Look at me, persevering to bring to the world this post that nobody asked for even though my laptop battery is well and truly dead. I actually am impressed that my Asus Vivobook has lasted three and a quarter years, which is about two years longer than any of my previous laptops from three different brands, and that's even considering I spilled Tang on the keyboard in January 2018. And also, the motherboard or hard drive isn't even fried like in my last three laptops, so I should just be able to get a new battery and be good to go.
The first thing I did for Halloween was the annual North Logan Pumpkin Walk. It was a walk with a bunch of pumpkins.
Then I went to a meeting of USU's Asian Student Association where they talked about scary stories and urban legends from Asia. I saw it on Facebook and went for the scary stories and urban legends, not realizing it was a standard weekly meeting, but now I have to keep going back because they were all super nice and stuff. Okay, so the scary stories and urban legends are unsettling just to think about, which is obviously the point, but they're not real. But then we transitioned from just talking to watching YouTube videos, and then this adorable Vietnamese-American metalhead wanted to watch something about "the Hello Kitty murder", and she kind of neglected to explain that this was not an urban legend but a real life event. If you don't know what it was, I highly recommend not looking it up. It's the sort of thing that I was happier not knowing had ever happened to anyone anywhere at any time. But this girl kept a calm, pleasant smile on her face throughout the video. Sicko.
I didn't dare say this, and maybe it's a stupid thing to say now either, but I noticed right away that she looked virtually identical to the victim, at least as far as I could see from the little black and white photograph, and she's about the right age to maybe possibly have been conceived around the time the victim died, and as I said her interest in the story was a little unsettling... so I'm going to pretend I believe in reincarnation because that's cool.
Another real-life YouTube video we watched had to do with the haunting of the U.S.S. Forrestal after a horrific fire that killed 134 people. Personally, I have no problem accepting the many accounts at face value and believing that this haunting is legit. Ghosts and hauntings will probably never be scientifically verifiable but I don't think all the stories and eyewitness accounts throughout the world over the years can just be dismissed with a skeptical wave of the hand, and in this case, there are many such accounts. What makes it unsettling for me is not the persistence of life beyond the grave as such, which I accept as a basic tenet of my religion, but the way these spirits met their demise and how traumatized they must have been if they were still stuck haunting that ship for decades afterward. Burning alive or choking to death are horrible ways to die. Nowhere near as horrible as the Hello Kitty murder, which I highly recommend not looking up, but still not a joyride. And many of those sailors were probably draftees who didn't even want to be there.
Prior to the Logan Institute of Religion's "Scream Fling 2019", they solicited suggestions to update their stale music selections. The guidelines of acceptable suggestions specified no profanity, even though "Cha-Cha Slide", which has played at every LDS dance I've been to since 2007, has a swear word in it, at least according to American English and nowhere else (see a recent post on that topic). They also specified no references to immoral behavior, even though "Macarena", which has played at nearly every LDS dance I've been to since 2007, is almost entirely about immoral behavior. I suggested some songs, and then I had to go to the dance to see if they implemented any of my suggestions, which spoiler alert, they did not. They played a few of their old songs, a few fresh and catchy new songs, and a lot of forgettable crap.
For those who weren't around the last time I did so, allow me to once again list my favorite dance moves.
The "George McFly"
The "Salacious Crumb"
The "Clone Troopers"
The "Obscure Peanuts"
The "Aman Mathur"
The "Emo Phillips"
The "Wayne's World"
The "The Cheat"
The "Italian Schoolgirl"
The "Russian Riverdancer"
The "What is Love?"
Because most of the music was forgettable crap, though, and because yelling small talk at a stranger for three minutes isn't my idea of a good time, I ended up laying on a couch looking at my phone. There my friend Terrah and her sister and one of their guy friends found me and made me take a picture with them. Then we left and walked home, with Terrah's sister making judgmental comments about the slutty costumes of the girls going to the university Halloween party, and the guy friend making pervy comments about same. I hit on some guy in a bra as he passed by, and he invited me to his apartment later. But we went to Terrah's apartment and played "Truth or Dare", and then around 10:30 we decided to get food, spent about twenty minutes deciding where to eat, settled on Wendy's, and returned to Terrah's apartment, and about this time I was yawning and thinking how nice it would be to go to bed, but the consensus of everyone who wasn't me was that we should watch a horror movie, and I felt like I should stay up for that because social life. Yes, I regret it today but I'll be dead someday regardless.
I'm not really into horror movies. The only ones I've seen are "Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds", "Little Shop of Horrors", "Poltergeist", "Sleepy Hollow", "The Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein", "The Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman", and "The Star Wars Holiday Special". Perhaps it's because, as the Hello Kitty murder demonstrated, many horror movies are too realistic for comfort and not the sort of escapism I have in mind when I look for escapism. The movie we picked, "When a Stranger Calls", (2006 version), is a story that technically could have happened in real life even though it didn't. Serial killers exist, cell phones exist, and incompetent parents and law enforcement exist. Too realistic for comfort.
Yet I was pleasantly surprised to find it more unsettling than scary as such. I found myself viewing it through an objective, analytical lens as if I had seen a thousand of these movies. (Spoilers alert) Okay, so there's going to be a bunch of jump-scares that are actually false alarms, and Jill probably isn't going to die because then this movie would just be depressing and nobody would like it, and the killer is no longer scary when he reveals himself and gets angry because then you know he's no longer in control of the situation, and why are they acting like Rosa's body in the fish pond is a surprise when we all saw that coming forty-five minutes ago? Also, Hulu made us watch five to seven commercials every five to seven minutes, increasing the movie's runtime by at least fifty percent and effectively preventing the suspense from getting too suspenseful. Next time I will happily chip in three bucks to skip those.
Admittedly, it was a nice touch that the killer was literally just some random white male with no motive, backstory or name given. You only see his face briefly but you can tell he's pure evil because he has a scar. The most unsettling part by far is the very end when, despite an ostensibly happy ending, Jill is in a hospital bed with her parents and the doctors trying to calm her as she screams and thrashes around and hallucinates that he's after her again. Yay for our protagonist getting possibly lifelong PTSD. It's pretty unfair that teenage girls are always the victims in these movies. I mean, not that an adult would deserve it either, but at least with her fully developed brain she would have a better chance of processing the trauma. To say nothing of the kids, though at least they survived, unlike the original movie. But what Jill should have done is keep stabbing the guy with the fire poker once she had him down, until he was well and truly dead. Then she never would have made eye contact with him and she would probably have fewer hallucinations.
I know I keep saying "unsettled" or "unsettling". I'm not trying to be all macho by claiming that these things don't actually scare me as such. They don't, but plenty of other things do. I experience soul-crushing terror on at least a weekly basis. It's just usually instilled by more mundane things like seeing my crush at church or laying awake in bed at night and suddenly thinking in vivid detail about what it would feel like to fall out of an airplane. These other things unsettle me because they remind me how permanently uncomfortable I am living in this crapsack world of pain and injustice, but what can you do?
I want to give a completely unrelated shout-out to an old friend of mine and some guy I don't know, who recently started a podcast dedicated to Star Wars in general and Knights of the Old Republic in particular. Check out their first episode here:
It's always interesting when a discussion on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' former ban on priesthood and temple blessings for people of African descent partially morphs into a discussion on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' severely deficient dating culture, as happened recently in the comments section of a blog post about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' current circumstances and future prospects in Brunei. At least I say it's interesting because then I can copy that discussion and save myself a lot of effort. Selected comments follow.
First, some guy named Tony complained about President Nelson not apologizing for the ban when he spoke recently at the NAACP convention. Many people think the Church should apologize, but for whatever reasons, it hasn't and at this point is probably never going to.
[C]hanging your mind later doesn't make up for the tears, heartache and pain. I lived in London before the ban was lifted and there were quite a few black members. We had black women married to white men. He could go to the temple do his endowment. She couldn't and couldn't be sealed to him or their children! Can you understand that heartache and pain? While we went to priesthood meeting the black male members had to sit outside! While we went to the temple and served missions they couldn't! While we had many different callings they were restricted to Sunday school president or teacher! Can you comprehend how that made people feel. I sat with people who broke their heart because they were good members but because of their skin colour they couldn't be full members!No retro fitting of history changes that trauma but an apology would help!
Then this guy Johnathan chimed in and I was very impressed by what he had to say.
With all due respect, I can to a degree understand that pain. I am not a black person, but I am a single man in his late thirties. Because of my single status, I've been denied visiting my nieces and nephews in primary and made to wait outside due to the teachers thinking I'm a "weirdo" or a "pervert" due to my single male status. I was released from my calling in the young men leadership as soon as a new bishop was called, because that bishop was prejudiced against me due to my single status. Before the release, he would sit in our classes, micro-manage and interrupt each time I would try to speak, despite the fact I was trying to bear testimony or share uplifting experiences from my mission. This same bishop refused to allow me to go on a temple trip to Manti with my own teenage nieces and nephews, not because of any worthiness issues on my part, but because in his own words, having me as a single adult man in his thirties on the trip would be "innapropriate."
He's not the only bishop or congregation to treat me this way, either. When I was 33, I went to the closest YSA ward I could find to my house (I had just moved) and was rudely told I didn't belong there due to my age.
The Stake President's wife in my current stake asked me if I needed to have a worthiness interview with her husband because I had made the offhand comment that I, "wasn't in a huge hurry to get married."
As a YSA and an older single adult, I've been handed pamphlets from prophets and apostles condemning me for being single - accusing me of not having my priorities straight, not being eternally minded, being lazy, shiftless, or a "menace to society." I've sat through lectures from Institute teachers, Bishops, Stake Presidents, and Apostles and Prophets during the Priesthood Session of General Conference accusing me of being unworthy, sinful, not honoring my priesthood, etc., simply because of my social status, and not based on the actual thoughts and intents of my heart.
For years, these experiences taken together filled me with bitterness and anger towards the church, and severely tried my faith. However, through a long difficult period of personal reflection, prayer, and scripture study I've come to realize a few things:
One is that you can't sit around waiting for other people to apologize to you (no matter how justified you are in your position). As a follower of Christ, your first responsibility is to love your enemy, bless them that curse you, do good unto them that despitefully use you. Jesus didn't say, "Refrain from doing good until you've managed to cast the mote out of someone else's eye." We know what he did say, and it involves changing the mind and the heart of the one person you have control over - yourself.
On my mission, when Elder Eca from Nigeria was handed a copy of the Church News pertaining to the 25 year anniversary of the 1978 revelation on the priesthood, he bore his testimony about it. He served in the inner city in Louisville Kentucky, and he was constantly asked about the priesthood ban.
"I don't care. We didn't have it then, but we have it now, and that's what matters."
The 1978 revelation is retroactive, as is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. All who didn't receive the blessings who are still living can now go to the temple and be baptized and be sealed. We have African and African Americans who hold the priesthood now and are serving as general authorities of the church. And all who died before receiving these blessings will receive them by proxy through temple work. This is stronger than a verbal apology. This is action to right the wrongs of the past. Besides, Christ himself already made the ultimate apology, he apologized to the Father for all our mistakes, including the mistakes made by our leaders. All of these injustices are swallowed up in His infinite Atonement.
Then Dane, the resident tough guy, offered a word of caution.
Johnathan: While I admire your turn the other cheek attitude, I also hope you haven't become a doormat in putting up with these types of behaviors. There is nothing inherently wrong in standing up for yourself and sometimes in life, it is essential to do so lest you begin to lose your mind. Too often in life, and particularly in the Church, things get swept under the rug.
Johnathan took the advice in stride.
Very true, and I appreciate your concern, too.
While I do believe there are times to turn the other cheek, I recognize there are times to defend oneself, also.
However, one of the main things I'm wary about in myself (or in others who have been wronged) is developing a victim mentality because of the injustices performed against us.
A few years ago, I had a bishop who I felt was being unfair with me. He'd cut me off when I'd speak to him, wouldn't let me elaborate or explain my situation, and only gave me questions in interviews that I could answer with, "Yes, sir!" I got tired of that behavior after a while and made clear to him that he was being manipulative. He apologized, and respected me after that.
Recently, regarding the bishop I mentioned in my previous comment who wouldn't allow me to go on the youth temple trip to Manti, I confronted him about his treatment of me (and others in my ward who had special needs), as well. Unfortunately, he is a military person who acts constantly like, "It's my way or the highway." I was so upset with him for a while that I actually was worried that I might get in a physical fight with him. I can be a fiery tempered person, and so I have to watch myself and my temper.
After a lot of consideration, prayer, and talking with family and friends about what to do about the situation (I was prepared to take my concerns to the stake president or higher), the words of a scripture I'd memorized years earlier kept coming back to me:
"The Lord shall fight for you and ye shall hold your peace." (Exodus 14:14)
I felt that I needed to step back, forgive the man (let go of all the anger I had towards him - despite the fact that he wasn't changing his behavior as fast as I would have hoped), and see how the Lord would handle it.
Fortunately, that story has a happy ending (at least for now).
About six months ago our Stake boundaries were rearranged and I was placed in a different ward from him. That solved my problem, but I was still worried about other members of his ward (some who were friends of mine) who had also had problems with him. Luckily, he was released (two-years early) from the bishopric about two months ago. I had also found out through the grapevine that some members of the ward were possibly taking their case against him to the church's legal department, which may have lead to the release.
Yes, sometimes we need to fight, and other times it's better to follow the example of Zion's Camp, where we initially think we have to fight, but really the Lord is testing our patience and wants us to "Stand still, and know that I am God."
For every bishop and ward member who has been a jerk to me, I can name other bishops or ward members who've been kind or friendly or considerate. And I've even seen some of those jerks come around and let go of their old prejudices through time and patience.
I'm not saying that what happened with that last bishop of mine will happen in every case of a leader we disagree with, but I do advocate for taking each scenario one at a time and turning to the Lord for specific answers.
Perhaps feeling a tad guilty for splitting the discussion in half, Johnathan brought it back around in his next comment.
One thing I forgot to mention was how the Priesthood Revelation has affected me personally.
Because of it, I'm now sealed to two members of my extended family with black heritage: a cousin-in-law from Nigeria, and a sister-in-law from Brazil (who has probable African roots, as well as probable native-indian Brazilian roots).
Additionally, I've dated African and African American women in the past (both named Keisha, coincidentally), and wouldn't be against someday marrying a black woman if I happen to meet one I'm compatible with.
We could have all left it at that, but I I wanted to express some empathy and camaraderie to Johnathan. Dating is utter garbage. Dating in the Church of Jesus Christ is, if possible, doubly so. (Every YSA acknowledges this. It's just that most of them think it's worth it for the chance to get married, but I don't.) And I could have spent a couple hours writing a tirade against it, but I exercised restraint and tact instead. I'm occasionally capable of that.
There is a horrific double standard in our culture. When a man in single, it's his fault and he should be condemned. When a woman is single, it's a man's fault and she should be pitied. What if we all minded our own business?
That set him off again, and it was glorious. Not because I reveled in his discomfort, but because he gave our culture a piece of his mind that it so, so richly deserved. And yet he was so calm and articulate.
Very true. And I'm well aware of the disparity between how male and female singles have been talked to and treated for years in the church.
I've heard all women praised from the pulpit for being beautiful, lovely, of good report and praiseworthy, or being sweet spirits, whereas the same speaker has cast doubt as to there being any single man living his priesthood to be worthy enough for them.
I've had a bishop who would excitedly welcome ever single woman in the YSA ward with a big hug (as if they were his granddaughters), but when I walked up to talk to him and introduce myself, he kept his distance and stared at me like I was a drunken hobo who'd wandered in from the street. And that's not just the first time I met him, that happened on several occasions while I was in his ward.
I had a Stake President sit us all down as an Elder's Quorum and give us a lecture about how it was our duty to "date every girl in the ward." Not taking into account the individual worthiness of these women, or the strength of their testimonies, or whether or not they had any social skills, or dressed or acted in a way to attract the opposite sex, or were good conversationalists, or whether or not any of us had chemistry with them at all. To clarify, this was not a ward where dating wasn't happening. This was a typical Idaho Falls YSA where dating and marriage were happening all the time, and I was a prolific dater in the ward. When I didn't have a steady girlfriend in that ward, I was still asking someone out at least once a month. But we still got the blanket sweep of, "You need to be dating all these sweet spirits, you lazy slobs!"
And it wasn't just from the leadership, either. I and some other men in the ward had a conversation with three of the ladies where they told us their perspective was, "Every woman deserves to be chased." (Not "chaste," but "chased.") As in, pursued by suitors. Yet, these women were themselves picky. I later asked all three of them on dates at separate times: one stood me up; another went with me to a movie, then never spoke to me again; and another went with me on a date, then didn't speak to me again for months (luckily, she and I became friends a lot later, but she did end up marrying someone else). And they were picky with other men, too.
To be fair, though, it hasn't always been condemning the men. I've heard talks (particularly from institute teachers) where they've said, "If none of you single people (men and women) make it to the Celestial Kingdom, it'll be your own fault!" And another where a man got up and chastised his daughter (who wasn't present), for dumping the boyfriends he thought were perfect for her, so in his mind that meant she now had to "settle."
This benevolent/not-so-benevolent sexism isn't nearly as pronounced in my ward, but it's present, just as it always has been as I've grown up in the Church. We did stop saying "Ladies first" at linger-longers, a commandment that I started ignoring anyway, so that's progress.
I bring these things up, not to condemn these leaders or teachers, but to point out an interesting phenomena I've noticed in the church. I call it the "parents' goggles" or the "grandparents' goggles." Many single people out there will know what I'm talking about. Your parent or your grandparent or your bishop has been happily married for decades, so all they remember now is the good times they had courting their sweetheart, and the happiness they've enjoyed since that union. They've completely forgotten all the heartache they went through from being rejected, stood up, having their love unrequited, or all the searching and struggling they had to do before they found someone compatible for them (and who the Lord also approved of). Additionally, many of them were young in a time period where dating had a more universally accepted social-infrastructure. The rules were clearly set out. The man courted the woman by doing such and such, and the woman either accepted or rejected by doing such and such. I'm not saying it was a better system - just that the gender roles were more generally accepted by the parties involved, so you didn't have as many question marks as to how you were supposed to approach courtship. A lot of the older generation still think dating is just as simple as it used to be, so they're frustrated and blame us singles, assuming that we're just lazy because the process itself should be so simple and straightforward.
One last problem is getting talks from people who married young or who married their "high school sweetheart." These can be the worst in my opinion. A lot of these guys/gals were the prom king or the captain of the football team, and the girls were a cheerleader or the homecoming queen (insert other popular teenage social positions at your discretion). Yeah! Dating was so easy! I was attractive and popular, so members of the opposite sex just kept lining up to go out with me, so I had to beat them off with a stick! These people generally have no concept of what it was like to struggle with dating as a teenager, let alone struggle through all of your twenties alone, let alone struggle through most of your thirties (and beyond) alone. Dating is completely different for me now in my late thirties than it was when I was fresh off my mission at 22. And people who got married in their early twenties straight off their missions can't grasp that.
Understand, I'm not trying to be negative. Talks condemning all singles for being unworthy, or ones that talk about how easy the dating process should be, used to really upset me. As a person who has actively dated and tried to get married throughout my entire adult life, anymore I just kind of turn a deaf ear to the talks that don't apply to me, and look for the ones that are more sympathetic to singles in general, or the ones from speakers who I can see actually have been through the trenches with dating and do understand what we go through. And I try to understand that many of these speakers are just seeing us through the distorted lens of "grandparents' goggles," and forgive them for it.
I agree with virtually all of what Johnathan said. Of course, his remarks and my approval of them are not anti-woman, but anti-putting-women-on-a-pedestal. And the people who put women on a pedestal are usually men. Funny how we perpetuate this cycle of abuse against our own kind. It reminds me of how I read in an Anthropology class years ago that women, not men, are by and large the ones who perpetuate the tradition of female genital mutilation on their own daughters and granddaughters, falsely believing that they're being helpful. And I think most women hate being put on a pedestal too. I don't think they want to be worshiped. I don't think they want to be held to impossible standards. Of course, I'm not a woman and I could be completely wrong.
I think I relate to Johnathan because I anticipate being him in a decade or so. Of course, my efforts to date are half-hearted and rare and undoubtedly by my late thirties will have ceased altogether, and I also anticipate being very rich by then and I don't care what anyone says, I don't have a single problem in my life that money wouldn't completely and immediately solve, so the situations aren't entirely analogous. But I've been in love and I've wanted to marry specific people at specific times so I imagine a normal person's generalized desire to get married is like that, but constant, and my heart goes out to Johnathan and everyone else in that same boat. I hope someday our culture will grow up. Until then, whenever I hear an insensitive comment at church or in institute about how I need to ask girls out, I just mentally flip the guy off and let it go. It's not worth getting too upset over.
I actually would have forgotten all about the Logan Institute of Religion's closing social if I hadn't heard "Cupid Shuffle" earlier that day, which immediately reminded me. I believe every dance organized by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in North America is contractually obligated to include "Cupid Shuffle" and "Cha-Cha Slide". This one was different than normal, though, as it was hosted by a live DJ who played sort of a mixtape of all the songs with only a couple pauses for slow ones. The dance and the food were also the only options this time around. No games, no movie, no room hilariously labeled "The Friend Zone" where you could go make friends. But no choice paralysis, so that was nice. Of course I got food first, which I would have done even if the dance had started yet, which it hadn't, and sat down to eat in the dark gym where I hoped I could be left alone. But this guy, let's call him James, found me.
James was in my ward for a year or two until he aged out of it. He's one of those guys who will talk to you for half an hour no matter how little interest you show in what he's saying. Unlike most of those guys, however, he thinks he's some kind of holy man - he literally told me that everything he says or does is "sanctified" by the Holy Ghost so that he can say or do whatever he wants and remain temple worthy - with the mission to share his special, deep, made-up doctrine with anyone who will listen. This time around he told me about how the "Second Coming" doesn't actually refer to Christ returning to the Earth, but rather to the people of Zion coming together and coming up to meet him, or something, and the leaders of the Church just don't understand that yet. President Nelson, did, however, say in the last General Conference that time is running out, which James enthusiastically took as validation that "I'm not crazy!"
I just nodded through it like usual. I didn't know what else to do. He masterfully weaves unrelated and decontextualized scripture verses together to support his hypotheses, and I lack the skill to refute them on the spot. Besides, telling this kind of people they're wrong tends to just give them a persecution complex and reinforce their conviction. See also: anti-vaxxers. And I try to be nice to him because I know what it's like to be stigmatized for mental illness and I don't want to do that to someone else. But when he felt the need to tell me in graphic detail about his imaginary sex life that I never asked about, and called my dear friend Mackenzie whom he's never met a whore and servant of Satan, and got agitated while driving and started grabbing at imaginary demon-things he called "birds", and said he was working behind the scenes to stop the missionaries from baptizing those he deemed unworthy, I had to do something. I told the bishop everything and made it his problem. I felt bad, since he was new at being a bishop for the first time, but better him than me. Then James aged out of the ward and things calmed down for a couple years until the other night.
When he left to wander around I bolted from the gym and found a table in one of the lounges. I had to socialize, but so be it; at least I was safer. The dance was supposed to start at 7 so I returned to the gym only to find that it had been postponed by fifteen minutes, so I went back to the lounge and found a chair by the corner where I could be alone. Some girl perpendicular to me was still eating. Then "Joe" happened by. Joe is a regular fixture at the institute who looks for girls with athletic figures and then talks to them about football until they wish they were dead. I mean, I don't know what exactly they're thinking, but even I can tell they're not enjoying it. So he said "Hi" to this girl and she said "Hi" back and they stared each other down for a moment and I don't know how she did it, but he left. That was a surprise. Another surprise happened when she subsequently turned to me and said, "And how are you, Chris?"
Sometimes I feel like I have real honest-to-goodness dementia. It's absurd how often someone addresses me by name and I don't even recognize their face. Apparently this was someone from my ward named Jessica who's friends with Amelia Whitlock whom I quoted in the blurb for this blog, and she said Amelia recently noticed that and got all excited but I could have sworn I asked permission to use it in the first place so I thought she already knew that. Jessica asked what I was doing and I said I was reading an article on my phone about computer reconstructions of historical figures' heads and she said that was cool. I tried to scroll down to George Washington and show her, but my phone chose that time to replace the article with a choppy white screen and the moment I got to him she said "See ya" and left.
Then the dance started and I wandered in because a. there was nothing else to do and b. I never get to play my music that loud at home. So that went on and then the first of two slow songs came on and the DJ complained that there were too many ladies not being asked to dance. As generous as I am, there was nothing I could do to single-handedly solve that problem, and I don't typically ask strangers to dance anyway because in my view it's one of the least efficient ways to meet people. I looked around for somebody I knew. Technically I knew Jessica now, so I figured I'd ask her if I could find her. But someone very unexpectedly tapped me on the shoulder and asked me first, having either taken pity on me or taken her destiny into her own hands. So we walked sideways in a circle and demonstrated why this is one of the least efficient ways to meet people.
Me: WHAT'S YOUR NAME?
Me: WITH A 'T' AS IN 'TRAILER'?
I thought she said Tori, but I had to verify that it wasn't Corrie because that's technically a woman's name and even if it wasn't, you can never be sure. Given that she's from Utah I can't even be sure that "Tori" isn't spelled with four m's and a silent q. We had a nice conversation, all things considered, but it was over so fast, which is the other reason why this is one of the least efficient ways to meet people. After two or three minutes we just knew a few basic facts about each other, mostly about me because she asked most of the questions because I was still perplexed that this was happening, and then we high-fived and there was little else to do. Maybe this works for attractive guys, but I don't feel like I can ask for someone's number or add them on Facebook after two or three minutes of small talk, and I actually gave up years ago on asking for numbers without a legitimate reason at all because texting them and getting no response got old fast. I'm not likely ever going to see her again. So this experience left me more depressed than if nothing had happened. Don't get me wrong, though, I do appreciate Tori for being nice and assertive.
Eventually I needed a water break and there I ran into the missionaries, or rather I chased them down and demanded to know why they haven't visited me yet. Sister Black asked if I'd been dancing and meeting girls and whatever, and I said yes, but I guess she didn't hear me because she pushed me back to the gym. She pushed me with the fingertips of one hand, and I could have easily resisted or moved aside, but they wanted to come to my endowment if possible so I needed to discuss that with them anyway so I decided to just cooperate and let her feel like she was doing a good deed by forcing me to be sociable. I happen to know that she wants to travel the world by herself instead of getting married, so it seems slightly hypocritical, but whatever. I talked as I let her push me and then we reached the gym doors and the second of the two slow songs came on, which made her extra insistent that I go ask a girl to dance. I would have taken fifteen seconds, tops, to finish talking to the missionaries and then gone in and maybe found Tori and asked her to dance again if that wasn't too weird. But James showed up again.
James literally pushed me aside - a gentle push, like Sister Black's, though unlike Sister Black he's big enough to pound me into a pancake if he wanted - and started talking to the missionaries as if I wasn't there. He launched right into his special doctrine. I zoned out and only caught a few words here and there, but it went down exactly like the last time I lingered nearby while he talked to missionaries. One companion stared at him, enraptured, while the other glanced at me and smiled as if to say, "Is this for real? Are you hearing this too? At least I'm not alone." For at least five minutes he talked to them, long past the end of the second and final slow song, ignoring my telepathic pleas that could have been accurately bowdlerized as "Go away." At long last he did, and we wandered away in a daze. Sister Black, the one who'd smiled at me, said, "That was the craziest person I've ever met!"
"Was that your first time?" I asked.
"Yes," she said. "You know him?" I said I did, and we finished talking, and she characterized his interruption as "rude" which made me feel better that I wasn't the only one annoyed by it. If I have to suffer, other people should too. That's just fair. I'm glad I'm no longer the craziest person she's ever met.
The following evening USU held its monthly "Poetry and a Beverage" event. It was Glasses' final performance. I wrote years ago about my fiction writing group members whom I dubbed Bracelets, Redhead, and Glasses, and those were stupid pseudonyms and I usually don't even bother with pseudonyms anymore, but I stuck with them for the sake of consistency even though I think I only mentioned Redhead and Glasses one more time after that. At that time I described the latter as "a culturally unorthodox Mormon who hates society, speaks his mind and swears a lot", and that's still pretty accurate except that we're not supposed to say "Mormon" anymore. He's a real cool guy and I've talked to him and seen him around over the years but I just never wrote about him because our conversations are none of your business.
He's a master of rhythmic, almost rap-like, humorous and unfiltered poetry that he's performed at almost evey PoBev while here, and as far as USU is concerned, last night was his magnum opus. (As far as I'm concerned, his magnum opus is still the ode to Oreos that he wrote back in 2015. Good luck ever topping that one, pal.) It was long and covered a lot of unrelated topics, kind of like my early blog posts but actually entertaining, and included enough opinions to offend everyone in the room. Among other things he reflected on his time at USU, his positive memories and his less positive memories and the fact that tuition has risen 22% while he was here even though the national average increase was only 9%. He listed some things that everyone is supposed to love that he doesn't love (like animals, babies, and Bernie Sanders).
He concluded by expressing exactly how he felt about certain aspects of USU and college in general, repeating the same colorful four-letter verb as a mantra for each aspect. A very few people got up and left at that point, but when he finished he got the loudest and most enthusiastic applause of any act I saw that night or at any other time. The organizers were well aware of his previous contributions and smart enough to save him for last. I know I can't do justice to his poetry or convey its appeal with my weak summary, but this being his last time and all I wanted to pay tribute. He and a couple other people have asked when I'm going to perform at PoBev. I'm thinking probably never, but stranger things have happened. I just can't think of any.
For months I've wanted to actually get a Halloween costume for the first time in my adult life, specifically Link from "The Legend of Zelda", but since a parasite took all my money and then some that was not feasible. However, the LDS Institute of Religion had at its Halloween party a table full of random costume pieces, so I picked out some that more or less matched and made whatever this is. Maybe it's just as well, since the many options for Link costume had me gripped by choice paralysis and a fear of not choosing the best one at the best price. Next year, though.
Also, in case you can't see, the bag I'm holding has a Triforce drawn on it. There was candy in it and I don't know whose it was or where they got it but they left it behind when the event was over so it became mine. I don't know if it's just a Utah thing, but I've noticed lately that there's a surprising number of Triforces around if you're looking for them. Earrings, shirts, chalk drawings on the sidewalk. Other Zelda references too, but especially Triforces, probably because very few shapes are so iconic with such simplicity. It's a beautiful epidemic.
I'm usually pretty chill about the prejudice against Aspies and autistic people. I figure countless millions of people have been discriminated against for stupid reasons, so who am I to think I'm better than them? Who am I to resent someone calling the cops on me for acting strange when better men than I have been murdered for their skin color? I sometimes see the phrase "screeching autistically" used as some kind of derisive and not particularly funny joke. While I'm at the high-functioning end of the spectrum and do not, to my knowledge, screech in this manner, still I have a kinship with those who do and therefore try to gently guilt-trip people out of mocking them. I saw a dumb teenager use the phrase a few weeks ago. It would have been silly for me to get upset, because when I was a dumb teenager my friends and I were quite unrestrained in throwing around words like "gay" and "retarded", mostly at each other. I cringe to think about that now.
But I have less patience with adults, especially LDS adults, who should know better. The other day one used "miserable Aspie" as a slur against Jeremy Runnells who isn't even, to my knowledge, an Aspie. I told him to bite me. And I felt that I was symbolically saying it not just to him, but to the countless people throughout my life who have treated me like less than a person. So I'm still not perfect. Or sorry.
The Logan institute recently did its closing social and made it Star Wars themed. Mormons love Star Wars for theological reasons in addition to the reasons that everyone else loves Star Wars. Each room was supposed to represent a different location from one of the movies, and while they were in the planning stages I took the liberty of contributing unsolicited and tasteless suggestions.
These were better ideas than what they did for the opening social. They were calling one of the rooms "The Friend Zone" which was a clever joke because it was a place where you went to make friends. But not many people came in. I think they were afraid that if they came in, they would never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever leave.
We made several Star Wars decorations. The most bizarre in my opinion was a cutout of Darth Vader saying "Great leaders inspire greatness in others." Sorry, what? Did we leave off the end of the quote? "...by punishing failure with death," or something? This is Darth Vader, not Jesus. I heard there were several activities at this social but since one of them was an actual Star Wars movie, none of the others mattered. I heard one of them was a dance. The only dance move that most Mormons know, at least in this country, is jumping. Most people would call it "jumping up and down" but that's stupid because you only jump up and then the down part just kind of happens by itself. It's a cool move, but it's not my favorite. What are my favorites? I'm glad you asked! Let me show you!
The "George McFly"
The "Salacious Crumb"
The "Clone Troopers"
The "Obscure Peanuts"
The "Aman Mathur"
The "Emo Philips"
The "Wayne's World" (especially for Rammstein)
The "The Cheat"
The "Italian Schoolgirl"
The "Russian Riverdancer"
The "What is Love?"
I had to make more than half of those GIFs myself, and it was a real pain in the neck. Please read this post twice to justify the amount of work I put into it.
I suppose now that I'm feeling less lazy I should record something for posterity about visiting my grandparents for Thanksgiving. They live in eastern Idaho. It's a beautiful place if you like seeing eight hundred cow fields in a row, which I don't particularly, but I love it anyway. Up until a few years ago my grandparents had cows too. Cows are one of the ubiquitous animals that everyone, at least in the western hemisphere, knows about from infancy, but if you've only seen them in pictures and/or from a distance you may be surprised to discover how massive they are. I was. And if you've never had your hand sucked on by a calf before, put it on your bucket list. It feels amazing until you pull your hand out. I went back to the now-empty barn to look around and, surprise, it still smells like cows. My sense of smell is virtually nonexistent but one of the few things I can smell, fortunately for my nostalgia, is cows. I found two kittens sleeping, got closer, and then found that they weren't sleeping but were in fact part of a cluster of ten dead kittens in varying stages of decay. How they all came to be in that spot is perhaps best left to the imagination.
Next to the barn is a shed full of junk, including no fewer than nine bicycles and an old-timey radio. Whenever I see it I think it would be cool to fix it up and use it, but then I remember that it would still only play modern stations and that would totally kill the magic. And then, outside, there's like twenty enormous farm machines that are probably going to stay right where they are until the Second Coming. It's weird to think that one day Grandpa just turned each one off and never used it again. Kind of like how one day your parents put you down and never picked you up again. And they can't have been cheap.
The main way we spend time together when I'm there is by watching TV. In all seriousness, I feel that it brings me closer to them. As soon as Thanksgiving was over we watched "The Muppet Christmas Carol", the Rockettes Radio City Music Hall Christmas show from 2007, a ghost movie called "The Spirit of Christmas" that was all right but should have been half an hour longer to flesh out the reasons for the romance, and the first few minutes of some movie called "Noel". They turned it off after someone said to the protagonist, "You need sex. Good sex." My sister thought that it should have been PG-13 but since it was made a long time ago, in 2004, it must have been before the PG-13 rating was created. She was only off by twenty years.
But none of them had minded a few minutes earlier when the protagonist said something like, "I'm doing great! You know, single woman over forty during the Christmas season! Just keep me away from any kitchen knives or open windows for the next few days! Ha ha... heh..." So I'm not sure why the word "sex" is more offensive than a joke about suicide. Although I'd be lying if I said I didn't find said joke hilarious. But they turned that off and I requested "The Santa Clause" because I hadn't seen it in a very long time. Well, I don't know what else to say about this vacation now but I really just wanted to say something about how big cows are.
Auralnauts - Jedi Party
So how do actual Jedi dance? Look no further to find out! This is from the redubbed Star Wars film "Attack of the Phantom Past" and makes sense in context. Kind of.
"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.