Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Get to Work!

I've decided to go back to work.

Not there, sickos. Here:

Check out this video: Gap Girls SNL

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Once upon a time, I was a GAP girl. It was my full-time job before I quit work to go back to school. I was a manager and I actually enjoyed it but it wasn't exactly fulfilling and I certainly didn't feel that retail hours (nights, weekends, holidays) were condusive to raising a family.

Recently, I decided to get a part-time job. The money I receive from my ex and financial aid is enough to pay my bills and not much else. I hate not having "extra" money and I miss interacting with other adults. Lucky for me, one of the girls that was an associate when I was there is now a manager and hired me back. It's weird to have a job after all these years off.

I thought I'd share with you a couple of things I would have bought for Christmas presents if I had spare cash.

For my best friend, I'd buy a couple of cases of this:

Then, she could hand it out to patients as gag gifts, secretly hoping a handful will use it.

For my kids:

Because kids love explosions and sparkly things!

For my boyfriend:

So people know he has a girlfriend. He could take her everywhere! He could strap her into his car. I always try to take pictures when I see a blow up doll in the passenger seat in a parking lot, but the glare of the windshield always ruins it.

For my sister:

Because they come in handy for ridding oneself of baby daddys.

Finally, for my blog readers:

A subscription to a good old-fashioned magazine. I promise, you'd learn more there than you ever will here.

What am I most excited for? I love processing shipment. Strange, but I really like to feel productive. One time, when I was opening boxes, I found one of these:

He was in a box from Sri Lanka. He was sealed between 2 pieces of plastic, as though he had been ironed in. It was disgusting and it smelled like ass.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I've Got Mad Moralz, People!

I picked up Lord of the Flies a bit ago because I won a complete unit on it at a literature conference and I thought it might be cool to read it and go through the unit as if I were one of my future middle school students (I'd prefer to teach high school).  As if doing your own unit is fun.  (It is, by the way.)

I liked the book.  It made me think quite a bit about morality, which is one of my favorite topics.  What follows are some of my thoughts while reading the book and my very non-scientific evaluation.  If you prefer scientific type stuff, here are a couple of blogs on the subject and a recent article you may enjoy:

Time magazine's What Makes Us Moral?
Doctor Jones's Morality is Hard-Wired
Grau Geist's What's Your Morality?

I'm truly fascinated by morality and could probably write a whole series with the questions that occupy my mind on the subject.  For now, I'll just stick to Lord of the Flies.

Most people know that this is about a group of boys that attend a private school and get stranded on an island with no adults.  Naturally, the story would chronicle their struggle to figure out the right thing to do and morality is a huge part of this story. 

I'm going to excerpt from a paragraph.  While questions of morality were already raised, this is where (in the first quarter of the book) I began to notice that morality was going to fall by the wayside.

This occurs after one of the older boys kicks in sandcastles (thinking it quite funny) that a few of the younger boys (about 6 years old) had made and gets sand in one of the small boy's eyes.

"...Percival began to whimper with an eyeful of sand and Maurice hurried away.  In his other life Maurice had received chastisement for filling a younger eye with sand.  Now, though there was no parent to let fall a heavy hand, Maurice still felt the unease of wrongdoing.  At the back of his mind formed the uncertain outlines of an excuse.  He muttered something about a swim and broke into a trot."

I had to pause here because this was very realistic, as was the whole book in spite of its fictional nature.  To me, this demonstrated a need for morality in our lives.  Here, a boy participated in something that his buddies were doing in a brief moment, even finding it to be funny.  The sand in the eye was an unintentional side effect.  He didn't do it on purpose, only it draws his attention to the fact that he did something contrary to what his instincts were telling him was right.  There is no one there for him to report to, nothing to get in trouble over.  Curiously enough, the lack of recognition for morality as it exists on the island brings this particular boy to act quite contrary to his instincts and winds up being nearly the most terrifying force on the island.

While the boys vote for a leader at the beginning, a sensible leader, all rationality and empathy are abandoned at the end and they end up following the one boy who displays sociopathic characteristics.  If not for the arrival of the navy, they would have murdered the first leader (it would have been the third murder)-the only boy left who wouldn't abandon morality.

In his explanation of what he was trying to accomplish, William Goulding says this:

"The moral is that the shape of a society must depend on the ethical nature of the individual and not on any political system however apparently logical or respectable."

I can endorse that but for one thing: why do we throw our morality under the tracks in the presence of the immoral?  If the society depends upon the nature of the individual, why did this society allow the one boy who lacked a morality that all of the others shared to dictate what the rest of their days would look like?  Fear?  Resignation? 

When the Navy arrives, all of the boys break down crying.  They are simultaneously relieved and ashamed. A breakdown in their morality will result in nightmares that can never be escaped.  They all know it and they knew it when they broke.

It leads me to universal questions.

If the research linked above is correct and morality is biological (and given our innate sense of empathy, I believe it is), why do we sweep such a grand and noble thing under the rug in times of weakness?  If morality is innate, but for deviants, why doesn't it band us together, as it should, in the face of evil?  Why are we ashamed of our morality?

I was thinking that many of you would argue that you aren't ashamed of your morality and are proud to stand up for what you believe in.  But I'm betting that, particularly in our adolescence, we've all done things we knew we shouldn't because we didn't want to look "uncool".  I'm betting, too, that we've done it at adults even if we don't want to admit it.  I know I have; only, instead of not wanting to appear "uncool," I don't want to appear "holier than thou."

Cheating is the best example I can think of because every single one of us has either (A) Cheated, (B) Been cheated on, or (C) Is intimately acquainted with someone in the former categories.  Most people would agree that cheating is wrong.  Most people who have done it feel very guilty, beginning from the inception of the act itself.  What makes us do it anyway when we know that it's compromising our character and, when cooler heads prevail, we'd argue against it?  I've heard women speak in absolutes on the subject.  "All cheaters are scumbags!" or something of the sort even though their best friend has done it.  What allows us to use our morality to pass judgement on others, assuming it automatically excludes those we care about?

If the boys on the island had discovered their morality as a unifying thread instead of something to be ashamed of, they wouldn't have been standing there devastated by the reality of their actions when they were rescued.  In real life, the same is true of us, no matter how small our compromises. 


Monday, December 10, 2007

The Sanctity of...

I don't have much time, so I'll have to keep this brief (hahahahahahaha!!!). I've really been trying to keep away from here as the end of the quarter is upon me and I'm attempting to put something (school) before MySpace, email, and Spider Solitaire. (P.S. I'm losing the battle to Spider Solitaire. Over and over and over. I only have a 5% win rate on the difficult level.)

Right. To the point.

Grau Geist and I had a little IM chit chat about gay marriage. I'm not going to get into should it be allowed or shouldn't it (yes, as a matter of fact, it should) but about whether or not you think it would be abused. Of course, it's my blog and only my opinion matters, so here you have it:

Marriage pacts. We all know someone who's made one or at least joked around about it. "If neither of us are married by the time we're 35 or 40 or 45, we'll get married." But what percentage of the marraiges (Bill and Hilary don't count) of which you are aware actually came about in this way?

Joe asserts that, were gay marriage to become legal, he'd marry a buddy in a heartbeat. There are tangible benefits to being married, after all.

Guess what? Upon reflection, I think that Joe and people like Joe are mostly full of _____(insert four-letter word here). They may not know it, but they are.

Why? Because most of us, no matter what our experiences, how many times we've been cheated on, or how messy the divorce still believe in love. And most of us still believe in marriage. As it were, we still believe in the sanctity of marriage.

Push come to shove, I honestly don't believe that legalization of gay marriage would lead to a flurry of platonic unions. Just as many people could take advantage of that now with a friend of the opposite sex as could with a friend of the same sex. Yet, not many do. I'm sure it happens, just not in droves.

If I had no prospects right now and my best friend weren't married, I wouldn't (with any sincerity) make a pact with her to marry one another were gay marriage to be legal. I love her fiercely and I'm sure she'd make a good wife. And she's a doctor so I could be a stay at home mom. But I wouldn't do it.

Because, even if it didn't work for me the first time, I'm holding out to do it right.

I suspect the same is true of most, if not all, of you.