Early Monday morning I was awakened by what I later realized must have been a snow plow, but in my sleep-fogged condition assumed to be the beginnings of an earthquake or a terrorist attack. After a second I figured the former was more likely. I thought, Maybe I should get out of bed and find somewhere safe...
Maybe I should say a prayer for all the people who will be affected...
Do I have food storage? Well, sure, that box of food that expired in 2012. That will have to do...
You never know when "the day before" is "the day before"...
Because "It won't happen to us" isn't an emergency plan.
I fell back asleep and woke up to a bunch of unwelcome snow. The previous day (Easter) had been nearly sixty degrees. And since I had woken up at that stupid hour, my stupid brain decided I would want to do so the next two nights, too, just because.
I spent last Easter alone, but the year before that and the year before that I got invited to dinner somewhere, and the year before that I don't remember, so I was curious what would happen this year. If I did receive an invitation, I didn't expect it to come at the hands of someone I had just met and barely knew, but that's what happened. Let's call her... I don't know... Mackenzie. I met her at Debbie's ward prayers, and overheard her friend teasing her about whatever, so I was just going to smile at her as I passed but then somehow I got caught in a tractor beam and ended up talking for ten minutes or so. She was much more interesting to talk to than most people are. I think I might have accidentally flirted with her, but if so it doesn't seem to have caused any problems.
I wish I could remember how we ended up discussing the psychology of serial killers. "I went on a date with this psychology major once," she said, "and we went to this park he found on Google Maps, and it turned out to be cemetery, so that was creepy – but anyway, he started telling me about serial killers and how their minds are just a total incomprehensible mess – but you disagree, though?” By this time, I was realizing much to my chagrin that my opinion on the psychology of serial killers and other “crazy” bad guys was informed not by actual knowledge but by what makes for compelling literature. It's no fun to write about a serial killer who's just so insane that no one can identify with him. You need to give a solid internal logic behind his motivations, so reasonable seeming that the reader questions their own sanity. But that might not be how it is in real life and I wouldn't know, so I tried to back down from the discussion.
Dinner was really good, and was captured for posterity. I brought those oranges. Nobody took one until afterward when I was packing them up and somebody took one out of pity. I didn't have a lot of options for "breakfast food" to bring since this had been sprung on me on such short notice and I don't shop on Sundays. All my bags of cereal were nearly empty and I couldn't bring milk because I drink straight from the jug. While waiting for dinner to start, I volunteered to help but there was nothing for me to do, so I was assigned to color in a coloring book. It was a Strawberry Shortcake coloring book and it got that theme song stuck in my head for the rest of the day - or rather, it got the two lines I remember stuck in my head for the rest of the day. "That girl's so sweet, just like her name! Straw-ba-baw-baw-ba-berry Shortcake!"
Mackenzie herself, in the lower left, was accidentally excluded from the photograph, an egregious oversight that prevented it from coming anywhere near its full potential. Top row, left to right: don't know, don't know, don't know, don't know, don't know, don't know. Middle row, left to right: me, don't know, Bob (not real name). Bottom row: Mackenzie (not real name)'s hair, don't know, don't know, don't know, don't know. Bottom outlier: Jenna (not real name).
Let's pretend that many readers have written in to accuse me of selfishness for wanting to become friends with Afton so that I could play with her dog. That wasn't the only reason, of course, but let me explain something to you imaginary people. Dogs are the best friends ever. Take care of a dog and be nice to it, and it will love you. It doesn't care one iota how much of a weirdo or loser you are by human standards. Their love and affection is conditional on a couple of reasonable things and nothing else. And I have been deprived of this for the better part of five years. I can't own a dog in my apartment and none of my peers can own dogs in their apartments. I have to take what I can get whenever I can get it. The prospect of one of my peers owning a dog that I could visit and pet and scratch and walk with and run with and feed and throw sticks and balls for and develop a close personal relationship with is beyond tantalizing. I miss my dog in New York more than I can say and I dread the thought that he's probably going to die a long time before I do. If I go to heaven, he'll be the first person I look for. "Hello, Jesus," I would say. "Where's Milo?"
Another Spiritual Lesson from Bionicle
The basic premise of Bionicle is that the heroes known as the Toa Mata have a quest to awaken the Great Spirit, Mata Nui, who was cast into a deep sleep by his jealous brother Makuta. Somewhere along the line it is discovered that Mata Nui is not merely asleep but is, in fact, dying. This would devastate the entire universe and basically be the worst possible thing ever, so the Toa Inika go on their own little quest to save his life. He ends up dying for a few moments but one of them sacrifices his own life energy to bring him back. In another story, however, Takanuva travels to an alternate universe where this hero hesitated a moment too long and failed to sacrifice himself, so that Mata Nui's death became permanent. The hero was disgraced, there were huge cataclysms all over the place and most of the islands were destroyed and a lot of people died.
But the survivors didn't give up. Previously warring races all came together and established a new society of peaceful coexistence on the one remaining island. They built onto it so there was more room for everyone. And though they faced a lot of challenges, they were still going strong a thousand years or so later when Takanuva stumbled onto them. The takeaway from all of this, which is probably a lot more poignant to someone actually familiar with the stories and not just my paltry attempt to summarize and articulate them here, is to keep moving forward even if the worst possible and most devastating and demoralizing thing happens, and that a tragedy with even the most unmistakable sense of finality doesn't have to be final as long as you're still breathing.
The Mormon Section
General Conference is going on today and tomorrow (duh). So I was watching it today, and during the sustaining vote the dissenters yelled out again, and everyone in the room was talking derisively about them, when Mackenzie spoke up, so quietly that maybe no one else heard her, and said "We can be nice to them even though we disagree. We don't need to call them fools. They just don't understand."
I was stupefied. Who are you? I thought. In a good way, I mean.
Anyway, I'll probably share my thoughts on the conference a week from today when everyone else has moved on with their lives. I hope there will be some temple announcements tomorrow. Did I ever mention that I missed the temple announcements a year ago, after eagerly waiting two years for them, because my computer was being stupid? And now it's dead. That'll teach it.
Shahrukh Khan - Maahi Ve
Two Easters ago Chelsea from Vermont invited me to Easter dinner, a much smaller and more intimate affair with only four of us, and I believe it was later that day that we were in her room listening to peaceful music as we made wedding decorations for someone or other. That was when she asked me, "Why did you like Jean so much?" and I was about to say "Because she's so nice" but before I could speak Chelsea continued, "She wasn't very nice to you." And that just blew my mind and I couldn't speak. Anyway, I introduced her to some new music and vice versa. I showed her the Bollywood song "Salaam-E-Ishq" that I once danced to in the campus Diwali festival, and then she showed me this one which, impossibly, is even better. In the unlikely event that I ever have a wedding reception, my only demand is that this song be a part of it, "cultural appropriation" be damned.
Daffy the Commando
It's always awkward when American World War II propaganda cartoons ended up being extremely racist. Fortunately, this is not one of those, unless you consider pseudo-German words and phrases to be racist, which I don't think most people would because racism has recently been redefined via circular logic so that it can only apply to non-white people. I have enjoyed this cartoon for years but only recently connected the dots between the date of its release and the cute little jab at Mussolini. Can you spot it?
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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.