Posted by: nflanders | August 12, 2010


Well, I’ve run out of names that rhyme with God. That is why Ned Flanders named his two sons Rod and Todd. I suppose Maude was just a happy coincidence.

At any rate, I’m happy to have a new addition to the family, even one with freaky-looking feet like this one here. It’s been a rough couple of weeks, but I can’t wait to actually spend some time with little Todd-wina. Or Flaude. I can’t decide. I may recant as soon as the crying starts, so it makes sense to get this down in writing now.

Jeebus help us all.

Posted by: nflanders | January 8, 2009

Nothing’s coming up Milhouse

Things aren’t going too well. I feel guilty about writing that, since some people have real, scary problems, and most of my problems are of the annoyance variety, but there it is.

I got fired in December. Whenever I talk to my parents, my mom says, “say laid off, not fired.” So anyway, I guess I was technically “laid off” since they eliminated my position due to budget restrictions, but it doesn’t feel any different. Plus, there were five people with my exact job and two of us got fired. I had the least seniority and the other guy had the most seniority. Translation: I was in the bottom 40th percentile in my job. Or even worse, they thought all three other people did a better job than me. I wasn’t the best person at my job, but I thought I was still better than two of those three. (Notice I’m assuming I was second on the chopping block, not first. I guess my ego needs its defense mechanisms.)

The worst part is that they fired me over the phone. I mean, really? I had that Tuesday scheduled off for a couple of weeks, so it’s not like they didn’t know I’d be out of the office. Maude had to go to New York on business, so it was just me and Rod all day. He started freaking out at about 4:00 pm, we think due to a thrush infection. Maude had just got back from New York and was waiting on a call back from the pediatrician and I was washing a syringe so we could feed Rod with it since he couldn’t bear even having a bottle in his mouth. Maude hands me the phone and says it was work. Stupidly, my first thought was that they were calling to remind me to bring something for the Yankee Swap the next day. Instead it was my boss’s boss and the company’s legal counsel.

My boss’s boss asked me we could talk or if it was a bad time. I told her (over Rod’s shrieks) that I had a crying baby and could we talk tomorrow? Of course, it didn’t matter that it was a bad time. She said she wanted to send out an email this evening so we’d better talk now. Blah, blah, blah, and of course I knew at that point that I was getting fired. It’s amazing how much they want to say to you. “You’ll be receiving a FedEx package tomorrow morning with three checks. One is for your outstanding pay as of today. The second is for your unused vacation time…”

Finally, my boss’s boss asked me if there was anything I didn’t want mailed to me from my desk. This caught me off guard. “You mean, I shouldn’t come in tomorrow?” I asked. “No, it would be better if you didn’t.” Sure enough, THEY MAILED ME THE CONTENTS OF MY DESK. What kind of messed up b.s. is that? I understand (but don’t agree with) the indignity of having security escort you off the premises, but to not even let you clean out your own freaking desk? I am still curious who got the job of emptying my drawers and examining every piece of paper to determine if it was work related or not. Had I known I was getting fired, I would have gone to the newsstand and purchased a puzzling and disturbing array of magazines to leave in my desk drawers. Cat Fancy, Guns & Ammo (with post-it notes on every page), Archie comics, and hard-core pr0nography. True to their word, a week after I was fired, I received a FedEx box with my personal effects in it. They did not, however, include my box of Kleenex or the Caffeine-Free Diet Pepsi I left in the fridge. I am still considering my legal options.

So basically, I took a Tuesday off, and I haven’t been back since. I haven’t had any contact with my supervisor or boss. My last words to my boss, my supervisor, and my co-workers were, “See you on Wednesday!” I guess that’s not uncommon, but it seems weird to me. I thought my boss and I were chummy; he offered to give me his TiVo for God’s sake! I guess not. I didn’t even get a phone call from him. In the weeks after I got fired, I’d remember little things and get upset all over again. My supervisor assigned me a project in November that she made due on the Monday before I got fired. I remember thinking at the time that it was an arbitrary deadline, since it didn’t need to be done for another few weeks, but I forgot all about it. But it irritates me now to know that she knew way in advance and didn’t give us any hints. My boss had said everyone in our department should be safe until at least July 2009.

What really sucks is that I had made plans dependent on being at this job. We got a daycare place nearby so I could drop Rod off on the way to work. I was planning on taking a class this semester (employees get free tuition) and I had about 7 books out from the institutional library. Also, it was a hard job to find and pretty cushy once I was there. No overtime, few deadlines, and I could listen to my iPod while I worked. It’s just depressing to think that my next job almost certainly won’t be as nice as my last job. It’s supposed to go in the other direction.

I shouldn’t be upset since it was a nice place to work, but I really think they handled it poorly. It reminds me of the Seinfeld where Elaine is dating a nice guy, and she doesn’t understand why his ex-girlfriends throw drinks in his face when they see him. Only when they break up and he calls her “big head” does she realize that he’s a Bad Breaker-Upper. That’s how this job was. There were some nice people there, they gave four weeks vacation (!), which is unheard of, and there were some nice side benefits, but ultimately they fire you over the phone and rifle through your desk. I guess I’m the big head.

Posted by: nflanders | December 29, 2008

New Wry Meme

Well, I have a lot more free time on my hands right now, what with being fired and all, so I might as well resurrect ye olde blogge. I noticed Wry had a meme up, and you know I can’t resist. Here is my version; I have bolded the experiences I have actually had.

1. Started your own blog (this is kind of existential, huh?)
2. Slept under the stars (not by choice; it was Pioneer Trek and all we got was a tarp to pull over us)
3. Played in a band (I quit drum lessons in the second grade; I think I missed my calling)
4. Visited Hawaii (went a couple of times with Maude; the big island is the way to go)
5. Watched a meteor shower (I never know where to look; plus, it’s cold at night)
6. Given more than you can afford to charity (what can I say? I’m a bad, bad person)
7. Been to Disneyland/world (unfortunately both; I guess I liked it at the time)
8. Climbed a mountain (Boy Scouts; I was 13. I urinated off the summit; I’m not sure why)
9. Held a praying mantis (is this really a common experience?)
10. Sung a solo (I am tone-deaf. That didn’t stop me and my missionary companion from singing the Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated” at the ward talent show. We were booed by our own investigators)
11. Bungee jumped (would like to; haven’t found anywhere to do it)
12. Visited Paris (for like 20 hours when I was 15)
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea (who am I, Billy Budd?)
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch (An art? Like blacksmithing?)
15. Adopted a child (have talked a lot about it)
16. Had food poisoning (Oh God yes. Argentine barbecue; I was in the bathroom for two hours. The toilet couldn’t handle toilet paper, so there was a little garbage can for used TP)
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty (I only made it halfway; we couldn’t wait any longer on the line to file past the windows in the crown)
18. Grown your own vegetables (I don’t even mow my own grass)
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France (nope; I heard it’s kind of small)
20. Slept on an overnight train (overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. It was hot during the day, but got freezing at night. There was only one blanket and it reeked of urine. In the morning, I asked my travelling companions if their blankets were the same. Nope, just mine.)
21. Had a pillow fight (I have siblings)
22. Hitch hiked (I got picked up once on the way home from middle school by a lady and her daughter; I told myself I could leap out of the car if they turned out to be kidnappers. There turned out to be no door handle on the inside. Suprisingly, I was not, in fact, kidnapped.)
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill (Often, but I usually feel so guilty/nervous about lying the next day that I never end up enjoying it. And somehow, they always seem to know.)
24. Built a snow fort (grew up in Utah)
25. Held a lamb (Is this some sort of sport I’m not aware of?)
26. Gone skinny dipping (Uh, no. Sounds uncomfortable, for everyone)
27. Run a Marathon (I once drove nearly 26.2 miles)
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice (Yes, but only standing up in one of those canal-crossing gondolas. I’m not made of money)
29. Seen a total eclipse (Yes, and it took away my superpowers)
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset (although I hate sunrise; it means I’m either up too early or up too late)
31. Hit a home run (I was not the power-hitter of my little league team. I may have gotten a hit once or twice)
32. Been on a cruise (I would like to go on one of those Baltic cruises. As long as it’s Norwalk-free.)
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person (upstate NY is not on my short-list of vacation spots)
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors (nein; I would like to visit Cardiff and Glasgow, though)
35. Seen an Amish community (I’ve seen Mose Schrute)
36. Taught yourself a new language (good luck with that)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (hah!)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person (Of course. But when I saw it, they still weren’t letting people up in it)
39. Gone rock climbing (I don’t like the outdoors; especially the pointy parts)
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David (This list seems to have been compiled after someone’s trip to Italy)
41. Sung karaoke (Tone-deaf, remember?)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt (more times than I wanted to; I have to admit, it’s pretty faithful)
43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant (that’s just creepy)
44. Visited Africa (would like to see the pyramids)
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight (sounds like a good way to end up in #46)
46. Been transported in an ambulance (see #45)
47. Had your portrait painted (My grandma, god knows why, commissioned a portrait of us grandchildren when we were young. It looks creepy as hell.)
48. Gone deep sea fishing (I prefer to just order it at the restaurant).
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person (yes, but it really strains your neck. They need to have some sort of bed you can lie on.)
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris (yes, but I didn’t see Simon LeBon there)
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling (in Hawaii; it was amazing)
52. Kissed in the rain (that’s just silly; get an umbrella)
53. Played in the mud (I’ve blocked most of my childhood out)
54. Gone to a drive-in theater (Nope, never been to the Redwood Drive-In.)
55. Been in a movie (I was the star of my friend’s film school project, called “One Fine Day.” In it, I play a depressed worker. As I walk along the streets of New York, Elmo from Sesame Street appears to me, and gives me a 40 oz. bottle of malt liquor to cheer me up. The end. I swear to God I’m not making this up. I was in a class the next semester and one of the students recognized me from the movie.)
56. Visited the Great Wall of China (Will visit when #57 takes off)
57. Started a business (selling what?)
58. Taken a martial arts class (Nope.)
59. Visited Russia (Went on a University trip. Some genius decided to schedule it for the first two weeks of January. My face has only recently thawed.)
60. Served at a soup kitchen (I am a bad, bad person. I get uncomfortable in volunteering situations)
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies (Maybe this can be my #57. I hate that you can only get these once a year.)
62. Gone whale watching (No. Might be fun, though.)
63. Gotten flowers for no reason (I’ll take it up with Maude)
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma (They would never take it; said I was a risk for Mad Cow Disease. I think they don’t care anymore.)
65. Gone sky diving (I would like to; definitely on the list)
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp (Nope.)
67. Bounced a check (No, my dad would kill me.)
68. Flown in a helicopter (Nope.)
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy (I don’t think so; I would think it would probably be pretty gross by now anyway)
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial (good stuff)
71. Eaten Caviar (I’m sure it wasn’t the good stuff)
72. Pieced a quilt (please)
73. Stood in Times Square (I used to commute through Times Square, but I was usually late for work, so I didn’t look up)
74. Toured the Everglades (I believe this is located outdoors; you know my feelings on that.)
75. Been fired from a job (Yay! The last two weeks haven’t been for nothing!)
76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London (Nope.)
77. Broken a bone (My sister’s friend launched me into the air when I was five and I broke both bones in my arm)
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (I’d be afraid I would lean the wrong way into a curve. Plus, I can never get Hank Hill’s voice out of my head: “But Peggy, that’s the ‘bitch’ seat.”)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person (Seems hot. And outdoors.)
80. Published a book (Ha.)
81. Visited the Vatican (It’s crowded.)
82. Bought a brand new car (Totally worth it.)
83. Walked in Jerusalem (Nope. Nor have I been driven.)
84. Had your picture in the newspaper (Does the front page of the Church News count? No? Tough.)
85. Read the entire Bible (I gave up somewhere in Lamentations. Give it a rest, already.)
86. Visited the White House (I got as far as the fence. I think they had cancelled the White House tours when I lived there.)
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (oh hell no)
88. Had chickenpox (hasn’t everyone? I don’t remember it, though)
89. Saved someone’s life (Elton John’s, maybe.)
90. Sat on a jury (Never been called. I guess I move too often.)
91. Met someone famous (I saw Chris Noth on the subway once. Other than that, I got nothing.)
92. Joined a book club (The work one was reading A Thousand Splendid Suns.)
93. Lost a loved one (I think this is bad luck to answer)
94. Had a baby (see previous post)
95. Seen the Alamo in person (I have not visited any portion of Texas not located within the Dallas-Fort Worth terminal)
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake (It smells so gross that I can’t believe people actually do it. I’d rather just buy some salt and stick it in the tub)
97. Been involved in a lawsuit (also bad luck)
98. Owned a cell phone (is this meme from 1997?)
99. Been stung by a bee (my dislike of the outdoors has finally come in handy!)

These memes are awfully long, no? And apparently written by someone who wanted to brag about their trip to Italy. But what else have I got to do? Nothing, that’s what. Thank God I have a couple more weeks of vacation pay coming!

Posted by: nflanders | September 7, 2008

Announcing the arrival of Rod Flanders

After a lot of huffing and puffing (I think Maude may have played a role as well, I’m not sure), I have a son. (Take that, Henry VIII!) I am so not ready. Rod Flanders is extremely cute, despite his genes, but looks exactly like an infant Winston Churchill. Never have so many slept so little for so few.

I’m finally getting a little better at this parenting thing now that my mother-in-law has finally moved out and Rod has calmed down a bit. Whenever he starts crying, part of me is terrified that he’ll never stop. Infants crying never really bothered me before, but for some reason, when Rod gets going, I feel like going crazy. It’s intolerable.

Now I know that Mormonism is false, because there is no way anyone would choose me to be their parent in the pre-existence. Just like picking teams for dodgeball, even if it came down to just me and Michael Lohan, I’m pretty sure most people would be like, “Hey, Satan, do you still have openings for angels, because I don’t think this getting a body thing is for me.”

Despite all this, I have to say we are pretty damn fortunate to have our miracle baby. I say he’s a miracle, not least for spending 4 months in a freezer as a blastocyst. He’s our unfrozen caveman baby. Hmmm, maybe there’s still time to change the birth certificate…

Posted by: nflanders | September 5, 2008

They just won’t give up

While I can admire determination and doggedness, there comes a point when it’s just creepy.

We moved into our house three years ago. It has an outdoor pool, which we thought was going to be great, but has turned out to be the bane of my existence. We are currently saving up the $5,000 it will cost to tear it out. Anyway, ever since we moved in, we’ve gotten the following catalogue a couple times each summer, addressed to a former resident:

I mean, really? It’s been 14 years since the last order. Forrest Gump was the number one movie at the box office and the Lion King soundtrack was the number one album in the country on September 10, 1994. I was still in high school.

The ten dollar coupon offer clearly isn’t cutting it. It may be time to give up on this customer!

Posted by: nflanders | July 21, 2008

Everything is wrong

I’ve taken a little break from the Disaffected Mormon Underground for the last couple months. I still check the Foyer occasionally, monitor my site to make sure no one has left an unanswered comment here, and keep up with Wry and Craig, but that’s about it. The result? Well, I’ve probably read more books in the last few months than in the previous year. I’ve also been busy rehabilitating a room in my house for me to move all my junk into (the baby is taking my fortress of solitude!). I still have a lot of work to do on the room; the baby, not so much. I’d better hurry.

Anyway, to ease my transition back into blogging, I thought I’d start with Wry’s recent meme, since I can’t resist memes.

Simple meme of 50 questions and answers.
1. What do you add to your coffee? I can’t stand the taste of coffee. Or tea. Blame Heber J. Grant or something. I can drink tea if I empty half the sugar bowl into it. And then, still with an occasional grimace.

2. What are you reading now? I just finished Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen. I love, love, loved this book. And not because it is partly set in Argentina or because the author photo looks like Evangeline Lilly. I don’t even like Evangeline Lilly, so there. Sadly, the book (about a psychiatrist who is having a psychotic break, but doesn’t realize it) reminded me a lot of myself.

3. Do you own a gun? No. I always wanted one since I enjoy shooting at a range, but it’s never been worth the hassle. Now that I am having a kid, definitely not.

4. Are you registered to vote? Yes. But I never bother to vote for anything lower than congressperson. I’m probably going to move eventually, so why bother with selectmen or women or city council people?

5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? It depends. If it’s a normal, no-injection visit, then of course not. If I’m scheduled for, you know, taint surgery, then yeah. Quite a bit.

6. What do you think of hot dogs? Good at ballparks, not so good at home in the microwave. I always want to get the footlong hotdog and 20 oz. drink at Costco for $1.50, but there’s always about ten people waiting on line to get the exact same thing. 

7. Favorite Christmas Song? “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” It sounds very dark for a Christmas song. Very nice.

8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? I would prefer soda, but now I usually have a bottle of Poland Spring. You know, so I’ll live five minutes longer.

9. Can you do push ups? Yes. How many? Probably not more than 15. It’s been a while.

10. What was the name of your first boyfriend/girlfriend? Well, this is a very subjective question, isn’t it? What counts as a girlfriend?

11. What’s your favorite piece of jewelery? I don’t particularly like jewelry, but I suppose I’d better say wedding ring, right?

12. Favorite hobby? Reading.

13. Do you work with people who idolize you? Funny. I think I’m on probation, if that answers the question.

14. Do you have ADD? Probably. See probationary status at work above.

15. What’s one trait that you hate about yourself? Lack of initiative.

16. What’s your Middle name? I’m not sure Nedward Flanders has a middle name. Google came up empty.

17. Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment. I don’t want to go to bed. I don’t want to go to work tomorrow. I’m afraid my cat will have scratched his ear off by morning.

18. Name 3 things you bought yesterday. A new toothbrush. Flouride rinse. Deodorant. Hey, you asked.

19. Name 3 beverages you regularly drink. Caffeine-free Diet Pepsi, Poland Spring, eh, that’s it.

20. Current worry right now? See cat above.

21. What side do you dress to? I have no idea what this even means.

22. Favorite place to be? Bookstore.

23. How did you bring in the New Year? I was washing dishes. My wife was asleep. Party.

24. Where would you like to go? Scandinavia, Russia, Western Isles.

25. Name three people who will complete this. Good question.

26. Whose answers do you want to read the most? See above.

27. What color shirt are you wearing? White.

28. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? Sounds vaguely sleazy. So no.

29. Can you whistle? Not at all. And not for lack of trying. I’ve given up.

30. Favorite colors(s)? Navy blue.

31. Could you be a pirate? Are you asking if I’ll kill people for money and goods? No. Maybe for spite. Is a spite-rate a thing?

32. What songs do you sing in the shower? Top 40.

33. Favorite girls name? Charlotte.

34. Favorite boy’s name? Thomas.

35. What’s in your pocket right now? Nothing. I’m at home.

36. Last thing that made you laugh? The Colbert Report.

37. Best bed sheets as a child? Weird question. I remember being awfully fond of some “Return of the Jedi” sheets. Although I do suspect that my father liked Star Wars more than I did.

38. Worst injury you’ve ever had? My sister hit me in the head with a baseball bat.

39. Do you love where you live? No, not at all.

40. How many TVs do you have in your house? 3.

41. Who is your loudest friend? I don’t think I have one.

42. How many dogs do you have? No dogs. I can barely take care of a cat.

43. Does anyone have a crush on you? If they do, they should be in therapy. How would one know anyway? Another odd question.

44. What are the most fun things you ever did? Went to Easter Island.

45. What are your favorite books? Crime and Punishment; Jane Eyre; The Magic Mountain; Edgar Huntly; El Juguete Rabioso

46. What is your favorite candy? Raisinets.

47. Favorite Team? Jets/Mets/Islanders/Hearts/West Ham/Udine/Nacional/Banfield. I think I’ve run out of countries. I have no opinion on Chilean soccer or the Eredivisie. Although Ajax has a cool name.

48. What songs do you want played at your funeral? I would never do that to people I love. If I was ticked off at them, then maybe “Sussudio” by Phil Collins.

49. What were you doing at 12 AM? Answering these fifty questions! They could’ve been pared down a bit.

50. What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up? Just a few more minutes.

Posted by: nflanders | May 18, 2008

Ned the Non-Mormon

That sounds weird to me, but it’s true. Since February I’ve been a non-member and didn’t even know it. I’ve even got proof:

Certificate of non-Mormonness

How does it feel to resign? I don’t feel any different. Maybe a little more relaxed knowing that the next knock on the door could just as likely be Jehovah’s Witnesses as Mormon missionaries, but that home teachers will never visit me again. I don’t have a community I belong to, but I never really had one to start with, so that’s nothing new.

I feel content knowing that I am no longer implicated when the Church makes some dumb-ass announcement on gay marriage or sues Wikileaks for posting the Church Handbook of Instructions. I am no longer a member of an organization that prescribes “Church discipline” for single women who are artificially inseminated.

In short, I feel at peace with myself and the world. I guess it’s too bad I lost the Holy Ghost.

I prefer to think of myself as a non-Mormon, if only because “ex-Mormon” has been freighted with so much baggage. But I am that too. Ned the ex-Mormon. That has a nice ring to it.

I haven’t told my parents or family, nor do I plan to. We don’t talk about religion or politics and that’s the way we like it. If at their next tithing settlement, my record shows up all blanked out, so be it. I’m not ashamed of my decision or scared to tell them. I just know that they’d prefer to think of me as inactive, so I’m not going to deliberately stir up trouble. But really, I’m over thirty, I think they should be able to handle it fine.

I feel at peace knowing that my temple work can’t be performed vicariously after my death without permission of the First Presidency. I can’t erase the mark Mormonism left on me, but I am not defined by it. It may give me something to talk about or bond over with friends on the internet, but it’s no more a part of my life than the boy scouts. I always thought their uniforms were lame too.

Posted by: nflanders | May 8, 2008

Lying for the Lord: Weekly Journal Excerpt

This week I’m going to try to get back on chronological track, and stick with what was happening ten years ago. To refresh, I am living close to downtown Buenos Aires (a neighborhood called Flores), I have 100 days left of my mission, and the odious Elder Harris(on) has just been replaced by Elder Day. Elder Day has just a month left in the mission but he is way too spiritual to be ready to go home.

April 26, 1998

One hundred days. I never thought I’d be able to say that. Just 100 days until I board United Flight 984 bound for Miami and a new life. Maybe. Maybe that’s what scares me most. Everything has been a complete failure. I thought I was supposed to be a better person, I thought that was part of the bargain… it all seems so empty and pointless and a charade. I stared at the sacrament cup in my hand, expecting to see a cup brimming with damnation and scarlet, and all I could see was a little plastic cup of water. And it seemed so silly to assign it mystical abilities of damnation or salvation when it was just water. It’s as if I’ve passed through the surreal period of my life (the most fun, no?) into a sad realism. “God loves his children?” asks Radiohead. I guess. I don’t know anymore… 

I mentioned in the last entry that Day was a million times better than Harris/on. That’s what I thought at the beginning. Elder Day and I just turned out to have the least compatible personalities ever. You know that person who you just can’t get along with, even though they haven’t done anything necessarily wrong? Elder Day liked to discuss which apostle was his favorite and he had a framed picture of the commitment pattern next to his bed. (This is the commitment pattern chart, for those of you lucky enough not to know what it is. It’s simply a sales tool that helps you move people from meeting them, all the way to baptism.) 

One of the families we visited was a mother and her young daughter who were Mormon and worked as home healthcare workers for an elderly woman, Arminda, who was not a member. It was actually Arminda’s house, but she was very old and confined to a hospital bed, so the mother and daughter stayed there all day to take care of her there. Arminda had a constant IV drip and had recently had surgery on her shoulder.

April 27, 1998

…the thing that bugged me most and offended me and turned my stomach was when we were with Arminda and talking about her shoulder recovering. Elder Day said, “Remember that blessing I gave you? I blessed you that your shoulder would get better quickly.” She remembered. “If you have faith, it’ll get better soon; but if you doubt…” here casting a reproaching glance at her, raising his voice, “if you doubt, it won’t get better as soon.” He’s a spiritual terrorist, was all I could think of as I saw him cruelly exploit her weakest point, trying to force her to have faith. Not real faith, but a kind of fearful submission to all-wise Elder Day. The depth of my hate for him scares me. This tiny geek isn’t worthy of this rage and vile disgust I feel towards him. I just need to go to bed and try to forget I exist. There are so many ugly things in this world. And I am one of them. I hate this place.

Every once in a while, an apostle from Salt Lake will come visit and talk to the missionaries. This is very rare (it only happened once on my mission) so they make a big deal out of it. In this instance, they gathered all the missionaries from Buenos Aires North, West, and South together so Neal A. Maxwell could address us all at once.

April 28, 1998

Maxwell concert. I wasn’t too impressed. I hung at the back with Long and Wright, cracking jokes and Wright pointing the red laser pointer at people’s heads. I don’t think Neal prepared a talk so just he took questions. I was oh-so-tempted to stand up and ask about the masons or the failed prophecies of Joseph Smith, something to stir it up. It didn’t happen.

More ruminations on the fundamental incompatibility of Elder Day and me:

April 29, 1998

Today I realized I don’t have to like him, I only have to get along with him. For two weeks. How hard can that be? Better not to ask and tempt fate. There are two types of people in this world: people who tuck in their garments and those who don’t. Case rested.

In this final excerpt, I discuss a conversation we had with our recent convert, Mabel. She had just gotten baptized two weeks earlier, but she had previously taken the discussions with other missionaries when she lived in another city. I have bolded the part I am especially ashamed of. The Brigham Young book I talk about is the Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young Sunday School manual that was released that year, and which the ward had given to Mabel after her baptism. 

April 30, 1998

…Mabel had read some anti-Mormon article in the newspaper and had gotten mad, but she said that she had her faith and wasn’t going to let it bother her. She said she met some journalist at the club with her husband, a specialist in theology, and she asked him what he thought about the Mormons. He told her it was a sect that came from North America, but a good sect; the only bad thing was that they didn’t believe in God. Mabel shook her head in disgust and told the guy to sit down with her as she explained to him that we didn’t worship Joseph Smith but rather God. She said he thanked her because it might come up and he had to give reliable information.

Then she started off into dangerous territory. “It’s just like this polygamy thing: a lot of people think we practice polygamy just because a long time ago a couple of Mormons sinned like that (and were kicked out of course!) and the people began to talk and say the Mormons are all like that.” If only she had known that Brigham Young had 26 or something wives, the very same man from whose book she quoted, not realizing that every mention of polygamy had been rooted out of that document completely. I wanted to tell her the truth but I also didn’t want to give her a reason to go inactive; she didn’t ask us about it so I shamefully kept my mouth shut. That hadn’t even occurred to me to be a doubt, but now it has suddenly reintroduced itself. How we completely stonewall on that part of our history…

That’s not exactly true, however. Almost a year and a half previously, I lied about polygamy to an investigator too. Unfortunately, there is no denying this: I was a coward. I was content to let them believe in things that were false and let these ladies to find out the ugly truth when I would be thousands of miles away. Yes, I am ashamed of things I did on my mission, but only of the things the Church wanted me to do.

Posted by: nflanders | May 7, 2008


I got cocky; I can admit that. Like Icarus, I flew too close to the sun. I thought the wings could hold just a bit longer, a few more flaps higher into the sky. Once spring had come, I got a little giddy, a bit full of myself. If it could last this long, it just might last through summer, I thought. Forget summer, it might last until fall! I let my pride get the better of my judgment. I said to myself, let it go just one more day. I had to push it just a little further. Always just one more day; then I’ll buy it. Then I will eat immortality itself.

There is a pumpkin-shaped hole in my world:


Posted by: nflanders | May 6, 2008

I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour…

There’s something deeply depressing about realizing that you’re not very good at your job. I mean, I’m good enough not to get fired, but that’s it. It’s not a hard job, it’s just that I can’t concentrate. I stay up late at night reading, posting this entry, doing anything to try to forget that tomorrow I have to go back to work. I get four or five hours of sleep, and then I can’t focus the next day, and the cycle continues.

What sucks is that 95% of the earth’s inhabitants would kill to have my job. They’re struggling for survival and I’m depressed. It’s obscene. Sometimes I think I will be happier if I accept that I will never be happy. Actually, I feel a little better after typing that sentence. There are so many things I want to do before my brain turns to mush and my body falls apart, and yet the only thing I must do is work 8 hours. And it seems like that is the only thing that ever gets done. Half-assed, but still, I’m there.

What if I’m that guy that’s terrible at every job he gets? I don’t want to be that guy. 

I have five hours before my alarm goes off. Another day of mediocrity awaits.

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