Court: My Purgatory on Earth

 

This was my first court date since January.

January!

Even after reading countless news stories and John Grisham novels, I never cease from being astonished at how slowly the system operates. It’s been well over a year, and I’m still in the “pretrial” phase. Ridiculous.

After briefly meeting with my lawyer after my January court appearance, I never heard back from her. In fact, I have called and emailed her office multiple times since then, and most of those times I never received a reply.

Finally, the day before my recent July 16 court date, I emailed her. I wanted to say something like, I paid you $4,000, and you don’t even return my phone calls?! However, I’m glad I didn’t; my stepfather used to work for the district attorney in his hometown, and he said if I make my lawyer angry, then she could very well lose my case on purpose.

Wow.

The lawyer responded and blamed the slow process on the county psych ward for not releasing my records. Why the lawyer didn’t bother to tell me this before, I have no idea.

My latest court date was routine. I waited for the courtroom doors to open at 9:00am, and then I went in and grabbed a front-row seat. I figured if I had to be there, I would at least keep myself entertained by observing the three-ring circus known as county criminal court.

An inmate from the jail across the street sneaked in with a sheriff through a door beside the judge. Interestingly, I had never noticed the door before; it had a big square window and no handle from the inside. The inmate, a thin African-American guy with matted hair and a full beard, was dressed in a baggy dark green jumpsuit. He stood like a statue. I thought he was in handcuffs until he scratched his nose.

I didn’t see it, but apparently the inmate was suddenly removed through that back door. There was some commotion, and then his distraught lawyer came back in. He and the judge whispered to each other for about 5 minutes. The judge slowly ran her fingers through her hair. “He always does this,” she said as the lawyer stormed out of court.

Next, a young hipster in business casual pled guilty to the charge of obstruction of a highway. For the uninitiated, this misdemeanor usually stems from an initial DWI and is pled down to the vague “obstruction of a highway.”  He received 30 days’ probation and was told to pay $900 in court costs!

Dang.

When my lawyer mentioned I would have to pay court costs if we lost our case, I was thinking more of a $40 service charge or something.

Anyway, starting to get bored, I looked at the clock.

11:00?!

I had been waiting for my blasted lawyer for two hours?! I went out in the hallway and called her office. A secretary said something about the lawyer having to defend a case in city court at the last minute. In other words, she became too busy to help me.

The court secretary confirmed this news to me when I went back in.

“Am I free to go now?” I asked.

“Unless you want to take me out to lunch.”

I gave her a placating smile and left. It could be worse, I thought.

It could be a lot worse.

~t

 


15 Things that Introverts Would Never Tell You

Wikimedia Commons

I came across this article on the Internet recently. Anything containing the word “introvert” catches my attention like nothing else.

Why? Well, for one, articles about introverts help me to learn about myself. After years and years of hearing people say, You think too much, or, You need to talk more, it’s refreshing to find out that I’m not necessarily alone; in fact, there are scores of people who are just like me.

I think the hardest part for me is trying to fit in and pretend to be “normal” when I’m around a large number of individuals whom I don’t know too well. It freaks me out.

Another difficult thing for me is to network in my professional life. I just can’t bring myself to be a social butterfly at meetings and get-togethers, shaking hands with and flashing a fake smile to everyone who looks important enough to benefit me. I’m sure I’ve missed out on some job opportunities in my life, but I can’t do it. Sure, maybe I need to make more of an effort, but, after all, I’ve always done things the hard way.

Anyway, I would like to share the following article written by Maryann Reid, an award-winning author. If you’re quiet and “anti-social” like I am, perhaps it will help you. Here it is:

 


 

 

Introverts get a bad rap in a world that celebrates extroversion and “people-persons.” There are things introverts wish you knew about them that would help any relationship or situation. For instance, we are not anti-social or depressed, we’re just different. In fact, many envy us for our self-contained, cool manner that keeps others calm, focused, and safe. People love us, in secret. As introverts, we have many “ways” that only our closest friends understand. Here are several things about introverts you may not know.

 

1. We don’t care about your birthday.

Any introvert who works in an office knows how it feels to be hustled for birthday cake money. It makes us squirm when a random office person cheerily volunteers that it happens to be their birthday. We think they expect us to respond with like enthusiasm and interest, and maybe even accept their invitation to join them for drinks with a group of about 300 other random people to celebrate. Three hundred is a bit of an exaggeration, but it feels that way to an introvert who just wants to go home. If you don’t invite us, we’re not offended. We’re relieved.

 

2. We don’t need you to care about our birthday.

Yeah, we don’t. We have friends who genuinely know us and care, if we care. However, an interesting thing about introverts is that some don’t need to celebrate it. We’re okay with quietly honoring the day on our own or with a group of friends we’ve carefully selected. We don’t have to let the world know.

 

3. We are not really listening as you recount your weekend.

Unless you are part of our circle of friends, we don’t care what you did last weekend. We are of the mind that everyone has a right to privacy, and if you chose to spend it in a drunken stupor or beating down the door of your ex, then that is up to you. We don’t judge, and we find it takes too much energy to give it to people we don’t know. Just because we work with you doesn’t mean we know you.

 

4. We hate crowds.

Large groups of people make us tired. All the stimulation of having so many different types from all walks of life can make us a little woozy. Some introverts are empaths, so they tend to take on the energy of others easily. We sometimes feel like we “know” everyone in the room and get easily overwhelmed with the swirl of activity.

 

5. We don’t really like networking events.

This is especially hard for introverts who run a business. Networking makes us feel like we have to perform. We struggle to say the right thing and listen attentively. We don’t really care since we don’t know you. Even in business, we have to feel connected to someone on another level to get the most out of a networking type of event. This takes time to choose the right event and come up with a plan to offer value to others while getting some for ourselves.

 

6. We force ourselves to act like we like you.

This is the nasty truth. We know who we like and don’t. It can stem from many reasons that can have its roots in childhood to what we ate for breakfast this morning. Don’t take it personally. We appreciate honesty, and sometimes it hurts. To survive, we have to supersede these feelings and be nice. Nice can be harder than being real.

 

7. We know how to get stuff done.

We pack our alone time with activities – projects, phone calls, emails, rough drafts and blueprints for world takeover of our next big idea (which we have lots of). We value solitude because it lets us experiment with new concepts, plan, and stretch our imagination. Anything is possible when we spend time alone, and what we create may change our lives, and yours, too.

 

8. We like to write things out.

We love email because it helps us get what we need without interruptions. Interruptions throw us off course, and we need to expend more energy to get back on track. So, please don’t call unless it is a close-ended question.

 

9. We feel safe with the right people.

When we have the right people in our lives, we give our all. We give our best selves. We become protective warriors who will fight almost any cause for someone we love. Just ask our friends. We blossom in the right company and shine. It takes us time to find the right people, and when we do, we don’t hold back.

 

10. We do have friends, who really like us.

Introverts like people, and people like us. Most introverts have no issue with hanging out in groups and spending time with others. If we have friends, it’s because we consciously chose them. We’ve put effort into the relationship, and our friends know that. We go to bars, parties, and meet new people. The difference is that not everyone we meet becomes a friend.

 

11. We can do the extrovert thing… for a while.

We have to do that to get along. We can be the life of the party, host the networking event, and be the chairperson of the charity. We do this willingly, knowing that at the end of the day we can go home. When we get there, it may take days or weeks to replenish ourselves and feel ready to do that again.

 

12. We are not shy, rude, or uptight.

At first, we may seem that way. Get to know us, and we can actually make you laugh and hold a conversation that lasts more than 15 minutes. The thing is, we don’t share this with everyone. Being “social” or “sociable” is an option, not a way of being. We can’t fake happy or excited really well, and we show what we think on our face, not as much in our words.

 

13. We are okay alone.

We have lots going on in our heads and don’t need more. Unlike our extrovert counterparts, we don’t need others for stimulation. We’re constantly working out life in our heads. We entertain ourselves with creative projects and know how to take ourselves out for a good time. More people means more stuff to deal with, and we’ve got enough of our own energy to hold.

 

14. We hate small talk.

We’re thinkers, and we relish conversations about big ideas, theories and ideals. We rarely get into small talk and do so comfortably.

 

15. We make a choice to be with you — appreciate it.

We value our alone time and are picky about who we let in. Letting in the wrong person will drain us, leaving nothing for ourselves. We tend to attract extroverts who suck our energy and search out like-minded introverts for our groundedness, deep thinking and sense of control. We appreciate our time with other introverts and have an understanding of each other’s limits and boundaries.

 

 

Source: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/15-things-that-introverts-would-never-tell-you.html

~t

 


Laughter is the Best Medicine

alien-hands-far-side

I recently read this article about a type of OCD called scrupulosity. It’s basically the fear of sin or punishment from God. The article is definitely worth the read.

Of course, I’m not saying that it’s suddenly okay to throw caution to the wind and start sinning. Far from it. However, the article got me thinking about how uptight I may be; I tend to be a living example of the ironic process theory: If someone tells you not to think of a pink elephant, you are automatically going to (like you did just now).

While I continue to deal with habitual sin, I’m learning to make an effort to enjoy life and trust God as I go. For instance, my two young sons and I have been playing soccer in the backyard after dinner each night, and it’s so much fun! I have also come across some comics and memes on the Internet that make me smile.

Laughter and fun times are a welcome reprieve from the daily spiritual battles that we face.

Nuns at Six Flags

Last night, my sons and I were trying to steal the ball from each other in our scrimmage. As we battled against each other, my kids were giggling like crazy. Afterwards, my oldest, who is quite serious and emotional, suddenly asked me, “Daddy, why is laughing good for us?”

Taken aback, I replied, “Well, because it makes us feel good. Plus, we forget our problems while we’re laughing.” It was one of those moments where I inadvertently taught myself something.

So, in the spirit of all this, I have posted some comics and things that I’ve run across in the past few weeks. They are entertaining to me, but, after all, my sense of humor is a bit twisted. ;)

 

 

25-motivational-posters-part-II-exercise

 

If you’re a fan of this series, I apologize!

 

 

Since I’m an English teacher, I particularly like this one:

 

 

This one isn’t a comic, but it has really spoken to me during the past week. My dear sister in Christ, Jet, recently posted it on her blog:

 

 

Have a great week, and remember to laugh periodically.

 

~t

 


I Guess All Doctors Dislike Xanax

Credit: Stockexpert

 

I use the automated phone service of my pharmacist to renew my Xanax. Every 20 or 30 days, I call them up and get a refill without ever having to speak with a human; I don’t even have to see the doctor.

All that changed a few days ago.

A few hours after ordering more Xanax from the CVS robot, I got a call from the pharmacist. Apparently the doctor finally looked at my charts and realized I hadn’t been in there since 2012.

“You’ll have to see the doctor in order to get a refill,” she explained.

I was pretty desperate because I pushed back a car inspection appointment in order to see the doctor the following morning.

The receptionist even had to check my insurance card again since it had been ages.

I really thought the doctor would just write me a script and send me on my way (since that is what he has always done). This time, however, things went a bit differently.

He was actually hesitant.

“Are you still on Effexor and Lamictal?” He studied his iPad screen as he spoke.

“Um, not any more. I’m on Zoloft, Trazodone, …” My words trailed off. He’s tricked me! Just like a cop.

Then I remembered that he was the one who had prescribed those medications. My paranoia got the better of me obviously. I had already confessed, though, so the secret was out: He now knows about the medication from my psychiatrist.

“You know, you really don’t need Xanax with all those others. We need to get you off the Xanax.”

No!

“But I still get panic attacks when I drive and stuff.”

“Then I’ll prescribe a month’s worth and then we’ll see.”

Not what I wanted to hear.

What if I’m addicted to Xanax? I very well could be. I don’t have enough time or money to go into a rehab program. What will my wife say?

When I first moved back to the U.S., one of my first stops was at a small clinic next to my apartment complex. The only doctor in there told me she didn’t prescribe Xanax because I would “end up in the Betty Ford Clinic like all those Hollywood stars.”

You’ve made your bed. Now you must lie in it.

~t

 


How Can I Be A Saint, Part 2: Email from a Friend

Wikimedia Commons

 

It’s always encouraging to know that someone cares.

Since I started this blog, I have become spiritually close to a fellow Catholic who lives overseas. Although “Julia” and I have never met in person, her heart for Christ is so pure and holy that she recently took some time to respond in specific detail to my previous post.

I am honored to share her email with you, dear reader. Whatever sin you’re struggling with at the moment, I pray that God will grant you the faith, grace, and strength necessary to overcome it.

 


 

 

Hi [Topaz], my dearest brother in Christ,

 

I read your new blog post. It was very timely since I’ve been wondering how you were doing and how your Holy Week was. Just a few things I had in mind as I read your concerns:

 

1. Dealing with Sin

Have you thought of emailing Matt Fradd? Or has it ever crossed your mind? I highly suggest emailing him your concerns, struggles and questions, because I am pretty confident he can give some practical advice or insights about the issue [of sexual impurity].

Actually I am suggesting this because I already did it. I emailed him about a question that’s been bugging me for years, and it was related to pornography. And praise God, he replied speedily. I’m really hoping he can help you in whatever way he can and with God’s grace.

 

2. Spiritual Director

I just learned that we as Catholics are in dire need of confessors or spiritual directors who will patiently help us with our struggles. How often do you go to confession? I try to go once a month. It would also be a great help if you could find an accountability partner. Pray and ask God for that person (a male friend or a brother from K of C) who can also guide you in fighting the battle.

But if not, I hope this helps: Try to contact Opus Dei and ask if they have a center near your place. In my own experience, I felt God’s guidance through them. Since I’ve been attending their monthly recollection, I feel that God is there leading my life.

 

3. Continue to Seek God

You ask in your blog “where are they?”, so now I am eagerly telling you to continue seeking… and to never lose hope. Please don’t think that the demons are binding you. We both know that they have nothing else to do but to keep us away from God. So please CONTINUE SEARCHING… and try not to give in to these temptations. Please don’t lose hope.

 

4. Spiritual Reading

Have you heard of this? If not, then let me give you an idea how to go about it. I’ve also learned this from doing the Norms of Piety booklet. It says that allotting 15-20 minutes of spiritual reading daily is a great help to enrich and inspire you spiritually.

You might want to start off with St. Augustine’s books in which he also admitted that he struggled a lot with sins of the flesh. I also just started this habit and I’m currently reading St. Francis de Sales’ Introduction to the Devout Life. Even doing this, I must admit, is also a struggle. I believe the devil doesn’t want us to practice this because we are uplifted and encouraged to persevere in sanctifying our lives.

 

5. And, finally, Daily Mass

I’ll probably be struggling with this practice forever… but i know that I should not give up. Here in the Philippines, weekday Masses don’t last an hour since sometimes there’s no choir. So, if I go to noon Mass in our Cathedral, it usually only runs 30mins or so. I hope you can find time to go to Mass even on weekdays — especially if your schedule permits. The reason why I really want to practice this is because the Mass is our great source of grace. We do want that, don’t we? And it’s also one way of showing our love for God, giving praise to Him and listening to Him through the Liturgy of the Word. Right?

 
But if you think it’s really hard or impossible (for now) for you to attend daily Mass, then you can always find a way to make if more convenient for you. Like maybe one day a week excluding Sunday… I guess you just have to put a little more extra effort into fighting this battle. And the tricky part is how not to give up the fight and how to sustain yourself in not giving up. I think it all depends on that. We should also realize that we can never perfect all these things on our own. And we probably will not, but it’s still not an excuse not to try. Because, along the way, I’m pretty sure something wonderful is waiting, and something beautiful will happen. Let’s never cease to believe and have faith.

 

Your Sister in Christ,

[Julia]

~t


How Can I Be A Saint When Demons Are Binding Me?

Credit: Tim Stringer

Life has been one struggle after the next since the day before Palm Sunday.

On that day I went to confession. While waiting in line, I was praying for the Lord to help me with my lustful thoughts and sexual impurity. As I gazed at the life-size crucifix, I heard Jesus’ words in my heart:

Do it for me.

In other words, don’t give up your sin in order to receive blessings. Don’t give up lust, masturbation, and pornography just to make yourself feel better. Give it up because I love you.

After confession, I felt like a million dollars. This is it. I will mark time by this day. The rest of my life I will resist these sexual sins with the Lord’s power.

I went to confession several weeks ago at a youth camp that I attended with my sons, and the wise old priest, after I confessed my sexual lust and impurity, told me that I needed a “battle plan;” sheer will power wouldn’t cut it. The problem was, I didn’t know what the heck that meant. And I was too stupid to ask!

So, I did quite well in resisting lust. My battle plan was to chant the word “Mary” to myself until the urge passed. Was that even a so-called battle plan? I have no idea.

Lust was no longer an issue. Instead, anger suddenly became my downfall on Holy Thursday as I lost my temper later that night with a fellow K of C member who was part of the liturgy with me. I won’t go into detail, but he did something that wasn’t even a big deal. However, my paranoia and victim mentality caused me to blow it out of proportion: I screamed at him and threatened him via voicemail, and I also wrote a scathing yet tactful email (because emails can be forwarded and passed around) to him.

My Easter weekend was ruined. All I could think about was how he “did me wrong.” And, like an avalanche, all the times I’d been bullied or taken advantage of came flooding back over me. It was so bad that on Resurrection Sunday, I was questioning my faith and entertaining the idea of driving my car over a bridge.

Then, wouldn’t you know it, as soon as that mess got cleared up, the demons hit me full-on with lust. Something tells me (demons? angels? my own thoughts?) that if I fall again, it’s over. No chance at getting a better job, no chance at a better marriage, no chance of reading the Scriptures and knowing by faith that God’s promises are for me.

And, worst of all, I would be forever trapped in that dark place with nothing except my endless lust for female flesh.

I can’t keep fighting off the demons like this. I need reinforcements. Where are they?

I really hope you weren’t creeped out by the image at the top of this post. I chose it because it represents me right now: naked, tempted beyond belief, and confused.

~t


Sunday Musings: Weekend Campout

 

Credit: Microsoft images

A few weeks ago, my sons and I had the opportunity to go on a weekend father-and-son campout with my parish youth group.

Surprisingly, my wife didn’t object when I asked her if I could start taking our sons to a Sunday afternoon youth group. At first our kids didn’t quite fit in since they’re not being raised in the most Catholic of households. Before bed, my kids and I pray the Hail Mary, and we read a Bible story each night in my oldest son’s My Little Bible.

With this being my very first outdoor Mass, and having to corral my two muddy little boys through the whole thing, I thought that it would make for some Sunday musings.

 

1. Watching Clark Kent Change into Superman

I thought it was cool that the two young priests put on their vestments among us since there was no sacristy at the campgrounds. It was kind of like a behind-the-scenes moment that I probably won’t see very often.

 

2. The “Choir”

Mothers and daughters, how we missed you.

 

3. The Spirit of God Was Alive and Well

Missals being blown off the lectern, altar cloth billowing in the wind, ball caps flying across the seats. Oh, and the now-infamous highlight of the Mass for the kids: watching some poor family’s tent being blown into the lake directly behind the altar.

 

4. A Scary Cave Experience

The homily was really gripping. The Gospel text was John 9:1-41 which was about Jesus healing a man who was born blind. The priest, a native of Arkansas, shared a personal account of exploring some of the state’s many underground caverns.

He described one cave as a five-level maze. Sure enough, his helmet light wasn’t fully charged, and it died at the wrong time. I wouldn’t want to imagine the fright as he tried to find his way out of the total darkness. Eventually, he saw a tiny speck of daylight far off into the distance. Relief flooded over him as he made his way to the light.

Needless to say, it put the Gospel reading into full perspective for me. You know, “blind but now I see” and all that.

 

5. Feeding Frenzy

No tabernacle = nowhere to place the Eucharist after Mass. I suppose the priests erred on the side of caution, because after communion, both of them stood at the altar for a very long time consuming all the leftover hosts. I bet there were a hundred extras that had to be consumed before Mass could continue. Talk about an awkward moment.

~t


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