Thursday, April 9, 2009

Grabs and Sprees

The breathing treatments continue. In a couple hours, I'll get out of the house for the first time since Tuesday morning. We haven't been this homebound in awhile. I get super productive when I'm in this situation . . . I've done four months of business paperwork in two days as well as 10 loads of laundry and I'm starting to clean out closets. The kids think my cleaning game is boring but I did play squirrel family for a full half-hour yesterday, so they can entertain themselves for awhile.

I spent a good amount of time tending to sick children or sick child and healthy, bouncing-off-the wall child in the first half of 2008. My unemployment has been timely for that reason. However, spending so much time at home inspired me to try some strange things. The strangest one by far is joining the online women in business club, with an acronym similar to WIB.

One of my eBay customers invited me to join the group and framed it as an opportunity to promote my business and network. It's run like a discussion group but with activities. The one required activity is that you purchase from one other member every month. These are called "grabs" as the ladies are really into grabbing their top choices. In other words, each member can only be grabbed once per month, so if you don't get your top choice, you have to settle for your second choice, unless that is also taken and so on. When you're one of the last members to be grabbed, it's kind of like being picked last for the team . . . not that I had that experience or anything.

My product line wasn't very popular with the rest of the ladies. I have since stopped selling the stuff but it was a decent organic bath and beauty line from a southern state. It was a little too expensive and there's just too much competition for mineral make-up, soap and body lotion. However, the bath and beauty line opened up the door to a world I thought only existed in books and movies.

WIB members lived all over the country but the predominant culture of the club was Conservative Christian in the Deep South. Holy Toledo. These ladies sell make-up, jewelry, housewares, candles and baskets with a fierce determination to provide for their families and shop for beautiful things. They would probably say "yummy" things.

I was entranced with their descriptions of lavish home-cooked meals, crafts, scrapbooks, church functions, financial troubles, folk remedies, fervent prayer, celebrity gossip and other trials and tribulations. There was a lot of "god bless you" and "amen." These are women who stand by their man, support drilling in Alaska, question global warming, forgive Bush for everything and condemn Obama for being a liar.

I found it refreshing to hear different ideas than the ones I usually hear. I live in an area of the country that is exactly opposite of the conservative Christian set on the political spectrum. As I read in an article recently, debate just doesn't happen the way it used to in most communities because we are more and more a country divided into politically homogeneous communities (maybe I'm going a little heavy on the caffeine today).

So I was willing to cut the ladies some slack and I did hear some interesting perspectives. For example, one of the members wrote about how sleeping around before marriage isn't in God's plan because once you get a taste for multiple partners, you will never be satisfied with your husband. A woman lamented all the sex she had before marriage but she sure seemed to enjoy describing it.

All of the God talk led me to believe that these were generally upstanding individuals with good character. However, I learned once again that some of the churchiest people (not everybody but some) actually have pretty weak character. Even when I wasn't trying, I seemed to come across as the kook from California, so I never truly connected with anyone in the group and some of them were downright unfriendly. One or two made an effort to respond to my posts. I made an effort to participate in their activities . . . such as sprees. These activities had complicated rules and were conducted illegally using Paypal. They basically involved purchasing into multi-dimensional raffles. I won a few things such as $100 worth of natural dog food.

But then one day, someone made a reference to the difference between people who go to church and those who don't . . . in response to a story about a mother who injured her own child. That sort of stopped me in my tracks. Self-righteousness like that is just unchristian-like, in my humble opinion. Then two scandals erupted in the group. One, there was a plea from the friends of a dying mother to send donations. I didn't send a donation but I had for another similarly desperate situation. I actually cried when I read the email from the dying mother. It turned out to be a hoax. Secondly, several members were caught cheating in the sprees, making sure that only their friends got the good prizes. Is that why I got the dog food? Those bitches.


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