tried to explain that I couldn't go through with it, he told me to do it anyway. Then the whole "random stripping" incident...all in all, I ran into a ridiculous amount of crazy for one day. And for every one of those situations, the boss had a reason I was "overreacting."

His favourite is to just not believe me. "Oh," he'll say, "people just aren't like that." No, young, middle-class white man, they're not like that to you. He refuses to believe that I get treated this way, not just occasionally, but every freakin' day. I don't even know what to do anymore, aside from bitch about it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Adventures In Direct Sales: WTF Just Happened?

Um. Wow.

I just went to do this demo, and first of all, there were about 10 people there, all of them high beyond all imagining. My boss hasn't taken kindly lately to me bailing on presentations because of silly little things like rampant drug use or the smell of human waste permeating the house, so I decided to try to muscle through it. Oh, boy.

The woman I was actually there to see was probably the most wasted of all. At the beginning of my presentation, I go over some basic information and statistics and such. Halfway through this little spiel, she got up, grabbed the cordless phone, and started walking into the other room......

......and taking off her clothes. I'm not even kidding.

I don't think anyone even noticed me leave.

The best part? When I called the office from my car to explain why I hadn't finished, I was talking to the boss' wife, who is also the office manager. I told her the story, and the only part she repeated out loud was "there were about ten of them, all high," and I could hear the boss in the background insisting that I "still could have done the dem." Because that's safe.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Yes. Yesyesyes.

From Jill:

For all the data which shows that teen motherhood is socioeconomically damaging for the mothers, what often fails to be mentioned is the fact that a whole lot of teen mothers were coming from lower socioeconomic positions in the first place; so sure, a lot of teen moms won’t go to college, but if college wasn’t on the radar screen anyway, that’s not much of a threat.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Ancient Post, Revisited.

I posted this on MySpaz way back in the summer of 2006. Now THAT was a hell of a year, lol. I think it's time for an updated list, what has touched and affected me since then, but I figured I'd repost this first. :D

Defining music. What was yours? Everyone has those songs that helped define them, for whatever reason. I have a few, from different points in my life.

Moist-"Leave it Alone" Moist was the first big concert I went to, and the "Creature" album was what got my attention. I later discovered "Silver, " which was actually released first, but I was really young when it came out. And for a lot of reasons, Moist has been significant for me throughout my adolescent and young adult life.

Kim Stockwood-"You Jerk" Every pubescent girl needs an angry song. 'Nuff said.

Tragically Hip-"Ahead by a Century" The theme song to the summer of my first kiss. Ten years ago now. Wow, time flies.

Pachelbel's Canon I played double bass in the junior orchestra. Those, what....six? notes bored the shit out of me, but I'll never forget it.

Marilyn Manson-"The Beautiful People" I was such a good kid. So very, very boring. Listening to bad music was the only way I even halfassed rebelled.

Garth Brooks-"The Dance" I listened to this one a lot the year I was 15. It was when I really learned what it meant to live with no regrets.

Rob Zombie-"Living Dead Girl" Dancing at the all-ages goth club after I moved out of my mother's house. Sexy beyond my years, and I never even knew it.

Joy Division-"Love Will Tear Us Apart" More dancing, same club, different makeup. I started to actually grow up a little.

Johnny Cash-"Hurt" I always loved Johnny. Always. My goth friends were ashamed of me. :P And then the two parts of my life suddenly intersected. Not to mention that the lyrics of this song were so right about then......

Jack Off Jill-"Angels Fuck" I didn't want to like them. My roommate, however, was obsessed. After a while, and given the state my life was in at the time, they started to grow on me.

Then my life went very quiet and very dark for a while....bad things happened.

Moist-"Push" Some stuff happened with some things and some people. It was a good year. I smiled a lot. This whole album (Silver) was on repeat. It put the sunshine back in my life.

Since then, there's been a few. But those songs that I listed...hearing them takes me right back to where I was when they touched me so deeply, and I remember both what I was and what I wanted at the time. Sometimes it makes me long for something past, sometimes it reminds me of why I'm glad I moved on...but in any case, those songs (and some others, these are just the biggies) shaped me.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Road Dust, Sweat, And a Driver's Side Tan

Holy crap. I needed that.

Some of you may be familiar with my semi-regular crises. Twice a year or so, usually around seasonal changes, I completely lose my shit. This time around, after making myself and my family miserable for weeks, I decided the easiest way to cope was going to be running away from home. I needed a change of scenery and time to sort out some shit in my head. Unfortunately, time away for me is rare, and I knew I couldn't run all that far, so the whole "running away" plan looked pretty bleak.

Last night, a few things came to a breaking point all at once. Too much time spent inside my head combined with a few issues which some of you know about to push me over the edge. So, kind of on a whim, I got in touch with an old friend and jumped in the car. It was a long drive to make in the middle of the damn night, and somewhere around 1:30 AM I made a wrong turn and almost drove right into the South Saskatchewan (not *literally*, but there was a moment of "WTF am I doing at a ferry crossing instead of on a road"), but otherwise it was a good trip.

The drive gave me time to just think, not to mention some great scenery. Last night it was pretty dark, of course, but I saw a few meteors and a bit of wildlife. Today I had a better view of the landscape, and in addition to the standard bunnies and birds, got to see a couple of pronghorns just grazing by the highway!! It was AMAZING. I feel all sweaty and gross from sitting in a hot car for 4+ hours, but I don't really mind. The friend provided great conversation, passable coffee (:P), a couple of HBO comedy specials so I didn't have to spend the whole time thinking, and a shoulder to cry on when I finally couldn't dodge the issues anymore and momentarily lost it.

Now I'm home, and I feel better than I have in a while. I have a new perspective on a few things, and I feel like I'm really BACK, in more ways than one. It's amazing what a little time away will do. :D