Last weekend would have been a nice little stake conference if not for just a couple things: the guy behind me who bumped or jiggled my chair at least eighty times, and the departure of President Fjeldsted (pronounced with a silent j and a silent d) from the Stake Presidency. So just like a sacrament meeting five years ago almost to the day when he stopped being my bishop, this stake conference left me sitting here like
Except without a beautiful princess who's secretly my sister to comfort me despite having recently experienced her own loss of colossally greater magnitude that hardly anybody seems to care about. My life is so empty.
I first met Brother Fjeldsted in September 2012 after a summer of insomnia-induced inactivity from church. My faith was never lost, but it wasn't strong enough to get me out of bed for nine a.m. church after five hours of sleep. When fall semester rolled around, though, I knew I needed the emotional anchor of regular church attendance back in my life, and I also realized that I was an idiot because I could have just gone to another congregation that met in the afternoon. So I did. I went to another ward and I met a couple of really nice people who made me feel much more comfortable than I did in either of my previous YSA wards, and I knew I was at home, and then I met with the bishop one evening and informed him that I wasn't technically part of his ward and he said I needed to go to my real ward because he had no priesthood jurisdiction over the block where I lived. He brought me to the stake presidency, who reiterated what he said and added, "If we let people ward-hop, everyone would just go wherever the cutest girls are."
The stake presidency brought me to my real bishop, Bishop Fjeldsted, who conveniently was just waiting in his office. I was not in a good mood. I thought this business of something as trivial as my address being the determining factor of where I belonged spiritually made little or no sense, but I kept that to myself. I figured I would just sit out this meeting with this guy and then go inactive again.
Since I was already not in a good mood, I put up walls before the conversation even started. I figured this guy would want to know why I hadn't been to church for a while and why, for that matter, I wasn't off somewhere else on a mission like I was supposed to be at nineteen, and I tried to forestall those unwelcome inquiries by somewhat petulantly explaining those things before he could ask. But Bishop Fjeldsted, a meek, unassuming man with a huge smile, didn't care about them. He disregarded them altogether and simply expressed his happiness and gratitude for me being here. Somehow by the end of the meeting I was willing to come back, at nine a.m. on Sunday.
Bishop Fjeldsted recommended I get to know Peter, the Elders Quorum president. I resisted that idea because I wasn't keen on being friends with someone who was assigned to be my friend. But Peter was so persistent that eventually his genuine goodness won me over. This post isn't about him. I should write a post about him at some point. Both of these great men, in any case, became people I could confide in. Peter was a peer, but Bishop Fjeldsted was the first "adult" figure in my life that I could share personal things with and not regret it. He turned out to be from New York and have an Aspie child, so in some ways he was probably better prepared to understand me than I could have dreamed of. I grew to love him and the 36th Ward almost immediately. Not bad for arbitrary geography.
(Since then, I became aware of others who attended my ward despite not living in its boundaries or, in the case of one 37-year-old woman, its targeted age demographic. Years later when I informed a high councillor that I was temporarily defecting to the 35th Ward, he said, quote, "Just go wherever the cutest girls are. That's what I would do." Close quote.)
Bishop Fjeldsted and Peter were there to support me through probably the worst period of my life, when I almost lost my faith, starved to death, got evicted, and/or killed myself on more than one occasion. They helped plenty with my temporal struggles in their church capacities, but also dispensed plenty of advice and priesthood blessings for the emotional ones that seemed even more hopeless. In particular, a couple of quotes from Bishop Fjeldsted will stick with me forever. In one sacrament meeting he said, "Pride has no intrinsic value, but we're willing to sacrifice everything for it." And that blew my freaking mind. On another occasion, as I cried in his office, he mused, "Our society gives women a free pass to lie for their convenience." And that little observation is why he'll never become a General Authority despite being fully qualified.
Of course I felt cheated when he was pulled into the stake presidency. I had built up this relationship with him over a year and a half, and now I was expected to just transfer it over to this new Bishop I'd never even met? It didn't work like that. I had to start over building a relationship from scratch with the new guy, until they replaced him too. I'm not crazy about this system. I'm sure bishops appreciate being let go after a few years, though. Except when they get immediately transferred into the stake presidency.
But as a member of the stake presidency, President Fjeldsted still said hi and asked how things were going whenever he saw me, not in the fake way that everyone else does, but as an actual question looking for an honest answer. I still sought his advice a couple times. When I was running myself ragged doing chores and errands almost every day for a friend with Lyme disease that hardly anyone seemed to care about, he told me that I shouldn't overexert myself because she wasn't my responsibility. At the time his advice seemed callous. Now, however, I wish I had internalized it and followed it when a "friend" from high school who hadn't spoken to me for nine years decided to start asking for my money, because if I had told her where she could go after the first couple times, I could have saved myself from months of hell. I'll never make that mistake again. Anyway.
So last weekend I said goodbye to him and his wife, and they reminisced about how long they've known me, and he said to stay in touch, and he said "I'm proud of how you've handled everything." And nobody's ever said that to me in my life. I thought I would have to wait until I pass to the other side and fall into Jesus' arms to hear that. Sometimes it feels like my mistakes and shortcomings are all that matter to anyone else. So that was cool.
Speaking of death, I dreamed the other night that I went back to New York and found my dog Milo living alone in the woods. I took him to the Kellers' place to play with their dogs, as I often did. But even before I woke up I realized I was dreaming because Milo has been dead for some time and that just took all the fun out of it. In my dream, I almost cried a couple times. I was never able to muster more than a couple tears for him in real life, though I tried. I wanted to experience the normal, healthy emotions of grief. But I had already resigned myself to the fact that he would die much too early and I would have to slog through God knows how many more years of this mortality crap before I can rejoin him. I had this exchange with Bracelets the other day, in fact, after she read through the acknowledgements and blurbs of my book draft that she promised to feedback:
I generally think about the hereafter it in terms of my dog because no humans who were particularly close to me have ever died. My church tends to emphasize the whole "eternal families" thing, but so far I'm much more interested in its additional teaching that animals also have spirits and will be resurrected into eternal bliss. And that makes sense because a heaven without dogs is a poor excuse for a heaven. Maybe I dreamed about Milo because Easter was approaching, or maybe it's just a coincidence, but I've decided to make it meaningful for me regardless.
Also, have a picture of me and him because it seems appropriate. This was taken in high school, so the better part of a decade ago. My grotesquely long arms are a little bit less grotesquely long now.
After "Rogue One" became the second Star Wars movie in a row to have a female main character*, I witnessed some male idiots complaining that even Han Solo would be a woman in his upcoming movie. And as stupid as that was for them to say, it got me thinking. What if the trailers have been deliberately throwing us off this whole time? What if the movie is not primarily about Han... but Hannah? She would, of course, eventually become the Han Solo we know and love, either in this movie or one of its four sequels.
Hannah: What can I do, Chewie? Every bounty hunter in the galaxy knows my face and genetic signature.
Chewbacca (in Shyriiwook): I have an idea, but you're not gonna like it.
The Solo part comes about when the team we saw in the trailers teaches her that group projects are literally the worst.
*Assuming for the sake of this discussion that there is only one "main character" per movie. If we count multiple main characters per movie, then obviously all of them have had female main characters. Interestingly, the idea for a movie about stealing the Death Star plans and this movie having a female main character dates back to around 2003, long before the current efforts at diversifying Star Wars. John Knoll wanted a character for his daughters to look up to. Awwww.
Reasons I'm Looking Forward to "Solo: A Star Wars Story"
*It has the words "Star Wars" in the title. Let's get that out of the way. I will watch anything with the words "Star Wars" in the title, even if the preceding word is "The" and the next two words are "Holiday Special". I have a problem and I don't care who knows it. Not all Star Wars films or TV episodes are made equal, to be sure, but any Star Wars movie or TV episode is better than no Star Wars movie or TV episode. Did we really need this movie? No, we don't technically need any movies ever. Is it a cash grab? Who cares? If someone makes something and millions of people want to give them money for that thing they made, I don't see that as even a little bit problematic. Unless it's a nuclear bomb or a supervirus. But what else do you expect Disney to do?
Executive 1: Well, we've purchased the second most successful franchise ever for $4 billion, and there's obviously still plenty of demand for it, but let's not make any unnecessary new movies.
Executive 2: Brilliant!
Bonus points if you can name the first most successful franchise ever without looking it up. No, it is not Star Trek. Not even close.
*It has some of the coolest aliens I've ever seen anywhere in my life. While it is a bit jarring that the newer films show very few of the traditional Star Wars aliens that I know and love - Rodians, Twi'leks, Grans, Biths, Jawas, etc. - it is exciting to see them making the galaxy a bigger place with hundreds of new ones. And the ones I saw sitting around Lando when Han first meets him look incredible. So bizarre, so unfamiliar, so alien, and yet so realistic. Most of the new aliens are puppets and costumes, but they look so much better than the puppets and costumes of the original trilogy or even the CG of the prequels. Seeing these ones literally took my breath away.
*It respects the original canon. As every nerd is aware, in 2014 Disney invalidated virtually all of the expansive and often contradictory Star Wars books, comics, video games, etc. in favor of creating their own, but they still liberally borrow and adapt from what came before. In the original canon, Han joined the Imperial Acadamy and got expelled for rescuing a Wookiee slave named Chewbacca. The trailers clearly show Han joining the Imperial Academy. The gang Han Solo faces off against has been officially identified as the Cloud-Riders, who first appeared in one of Marvel's earliest Star Wars comics in 1977. In that story, Han Solo faced off against them with a small band of hired vigilantes who included a green wisecracking six-foot-tall rabbit named Jaxxon and an eccentric Jedi Knight in shining armor named Don-Wan Kihotay. Yeah. That was a thing that happened.
*It looks like the Empire aren't the primary bad guys. They're in it, obviously, but from the trailers it appears that they're in the beginning and then fade away to let gangsters and crime lords be the primary bad guys. This would be a refreshing change of pace. Even with most of the old canon gone, I think the Empire has become overused when there are so many other eras and characters in the galaxy to explore. They're like Indiana Jones' Nazis.
*It covers new genre territory. Star Wars is mostly scif-fi, specifically space opera, with heavy mythological and religious overtones. "The Star Wars Holiday Special" was... uh... something or other. The no-longer-canon Ewoks movies and TV series were fantasy, with lots of magic ridiculousness and heavy inspiration from The Lord of the Rings. "Rogue One" was a gritty war film. But there has never been a Western/heist Star Wars movie until now. Disney can never please everybody as it tries to strike a balance between nostalgia and originality, but I for one applaud any experimentation with new territory even if it doesn't always work as well as they hoped. For that reason I preferred "The Last Jedi" to "The Force Awakens" even though it weirded me out.
*It has Mimban in it. In 1978, Alan Dean Foster published a book called "Splinter of the Mind's Eye" that was meant to work as a low-budget sequel to the original Star Wars if it flopped. To save money on scenery, almost the entire book was set on a foggy swamp planet. Circarpous V, aka Mimban. Han Solo is nowhere to be seen because there was no telling if Harrison Ford would be willing to return for another movie, so the story follows Luke and Leia and Artoo and Threepio as they race against Darth Vader for the Kaiburr Crystal that amplifies one's connection to the Force. And it veers into some very uncomfortable territory between Luke and Leia, like when they're alone on a raft and Leia is sleeping and Luke stares at her lips and I've said too much already. Anyway, I first picked up this almost thirteen years ago and I loved it. Though I didn't consciously copy it, I can almost certainly credit it with my own story "Space Girls" also revolving around a crystal with supernatural powers. So, nostalgia blast. Mimban's canonicity was preserved by a passing mention in an episode of "The Clone Wars", but seeing it on the big screen was too much to hope for.
*Donald Glover looks great as Lando Calrissian. Of course, we have to cut movies a little slack because real people's appearances don't change as much with age as character's appearances do with different actors. Someday soon this problem will be solved with CG. But for now, Donald Glover is more than good enough. He looks similar enough and I enjoyed him in "Community" and he oozes charm and charisma every moment that he's onscreen in the trailers. And somewhere, I just know some mouth-breather is complaining about "the ------- social justice warriors who added another black character to Star Wars".
*Having said that, the actor they got to play Chewbacca looks exactly like the one in the original trilogy. He has the same facial structure and the same fur coloration all over and everything. He could be Peter Mayhew's clone. God bless George Lucas for saving these abnormally tall and hairy people from lives as circus freaks.
*It has the words "Star Wars" in the title.
A Reason that Puts a Teensy Little Damper on My Enthusiasm for "Solo: A Star Wars Story"
*Alden Ehrenreich looks very little like Harrison Ford. The mere fact of someone besides Harrison Ford portraying this character doesn't bother me in the slightest, but seeing as they're supposed to be the same person and Harrison Ford came first, he does need to be emulated. They don't need to be identical, like I said, but Alden Ehrlenlich is light-years away. As with Hannah, this discrepancy could also be resolved in-universe with surgery.
I will wait to see the movie before judging him on his acting. But Disney looked at thousands of auditions and literally picked the first one they saw because why exactly? It's not as if there aren't others out there who look more like Harrison Ford. This guy, for instance, who made this little gem that helps tide me over while I wait for the movie. Bracelets writes: "HOLY CRAP. THAT DUDE COULD BE HARRISON'S ILLEGITIMATE!!!"
A Person Who Made Me Happy
Adrian Thompson is, in my estimation, the best writer in our fiction class, coming in two slots above me. I was disappointed by his absence on the day that my first story was workshopped, but he sent me a message via Canvas, the website that USU uses for various stuff. Because I had not been in school for a year and a half prior to this semester, I forgot all about checking for Canvas messages and didn't notice it until about a week ago. I want to reproduce his message in its entirety here because it made me smile so hard.
"Hello Chris, since I sadly could not make it to class today I am sending my comments on your story over this email. Hopefully they will assist you with revision.
What works well:
--I honestly love this story. The first sentence is masterful in my opinion, perfectly setting up the amazing setting and interesting characters. The allusions to space-related things throughout (the Jetsons, Ernie's moon song) are just amazing and work really well to create a specific tone and mood for the surface of the moon itself.
--Jane and Chantelle's characters are examined well through what they enjoy (for Chantelle, pointing out Jane's abnormalities and for Jane, "living the experience," and we get some great interiority from Jane through all her instances similar to "but she saw no reason to tell her" or "she couldn't care less." The image of Chantelle's bright green eyes hidden behind blood-red bangs is just phenomenal. Figurative language works very well when it occurs, especially when it connects us to character, such as the "dead human skull Jane had seen once" and her beautiful meta-descriptions of earth.
--By far the strongest aspect of the story, however, is the dialogue and interaction between the characters. Every single line from each of them chastising the other is just drop-dead funny, and their familiar relationship of bully and victim is made fresh and new through the specific, unique things they say to one another. The LEVELS which each go to to in terms of criticism are just astounding, from inventing "lunar wolves" to snapping directly back at every chastisement each offers the other with a perfect response. And, oh my God, the PUNS--even down to the friggin title! So awesome. Their extended interaction is honestly so interesting that it carries the whole story by itself.
What needs improvement:
--I didn't get that they were on the moon, and not an alien planet, until page four. Mention it immediately to help the audience withhold one specific image of the setting throughout.
--In terms of worldbuilding, some things you use are working very well, like subtle mentions of slang like "stragging," "Philistines," and "space spit," all of which I just adore, and the fact that some channels on the moon's radio waves play music. Other mentions of things such as Jane's birth on Mars or descriptions of the system-wide space travel program that got them out there in the first place, however, work less well since they are mentioned briefly and without connection to the plot. Other descriptive phrases feel much too, er, "on the nose" and expected in terms of the genre, such as "the last person in the galaxy" or "like a disabled ship in a meteor storm." Just watch for moments like these which feel too basic, like something the reader him/herself would think to use given the setting, and focus on your interesting invented phrases and obscure, quirky references.
--Even though the character interaction is strong enough to carry the story in general, I do think that the narrative should be more condensed in terms of plot. While each conversation is golden in its own right, you should probably pick out the best ones and move quicker so that you have room to elaborate on other areas--such as a more lengthy description of the tussle that rips Chantelle's suit. Interaction w/ teachers and the other bullies at the end also felt sudden since we had not seen them before, so maybe switch back and forth from the main action to flashbacks that reveal Jane's relationship with all of them at the start of the trip to better establish tension throughout.
--I find it interesting that BOTH girls are unlikable/not entirely innocent in different ways, instead of just acting as an evil bully and innocent victim, but in Jane's case--as the main character--I think these aspects of her could see further exploration. She seems to feel NO guilt whatsoever to BREAKING Chantelle's space suit, but why? Would it serve the story better for her to find that she does, even though Chantelle remains so cruel to her? Take things a step farther based on what the audience knows about them by the end to expand upon each of their characters.
--The ending is great in terms of subverting expectations at first (I LOVE the fact that Jane makes a bomb instead of just giving her oxygen to Chantelle, as one may expect, but Chantelle's later reaction feels a bit wanting. For Jane to save her life and Chantelle to do NOTHING to change her attitude towards her felt jarring--she doesn't need to run over and hug her as her new best friend, but even a small mention to her cronies of "hey, maybe lets let her off the hook for today" or something like that would work great. Jane ends her character arc in a good place regardless, but for Chantelle to do NOTHING felt disappointing, as if the whole plot of the story did not accomplish anything between them.
--The mention of the nanobots feels somewhat like a cop-out--as if the characters were never in any real danger if recuperation occurs so quickly and painlessly.
Like I said, Christopher, AMAZING story, and I am truly saddened by the fact I could not take part in the discussion of the first sci-fi story I've seen in Charles' class during the past three years.
"A space hero. Like a regular hero, but in space."
A Person Who Did Not Make Me Happy
Returning home with a bag of laundry last Saturday, I was walking by the church on the boulevard when a vehicle pulled up near me and the passenger tossed a burning cigarette butt at my feet. I stood behind the vehicle and positioned my phone to take a picture of the license plate, but before I could, both of the guys inside got out. One stayed in the shadows while the other walked over to me. He had a shaved head, a tank top, and tattoos all down his muscular arms - in other words, he was yet another example of the fact that most stereotypes exist because they're true. "You got a problem?" he sputtered. "You got something to say?" He threw in a few swear words. I guess I was supposed to be intimidated. But I'm never afraid to die, and this night I was in such a dark place that my normal aversion to most physical pain was gone and I didn't care if he broke all my limbs. I had just spent stake conference hiding from my ex-crush, but this jackass with the maturity of a twelve year old did not instill me with one iota of fear.
"You dropped something," I said, pointing at it. I resumed taking the picture. Realizing that he had failed to intimidate me, he swore a few more times and went back to his buddy. I sent the picture to the police, and I don't know if they can actually do anything about it but it gave me a certain satisfaction.
I deeply regret that I didn't just pick the thing up and toss it back in at them. Dear smokers: if you want to poison yourself, that's fine with me, Darwin approves, but keep it away from me and dispose of your cigarette butts like an adult.
We had Star Wars day recently. Bracelets referred to it as "such a revered reminder of our fandom" and that was when I knew her conversion was complete. I'm so proud of her. Anyway, this John Williams masterpiece that in 1997 replaced the cute but lackluster "Yub Nub" pretty well encapsulates how I feel about this hellish semester being over, not counting the first 37 seconds because there is absolutely nothing bittersweet about it.
Over a year ago now, I was in a poetry writing group in a poetry writing class with three people that I opted to give blog pseudonyms of Glasses, Redhead, and Bracelets. The first two were never mentioned again as far as I can remember, though Bracelets became a regular character here. But now she's long since disappeared off the face of the earth for most intents and purposes, while Glasses and Redhead are still around. I kind of regret giving them these pseudonyms because they sound kind of dumb. Redhead's pseudonym doesn't even make sense now that her hair is no longer dyed an unnatural shade of red. Lesson learned. Glasses, Bracelets and I are all LDS. Glasses is a culturally unorthodox Mormon who hates society, speaks his mind and swears a lot, so we get along just great. Bracelets is a "good" Mormon minus everything that's wrong with Utah. Redhead is an ex-Mormon. She left because she never felt any sort of spiritual confirmation and allegedly was bullied in Young Women's, but that part can't be true because all Mormon females are perfect angels who can do no wrong.
I never thought I would be very friendly with Redhead after she said blog writing seems kind of egotistical, but that's behind us, I guess. She has low self-esteem and anxiety and drinks to get away from it. I have another friend whose life drove her to heroin (she's clean now, thank God), so next to that drinking seems like a positively healthy solution. One time I contacted her to tell her that she should read my blog, and found her experiencing a severe hangover. We talked a bit and I said something to the effect of, "I'm always here for you." And she was like, "Want to go get food?" And I had to be like, "Crap, I'm in Idaho." I felt so guilty, even though I was there for my great-grandfather's funeral.
She mentioned recently that she never invites me to hang out with her and her friends because they're always drinking and she doesn't want me to be uncomfortable. I said I didn't care. The only drunk person I've spent a meaningful amount of time around was my friend Ashwin, and being in that state just exacerbated his sweet and friendly persona, so I actually liked it, as awful as that is. Anyway, she invited me to watch a movie with them, but I wasn't able to go. She thought I had bailed on her and I could tell she was mad even though she said she wasn't. A couple weeks later she invited me to "beer and board games", and she said she could pick me up but she wouldn't be able to take me home but one of her other Mormon friends probably could, and if not I could sleep on her couch. As innocent as I am, it took me a while to figure out why she couldn't take me and why a Mormon would have to do it. I gave her the address and she went to the wrong side of the street and we didn't see each other, so she thought I had bailed on her again and she sent me about fifteen angry messages.
We got that straightened out and during the car ride she said she was just feeling super stressed because a guy she liked was coming and she hadn't had time to clean yet. I said she seemed happier than in class, and she said that was just because of the anxiety attack making her talk fast. We arrived and she asked if I could carry some stuff. I said sure because I'm just that nice. The back seat was full of stuff so I assumed it would be some of that. Instead, she popped the trunk and brought out a bag of limes and a case of beer for me to carry. As I followed her up the stairs to the apartment, I almost wished someone from church would see me and think that I was being bad. Then I could reap the benefits of society's warped admiration of vice without actually doing any of it. Alcohol holds no temptation for me because I know that if I ever touched a drop I would drink myself to death.
We were the first ones there, and the guy she likes showed up a few minutes later. With the gift of foreknowledge I paid attention to her interactions with him to see what sort of indications she gave of her interest. Result: nothing, zilch, nada. Afterward she asked me what I thought of him, but my opinion is totally neutral. The most I can say is that, other than being human, he didn't give me any reason to hate him during our brief time together. She said I was no help and I asked why she needs my opinion anyway and then she stopped responding to me. But going back to that night, we played several rounds of Jenga and then we played this game called "Aggravation" which was particularly aggravating for her because the other five people there chose to gang up on her. It was probably about halfway over by twelve thirty when my ride and I left. Throughout the night, of course, Redhead and the other two non-Mormons drank beer with limes, and she gradually started to smile more and laugh more and just generally seemed relaxed and happy.
Until the next morning, I'm sure. Sigh.
Mormonism: Inside and Out
This new weekly blog features Mormon scholar Patrick Mason and ex-Mormon podcaster John Dehlin engaging in a dialogue to build bridges of understanding and avoid the polemics and propaganda of the internet era. I have said before that John Dehlin is a coward and a hypocrite, and I still think that, but whether he's sincere in this endeavor or not, the result has been most enjoyable so far. It's a really important task with the potential to do a lot of good or a lot of damage depending on whether or not Patrick Mason screws it up. And so far, he's not screwing it up. Some people think he's conceded too much already, but I'm biased since I agree with him on those points. Yes, people of other faiths have legitimate visions and revelations. Get over it.
Today and tomorrow are General Conference, of course. I'll probably write about it next week if I feel like it.
Buddy Holly/William Onyeabor - Everyday
In our class, Redhead wrote a poem called "Every Day" that was about regret and depression and self-loathing. And as awful as that is, I found it kind of funny because it reminded me of two almost identically titled songs that are both super cheerful and about love.
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
C. Randall Nicholson
This is where I occasionally rant about life, the universe, and/or everything. I'm a white cisgender male and a Latter-day Saint, so you can hate me without guilt, but I'm also autistic, so you can't. Unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual.