November 6, 2006

The REAL Reason I Don't Want to Live in Utah

The poll results are in, and I'm a disappointed to report that the post everyone wants to read is "the REAL reason I don't want to live in Utah."

I was hoping it would be something else and have been stalling on putting this post together. I hate having to give the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. It's much easier to hide behind a veil of sarcasm and irony. So please forgive me if this post is disgusting in its reality. It pained me to type every letter of it.


Okay, so I give a lot of dumb reasons to my husband when he begs me to move to Utah such as:

No real culture (sorry, friends, monster truck rallies don't count as culture in my book. So sue me).

Everyone is the same. Cloneville, USA. Except the original person cloned was wearing socks with sandals. Terrifying.

Too cold. People don't kill people, having to scrape icy windshields at 6 a.m. in the dark kills people.

Cookie cutter neighborhoods. "Our new housing development offers a variety of choices for new owners in home exteriors: light brown, beige, tan, bronze, buff, khaki, tawny, brownish, coffee or poop colored!"

Ugly barren desert wasteland blah-ville need-I-go-on Martian landscape. (Salt flats, anyone?)

Given the day and my mood, I may really truly believe any one of these sentiments but they are all total baloney. I know it, you know it. It's a beautiful place with wonderful people and beneath their laser hair removed exteriors, the people are vastly different. In fact, I hear some use Tide to wash their clothes while others use OxiClean. There's a veritable Noah's Ark of variety in that exciting state.

Okay, okay - I promised not to hide behind sarcasm and here I go getting all cheeky again. Sorry - it just comes so naturally! Are you ready? The real reason is... (drumroll please)...


I want to be someone. I don't want to be a second class version of everyone around me. My Dr. Phil confession is that I'm afraid that if I move to Utah, I'll just be that Mormon girl who doesn't shave her armpits often enough and says "crap." There would be 10 new and improved versions of Hollywood living on my block who are pretty much exactly like me except they made all the right educational decisions, chose the right paint colors for their walls and cleaned that rotting meat out of their fridge before their child ate it and had to get their stomach pumped. And for heavens sake, they would be NICE! I can't compete with that.

Yeah, I know. It's not a competition and everyone is great because of their differences. It looks pretty on a cross-stitch above the sink but I'm not convinced. L.A. has my type of people. On any given day I can go downtown and find scads of folks to make me feel better about myself. Feel inadequate about not cooking healthy meals for your family? Well that crazy guy at the train station is eating a live cat so maybe I'm not doing so bad. Feel like I'm a bad mom? Moms abandon their newborn babies at police stations all around L.A. in the night so I guess I'm not a total loss. The ugly truth is that it's comforting for me to live around people I feel superior to. I have to say it. It's sickening to see it sitting there in words but it's the truth. Nobody wants to be the bottom of the barrel and I feel that's what I would be in Utah. Here in L.A. I'm at least above the cat-eating lunatic.

Are you happy? You've got me to admit I'm a judgment jerk who feels better about herself in light of others' misfortune. This is the last time I ask you guys what to post about. I'm ready - let the disgusted comments begin!

37 comments:

Samantha said...

You know why I don't want to live in Utah? Too many crazy Mormons. And yes, I'm Mormon.

And hey I thought UT was homogenous too, until I moved to not-urban Japan. UT is pretty varied compared to where I live. Still wouldn't want to live there.

Lindsay said...

It always surprises our fellow Indiana ward-members when we tell them we're not planning to go back to Utah after the graduate degree is earned. They can't figure it out. But I know they're all secretly pleased that they've "convinced" another person to stay out in the "real, unsheltered world."

Truth is, we didn't need much convincing.

chronicler said...

ROFL. I love your reason. It's almost the same as mine. I lov ebeing different. BUt my real reason is I'm losing my hearing, I'd never be able to do that soft whispery voice they all seem to adopt up there! Talk about being a wierdo!

Instead I'm moving to Snowflake in a couple of years.:-) Now that ought to be funny.

Jared said...

I hate UT, because I always feel like I am being judged. I don't do my calling well enough. I don't have any children. When Lindsey is born, then it will be that we don't have enough kids. I don't always like to go to church activities. Why do people feel a need to judge me? The Mexican gangs are all over our park. There are 4 meth labs in our ward boundaries. There's plenty of real things to complain about. Leave me alone why I pack my bags. I hate UT. TX I'm coming home.

s'mee said...

I heard a long time ago that it isn't that Utah is different, it's that So California is its' own planet, completely different that any other place on earth.

I LOVE CALIFORNIA!!!

I think the best thing about California is that there is a place for everyone. Diversity at it's best. If you want to be glorified or humbled, stand out or hide you can find a perfect neighborhood to suit your need.

I live in a neighborhood of constant flux, currently:we have the gang hoods, the wife beater, the spouse-beaters, the crack house, the guy who goes in and out of prison... and well -Thor and I are the neato white folks who go to church every freaking day of the week! Gotta love that!

This is a fabulous post. I LOVE Hollywood Flakes!!!

Rachel said...

I LOVE UTAH! I really do. I think it's the most beautiful state in the nation, and I wish desperately that I lived there. But I must differ with you on one point in particular. Who says monster truck rallies aren't culture? They are culture - Redneck culture!

And I am proud to be a redneck.

doug said...

I had a good time when I went to school in Utah. I think you find the type of folks you’d like to hang out with no matter where you go. The problem with Utah is there is an overly large contingent of people who’ve never lived in your neck of the woods (and likely never left their neck of the woods) and yet they still tell you Utah’s better. Even if Utah is potentially “better” – it’s disqualified as soon as someone rubs it in your face, fetchin’ morons.

Ang said...

People in Utah are just as imperfect as you...they just have a better system of covering it up! They will envy you for having the confidence to "get real".

And there is diversity and culture. Some of the best indie bands go to SLC and they have Gay Bingo!

A Payne said...

Amen, sister friend, amen. I pride myself on being an individual and then when we visit Utah, there I am. There is my haircut, my shirt, my stepford-gymboree wearing children.
That's why I never do the crafts at Enrichment meetings. I don't want the same cutesy shabbified wooden sign with vinyl lettering that everyone else in my ward has.

A Payne said...

Oh, one more thing.

I can't move to Utah, because I don't own a JEAN JUMPER!

A Payne said...

Jean jumpers counted at the 2004 BYU Women's Conference: 485

Jean Jumpers with Winnie the Pooh on them: 97

amanda said...

I have a feeling that this post is going to get more comments than even your homeschool post.

Sarah, I can't imagine you living in UT, because it is for people who enjoy living a life of conformity to some degree or another. Your personality is a little more unique. That's a good thing.

I have lived in and out of Utah, and there are a lot of things that are easier about living in Utah if you are a Mormon. You aren't a freak for getting married at age 20 and having a baby a year later. Out of Utah people consider having a baby at age 21 a teenage pregnancy. Plus church is always only a couple of blocks away, which simplifies a LOT of things when you get settled with kids and your life revolves around church activities. And people don't shake their heads at you when you have more than 3 kids. And low income doesn't equal living in a neighborhood with crack houses and spouse beaters. (I was surprised that someone thought that was a plus to living in So. Cal.) In Utah you know and trust your neighbors more.

But Jared is right. People in Utah are more judgmental about not having kids or not having them fast enough more than any place else. Outside of Utah I always hear "you're ONLY 31 and you ALREADY have four kids!?!?" Inside of Utah they say, "You're ALREADY 31, and you ONLY have 4 kids?!?!"

Silly Marie said...

I love the shabbified wooden signs with vinyl letters. And I really enjoyed UT while we were there. I doubt we'll ever live there because my husband's industry isn't big there. That's just fine with me. I don't really mind where we end up. I can see lots of pluses and minuses to living there, though I'd say that about any place.

I agree with Amanda. It's nice going to the Dr. and not having to explain garments (or just have a weird moment of non-explanation).

I also agree with the low-income thing. My good friend was applying for state funded health insurance in CA recently. She's done that both in UT and CA now. She said in UT, a conservative state, they were genuinely concerned about her and her family's welfare. They didn't think twice at helping out young families just starting out. In CA, a liberal/"help all" state, she said they have treated her like dirt, making her feel like a piece of trailer trash. As if only illegals and minorities should have financial aid.

Suzie Petunia said...

I have to admit, that isn't what I thought you would say! (Not that I actually KNOW you or anything.) We felt very strongly about not setting down firm roots that would be too hard to leave when we were in school in Utah. I can't exactly put my finger on it. There are a lot of reasons, I guess -- one of which is probably similar to your's. The thing that just came to mind is that everything there is too predictable. You know? It's not just the same-ness, or the expectation to keep certain standards. It is the lack of surprises and spice! This is something I'll have to ponder more...now I feel like I owe myself a clean-cut answer. I don't dislike Utah - a lot of my family lives there now (though we never did while growing up) and it is a beautiful place (sans the salt flats). I miss the mountains sometimes.

amanda again said...

by the way, i have to disagree with the lack of culture comments. I never saw much in the way of good visual arts (i didn't try very hard), but i thought that the performing arts were very acceptable and affordable in Utah. I saw shakespeare plays, classical opera, symphony at Abravanel Hall, famous professionals at the free temple square concert series, and lots of other outstanding stuff at BYU. I know that university level stuff isn't as good as the theater in LA or NYC, but it's hard to beat the prices--about $5-$10, and it was still very good quality. Out of the 10 or so places we have lived, only Oxford, England was better, and it's hard to beat someplace only 2 hours from London.

Also, "chronicler" good luck living in Snowflake if you don't like Utah. It is just a mini version of Happy Valley with all of the same pros and cons and a few of its own issues--economic, geographical, small town (all of those issues have their own pros and cons). I grew up there my whole life until I left for BYU. Overall I liked it pretty well growing up but will probably never live there again.

amanda again said...

by the way, i have to disagree with the lack of culture comments. I never saw much in the way of good visual arts (i didn't try very hard), but i thought that the performing arts were very acceptable and affordable in Utah. I saw shakespeare plays, classical opera, symphony at Abravanel Hall, famous professionals at the free temple square concert series, and lots of other outstanding stuff at BYU. I know that university level stuff isn't as good as the theater in LA or NYC, but it's hard to beat the prices--about $5-$10, and it was still very good quality. Out of the 10 or so places we have lived, only Oxford, England was better, and it's hard to beat someplace only 2 hours from London.

Also, "chronicler" good luck living in Snowflake if you don't like Utah. It is just a mini version of Happy Valley with all of the same pros and cons and a few of its own issues--economic, geographical, small town (all of those issues have their own pros and cons). I grew up there my whole life until I left for BYU. Overall I liked it pretty well growing up but will probably never live there again.

Sarah said...

Holy comments, Batman!

Payne, I'll let you know when I stop laughing about that Winnie the Pooh Jumper thing. Don't hold your breath!

Sarah said...

Indulge me - I've stuck up a new poll about the "utah issue." Take a sec and throw in your vote so we can see what's really going on here!

2 cents more said...

I think people in Utah assume too much about each other and people outside assume a lot about them, too. There's nothing like a good old fashioned stereotype to make people act funky.

Mary B said...

sarah, this blog makes my stomach turn... don't play this game!

compulsive writer said...

Hmmm. Where to begin? Suddenly I'm feeling a bit unjustly stereotyped...

When I left my much-loved hippie-town USA (Eugene, OR) for school then ended up marrying a Utah native my sister said to me, "How could you live there, everyone is the same?" I said to her, "I'll go there and be different." Truth is I have no claim on being different--there is diversity among the natives and the non-natives alike. We do have to deal with a particular Mormon culture here (it would be the same with an unusually high concentration of any religion, ethnicity or whatever), but some of us like to live here and mix it up a bit. And one of the best parts is being totally surprised by people who appear to be "conforming" but aren't so very much.

So here's my attempt to set a few things straight:

Since I've lived in Utah I've attended more broadway plays and fine-quality theatre events than ever. I've also seen some beautiful visual art. Sure it's not LA or NY, but I dare say we do quite well for ourselves for a state of this population and this far from either of the coasts.

Since I've lived in Utah I've experienced (for the first time) the beauty of all four seasons, rocked out at Styx and other rock concerts, attended an art exhibit at a wine gallery, met more people who cook with wine, experienced "the world" coming to visit during the Olympics, come to know and love more people with alternative lifestyles than ever before, campaigned for a Democrat, had more friends with dreads, heard more "get real" and "let's be painfully honest here" Relief Society lessons, etc. than ever before.

Predictable? I live in a nice neighborhood--one in which we can still go trick-or-treating--and just last winter we had a murder-suicide one block away and right next door to a home where my child plays frequently after school. That's not really too predictable. (And in some cases, predictable's not such a bad thing.)

And as for "it is for people who enjoy living a life of conformity to some degree or another" and some of the other sweeping assumptions that have been made about me, my family and my friends here, I'll return the favor by not making any assumptions about why people would say such things about people they don't even know.

(Note: because tone is so lost in type, please know I am not mad, but I'm not the quiet type either. No offense taken, none intended to those of you with alternative views or even different experiences. I just had to call it like I see it and since I live here I think I might be qualified to have an opinion on, well, living here.)

compulsive writer said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
compulsive writer said...

p.s. I forgot to add that I think you find what you are looking for wherever you go and home is what you make of it.

You're welcome to my hood any time Sarah. I think you'd enjoy our monthly GNO.

Catherine said...

I loved living in Salt Lake City. We had amazing cultural variety in our area, wonderful access to everything we'd ever want or need, fabulous friends that we've kept in touch with. Beautiful places to visit and exercise in, great public parks, affordable arts (their opera beats Dallas in price and feel). There are lots of Mormons and lots of other stuff - who cares. What have any of us got to prove? I'm pretty sure its at least as much of a rat race here in Dallas...

amanda again said...

Whoa. I guess I will make one last comment since what I said got taken the wrong way.

I think that most Mormon women who stay at home and have a lot of kids when they are young LIKE living in Utah because there are a whole bunch of other young stay at home moms. It eliminates the freak factor, and people aren't staring at you everywhere you go and making comments that you have your hands full. So while I LOVED living in Utah because I was the stereotypical, young stay-at-home mom (somewhat of a conformist in Utah), I apologize to those of you who are there and are not in that position and feel like that statement took away your identity.

I haven't lived in Utah for 5 years, and I really miss it. Consider yourself lucky if your family has a way of supporting itself in an area where all careers are not possible.

Anonymous said...

I am glad to here someone say it. The reason anyone has a problem with Utah is because they are too busy judging it and trying too hard to be something unique. Actually I have live all over the place and Salt Lake is pretty tops in comparison. I don't know if I will settle here, but if I do, that won't be a bad thing.

Torchness said...

Oh man, I wanted to hear about all the secret Mormon stuff. I still vote for that. I heard a rumor about underwear. Is it cute? Can you get it in black?

Anonymous said...

I've only been to UT once to go skiing and we stayed in SLC while we were there. I have to agree with you though; it was a little creepy. Jumpers with Pooh? (Creepy factor through the roof.) Didn't see any but I did get to have sacrament mtg with the Prophet in his home ward. That was pretty cool. He wasn't wearing a Pooh jumper but I can't vouch for Sis Hinckley, nor can I say whether or not green Jell-O was eaten at the Sunday get togethers afterward.

That said, I can see where UT gets props. Everyone being the same where you don't really have to explain anything can be a nice thing sometimes. Mostly though I like being an anomaly (Mormon) in ABQ or TX, wherever we happen to be.

Thanks, Sarah, for saying what we're all secretly thinking...

kaff said...

Sarah, I might consider moving back if we could live together. That was the only time I actually enjoyed living in Utah. It was always so much fun and I only have happy memories. Other than that it was always the questions of why I wasn't married yet and then why I didn't have kids. Too much pressure!! I'll stick with my day job and keep traveling the world.

compulsive writer said...

Now that I've had more time to think about it, may I offer an official rebuttal?

rainey said...

Sarah your original post cracked me up. Yeah, "IT IS actually a competition and everyone stinks because of their differences!" I'm going to cross stitch that and hang it above my sink. And think of you. Fondly.

Anonymous said...

The coolest thing in the WHOLE world is when people offer smatterings of really stupid generalizations.

And the majority of women that come to Education Week are from OUT OF STATE. That includes all of your pooh bear jumper-wearing friends.

Sarah said...

Can't we all just be friends? As long as I don't have to be friends with people from Utah?

JUST KIDDING!!

Sheesh! Lighten up, people! These comments haven't gone at all how I predicted and I'm really sorry if I've gone and opened up the taboo Mormon debate. Just for the record, I think Utah is fantastico. I just really really don't want to leave L.A. and have realized my issue with moving to Utah comes down to poor self-esteem. But everyone seems to have a pretty rabid opinion one way or another. Take a look at how the poll is shaking out - I think the numbers clear up the whole issue.

melinda said...

i was going to add a comment, but then i thought everybody might judge me.

frank said...

mary, honey, were you saying that you didnt like the blog in general, or just this particular subject matter?

AngelaM said...

Stephanie--My hubby and I were on vacay in SLC a few years ago and went to the prophet's ward...it was the funniest experience. They actually directed us to sit in a "visitor's" section kind of roped off from the regular members! I guess they get a lot of Prophet fans hoping to catch a glimpse. He wasn't there that day but we DID meet Ezra Taft Benson's daughter!

Torchness--this is a weird Mormon thing. We treat the leaders of the church like celebrities. Seriously, what would you think if you heard, "You will never guess wich apostle I saw at the Olive Garden"? I guarantee, it happens!

Janell said...

Amen!

I do love UT, but it's like ginger-cinnamon ice-cream. It's great for awhile and really compliments an apple pie, but certainly doesn't not qualify as a staple in my freezer. Or something like that. I'll take an ice-cream (or state) which lends itself to variations and diversity.

It might not have been the Utah background, but one Utahn I dated insisted that "diversity is ungodly" as a justification for the superiority of Utah. Uh-huh. Needless to say, that relationship ended.