Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

Just Your Average Joe Blogging Away His Debt—In One Year or Less

To Confess or Not to Confess

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Total Black: $2,452.95
Total Red: $231,191.81

I arrived back in Scranton just after four o’clock.  My sister had sent me a text message at 1 p.m., while I was still in New York, telling me that my mother wanted her car back by 4 p.m.  It takes about two hours or so to drive from New York to Scranton.  Her abrupt text left me just barely enough time.  So, I grabbed a big bag of laundry, hopped in the car, and drove west.  Somewhere in the middle of New Jersey a flash of white heat overtook me when I realized that I had forgotten the paperwork that I had driven all the way out there to retrieve.  I actually found myself in a cold sweat.  I don’t think that has ever happened to me before.  And frankly it’s all because of my sister.  Or I suppose I should say because of the power I give her over me.

When I mentioned the previous day that I had the chance to work a shift at New World Stages and that I’d at least earn a bit of money for the trip I had to make anyway, she was quick to reply that I was assuming I didn’t have to pay for parking, which would have gobbled up my earnings.  I replied that I’d just park on the street, to which she replied that I was assuming I’d find parking on the first few go ’rounds.  Otherwise, I’d have to pay for parking or be late to work.  While it may seem that she was just being pragmatic, she wasn’t.  Or if she was, she serves her pragmatism with a side of disdain.  Turned out she wasn’t correct.  Not entirely.  Despite the dark cloud I drove under, I invoked the powers of The Secret by Rhonda Byrne and visualized arriving at my apartment in time to drop off my groceries, find a parking spot in front of my apartment, and get changed and walk into work at 6:55 p.m.  See, I left my mother’s house just after 3 p.m. and stopped for groceries first before driving back.  That took up about an hour or so, meaning I didn’t actually start the drive back to New York until 4 p.m., giving me only three hours to get there.  I was making good time so I stopped to pick up a coffee and a few CDs.  Yes, I’ll confess to that.  It’s a thing I do anytime I drive: I stop at a bookstore, grab a coffee, and pick up a CD or two for the drive.  I’m sure some reader will crucify me for it, but then again what good is there in reading the confessions of someone who doesn’t sin.  At any rate, my visualization effort worked.  Two of my neighbor’s older sons were sitting on the stoop of the building and they helped me unload the groceries: one ran bags upstairs with me while the other hung by the car.  On their own.  I’ve never really spoken to them before.  I guess they saw I was in a hurry.  Then I quickly changed clothes and hopped back in the car, spotted a parking space on my block, not in front of my apartment though, and parked and walked over to work, arriving at 7:01 p.m.

It took a lot to get my sister’s negativity out of my head.  So today when I drove back, after realizing that I forgot the paperwork, I spent at least thirty minutes playing and replaying various scenes in my mind whereby I let my mother and sister know that I had to go back to New York again—either by bus or by car.  I mapped out all the caustic comments my sister would have.  And my mother too, I suppose, but mostly my sister.  She can be very mean-spirited and hostile at times.  I drove the last leg in this nervous state until I was about fifteen minutes away when I decided that it was silly to be so upset over forgetting something like papers.  I decided I just wouldn’t tell them.  Instead, I’d do my laundry, and then on Sunday tell my mother something about going out for the day, borrow her car again and drive to New York, grab the papers, and turn around.  Four or so hours isn’t much to be off somewhere “in town” doing something.

The drive back got me thinking about confessing.  Having been raised Catholic, we’re taught to never lie and to always feel guilty for every bad or wrong thing we’ve done.  Well, at least until we get to the confessional.  Being raised with a sense of right and wrong, and a need to confess when we’ve done wrong, makes us better people.  We’re raised with a conscience, I suppose.  But no one talks about how to monitor that learned impulse and when to seek the relief of confessing.  Confession presumes sin.  Was it a sin to buy a few CDs?  No.  Otherwise Black Friday would have sent a lot of sinners to church afterward.  Am I sinning by not telling my mother and sister that I forgot the paperwork again and will have to drive back to New York?  Trickier.  Sure it’ll mean a bit more “wear and tear” on her car, but that’s no sin.  I’ll replace the gasoline I use.  No one will be the wiser.  Another example: despite the time stamp, it’s actually just after 5 a.m. as I write this entry.  I backdated the time stamp to appear that I posted this yesterday.  Forgive the poetic license.  I was awoken by dreams of bedbugs.  I was catching them in some office / apartment I visited.  Then I saw three guys sitting on a sofa somewhere and could see the bite-marks on one guy’s leg.  It’s disturbing to dream in color, especially about something like that.  Just after waking I remembered that I never posted last night, so here I am.  I had, as least, started writing it in my head yesterday but I didn’t get an opportunity to sit at the computer and write it last night.  I washed my clothes as the family watched my mother’s DVD of “Mamma Mia”—there really isn’t much on television anymore.  Earlier we actually had “The Lawrence Welk Show” on a for a bit.  (I know, I know, but the clothes and plastic smiles are so hilarious.  I can’t imagine a time when Americans really watched that show.)  At any rate, as the night wore on, I got tired and then forgot.  But is it a sin to backdate my posts’ time stamps from time to time?  No.  No harm done.  Presumably readers take a moment to read my entries because of their content, not the moment at which they’re posted.  So, was confessing that bit of truth necessary?  Sometimes we can confess too much.

Christianity would have us believe that every falsehood is a notch on Satan’s scoreboard and another weight dragging our souls down closer and closer to Hell.  But we’re older now as a species and we can move past such childlike platitudes.  Besides, the Ten Commandments say one should not bear false witness, which presumes a legal setting of sorts, and it must be against a neighbor.  Interesting aside: the Ten Commandments do not say we cannot lie.  Of course, one can stretch this observation to it’s breaking point, which is why “sin”—let’s define it as something harmful—is the lodestar.  There’s a moment in the musical Altar Boyz when the cast reads confessions of the crowd.  As they’re setting up the scene, one character quotes Oscar Wilde: “It is is the confession, not the priest, that gives us absolution.”  Good point.  Getting it out is what aids the soul.  And in this instance with my jaunts to and from New York, it would not have aided my soul to have sought absolution by telling my sister and mother about my slip-up.  It just took a while though to get to that moment.

One Response

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  1. A notch on Satan’s scoreboard – never heard that phrase before but I like it. It had a ring


    December 2, 2009 at 06:02

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