Politics as Usual
I have never been a fan of Obama, but I've grown more and more disgusted with Republicans who feel compelled to disagree with everything he says or does just because he's a Democrat. I am particularly disgusted today that people have taken issue with him visiting Japan and expressing condolences for the atomic bombings. Contrary to popular misrepresentation, he never apologized for what the United States did, but merely expressed condolences - including to some survivors who were actually there - which most non-sociopaths would consider to be a decent gesture. I'm disgusted that anyone has a problem with that. I'm disgusted that some Americans can't afford to have an ounce of compassion for non-Americans because they're too busy worshiping themselves. Maybe the bombings probably prevented an all-out nuclear war by demonstrating the consequences of nuclear weapons, and maybe they saved millions of lives, but that doesn't invalidate the tragedy or the undeserved effects on Japanese innocents. And those who feel that bombing civilians is never justified have a perfectly valid opinion too.
The worst of it, though, is that if George Bush or any other Republican had given the same speech while he was in office, few if any of these complainers would have complained. Just like they didn't care when several Republican presidents were photographed putting their feet up on the Resolute desk, but when Obama did it they started a chain email full of self-righteous indignation.
An acquaintance invited me to her sister's mission farewell, with food afterward, so I went and upon getting there discovered that I hadn't read carefully enough and that it was actually a farewell for both of them. They're leaving on the same day next month, with her sister going to the Scotland/Ireland Mission and her to the Adriatic North Mission, Slovenia Mission Region. I kind of pity them both for going to such secular nations where the Church's growth is so stagnant, but I'm sure they'll have a great time anyway. Either one or both of them is evidently pretty popular because the chapel was as packed as a stake conference. Among the people I recognized was Logan Library director Robert Shupe, guardian of knowledge and entertainment. After sacrament meeting I patiently waited forty minutes or so for everyone else to get through congratulating her, and then I did so, and she was like "Wanna come eat with us?" and I thought Duh; I didn't come here for Sunday school.
So I ate and then when I left she wanted a picture of us, and some old lady chose that moment to come over and start asking her questions, so she got in the picture too. And there was also a photobomber. I was proud of this moment because usually when I have to put my arm around someone, I instinctively curl my hand into a fist to minimize the amount of me that's actually touching them, because that kind of intimacy makes me feel super vulnerable and awkward; but this time I had my fingers spread out on her back like a normal person, so I thought that apparently somewhere along the line I'd made a huge leap of progress in that regard without trying or realizing it. But then I actually saw the picture and realized I was leaning way away from her. Urgh. Baby steps.
For context, I really wanted to also post a 2011 picture of me with my arm around a Hard Rock Café waitress named Amber where my hand is clearly curled into a fist, but whichever of my friends had taken the picture has evidently deactivated her Facebook or blocked me, so I can't get to it anymore, and that really upsets me.
Since Brooke's departure, the visits to the old people have grown smaller and less organized, but still a faithful cadre of us has continued to go. Last week I felt a need for some solitude and so I went earlier by myself. Just a short time ago I never would have dared go by myself. For at least three years I've wanted to visit old people but never dared because I was afraid of potential awkwardness with them being unable to hear me and me being unable to understand them. I went to see Charlotte and her roommate Kathy and their other friend whose name escapes me, and sure enough, Charlotte had trouble hearing me and I had trouble understanding their other friend, but it wasn't even a big deal. That day, Charlotte seemed to be giving a lot of thought to her own mortality. "When you get to be a hundred, you might as well just die," she told me, "but you don't die until you die, you know?"
I was eating dinner with them, and Kathy asked if I wanted food too, and I shrugged, which meant Yes, I always want food, my friends are probably going to show up here soon and I don't want them to see me eating free food meant for old people and think I'm the worst person in the world. (The last time someone offered me food at a different old people's home, I was about to accept before the guy with me said "Nah, we're good", but only because I was hungry enough to eat a bowl of cockroaches.) "That means yes, doesn't it?" Kathy said. And a waitress came by and asked if I wanted anything and I just had to shrug again and say, "They want me to." So she said "We'll get you a guest tray" and I thought Wait, a 'guest tray'? So this is like a normal thing around here? That changes everything. Charlotte didn't eat anything except a cup of hot chocolate, and she made me get one for myself too, and it was the best hot chocolate I've ever tasted. She never eats anything. I don't know how she's still alive.
"Modern Romance" Addendum
This is a continuation of my musings on "Modern Romance" by Aziz Ansari, which I cut short last week because the post was getting too long to hold anyone's interest (insert your own quip about none of my posts holding anyone's interest here). Ansari is an Indian and in the book he mentions that his parents had an arranged marriage and that it suited them just fine. Arranged marriages have their share of advantages and for the most part I don't think they're as bad as Americans might be prone to think, and that they just represent a different philosophy wherein marriage represents the beginning of a love affair rather than the end, but one time I said all this to an Indian in an attempt to show off my cultural sensitivity and he was just like "Eh, it isn't that great." It's interesting how old and new beliefs and practices are colliding in Indian culture. I had a couple of other Indian friends who married each other the Western non-arranged way, but the guy was like, "Man, I'm just lucky. If you'd gotten here first, she would've been all yours. But there's multiple lives, man. You can have her in the next one."
Arranged marriage seems barbaric to many modern sensibilities because it mostly removes choice from the equation, and modern sensibilities love choice. This, however, leads to another problem mentioned in the book, where so many options are available that one becomes paralyzed by indecision. I've often had this problem with myriad things, which is why I often procrastinate my decisions until the last minute when my only choice is to scramble and stop everything from imploding. It's not always fun but it's worked out for me so far. That's how I ended up in an apartment complex with all those Indians, and they were/are some of my favorite people ever. Anyway, I hate decisions where there's no clear "good, better, best" because all the options are just "different" and I don't have many particular preferences one way or another. In dating, I just want someone who's honest and kind and female, and beyond that I don't even have a preference for something so basic and huge as introvert vs. extrovert. It's much easier to avoid choosing altogether.
Tinder, which is also discussed in the book as one of the "modern" parts of "modern romance", has such a taboo against it that for the longest time I thought it was a porn site. Almost everyone who admits to having a Tinder feels the need to preface it with a disclaimer about how they never imagined getting one, aren't really the type to get one, just got one for the laughs or out of curiosity, etcetera. They're afraid of being seen as desperate and shallow. In the book, Ansari argues that it isn't really shallow because swiping right on the people you find attractive isn't really that different from just approaching the people you find attractive in real life, which is what everyone does. I would counter-argue that this is still shallow, but no more so than standard human interactions which are shallow to begin with. But it's evolution's fault so that's okay.
The book cites brain scans demonstrating the difference between passionate and companionate love and that the former inevitably dies after twelve to eighteen months, hopefully to be superseded by the latter. People who refuse to acknowledge this or think they'll somehow be an exception are setting themselves up for a rough time. It sounds all fine and dandy to me in theory, but when my dad said one time that being married is like having another sister, that was a really really really really really really big turn-off. I have enough sisters. I have three real sisters and one imaginary sister that I made up as a joke because whenever we got in the van to go somewhere my parents counted us to make sure we were all there, and I thought Come on, there's only four of us, we're not that hard to keep track of, so I started saying, "We forgot Rachel!" and it caught on. I love my four sisters, but if I wanted another sibling I would ask for a brother because I don't have any of those.
This has nothing to do with the book, but since it's related to the topic, in my institute class a couple weeks ago someone remarked, "My dad always says we should remember that marriage isn't just between two people, but it involves the community, and you have obligations to the community. In response my brain played the clip of R. J. Fletcher in "UHF" saying, "The community? Let me tell you something. This community means about as much to me as a festering bowl of dog snot!"
Oh yes, did I ever mention that recently I watched "Napoleon Dynamite" for the first time? My parents rented it once and then watched it without me, and I was upset, and they said I hadn't missed anything because it was stupid. They were right. But I do have to admire the eponymous protagonist for shamelessly being a nerd who's not even the cool kind of nerd that people brag about being. And I admire the movie's brutal honesty about his unattractiveness. Instead of a lame "Napoleon overcomes his insecurities and gathers the confidence to take the initiative to ask a girl out and then when she gets to know him she comes to like him for who he is" plot thread, it has a far more realistic "Napoleon asks a girl out and her mom makes her say yes and the prospect fills her with such dread that it makes her feel physically ill" plot thread. And then it's okay because he never clues into it and breaks down crying afterward, at least not on screen.
I couldn't believe he was such a nerd as to draw a picture of her and give it to her. How could he not know how weird and creepy that is? I thought only I had ever done things like that. One time I drew a picture of my then-new friend Quincy for her birthday. I copied it from an actual photograph of her wearing a dress and sitting in a tree, but I took the liberty of adding a magic wand, a tiara, and a pair of massive butterfly/fairy wings. The guys at the lunch table saw me drawing it and said, "That's creepy." And I said "No it isn't, she'll like it." And she did, because she's the most empathetic and understanding person in the world. But she still acknowledged years later that it was weird. A year or so later, I had mostly grown out of this but I got bored in biology lab and I thought a more rushed and casual picture would be all right. That girl seemed less than enthused when I showed her, though. And I unexpectedly found it in my closet the other day, which is why I found this roundabout way to bring it up so I could show you.
I also watched a James Bond movie for the first time ever (though I had read a couple of the books) when a friend happened to come across me out walking after home evening and take me to his house where he had been planning on watching it by himself. It was decent. I was impressed that he tried to skip the risqué bits - I say "tried" because he just fast-forwarded them and I think that made them worse, but I was impressed with the effort. The main flaw in this movie was the forced love story. James Bond's reputation as a shameless womanizer was well-known even to me, and this alleged love interest was the third woman he had seduced in this movie alone, with no visible chemistry or explanation as to why this time was special. It was obvious that the scriptwriters just threw in a love story because it's illegal have a heterosexual male and heterosexual female character share an adventure without falling in love. When the villain tried to convince her that she didn't really mean anything to Bond, I was confused, because I had been thinking the same thing all along.
The second worst flaw was the missed opportunity in this exchange -
Bond: I gave your father my word!
Madeleine: And why should I trust you?
This is where he should have said, "Because my word is my... bond."
The Mormon Section
I mentioned a couple weeks ago that in 2015 the LDS Church had its lowest growth rate since 1937. I ought to have mentioned that this is just in terms of percentage of raw numbers and that the actual retention of active membership, based on the increasing number of new stake creations, seems to be improving from recent years. Granted, this in turn is possible because retention has long been so abysmal to begin with; somewhere between twenty and thirty percent in most countries (while Jehovah's Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists both achieve closer to one hundred). After the famous mission age change it took less than a minute for my amazement to be replaced by concern that we would just be baptizing thousands more people who would stop coming to church or even self-identifying as Mormon within a month. That was the last thing we needed. It's been pleasing to note the increased attention and dedication to real conversions and reactivations. The Church has created 38 stakes and 11 districts so far this year, compared to 17 stakes and 11 districts by the same time last year.
Jeesh - Starkiller Bass
I interrupt my planned sequence of alien invasion songs to plug this fresh release by Jeesh, a British artist who mashes up audio clips into music kind of like Pogo, except that his stuff is free.
Beginning Year Two with Stuff
My New Job Continued
I've become a bit more talkative at work, but I do a lot of smiling and nodding when people talk to me because I still worry about getting in trouble. "Thank God for Starbucks, right Christopher?" Jill said one morning. I smiled and nodded. I've never touched a drop of coffee, but if she likes that sort of thing then that's the sort of thing she likes, so good for her. One day she just said "Right Christopher?" and I smiled and nodded despite having no clue what she had said just prior, if anything. She announced, "Christopher is going to be a wonderful husband someday. He just agrees with everything I say." I smiled and nodded again, thinking, Is that a proposal? I think I should at least meet your kids first. On my other side, Carl replied, "And then there's me. 'Bite me.'"
At work on Friday, someone was making the last call that we needed for our quota on a certain project and so everyone else on that project just sat there and waited. A couple of ladies next to me started talking to each other and found out that they both have fifteen year old sons with Asperger's. This was slightly shocking since I thought they were both just a few years older than me. Anyway, they were engrossed in that so I didn't butt in, but then the call was suspended partway through and we had to get to dialing again, and then someone else started what would hopefully be the last call for real this time, and I told them that I have Asperger's too. One of them was like, "Ah, I thought maybe. You remind me of my son." The other one was like, "I never would have guessed!" But they both said that this revelation gave them hope for their sons' futures. I decided not to ruin the moment by mentioning that my life has only recently ceased to be a train wreck and that I still have fewer romantic prospects than Jon Arbuckle. I decided to just be like
So, I really want to give them advice and help them out and stuff, but I don't feel that I'm qualified to do so because I have no right to assume that my experience is the same as those of their sons. This is exactly why, as I said last week, I don't want to become a spokesperson for Asperger's. Their sons are in different situations anyway, as one of them is smart but failing school because he hates it while the other is in special ed because he has the mind of a five year old. He has a lot of other stuff wrong with him too. Mental illness often travels in packs. Depression, in particular, more often than not comes as a free bonus along with virtually any other disorder, because why not? But anyway, that was just a cool experience which is why I'm mentioning it here.
Mackenzie the Feminist
Mackenzie agreed to come to my institute class with me, and unlike everyone else who ever agrees to do something with me, didn't cancel immediately prior to it. When she texted me half an hour before I was like Ah, that will be Mackenzie canceling on me, but she was just offering to pick me up, probably because it was raining. She's super feminist so, as a cruel joke, I held my coat up over her head to keep the rain off her as we were heading to the building. She was like "No, no, I'm fine" and ran away. I always feel like I'm walking on pins and needles to not say or do anything that will accidentally be offensive to my feminist friends, but I relaxed around her after I realized how much fun it is whenever we clash, either verbally or in sporting events.
Afterward as she drove us home and we were talking and she fell silent I mused, "I've realized that I don't need to worry about your silences anymore, because I used to think it meant you didn't like what I'd said, but now I know that if you don't like what I've said, you'll tell me."
"Yep," she said.
"You're very outspoken."
"I don't like that word," she said, her voice rising. "It means someone is like, speaking out of turn, and I feel like it's mostly used on girls, and -"
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean it like that, I just meant you speak your mind instead of being silent -"
"I know, but it has connotations of speaking out of turn -"
"I meant it as a compliment, I'm sorry -"
"You don't need to apologize for everything."
"But you just flipped out on me."
Milo's Grand Adventure
"Milo's Grand Adventure" is the working title of my book about aliens invading in the fourteenth century. It probably shouldn't be the final title because Milo has sort of been demoted to a supporting character and it doesn't really fit the tone. Milo is a dragon, named after my dog and lifted from a picture that my classmate drew for me in fifth grade in exchange for a McDonald's Galidor toy piece that I found on the playground. I wish I could find that picture now. When I first started thinking of fantasy adventures about this dragon and some other characters, it was all very cliché stuff about a magical land overrun by a villain and the heroes going on an epic quest to defeat him. When I started writing it down circa seventh or eighth grade, it was part of my awful attempts to mimic Douglas Adams' writing style, so if it had been comprehensible it would have been a very goofy and lighthearted tone.
Things have changed since I decided to set the story in a real time and place and bring aliens into it. It's more dark and serious now than either its earlier incarnations or my current only finished novel, "Space Girls" (also a working title), which could even be considered a comedy except that I don't dare because to me that implies making a value judgment that my own work is funny. "Space Girls" attempts to address some deep messages and serious topics but keeps them low-key so as not to be pretentious. "Milo's Grand Adventure", for whatever reason, is turning out to be more serious, and I guess I just have to deal with that. It explores questions that I became curious about, such as "What was it like to be a lesbian in the Middle Ages?"* "What was it like to become an agnostic in the Middle Ages?"** "What was it like to have chronic depression in the Middle Ages?"*** "Did women shave their legs in the Middle Ages?"**** And Milo is no longer so much a wisecracking comic relief character as a deadpan, apathetic chaotic neutral character.
*Because obviously LGBT people have always existed, but the vocabulary and concepts have evolved drastically and mostly just within the past couple centuries, so I'm curious about how that affected people's perceptions of reality. How would a person that today we would consider "lesbian" feel in an era when the concept of "being a lesbian" simply didn't exist, and even saying "I like women" would have been beyond anyone's comprehension including her own?
**Did agnostics and atheists just keep their doubts to themselves so they wouldn't get burned at the stake, or did they not even exist? It has been said that Darwin made it possible to be an "intellectually fulfilled atheist", meaning that previously there wasn't much of a rational basis for denying the existence of God because you couldn't explain the existence of anything without it. I'd be surprised if no one who lived through the Great Mortality (as they called the Black Death) started to question God's benevolence, though.
***Well, you'd have better kept that to yourself too, because the medical diagnosis was "demon" and the treatment was to incarcerate, beat, and/or starve the depressed person to drive it out. Learning this confirmed how much I hate humanity.
****No. A lot of movies are highly inaccurate on this point. My movie adaptation will not be. I was actually just curious about this one because I reasoned that a woman being raised from infancy by a dragon to be an amoral killing machine probably wouldn't bother to shave her legs, but I didn't know if that would set her apart from normal women of the time or not.
"Space Girls", currently weighing in around 460 pages, is much too long for a first-time author to get published. "Milo's Grand Adventure" will be much shorter and my hope is to get it published first and help pave the way toward that end. But if it becomes super popular and then I publish "Space Girls", people might be confused and angered by the huge shift in tone. I suppose that's a risk I'll just have to take.
Chapter 3 - Online dating has its ups and downs but ideally should just be a first step and at some point lead to getting off the internet.
Chapter 4 - People are almost paralyzed by the wealth of options they have these days, and afraid to commit to someone when someone else they like more could be just around the corner.
Chapter 5 - Japan is doomed because no one wants to reproduce, while Argentina is a haven for misogyny, but what they have in common is they're both full of perverts.
Chapter 6 - Your statistical odds of finding a partner who will never cheat on you are pretty abysmal. In France, people are okay with that.
Chapter 7 - Passionate love fades after twelve to eighteen months and is then hopefully replaced by companionate love, which isn't as great, but reaps far more over a lifetime.
Conclusion - I'm a comedian, but that doesn't mean I can't be thoughtful and introspective.
After reading this, I agreed with the author's conviction that all this modern technology is no more inherently bad or disruptive than the telephone or the television or anything else. Although the games that people play with dating are stupid, there's nothing wrong with bringing texting and stuff into it. Texting is not the problem. People are the problem.
The Mormon Section
(Continued from "Modern Romance") In any case, we all ought to remember that dating is not a holy and immutable eternal principle, but a rather recent invention and a means to an end. There's no reason to pretend the means shouldn't be allowed to evolve. I'm 99% percent positive that Jesus never went on a date.
Mary Magdalene: So, Jesus of Nazareth asked me out.
Martha: Oh, wow, what did you say?
Mary Magdalene: I said I was busy. He seems nice and everything, but he's just so plain-looking. Besides, I'm not really into carpenters. I want to marry someone with a future.
Martha: Yeah. Well, I'm going out with Judas Iscariot again tomorrow.
Mary Magdalene: You have all the luck.
(No sacrilege intended. Please don't stone me.) This topic was also addressed somewhat in an "Adventures in Odyssey" episode where Connie and Eugene went back in time to see baby Jesus.
Connie: I'm afraid that Roman centurion is going to ask me on a date!
Eugene: Don't be silly. They didn't go on 'dates' in first century Palestine.
Connie: Oh, thank goodness.
Eugene: However, he might offer to buy you from me.
Boots Walker - They're Here
Today: a continuation of the alien invasion theme started last week, with this novelty single from 1967.
One Year Anniversary Stuff
My New Job Continued
I really don't have anything to write and don't feel like posting anything, and I feel like it's really going to suck if I force myself to anyway, but this falls one day short of the one year mark since I left that horrible company Webs and reopened my site at this new location, so I can't give up now. Let's see... I wrote a song about my new job. Since I can no sooner come up with an original melody than a new color, and can't read or write music anyway, it's a parody, albeit much shorter than the original:
Do you wanna take a survey? Okay, bye.
It actually got quite a bit better this week as I spent most of the time on a much better project. We get switched around occasionally and I don't know what factors into that. But this project was/is much better because I only have to call businesses that are already part of this umbrella organization and ask about how satisfied they are with it etcetera, and most of them are very cooperative and the only major difficulty is getting ahold of the respondents in the first place when they're so busy and we don't have a message to leave. I got between six and eleven completes a day instead of between zero and one. Of course I'm still hoping to get switched to the other position soon and transcribe incoming calls instead, but I have to get training and the manager has to get approval for the training. They said during the first week that it would be a week or two so it better happen next week.
I also spent some time on a project that's moderately better than the first but still sucks. After one call the girl next to me said, "That was very Christian of you." She turned to the girl on her other side and continued, "I love it when you call churches and they're just like super rude." The other girl agreed. "'We don't take those kinds of calls,'" she mimicked. "God takes every call." Then I looked over and gave her the "I know that comment wasn't directed at me but I heard it and I want you to know I found it funny too" smile. Little moments of camaraderie like that are the second best part of the job, with the first of course being that I get paid. Not a lot by the world's standards, but by my standards I may as well be a millionaire now, and I'm thrilled.
Writing and Autism
I really want to get the files off my old laptop soon because I have writing projects on there that I want to get back to.
Non-fiction: Running Logan Canyon (commissioned by Paul Cracroft of Square One Printing)
Novel: Milo's Grand Adventure (working title)
Short Story: Forever a Clone
Rejected Screenplay Adaptation: Indiana Jones and the Saucer Men from Mars
It wasn't urgent because I usually lose interest in projects for months at a time, which is why I hardly ever finish anything. But a week or so ago I was listening to the "Destroy All Humans" soundtrack, and the sting in one of the songs did a really good job of being evocative of an alien invasion and made me want to make something along those lines, and then I remembered I had already been doing that with "Milo's Grand Adventure". The unique and hopefully awesome twist I was putting on it was that it takes place in the fourteenth century and also involves dragons. I posted the prologue here a little less than a year ago, but re-reading it now I think it's awful and needs to be drastically overhauled, which is a good thing because that means I've improved a lot. The classes I've taken and the books I've read are probably the biggest part of that.
And on top of that one of my professors from last semester is encouraging me to consider expanding an autobiographical essay I wrote into a full-length memoir, something I had never considered in my life but am now intrigued by. The essay is called "Ass Burgers" because that's what young me thought Dr. Iqbal said I seemed to have. Young me was offended. In my mind, this was and is simply the only title that works. If I were to write this memoir and give it the same title and publish it, that would probably protect me from ever getting called as a General Authority even in the unlikely event that my first defense of never getting married somehow fails. My only hesitation in doing this is that I don't want to become a spokesperson for Asperger's or autism and convey the impression that my experience is representative of anyone else's, particularly when so many other things are also wrong with me that I don't always know what to blame on what. Still, becoming such a spokesperson would provide a wealth of opportunities to lambast the anti-vaxxer movement, so that's tempting.
Speaking of last semester, Temple Grandin came to speak and she mentioned something about autistic people being bad at algebra but just fine with other kinds of math. I had never heard it before but it made perfect sense, seeing as Algebra was basically the worst class I ever took and the first one I ever failed, whereas Statistics this last semester was so easy that I spent about two minutes a week studying, if that, and ended up with a 101%. And speaking of Temple Grandin, I just recently watched the HBO movie about her and it made me cry for multiple reasons. It was just really, really good and I think that if everyone were required to watch it there would be a lot fewer ignorant and judgmental creeps in the world. This, I think, was my favorite part:
Mother: Temple, look at me. Look at me. Do you know how people tell each other things with their eyes? This is me telling you that I love you and I respect you.
Temple: [long tearful pause] I will never learn how to do that.
Mother: I know.
I stumbled upon this in a creationist group where intelligence goes to die. You can't make this stuff up. Sadly, it doesn't even rank among the thousand stupidest things that creationists on the internet have said. At least it's coherent. And in fairness, at least this guy has the intellectual honesty to be consistent in requiring all of modern science to conform with ancient Hebrew texts.
The Mormon Section
Lately, as often, I've been annoyed by Mormons who defend their narrow and dogmatic view of the world by rejecting anything that doesn't fit into it with ad hominem accusations of bias against, say, the Salt Lake Tribune, or by simply saying they don't accept it and that's that. For example, in 2015 the LDS Church had its lowest rate of growth since 1937, and since some people's testimonies require the Church to be growing exponentially (which it hasn't been since 1990 or so) in order to be true, they just reject this fact and anyone mentioning it - even though the source is the Church's own published statistics plus basic math. It's just really embarrassing for me to be associated with that kind of people, but not as embarrassing as realizing I used to be that kind of person. I used to be a fan of knee-jerk denials too. Not coincidentally, most of this coincided with my brief stint as a creationist. It's not like my IQ changed between then and now, so I have to remind myself of that and remind myself that these people aren't just stupid and I should be more humble and stop looking down on them.
My job title is "Agent", and they never explained why, but I figured out that it's because we're acting on behalf of other companies. Much of what we collect is confidential, so that literally makes me a secret agent. Anyway, on many of the surveys we just say who we're calling on behalf of and don't mention our own company's name at all, so that in effect we've become an extension of them. Therefore our behavior reflects on them and we have to avoid being rude or unprofessional over the phone regardless of how rude or unprofessional the respondents are to us first. This, then, reminds me of how God has made us agents unto ourselves and given us the agency to do what we will, and when we give Him our agency and take upon ourselves the name of Christ, our behavior and speech reflect on Him and His organization. Christ is the perfect example of this, as He speaks as an agent for the Father without the slightest variation from the latter's will, so that they are completely united as one.
Now since I talked about Tyler Glenn and his angry music video a couple weeks ago, I ought to put in a plug for the heartwarming responses from his mother and rapper James the Mormon, which basically demonstrate exactly how people should be responding. And as far as I can tell, to my pleased surprise, it's how most members are.
Kelis & Timo Maas - Help Me
This is the song I was referring to from the "Destroy All Humans!" soundtrack. It sounds so delightfully creepy.
My New Job and Stuff
Here's how I was originally going to open this post:
Long-time readers may have noticed that this post is coming a day earlier than usual. Really long-time readers may have noticed that back in the day there was, in fact, no set schedule, and that such a schedule was necessitated by my increased busy-ness shortly after last semester started. This subversion of the schedule has in turn been necessitated by me working from ten to six tomorrow and not being able to access a computer after that hour. Normally I won't have to work on Saturdays but I had to miss some hours for my finals and I'm supposed to make them up. So I'll be calling verbally abusive normal people instead of passive aggressive businesspeople, but that will be compensated for by getting to work on a different project for a while. This current project is basically the hardest and worst one because no one wants to cooperate, and I made the mistake of performing too well for a new guy and getting left on it. When more people were put on it, part of me thought "You poor souls" but another part of me thought "Yay, now I'm less alone in my misery!"
But there's no need to open this post like that anymore because that shift isn't currently busy enough for me to do anything, so I got the day off and it still counts as having made up my missed shift. I'm not sure if that means I'm still getting paid, but I'm so happy I don't even care. Now here is how I was going to continue this post:
The environment definitely takes some getting used to, as it's far more structured than my old job, where sometimes even the boss would stop me just to chat about casual stuff for fifteen minutes. I didn't even have a set schedule, and just came in whenever I wanted and worked for however long I wanted. It was quite chill. This company bills other companies by the hour, so it has very strict rules, for example, about how many breaks one can take, and when, and for how long, and the secretary has to be notified about them. I think once I'm acclimated to that, and move on to a better project, things will be better. I may also get transferred to a different position because I can type ninety plus words a minute. I usually don't, with this blog or with my novel or anything, because my brain doesn't even work that fast. But this would just be copying what other people say. Fingers crossed.
Last week I compared job searching to dating, which was not meant as a compliment to either of them, but I ought to have mentioned in fairness that there are at least a few key differences. For example, in job searching it is usually illegal to discriminate based on disabilities. For that reason I considered listing autism on my resume, in case it prompted potential employers to worry about being sued if they rejected me for not having interpersonal skills. Fortunately that wasn't necessary this time. In dating, by contrast, people make no attempt to hide their discrimination against disabled people, especially blind people. I hear it all the time; some girl says "I hate blind dates" and all the other girls agree with her. This job is also similar to dating, actually, not just in vague terms of rejection and futility but in many of the actual words used. "I'm not interested." "I'm too busy." "Take me off your list." And so on. The difference is that in the job we're supposed to persist whenever possible and it isn't considered harassment. Not by us, anyway.
There were a few highlights though -
Having donuts in the break room on Thursday and commiserating with a couple coworkers. One offered this philosophy for dealing with the current project: "I just try not to complain even though it sucks beyond belief."
The coworker who, when next to me, occasionally comments to me between calls, and I just smile back because I'm afraid of getting in trouble.
When Jill [pseudonym] muttered a barrage of profanity as soon as she got off the phone.
The Walt Disney receptionist who told me to "Have a magical day!"
The State Farm receptionist who was so absurdly friendly that I regret not getting her name and telling her supervisor she deserves a raise.
When Jill happily sang "I can't wait to go on vacation" as soon as she got off the phone.
The female receptionist named Tyler. From 1993 to 2015 I never met a female named Tyler, and now in the first half of 2016 I've met two. I thought the first one just had "creative" parents.
I realized that if I made a paradigm shift and pretended it was my job to annoy people, I would become satisfied when they were rude to me instead of feeling sad. It worked.
When Jill flipped out as soon as she got off the phone: "People act like I'm stalking them when I ask for their name for verification. I'm not gonna keep calling you. I'm not gonna come to your house. I'm not gonna take you for a long walk on the beach."
On the one survey that I completed one day, the lady said she needed to get back to work and I was doing my best to hurry along. So as soon as we completed the last question I was about to tell her we had completed the last question, but before I could she said with palpable happiness, "Now ask us how many years we've been in business." And I asked, "How many years have you been in business?" And she said, "Thirty-seven years!" And I said, sincerely, "Wow, congratulations, I hope you remain in business for many years to come!" And she said, "My daughter and my granddaughter work here with me." And then I had to steer us back on course and tell her the survey was over, but wow, that was a great human connection.
"Thank you for calling Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum." Ohmygosh, it was like meeting my favorite comedian.
When Jill took the Lord's name in vain while she was still on the phone, because a very close thunderclap startled her.
USU graduation was today and, for the first time in my five years here, I bothered to go because Bracelets was graduating. I wanted to see her for possibly the last time ever, but the occasion was pretty much ruined by the presence of her serial adulterer father. I met a guy once who I knew abused his wife and daughter, and my fantasies about rearranging his face with a crowbar ran into some cognitive dissonance when he turned out to be charming, witty, likable, and outwardly spiritual even. This time was not like that. The moment I looked at this man I felt that he was just a piece of scum through and through. The whole thing was just awkward, and I felt like the whole rest of the family was uncomfortable too and I felt really bad that Bracelets had this kind of a damper on her special day on top of all the other life-ruining crap from him. And I don't know what else to say about that but I just wanted to bring it up because it's weighing on my mind.
Also at graduation, I noticed this girl who looked vaguely familiar and I was trying to figure out who she was, and when they announced her name I remembered that she made me a True Aggie my first week of college. I just showed up to True Aggie Night, now knowing anyone, and she was like "Did you go to Such-and-Such High School?" and I was like "No. Want to kiss me?" and she was like "Sure." What a strange, out of character fluke that was for my life. I was really curious whether she remembered me but I didn't know if her husband would appreciate me bringing it up.
So, poetry has never really been my thing, and I'm actually less skilled than I used to be because I can no longer rhyme without supreme effort, but I've dabbled in it a bit and I took a class on it last semester and I threw this "masterpiece" together in about two minutes after it was inspired by real-life events. Through the magic of double standards, this poem is charming if its subject likes me and creepy if she doesn't. In other words, it's creepy. But I'm not gonna keep calling her. I'm not gonna come to her house. I'm not gonna take her for a long walk on the beach.
That dress she's wearing now, that floor-length blue dress with the pink roses –
That's the dress she was wearing when I first saw her.
That's the dress she was wearing when I thought, "Wow, she’s beautiful."
That's the dress she was wearing when her eyes caught mine like tractor beams and refused to let go.
That's the dress she was wearing when she revealed herself to be one of the most interesting people I've ever talked to.
That's the dress she was wearing when I couldn't believe something was going well for a change, and figured I should quit while I was ahead.
That's the dress she was wearing when she said "Got to go" and left me to think about her all night.
Now she's wearing it again.
"That’s a very pretty dress," I say.
"Thanks," she says, beaming. "I like your tie."
The Mormon Section
As I was wondering whether getting this job was a catastrophic mistake or I just needed to persevere and rise to the challenge, I sought the Lord's will. And the Lord was like, "I have confidence in you to make your own decisions regarding jobs and career paths to do what you want with your life." And I was like, "You have confidence in me? Have you seen me try to do stuff? Maybe you have me confused with Christopher Robert Nicholson. He's married and black and lives in a different part of Utah." Of course that was somewhat facetious but yes, my faith is weak. I believe in God but I often don't believe Him. I feel as though He has made a grave error in judgment by placing this confidence in me.
That's the thing, isn't it, that sometimes God really doesn't care what you do. Another reason why the notion that He has every minute detail of your life planned out is absurd. But the primary reason I wanted His assistance in making this decision was because I don't have foreknowledge. I may be able to evaluate the pros and cons of any particular choice, but there are so many things I can't even guess at. I don't know who I would meet or what experiences I would have at any particular job that could send my life in wildly divergent directions. Apparently that doesn't matter, though, at least in my case. So that's cool, I guess.
F-777 - Dance of the Violins
I discovered this and liked it. While in the realm of non-sleep, non-wakingness, in between the phone voices in my head, it played occasionally.
"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 Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, 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.