Not In The Past

Looking forward from 30

Archive for the month “May, 2012”

Crandall Scandal

I’m going to be going down to Moncton tomorrow night, and flying to Toronto the next morning.  I intend to keep a journal of my time there: perhaps I might edit my entries into a post here.  Maybe not.  Depends on how personal the writing is.

I want to spread awareness of another issue here: Crandall University in Moncton gets an insane amount of money from city council, despite the school having discriminatory hiring practices that pose a religious test on all potential faculty, including a ban on practicing homosexuals.  The issue is not so much the school’s right to have these practices as it is about public money going to such a place.  Understandably, there are calls for them to cut funding.  I would publicly like to add my voice to these calls, and I hope you spread awareness about this, either by posting Twitter with the hashtag #CrandallScandal, or going on Tumblr, or writing to city council.  Moncton has to think about what kind of image it sends to LGBT people when it uses taxpayer money in this way.  In all honesty, it saddens me, but it doesn’t surprise me.  We’re not really the most gay-friendly province in Canada.

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Outside World

My flight to Toronto is less than a week away; it’s a flurry of arrangements, confirmations, and preparations for the next few days.  I’m hoping attending the wedding sparks something in me and pushes me further out of my rut.  Whenever I go to Ontario I feel more part of the outside world than I do in New Brunswick.

My slate’s full Saturday (day of my friend’s wedding) and Sunday (brunch and travel back), but aside from flying and checking in, my schedule’s free on Friday.  Still trying to think of ways to spend the day…

Sitting around

I got a call from an old friend this week.  I’m not someone who uses the phone part of my cellphone too much, but it was good talking with someone whose voice I hadn’t heard in almost two years.  I’m thinking that someday I might as well take his advise and take up fishing (don’t really like eating fish though).

I house-sat for my parents this week while they went on a vacation; nice to have a little more time to myself.  I’ve also been digitizing some of my VHS tapes, doing work on the ol’ resume and trying to get some stuff cleaned and sorted.

Now that I know what’s going on with the whole EI thing, I’m relieved that it will take some time to implement, but I still don’t like what they’re doing.  It’s going to be a disaster for Atlantic Canada (read a good explanation here) and I really am thinking that the goal is to turn the region into a seaside resort for the wealthy and third-world-like conditions for the rest of us.   I also resent people with gold-plated pensions telling people to accept any job within an hour’s drive (which is a lot in a rural province like New Brunswick, especially in areas with shitty roads and bad weather) that pays as little as 70% of their previous job’s wages.  I’ve written Jim Flaherty, Diane Finley and my local MP about the issue, but I feel like the Conservative MPs don’t necessarily serve the people of their region, they merely exist for Stephen Harper’s agenda to ram through Parliament, and then their constituencies get “rewards”.

Judging by the legislation introduced in the last year that has held many unpleasant surprises, I have to wonder if Harper would actually try getting rid of same-sex marriage in Canada, or worse, recriminalizing homosexuality.

I close with the following thought about Diane Finley: have you ever noticed that in ever single picture of her, she looks like the most horribly condescending person?

This week’s going to have a massive blitz of job applications sent out.   My friend’s wedding is a week away…can’t wait.

Bad jobs

I’m legitimately angry about Jim Flaherty’s insensitive and condescending comments about the proposed changes to EI.  “No bad jobs” he says?  This is a man whose experience in lower-end positions was guaranteed to be temporary at best, to help him get between private school, university and law school.  His comments also discount the possibility of damage to someone’s career momentum,  that the company or  boss treats their employees poorly, or that some people just aren’t suited for some occupations.   It comes across as offensive as a happily married marriage counselor telling a battered wife that there are no bad marriages.   Diane Finley’s clarifications about people being matched to their jobs in their area don’t provide much comfort: to someone who is looking to make a career change and relocate to a city with a stronger economy, it’s scary to think that the government is going to force you to take a position that would pay so low that it would be impossible to save money for a relocation, or that your skills and education would slowly be mooted with time spent in a lower-status job, or underperformance in a field you weren’t suited to.

The Conservative Party of Canada seems to be taking their policy inspiration from Futurama.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they implanted people on EI with career chips in the future.

Of course, Flaherty and Finley will never have to worry about being forced to take a low-wage, low-skill job outside their field even after the voters toss their sorry asses from Parliament next election.

I worked in the call centre industry for six years.  Looking back, I would say it did help me develop a number of skills, but it was so hard to see that for the longest time because of how miserable I was.  Anyone who tells you that’s an easy job clearly has never worked in a call centre job for very long.  You often feel like you’re caught in between the middle of the customer and the company.   I liked my co-workers, and I wasn’t bad at it: I surprised myself with how well I did at sales, especially considering I don’t have the “killer instinct” needed for that kind of thing.  But by the time I left one of my jobs I was completely burned out, and felt like my life existed solely so I could take calls from upset customers.  I felt like skills I had developed at school were beginning to atrophy and that my life was disappearing from me.   There was a poor selection of shifts offered, there was an “attendance bonus” that was really a further penalty for needing to take an (unpaid) sick day.  It felt like I was sacrificing so much for an employer that wouldn’t even provide references for its employees.  It didn’t help that I felt like I couldn’t get involved deeply in anything outside at work lest my schedule changed.  The next centre I worked for had a much better atmosphere, but I still felt like I was biding my time.  For all the other stresses of call centre work, it’s really the repetition that gets to you.  When you’re having dreams that you’re on vacation but realize you need to be at your next shift, and spend the rest of your dream stressed about even showing up late, it’s not a good thing.   Neither is dreaming you’re taking calls on your cell phone far away from work.  It never helps when you’re surrounded by people who are even more depressed about their job but feel trapped even further: that kind of thing weighed on me.  I guess I’m being hard on the employer. There are types of people who can thrive in call centres; not everyone does, though.  And it’s one of those places where not thriving can make you feel like shit.

I worked as a dishwasher one time between years of university: definitely not something I did pretty well.  But does my lack of dishwashing skills mean I would not be competent in a higher-status position?

It helps to have more distance from a job to see what you got out of it and where your skills lie.  I’d be hard pressed to find positives about call centre work if I was still there, and I worried about being a “lifer” who never achieved much higher than an entry-level job that I didn’t even need my degree for.  I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t like repetitive and passive work, but after writing out exactly what my duties were for everything I’ve done in the working world, I do see some transferable skills in a lot of what I did, and I’m more aware about what skills university gave me.

Je Joue De La Guitare

I once incorporated this song into a dream…

Don’t really speak or understand French though aside from the very basic amount I learned in high school.

Stream of consciousness for tonight

I’m just going to sit here and write for a half and hour.  Time to plow through the various emotional states and feelings I still haven’t sorted out, they just pile like laundry.  Plow through bitterness and resentment, more frustration than anything else.  It’s not the fault of the sugar industry that I feel like I’m typing stylized gibberish.  Right now I’m going through Google maps, looking at neighborhoods I’ve never been to and realizing how well-put-together it all looks: and here I sit, stuck in the crumbling ruins of a land that goes within a snail’s pace.  The snails have left us in the dust.

We’re all cliches and limited mental states: I don’t feel the full range of being alive when I’m tethered here, tied with emotional connections and reinforce fears that I can’t make it outside of my bubble.  Better to have me in a stifling structure than to have me roam free into something that might not be pleasant.  I feel ill-equipped and ill-trained to run for the real world.  Talking about myself just make me self-conscious about slipping into solipsism (I seem to be fond of that word these days).  I live vicariously through the people who have cut themselves loose from their moorings and found new lives, unbound by their previously held expectations and finding what they hadn’t expected to even desire.

My possessions are clutter.  I don’t know what I believe in these days, just am fully aware that the path laid out before me is leading into a loop, and if I really want to get somewhere, I have to cut a few trees and climb a few walls.  Which walls are my own construction and which were imposed on my path by other people?  My holding pattern lets these walls go up, and fortify themselves so that it’s harder and harder for me to break through, get to the place that I might be happy.  The search may not yield anything for a while, but I’m sick of the known, and I’m sick of the facade I keep up just for a little stability.

Stability, that’s a concept.  I used to crave it when I was younger, resisting change.  That’s what loyalty springs from.  But I’m getting bored, and I’m realizing that things are starting to decompose, and the stench is overpowering.  I can’t breathe anymore.  I don’t want to break out of my mold in front of everyone right away, just in case they push back.  The fleeting nature of life makes me realize that it’s something that can be wasted, and there is only so much time and so many experiences I’ll get.

Life was meant to be full of pain and ecstasy.  Order is not natural; chaos is not something to be feared, just acclimatized to.  All this time spent trying to impose order is time I should have spent getting used to the way it really is.  All these missed opportunities.  I’m not dead yet.  I’m also not as young as I was, and worry about how much harder it is to dig out from the ruts I land myself into.  This time spent worrying is time I’m wasting.  We don’t have enough time to waste, but I wonder if some of use just can’t get the momentum that others can.

Seeking color.  Washed out beiges and yellows are pissing away my eyesight to the point where any variation is getting too hard on my eyes to recognize.

Loosen Up

It’s time to loosen up and let the ideas flow out of my head.  It’s time to shape them into coherent narratives about something that happened to me.

It’s difficult, though, to do such a thing when I feel like my life is in stasis.  I feel limited and blocked off: really, how do I make a day where I don’t do much of anything exciting?  What’s scarier is when I can’t capture what it was in my memories and experiences that was so vivid; the emotions and the magic of connection fade out and I’m left with this unremarkable meeting between two parties.  It might as well be a business meeting for all I remember.

What I love is spending time with someone you haven’t seen in a while, and in that rediscovering what it is about the person that made you enjoy their company in the first place.  I’ve been lucky to get that with a few people lately, and I send my gratitude and love to them.  Not being as disposed to being social makes me appreciate the connections that somehow take hold.

I need to build an identity for myself; I feel one imposed on me right now.  I don’t think it’s my true self.  Fresh starts are welcome, but I wonder how attainable they really are.

An open response to a recent letter in the paper

I just read a letter in the local paper where someone mentioned how after the election next week, he hopes the city council upholds the Christian values and morals of the community, citing the time the city gave money to have a “questionable” sexual-education expert from “Upper Canada” speak to the grade 9 students of the school division.  He must have been referring to Sue Johanson, who is a registered nurse, a member of the Order of Canada, and arguably Canada’s leading advocate for safe sex.

I understand the author of the letter is a very devout Catholic: there is nothing wrong with this.  But I take issue with a few things with his letter.  First off, who is to say he speaks for the whole community?  Miramichi is a small town more than a city, yes, but there are still a number of residents who don’t identify as Christian, or have more progressive views on the topic of sexuality.  I also have a problem with his calling Johanson’s credentials into question: Johanson is a qualified counselor and has been giving practical sexual advice for years before she became a media personality.  There are some areas where she does have a few blind spots, but in this case, would “qualified” only be bestowed on an educator who promotes abstinence-only education?  Lastly, what’s with this “Upper Canada” nonsense?  The colony of Upper Canada hasn’t existed since 1841.  My view is that the way that term was used connotes resentment against so-called “big-city values”, as if insulation from differing viewpoints is the only way to protect the integrity of the Miramichi.

To me, not giving information about contraception is irresponsible and immoral.  It’s like telling your children not to go into a dangerous area, but not letting them protect themselves if they do.

Purpose and Repurpose

I’m trying to think about what I hope to do with the blog I registered with my real name.   I want it to be my “professional” site, one that is a showcase for my writing and photography, without the tendency for solipsism that pervades here.  Not In The Past is more for capturing my feelings and updating people on what’s going on with my life.  I already have another blog for my pop culture stuff.

I’m leaning towards using my domain as a place to write short essays and well-polished reflection.   How does that sound?

Job hunt help

I think I need a little bit more help with the job search front.  Does anyone have any advice?  I know my current strategy isn’t yielding any fruit.

Sorry my blog has turned into the job hunting chronicles.

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