Xy08's Blog
Off-the-Cuff

Jul
04

There is something about being raised Roman Catholic that doesn’t quite ever leave you, no matter how long you’ve lived or how far you’ve strayed. It’s a rooted thing. It’s always in you, some small part calling you.

As a lapsed Catholic, I want to share my experience in hopes that it might provide some support and encouragement to some other *lapsies* who might be wavering. Maybe it’ll help.

After almost 30 years away from “The Church”, I was moved to return. (Getting old? Getting ready to meet My Maker? Living a sin-filled life getting to me? – Can’t rightly say, but what I can say, it was time.)

Although I didn’t participate in Mass or abide *by-the-rules* for decades, it doesn’t mean I threw myself away from my religious tradition. I’d always identified myself as Catholic, worn my sacred medal around my neck and had my “Catholic things” around me and my home. I’ve said my prayers, owned-up and confessed my sins, but that’s not Absolution and it doesn’t allow for partaking in the Eucharistic sacrifice and sacrament, does it? So, how do I return in a good way according to the faith? How does one even do that after so long?

I thought long and hard about it. Hmm, maybe it’s that submission/surrendering to authority thing. I decided to attend a Mass, a nice familar ritually rich High Mass, the old Latin ways with all it’s beauty and splendor and symbolism. A little hard to keep up with the ritual, but do-able, even considering the “liturgical aerobics”. (As an aside, I got lost on my way to that Mass and almost didn’t make it, but I persevered, arriving in good time despite the unexpected scenic route. Go figure.)

Then, it’s time for the big one: Reconciliation. I composed my *list-of-sins*, reflecting on the ways I’ve fallen short in “thought, word and deed” over the years and can say I am truly sorry. But, making myself go to Confession to “make a good act of contrition” was a bit harder. Despite my feelings and fears… I didn’t know what was going to happen, the Holy Spirit set fire to the confessional box with me in it, maybe? — Heck, the priest caught on fire during my Confirmation class, so it can happen! — The last time I went to Confession there weren’t even confessional boxes when I went and the Church has changed since then, so who knows?! It seems it was going to be a case of “Spirit was willing but the flesh was not”, so it became a matter of willing myself, not waiting for that emotionally-okay-feeling to make it’s appearance and soothe me.

For me, it was something akin to an out-of-body experience. I made a decision. I watched myself getting ready to go, making sure I had my *sin list* — (Like I might forget them or something?) — my *prayer notes* as the memorization of some prayers was a bit rusty, deciding to take my rosary along with me for good measure. I watched myself driving to the church parking lot, not quite sure I was even going to get out of the car when I got there. I did. (Had to ask a young kid where the confessions were being held and fortunately he knew and kindly directed me.) In retrospect, I think I had a little help from somewhere getting myself there.

Then, inside the church we go. There was a line of sinners, but no box. It was a door. (Uh-oh. What lay behind that door?) Well, got that far, might as well go in. Lucky for me, there was a kneeling rail and a screen instead of a priest in an armchair staring at me, peering into the depth of my decades-long sin-scarred soul!

Try this one on (You have to have been raised an old-style Catholic from your wee years to get the full impact of this):

“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned, it’s been about 30 years since my last confession and you’re going to have to help me with this because it’s been a while….”

Fortunately for me, I had a priest who was quick on his feet and swiftly composed himself after he said with seeming surprise: “Thirty years? We’re not going to have time to go over all of them, but if you are truly sorry, and just hit the major ones that really bother you, all could be forgiven.”

“Can I use the list I brought with me for reference, Father?”

“That would be good. Very good.”

So, after some discussion about my sins and the state of my soul, time for penance.

“Do you have a smart phone phone with you?”

I did not expect the priest to ask me at Confession if I had a smart phone with me. Ahh, yes, the Church has indeed changed! There weren’t even smart phones at my last Confession. (Basically, penance involved praying the rosary and it would be okay to use a smart phone to search the web for rosary directions if I didn’t remember.)

Later, as I shared my experience with a friend, she said good-naturedly “Ahh, the Franciscans! You got the “Jiffy Lube” version of Confession.” (Personally, I think God was okay with that for me. Hmm, though I do now wonder what would have happened with a Jesuit…)

So, all in all, it IS possible to return to the Church, get right with God in the Catholic tradition. If you are reading this because it’s been a while for you, too, I hope my sharing of my experience helps you on your path back. If I can do it, trust me, you can, too. They’ll be help from that small part of you that’s been calling….

Oct
15

What?!  No clean towels at the Congressional gym during the shutdown? — The horrors !!

More horrors our elected representatives must endure…

 

Apr
29

Well, it’s been ages since I posted another blog entry!  Goodness! (Wondered if I even remembered my user name, password, security questions among the deluge! – And technology was supposed to “simplify” our lives? Yeah, right…..that worked well…)

 Now, I am all for technology.  I love my internet connection.  I love the ease at which things can be accomplished WHEN they work the way they are supposed to.  However, when they don’t, it’s Satan’s Playground.

For example, I make my living providing services which require my submitting insurance claims to get paid.  I submitted a claim, only to have it be returned weeks later as the person “wasn’t covered.” — Not true.  The person’s employer apparently neglected to enter data in a timely manner to indicate the person was employed/covered during that time. —  although they had a month to do it. — Okay, requires a rebilling – at my expense – if I want to get paid, although it wasn’t my, the covered person’s or the insurance company’s error.  Mistakes happen.  I get that.

 So, I rebill.  Several weeks later the claim is again returned with note that said the provider’s name and address were “illegible.” — Really?  Illegible?  How then was it possible to return the claim to me – the provider – at the address – to tell me it was illegible?  –  I think the “illegibility” issue had more to do with the technology and scanners that could not read the information.  Apparently, human eyes were able to read it. 

And, here’s where I start to get irritated…… technology is NOT supposed to THINK for us.  It’s a tool – like a hammer.  But, somewhere along the line we have created a system where people are widgets and depend on the technology to do the thinking.  And that scares me. It does not bode well for the future. (Hammers do not build houses.  People do.  Maybe.  At least they used to.)

This aforementioned claim saga gets better.  I rebill, yet again, on my dime, accompanied with a letter describing the scenario. (Writing a letter takes far less time than calling, only to be given a selection of menu items that do not address the issue, being put on hold and transferred and transferred and transferred, only to be disconnected, have to leave a message or get an “mailbox full” message.)  This time around the claim gets processed — incorrectly.  Somewhere, somehow, someone, something decides to double-bill the amount charged on the claim, so there’s another mess that I will have to sort out.  (These are the reasons healthcare costs are growing :  the administrative costs of being dependent on a created technology that is flawed instead of thinking.)

So, now on to my real rant:  I hereby declare that I have determined that the reason the whole world is flucked-up is because of IT people and the Bean Counters.  The Bean Counters for trying to lap up every last cent for profit from the worker bees –  think Ferengi Rules of Acquistion! —  and forcing worker bees “to do” versus “think”, putting their tasks in little boxes as if people were widgets and cogs in the system, treating people as if they are low value assets, discouraging active thinking and problem-solving.

And, the Bean Counters cohorts in this crime against humanity? The dang IT people – for their creating systems and algorithms to achieve the Bean Counters’ goals – creating systems that don’t really work when thinking is required because people are not widgets and the IT designs do not take into account human/technology interaction factors of the humans that actually have to use the systems, nor consider the overall processes of what is truly supposed to happen. 

So, things get all screwed-up and no one ever seems to know what to do or how to fix things because “the computer says”  — so they do nothing, repeat the same measures that don’t work, don’t know what to do to fix it or even who to go to get it fixed.  (Oh, stop with the “computer says”, already!  Is that like “the hammer says”? Think, dammit! Think! – Look at the big picture, not from the lens of the widget box!)

Perhaps I should declare myself Mistress of the Planet and fix all this, eh? (Hmm. Take down the grid for a couple of weeks ought to do it.  Make people unable to depend on the technology so they have to get back to their human brains and depend on thinking. – Now, let’s hope some technological bot isn’t scanning this blog and detects “take down the grid” and the FBI shows up at my door thinking I’m a real threat.)

Rant complete… for today anyway!

 

Feb
21

How freakin’ stingy can you get?

Why is it if you make in-person deposits on multiple accounts, through the drive-through, Wells Fargo actually KEEPS your paperclips? Even though they are returning multiple deposit slips, which could be clipped together with the very paper clips that the depositor supplied, they keep your paper clips anyway and return the slips all loose and fancy-free?

Is this a “new” trend?  Never happened at First Union, Wachovia or other banks I’ve used (or other banks my friends use, so I’m told.)  Is it just a Wells Fargo thing or a new trend?  Or, just some Twilight-Zone-y thing that’s a personal experience?

And, it’s not at one branch, either.  It’s at any of the Wells Fargo branches I’ve used.

I asked a teller about it, and she became awkward and sheepish and said “Well, umm, we just like paperclips.”  (What?)

Of course, I’ve also been noticing how Wells Fargo seems to treat their employees as compared to other banks, particularly since Wells Fargo acquistion of Wachovia – open on President’s Day – (with no holiday premium pay for workers on President’s Day – though I understand they do get paid for eight (8) holidays a year, but President’s Day isn’t considered a paid holiday for Wells Fargo employees.)  – It doesn’t seem to me that Wells Fargo people are very happy people anymore, at least as compared to before.  Very sad to see. — But as one worker said, “At least it’s a job.” 

Was just reading that the compensation for a Wells Fargo Executive in 22.9 mil a year… and your employees keep paperclips?  Really???!!!

I shouldn’t have to ask for my multiple loose deposit slips to be clipped together with my own paperclips. —  I’ll even clip them together myself if Wells Fargo would kindly return them without my having to ask for them back — but you have to ask to get them back.

I wonder whether it’s part of their training or policy to “keep the paperclips”. 

To note, it was NEVER this way before.  Commonsense, courtesy and customer convenience ruled the day.  Now, it seems, what’s convenient for the bank versus the consumer.  (Corporate greed in my opinion, but that’s another post.)

Gee, I never thought I’d be thinking about paperclips and banking….

 

 

 

Dec
10

Even kitties do their part…. Do yours!!

Dec
05

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” – Marcus Aurelius

Dec
04

Geesh! – I swear everyone is experiencing some sort of an uptick in their special unique brands of psychopathology lately. — If ya got a little, it’s dialed up a notch or two — If ya got a lot, it’s REALLY dialed up, wreaking havoc all around!!

The drinkers are drinking more, the yellers are yelling more, the controllers are yoking people, the foodies are munching away, the flamboyant ones are flaming, the confused ones are dizzy and the introverts are hiding out in their closets.

Signs of the times, I guess. Seems almost everyone is pushed beyond their human limits these days. That’s our society, for ya!!

(As my friend Peter would say “B-R-E-A-T-H-E” )

Nov
18

I swear, the world is becoming more personality-disordered — or at least there’s a strong uptick on the continuum of such disorders – the narcissism, the histrionic drama queens, the self-absorbed, the selfish me-me’s who think the world owes them, the demanding rude ones, the bullies — the whole darn gamut it seems. It’s a world gone wild!

I witnessed a grown woman having a meltdown at the customer service counter in a grocery store. Whatever happened apparently wasn’t to the woman’s liking, as she screamed demeaning remarks at the clerk, cursing at the shocked young woman whose face drained of color as the bedeviled woman shoved her shopping cart across the floor, slung her purse over her arm and stormed out after her verbally abusive tirade.

The poor clerk was clearly shaken, brought to tears. No person, customer service person or otherwise, should be subjected to such emotional vomit. Whatever the problem was, the out-of-control woman’s behavior was way out of socially acceptable bounds. You just don’t treat people in such a debasing manner, no matter how displeased or emotionally upset you are. (The woman ought to be ashamed of herself and apologize to the clerk for her outburst, but more than likely thinks she’s justified in her actions. Is society creating these kinds of monsters? Just say and do whatever you want, no impulse control whatsoever?)

The whole front-end of the store went silent as people stared at the commotion, shaking their heads, commenting about the rude woman’s totally uncalled-for behavior. No one likes to witness temper tantrums, especially when it’s adults having them. (Clearly the young clerk’s colleagues were concerned about their coworker, and, thankfully, the manager seemed to be able to soothe the clerk.)

I certainly hope the irate woman calmed herself down before she drove off in her vehicle. Hopefully someone else was driving. Wouldn’t want to be on the road with that one behind the wheel!

Nov
17

Is what we perceive “out there” real and true? Is what we experience “in there” real and true?

Don’t believe everything you see… don’t believe everything you think or feel, either…

Oct
27

 

Yup, Annie stepped in it again with her remark referencing Obama as a “retard”.  Her claim is she didn’t mean it as a slur to folks with a disability.  Her explanation was that it’s a word that people have been using for decades, and she offers no apology.

She’s right — people have been using that word — and other words — in a derogatory manner — for decades.  Doesn’t mean it’s not insensitive to others – other than the intended target of the remark – that may be hurt or offended by it.  Just because people “do it”, doesn’t mean it’s good to do.

I dare say we all have been guilty of saying something insensitive — sometimes intentionally, sometimes by a lack of awareness and insensitivity.  It happens.  We are humans and we are not perfect people, but we can strive to be, if we chose.  Name-calling doesn’t make us better people. Name-calling, no matter what the name, is an attempt to demean another human being. Name-calling is disrespectful, rude, abusive, shameful and plain unkind. 

When we do make insensitive comments, and realize we have, instead of excusing our behavior away as “okay because”, perhaps taking it as an opportunity to learn and better ourselves, to raise our own self-awareness, may be a better course than trying to dismiss it away as “nothing.”  If it affects people, it’s “something.”  In this case, it’s the power to hurt others — wanting to hurt others.

Is it truly ever “okay”  — respectful  — or even necessary – to make a slur or unkind remark to or about someone else — just because we disagree or don’t seem to like someone? Or, just because we are uncomfortable with our own thoughts and feelings associated with another because someone says/does/thinks/feels differently than we want them to? Just because they are different people than we want them to be?

Making such remarks ought to signal to us more about ourselves than other people.

Does it really make us powerful? 

Does it make one a better person?

Does it help us become the kind of people we aspire to be?

 

***************

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
– Mother Teresa

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