In which I speak plainly, that ye may not err

So I’ve been blogging at BCC for, what, three months? About? Seems longer, doesn’t it? Anyway, now that 2008 is drawing to a close, I find myself reflecting on all the things I’ve done–which is less depressing than reflecting on all the things I haven’t done–and I’ve been musing on my experience of being plucked from blogging obscurity and thrust into the limelight of the flashy, fast-paced Bloggernaccle. I’ve discovered that with a larger reading audience comes a larger number of readers who don’t get what I’m saying at least half of the time–which is no knock on them, to be sure. No, I blame myself. It’s only upsetting because while I have always come off as kind of an idiot in real-life conversation, I’ve long been under the impression that I communicate pretty effectively in the written medium. It kind of sucks to find out otherwise. But this is how we grow.

So like I said, 2008 is, like the wint’ry day, descending to its close, and there are a few clarifications I’d like to make about myself, regarding some of the posts I’ve posted in my blogging arrogance, so that I can feel like I’m starting 2009 with a clean slate. (Sure, it will be an illusion, but it’s my feelings that are important here, not facts.)

1. It is usually impossible to get an accurate idea of what one of my posts is about by reading the post title. Titles have always been problematic for me. Ask my old college creative writing professor, who expected me to write ten poems a week and put a title on every single one of them. Every single one! I tried writing random words on the line where a title would ordinarily go, but she wasn’t pacified. When I first started blogging, about four-and-a-half years ago, I didn’t title my posts at all–because this was blogging frontier, man, where there were no rules! (Or maybe I just wanted to stick it to Dr. G, who knows. I don’t know. I was always very fond of her, actually.) Over the last several months I’ve been very conscientious about putting titles on my posts because they do look nicer that way, and I’m striving to improve myself. Weak things made strong, you know. But yeah, they’re still not very good yet.

2. I don’t feel depressed or devalued as a woman because I don’t hold the priesthood. I feel depressed and devalued much of the time, but it’s a personal problem, nothing to do with womanhood in general. As a woman, I feel pretty good, just a little confused. It’s the way of us dames, I think.

3. I don’t think that sleeveless dresses on Barbies are an abomination. Naked Barbies give me the creeps, but again, that’s a personal problem. I don’t have any sense of righteous indignation when I see Barbie’s plastic goodies on display. And I certainly don’t have issues with Barbie’s plastic upper-arms. Most of the Barbie clothes in our house are sleeveless items. I took it upon myself a while back to learn how to make Barbie clothes at home, and I’m proud to say that I’ve done a kick-@$$ job–but I have no ambition to learn how to sew sleeves on Barbie clothes because I’m not starting a cottage industry and life is too short, you know? We do force our Barbies to modify or accessorize their strapless dresses because my husband has a thing about it. I indulge him because I don’t have strong feelings about strapless Barbie dresses one way or the other, and life is too short to argue with your spouse about stuff you don’t have strong feelings about.

4. On a related note, I also don’t think sleeveless clothes on babies and little girls–or big girls, for that matter–are an abomination. I wore sleeveless clothes myself right up until I went to the temple. (Mini-skirts, too. My legs were awesome in those days. They could be still, for all I know; I haven’t seen them in thirteen years. Shoulders either, which were also very attractive back in the day, if I do say so myself.) I have put both of my daughters in sleeveless clothes when they were little, much to my husband’s disappointment. Again, my husband has a thing about it. We’ve all got our things, haven’t we? My husband voluntarily forgoes olives on his pizza just to indulge me and my olives-are-an-abomination thing. We have a good marriage. I like that we indulge each other this way, and I’m not forced to pick olives off of my pizza. Rightly or wrongly, I would resent that.

5. In general, I think the Friend is a lovely magazine and very good for children. I’m a fan of the Friend.

6. I don’t think most of the material sold at Deseret Book is crap because I don’t really consume enough Deseret Book material to know whether it is crap or not. I enjoy casually perusing Deseret Book titles and merchandise because marketing in general amuses me, and I have a special interest in Mormon marketing because I am a Mormon. (That may or may not have been clear from my bio.) I enjoy it in the same way that I enjoy those fake sidebar headlines on the Onion that don’t lead to actual stories. Sometimes the idea of something is funnier than the thing itself. (And yes, I do want a copy of John Bytheway’s Supersonic Saints 2. There is a cat who has mastered the art of the title. There is no mistaking what that book’s about, haters.)

7. In general, I like the church just the way it is. Except for Sunday School. I think Sunday School is pretty useless. A part of me looks forward to the day when a special revelation announces there is no more need for Sunday School. Official Declaration No. 3. No offense to you Sunday School teachers out there. Obviously the work you do is important because we’ve had no such revelation as of yet and are unlikely to get one, ever. So don’t mind me.

8. I don’t believe in, nor do I hope for, a torture-chamber-like hell for any sinners. No, not even Hitler. As I have, in fact, said on at least one occasion, I don’t want evil people to suffer the same way they caused other people to suffer in life. It’s not one of my things. But I’ve said that so recently, it feels gratuitous to explain myself again at this juncture.

9. I definitely don’t have it in for my personal enemies, in a cosmic sense or otherwise. In point of fact, I have no personal enemies. I’ve been fortunate in this regard. People don’t wrong me very often, and usually when they do, I’m too self-absorbed to notice. Oh, sure, there were some mean kids who picked on me in school, and maybe back then I considered them enemies, but that was years ago, and I’ve gotten over it. You might say I’ve forgiven them, if one can be said to have forgiven people one never thinks about. These days my only enemies are the enemies of mankind. I do think about those people, but I don’t feel it’s my place to forgive the enemies of mankind on behalf of mankind. I’m arrogant, but not that arrogant.

10. Sometimes I do good things just for the sake of it. The other day I bought some reusable grocery bags, and I got the warmest, fuzziest feeling you can possibly imagine. Hell didn’t figure into it at all–which is good, because when I consider the sheer number of plastic shopping bags that live in my house at this moment, let alone all the plastic shopping bags I have owned and disposed of over my lifetime, I’m not sure any amount of reusable grocery baggage could atone for my sins.

11. I don’t mean every word of everything I say literally. This is particularly true when I’m making jokes. You know how jokes aren’t funny when you have to explain them? They also tend to be less funny when you have to announce them. If I say something that seems a little over the top or just plain wacko, you should consider the possibility that I don’t really mean it. Maybe I’m trying to make a joke, or maybe I’m just acting out to get attention. Possibly I could be employing a literary device, such as irony or hyperbole, but I’ll grant that’s unlikely. Probably I’m just trying to get attention. I’m telling you so that you’ll feel sorry for me, instead of getting offended.

12. If my sense of humor or inappropriate tone has ever offended you, I’m sorry. (Originally I was going to say I’m sorry for you, but experience has taught me that prepositional phrases and other modifiers are unimportant and tend to go unread anyway, so I decided to just leave that part off.) Yes, if I’ve offended you, I’m sorry. I’m really sorry.

13. I think baptism is a lovely ordinance, fraught with symbolism. I enjoy symbolism. So much so that I majored in English when I was at college. So much symbolism, so little time. Anyway, I like me some baptism, and I don’t find baptism for the dead the least bit creepy, even if its meaning and significance elude me at times. I would be perfectly happy to be baptized by proxy for my dead, obstinate grandmother who refused to join the church while she was alive. (Of course this is Theoretical Grandma we’re talking about, since all my real grandmas got baptized before dying–each was stubborn in her own way, though). And if the Holy Ghost told me I had to be baptized by proxy for my stepmother who has specifically asked me more than once not to do so, I think I could suck it up and say, “Okay, Holy Ghost, you know best.” Because that’s what I do on those rare occasions the Holy Ghost speaks to me. Even I believe in the Holy Ghost. No, for real.

14. I enjoy Neil Diamond. This is a propos nothing. I just promised you all a Neil Diamond post, and this is how I’m making good on that promise. I love Neil Diamond. And anyone who doesn’t love Neil Diamond is a hater. I know what you’re thinking: “But I don’t have any feelings about Neil Diamond. I am neither for nor against him. What about people like me?” To which I say, “You, sir (or madam), are a coward who will not take a stand.” That’s all.

Well, it felt good to get that off my chest. This is where the post turns into a free-for-all and I invite you also to speak your minds and clarify any misunderstandings that have been bothering you. Now, you had no idea I was going to go in this direction from reading the title of the post, did you? I told you, I’m not very good with the titles. I’ll try to do better in 2009. In the meantime, I only ask for your prayers. Oh, and seriously, just unload in the comments section. It’s really therapeutic.

Comments

  1. Awesome! As a blogger not only new to BCC but new to blogging, believe me I hear you on the being misunderstood thing. Last thought: “Barbie’s plastic goodies” was lolz.

  2. I am shocked and appalled that this blog would print such apostate liberal drivel. I can’t believe that you people call yourselves Mormons!

    I would pray for your souls, but by this point I’m sure they’re a lost cause. Steve Evans will have plenty of company in Hell.

  3. (hmm, I think I should have thrown in some random CAPS too. I’m still working on my technique, sorry. Trolling comments aren’t as easy as they look!)

  4. Great post! When I first began blogging, I had to stop reading the comments because I felt so exasperated:) That said, I am not as generous as you: I see the fault as 50% with me and 50% with the reader/nature of the medium.

  5. Niel Diamond is an amazing pop star. Bono frequently channels him.

  6. Kevin Barney says:

    Has your husband talked to the bishop about this “thing” he has with Barbies? I think there’s a twelve-step program for that.

    Neil Diamond came to BYU slightly ahead of my time there. I understand that there was an uproar in the pages of the DU over his long hair, and how he shouldn’t be allowed on campus because of it (or at least without getting a haircut). And I further understand that he read this material from the DU at his concert, and then tore it up on stage, to the wild cheers of the BYU audience.

  7. As for Sunday School, I’m still waiting for someone to propose a decent alternative that focuses on adult scripture study.

    And oh, the Bloggernacle is not a decent replacement.

    (That said, I’ve served in multiple SS presidencies where we actually did teacher development, and I’ve been a SS teacher several times. And I still find the second hour boring.)

  8. Sunday School is actually my favorite hour. I have lucked out by having good teachers, and there are few other opportunities to really discuss what the scriptures say. RS is always full of announcements and pronouncements made without much textual support – although I frequently enjoy it, too! And sacrament is just so looong.

  9. Mark Brown says:

    Rebecca,

    Your point # 11 about explaining when you are joking — honestly, there’s no need. You’re among friends here, and your jokes come through loud and clear. For instance, the one about liking Neil Diamond is a very good joke, and I’ll probably still be laughing an hour from now.

  10. Yes, I am a hater. And I understand your hubby’s barbie thing.

  11. My favorite part of this post was the realization that I totally get you.
    Yes!

    Besides, certain types of humor freak people out. So, no worries. Freakers are just haters in utero.

  12. Help… still choking on carrot sticks… (but thoroughly enjoy your posts.)

  13. “Freakers are just haters in utero.”

    Why does every post turn into a discussion of abortion?

  14. Neil Diamond came to BYU slightly ahead of my time there. I understand that there was an uproar in the pages of the DU over his long hair, and how he shouldn’t be allowed on campus because of it (or at least without getting a haircut). And I further understand that he read this material from the DU at his concert, and then tore it up on stage, to the wild cheers of the BYU audience.

    Neil Diamond performed at BYU twice while I was there. In the Smith Fieldhouse during the 1971-72 school year. Absolutely fabulous concert.

    He came a second time, to the Marriott Center, probably in the 76-77 school year. There was a flap in the letters column of the Universe, and he did make a point of discussing that. I don’t remember him tearing anything up, but he did suggest that a university should be more concerned about what was inside a person’s head than what was on the outside. Again, I wouldn’t call the audience response “wild,” but when do BYU audiences go wild?

    Unfortunately, the concert wasn’t as good as the earlier one. He didn’t connect with the audience the way he had the earlier time.

  15. Neil Diamond came to BYU slightly ahead of my time there. I understand that there was an uproar in the pages of the DU over his long hair, and how he shouldn’t be allowed on campus because of it (or at least without getting a haircut). And I further understand that he read this material from the DU at his concert, and then tore it up on stage, to the wild cheers of the BYU audience.

    I think I actually may have attended that concert; the incident sure sounds familiar. When was it?

    By the way, Rebecca, absolutely wonderful post. ..bruce..

  16. Oops — just read #15. I was actually at BYU for both those concerts (I was there 1971-72, 74-78), and I’m sure I attended at least one of them. ..bruce..

  17. Yet Another John says:

    My wife and I were newlyweds when we went to the second Neil Diamond concert. As soon as we walked into the Marriott Center I felt relegated to second place in her life. She absolutely went nuts. I still haven’t quite come to terms with that.

  18. I always kind of wondered why BCC didn’t ask me to be a permablogger. After reading Rebecca’s last two posts I realize there are heights to which I should never aspire.

  19. I just discovered an echo of these comments about Neil Diamond at BYU in a thread on some other blog almost exactly four years ago.

    (You mean I’ve been wasting four years of my life doing this???)

  20. Well, now you’ve just taken all the fun out of me pretending to misunderstand and misinterpret everything you say. Where will I direct my holier than thouness and righteous indignance now?

    Choose you this day whom ye will love, but as for me and my house we will love Neil Diamond.

  21. I had a young women’s leader who was very into Neil Diamond. She shared with us during a lesson on the law of chastity that Neil Diamond was the only man she’d ever be seriously tempted cheat on her husband with–especially if he came onto her by brushing her hair. Unfortunately, now the only image that comes to mind when I hear about Neil Diamond is my imagining of him brushing my old YW leader’s hair, tempting her into sin. So, uh, thanks for the reminder.

  22. There’s a website that has a list of all of Neil Diamond’s concerts. If it is accurate, the two BYU concerts were

    03/23/1972, George Albert Smith Fieldhouse
    02/05/1976, Marriott Center

    I didn’t see him brushing anybody’s hair.

  23. #21 – Ew! Thanks for wrecking my enjoyment of the few songs of his I like.

  24. Oh goody- I’ve been waiting for a post to unload my comments, and you hit one of my favorites! Sleeveless clothes are not evil! Or even necessarily immodest! Of course, I’ve always had nice upper-arms and shoulders (collar bones, too, so please don’t make those taboo). Oh my, did that sound arrogant?
    Oh, and while I’m unloading, did I mention that I’m probably going to hell because I’ve (gasp) worn flip-flops to church? Cute ones, of course.

    Second verse, not like the first. I have a very hard time sitting through 3 hours of church. For many years I just joined the SS class that meets in the hallway 2nd hour. My Dad sleeps in the car, and my Mom always pretends like she has something else to do relating to her calling- so clearly, my inability to attend SS is genetic. I’ve solved the problem by getting called to nursery. Mostly now I just sit on the floor and play. And I get to eat goldfish the whole time. Even on Fast Sunday.

  25. Wow, that did sound arrogant. Just chalk it up to positive self-talk, because much of the time I, too, feel devalued and depressed. I think it’s the onset of middle age.

  26. There are two great truths in this post:

    1.

    life is too short to argue with your spouse about stuff you don’t have strong feelings about

    2.

    olives-are-an-abomination

  27. Peter LLC says:

    Why does every post turn into a discussion of abortion?

    Take this abortion talk to Times and Seasons where it belongs!

  28. Ben Pratt says:

    This is a very fun post!

    One time I was in the car with this girl I’d met in All-State Choir (on a date? don’t remember), and a Neil Diamond song came on. Something possessed me to announce that sometimes I thought my voice sounded like Diamonds. To “prove” this, I started singing along with the radio.

    Uh, she wasn’t that impressed.

  29. Funny how Neil Diamond is dominating this post.

    I went to that concert in 1976– February, I believe it was– but I went to the U of U performance, which was right after the Y’s. My very first concert– 3 1/2 hours of solid Neil, no warm-up act. He came bounding out and just before he started singing, he shook his hair with his hand and said, “What do YOU guys think?” and the auditorium went nuts.

  30. Oh, and yes, I love Neil more than any man should.

  31. RE #28: that should read “…my voice sounded like Diamond’s….”

    Unintentional lolz

  32. This list was brilliant! I’m totally new to your blog, but I’m loving it. Oh, and I like Neil Diamond. You cannot name your daughter Caroline and hate Neil Diamond at the same time. Not possible.

  33. Steve Evans says:

    Alyson, welcome!

  34. Great post. This part is true of me ” I don’t mean every word of everything I say literally.”

    After I read this I wondered what parts of it you wanted to further clarify? I can’t even clarify without feeling like I need another layer of rabbinic-like commentary on that too. I can’t seem to end it.

  35. #13 and #27:
    Dude. The abortion of haters must stop! The little freakers, no matter how much they annoy us (wait. Am I a freaker, too?) have every right to become the haters we all oppose! Because perhaps one day, the haters will go back to just being freakers and then maybe they’ll repent and become lovers.

    Umm…yeah. Why am I posting this comment again?
    Sigh…

  36. Do those of the Neil Diamond concert era at BYU remember an obscure stand up comedian named Steve Martin performing as a warm up act for some band I can’t now remember?

  37. Steve Martin is Mormon!

  38. Martin Willey says:

    You are one of my favorite permas at BCC. Your faithful, but not fanatic or entirely consistent voice really resonates with me. Keep it up.

    But Neil Diamond is cheesy.

  39. Re Clarification #6, Rebecca J., you’ll be pleased to know that Mormanity has endorsed Supersonic Saints 2 as even better than the original volume.

  40. Rameumptom says:

    I never attended a Neil Diamond concert at the BYU. Who on the bloggernacle would ever admit to attending the Y, besides Steve E?

    Anyway, I think that ND was an awesome singer, but began to fade after Jonathan Livingston Seagull…

    I’d really like to see Britney Spears sing for the remake.

  41. 1) I would just like to say that I love reading your blog posts, Rebecca J. And there’s no hyperbole in that statement. =)

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