Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hodge-Podge Post

I recently read Roseanne Cash's autobiography, Composed, and Dianne Keaton's, Then Again, and am struck by the role of insecurity in both lives. Both books were well-written and I enjoyed them immensely (so insecurity wasn't the only take-away). Sometimes I feel so alone with so much voice and so much to say and so little audience! But then I read about women with larger audiences and realize that the same core issues are still present.

It's so nice when someone can go first and relate some of the hard things on back so you understand that things can work out! (Like when Elizabeth Gilbert let me know that it was ok to get a divorce and to move on.)

I recently read an article (and have read other supporting documentation) saying that we should keep our big resolutions and dreams to ourselves; the reasoning is that this will help prevent us from getting lazy and equating encouragement with accomplishment. I think it's hard to do this with low self-esteem because you always want someone else's validation that you can be a person that accomplishes great things.

I got my hair cut yesterday; it's short again and off the shoulders. I feel cute again! That's an accomplishment! I don't feel like I'm physically manifesting the responsibility I feel towards others. Or, I feel more of a responsibility towards others in taking care of myself and being who I am. From the books I've read and what I know, I'm seeing that this is going to be a life-long process. It's nice to have days when the process is fun!

Bill and I watched Elia Kazan's "Panic in the Streets." I feel very film student right now. And not only do I feel very film student, but I feel very happy because . . . guess who's going to be docent at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve! This girl! (I suppose I'm sharing things before they are actually happening, but I am too excited not to share.) It's not too late to sign up, if you're interested.

Also, if you're interested, my post on You, Me, Religion is now online. Debra, who runs the site, has amassed a variety of religious perspectives on her great site. Check it out!


Thanks to a story I heard on NPR, I've been playing with the meaning of being a conscientious objector in relation to war (where I am one) and in relation to contraception objectors (where I am not one).

Here's what the OED tells us "conscientious" means:

Etymology: < French consciencieux having or relating to a sensitive conscience (1527 in Middle French) < post-classical Latin conscientiosus scrupulous (14th cent.), relating to conscience (15th cent.) < classical Latin conscientia conscience n. + -ōsus -ous suffix. Compare slightly earlier consciential adj., conscionable adj.(Show Less)

I. Senses related to conscience n. I. Cf. earlier conscionable adj.

a. Of or relating to conscience; performed according to conscience; well and thoroughly done; scrupulous.

1603 J. Florio tr. Montaigne Ess.i. xxix. 98 Marriage is a religious and devout bond: and that is the reason the pleasure a man hath of it, should be‥a voluptuousnesse somewhat circumspect and conscientious.

a1631 J. Donne Serm. (1957) III. 386 Of those that do goe without those conscientious deliberations.

1736 Bp. J. Butler Analogy of Relig.i. vii. 131 To live in the conscientious Practice of all that is Good.

1791 J. Boswell Life Johnson anno 1776 II. 10 You have illuminated my mind and relieved me from imaginary shackles of conscientious obligation.

1850 C. Kingsley Alton Locke I. i. 4 She became a Baptist, from conscientious scruples.

1878 R. Simpson School of Shakspere I. 74 The Archbishop returned his easy insolence with a‥conscientious purpose of revenge.

1923 R. Connell Friend of Napoleon in B. C. Williams O. Henry Prize Stories of 1923 (1924) 22 A Napoleonic hat, frayed by years of conscientious brushing by Papa Chibou, was perched above a pensive waxen brow.

1975 Pop. Mech. May 108/1 The resolution calls upon the people of the United States and interested groups and organizations to observe the month of May with appropriate activities and efforts to maximize road safety by encouraging conscientious care and maintenance of automobiles.

2008 C. Page Wings of Destiny xiii. 347 The three Court members were all commended by the Air Board for their conscientious conduct of proceedings.

†b. Constituting a matter of conscience, binding on the conscience. Obs. rare—1.

1636 H. Blount Voy. Levant 101 The Authors of Superstition when they finde Customes very usefull‥plant them amongst their other ceremonies, and make them conscientious.

2. Acting, or wishing to act, according to one's conscience; habitually governed by a sense of what is right; scrupulous. Also: performing, or wishing to perform, one's work or duty well and thoroughly. †Also with of.derogatory in some early uses, e.g. quots. 1648, 1779.

1611 R. Cotgrave Dict. French & Eng. Tongues, Conscientieux, conscientious‥of a good conscience, full of conscience.

1638 J. Burroughs Excellency of Gracious Spirit To Rdr. sig. B4v, Hee kept an exact account of his life every day, very conscientious of honouring God to purpose, in publike and private.

1648 N. Cowling Word to LII London Ministers 9 Ye know nothing at all, neither do ye consider that our nation is like to perish, if this Iesus remain alive, you are so consciencious of shedding bloud least he should be a Prophet.

1655 T. Fuller Church-hist. Brit.v. 167 [He] had found‥many Lay-men as consciencious as Clergy-men in discharging this trust.

1738 Defoe's Compl. Eng. Tradesman (ed. 4) I. vii. 72 A conscientious tradesman.

1779 H. Downman Lucius Junius Brutusv. iv. 124 Conscientious, babbling, sniveling, Mouth-watering knaves, who envy every man The dainty morsel they can't eat themselves.

a1813 J. H. St. J. de Crèvecœur Landskapes in D. D. Moore Lett. Amer. Farmer (1995) 267, I am quite sick & Tired of these pretended conscientious non fighting Mortals.

1834 Pearl & Literary Gaz. 7 June 174/2 The once moral and conscientious Gregory was an infidel and gambler of the highest grade.

1882 M. E. Braddon Mt. Royal I. iii. 78 He is a conscientious person, and knows his duty.

1901 Atlantic Monthly Apr. 434/1 If our public schools fail to furnish an education fully as good as can be obtained in private schools, intelligent, conscientious, and well-to-do parents will withdraw their children.

1970 D. Jacobson Rape of Tamar (1980) vi. 80 Had I been less conscientious I might well have abandoned my post.

2004 Sunday Times Trav. Feb.–Mar. 63/2 Being taken away from workaday life can lower the guard of even the most conscientious diet-watcher.

II. Senses related to conscience n. II.

3. With of, that. Conscious, aware.

1637 J. Hales Several Tracts (1677) 181 He that is conscientious of his sin.

1648 T. Fairfax Remonstrance 36 Either not bound, or not conscientious of his bonds.

1654 R. Whitlock Ζωοτομια 141 The Heretick (guilty and consciencious to himselfe of Refutability).

1777 E. Allen Let. 28 Nov. in H. Hollister Pawlet for One Hundred Years (1867) 13, I being conscientious that it is not right in the sight of god to keep Slaves.

1841 H. Cockton Stanley Thorn (1856) xix. 155 I'm a fool—of course I know that I'm a fool, 'cause I was quite conscientious that the pea dodge was a do.

1855 W. H. Jelliff in Ann. Rep. Railroad & Canal Companies N.J. 22 Being conscientious of swearing upon the Bible, deponent, on this eighteenth day of January, A.D., eighteen hundred and fifty-five, was affirmed on the aforesaid affidavit before me.

1906 Friend 10 Nov. 137/1 Its possessor may exert a determined will,‥only to be found conscientious of his own will and mistaken sight, rather than of the Divine will and Spirit's light.

1999 W. Gay Long Home (2000) 148 His father had built the house, a man conscientious of the plumbness of corners, the pitch of rafters.

2000 S. Cerin Origin of God iv. 62 Conscientious that I am in a bed and I am sleeping reported to my physic Universe.

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conscientious objection n. (a) an objection on the grounds of conscience to complying with a requirement (also with to); spec. a principled objection to serving in the armed forces; (b) refusal to comply with a requirement, spec. to serve in the armed forces, on the grounds of conscience (also with to).

1790 Brit. Mercury 12 June 338 He would never have served the offfice of Sheriff of Bedford, having a conscientious objection as a Dissenter against receiving the Sacrament, in the Church of England.

1826 R. Aspland in Services at Ordination Rev. R. Brook, Aspland, M.A. 67, I can enter into the sense and spirit of that Dissent which consists in conscientious objection to the imposition of ceremonies, in themselves indifferent, which are not of Divine ordination.

1844 Baptist Mag. 36 621/2 Why do you not, for the sake of union, cease from your sprinkling, and submit to immersion, to which you acknowledge you have no conscientious objection?

1863 Official Rec. 12 Mar. in War of Rebellion CXXIV. 64 In view of the late law of Congress compelling a compliance with military service, by all irrespective of conscientious objections, [etc.].

1873 ‘M. Twain’ Gilded Age liv. 489 Have you any conscientious objections to capital punishment?

1911 Official Yearbk. Commonw. Austral. 4 xxx. 1124 All infants in Tasmania are nominally required, under the Vaccination Act 1898, to be vaccinated before the age of 12 months, unless either (a) a statutory declaration of conscientious objection is made, or (b) a medical certificate of unfitness is received.

1916 A. Huxley Let. 10 Mar. (1969) 93 He came before the tribunal the other day to apply for exemption on the grounds of conscientious objection to war.

1932 A. Huxley Brave New World iii. 57 Conscientious objection on an enormous scale.

1968 tr. U. Scheuner in A. H. Robertson Human Rights in National & Internat. Law vi. 255 A farmer refused to join the State Association of cattle-owners for the suppression of tuberculosis in cattle, pleading conscientious objections as the member of a church which was against the imposition of legal obligations on farmers.

2005 H. Caulfield Accountability xi. 158 The reaction to termination has been a matter of conscientious objection of such importance that this is now recognised in legislation which carries over into employment practice.

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conscientious objector n. a person who refuses on the grounds of conscience to comply with a requirement (also with to); spec. such a person who refuses to serve in the armed forces (cf. conchy n.); (in weakened sense) a person with a strong objection to something.

1825 J. N. Pearson Whole Wks. Robert Leighton I. p. xvii, Their stern determination to force that bitter morsel on conscientious objectors.

1843 Baptist Mag. Nov. 592/2 Either oaths are necessary, and in that case they should be uniformly required, or they are not necessary, and in that case they should not be required of a conscientious objector of one religious community more than of another.

1899 Whitaker's Almanack 400/1 A conscientious objector to vaccination can‥escape all penalties.

1916 A. Huxley Let. 2 Mar. (1969) 92 Conscientious objectors were not so disgustingly hectored as they seem to have been in London.

1926 N. N. Puckett in Opportunity Mar. 84/1 The conscientious objector to folk-lore should also realize that not all of folk-knowledge is pure chaff.

1966 C. M. Bowra Memories 1898–1939 xiv. 352 Knowing how cruelly conscientious objectors had been treated in the First World War, I was determined to see that their cases were put intelligibly before the tribunals.

2009 G. Sheedy in P. J. Grace Nursing Ethics & Professional Responsibility in Adv. Pract.iii. xii. 364 Patients in urban areas who have insurance coverage can usually access a large or several large medical centers that offer a variety of services‥, which makes it easier for a conscientious objector to find another provider who will agree to care for the patient.

Personally, I like the part of the definition that promotes the notion of awareness. An awareness not just of one's one set of morals and ideas, but of understanding that others have their own set.

I am appalled to be listening to debates on contraception and legislation regarding the personhood of a fetus. Personally, I think we need to be over these types of debates and understand that the right to reproduction is an individual right that ultimately resides within each woman. If you don't like that, then I think you can take plenty of measures to prevent unwanted pregnancy and use education as your tool to raise awareness.

There are many concessions we have to make to live in a society. I, for one, have had to help fund wars that I disagree with.

Short-sighted is a term I can think of to describe those who are against contraception. The impact of reproductive rights versus measures taken to fund and take care of national defense . . . we are comparing very dissimilar things. But at the heart of it is a conscience. How do we take care of each other? How do we protect our bodies and our society? How can we opt out when we disagree? How can we disagree with as little adverse affect on others that we have to live with?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Money, Continued Some More

Today I got to learn about Frances Perkins, the first female Cabinet member, who was instrumental when FDR signed social security and unemployment benefits into federal law. I know nothing about her, but she is definitely a new hero.

The economic crisis of the past few years is the worst we've seen since the Great Depression, and I am struck by old stories of people who knew which houses they could approach and ask for food and shelter. I had heard these stories as a kid, and they strike me now because I can't imagine if I had to live life like that today. And if I didn't have to beg, what type of symbol might be on my apartment door? One that said I would share? One that said I wouldn't share? I am struck by the ways in which those who don't have anything are the ones more likely to give when someone else asks something of them. I am struck by the way in which Oklahoma has high charitable contributions because they come through religious organizations. I am struck by Mitt Romney saying there is a social net for the very poor. There might be, kind of. But I don't think there is a social net for those who care for the very poor.

Programs like social security and unemployment insurance have been in place for 75 years now (a little more, actually). And I think we forget the sentiment behind such aid--there was a time when we used to advocate for each other. Now I just hear things like "entitlement" and what really bothers me: is millions of dollars spent in Super PACs (let alone the fact that we have Super PACs); can only billionaires be charitable?; Republicans; the fact that Americans are stupider than ever; the difference in work ethic between now and the Great Depression; the fact that Oklahoma isn't running on sustainable energy; and the lack of a functional mass transit system in town, state, and country. I am very bothered by money sustaining itself, idiocy sustaining itself, while we watch ourselves destroy each other and our environment. It is happening! I call on the spirit of Frances Perkins to help me understand what can happen next!

Money, Continued

I attended a work training today and we received word that we're receiving a cost-of-living increase in our salary over the course of the next three years (funding permitted). I don't really know what it will look like or if I'll qualify for the increase, but it could mean, maybe, an extra hundred dollars per month. That means something to me.

I've made a couple of changes this year to help me stay on budget. One is to keep track of the money I actually spend on gas. But that is going to be hindered because next week I'm going to start more traveling for my job. This will blow the gas budget, but will be reimbursed later; as such, I'm not sure what to do and how strict a record I can really keep. Not to mention the fact that buying gas is just a drag. When I can manage to limp the car in before I hit a quarter of tank, it feels like a miracle! Like the best day ever!

So when I got out of training early, I headed to the gas station. I saw a man walking around, looking at the ground. I saw him walk my car and go to his car, which was parked in the lot. When I finished pumping the gas, I saw he was coming towards me. I figured he was going to ask for money and I thought whether I had any I wanted to spare. He got close to me and put his hands up. He said, "I only look scary, but I am not harmful." I smiled at him because, Lord knows, I see his type and trillion times worse every day; and most people simply aren't trouble--they are just trying to get by. He said he was trying to get gas to get to a nearby town. I felt for him, and I don't know why. I usually say no to most people who ask for money. I just tend to think that putting money in established charities, and volunteering, are preferred methods to helping people. But lately I've had a fantasy that maybe someday I'll be rich and I can give out $100 bills to people begging on the streets. But then that daydream turns sour as I wonder how that money might cause someone to make bad decisions and put them in more danger than they are already in; and would I be responsible for that? I don't have an answer. But I did have $2 I was willing to give to the stranger today. That could get him approximately 0.64 gallons of gas. As I handed him the money, I thought of the times I scrounged around looking for extra coins that I could use at the gas station. It feels like shit to live life that way. I didn't want this man to feel the same feeling. He said I was an angel, and that compliment gave me a lift. Who knows whether he needed the money; he looked fine enough to me. Who knows whether he really thought I was an angel, but it just sounded really nice to me.

And it was nice until I got a few blocks away and wondered whether I just blew my grocery budget for the week. And what about that coffee I wanted--will I have to give it up now? Not to mention that I had already decided against that coffee . . .but a powerful urge to protest and claim something as my own welled up inside me. How can I give if I'm not making it? But how can I not be making it when I have so much? (I had even just heard that I could be getting a raise, for goodness sake!) These contradictory thoughts were in my head and heart.


Last week, I took my car into the shop and was walking back home. On my walk, the thought occurred to me that I would wonder what I would do if I found $100. "If I found $100," I reasoned, "then it would be right to turn the money into the police to see if anyone was missing $100." But then I thought that most people, when they lose cash, do not report it. And if I were to turn it in, then it might be likely that someone could lie and say they lost it, and then end up with money that might as well go to me. I "rationalized" that I would keep the money, if I found it.

I got home and then decided to go out for something to eat. As I was walking in front of a neighbor's apartment, I found a $20 bill in the grass. It was my time to put my decision into action! I looked around (quickly, perfunctorily) to see whether anyone had just dropped it. The bill was dirty and weathered. "Should I knock on doors to see whether it belonged to someone? Should I take it to the main office?" However long it takes to have that thought is all the thought I put into finding the rightful owner of the bill.

I folded the money and put it in my purse. I decided to keep it, or to at least wait and see what I would do with it. I walked the rest of the way looking down, trying to spot more riches. When I said hi to a neighbor, I wondered whether he knew I was a secret thief, a finder-keeper.

Later that afternoon, I received a cute letter from my little niece. My sister had played "Toddler Mad Libs" with my niece, so I had a letter explaining how the little one will dance to make dinner, and so on. I also received original niece artwork, which is now on the fridge, but not displayed too well. It's so cute! The letter made my day!

I wrote back to my niece and ended up sending her the $20 for could it be coincidence that I found this money on the same day that I receive a letter from her? No, it could not!

A couple of days later, my sister sent me a text to tell me that they received my note on the same day they bought my niece a wallet . . . what a thing to have happen!