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Face To Heel

I am very excited to announce that I have recently signed on to be a writer for a collaborative blog covering all things wrestling!  This will include WWE, TNA, past and present Superstars, future predictions, and much more.  It will feature reports on events, editorial pieces, and will cover every topic you can imagine.  The site, Face To Heel, currently has four contributors including myself, but hope to add more once we begin posting articles. We seek to showcase writers who have different opinions, are fans of different people, and have different experiences with wrestling.  There will be plenty of information in our first article, so please visit the site now and sign up to follow so you can be among the first to know when things start rolling out.  You can follow on Twitter as well at @FaceToHeel.

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Do You Mind?

Over the weekend, my mother-in-law took our boy on a little getaway with her to visit family, take a trip to the zoo, and have some fun outdoors before the crazy mid-west weather decides to try to give us snow again.  Since my husband and I don’t exactly get these breaks often, we took full advantage and hit the movie theaters, followed by some free Redbox movies, thanks to their mailing list that I highly recommend signing up for unless you don’t enjoy getting things at no cost.  Friday night was a local theater night, where we watched the latest film from WWE Studios, Oculus.  Saturday gave us Captain America:  The Winter Soldier, followed by dinner at a restaurant we used to practically live at.  Redbox gifted us with The Wolf of Wall St and American Hustle, two we sadly missed in the theaters.  Amazing movies; I was happy with all four but I am seriously burnt out on watching anything over an hour for quite some time.

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This brings me to a topic I’ve talked about many times before:  rude people in movie theaters.  For a movie like Oculus, where the viewer knows to expect many tense moments and frequent scenes where silence is used to build tension, it’s an unspoken rule to keep quiet and save the rustling of popcorn and opening of candy for scenes where the music hits loud or people are screaming.  Suspense is easily killed when you have people adding giggles, shaking of ice, or other noises to the movie soundtrack during moments you are meant to be on the edge of your seat.  The girl behind us who thought it was OMG HILARIOUS to burp like a frat boy certainly didn’t help, but she thankfully quit after I gave her the I-Wish-I-Could-Kill-You-With-This-Look stare.

The worst offender in Oculus did none of those things though.  It was an incredibly sick person.  The kind of sick where their sniffles sound like they’re drowning, where their coughs sound like a death rattle, and where they cannot control their bodily functions and obviously cannot stay quiet.  If you’re sick to the point where your brain is leaking out of the holes in your face, stay home.  The argument for going to work while sick can be made if you are one with no sick leave and bills piling up, but there is no excuse whatsoever for going to a movie theater when you are sick as a dog and sound like the Before part of a Nyquil commercial.  You not only kill parts of the movie for people who paid to be there, you run the risk of getting everyone around you sick.  I’m hoping that my husband and I did manage to escape without contracting tuberculosis, but it’s too soon to tell.  Please, if you’re sick, keep your movie night at home.

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During Captain America, things weren’t as bad as far as the typical complaints; I heard no loud popcorn eating and saw no cell phone usage.  Having arrived exactly on time, seating was fairly packed so we were close to the front and almost at the end of a row.  We were hoping to get lucky and not be too close to anyone, but sadly for us, a couple sat directly behind us halfway through the previews, followed by a mother with her two children.  The mother took what felt like ages to get settled in, rustling her bags and giving instructions to the young boy and older female she brought with her.  This was one of the few times I was grateful for the 25 minutes of previews that AMC shows, as it gave the lady plenty of time to settle in and shut up.

Did I say settle in?  Scratch that, I meant the total opposite.  First, her son decided to get very vocal about his displeasure; he began loudly whining while she did the bare minimum to calm him.  I don’t fault the kid at all for this; some children don’t want to quietly sit through a movie and are better suited for home viewings only.  Some children have zero interest in movies if they aren’t cartoons.  Any good parent should know what kind of child they have and adjust accordingly.  My son would get antsy sitting through Captain America, so bringing him along was never an option.  We’ll save it for DVD, where he can watch as he bounces around his room and takes as many bathroom breaks as he pleases.  Thankfully for the little boy, the other female was able to step in and assist; I believe she removed him from the theater, as I didn’t hear another peep once she took action.

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I should clarify.  I didn’t hear another peep from HIM.  The woman was a whole other story.  If I properly describe her, it’ll sound as if I’m describing a scene from a slightly racist comedy, featuring a “typical” black woman at a movie theater.  She was a walking stereotype and that is unfortunately the best way to describe her.  She kept busy saying “I know that’s right!” any time something positive happened for any of the main characters, and especially when Samuel L Jackson was on screen.  There is one scene where [not a spoiler] Captain American lands in a body of water that is definitely not an ocean.  She felt the need to say “Oh, Steve, didn’t you spend enough time in the ocean?” as he entered the water.  Poor Steve definitely got his fill of unsolicited advice, as she consistently told Steve to be careful, watch out, and so on during the ENTIRE MOVIE.  In a normal, conversational tone.  Because if she whispered, Steve couldn’t hear her.  I guess.

The couple behind us, who I initially thought would be basically invisible, are the kind of people who will eventually cause me to snap and become a headline on the evening news as the “Crazed Woman” who slaps a fellow moviegoer.  The male apparently had zero idea what was going on, so the female decided that the best time to explain it was during the movie.  “No, SHIELD is doing ______,” “Yes, he knew him from _____,” going on for entire scenes and explaining things that the most basic fan should know.  And if you don’t, maybe don’t come see the movie in the theater.  Watch it at home where you can pause and have all your questions answered.  Hell, you can even hop on Google and look things up until you know more than the average raging superfan.  The commentary is best saved for after the movie.  Sometimes the post-movie discussion with my husband is my favorite part of the whole outing.

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Movies are expensive.  $15 – $25 for a pair of tickets, depending on the theater and added costs for 3D showings.  $20 – $30 for concessions, depending on how hungry and thirsty you happen to be.  Movies are time consuming.  Over two hours in the theater, plus the drive there and back, which was an hour round trip for us on Saturday.  No one wants to spend all that time and money only to have their experience ruined by other people.  No one should spend all that time and money only to ignore the movie in favor of conversation, updating Facebook, or any other activity other than watching the movie you paid to see.  If you’re unhappy sitting in the theater, LEAVE.  I’ve never seen anyone turned down for a voucher for a different movie if they have a valid complaint; it’s easier for management to give you a free pass instead of argue and possibly alienate a customer.  We all deserve to have a decent experience.  So let’s make a tiny bit of effort and ensure that we all can.

Believe In The Yes Movement

The last two days of WWE action have been the best two days the company has given the fans in a long time.  Wrestlemania XXX and Raw on the following night both took place in the rowdy city of New Orleans.  The crowd definitely brought their spirit and enthusiasm, especially for Monday night, leading me to promise myself that my husband and I WILL be at the Raw following Wrestlemania next year.  Now, let’s address the elephant in the room that is The Streak.

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I did not see this one coming.  Not in a million years did I expect Brock Lesnar to break the Undertaker’s 21-0 streak and put that ghastly 1 loss on his record.  Never once did I expect Lesnar to walk away with a smile on his face while the Dead Man lay broken and battered in the ring.  At no point was I not confident that we would see 22-0 on the big screen when the match concluded.  It wasn’t the most energetic match I’ve seen, but the Undertaker did suffer a concussion which could have happened early on in the bout and hindered his performance.  Regardless, it is always impressing seeing these two athletes in the ring, especially together.

In hindsight, the streak did have to eventually end, as Taker has a wife and family to worry about and certainly can’t be doing this forever.  As sad as I am to see the streak end, I am amazed by the production that went into it and impressed with the insane reaction it received.  The arena went quiet for what felt like an eternity after the three count.  Lesnar’s music didn’t play immediately as it usually does with a victory; we were given uncomfortable silence while Taker lay still and Lesnar raised his arm victoriously.  To say the world was shocked would be a huge understatement.  This will be one we talk about for a long time.

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The WWE’s golden boy, John Cena, seemed like a natural choice for a big match for such a historic Wrestlemania.  Instead, Cena was given a very standard match against his new nemesis, Bray Wyatt.  Cena always becomes unbearable near Wrestlemania season in preparation for a main event or other big deal match, but this time around, we saw a more subdued Superstar.  Clearly, Bray Wyatt and his creepy backwoods family were the stars of the matches on both evenings.  Wyatt took a loss to Cena at Wrestlemania, but the crowd swaying and singing along with him showed that he was the true winner.

On Raw the next evening, the entire Wyatt family entered into a tag match against Cena, Sheamus, and Big E.  The three faces were booed while the Wyatts were cheered.  Almost overnight, the entire WWE Universe has rallied behind the genius Bray Wyatt and his creepy clan.  It’s amazing to see the pops he’s now getting and I hope it continues to grow stronger.  The trio is going again The Shield tonight on Main Event, who turned away from The Authority on Raw last night, and it is bound to be a crazy match.

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One of my favorite Superstars, AJ Lee, defended her Divas championship at Wrestlemania against thirteen other women.  The first to get a submission or pinfall would win the title.  I’m sorry, but this match was a ridiculous thing to throw on Wrestlemania, especially when it immediately followed the fall of the Undertaker.  The odds were pitted against AJ in such an unfair manner, it was hard not to wonder if this was payback for her engagement to former Superstar CM Punk (whose early exit no doubt angered the powers that be).

Luckily for AJ, she retained her title by forcing Naomi to tap out.  I was ecstatic!  AJ is the self proclaimed saving grace of the WWE Divas division.  She brings personality, a sharp tongue, and serious in-ring skills; the girl packs a punch for such a tiny person.  On Raw the following evening, AJ came out to celebrate her victory, only to be interrupted by NXT star and women’s champion, Paige.  AJ ended up challenging Paige to a match, LOST the match, and LOST HER TITLE.  Are you kidding me?!?  To have AJ drop her title to who most fans were seeing as a nobody (we don’t all tune in to NXT, guys, come on…) was the ultimate punch in the face.  For me, AJ is and always will be the Divas Champ.  I hate that this happened to her.

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One pleasant surprise at Wrestlemania was the victory of Cesaro in the Andre The Giant Battle Royal.  We all expected Big Show to win; the giant winning the giant trophy just made sense.  Little by little, 30 men became two and Big Show was left in the ring with Cesaro.  And then, as if the seven foot Superstar was made of feathers, Cesaro plucked him up into the air and heaved him out of the ring, earning the victory, a handshake from Show, and the trophy.  On Raw, we were treated to Cesaro’s final separation from Jack Swagger and Zeb Coltier as he became a Heyman Guy!  It was a smart move; Cesaro needs a push and pairing him with Heyman is not only good for his career, it made the audience forget their anger towards Heyman due to the broken streak.

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What we all came to see though was the continuing saga of Daniel Bryan.  Screwed out of the title by Triple H again and again, the WWE Universe has rallied behind Bryan with a passion that cannot be contained.  Entire arenas erupt with Yes! Yes! Yes! chants upon his entrance; arms raised high and voices on blast.  YES! signs are seen everywhere, shirts worn proudly, and fans seen hanging on every word Bryan has to say.  In a short time, he has worked his ass off and become one of the top Superstars in the company, if not the #1 guy.  Sorry, Cena.

First, Bryan was forced to battle Triple H at Wrestlemania to earn a shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Title.  The match was high energy and exciting, keeping fans on the edge of their seats as the upper hand was rapidly traded back and forth.  Against all odds, Bryan scored a victory over the intimidating Triple H.  Sadly for him, Triple H didn’t lose gracefully and attacked Bryan with a chair before leaving the ring, setting up a possible loss for him later due to injury.

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The main event featured current champion Randy Orton versus Batista and Bryan in a triple threat match for the title.  The original match was to feature only Batista and Orton, and it was apparent very quickly that the addition of Bryan was absolutely necessary to make this match a success; the underdog facing these two powerhouses kept the audience’s full attention and added an element of excitement that Orton and Batista alone could not have created.

In a very tense moment, after partially disassembling the announce table, Batista stood on the table with Bryan in his arms to set up the Batista Bomb.  Orton, teaming with Batista for the moment, grabbed Bryan out of the bomb to RKO him on the table.  Both stars were injured during this move, but damn was it impressive.  Sadly, it did result in Bryan being loaded onto a stretcher and taken out of the match.

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No injury could keep Bryan down though, as he wasn’t on the stretcher for long.  No interference could keep him from winning, as he turned Triple H’s sledgehammer back on him when the man in charge attempted to sabotage the main event.  After months of Bryan getting screwed over in the worst possible ways by The Authority, he finally locked Batista in the Yes Lock, making the big man tap and winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship!  FINALLY!  Damn, was it an exciting moment.

Raw the following evening was tense, as the chance of Triple H going postal and taking the titles away (again) was ever present, but instead, Triple H decided that Bryan would defend the newly won titles that evening again him.  To the surprise of nobody, Triple H did attempt to sabotage the match to secure his victory.  To the surprise of many, The Shield rallied to Bryan’s defense, entering the arena during a “Hounds Of Justice” crowd chant.  It was a brilliant moment; Bryan retaining his titles with The Shield at his side.

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Two seriously solid days of wrestling have passed.  I’m both excited and nervous about what is coming next, especially when it comes to AJ Lee, but I am so happy for Daniel Bryan, who finally got his moment and then some.  No one deserved it more than he did.  Congrats, Bryan… I hope your reign is a long one!

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Maturity Is…

While I was awkwardly navigating my way through my preteen and teenage years, I encountered my fair share of mean girls and then some.  I can still remember the day when I realized that girls were a cutthroat bunch.  My friend and neighbor, Mary, was having a party and I was invited along with nearly every other person in the neighborhood.  A few days before the party, I got a phone call from Mary.  She kept asking me what I thought of the new girl, Kelly.  I would say that I thought she was nice, Mary would push me to say something else, until I eventually agreed with Mary that Kelly might not be the nicest person ever.  All of a sudden, Mary revealed that she was Kelly.  She HAD to trick me because she KNEW I didn’t really like her!  I cried for a while, skipped the party, and dropped most of my female friends in favor of male friends.

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It was a childish thing to do, but my 11 or 12-year-old mind thought it was the worst thing that could have ever happened.  As I made my way through middle and high school, I was shown time and again that Kelly’s little trick was miles away from the worst thing I could expect to see or experience.  I was lucky enough to find a good group of friends who kept the backstabbing and shady behavior to a minimum, but the things I witnesses females to do each other was nothing short of disgusting.  High school was horrible, and college was only slightly better because it was so easy to avoid certain people and cliques.  I always felt confident though that leaving school behind would also mean that the cutthroat behavior would be left behind as well.

Call me naive if you will, but I assumed that truly becoming an adult would also mean that females would stop being so terrible to each other over tiny things, and often over nothing at all.  Little did I know that it seems to get worse with age.  I lost quite a few male friends (and by friends, I don’t mean “we used to date,” I mean strictly friends) because their significant others couldn’t handle them being friends with a somewhat attractive female, even though I wasn’t single, wasn’t flirting, and wasn’t any sort of threat.  I’ve been harassed at work by female authority figures who disliked me for reasons I’m still unsure of, but were clearly unrelated to my stellar job performance.  And recently, I’ve been dealing with a woman twenty years my senior stand around my desk and take thinly veiled shots at me over some he-said-she-said BS that has nothing to do with her at all.

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I’ve been free of Tubberpottimus for nearly a year and had hoped that the nonsense in the office would end with her retirement.  Silly me.  When one miserable sod leaves, there is always another to take her place.  A female that will act hateful towards another, later patting themselves on the back as they brag about how many notches they took their target down.  Smile at the wrong guy and you’ll be called a slut.  Say the wrong thing and you’ll be called a liar.  Forget the slightest detail and you’ll be called incompetent.  Hell, you can do everything right and still become a target just because some woman doesn’t approve of you in general.  Women will hate each other simply over wardrobe choices and hairstyles.

I am beyond tired of this behavior, especially when it comes from women who are much older than me and should have long outgrown the need to act like petty children.  I can’t stand coming to work and having to deal with a sad middle-aged woman who has nothing better to do than spout off with “oh, better be quiet; don’t want any rumors to start” literally every single time she is anywhere near me.  We’re all free to like and dislike who we please, but is it really necessary to be hateful and difficult, especially in schools and workplaces where we’re all somewhat held captive together for eight hours?

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My dream is to fully escape this mean girl world.  Work in a place where some chick isn’t trying to get me fired because I refuse to gossip with her or because I’m getting more attention than she.  Go to the store and not be glared at by someone who assumes I’m looking at her man when I’m merely trying to find the cereal.  Stop hearing the word slut thrown at any female who dares post a Facebook photo of herself at the beach.  I want to be able to have faith in my gender instead of swearing off female friends every couple of years because I simply can’t cope with the nonsense.

I am lucky enough to know some amazing women, but they are unfortunately the minority in a bitch-eat-bitch world where rules are out the window and it’s every broad for herself.  Last I heard, the Kelly from my youth was busy being a godawful person to everyone she came across, but even people who start as early as her can change.  Stop looking at all other women as competition.  Stop the jealousy.  Calm the hell down and quit being hateful.  These females who constantly target others are miserable people at their core, and it’s sad for them, but also sad for us who have to deal with their drama.  Everyone needs to take a deep breath and ask themselves if all this hate, all the plotting, and all the gossip is truly worth it.  Breathe in… breathe out… and ask yourself if your day is actually best spent on whether or not your coworker’s skirt is one inch too short for the office.

 

Six Years

Six years ago today, I stood in a church in the office of a priest, silently hoping my white skirt was appropriate for the occasion.  My little boy played on the floor with toy airplanes that were graciously loaned to him by the priest who stood before me.  To my side was the man who would very soon become my husband.  Our rings were blessed before being placed on our fingers, our vows were recited, and our lips met.  We became man and wife on that chilly Friday afternoon, nearly two months after obtaining our marriage certificate and only slightly over two months after I had moved 1000 miles to be with him.  To say we moved quickly would be quite the understatement.

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I’d be lying if I said that things were pure bliss for us from the start.  Love as strong as ours still can’t manage to conquer all.  We’ve been through some rough patches and we drive each other crazy at times.  The thing is, my worst moments with him are still better than my best moments with anyone else.  I’m incredibly lucky to have a husband who loves me with such passion and I’m happy to say that I can match that passion and then some when it comes to my feelings for him.  He is my world and I don’t ever want to be without him.

In the past few days, I feel as if he and I have been rediscovering each other.  We are nearing the time in our marriage where statistically, we’re meant to have a wandering eye and in danger of falling victim to the so-called “seven year itch.”  He and I have found the opposite of that.  I’m more into him now than I was during the puppy dog love/honeymoon phase where everything is new and shiny and exciting.  I’ll spare you the details, but I can honestly say that we’ve been acting like high school students whose parents are out of town.  Getting a break from being parents definitely helps as well (the boy is visiting family over Spring Break) and we’ve been taking advantage and giving each other the attention and affection we both deserve.

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I’m so in love and finally realizing exactly how lucky we both are.  True, it’s only been six years, but some marriages don’t even last for half of that time.  Some marriages are sexless, emotionless arrangements that people are just too comfortable with to leave.  My marriage is flawed just like everything else in life, but it’s also pretty perfect.  I look at my husband and see beauty.  He accepts me both when I’m beautiful and sexy and when I’m a crazy crying mess of a human.  We complete each other and thrive together.  I’m over the moon that we’ve made it to six years and I see so much for us in the future.  My heart is fully and completely in the hands of Jamie Curtis Baker, the only man in this world who knows exactly how to handle it.

 

Making Things Weird

My husband’s new favorite person in the world is Pete Holmes, a comedian with a brand new late night talk show immediately following Conan.  We’ve been going back and listening to Pete’s You Made It Weird podcasts where he sits down with a fellow artist and asks them three weird questions.  These do tend to get extremely off topic, turning more into casual conversations between friends that often erupt in hilarity.  Past guests have included Zack Galifianakis, Judd Apatow, Demetri Martin, T.J. Miller, Chelsea Peretti, Jon Hamm, and Jim Gaffigan, among many others.  Recently, we listened to Pete make things very weird with Sarah Silverman.

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One of the topics that Pete generally always brings up is religion.  Most of the time, his guests are atheists but he does have exceptions (Gaffigan, for example) and is somewhat of an exception himself; as a former Christian, he seems to find comfort in people who fully believe in God, heaven, and everything that goes along with it.  Sarah identified herself as agnostic, and then stated something that really stuck with me.  She pointed out how a person’s beliefs are almost solely based on where they are born.  It’s such an obvious fact, but I never put much thought into it before she said it out loud.

Thinking back, I cannot name a single person in my family who chose Catholicism.  They were all born into it.  Had my family been located across the globe, my upbringing would have been quite different as far as religion is concerned.  At no point did I choose to be a Catholic.  I was baptized while too young to know what was going on, put blind faith in Jesus being the son of God because that’s what my community believed, and grew up as Catholicism as my normal.  I had Jewish friends, I knew a little bit about Kwanzaa, but never questioned why other people fell into different religions, as I was happy with mine.  We had Christmas, so naturally I wasn’t questioning things.

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My atheism was and is a choice and it was the first honest choice I made regarding religion.  I chose that belief (or lack thereof) for a variety of reasons that I can clearly explain and justify.  But if you had asked me why I was a Catholic during the time I still was, I wouldn’t have been able to give you a list of good reasons.  It was just something that was expected of me; get good grades in school, don’t act up around the house, and believe in God and strive to get to heaven.  I was happy to believe whatever I was told to believe about Jesus so long as the Easter Bunny brought me goodies and Santa came to visit as scheduled.  There was not one single good reason for me to be Catholic, to put my faith into so much when I had so few reasons for doing so.

Can you tell me why you believe what you do and give me justification for it that makes sense and is based on something real and concrete?  If you can, you’re doing it right and should give yourself a pat on the back, regardless of what religion you claim and what God you hold sacred.  But if you can’t?  If your only reason is “that’s what I’ve always believed” or something else along those lines?  What are you doing?!?  Why put so much blind faith into something if you can’t even tell me the real reason why you believe it?

Blind-Faith1Everything can and should be questioned, especially when it’s something like religion that is so big in one’s life.  I could care less who believes what as long as they aren’t bringing harm to others, so this isn’t about my atheism being right and your faith being wrong.  It’s about not walking through life with blinders on.  It’s about questioning things that should be questioned.  It’s about being your own person instead of the person you were expected to be by your parents and/or community.  It’s about strengthening beliefs, whether it’s in a god or simply in science.  It’s about finding yourself.  Tell me here or tell yourself privately why you believe what you do.  See if you’re happy with your answer.  And if you’re not happy, see what adjustments need to be made.  Maybe you’ll end up feeling more confident in your beliefs, maybe you’ll discover a new path you should take.  Either way, it can’t hurt to give it a try.

Knocking In

Prior to getting hired on as a contractor for the National Guard Finance office, I sold Kirby vacuums door to door.  For about a month, I was an independent dealer of these high-priced multi-purpose machines, working to make enough commission off of each sale to make it worth my time.  I did not work directly for the Kirby company; the company I worked for was run by a gentleman whose family had been in the business for years.  Each sale one of his dealers made was cash in his pocket, and he was always quick to tell us that he was once in our shoes, and with hard work we could one day be in his.  With the chance to make $500 per sale, and time to make up to three sales per day, this job seemed pretty sweet for an interim gig.

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Obviously I was not making upwards of $1500 per day selling these things, otherwise I sure as hell would not be working here when I could make over $300,000 annually slinging vacuums.  But with the promise of that type of incoming cash, it’s easy to see how people can get sucked into these things and end up losing themselves to it.  Hell, I consider myself to be pretty intelligent and even I was fooled at the start.  Let me explain.  I heard about the company via a classified ad looking for “Dealer representatives. Typical job functions include but not limited to scheduling to meet with potential customers, product demonstrations, negotiation, order processing, record keeping, product delivery, customer service.”  Easy stuff, right?  It also highlighted the ease of advancement, so I applied and scored an interview almost immediately.

The interview should have been a red flag that sent me running.  I was part of a group of about 20.  We handed in our resume and a short questionnaire to a man who addressed us all together.  He told us how exciting this job was, how we were basically guaranteed to earn at least $1000 a week, if not much more, and how we would be paid $1500 for the first month even if we didn’t make a single sale, so long as we showed up every day to work.  None of us were spoken to individually, so I feel odd even calling this an interview.  I received a call back to come for training the very next day and I assume that everyone else in my group that had half a brain was called back as well.

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I had two days of training, which I would be paid for provided I finished out the entire four weeks and did not miss a day.  Oh, and had at least three appointments per day where I did a full demonstration of what a Kirby vacuum can do that was verified by my team lead.  And worked every Saturday, since that counted as part of the full work week.  And did I mention that my start time was 10am and I could potentially still be in the field until 11 at night?  A couple of those very important details were somehow left out when I started.  But no matter because in a month, I could be able to run my own team if I played my cards right!

Each morning at this company, we started out with a high energy meeting.  People who made sales would go to the front of the room, state how they had “knocked in” to the home, relate what they did to make the sale, and sometimes brag about how they sold the unit without any discounts.  I won’t lie; it was exciting to watch and even more exciting to be able to go to the front and tell your own story.  I was wowed by some of the dealers who sold the units for full price and who made enough sales monthly to qualify for some of the perks the company offered; vacations, expensive prizes such as snow mobiles, all sorts of award certificates, and quick promotions.

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It’s such bull.  Any and all companies like this are bull.  Our team lead would drop us in neighborhoods where we would go door to door, knocking and offering people a free room of carpet cleaning.  Often, we were encouraged to lie and tell them that we got paid simply to do the demo (we did not) and we just wanted to show off the Kirby.  Other times we were told to lie about a new store opening (there was no new store anywhere) and say that we wanted to spread the news to our new neighbors by offering free carpet cleaning.  No lie was too big, so long as it got us in the door.  Once the homeowner agreed to let us in, either the dealer (me) or our team lead would run back to the van to retrieve one of the large Kirby boxes.  We’d quickly bring it inside and start unpacking it while engaging the homeowner in small talk about their beautiful home, the weather, or anything else unrelated to the giant vacuum we were unpacking.

My team lead was incredible at this.  Often, the homeowner would try to protest to me unpacking and setting up the vacuum, but he would distract them with conversation until I was done and ready to go.  He’d then leave with a few encouraging words and I’d be alone in some stranger’s house.  I would then go through all the Kirby’s attachments, showing the homeowner how filthy their home was by removing the filter pads after every vacuum sweep and laying that pad on their floor.  Those pads, covered in dirt and who knows what else, were to lay on the floor until my team lead returned in order to prove that I had done a full demonstration.  It was gross and no one was happy about it.

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Oh, and did I mention that we also had special black filter pads?  Those were made specifically for mattresses.  Part of our demo involved going into the homeowner’s bedroom and cleaning their mattress, using the black pads to show dust mites and other nasty mattress critters.  As you can imagine, people didn’t like strangers in their bedroom.  I always asked permission, and when I was obviously turned down at some homes, was instructed to simply pick up the Kirby, say “where is the bedroom,” and just start walking until I found it.  No permission needed.  It was so insulting and invasive, but that was what was required of me.  The final portion of the demo involved finally hooking up the shampooer and giving the homeowner the promised carpet cleaning.  While I was doing this, my team lead was heading back to the house to negotiate the sale (since I was new, this was on him, but I would be required to do it later on).

My first sale was to a woman who could not afford it.  The asking price was $2200, but my team lead gave it to her for $999, which she had to finance.  The sale price meant that my team lead would make a small profit, the company would make a larger profit, and I would make nothing but would at least have a sale on my record.  Out of all the people I sold to, I feel confident in saying that only one of those families could afford it.  Out of all the people I sold to, I feel confident in saying that only one of those families actually needed it; the rest were fine with the vacuum and/or shampooer they already had.  I ripped people off and I’m pretty damn ashamed of it.

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During my time at Kirby, I barely saw my family.  After paying for gas to drive back and forth, I was up only $100 after a month due to tiny profits after everyone took their cut.  My knees ached from all the time I spent on them (hold the jokes) while doing demos.  I was unable to get my $1500 because it is impossible to do three demos each day, seeing as how people work and generally don’t want to let a stranger into their house, no matter what they have to offer.  Even if I had been able to complete it and get that $1500, it would have equaled out to about $3 per hour for the time I put in.  It seemed too good to be true at the get go and I should have been smarter about it and run for the hills as soon as I found out that the job was nothing more than door to door sales.

Sure, some dealers get lucky and end up with their own office, like the company I worked for.  But they are only one out of a hundred, or more, that get lucky and make it work.  I was only there for a month and I saw dozens of people come and go.  My team changed almost every day due to people dropping off after coming to their senses.  The company made crazy profit off of us dealers, as we were paid pennies while they raked in the real cash.  I was a rarity in the place; a female dealer who was actually really good at making sales.  Had I been willing to sacrifice time with my family, I could have gone far.  I could have had my own team and taught others to lie to homeowners in order to make a sale.  I could have made some crazy cash.

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No amount of money is worth it though.  I barely saw my child and my husband during that month, and they both were very unhappy about my absence.  I have no doubt that I put some people in debt after giving them an overpriced vacuum with payments they couldn’t afford.  I caused a few arguments between couples by forcing a sale down their throat.  I lied my ass off so I could invade people’s homes and take their money.  I was horrible to everyone.  I wish I had done my research after that very first day of Kirby training.  I wish someone had warned me.  But at least I got out after just a month before any damage was done to my family and myself.

Never again will I put myself in a situation where I am basically working for free or working for the promise of pay.  Never again will I trust a company simply because it seems fun and because they constantly present me with success stories from people “just like me.”  I’d love to be able to warn others away from places like this, but it’s really one of those live and learn things.  It might work for some of you and that’s not something I can determine.  But for 99% of us, jobs like this should be avoided like the plague.  We are nothing to these companies but free labor; expendable profit on legs.  Customers are nothing to these companies but open wallets.  If that sounds appealing to you, have at it.  For those of us who have a heart and still have morals, it’s not a place we should ever be.

It’s Not That Hard

For almost four years now, I’ve been responsible for handling time cards for a handful of people in my office.  I collect their leave slips, their tracked overtime forms, and their travel compensation requests.  I check their claimed time against the reports and our attendance report prior to getting all their paperwork signed by our Branch Chief and submitted to D.C.  I do this every two weeks, and in the nearly four years that I’ve been completing this task, I’ve only made one mistake which was 50% the fault of the employee submitting paperwork (he forgot a few things, so his leave was a bit screwy for one pay period).  It’s a glamorous job, I know.

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Due to some issues in the states we assist, which are insanely boring and zero fun to discuss, we have a few people who travel for weeks at a time all over the country.  Their absence means that they either have to submit their time card to me while on the road or get it to me before they depart.  Easy, right?  The first time around, half of them completely forgot about it and had to scramble to fax everything over to me by the cut off time.  I’d like to tell you that particular problem has worked itself out, but they still forget on a regular basis, and I’m currently still chasing down one time card submission from an angry guy twenty feet away from me that’s been ignoring my requests.  It boggles my mind; when my time card is due, it’s signed and submitted first thing in the morning.  I want to get paid on time and paid properly.

Lately, our traveling employees have been trying to be good about submitting their time cards early so I have them on file and ready to go when they are due.  Unfortunately, this has also proven to be an incredible challenge.  Because many of them work late hours and are still hanging around when I’m gone for the day, I’m not always at my desk when they get ready to turn in their paperwork.  Most just leave it on my keyboard or in my chair, but some are less cautious to let papers with their social security number just lie around.  Sometimes they give it to my boss (who often loses it, as his office is a crazy black hole filled with random papers and empty coffee cups).  Other times they leave it with whoever also happens to be in the office, giving an unsuspecting person a responsibility they likely do not want.

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My solution for the crowd that submitted paperwork when I was away and wasn’t comfortable leaving it out was to simply scan and email the documents to me.  Every part of my office has a scanner that takes the document straight to a convenient folder on the shared drive.  It takes me about five minutes to scan and email all 13 of the time cards I currently process, and that includes time waiting on Outlook to catch up and time spent naming the documents before scanning.  To me, this was the best solution in keeping time cards secure while still ensuring I received them.  But sadly this has proven to be impossible for one special person.  She acts as if I haven’t requested she do this three times in the past (four counting today) and continues to needlessly make my life difficult and jeopardize her own pay by not ensuring that accurate information has been received.

Putting the paperwork together for each time card is very easy and takes only a few moments; I do it for my boss every two weeks.  None of our employees are new to the process and confused about how things work.  And I don’t care who you are, no one is too busy to take two minutes and complete a couple forms to make sure they get their paycheck on time and in full.  My special case constantly waits until the last possible second to submit her paperwork, meaning that she often drops by after 4pm on Fridays when I’m already gone.  This is the fourth time she has made her time card an issue by submitting it late, giving it to the wrong person (who thankfully is one of the good ones around here and kept it safe), and ignoring my requests that would ensure I received everything I needed on time.

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Most of these people are old enough to be my parent, have worked here for years, and are competent enough to hold their position successfully.  They have homes, bills, and other adult responsibilities.  They manage to feed themselves while at work every day and always sprint down to the main office when we have a pitch-in or free donuts.  And still, EVERY time and without fail, I am chasing half of them down up until the last second to get their time card paperwork so they can get paid.  If they fail, I must submit either a basic card for them (80 hours straight pay, no overtime or comp time recorded) or I must submit a card with only the leave I am able to track from their leave slips, if any.  This obviously leads to errors in pay that can sometimes take a month to fix.  My job is complete so long as each employee has a time card, so my insistence on timeliness and accuracy is solely for their benefit.

I’ve begun to be a tad less understanding with these folk when it comes to their inability to follow simple directions.  I hate to come off as bitchy, but being nice isn’t working so a more direct approach is much needed. The feedback I’ve received from my special case’s supervisor is positive, but who knows if she’ll actually have it sink in or if I’ll just be frustrated once again two weeks from now.  As much as I’d love to quit playing babysitter to these people, I can’t help but go out of my way to help, as I know how pay issues can really screw a person up.  Keeping my fingers crossed that one of these days, they act like they care about their paychecks as much as I do.

Who Are You Again?

It takes a lot for me to truly trust a person.  Other than my husband, I can’t think of anyone that I trust 100% with everything, which is something I’m perfectly okay with.  As far as my friends and family go, I’m satisfied if I can trust them with 75% of myself.  Even if I’m dealing with someone who only gets a small piece of me, I take that trust seriously and I’ll admit I’m probably too sensitive if that trust is broken somehow.  Mainly, I don’t appreciate being lied to about things that are so stupid and so insignificant that there is no point whatsoever in lying about them at all.

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It was brought to my attention recently that an acquaintance (I’m going to call her Helga, as that is an ugly name and she’s become an ugly person) has been telling these wild stories about all these guys she’s been sleeping with.  Thinking about Helga’s sex life is not something I have done or plan to do, so don’t focus too much on the subject of her tales.  What irked me is that the stories are about people she’s confided in me about and who are supposedly people who are either just friends or people she finds attractive but wouldn’t dare mess with due to the fact that they are MARRIED.  Half of Helga’s “conquests” are married men.  The other half probably wouldn’t touch her with someone else’s body.  And her next targets…. I don’t even know what to say.

I don’t care what (or who) Helga does or doesn’t do, as that’s her business.  What I don’t appreciate is being told a fairy tale about her life because that’s what she thinks I want to hear or because that’s the image she wants to present to me specifically.  We’re both adults and I have a hard time comprehending this high school mentality of “people will think I’m desirable and popular if I say I slept with X, Y, and Z.”  It makes me think that nothing that comes out of Helga’s mouth is true, which is unfortunate because I’m not in a position where I can avoid her 100% and make the problem go away.

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I’m not sure what people like Helga want out of life.  I don’t know how they keep their stories straight.  I don’t know who they are.  I cannot wrap my head around why a grown person who can obviously function in the real world would act like an insecure teenager when it comes to love, sex, relationships, or any other areas of life that are primarily ruled by emotions.  I’m one of the most emotionally crazy people I know and I’ve never thought to resort to telling real or imagined stories about my sexual conquests in order to impress others.  Hell, the last time I felt pressured to have sex was when I was 13, sitting around with my girl friends, trying to decide which one of us would lose our virginity first.  (Spoiler alert; it was not me)

Sex is an amazing thing.  Whether you’re happy with one partner or you’re playing around with many, sex is fantastic and I don’t judge a person based on their sexual activity.  Most of us have a phase where we bone irresponsibly, and some people never grow out of that phase.  I don’t care.  It doesn’t affect me.  Unless you’re trying to get into my husband’s pants or my own, my life is not altered by who you show your naughty bits to.  Except for the homophobic crowd and the prudes in the world, I imagine that most people think like me and simply aren’t bothered by your sexual behaviors.  There is no reason to create a fictional sex story to share with the world because, I promise you, the world doesn’t care all that much.

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The thing that Helga likely isn’t taking into consideration is how her nonsense could potentially affect the people she’s flapping her jaw about.  One of the guys she’s bragging about (I’ll call him Frank, as I don’t know anyone by that name and also because I had hot dogs last night) is married with children.  If Frank’s wife gets wind of this sexual escapade with Helga, what happens?  True or not, that is pretty devastating news for a wife to hear.  Even if the story is ridiculous and unbelievable, it’s never fun for someone to hear that their partner cheated on them.  It triggers the imagination, even if only for a split second, and has the potential to deeply hurt.

Unfortunately for me, since I can’t get rid of Helga, I’m going to have to do my best to pretend she doesn’t exist and hope I can do so in a way that doesn’t make it obvious that I now find her revolting.  Unfortunately for her next targets, I don’t have a good way of warning them that doesn’t make me sound like a teenage idiot, so I just have to hope they wise up and create some distance before they become the next tall tale floating around here.  I feel somewhat naive for assuming that people like this don’t exist anymore in the late 20s, early 30s world I’m living in, but now that it’s been made painfully obvious that they’re indeed everywhere, I suppose I have to again become a little jaded and keep more people at arm’s length.  Live and learn though, right?

Openness and Honesty in Relationships

One of the benefits of being in a committed, long-term relationship is the comfort that comes with being accepted and loved for who you truly are. Having a partner who listens to and tries to understand and empathize with you is key to a successful relationship.

According to eHarmony.com, “intimacy is developed through each person’s ability to be open about how they are feeling and what they want.” Typically, being emotionally open comes more naturally to women, simply because of cultural expectations that women talk more, develop bonds more easily, and are encouraged to show their feelings more frequently than men. It is important for both members of a relationship, however, to feel safe when having conversations that involve sharing feelings, desires, and concerns.

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Opening up and allowing yourself to be vulnerable is a scary thing. Partly, this is because you are setting yourself up for potential heartbreak. If you reveal yourself fully to someone, you are giving that person the power to hurt you. Furthermore, a breakup with someone with whom you felt a deep bond, with someone who knew you well, hurts much more than a breakup with someone you didn’t reveal the deepest parts of yourself to. But there’s the rub: in order to have a successful, long-lasting relationship, vulnerability is key. As pointed out by PsychCentral.com, “a willingness to be vulnerable is a significant feature of lasting relationships—ones in which partners are allies, not foes.”

Here are some tips to help encourage honesty and openness in your relationship:

Set Aside Time for Talking
Sometimes, couples fully intend and want to talk about their feelings and open up the lines of communication with one another, but they lead such busy lives that it can be hard to find the time. Choose one night a month to not watch TV, to make a nice dinner, split a bottle of wine, and just give time to one another. Be sure to address any issues you’ve noticed and really talk about how you’re feeling on these mini date nights.

Listen
Listening is just as important as sharing. Make it clear to your partner that you want to hear how he or she is feelings. Also, you should be alert for signs of emotional distress so that you’re ready to ask how he or she is feeling, and then really listen to the response.

Explore and Share in the Bedroom
Sex and sexual intimacy are as important as emotional intimacy in relationships. Talking about fantasies, being communicative during and about sex, and being willing to try new things in bed are key features of a healthy sex life. To keep things fresh, why not try role-playing? If not that, how about bringing a toy into the bedroom? In terms of the latter, one reviewer at Adameve.com writes of a couples’ toy, “This was great! My husband and I love this…”. Being open and honest about sex is not only important for the health of your relationship; it’s fun, too!

Though it can be difficult or scary at times, really opening up and being vulnerable with your partner can take your relationship to a whole new level. And if you’ve been together for a long time already, keeping those lines of communication open is key for the maintenance of your already-strong relationship.

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Author bio:
Kristin Armstrong is a school teacher and writer who majored in psychology in college. One of her favorite topics to write or talk about is relationships. She has a wonderful husband and a dachshund named Jerry.

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