Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Jiffy Lube

In September some of my colleagues from the UK came over for a series of meetings so we spent a great Sunday together. We went on a beautiful hike, did some sightseeing around Salt Lake City, and ate at our favorite Mexican restaurant.

As we sat outside waiting for our table, the Jiffy Lube across the street caught their attention and they asked with a knitted brow what that was. Now keep in mind, of the four visitors only one of them has a driver’s license. The rest rely solely on public transport. I explained to them that the Jiffy Lube was exactly what the UK needed, a place to get a quick oil change which was non-existent and a point of stress for me when we lived there. My friend N responded with, “Oh J, I hope you didn’t go around England asking for a Jiffy Lube. That sounds so sexual”. Hahahaha, no I thought better of that.

The Dominant Culture

I get a lot of questions about the dominant religion out here from friends and family. One of them is about drinking coffee. Is it really true that the Church of Latter Day Saints bans coffee and is it because of the caffeine? If that’s the case, why do they drink Coke, etc.? Well, I actually did talk to someone of the faith recently about this and they read to me from the Word of Wisdom which is foundation text. It mentions not to drink hot drinks. They went on to explain that leaders have interpreted this as coffee and tea, but what about hot chocolate? Some say that’s bad too, others partake. Some do interpret this as a problem with caffeine and think anything with caffeine is bad. So did I walk out of the conversation with a clear understanding? My understanding was that someone has taken a phrase and applied their own definitions.

I recently went to see a nurse practitioner and when she came into the room after the first two sentences she used the word “bullshit”. I remember thinking to myself that okay, she’s not a member of the LDS church. Later I thought to myself, why am I always looking for that confirmation or denial of religion here? I’ve never done that anywhere else I’ve lived. First, the Mormon religion is also an all-encompassing culture. I think it’s because with that culture comes views on the world that I don’t necessarily agree with so I’m always thinking then about what I’m going to say, not that I look to offend. As far as I know I don’t offend people automatically with crude behavior. But also I think I also brace myself for them offending me believe it or not and how I’m going to react to that.

She did tell me having raised two daughters in this part of the world and not being members of the church that her daughters really started feeling like outsiders when they hit 11th and 12th grades because all of the girls they knew started talking about marriage. A hasn’t mentioned anything about feeling different and seems oblivious to whether she is in the minority at school. She did go to study at a friend’s house where there were eight children and she came home saying she’d never been in a house that big and asked me how would you keep up with everyone in a family that size. A’s best friend here is not Mormon and also an only child and grew up here. I asked her if she has ever felt like the odd man out and she said that the church kids have such scheduled lives throughout the week that many times they aren’t free to go places or do things which has been difficult.

It brought to mind the one family we knew growing up that had ten kids. Yes, Catholics can also breed like mad too! I remember going to spend the night at their house once and at age 8 a few things stuck out in my mind. Number one was the absolute chaos of it all. When the front door opened and I was greeted by my friend, number seven in the family, in the background her youngest sibling went riding past on one of their two great danes. I have to admit it scared me a little. I’d never seen so much laundry, I’d never walked into bedrooms with walls with drawings on them, or seen kids have so much freedom. There had been a mutiny and the kids had won. The other thing that struck me was how tired their mother looked. Of course when I look at the family pictures at work of the big families no sign of chaos is visible. Perfection seems to be the only image allowed. Of course being a pessimist my mind goes to the strange trying to figure out what perversions lie behind the perfection.


Let's polka!
One of the local ski resorts has a month long Oktoberfest and I met up with some friends and a visitor to our office from Australia last month to check it out. It really is a beautiful setting and the alpine slide and music was fun but the food…ugh overpriced and not very good. I’ve never met a spaetzle I didn’t like and when A and I are looking at each other going “Are you going to finish it? No, go ahead, you finish it”, there’s a problem.

A view of the slide from the ski lift

Going to the alpine slide it was the first time A and I sat on a ski lift and I can’t believe there aren’t more people falling off of those things. Seriously, not feeling very safe!

The view of the mountains as we walked to our car

A P.S. on Halloween

Yes, no trick or treating on the sabbath here!  It took place last night and A had a friend over to hand out candy.  The friend informed us that where we live they had passed a law that no one could trick or treat past 12.  Funny, I counted that we had 12 individuals come to our doorstep last night.  Of course we had candy for 300.

Sunrise with Coffee

My camera is on the fritz right now but luckily I had H's close by as I drank my morning coffee.  This is the view out the back window.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween in Utah

Halloween is alive and well and living in Utah. When I lived in Alabama where the southern baptist and fundamental Christian churches were prevalent, Halloween didn’t get a lot of play. In the Bible Belt it seems, Halloween was evolving into an opportunity for churches to put on plays or haunted houses to scare kids straight out of drugs and sex. They weren’t comfortable with the idea of a holiday that has pagan or maybe occult origins. It’s been seven years now since we lived in Alabama so I don’t know if things have changed at all. But because of this experience and the fact that the office and area that I work in are predominantly Morman, I was surprised at how much my co-workers got into Halloween. When I raised the issue with a few of them, they didn’t understand my surprise. They obviously focus on the family element.

We had the kids of employees come in and trick or treat and I guess I’ve become a scrooge because it was a waste of half a day of work for me. One of my colleagues asked, “Is your daughter not into this stuff? Is she not coming in?” I responded by simply saying, “She’s 15”. One of my friends in the office laughed and said I’d be surprised how old kids trick or treat here. I guess we’ll see tonight.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Proper Snow

I cleaned about four inches of snow from my car this morning.  If my camera hadn't broken, I'd have a picture!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Media Overload

I was talking to my friend M not too long ago and mentioned how depressed and anxious I’ve been feeling.  I think I’ve realized that living in the UK was a vacation from some of the economic problems.  When we were there I was pretty choosy about the news from the States I paid attention to thinking hey I’m not living there right now.  I was also pretty choosy about the UK news I consumed because I just didn’t feel as invested knowing.  I get back here and turn on the news, start reading the newspaper and I want to jump out the window.  My friend M confirmed that the economic news has been bad for some time.  No wonder we’ve become a Prozac nation. 
I think I need to go back to burying my head at least half-way in the sand.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


When K and her husband G came to visit on Labor Day Weekend, we took a drive down to Moab to see some of the natural beauty at Arches National Park. We took a short side trip to Cisco, a ghost town which provided some of the settings in Thelma and Louise.

It’s taken awhile for the idea of the west to sink in, but Cisco brought it home. I love the vulnerability of being out in a wide open space that also offers a level a freedom you don’t see every day.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Hooray for Fall!

Yes, fall, I’m claiming that term once again.  Not long after locating to England and using “fall” in a sentence I was quickly shut down and told to use “autumn”.  What a wonderful time of year it is.  Because there’s a lack of pumpkin flavored items in the UK, I’d forgotten how pumpkin crazy we get.  I had my first pumpkin spice latte of the season last week and it was as good as I remembered.  My sister-in-law B sent me a Starbucks card in the mail knowing how much I love and have missed them.  We had a virtual coffee break together last Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Buh-bye Buttah

After force feeding me butter for about a year calling it homework, I get back to the States, get my cholesterol checked and am told by the doctor that no medication is necessary, but through diet and exercise I need to drop my cholesterol by about 30 points. H, on the other hand who has been eating the same things goes and gets his checked and it’s great. Where’s the justice? While I enjoyed every mouthful, it’s time to pay the piper.

Work has been tense and I made a decision when I got back that I would start working on things I could control like the cholesterol bit. A and I have started working out at rec center and I thought I would take it a step further and hire a personal trainer, one rec center has on hand. My first discussion with J went something like this. I can’t afford to hire you for a weekly appointment but I need some accountability and would like someone to help design challenging workouts for me so I’d like to meet with you every month. J is great. She’s perky but not too perky. She’s encouraging but not easy on me. By the end of the workout, I hate her guts. After my first appointment I walked in my bare feet around the house like I had high heels on because my calves were unbelievably sore. It has been a good investment because the exercises she has me do really are things I would have never challenged myself to do. When I’m in the weight room I’m actually out of breath during my workout, something I’ve never experienced before.

So, what’s the end result? I’m a work in progress, LOL. I should be proud that I’ve been making fitness a priority since June, and that’s probably the longest stretch in my life. Have the pounds just melted away? No, but my stress level has decreased. I was doing pretty good cutting back nutritionally until all of the company rolled into town. Now I’m struggling to bring that back in line. I’ll get there.