SoCS: JC’s Confessions #9

A retired US armed services person – I can’t remember if it was a general or admiral – has been making the point that it’s important to make your bed first thing every morning because that will set you up for making a string of good choices for your day.

I’m not so sure.

I think many of us suffer from decision fatigue. What to do first/next, what to wear, what to eat, what to say, on and on and on. It can be mind-numbing.

I’m also afraid that some seemingly uneventful choices have deeper meaning. For me, making my bed in the morning is a reminder that I will spend a large part of my day doing things that are important to other people that aren’t really important to me.

It can make all those small, uneventful choices take on a deeper meaning – one after another after another.

It’s exhausting. Maybe that is part of the cause of decision fatigue.

In case anyone needed more evidence about my being what some would call overly-serious.

Non SoC note. I had been thinking of doing a JC’s Confession post about this topic, so when I saw Linda’s prompt, this was what came to the top of my mind. I’ve decided to list this as both an SoCS post and a JC’s Confessions post. I thought I should include my standard Confessions intro, so here it is:

On The Late Show, Stephen Colbert does a recurring skit, now a best-selling book, called Midnight Confessions, in which he “confesses” to his audience with the disclaimer that he isn’t sure these things are really sins but that he does “feel bad about them.” While Stephen and his writers are famously funny, I am not, so my JC’s Confessions will be somewhat more serious reflections, but they will be things that I feel bad about. Stephen’s audience always forgives him at the end of the segment; I’m not expecting that – and these aren’t really sins – but comments are always welcome.
~ JC

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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is to write about “making small, uneventful choices.” Join us! Find out how here: https://lindaghill.com/2020/01/31/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-feb-1-2020/

JC’s Confessions #8

On The Late Show, Stephen Colbert does a recurring skit, now a best-selling book, called Midnight Confessions, in which he “confesses” to his audience with the disclaimer that he isn’t sure these things are really sins but that he does “feel bad about them.” While Stephen and his writers are famously funny, I am not, so my JC’s Confessions will be somewhat more serious reflections, but they will be things that I feel bad about. Stephen’s audience always forgives him at the end of the segment; I’m not expecting that – and these aren’t really sins – but comments are always welcome.
~ JC

I have a love/hate tolerate/hate relationship with my smartphone.

It is a perfectly fine Android phone, but I can’t get used to it. I don’t find all the tapping and swiping intuitive. The first call I got on it I couldn’t figure out how to answer. I guess the Verizon Store employee assumed I would know how, although he did know that it was replacing a flip phone.

Before I go further, I should explain that I don’t use my cell phone for general communication. Only family, a few friends, and people who might need to reach me urgently have my cell number. I don’t want to hear from my dentist’s office with an appointment reminder while I am shopping or driving or visiting.

I have learned to use texts. My flip phone could text, but it was so hard hitting the numbers multiple times to get the correct letter that I seldom did it. So, I do text with my smartphone. I just don’t do it very well. I don’t have very big fingers, but the keyboard is so small that I am forever hitting the wrong letter or finding myself in the emoji section when I am trying to type a comma.

I don’t like having to have apps for – well – just about everything. I’d love to delete a bunch of them, but some of the ones that came preloaded on the phone you aren’t allowed to delete. I really, really dislike notifications from apps. I try to turn most of them off, which involves going through a bunch of confusing screens in settings.

I have a lot of trouble navigating and finding things when I need them. When we went to London in December, we sometimes had our travel documents on the phone rather than printed out on paper. It made me really nervous that I would not be able to pull up what I needed. At one point, I was trying to scan a boarding pass to get through a turnstile sort of thing and wound up on some other screen and needed to be rescued by an airport employee to get through the checkpoint. It was disconcerting.

At this point, you may be thinking, “Wow, Joanne must really be a Luddite,” but I’m not totally without technical skills. I’ve managed to keep this blog going since September, 2013. It’s not fancy, but it exists. I do much of my poetry in google docs. I’m decent at researching online and finding reliable sources, instead of fringy ones. I know how to use some keyboard shortcuts. I can even troubleshoot some problems – restarting often works wonders – although I need to call in reinforcements, sometimes. Fortunately, my spouse B has worked in tech for decades and my (now adult) daughters are digital natives, although one is quite a bit more tech-oriented than the other.

I do not, however, feel compelled to be reading or playing on my phone at all times. I don’t need to look up some factoid on whatever subject. I don’t need it to tell me what time it is or when my next appointment is. I don’t feel lost without it.

I will confess, though, that I sometimes need it to tell me the date. My paper calendar is not so good at that…
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If you want to read other JC’s Confessions, there is a handy-dandy link at the top of the page. This confession is also part of Linda’s Just Jot It January. Join us! Find out more here: https://lindaghill.com/2020/01/19/daily-prompt-jusjojan-the-19th-2020/

JC’s Confessions #7

On The Late Show, Stephen Colbert does a recurring skit, now a best-selling book, called Midnight Confessions, in which he “confesses” to his audience with the disclaimer that he isn’t sure these things are really sins but that he does “feel bad about them.” While Stephen and his writers are famously funny, I am not, so my JC’s Confessions will be somewhat more serious reflections, but they will be things that I feel bad about. Stephen’s audience always forgives him at the end of the segment; I’m not expecting that – and these aren’t really sins – but comments are always welcome.
~ JC

Poets are supposed to submit work to journals or publishers on a consistent basis. I confess that I have not been doing this. Not even close. Other than a few stabs at Rattle’s Poets Respond series, which only takes submissions written within the last week on news items and is a very, very, very long-shot, I have only done one submission this year, which I did because a poet-friend asked me to do. (I am not counting poems published in Binghamton Poetry Project anthologies because they are not a competitive venue.)

Given how complicated these last months have been, I suppose it is understandable that I haven’t been submitting for publication. I confess that I find the process of figuring out to whom to submit which poem daunting and incredibly time-consuming. I get nervous about the formatting requirements, which never seem to be the same among different publications. I also need to be in a mindset that can take a lot of rejection, because the vast majority of submissions will be rejected.

The result of all this is that it is even more difficult than before to get motivated to work on submissions. Not publishing also erodes my already fragile sense that I am a poet – or, at least, a poet good enough to be published.

Which makes it harder to get motivated to submit and adds to my lack of confidence, and so on and so on…

Later in the fall, I may/will have more time to devote to writing and poetry. Will I be able to get my act together to do submissions?

I don’t know.

Stay tuned.

JC Confessions #6

On The Late Show, Stephen Colbert does a recurring skit, now a best-selling book, called Midnight Confessions, in which he “confesses” to his audience with the disclaimer that he isn’t sure these things are really sins but that he does “feel bad about them.” While Stephen and his writers are famously funny, I am not, so my JC’s Confessions will be somewhat more serious reflections, but they will be things that I feel bad about. Stephen’s audience always forgives him at the end of the segment; I’m not expecting that – and these aren’t really sins – but comments are always welcome.
~ JC

I am mostly oblivious to pop culture. If I read the Grammy nominations, chances are I don’t know any of the songs and haven’t heard of the majority of the artists. I haven’t ever seen Titanic or Avatar or Jurassic movies or the vast majority of superhero movies. I don’t stream and binge watch series from Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc. and I don’t have premium television packages, which means that I also haven’t seen many of the shows nominated for Emmys, although I think it is good that I haven’t seen Game of Thrones or The Handmaid’s Tale because I would probably have nightmares. I don’t watch collegiate or professional sports, except an occasional baseball game. I don’t vacation at theme parks.

I am involved with a few popular things, the most notable being the Harry Potter books and movies. For the most part, though, if you want to discuss a pop culture topic with me, you’ll likely have to explain it to me first.

Some people might say that I am elitist and they are entitled to that opinion. I would like to say in my defense that I grew up in a tiny town in New England, have never lived in a large city, and have never had a high-powered career. Even though I am now a poet, I am a community-educated one and most people find my poetry accessible rather than esoteric. But, the fact remains that I am a poet, so maybe I am guilty as charged…

JC’s Confessions #5

On The Late Show, Stephen Colbert does a recurring skit, now a best-selling book, called Midnight Confessions, in which he “confesses” to his audience with the disclaimer that he isn’t sure these things are really sins but that he does “feel bad about them.” While Stephen and his writers are famously funny, I am not, so my JC’s Confessions will be somewhat more serious reflections, but they will be things that I feel bad about. Stephen’s audience always forgives him at the end of the segment; I’m not expecting that – and these aren’t really sins – but comments are always welcome.
~ JC

I own a lot of books that I haven’t read. What’s worse, I own a lot of books by people that I know, either poet-friends who I know in person or blogger-friends who I know only online, that I haven’t read. While I feel guilty that I haven’t read these books yet, I am comforted by owning them. I’m not sure when I will have the time and brainpower to read them, but, someday, I hope…

JC’s Confessions #4

On The Late Show, Stephen Colbert does a recurring skit, now a best-selling book, called Midnight Confessions, in which he “confesses” to his audience with the disclaimer that he isn’t sure these things are really sins but that he does “feel bad about them.” While Stephen and his writers are famously funny, I am not, so my JC’s Confessions will be somewhat more serious reflections, but they will be things that I feel bad about. Stephen’s audience always forgives him at the end of the segment; I’m not expecting that – and these aren’t really sins – but comments are always welcome.
~ JC

In the months that my mom was in the skilled nursing unit, she had a couple of neighbors who used to shout out “Help me!”over and over to anyone passing by their rooms. There were also a handful of residents who would occasionally wander into her room and mistake my dad for their husband or me for a daughter or a staff member.

It was hard for me not to get annoyed sometimes, even though I knew that these other residents were ailing and exhibiting dementia symptoms.

As I reflected more about this, I realized that my reactions were tied to feeling helpless. I couldn’t help what was happening to these other residents and I couldn’t help what was happening to my mom.

As a caretaker, one is always trying to make things better. It hurts when that isn’t possible.

JC’s Confessions #3

On The Late Show, Stephen Colbert does a recurring skit, now a best-selling book, called Midnight Confessions, in which he “confesses” to his audience with the disclaimer that he isn’t sure these things are really sins but that he does “feel bad about them.” While Stephen and his writers are famously funny, I am not, so my JC’s Confessions will be somewhat more serious reflections, but they will be things that I feel bad about. Stephen’s audience always forgives him at the end of the segment; I’m not expecting that – and these aren’t really sins – but comments are always welcome.
~ JC

When Stephen does Midnight Confessions, in his lead-up he often says that he doesn’t get to go to church as often as he would like and he misses one of his favorite things, going to confession. At which point, I usually think, “Said no Catholic ever!” Everyone with whom I have ever spoken about it feels that it is a stressful situation, even with a good confessor (and downright terrifying with a poor one).

For the last several years, our diocese has had a day during which every church is open for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, as confession is more properly called. I confess that I find it very creepy that they advertise this on television and with billboards, as though mercy and forgiveness are commodities.

It also makes it seem as though forgiveness is only available through this sacrament, even though the church recognizes many other routes for this, such as the penitential rite during liturgy, asking for forgiveness from someone whom you have hurt, prayer, making reparations, and receiving the Eucharist. Indeed, individual confession is only required in the case of serious sin, one which fractures the relationship of the person with God.

I admit, not confess, that I haven’t gone to individual confession in years. This is partly due to a priest from my past who was so unstable I was afraid to be alone with him. Even though he is no longer a threat to me, it makes the thought of going to confession even more fraught.

What is even more difficult is figuring out how to confess my own part in social sin. I grieve that the United States is participating in violence and injustice, degrading the environment and the climate, and lacking in compassion and assistance for those most in need. We are called in our Constitution to “promote the general welfare”; my faith tells me to love and serve my neighbors near and far. Even though I try to oppose what is unjust and to help those in need, I still bear guilt for being part of an unjust system. Seeking forgiveness for these social sins feels hollow, because I am no less a part of the social system after confession than I was before it.

Wow! When I said in my standard introduction to this series that my reflections would be “more serious,” I didn’t mean to make it quite this serious.  Still, we are living in very serious times with many very serious problems confronting us daily. I can only hope that my trying to do my part in repairing the damage will join with the efforts of other people of good will to improve our country and our world.