I meet their stares for a moment, then look back down at the podium, staring at the swirls of the varnished woodwork as I listen to my heart pound. I clear my throat. As always, for the first few moments I'm uncertain whether I'll be capable of speaking at all. Then I manage to force a few words out.
"Insert obligatory joke about being asked to speak and not wanting to speak."
For a horrifying moment, nobody laughs. Then they start, softly at first, but gaining in volume.
I press on. "Actually, I had a dream about this a couple nights ago, and there was this guy speaking before me, and he was just talking about weird stuff like what we should do when we colonize Mars, and he went on for forty-five minutes, and I was just watching the clock and rooting for him to keep going. But I woke up before he finished."
They laugh some more. That part is a true story.
"For those of you who don't know me, my name is in the program. If you want to know more, just visit my website. But I won't tell you the address right now because that would probably be an abuse of my podium privileges."
They laugh some more. Finally, the tension level has decreased from paralyzing to merely crippling, and I can continue on with the topic at hand. The last time I did this was a year and a half ago, and I had hoped that I would be better at it by now; that I would, I don't know, maybe be able to look at the audience while I'm talking. Everyone says they get nervous but I've never seen any speaker who shared my inability to maintain higher brain function while looking at the audience. I get through it in a little over five minutes, and then since the third speaker is sick, the poor girl after me is left with about twenty minutes for her own talk, but she fills it nicely. Afterward everyone congratulates me and says they loved my talk, and she does too, but her face is kind of weird, as if she's perplexed and slightly annoyed that I'm getting all the glory when she clearly outperformed me in both the quantity and quality departments. Maybe I'm just reading too much into things.
I invited three people to come listen. All three said they would be out of town. The morning of it, however, one of them said she had canceled her trip on account of the weather and would be showing up after all. That one was Debbie (see last week's post). Afterward she started acting weird. We had a delightful Facebook chat a couple days later, though.
Sonnet 90 by Petrarch:
She used to let her golden hair fly free
For the wind to toy and tangle and molest;
Her eyes were brighter than the radiant west.
(Seldom they shine so now.) I used to see
Pity look out of those deep eyes on me.
("It was false pity," you would now protest.)
I had love's tinder heaped within my breast:
What wonder that the flame burned furiously?
She did not walk in any mortal way,
But with angelic progress; when she spoke,
Unearthly voices sang in unison.
She seemed divine among the dreary folk
Of earth. You say she is not so today?
Well, though the bow's unbent, the wound bleeds on.
Shakespeare's rebuttal, Sonnet 130:
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.
I don't understand why people who bathed every couple weeks at most would be concerned about bad breath, but there you have it. One of these men has a healthy self-esteem and is not blinded by love. He should probably keep his observations to himself, though.
One of my friends/neighbors recently wrote an opinion piece in the Utah Statesman in which he observed, "When we examine dating in its most primal form, it is a very simple process... [but w]e have built and abide by a set of rules in this process we generally refer to as 'the game.' The game dictates the proper behavior during every step of the way. The proper way to express your interest, how long you have to wait until you contact the person afterward, the after-date texts you must send and when you send them, the exact amount of forward and not caring, and so on. In all that hubbub, saying no has turned taboo."
I couldn't ask for a more perfect summary of why dating, as currently practiced by those rare humans who still date in this century, is stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid. A "game", is it? Strange, I was under the impression that games were meant to be fun. And though I feel more often than not as if the "rules" of this particular "game" were crafted for the express purpose of screwing me over (for those who haven't heard/noticed, I'm autistic, and neither can nor want to learn or follow these arbitrary and stupid "rules"), I have yet to hear anyone else express appreciation for them either. No one within my hearing or vision has ever said or written, for example, "I love this game! These rules bring me such joy and exhilaration! Honesty is for chumps!" I suspect that most people hate this crap almost as much as I do but put up with it because "that's just how it is". How asinine it is to be judged not merely by personality and behavior, or even by appearances if you must, but also and perhaps predominantly by an ability to discern and follow "rules" that serve no purpose other than to make life more difficult.
But one cool thing about games is that, unless you're a criminal or prisoner of war in a barbaric ancient society or a student in gym class, no one can force you to participate in them. And I think the aforementioned nonsense is more than just a teensy bit connected with the fact that young single Mormons aren't dating as much as they're "supposed" to despite repeated pleas at all levels of church leadership. So anyway, I was delighted with this opinion piece for telling it like it is, but more calmly than I would have. Tune in next week when I'll stop holding back and share how I really feel.
I do not disrespect or unfriend anyone merely for being pro-choice, but it disturbs me that so many pro-choicers have so little integrity as to keep regurgitating (and I apologize that this is a rude and inflammatory term but I don't want to say "parroting", which is unduly insulting to parrots, who have been found in studies to actually process information in their brains when they speak) the lie that David Daleiden's undercover Planned Parenthood videos were "deceptively edited". Even Planned Parenthood's own analysis that (shockingly) declared Planned Parenthood innocent of any wrongdoing was forced to admit this in pathetically obfuscatory language. David Daleiden was not arrested for "deceptively editing" the videos (because he didn't) but for using a fake ID, which, you know, has obviously never been done by any other investigative journalists ever, and for attempting to purchase fetal tissue. Never mind why Planned Parenthood was letting him attempt to purchase fetal tissue from them if they've never sold any. You're not supposed to do that much thinking.
But if these pro-choicers were willing to let pesky facts get in the way of their worldview, they wouldn't need to keep regurgitating absurd claims that fetuses are "not alive" (first grade level biology disagrees) or "not human" (first grade level biology disagrees) or "just lumps of tissue" (like, let's see here, oh wow, literally every other person on this planet). This willful ignorance of reality is equivalent to clamping their hands over their ears and saying "Lalala, I can't hear you!" The pro-choicers with integrity are those who admit the blindingly obvious fact that fetuses are alive and are human, but just don't care or don't consider their rights on par with those of bigger people. And on that point I agree to disagree with them.
Speaking of disturbing worldviews, let's move on to a less contentious one. I promise I'm not making fun of this person, but just using them as a basis for discussion. Anyone who has followed me for an extended period of time is probably tired of me beating this dead horse. Well, this is my blog and I can beat as many dead horses as I want.
First, it is problematic that people still believe "the Church doesn't support the theory of evolution", which is not true. Although its doctrine is neutral, the universities under its ownership and control teach evolution and if that's not "support" I don't know what is. Second, the phrasing "we don't believe in evolution" irks me just a little bit. I resent being spoken for and lumped in with creationists. I do not share their worldview, I do not endorse their worldview, and I do not respect their worldview, though as a former creationist myself I understand the psychological factors that make it appealing and know it isn't necessarily because they're stupid, as I don't think it is in this person's case (though in other cases it's difficult to draw any other conclusion).
Third, and actually the main point I wanted to make, is the notion of compartmentalizing knowledge and supporting it in some settings but rejecting it in others. What kind of sense does that make? If it's true when you want to talk about dinosaurs then it's true when you want to read the scriptures. Where in LDS doctrine or philosophy is there any support for this kind of compartmentalizing? It isn't rational and it isn't tenable. Sooner or later the cognitive dissonance will become too great to bear and you will have to choose a side in the false dichotomy you have created for yourself. And fourth, categorizing a perceived necessity to reject evolution despite the evidence as something we just won't understand in mortality is a common abuse of the concept of "faith". It's easy enough to say for someone with only a superficial knowledge of evolution, but to those who have actually studied it in any depth, denying its validity is like denying the existence of the sun while you stare at it.
Feedback from my Creative Nonfiction Writing professor: "I love the voice and approach of your writing. It's almost completely stripped of metaphor--which is really interesting to read. I also love how veracious [an actual word meaning honest, not a misspelling of "voracious"] it all feels. It's really refreshing." I hadn't realized until he pointed it out that I don't use a lot of metaphor, but as I thought about it I realized I much prefer simile. Metaphors irk me a little because they're saying that something is something that it's not, when they could just as easily be honest and say that something is like something that it's not.
"Her hair is a golden field of wheat."
"No, it's not. It's hair."
"I just mean that it has properties that remind me of a golden field of wheat."
"Well, that's not what you said. Why didn't you just say that?"
Some time ago I talked about how Kitaro's "Symphony of the Forest" consistently triggered my depression as a child and that it isn't difficult to tell why. I'm slightly surprised, however, that this one didn't, as it includes what sounds like a distraught little girl crying, "Tell me why-hy!" Somehow I actually liked it.
Mike Oldfield - Only Time Will Tell
I created my Facebook page in 2012 and then proceeded to do virtually nothing with it. Now, I'm trying to migrate my witty posts and shares from my personal profile over to there and grow its following so that when I publish my novel I can just make an announcement and thousands of loyal followers will go out and buy it. If you would like to help me achieve this dream and haven't already, please click "like". Look, I've made it easy for you, at least as long as the code works.
"Guys. Chris's blog is the stuff of legends. If you’re ever looking for a good read, check this out!"
- Amelia Whitlock
"I don't know how well you know Christopher Randall Nicholson, but... he's trolling. You should read his blog. It's delightful."
- David Young
About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender male and a Latter-day Saint, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic, 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.