I was very proud of my first Fiction Workshop story. It was about a world of robots who start contracting a highly contagious computer virus, so they have to stop interfacing digitally and communicate face-to-face. Get it? It's funny because it's like Covid, but the opposite. Very subtle, sophisticated humor there. Charles and classmates loved it too. But one classmate, in his written feedback, dinged me with a PLAGIARISM WARNING! because a character in the story said the words "Life finds a way." This was, of course, an allusion to Jurassic Park that I expected almost everyone to pick up on. I wasn't trying to pass off anyone else's work as my own, and even if I had, I think this phrase is too brief and generic to legitimately claim as one's exclusive intellectual property. So I thought that was funny and I made sure that in my second story a character said the words "Clever girl."
That was the high point of my second story. I'm not as proud of it. Actually, it makes me cringe and I want to burn it. In it I sort of tried to emulate what I perceived as the style of Catch-22 - a relatively flat protagonist with a simple goal just moves along from one absurd situation to the next until the story ends. And Charles said it felt like Catch-22 without being anything like Catch-22, so mission accomplished. But I wish I had finished it sooner and left myself with more time to revise it into something adequate for public consumption. During the break I wheeled my desk, which is attached to the chair, which has wheels, over to Kylie to discuss rescheduling our viewing of Return of the Jedi that she bailed on to fill out another MFA application at the last minute. And then she invited Mia or Mia invited herself, I don't remember, and that was nice since it permitted us to use Mia's TV instead of Kylie's laptop. I said she could invite the whole class for all I cared, so she did.
The missionaries came over on Wednesday and roleplayed teaching me a lesson about prayer. I could have given them a real hard time, but I decided to play nice. I only asked "What if I pray and nothing happens?" and if they couldn't come up with a half-decent answer to that question, they would've had no business being missionaries. I could have hit them with some harder stuff. "This all seems like a bunch of confirmation bias to me. If you pray and get the desired outcome, that means God is real and loves you. If you pray and don't get the desired outcome, that means God is real but has a better plan because he loves you. If you feel good feelings, that's his presence; if you feel nothing, you need to be patient and keep trying. He's set up to be unfalsifiable, don't you think? And speaking of prayer, look at these Brigham Young quotes about black people." I understand B.H. Roberts played a similar trick on greenies when he was a mission president. The meeting lasted about ten minutes, and they asked if I had any less-active or non-member friends they could talk to. No, I didn't, because most of my graduate school friends have already been members.
Greyson still is one, so while I wasn't as close with her as some of the others, I recognized that I could talk to her about a few things that I wouldn't talk to the others about, spiritual things that might just sound crazy to someone who doesn't believe in them even if that person is determined to be respectful. We had lunch on Thursday. I wanted to buy for both of us to thank her for her time, but she wouldn't let me. She's too nice. Last semester she borrowed my copy of Naked Barbies, Warrior Joes, and Other Forms of Visible Gender because she'd left hers in Georgia, and when she returned it I found among its pages a little handwritten thank-you card in a little envelope. Who does that? But we had lunch and talked about things and after I got off on a tangent about my distaste for the post-World War II gender roles that past church leaders taught as eternal truths and current church leaders quietly downplay, she invited me to her institute class because she had a cool teacher who said that women can decide for themselves whether or not to work outside the home.
We went to the class, and a slideshow was up with the title "The Role of Intimacy in Marriage". Greyson apologized and said I didn't have to stay. I did anyway because I'll never grow if I always try to avoid discomfort. Fun fact, one of my former students was there.
Greyson had never seen any Star Wars, which was even less Star Wars than Kylie had seen. I invited her to watch Return of the Jedi with us, and since I knew she was just being excessively nice in not wanting to be an imposition, I had to push a little and then backtrack from my pushiness, and she was over an hour late but she did come for the social aspect. Mia referred to it as a "watch party" and I had no idea how seriously she took that appellation until I saw the three boxes of pizza, breadsticks, Cheetos, potato chips, Pita bread, and carrot sticks she had provided for the four of us who showed up (me, Kylie, Greyson, and the guy who gave me a plagiarism warning). Greyson asked a lot of questions and Kylie answered a lot of questions like she was a lifelong fan and didn't just learn most of that stuff from me the week before. I was very impressed. And then after the movie she was like, "Wait, so who's the actual Chosen One? Is it Rey? She's not even one of the original characters. That's lame." Yes, Kylie, it really is.
She made us watch the SNL Kylo Ren Undercover Bosses sketch again, so I made us watch the seagull song.
I did an endowment session at the temple for an actual family name, not from my family as far as I know, but one I brought to help out a friend who doesn't have as easy access to temples. It made the experience a little more meaningful, I think. I got a really good feeling throughout and felt really affirmed in the state of mind I've chosen in response to my current trial. And maybe now this guy on the other side of the veil, Christian Friedrich Grimm, will help me with my German studies. No, of course he doesn't owe me anything for providing him with an essential ordinance to enter God's presence. It's just a funny thought I had.
P.S. Feliz Geburtstag to an estranged friend who probably isn't reading this.
"Guys. Chris's blog is the stuff of legends. If you’re ever looking for a good read, check this out!"
- Amelia Whitlock
"I don't know how well you know Christopher Randall Nicholson, but... he's trolling. You should read his blog. It's delightful."
- David Young
About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender male and a Latter-day Saint, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic, so you can't. Unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.