Saturday, December 5, 2009

Things I Miss (And Don't) About Utah. A List.

I was rather surprised at my feelings when my plane touched down last week in Salt Lake City on my trip "home" for Thanksgiving. I didn't feel like I was going home. I felt, rather, that I was visiting family away from home. It gave cause to reflect on why I would feel that way. I've since been doing an inventory on the things I miss, and don't, about Utah:

I miss the mountains. Not only are they beautiful and I wish that I'd spent time in them, but they are also my reference point for knowing where the hell I am at any given time. I could be bludgeoned with a tire iron, hauled into some remote field, and left for dead, and I'd still know exactly where I was, based on my relative position to the mountains. In Austin I have no clue where I am. Ever. If it weren't for my Garmin I'd be lost and starved by now. Incidentally I've named my Garmin "Stella." It makes sense that when she leads me astray or can't acquire satellites that I yell "STELLLAAAAAAAA!" It's poetic.

I miss seasons. In Utah we have four very distinct seasons. Hot dry summers, brisk beautiful autumns, butt cold snowy winters, and breezy lovely springs. In Austin we have insufferably hot summers and eight months of something else.

I don't miss shoveling snow.

I don't miss the religious separation of classes. This exists whether we understand it or not, whether we choose it or not. On some level, subconscious or conscious, there is a theological and societal wedge placed between the LDS and the non. I have done my best to bridge that gap and dissolve that line, and I consider myself an open-minded believer, but there will always be residual thoughts. "I wonder what that guy sipping the wine at Carver's story is. Was he born Momo? What changed?" In Texas I never ever EVER think along those lines. It is refreshing and healthy. I am elated that my kids will have an opportunity to grow up in this environment. I most definitely do not miss the religious zealots that alienate good people based on their beliefs or lack of conviction. Similarly I do not miss the narrow-minded, hard-hearted, jaded folk that form negative feelings and actions for an entire religion based on a handful of bad experiences with said zealots. If I followed that approach and formed opinions based on the way I've been treated outside the Momo-bubble, I'd hate half the free world by now.

I miss our monthly dinners and game nights with Spencer and Shane. Lots of laughs, great friends, and I can now braid a scarf with style.

I miss having my family and good friends no more than 30 minutes away at any given time. They are support when I'm sad, cheerleaders when I succeed, advisors when I'm conflicted, and always there to love me.

To a much lesser degree, however, I feel it important that I am not close to them....for a time. I am counting on this experience of distance being vital to the happiness and closeness of my immediate family. When your cheerleaders, advisors, and supporters are thousands of miles away, you are forced to create new solutions...hopefully within your own immediate family and newfound friends. I really believe this.

I don't miss The Holy War.

I miss going to concerts with my short-lived show group. We saw some incredible shows...Wilco and Ray Lamontagne were my highlights. The weekly Gallivan shows were always fun and something to look forward to.

I don't miss the crowds at the Gallivan shows. Whether it be the many thousands of preteen girls onsite to catch that one moderately decent song Iron and Wine had on the Twilight soundtrack, or the throngs of drunken frat boys looking for something to do besides shoot pool or watch MMA, that blessed event has gotten completely out of control. Three years ago I'd take my kids and we would dance on the lawn while the bands played. Now you can't even SEE the lawn, let alone sit or dance on it. People are crammed into that space like twitchy sardines too big for their aluminum prison. They either need to start charging at the gate or move venue. Or, my personal favorite, they should have a 10 question survey about the band(s) playing that night at the gate. If you pass with 70% or better then you can go in. Otherwise you fail and are sent to the E Centre to see Poison and Styx.

I miss a road and highway system that makes sense. Salt Lake's grid system is brilliantly designed. That's something we take for granted. It might not be the most creative system in the country, but it's sure logical. This Austin system of parralel freeways, tollways, and feeder roads, is a living nightmare.

I miss Utah traffic. Comparitively speaking, it is NOT traffic. It's a few cars on a dirt road. Try the parking lot Austinites know as I-35 at 3:00 in the afternoon. It's actually a great time to get some emails done.

I don't miss Utah drivers. In SLC, being cut off or not signaling before a turn is nigh unto an act of treason against the crown. All those drivers think they have a halo of 20 feet considered "safe space" around their car. Anyone that breeches that space is a mother %&@*ing piece of $[-]1T and deserves to be drawn and quartered in public along with their entire family. Circumstances mean nothing. There could be a woman giving birth in the back seat, or an undercover FBI agent chasing the spawn of Jack the Ripper, but if that safe space is invaded, you can count on some bald-headed dude with a goatee in a Hurley hoodie getting out of his '96 F-150 ready to beat your ass with a crowbar. Or at least throwt a bird and an F Bomb.

In Austin, people understand that the road is a matter of survival of the fittest. It's a Top Gun dog fight. It's like the Drow of Menzoberranzan and their unspoken code of treachery and deceit. All that matters is you don't get caught assassinating competing Drow families in the Underdark. Otherwise all bets are off. Just like the streets of Austin...deft maneuvers and jockeying of position is applauded. Just as long as you don't kill anyone or wreck the ride.

Mostly I miss my wife and kids. Ultimately home is where they are. If they are in Utah, then that's my home. If they are on Mars, let me be Martian. But I can't wait for December 27th when they can finally be here with me in Austin and we can make our home here.

I am grateful to the great state of Utah for giving me so much over the past three decades. By and large it is a lovely place to be. But I am also thrilled at the opportunity to make new memories and have new adventures in the great state of Texas. I guess life itself is an adventure, cliche as that might sound. Might as well embrace it.

Kindergarten Cop is on TV. Time to go.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Does Max Hall have Jake Abs? Secret...

Hanging out at the Fleabag Hotel in Austin, watching Rush Hour 2 which was barely watchable the first time but manages to maintain its value with lines like "I will bitch slap you back to Africa" and "Do I look like Chicken George to YOU?!"

Speaking of movies, I saw New Moon with Sherri last night. I think I finally understand why so many women insist on loving these terrible movies. I call it the Langdon Factor. Angels and Demons was a brilliant book. It's one of the very few novels that I physically could NOT put down. I bought it at the SLC airport and read it nonstop through to Atlanta. I read it in the cab to the hotel. And I continued reading in the hotel room without changing clothes or unpacking until 10:00 p.m. when I finally finished. Then I talked to everyone I met about how incredible this book was. Imagine my dismay when I tried to watch this pathetic piece of HollycArp on the big screen. It is unwatchable. The acting is terrible and the plot is uninteresting. I didn't make it halfway through before turning it off. I realize now that Robert Langdon is a character that can't justly be played in a standard length screen production. The plot line, with all its intricacies, cannot be translated to film without sucking.

This is the problem with the Twilight films. It is a series of novels that, for whatever crazed reason, is beloved by romantic women everywhere. But the movies are epic failures. I sincerely hope that the novels were good....and I'm willing to finally concede that point if they indeed were well written. Call it mercy. Because the movies are terrible. Back out the cool wolves and the Italian Vampire Lords scene and all you have is a poorly-acted emodrama with chiseled Jake abs and lines like "you breathing is all I need" from a fiercely annoying Edward that should have kept his abs hidden. Homey, take some advice from an abless brother. If you ain't got it...don't flaunt it. So, ladies, consider this concession a small victory. The books might have been good but the movies are not.

Secret Deodorant may be PH balanced for a woman but that stuff is absolutely strong enough for a man. I forgot my Speed Stick in Austin and had to resort to the only thing available when I joined my bride and kids in SLC. Sherri's lovely floral Secret stick. I applied it in the morning then put in 14 hours of unrelenting physical manual labor loading trucks, packing boxes, and hauling furniture. I'm a big dude. I sweat like a big dude. My pits had to look like Richard Simmons' oiled-up body after Sweatin' to the Oldies. After a short and fairly restless sleep, I hit the shower the following morning only to find that Sherri's Secret was still fully intact and clinging to my caves like spackle. So I didn't reapply. I let it roll for day two of rigorous man work. The following morning I found the same result. Secret Spackle was still alive and well. I'm actually considering switching. I'll sluff off the fresh floral scent as a new fabric softener or something. It will be my little Secret.

Words cannot express how glad I am to be out of Utah and away from "The Holy War." BYU and U of U fans are intolerably annoying. I can't stand it anymore.

Memo to Utah fans. You are not the only people in the state of Utah that are entitled to your level of hate and vitriol. Your animosity and hate is astounding. It is ridiculous. It is childish and stupid. Let it go. If you refuse to let it go, then you should allow other people the same hate without getting monumentally butthurt over others' comments, i.e. Max Hall. Did he get carried away with his comments? Yes. Was he genuinely disgusted and hurt? Yes. Did he have cause to be pissed? Yes. Should he have STFU and let the scoreboard do his talking? Yes. But all that aside, he has just as much right to speak as you do...ambassador of the school or not. To refresh our minds and re-open the wounds, here it is:

The only Ute fans that have any room to be pissed are those that are actually open-minded enough to not loathe BYU. I challenge you to find me 10 such fans. Like Bigfoot and the Easterfreaking Bunny...they don't exist. If you think it and believe it, so can Max Hall.

Memo to BYU fans. Your program is tired and your team is boring. Your road is not the higher road. Any insinuation, lighthearted or not, that yours is "the Lord's team" is inappropriate drivel. There is no divine call to play for, or cheer for, the Cougars. Any hint that Utes are beer-swilling Babylonian pigs, therefore your team is the higher team, is nonsense. There's just as much boozing, partying and rabble rousing at Helm's Deep (thanks Dylan) as there is in SLC...except you people hide it in shame. Get it through your heads....God does not care about BYU winning or losing. He is a Texas fan. Hook 'em.

Rivalries are good. They are healthy. Hate isn't. But if you're going to hate, let the other side hate back.