The bus that picked me up from Green Canyon High School was moving through the final crosswalk before the transit center, already late, when one of Utah's special drivers tried to turn in front of it and forced the driver to slam on the brakes, sending my phone through the air. I took the Lord's name in vain and extended my middle finger toward her, but she probably didn't notice. Then I went to pick up my phone, but it wasn't on the floor. It wasn't on a seat. It wasn't anywhere. The bus pulled in, everyone else got off, and I kept looking back and forth and over and under and behind with no success. I knew my phone was still on the bus because it was still broadcasting music into my headphones. I told the driver what had happened, and then to my surprise, a transit center employee came on and looked for it too. We were already late, and I knew the other passengers must hate me, and I couldn't blame them. But it wasn't my fault, it was that damn driver's fault. The employee said they'd have to look more thoroughly when the bus was out of commission.
I didn't want to leave without my phone, so I saw no alternative but to stay on for another loop. I tried really hard to take a Buddhist perspective and not be totally pissed off about this waste of my time. The smallest events change the courses of our lives in unpredictable and unknowable ways, so who's to say this waste of my time wouldn't save me from some horrible fate or expose me to some glorious opportunity? Of course, it could also have done the opposite of either of those things, but I tried not to think about that. The point was I didn't know, so I shouldn't be mad. I took the empty spot next to the one girl who had asked me what I was looking for while all the other passengers ignored me. By this point I had turned off my headphones. Maybe she would become my best friend, I thought. Maybe that was the silver lining here. I had the idea to ask if I could log into Google on her phone and use "Find My Phone" to make my phone make a noise even though it was on silent. It took me a while to build up the courage to make such a bold request, but I did, and she said yes.
I put in my email and then her phone just spun a loading circle at me and did nothing. She said she'd just gotten it from her stepdad and it didn't work very well. She played with some settings and tried to fix it. She called her mom. I got up a couple of times to look for my phone again in the same places I had already looked four times. It's not like there were a bunch of nooks or crevices for it to be hiding in. The girl couldn't get her phone to work, but she said I could get off the bus with her and go to her apartment and try to track my phone from her laptop. I couldn't believe it. We were going to be friends! So I did that. Her apartment was surprisingly well-furnished and had two cats, one of whom took an instant liking to me. The girl said that meant I was special. I was okay with that as long as she didn't start saying stuff like she could read my aura and my heart was a nice color and she could see the future. She offered me water and said she was a bad host for not offering sooner. I said it was nice of her to invite me inside in the first place. She said she likes to help people, and if most people were as helpful as her, the world wouldn't be in the state that it's in.
As you may have already guessed, I couldn't log in to Google on her computer because it required a verification code that it sent to my phone. There was literally no other way to do it. No security questions, nothing. She said I could report it as a theft to the police and they could help track it. I hoped it wouldn't come to that because I hate the police. I went back out to the bus stop in front of her apartment, and she asked if I wanted her to wait with me, and I said I didn't care, so she did. She asked about my life, and she said she wanted to go to USU, and that was when I figured out that, contrary to my assumption, she wasn't an adult. She still had a couple years of high school left. I now realized that we wouldn't be friends because it would be inappropriate for me to try to stay in touch in any way. Also, maybe she shouldn't have invited me into her apartment when her parents weren't home. But it's not like she was unfamiliar with stranger danger. When I said I didn't know my roommate before he moved in a couple of weeks ago, she said she hopes he's not a serial killer and doesn't murder me.
Because the bus on this route was so far behind schedule, only partially because of me, another bus came through this time. I went to the original bus and asked the driver about my phone. Still nothing. He said maybe it was in the lost and found. I didn't have time to check right then because I took a detour to campus to turn in my city council ballot. I didn't vote for any incumbents because they all ignored my email of complaint about the police department. Then I walked home and opened "Find My Phone" on my laptop, where fortunately I was already logged into Google. At first it appeared that my phone had somehow fallen off by Mount Logan Middle School, just a few blocks away, even though we hadn't stopped there. But I refreshed the page and saw that, in fact, it was still traveling along the bus route. I took my laptop with me back to the transit center so I could use it to make my phone make noise as soon as the bus pulled in. I could do this because a few months ago, my neighbor didn't pay his power bill, and the WiFi went out, and he gave me access to xfinity WiFi hotspots. I was very curious to see where my phone had ended up and how the hell I had missed it over and over again.
So the bus pulled in, I clicked the button, and I got on. Everyone missed or ignored the noise as they filed off, but as I headed toward the back of the bus it got louder and louder, and then my phone was right there on the floor, exactly where it should have landed when it flew out of my hand in the first place. It wasn't camouflaged by any stretch, but on top of that, the white sticker that I'd found on the grounds of Green Canyon High School and stuck on it that very day was still on it. I was too dumbfounded to be upset. And although I've all but completely lost faith that God intervenes in my life at all, I don't have a better explanation this time. Maybe he had saved me from a horrible fate or exposed me to a glorious opportunity and wanted to make sure I noticed even though I'd probably never figure out what it was.
Last weekend, I had planned to go camping in Bryce Canyon with some friends, but at the last minute one of them needed to stay somewhere with WiFi access to work something out with his fiancee's visa. They've been working on her visa for over sixteen months, which is why I support illegal immigration. He wanted the rest of us to go camping without him, but the rest of us decided to hang out at his place instead. We went to the zoo and had a swell time. I was going to write some commentary to go with these pictures, but I decided it wasn't worth the effort for the three people who would read it. Sorry. I'll just say that the highlight of the trip was the orangutan who looked right at us while masturbating, but I didn't take a picture of that.
This week's post is rushed because I'm very sleep-deprived and busy. Tomorrow and Monday I'll be hanging out with friends in Salt Lake. We were going to go camping in Bryce Canyon, but literally today something came up with one of the friends' fiancée's visa process that's already been going for well over a year and would be delayed even further if he didn't do the thing on Monday. So he wanted us to go camping without him, but we voted to hang out at his place instead. Awww.
After Donald Trump's fourth set of indictments, which is four more sets of indictments than any other former U.S. president has ever gotten, we finally get a mugshot. He looks like a petulant toddler. He's probably thinking, "ASK ANYONE AND THEY'LL TELL YOU, WE'VE GOT ALL THE BEST PEOPLE AND THEY'LL ALL TELL YOU I'M MORE INNOCENT THAN JESUS. NOBODY INNOCENTS MORE BIGLY THAN ME. WHEN I WEAR MY ORANGE JUMPSUIT, I'LL LOOK NAKED. VOTE FOR ME IN 2024 AND THEN BUILD ME A TEMPLE, YOU IMBECILES. I WARNED YOU THAT BIDEN WOULD LISTEN TO THE SCIENTISTS. IF I DIE IN PRISON, TELL ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ THAT I'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO GRAB HER BY THE HEART. COVFEFE"
I'm looking forward to his convictions, but I'm not looking forward to how his sycophantic ass-kissing cultists will react to his convictions. Every Trump supporter who says they're going to start a civil war or "take this country back" should be taken at their word and put on a domestic terrorist watchlist immediately. I'm sure January 6, 2021 only scratched the surface of their delusional anger.
I've been to six movies in the theater this year. That's like thrice as many as I usually go to. This past week, I went to see The Last Voyage of the Demeter because my friend Katie wanted to see it before it left the theater due to its underperformance. I hesitated. I'd never seen an R-rated horror movie on the big screen in the dark before. Was I brave enough? But I realized pretty fast that it couldn't possibly be scarier than the real world that I have to live in every single day. This week I learned about Howard Schneider, a pediatric dentist in Jacksonville, Florida who got millions of dollars in Medicaid funds by needlessly drilling and pulling impoverished children's teeth, settled over a hundred lawsuits, then got all criminal charges against him dropped because he went senile or something, even though a society that valued justice would have executed him as slowly as possible with his own tools. When people like that exist in the real world, how the hell can I be scared of a CGI vampire? The more Dracula looks like a demonic bat creature instead of a human, as he does in this movie, the less he looks like the real monsters. On a more general level, it's difficult for me to be scared of exactly what I came to see. If a vampire had started stalking and murdering people during the Barbie Movie, that would have gotten my heartrate up.
Last night I watched Monsters University, which I had only seen once, when it came out ten years ago. At this time of year I felt nostalgic about both the movie and about college itself, and that ended up making me kind of depressed. I can't believe it's been twelve years since I started college. It seems like yesterday. There are so many things I wish I'd done differently, but it is and forever will be too late. I only got one life. I wish I could go back and talk to my freshman self and warn him about everything.
Even though I didn't like the Star Wars sequel trilogy very much, I don't have the raging hard-on for Disney to fail that a lot of people clearly have, and it makes me very sad that Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is bombing at the box office. Harrison Ford acted his heart out and he deserves better. I suspect that most people just aren't giving it a chance because they think an action movie with an 80-year-old lead actor is ridiculous, but I thought it was handled very well. Indy's age is a major theme of the movie. Not just that he can't do all the things he used to do, but that the world around him has changed and no longer seems to have a place for him. It's an almost meta deconstruction of a character archetype that was never meant to last beyond the 1930s, and it gives Indy a satisfying character arc and his series a satisfying conclusion. Some people complain about the plot holes and silly parts, and I think they're overreacting. I'm not aware of any fictional movie plot that doesn't fall apart if you think about it too much, and the Indiana Jones movies were never meant to be very realistic or serious. I watch them to be entertained and I give them more grace than movies with loftier ambitions. This movie entertained me. It bored some people, and I guess that's just a matter of personal taste. But I hope we can all agree that it's nice to see Nazis get what they deserve instead of being allowed to march openly in the street.
I am not pleased with most of the Supreme Court's recent decisions. The whole thing seems like a farce to me, given that its interpretation of the constitution is mostly dependent on the political leanings of the presidents who appointed its members, and that there appears to be no check or balance on their power to force that interpretation on the entire country. Because of this, one of the worst presidents in American history has left an impact that will last long after he's gone to jail. I hate what Republicans are doing to this country. I hate their pathological revulsion to science and education and equality. I hate their vicious crusade against human rights and everything good and virtuous. Of course they're trying to raise the voting age now because they know young people aren't going to swallow their bullshit. They know their days are numbered. Their party is going to die, and it thoroughly deserves to die. But God knows how much irreversible damage it will do in its death throes.
I still spend too much time arguing with idiots on Twitter. Since yesterday I've gotten into several arguments over this tweet:
Tessa said she was told this by one leader in one ward. She didn't claim it was a widespread, consistent, or "official" Mormon belief. Yet at least a dozen Mormons asserted that she was lying. I have no problem believing her, not only because I was also taught weirder spiritual things than that in the church, but because I personally remember a small controversy in 2012 over the revelation that multiple temples barred menstruating girls from doing baptisms for the dead. The Salt Lake Tribune article and By Common Consent blog post about it can still be accessed via a two-second Google search. With a little more digging, I found the spreadsheet that Feminist Mormon Housewives readers compiled by contacting several temples and asking about their policies. But "spurious media" and feminists aren't acceptable sources when you have a persecution complex because ad hominem logical fallacy. Hence the arguments. Today I got so frustrated with one jerk who had the critical thinking skills of a clam that I gave up trying to reason with him and just pissed him off until he blocked me, which was very satisfying.
Also, the unhinged bigot who posted a different picture of herself with her family proclamation flag every single day of Pride Month (and still has the first one pinned to the top of her profile even though Pride Month is over) is now asking people to donate $50,000 to fight against a restraining order that someone filed against her. She thinks her constitutional rights are being violated. She has a very shaky grasp of how the Constitution works. She thinks the establishment clause prohibits public schools from teaching LGBT equality because that contradicts her religion, but not from teaching her version of God. (Of course, most of her right-wing Christian allies think her church is a heretical cult and won't be teaching her version of God or respecting her beliefs much at all if they get that kind of power, which, again thanks to young people, they won't for long.) Maybe I need to repent for being amused that other idiots are giving her money just so she can make an ass of herself in court.
But also, you know, people like April Wilde Despain are the backbone of the Republican party and the reason Trump got elected, so that's not very funny at all.
Assuming I pass the trial, which I know I will, I have a freelance writing job that won't likely support me but will allow me to rest easier while I keep looking for other stuff. I'll be writing things based on customers' ideas that they don't have the time or the skill to write themselves. I won't be allowed to discuss any of that writing here, or even get any credit for it when it's published, but I'll get a little money and hopefully have a little fun. The trial has been fun. I wrote 3000 words based on the criteria and in the next couple days I'll revise it and send it in.
Because I read about near-death experiences recently, of course the omniscient internet brought to my attention the most recent development in that field. Four people hooked up to life support were having their brains monitored for whatever reason, and after they were taken off life support, two of their brains registered a surge of activity in the part responsible for dreams. Scientists speculate that these people were having NDEs, although they had a history of epilepsy, and nobody's ever shown a correlation between epilepsy and NDEs. The headline I looked at claimed that scientists had observed the brain activity behind NDEs for the first time, as if that were an established fact, but of course it isn't. They don't know what they actually observed. In order to know that, or at least be fairly confident, they'd have to observe something similar in the brain of someone who subsequently came back to life and reported on it. Science may sooner or later explain NDEs away as a purely neurological phenomenon, but it hasn't yet and we mustn't be premature about it. Journalists often take the nuance out of science, either out of sincere ignorance or the need to produce clickbait.
My roommate has finally moved out. He moved upstairs, meaning that he wanted to stay in this complex but not with me. The feeling is mutual. I didn't like that he left lights on he wasn't using (though I trained him by example to not do it constantly), I didn't like that he walked around without a shirt on when the weather was warm, I didn't like that he spent two hours a day in the bathroom, and I especially didn't like that he spent at least an hour a day practicing what can only be called "singing" under the most generous interpretation at the top of his lungs. It sounds more like an air raid siren. I had a friend over once and he laughed in disbelief at how bad it was. I sent a recording to another friend whom my complaints had made curious, and she wrote back, "PUT IT OUT OF ITS MISERY. WTF." Early on, at a public gathering, my roommate put me on the spot and asked if his singing annoyed me. Trying to balance tact with honesty, I said, "Only when it's really loud" (which was always). So he continued to consistently do it at the top of his lungs. Now I feel bad that I've been festering in resentment instead of asking him to stop, though, because I warned my upstairs neighbor about it, and I shouldn't have been surprised to learn that he hasn't been enjoying it either.
Recently the Temple City Sheriff's office invaded the wrong home without a warrant and illegally questioned and arrested two children who now, presumably, are traumatized for life but at least won't grow up to be bootlickers. I wrote some strong language in an online form somewhere and fully expected, based on previous interactions with law enforcement, that they would ignore me, but that the publicity would make them think twice (or at least once) about pulling such stunts in the future. I was quite surprised when someone got back to me earlier this week. Credit where it's due.
I've started wasting time on Twitter instead of reddit lately. I used to do essentially nothing on Twitter except share my blog posts, and I stayed at 38 followers for over six years. Now after a few weeks of interacting with people, I'm up to 53, so yay.
Twitter brings out the worst in people, including me, because it has almost no rules. Before Elon Musk took over, my account was suspended for wishing death on (checks notes) Vladimir Putin. And I still do and I'm not sorry. But now, I can say whatever the hell I want without fear of consequences. I've had some arguments. Even though I only follow ex-Mormons and liberal Mormons as far as Mormon stuff is concerned, I keep getting conservative Mormons in my feed, and they're pretty much the worst people in the world. Half their identity right now revolves around hating transgender people, and the other half is divided between hating apostates, hating liberals, hating scholars, hating gay people, and hating feminists. They're straight-up bullies more often than not, and because they think they're boldly standing up for truth and righteousness, they're quite incapable of attaining any self-awareness about how awful they are. Case in point:
I mean, wow. I used to have a hell of a persecution complex myself, but I don't think there was ever a point when I would have told someone "You are a demonic force and will be treated accordingly." It frightens me that people who think that way exist. Of course, guys like this think I'm a demonic force too. I try to be good. I don't set out to tear down Mormon beliefs every time I see them in my feed. I only get involved if they say something egregiously stupid and/or bigoted. And I try not to mock or insult them until they do it to me first, but that usually doesn't take very long. Personal attacks are usually their first and only response to critique of any kind. They really thought they were clever for pointing out that I had my pronouns in my bio and a Ukrainian flag next to my name. I had to block an account with the word "Christ" in its name that insisted Ukraine "isn't innocent" and basically deserves what it's getting, a claim that could be made with a little more accuracy (though it would still be victim-blaming) about the Mormons who moved into Missouri and boasted that the Lord would give them their neighbors' land. I added a Pride flag and a transgender flag to my Ukrainian flag just to bother these troglodytes, and then I added "If my flags and pronouns bother you, mission accomplished" to my bio to make sure they know that I'm bothering them on purpose, and now they don't bring that stuff up as much.
The leaders of the church don't appear to care that in a few years, people like this will be the only members they have left. Decent, intelligent, empathetic people are being alienated in droves. Of course, some of these jackasses also get alienated every time the church takes a position against bigotry or in favor of modern medicine - the other day one even confessed that he struggles with his faith and desire to attend church because a Primary teacher elsewhere on Twitter wore a rainbow pin - but overall, I think they're winning. Perhaps in fifty years, this church will make the Westboro Baptist Church look like a happy memory. Perhaps it will truly be The Church of Brigham Young, Ezra Taft Benson, and Donald J. Trump. (One of the guys I argued with had modeled his profile after Spencer W. Kimball, though. Kimball's a more nuanced figure in my book. If I meet him in the next life, I'll thank him for what he did to advance racial equality within the church, then kick him between the legs for the vile things he said about women and gay men.)
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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.