Inhuman Swill : March 2001

[from my ongoing memoir]

There was one group we tried not to tangle with, though: our archenemies, the Jehovah's Witlesses—er, Witnesses. If we were dogs, then the Jay-Dubs were cats. If we were water, they were fire. If we were Superman, they were Lex Luthor. We did not get along. I think the antipathy stemmed mostly from the fact that people were always mistaking one of us for the other when we knocked at their doors. In fact, I recall once later on my mission when I had just been transferred to a new area. My new companion and I were walking down a quiet, shady street doing callbacks on a sunny spring day when suddenly he stiffened and went pale.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"See that guy a few houses down, out watering his lawn?" asked my companion.

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Bringing the grand total to 859 ms pages. Shoot me now.


So there I was, just working on yet another redesign of the Sesame Workshop site, when I stumbled across this parenting article.

It describes me perfectly, and it was odd to hear myself described and potential explanations for why I am that way put forward. Of course, I haven't been paralyzed by shyness for a long time, but it does still get in the way of my social interactions sometimes, especially when I'm otherwise under a lot of stress. Weird.

Maybe some of the suggestions in the article for teaching kids to overcome shyness will work for me now.

Hefty spam

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Just got spam that says:

Guys, Add 4 Inches To Your Penis!!! Our Program Works Guaranteed!!! CLICK HERE TO SEE!!!
Uh-huh. And what do I want to do exactly? Puncture someone's stomach?

[Looks like marriage is in the air. For more info on what the heck is going on here, click here.]

The modern church has plenty of embarrassing historical specters hanging around, but few haunt it the way polygamy does. The church has tried to distance itself from the practice in the past century, but with mixed results. If you ask most Mormons today whether or not they believe it's proper to practice polygamy, they'll tell you no. But if you ask them whether or not it's a correct principle, they'll say yes.

In fact, the practice of polygamy is an excommunicable offense, and has been for many decades. This has not always been the case, however—polygamy was once, deservedly (and still is, erroneously), the chief distinguishing characteristic of Mormonism in the minds of most Americans—and many Saints believe it may not always be the case in the future. They look forward to the day when the moral and political climate in the United States and other nations has cooled enough to permit the church to reinstitute the practice—though the more reasonable of these don't expect it to happen until Christ's Millennial reign on Earth. (Note that I specified "the more reasonable.")

So, what is polygamy, and how did the practice arise?

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Krasner v. Pollock

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So here are the details some of you have been asking for. For an inexcusably long time.

Laura and I have been seeing each other for about two and a quarter years now. It's always been exclusive; it was pretty much instant magnetism from the start, that night in December 1998 when we sat deconstructing our religious experiences until the wee hours of the morning, to the exclusion of all the vanished friends who had been sitting there in the bar with us earlier that evening.

Laura's been married before, and when we started going out she had just gotten out of a bad relationship with a fellow she had been seeing for four years and had lived with for six months or so. (They bought a beautiful East Village apartment together, and then he kicked her out, citing being in love with fucking someone else.) She understandably didn't want to see me if I were seeing anyone else at the same time. For my own part, I had recently gotten out from under a horrible two-year-plus long relationship, I was feeling pretty fragile and gunshy as well. I was seeing a German woman at the time, and I agonized about what to do. After wrestling with myself for a full night, I decided to stop seeing that German (who turned out later to have been having an affair with a married fellow at the time, and making cuts in her wrists on top of that), and it's been all Laura and me, all the time, ever since.

Laura's story at first was that she didn't ever want to get married again, but sometime late in 1999 that started to change. We'd gotten past the part where she worried that I was going to break her heart and where I worried that she was going to discover there was something wrong with me, and we started batting around the idea of cohabitation. A commitment in terms of marriage would have to precede that, she decided, much to her own surprise.

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Foreign orals

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Hey, everybody pop over to my friend lightningrod's journal and pester him to write about the oral exams he recently took in Wahsington D.C. for the Foreign Service. I've heard it, and it's fascinating stuff. Let's get him to post it!


The subject of the new chapter is, of course, in part, polygamy in the early Mormon church. This one was a long slog, and brings the stack to 835 ms pages.

I got email from my agent this morning. Sophie Harrison at Granta passed on the manuscript, saying:

Thanks for your note, and thank you for letting me see William Shunn's manuscript, which I've now read. It's an interesting story with an appealing narrator, and I've certainly never come across anything that gives such a clear insight into the Mormon philosophy and way of life. However — regretfully — I have to say that I don't think it's a book for the UK market; I suspect that it would be much more meaningful in a US context. But it's an intriguing book and I wish you and the author all the best for it.
Okay, girding up my loins for the next foray.

...and this one to 801 pages.


Two chapters born at pretty much the same time, strangely enough. This one brings the total to 778 pages...

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