Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Death Valley.

Landing in Utah this weekend was like entering the very gates of hell. I should have known, what with that horrible mix-up with Delta- anytime your flights are that messed up and that costly to fix, I say just send a postcard and blow a kiss to your loved ones, because it's better than dropping a few hundred to bake alive in The Middle Of Nowhere, SLC. It's been 2 years since I last had any part of Utah, and I can't say that enough time has passed to make me more fond of the land so many friends call "home." Okay, Utah. You've got a whole weekend to prove it to me. Make me love you. Between the Carolines, Maggie, Kory, Rachel, The Duschane Dames, The Marrieds, The Jeffs and The Glamorous (Danielle, Dainon, Brad, Veedaloca & Brendon & Aaron), plus affordable real-estate and amazing scenery and a new metro system, Utah seemed like a real-deal-change-your-life-bargin!

O how I wish that had been true.

Instead, I end up having to re-purchase my flights, pay the difference, get ignored or shoved out of any merchant store I entered (I understood being misinterpreted at 16 and lolling around coffee shops for poetry and jazz nights with no coffee, but here? NOW???) For being a place where I envision everyone being really nice, the customer service angle really sucks. Then there's the weather. Egad! Did Satan just open up the gates of hell and invite us all inside? And I did not fly out just to go to a mall or see a movie! No wonder why everyone is either drunk or married- there is nothing else to do here! Because not only can I not breathe, move, or laugh without sweating, but since it's so hot, our only options seem to be the mall or a movie. It was a miracle that I didn't end up naked every day. But I did decide to take my pants off in the street outside the airport. I don't think anyone noticed.

There are, as I had previously bemoaned, other minorities. I was shocked. A primary concern about being in Utah as a single woman of colour is that I am so outside the norm, that I am acknowledge as one of three things:
The token minority.
The Asian Girl. (Interchangeable with any other Asian girl someone may have met somewhere at some place.)
A physical pariah who would "be the perfect woman...if you were blonde." (True story.)

Not that I don't appreciate being set up with a) the only other Asian man you know or b) the weird Asian fetish guy you knew from BYU, but that's not really my scene, yo. Where did I find such diversity, you ask? Why, at the clubs, of course! Of course, no one was there to dance- they mostly seemed to congregate in order to look badass and rebellious and prove that no! they are not Mormons! Not only were there Latins, African-Americans, and yes, another Asian girl!, but everyone else that wasn't in our group was drunk/drinking to get there, smoking (INside- who does that anymore?), has sleeve tattoos and multiple piercings. Stunning. I mean, I had no idea how attractive people who like to go to bars can be! You sure showed me, Utah! Erin even got hit on by someone who felt the need to insult her morality and her religion- at the same time! Wow! Way to go for those diversity days!

And for those of you who live in Salt Lake? Wow. I am sorry. There is a serious lack of attractive men here. I don't know how that happened, considering that all my friends are interesting AND attractive, I must know the only hot guys in Utah. Because on the streets and in the church houses, you know what I found? 75% female, and 1-2 mildly attractive men. What the hell happened here?!?!

I will give Utah this: Free Jazz concerts in the park are awesome. Walking everywhere is fantastic. Lack of traffic and 10 minutes from everything is brilliant. And you can't beat the friends who live here, even if I can't find the stomach for it. Maybe next time I'll be back in 3 years. But you all have a standing invitation to California- land of the free, the colourful, the open-armed, the well-dressed (if dressed), and most importantly, of the ocean breeze.

Love you guys. Send me your address and you'll get a postcard.


Rachel said...

Hmm... I am not convinced. I had almost the same weekend as you and none of those things bothered me. I think that your mind was already made up and Salt Lake never even had a chance. However, I must say that the robot fan is a lovely addition to my 100 year old apartment. Thank you so much. And the jazz festival was fantastic fun.

caroline said...

seriously, the heat here is enough to melt me and my little car (it sure is trying, anyway). i am not built for this sort of blazing fury.

The Dally Llama said...

Hey now, when someone takes a shot at my state, I'll always be there to stand up for it.

Someone who says there is nothing to do in Utah = someone who SERIOUSLY lacks creativity. I pretty much routinely have the time of my life here in Utah, particularly when it's that hot. The secret is to get out of the city and near water. BTW, it cooled off for last weekend. You should have been here for the 4th. -And even at that, it's dry. Go someplace humid for a day or so when you have this kind of heat combined with a dew point in the mid 70s, and then you'll really know what miserable heat is.

No argument that customer service around here leaves a lot to be desired. Same goes for courtesy from other drivers. Utah pretty much sucks in those categories.

I'll also concede that the club scene around here is lame. You pretty much nailed that one square on the head. But what I don't understand is why this was a revelation. I thought that was so common knowledge that they don't even bother putting it in tourist brochures. It's because basically all the people who, anywhere else in the country, would be the decent guys/girls who go out to throw a beer or two back with friends, are mormons in Utah. So that takes the normal and decent folk component out of the club/bar scene, leaving the scene to be the almost exclusive province of throw backs from a Kid Rock video. If you can get past the absurdity of it, it's pretty amusing, if not endearing, really.

And finally, every city in the country has quirks. I would think that it comes as no small surprise that the quirks of cities in Utah are heavily colored by prevailing religious notions.

f*bomb. said...

Look, I didn't say I HATED my trip- my friends made it fantastic; but as for the pleasantness of the trip itself---For the birds. The thing is, all my Utah resident friends (Kory aside), tell me so many wonderful things about Utah. That Salt Lake is "sooo different!" from my experience in Provo, etc. I finally think that maybe I have been closed-minded. That I should give the old SLC a try.

I'm such a chump.

k8 said...

you need a better tour guide friend.

Vanilla Vice said...

I will defend Farrah. Utah blows, especially in the summer. I remember creativity in Utah...tunnel singing, phase 10 all night long, and other activities that bother me. I think arts and crafts? Winter in Utah is where it's at, but only if you're snowboarding.

Salt H2O said...

As one of Farrah's tour guides, I will begin defending myself-

It's hard for Utahans to understand but when you're comparing the blazing desert of Utah to southern California- there really is no comparison. Sure I may lack the creativity to go grab and ice block and slide down a grassy hill, play mafia in a park at midnight or fork some one's yard- all distinct Utah traditions.

Defend Utah as you may- its still 100 degrees out, and us Southern Californians are SPOILED. We can't go play in this heat. Even if you find water- you have to be on the lake at 5 am to get a decent run and beat out all the boats.

The mountains are fabulous- but in Park City it's STILL 90 degrees, again we spoiled Southern Californians like to mountain bike in cool 70 degree weather.

And the Night Life? Luckily we are at times graced with the random art festival but as the whole, we're comparing it to a state that has Orange County, LA, and San Diego all within a reasonable driving distance and again, all with a plethora of venues, arts, and entertainment.

Farrah is right; the only reason to live in Utah is if you're married and your job is here or if you're in the witness protection program.

As some one who was Single in Salt Lake City for a number of years, and Single in the HB- the difference is night and day- for so many reasons I may have to blog it.

As Farrah said during her stay, if you're doing nothing 'You’re at least doing nothing AT THE BEACH'

(and a special thanks to Farrah for the opportunity to publicly rant- and for helping buy a house during her stay)

f*bomb. said...

Rad moments in Utah:
1) Urging Kory and Brent to buy the house I liked best and introducing them to their neighbours,
2) Rocking the Wii. FINALLY- I understand!

And don't blame my "tour guides." They were the only great thing ABOUT Utah! I could stare at the wall and, beside THESE kids, we'd STILL have a fantastic time.
Of course, my heart goes out to the residents of a place that holds virtually NO eye candy...

Dainon said...

You gotta hand it to Farrah, right? I mean, she had a whole, what, 3-4 days to gather up a raging opinion? That's plenty of time to know exactly how much the city I call home "sucks". Plenty.

I recall my friend Chris cutting you short during one of your mini-rants at the wedding reception, just after you said something about never living here and never coming back. He said, "I'm sure we'll get along just fine without you."

Seymour Glass said...

next time you go, call me. as a california boy who was forced to live in utah for 10 years i have a number of survival tips and tricks. and there are some great things to do up there that cannot be replicated here. that's right, you heard me. and Bree, just because you lived in Provo and went to BYU doesn't mean that Utah is like that. just for people who go to BYU.

Michael said...

It could be worse. It could be Oklahoma.

This summer we've had so much rain it's stayed cool- but usually it's about as hot as Utah but not as dry.

And it's flat.

Sure, everything doesn't suck, but there's a reason real estate is so cheap here.

caroline said...

as far as customer service goes, i think in my experience, new jersey takes the cake for the worst of all time. is it illegal to be accommodating and cordial there? seriously? i've been in a state of rage for two days thanks to their ridiculous customer "service".

utah + 1
jersey - 20

and ps- utah summer nights are hard to beat. so warm and it's actually safe to walk around rather than being followed home or yelled at by a crack-head (both of which have happened to me plenty of times in california - my beloved home)

caroline said...

pps- sorry i couldn't be a tour guide or actually hang out with you while you were here. at least you got to see my apartment which, by the way, i don't pay a lot for because rent here is so much cheaper.

utah +10

JerzyGrl said...

Farrah - I'm definitely glad I read your blog post before I head to "Death Valley" tomorrow! Now I'll be prepared.

As for New Jersey (speaking as someone born and raised there), we know we're rude. I went to BYU thinking the people who were nice were weird :)

f*bomb. said...

Why do people from Utah take it personally if other people don't like their state?
I was born in New Jersey, but you don't see me defending that cesspool. In fact, I don't know anyone from Jersey who dreams of moving back and settling down there. And we don't care if you think it sucks- it DOES suck. Garden State got it right- from the pathetic gray existance and bizarro health issues, right down to the tangible smell of urine I felt just by WATCHing that show.

I grew up in Massachusettes. Do I get huffy if someone says, "People from Boston are rude." NO! I say, "Yeah. People think they're rude because they're not phoney or fake. They're just too honest." I don't have a problem with that. But people also say that Boston is a super-cool place. And then I have to say, "I'm not actually from BOSTON- but I can see what you'd like about it."

This Utah loyalty must stem from that rivalry mentality that I never understood. Like rival schools or pride in your Alma Mater or whatever. Besides. It'd be one thing if I just said, "Utah sucks. I hate Utah." But I didn't say that. I said I love my friends there. I said I had fun. And I also reported all ACTUAL experiences that I had...And until YOU are a single adult LDS Asian woman in Utah, don't tell me what dating is like there.

It's like someone you think is nice who (every time you approach them) kicks you in the shins. Eventually you just figure that person doesn't really want you near them. Utah repeatedly kicks me in the shins. Doesn't mean I don't love my friends there. Doesn't mean it isn't beautiful. Or safe. Or cheap. (oops- I mean- AFFORDABLE.) But ESPECIALLY in this trip- it seemed like Utah just did NOT think I should plan on making any life changes for it. Like I said. If I'm wrong- PROVE IT.

f*bomb. said...

And, ps- ummm, I don't recall your friend cutting me off OR being rude- I recall thinking he was nice. Of course, I also don't remember you lacking a sense of humor, but clearly, you're bent on proving me not wrong- but a very, very bad person. waah.

Rachel said...

Maybe this isn't what you said, but people sometimes hear a different message: It is hard to not take it personally when what someone HEARS is that they are so stupid for living in Utah deserve to be pitied. It makes them feel degraded. Who wouldn't feel defensive when they try to welcome you into a place that they are actually happy in only to receive rejection? Where someone lives does have an influence their identity. Love Salt Lake or not. It doesn't really matter. No one is going to make you move here. It's just the urgency to vomit the whole place up and declare it awful that people don't want to watch.

f*bomb. said...

I never said anyone was stupid for living in Utah!!!

I was there for school- I am blessed to have GONE to school- it has altered my life. MOST people are there for school. The rest are usually there for family. If I had 32 close relatives that got together for dinner every other Sunday, I could probably understand how people like being there. It shapes a community to have people who stay and build lives, in a way that I'm completely unfamiliar with.

I don't want to ever live in Indiana again either, but you don't hear anyone crying over THAT place...

Dainon said...

Rachel has a point.

It's an interesting thing living here (having been here for the past decade or so) ... people WHO LIVE HERE complain about not liking it, which I don't understand. If you don't like an area, ship on out and find some pleasant grassy knoll elsewhere that you do. And, if you visit and have a strong opinion about how much it sucks, well, it's pretty much the same thing in my book. Keep on moving. Don't let the door hit you on the way out. I just happen to enjoy the place, for reasons I won't get into here. If I was among those who you felt came off as defensive, eh, so be it. You can hate any place you wanna. Just remember: Strong opinions usually beget strong ones in return.

Rachel said...

Sweet Farrah, I know that you didn't call anyone stupid. That is just how all the defensives FEEL. I am glad you came to visit and we did have fun.

f*bomb. said...

It was TOTALLY fun.
Perhaps that is how I should have stated it- Utah was so hot it MADE ME WANT TO DIE, but the people I was with were so cool that it still made me know I would come back.

...Unless, of course, all of you want to come home with me and live next to the ocean?

Dainon said...

Let's go play in the ocean for a week straight. For real.

Rachel said...


f*bomb. said...

Looks like you've got carpool buddies.
Anyone else?

Call me on this one. Now I'M Serious!

Aaron said...

i don't really understand the utah defense either. i'm backing up vanilla backing up farrah. because in this case i agree with both 100%.
yeah i grew up in southern california, i love it and yeah it sets the bar pretty high. i have lived in utah, multiple times, one full calendar year(when i learned my lesson) and the other 2 times just for winter funtime. i avoided provo altogether and only lived in SLC. conclusion, unless you are snowboarding in winter, utah blows.

f*bomb. said...

I don't know. I'd imagine that if I had 32 relatives around for dinner every week (or month, as in the McJohnson house), it would be pretty cool.
Mostly any dinner I didn't have to make myself is pretty cool. So I can see what my SLCrs are saying.
Plus, when you live in SLC, EVERYONE ELSE just comes to you- there are out of towners for weddings, Bat Mitzvahs, holidays, parties, reunions, like, CONSTANTLY, I'm sure. But none of that will change the fact that Utah was so hellishly hot I wanted to DIE.

I'm just saying my new suggestion is for SLC to come to California (since Utah clearly has a death wish for me). The invitiation is open and standing. Ahhhmen!

Aaron- why did you not come to Toast/Saddleback/bullriding/kareoke with us Tuesday? WHY!?!?!

Aaron said...

i knew peeps were coming to studio city, but i didn't know details and i'm not a self-inviter. had i known i woulda sung a song and slayed the bull

f*bomb. said...

Well- TRUST ME- you would have been a welcome addition. Matt KILLED on kareoke (I couldn't stay seated- it was just THAT moving), and I was the only one to ride the bull. And I showed that bull a thing or two. Twice. Now please stop staring at the bruises on my inner thigh...

Anonymous said...

I'd like to back Farrah up on this one. I don't hate Utah; I can see a lot of really wonderful things about it, but it's tough to feel accepted there. Coming from San Diego and having lived in UT, London, D.C., and NY, I will say that Utah is the only place where I've felt excluded. Maybe because it's smaller it encourages people to dive into strong connected families, etc. which is a wonderful thing. It is also something that can be challenging for those on the outside.

It's like in high school: the jocks and cheerleaders are all giggly and think that their clique is the greatest, and then there's the lone artsy/businessy/etc. kid who doesn't want that world. He's happy creating something else really beautiful, but the fact that everyone else has so blatantly and totally ignored him grates on him. So he complains about the culture. The jocks and cheerleaders are horribly offended. They can't understand at all. They love their life. They're sick of people who are outside their tight little bubble making snide comments.

It's fine to enjoy the life on the inside, but if you don't fit the mold, it's no where near as fun. I've lived a lot of places and visited oh so many many more. Utah is the ONLY one where there don't seem to be a bunch of normal options. You fit or you rebel. It's a stereotype, I know, and you can successfully argue that it's so much more complex than that. You can successfully argue that there are many individuals who aren't that way...but it got and maintains the rep for a reason.

chloe elizabeth said...

I'm way late to this party, but I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your post and the commentary.

You know, I lived in AZ for about five years and I loved it...does that mean that I am incapable of seeing all of things that are wrong with it? No. Nor does it make me defensive well people rip on it.

The same is true for Utah. I moved back here about a year ago (I live here for college) and it has been an interesting experience. There are things I absolutely love about it (and I live in Provo) and there are things that drive me absolutely insane. So, should I leave because some things drive me crazy? Should I get upset when people question why anyone would live here (and I realize that you never said that...but I hope you can see that the tone of your post does come off that way)? No.

I like the idea of owning something. And opinions, of all things, should be owned. Even if someone did say, "I can't believe that anyone is stupid enough to live in Utah" (which, incidentally, you absolutely did not), it's an opinion. And personally, I don't think it's an opinion worth responding to.

However, if you think the heat is bad here, try Arizona for five years...see, it's all a matter of perspective. And, while Utah weather may be perfectly bearable to some, compared to California, no where in the continental U.S. wins.

Another example, I really like the color orange. I think it's a fantastic color. There are people out there who hate it. I want to paint a room in my next house orange. I'm sure some people think that's stupid. Big effing deal! It's my opinion.

I like living in Utah...I will also be very glad to leave it, once and for all. Is that so wrong? I don't think so. Can't I enjoy something while it's happening and still be glad it comes to an end? I believe I can.

So, there are my two cents...five years later.

Farrah, you're rad!